Saturday, March 31, 2007

TOPIC: Apologies - Out of state
My apologies for not posting on The Sope-Bocks all week. I was at Fort McClellan (in Anniston, Alabama) participating in Department of Homeland Security training. Core members of our HazMat / Decon team went to the Center for Domestic Preparedness to complete the TERT and COBRATF courses.
The coolest part (also the most dangerous) was working directly with VX (Sarin) and GB gases -- enough to kill more than 1275 adults. The firefighters' mantra "trust your equipment" came home in a big way when we entered the chambers containing each of these highly dangerous substances. The outcome is that we have greater confidence in dealing with anything -- especially a hazardous materials incident or a WMD event. Everyone on our team received the coveted cobra pin, along with kudos from decorated DHS instructors (many of whom have long careers in the military and/or law enforcement). We are TERT 07-15!
On a more personal level, I was blessed to interact with some fine individuals (mostly firefighters and police officers) from around the country in way I don't normally get to work with them.

America, you are highly blessed to have these dedicated folks serving you.

Photos by Charlie

Saturday, March 24, 2007

TOPIC: Devotion: The Most Quoted Verse in the Bible
By Tony Beckett and Woodrow Kroll
Luke 6:27-49 / Key Verse: Luke 6:37
Do you know what is the most quoted Bible verse? I have heard that it is Luke 6:37: "Judge not lest ye be judged." Those are probably not the exact words of the Bible version you use, but accuracy is not always high on the list of people who quote verses, especially when they quote them to prove a point of their own making. Typically, people use this verse to tell others what they should not do.
Jesus did not give us these words to control others but to challenge ourselves. People tend to be hard on others and lax on themselves. This verse is speaking to that issue. Sadly, it is used on others in that hard way. But that is not the way Jesus intended. Aim this verse at your own heart. You are not to be a censorious person, constantly evaluating everyone and everything around you.
God says in Romans 12:17-21 that we are to leave judgment in His hands. There are judgments to be made, and there is to be accountability in the community of believers. Aim for the balance here, not the extremes. The one extreme takes us to letting anything go on without confrontation, which is wrong. The other extreme is the judgmental spirit. It is this second extreme that Jesus was addressing here. Don't judge others with this verse. Use it on yourself and reap the benefit Jesus promised.

Friday, March 23, 2007

TOPIC: Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust to Hold 10th Annual Pro-Life Boot Camp
Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, a pro-life youth organization, will hold the 10th annual ProLife Training Camp in Los Angeles, California from June 27 to July 8. Over 50 young people, ages 14 and up, from across the nation will travel to Southern California to participate in what many have dubbed "pro-life boot camp."
Featured in the Los Angeles Times, Jane and Teen People, the high energy 12-day camp offers an opportunity for high school and college-age youth who want to be trained in effective pro-life activism. "I have always felt that abortion is wrong," says Angelique Guarneri, age 15, who will be attending the camp again this year. "But until I went to camp last year, I didn't feel like I could articulate why." She continues, "Survivors has helped me to see that my age is not an obstacle to my voice being heard on critical issues such as abortion. Instead, I feel that my age is an asset. Who better to speak about abortion than someone who had a 1 in 3 chance of being a victim themselves?"
The first few days of camp equip Survivors with the foundational tools they will need for effective activism. Students complete basic and advanced training from nationally recognized pro-life advocates through seminars and skill-building exercises. The topics covered include:
  • the basic science of when life begins
  • pro-life apologetics
  • how to counsel women in unplanned pregnancies
  • using the media to get out the pro-life message
  • planning and executing a successful event
  • knowing the legal rights in the public square
21-year-old Kenny Reed from Wichita, Kansas, credits the ProLife Training Camp with giving him confidence in discussions about abortion. "Because of my experience at Survivors Camp, I now feel that I can speak to anyone. So many people are afraid to take a stand on abortion, but I am willing to take a stand because I know how to talk to people about the issue. Whether it's to a college professor or to my peer, the truth about abortion remains the same and I am ready to share it with them."
The second part of the camp challenges the youth to put the training they receive into action. With the encouragement of experienced advisors, the Survivors are given opportunities to practice their skills at events, whether as event leader or media spokesperson. The goal is to prepare them to coordinate their own events and activities when they return home. "The future of the pro-life movement lies in our youth. We are dedicated to equipping and activating young people who have a heart for the pre-born and are willing to be used by God to defend those unjustly sentenced to death," says Cheryl Conrad, Executive Director of Survivors. "The next generation of pro-life leaders can be found at the Survivors ProLife Training Camp!"

Thursday, March 22, 2007

TOPIC: Liberals Will Introduce Anti-Christian Hate Crimes Bill In Congress This Week
by Staff of
Cartoon by FaithMouse
As Representative John Conyers (D-Michigan) prepares to introduce the anti-Christian hate crimes bill (Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act) in Congress this week, only one person can stop it - President George W. Bush and his veto pen. "Sadly, this new Congress will probably vote in both the House and the Senate to pass this anti-Christian hate crimes bill," said Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) Executive Director Andrea Lafferty. "If there was ever a bill which needed to be vetoed - this is it."
Most Christians might as well rip the pages which condemn homosexuality right out of their Bibles because this bill will make it illegal to publicly express the dictates of their religious beliefs. "It will elevate homosexuality, which is defined by how its adherents engage in sex, to the same level of those who have fought hard and sacrificed to end discrimination based on race and other factors."
According to Conyers' 'Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act,' homosexuals, cross-dressers and other minority groups are so fearful that they are fleeing across state lines to avoid persecution by violent hate mongers. Conyers' bill claims that these homosexuals and cross-dressers also can't buy goods or services in their home states because of this persecution. "The fact is that Conyers' so-called hate crimes bill is a fraud and designed for only one purpose: to add homosexuals, cross-dressers, drag queens and transsexuals as federally-protected minority groups. There is no 'epidemic' of hate crimes - and no mass migration of homosexuals and cross-dressers across state lines."
The FBI's 2005 hate crimes statistics reveal that one-third of the cases of so-called "sexual orientation" bias, were nothing more than name-calling. There were a total of 1,171 such cases. Of those, 301 were listed as "intimidation," defined in law as name-calling or threats. The ultimate objective of this legislation is to claim that 'hate speech' - criticism of homosexuality - incites individuals to violence and must be suppressed and punished. This will violate the First Amendment rights of any person or group that opposes the normalization of homosexuality in our culture. We oppose passage of this dangerous anti-Christian bill and urge President Bush to veto it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

TOPIC: The Wright Stuff
I received an interesting email this morning. Most chain emails are junk, but this one caught my eye. After checking it out on a couple urban legends websites, it became clear that the story behind the email was worthy of comment. The content of the email [or at least most of it] is included below.
Back in January of 1996, the Reverend Joe Wright, senior pastor of the 2,500-member Central Christian Church in Wichita, was invited to offer the opening prayer at a session of the Kansas House of Representatives (not the Kansas Senate, as claimed in the text), and the prayer he offered was this one (which differs somewhat from the version cited in the text):
Heavenly Father, we come before you to ask your forgiveness. We seek your direction and your guidance. We know your word says, "Woe to those who call evil good." But that's what we've done.
We've lost our spiritual equilibrium. We have inverted our values. We have ridiculed the absolute truth of your word in the name of moral pluralism. We have worshiped other gods and called it multiculturalism. We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.
We've exploited the poor and called it a lottery. We've neglected the needy and called it
self-preservation. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. In the name of choice, we have killed our unborn. In the name of right to life, we have killed abortionists.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem. We have abused power and called it political savvy. We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it taxes. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.
Search us, oh, God, and know our hearts today. Try us. Show us any wickedness within us. Cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of the State of Kansas, and that they have been ordained by you to govern this great state. Grant them your wisdom to rule. May their decisions direct us to the center of your will. And, as we continue our prayer and as we come in out of the fog, give us clear minds to accomplish our goals as we begin this Legislature.
For we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.
The prayer Rev. Wright used wasn't of his own crafting; it was a version of one written in 1995 by Bob Russell who offered it at the Kentucky Governor’s Prayer Breakfast in Frankfort, Kentucky.
Rev. Wright had been invited to serve as the House's guest chaplain by Rep. Anthony Powell, a Wichita Republican who was also a member of Wright's church. Accordingly, Rev. Wright read the prayer at the opening of the legislature on January 23, and departed, unaware of the ruckus he had created until his church secretary called him on his car phone to ask him what he had done.
Reportedly, one Democrat (not "a number of legislators") walked out in protest, three others gave speeches critical of Wright's prayer, and another blasted Wright's "message of intolerance." House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer (also a Democrat) asserted that the prayer "reflects the extreme, radical views that continue to dominate the House Republican agenda since right-wing extremists seized control of the House Republican caucus last year." Rep. Jim Long, a Democrat from Kansas City, said that Wright "made everyone mad." But Rep. Powell, who had invited Wright in the first place, claimed that House Democrats were only trying to make political points with their criticism and affirmed that he supported the theme of the prayer.
Rev. Wright said afterwards: "I certainly did not mean to be offensive to individuals, but I don't apologize for the truth." His staff stopped counting the telephone calls that came from every state and many foreign countries after the first 6,500. Wright appeared on dozens of radio shows and was the subject of numerous TV and print news reports, and his prayer stirred up controversy all over again when it was read by the chaplain coordinator in the Nebraska legislature the following month. Wright later explained, "I thought I might get a call from an angry congressman or two, but I was talking to God, not them. The whole point was to say that we all have sins that we need to repent — all of us . . . The problem, I guess, is that you're not supposed to get too specific when you're talking about sin."
What to make of all the fuss? Syndicated religion columnist Terry Mattingly probably explained it best when he wrote: "The easy answer is that he read a prayer about sin. The complicated answer is that Wright jumped into America's tense debate about whether some things are always right and some things are always wrong."
Partial sources:

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

TOPIC: Oregon Biology Teacher Fired Over Bible References
During his eight days as a part-time high school biology teacher, Kris Helphinstine included Biblical references in material he provided to students and gave a PowerPoint presentation that made links between evolution, Nazi Germany and Planned Parenthood. That was enough for the Sisters School Board (Sister, Oregon), which fired the teacher Monday night for deviating from the curriculum on the theory of evolution. "I think his performance was not just a little bit over the line," board member Jeff Smith said. "It was a severe contradiction of what we trust teachers to do in our classrooms."
Helphinstine, 27, said in a phone interview with The Bulletin newspaper of Bend that he included the supplemental material to teach students about bias in sources, and his only agenda was to teach critical thinking. "Critical thinking is vital to scientific inquiry," said Helphinstine, who has a master's degree in science from Oregon State. "My whole purpose was to give accurate information and to get them thinking." Helphinstine said he did not teach the idea that God created the world. "I never taught creationism," he said. "I know what it is, and I went out of my way not to teach it."
Parent John Rahm told the newspaper that he became concerned when his freshman daughter said she was confused by the supplemental material provided by Helphinstine. "He took passages that had all kinds of Biblical references," Rahm said. "It prevented her from learning what she needed to learn." Board members met with Helphinstine privately for about 90 minutes before the meeting. The teacher did not stay for the public portion. "How many minds did he pollute?" Dan Harrison, the father of a student in Helphinstine's class, said at the meeting. "It's a thinly veiled attempt to hide his own agenda."

The Sope-Bocks: First, I wonder if Mr. Harrison and Mr. Rahm would have had the same reaction if their children were being given references to homosexuality or pagan rituals. Somehow, I seriously doubt it. This story just goes to show the extreme bias against Christian values. It also shows the lengths some people will go to in order NOT to challenge the religion of evolution.
I applaud Mr. Helphinstine for pushing the students to think critically about what they are being indoctrinated with in public schools. His courage to challenge the system with the truth is admirable. Unfortunately, teaching anything other than extreme liberal thought will be a death-nail to your career in Oregon. Sad, but true.

Monday, March 19, 2007

TOPIC: "The Ultimate Gift" Movie Producer Claims Moral Content Attacked to Suppress Film
Veteran film producer Rick Eldridge was sure he had all the ingredients to cook up a successful box office hit. For his film "The Ultimate Gift," based on the a book of the same name that has sold nearly 4 million copies worldwide, he landed veteran Hollywood heavyweight James Garner and young sensation Abigail Breslin to star in a movie that sought to teach the value of a legacy of hard work and integrity in relation to an inheritance of cash.
The film tells the story of an elderly and wealthy man (played by Garner) who leaves behind a video will that requires his grandson to perform various character- building tasks before he can inherit his grandfather's wealth. Add in the likes of Golden Globe winner Brian Dennehy and screen veteran Bill Cobbs, and it's no wonder that The Washington Post (and many others) have noted that the film is "well-acted by a first rate cast." "The film aims to inspire a generation," observed The Arizona Republic.
But what Eldridge didn't count on was that his film would be given tough reviews by the critics because of what they perceived as being hidden religious and social messages."Reeking of self-righteousness and moral reprimand, Michael O. Sajbel's "Ultimate Gift" is a hairball of good- for-you filmmaking . . . . The movie's messages - pro- poverty, anti-abortion - are methodically hammered home," says New York Times reviewer Jeannette Catsoulis. "There's an anti-abortion message jammed into one scene with all the subtlety of an avalanche. Just in case you miss it, it's repeated in the credits too. Some gift, eh?," wrote Chicago Tribune critic Lou Carlozo.
These assessments have been a surprise to Eldridge. "The film's single mom says she was glad she had her child. Calling that an anti-abortion message is a stretch," he said. "And while the film certainly does inspire people to be giving and compassionate, what does that have to do with being 'pro-poverty'? It's hard to know how to respond to that kind of criticism, except to say that it clearly incites the wrong things." Mostly, it seems that there just isn't any violence, cursing or sex in this movie, so a host of critics are calling it "sappy" or moralistic and wondering why moviegoers would pay to see it.
These days in Hollywood, it seems that it is rare to see a family movie critically acclaimed. "The Ultimate Gift is a people's film, not a critic's film," said Eldridge. "And there is, increasingly, a big difference between those two things." Eldridge points to this week's independent exit poll results from CinemaScore, which showed that a remarkable 99% of all respondents rated the film in the "A/B" category."This 'little film with a big heart', as one critic called it, celebrates the great American values of thrift, integrity, honor and family," Eldridge said. "I'm hoping that millions of Americans will ignore attempts to keep this film down and vote with their feet to send a message to the movie industry that a values- driven family movie about virtue can be a box-office hit."

The Sope-Bocks: I read the excerpts from reviews over at It's offensive to me to see some movie critics give The Ultimate Gift a slight thumbs-up because the Christian values message isn't overt. It's as if a movie would be totally unacceptable if it directly spoke of God, salvation and the "s" word [sin]. With the likes of all of the truly EVIL movie content available these days (Saw, Hostel, 300, Dead Silence, etc), I can't see how anyone wouldn't want to embrace a clean, moral story that doesn't glamorize sadistic murder and disgustingly grotesque images.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

TOPIC: Devotion: Difficult by Design
by Tony Beckett and Woodrow Kroll
Joshua 7-9, Luke 1:21-38 /Key Verse: Luke 1:38
Smooth sailing is preferred over rough seas; paved roads over potholes. But sometimes the rough seas and potholes are by God's design to accomplish His purpose. At that point, the follower of Christ must decide whether to follow God in the tough times or not.
Mary experienced a time that was difficult by design. These verses record part of her predicament: an unexpected pregnancy. Imagine as best you can the full emotion of the situation. She, an unmarried virgin, was asked to have a baby. Undoubtedly she would become the object of much doubt and ridicule. The truth would be too unimaginable for people to believe. She would bear the shame. In Matthew's account, it is noted that Joseph even considered divorcing her (1:19).
Yet Mary's attitude was remarkable. She said to the angel, "May it be to me as you have said" (v. 38). Her statement revealed her character. She was ready to endure the doubt and ridicule. God's work was more important to her than her reputation.
Following God will take you down rough roads at times. Sometimes you'll be tempted to find the easier path. The best road to travel, however, is always the one of God's choosing.
Are you on the right path, doing God's will?
When the way is rough, pray like Mary did, surrendering to God's work in your life.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

TOPIC: A Football Legacy Has Passed Away
Wilford "Crazy Ray" Jones, who entertained Dallas Cowboys fans for decades in his chaps and white boots as the team's unofficial mascot, died on Saturday. Neighbors told WFAA that Crazy Ray suffered a heart attack about two weeks ago. He had heart failure and had been in hospice care since then. He died at home at 11:30 a.m. this morning.
Jones had entertained fans first at the Cotton Bowl, then at the Texas Stadium in Irving. Getting people excited about the Cowboys was Jones's mission, from their conception in 1960 until the final home game this year.
Jones attended every single home game. He has a section in the fans' room of the Pro-Football Hall of Fame in Ohio. He was not paid a salary by the team but he was given a season ticket, provided with parking and expenses by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. "Ray was the most dedicated, entertaining and passionate of Cowboys fan," Jones said. "He touched thousands of lives and generations of football fans. He will remain an important part of this team's heritage and family for as long as fans go to Cowboy games and feel his spirit," he added.
"I wanted to make people laugh, keep them happy because happiness is the best thing in the world," he [Crazy Ray] told WFAA in an interview two years ago.

The Sope-Bocks: I have been a Dallas Cowboys fan since 1972 -- almost my entire life. As such, I've seen Crazy Ray on the sidelines for nearly three decades. He was always smiling, always pumping up the crowds, always being THE ultimate fan for Dallas. Wilford Ray Jones will be sorely missed when the 2007-2008 NFL football season starts. His spirit will live on -- and thank the Lord for Crazy Ray's awesomely optimistic spirit.

Friday, March 16, 2007

TOPIC: New Documentary Aims to Prove Christ's Resurrection
A new DVD documenting evidence for the Christ's resurrection is scheduled to be released by Grizzly Adams Productions, a corporation that releases family-friendly films, television series and specials, during Easter this year.
by Kevin Jackson, Christian Today
A new DVD documenting evidence for the Christ's resurrection is scheduled to be released by Grizzly Adams Productions, a corporation that releases family-friendly films, television series and specials, during Easter this year in the US. In the production, called The Case for Christ's Resurrection, experts will explain new discoveries that will substantiate the claims that Jesus resurrected from the grave nearly 2,000 years ago. Among the many methods, the specialists looked at the past historical record, explored current medical knowledge, investigated evidence in the lives of the Apostles, and researched about ancient Jewish burial practices to establish their claims.
The film is in stark contrast to The Lost Tomb of Jesus, a documentary by Jewish archaeologist Simcha Jacobovici that claims the discovery of Jesus’ body as well as a wife (Mary Magdalene) and son (Judah), which received a barrage of criticism after its release. While The Case for Christ's Resurrection is using the same kinds of research as Jacobovici's film, it has been much more overlooked. "The news media is irresponsible for not covering both sides of the resurrection story," noted Bill Wilson, editor and publisher of the Daily Jot, in a commentary piece. "The hype that Christianity is false plays into the hands of a biased and secular media that seeks daily to discredit people of the Christian faith."
The pro-resurrection film attempts to use scientific inquiry, which is often seen as completely unlinked to religion, to prove Christ’s crucifixion, death, and resurrection. Some of the methods include carbon dating and forensics. "There is growing proof that the events depicted in the Gospel accounts are true, with more evidence being revealed regularly, thanks to modern research, analysis and scientific advances," noted Dr. Gary Habermas, research professor and chair of the department of theology at Liberty University, in a statement. "Science, combined with written descriptions, by non-Christians, of the events of Jesus’ life and death, make it clear that Christian beliefs are grounded in fact."
The film also contends that Jesus was seen by numerous people, Christian and non-Christian, following his death. "There were at least 500 eyewitnesses in and around Jerusalem who actually saw or talked with Jesus after his resurrection," explained senior producer David Balsiger in a statement. "Beyond the Bible, there are more than 20 non-Christian sources written between 30 and 130 A.D. that refer to Jesus of Nazareth as a historical figure. Twelve mention his death and provide details on how he died. Ten of these refer to his resurrection."
In addition to Christ's resurrection, the documentary will also examine the Shroud of Turin, the believed burial cloth of Christ. From it, the filmmakers have even created a 3-D holographic image of Jesus' face. Authentic 3-D viewing glasses will be included with the DVD. Wilson added in his commentary, "Instead of giving credence to a 2,000 year-old box of bones that bear the most common names of the time, the news media ought to focus on the results of true scientific and historic research that gives proof that their souls are in need of salvation."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

TOPIC: What Lessons Can We Learn from Anna Nicole Smith's Life and Death?
by Dr. Ted Baehr, Publisher of MOVIEGUIDE
The furor over Anna Nicole Smith's funeral has died down, but the questions about the paternity of her daughter and the division of her estate remain. In that light, it is well to ask one another, What lessons can we learn from Anna Nicole Smith's life and death?
There are at least five major conclusions. First, alcohol and drugs, even prescription drugs, are a continuing danger. Alcohol should be consumed only in moderate quantities, if at all. Illegal drugs like marijuana, heroin, cocaine, crack, speed, and Ecstasy should be avoided altogether. Finally, prescription drugs should not be abused and should only be taken under the care and supervision of a good, if not great, medical doctor who knows what he or she is doing.
Second, we have heard some pundits say, even supposedly "conservative" and "religious" ones, that we should have pity or sympathy for the fate of Anna Nicole Smith because she didn't do anything "evil." These people have a warped, inaccurate definition of what is "evil". They have fallen pray to the sin of moral relativism, one of mankind's worst evils. The God of the Bible, including Jesus Christ in Mark 7:20-23 and other passages, calls all sexual immorality, including pre-marital sex, adultery, incest, homosexuality, pedophilia, and bestiality, evil. By all accounts, not only did Anna Nicole Smith engage in posing naked for such evil publications as PLAYBOY, she also engaged in promiscuous pre-marital sex, perhaps also including some lesbian homosexual activity. Also, she often appeared inebriated, which could have been the effect of her possible abuse of pain medication, sleeping medication, "downers," and/or alcohol. We live in a physical world with real consequences for such evil behavior. Thus, her untimely, early death, not to mention the untimely death of her son, should come as no surprise to anyone.
Consequently, though we can and should have a degree of sympathy for someone who becomes trapped in a vicious cycle of substance abuse, we also should be disgusted by Anna Nicole's alleged substance abuse and her connection to pornography and sexual immorality, for these things are clearly evil acts that are not victimless. Therefore, the third conclusion we can reach about Anna Nicole Smith's life and death is that the evil she represents with her connection to pornography and other sexual immorality must be thoroughly and publicly condemned by every religious Christian and Jew and every conservative, or liberal for that matter, committed to God's moral truth in the Bible.
Yet, we remember back in the 1990s when Vice President Dan Quayle got little and weak support, especially from liberals but also from many Christians and conservatives, for his strong condemnation of having children out of wedlock. He got such little support that, to this day, he has to qualify his comments lest he offend single mothers who get so much unconstitutional - and unbiblical - help from the state and federal governments and so much undeserved sympathy from the left-wing, atheist news media (the news media is not merely liberal, most of it is also radically left and vociferously atheist, if not anti-Christian and anti-Semitic).
Fourth, the life and death of Anna Nicole Smith shows the dangerous superficiality of the celebrity culture of fame and fortune in which we now live. Our society has become terribly corrupted by all this unbalanced, if not evil, focus on celebrity. It has become so corrupted that, as many serious pundits noted, the funeral of Anna Nicole Smith was a media, public relations circus, not a real funeral. And, too many average citizens treated it like a celebrity event rather than a funeral, much less as another strong example of the eternal truth that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23).
There is hope, however, not only for those of us who are still alive, but also for future Anna Nicole Smiths and future victims of the immoral, celebrity lifestyle they represent. That hope lies in the eternal salvation and ultimate freedom from sin and evil (including ultimate freedom from substance abuse as well as sexual immorality, greed, envy, murder, theft, arrogance, etc.) that comes by the Grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:1-10). For in Jesus Christ, all of God's people "are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit" (Ephesians 2:22).
That leads to our fifth and final conclusion about Anna Nicole Smith's life and death. Many sympathetic pundits and journalists, commenting on Smith's death, remarked that, now Anna Nicole will be in heaven with her dear departed son, who died five months earlier of a fatal drug interaction. Although Anna Nicole proclaimed Jesus Christ as her savior in a televised interview after the 74th Annual Oscar Ceremony in 2002, her public life displayed few of the fruits of that conversion. Thus, all the talk about Anna Nicole Smith going to Heaven is just that - talk. Indeed, there is only one way to get to Heaven and that is through Jesus Christ. Thus, to quote Jesus in John 14:6, "No one comes to the Father except through me." But, Jesus Christ also said in Matthew 7:17-20, "Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them."Jesus adds in John 15:5, 8, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. . . . This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." In other words, true faith in Jesus Christ must result in a life of good deeds.
There is no clear evidence that Anna Nicole Smith led the kind of Christian life showing her to be a true, faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. We may not know for sure her eternal destination, Heaven or Hell, but the fruit of her life tells us that the direction she seemed to be heading was the wrong one. As Paul and James write in the Books of Romans and James in the New Testament, works without faith are dead, but so is faith without works. The good news is that, although we are great sinners, Jesus Christ is a greater savior. He is "the true light that enlightens all men" (John 1:9). He empowers us to "live a life worthy of the Lord" (Colossians 1:10) so that we may have a living faith that bears the fruit of His love.
Do you have a living faith in Jesus Christ bearing good fruit? If not, ask Jesus to help you to build or renew your faith so that you can bear much fruit and show yourself to be His disciple, to the glory of God.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

TOPIC: Zell Miller Has it Right, Abortion Causes Millions to Be Missing from America
Former U.S. Senator Zell Miller stated the obvious and compelling reality that many needed people in America, are actually missing because of the continued practice of abortion. In an article dated March 9th, 2007, from the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Says Zell: Military shortages, Social Security crisis, and illegal immigration all linked to abortion, Mr. Miller was speaking at a pro-life fundraiser, in which he addressed the issue of the crisis that is created by abortion."How could this great land of plenty produce too few people in the last 30 years? Here is the brutal truth that no one dares to mention: We're too few because too many of our babies have been killed," Miller said.
"Over 45 million since Roe v. Wade in 1973. If those 45 million children had lived, today they would be defending our country, they would be filling our jobs, they would be paying into Social Security," the former Georgia governor said. "Still, we watch as 3,700 babies are killed every single day in America. It is unbelievable that a nation under God would allow this."
BFA, Biblical Family Advocates, applauds the statements of former Senator Miller who is attempting to address one of the most compelling reasons that America is suffering the fate of those who do not consider the value of human beings in general. "Some will say that those missing people would have put a drain on resources or there would be too many children. If this is the way that we view human beings in general, why do we even tolerate our own existence? I think the answer shows that we are self serving rather than seeing our neighbors in the womb as a potential good." says Phil Magnan, Director for Biblical Family Advocates. "We hear from proponents of immigration that we need more people in our workforce. Doesn't this betray the position of those who say we do not need those millions of American children who were aborted?"
The Former Senator had this to say regarding embryonic stem research, "It is not a proper fate for a human being made in God's image...killing is wrong when it is called abortion and it is just as wrong when it is called research." BFA considers it refreshing to see a person who has been in political office to have such moral clarity. Magnan continued, "If only most politicians were as courageous as Mr. Miller, America would be a safer place for our tiniest fellow humans. Most Americans see the amazing value of the trained soldier and the hard working factory worker. Most Americans recognize the desperate need to fund social security more adequately because the baby boomers will soon balloon the demand on the SS Fund. It is amazing that we allow ourselves to be destroyed every day by abortion at the same level as having a 9/11 each day. If we do not turn from this destructive path, we will only face self extermination as a nation and judgment from God."
BFA is hoping that Americans will once again consider the fact that we cannot be sustained as a country by killing our own future legacy; our children.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

TOPIC: General Pace Finds Support While Liberals and Media Attempt to Deceive the Public
Sources: AOLNews and
Senior aides to the chairman of the military Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday that Marine Gen. Peter Pace won't apologize for calling homosexuality immoral -- an opinion that gay advocacy groups deplored. In a newspaper interview Monday, Pace had likened homosexual acts to adultery and said the military should not condone it by allowing gays to serve openly in the armed forces.
''General Pace's comments are outrageous, insensitive and disrespectful to the 65,000 lesbian and gay troops now serving in our armed forces,'' the advocacy group Servicemembers Legal Defense Network said in a statement on its Web site. The group has represented some of the thousands dismissed from the military for their sexual orientation.
Pace's senior staff members said Tuesday that the general was expressing his personal opinion and had no intention of apologizing. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak on the record.
Rep. Martin Meehan, who has introduced legislation to repeal the current policy, criticized Pace's comments. ''General Pace's statements aren't in line with either the majority of the public or the military,'' said the Massachusetts Democrat. ''He needs to recognize that support for overturning (the policy) is strong and growing'' and that the military is ''turning away good troops to enforce a costly policy of discrimination.''

Apparently, Rep. Martin Meehan is NOT in touch with the majority of the public as poll results CLEARLY show that citizens AGREE with General Pace.
An AOL News poll showed nearly 275,000 votes as of 2:10pm EDT. [Updated @ 2:13pm] The margin is approx. two to one in favor of support for General Pace's comments regarding gays in the military.

How do you feel about Pace's comments?
Not sure
In an interview Monday with the Chicago Tribune, Pace was asked about the ''don't ask, don't tell'' policy that allows gays and lesbians to serve if they keep their sexual orientation private and don't engage in homosexual acts. Pace said he supports the policy, which became law in 1994 and prohibits commanders from asking about a person's sexual orientation. ''I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts,'' Pace was quoted as saying in the newspaper interview. ''I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way.''
Louis Vizcaino, spokesman for the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign, said Pace's comments were ''insulting and offensive to the men and women ... who are serving in the military honorably.''
''Right now there are men and women that are in the battle lines, that are in the trenches, they're serving their country,'' Vizcaino said. ''Their sexual orientation has nothing to do with their capability to serve in the U.S. military.''
''Don't ask, don't tell'' was passed by Congress in 1993 after a firestorm of debate in which advocates argued that allowing homosexuals to serve openly would hurt troop morale and recruitment and undermine the cohesion of combat units. John Shalikashvili, the retired Army general who was Joint Chiefs chairman when the policy was adopted, said in January that he has changed his mind on the issue since meeting with gay servicemen. ''These conversations showed me just how much the military has changed, and that gays and lesbians can be accepted by their peers,'' Shalikashvili wrote in a newspaper opinion piece.
TOPIC: Gay Advocacy Group Wants Apology From Pentagon Top General After Homosexuality Comment
A gay advocacy group Tuesday demanded an apology from the Pentagon's top general for calling homosexuality immoral. In a newspaper interview Monday, Marine Gen. Peter Pace had likened homosexuality to adultery and said the military should not condone it by allowing gays to serve openly in the military.
"General Pace's comments are outrageous, insensitive and disrespectful to the 65,000 lesbian and gay troops now serving in our armed forces," the advocacy group Servicemembers Legal Defense Network said in a statement on its Web site. The group has represented some service members dismissed from the military for their sexual orientation.
Pace, chairman of the military Joint Chiefs of Staff, made his remarks in an interview Monday with the Chicago Tribune. He was responding to a question about the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that allows gays and lesbians to serve if they keep their sexual orientation private and don't engage in homosexual acts. Pace said he supports the policy, which prohibits commanders from asking about a person's sexual orientation. Over the years thousands have been dismissed under this policy, signed into law by [former] President Clinton in 1994. "I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts," Pace said in the interview. "I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way."
Pace, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., and a 1967 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, said he based his views on his upbringing. "As an individual, I would not want (acceptance of gay behavior) to be our policy, just like I would not want it to be our policy that if we were to find out that so-and-so was sleeping with somebody else's wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not. We prosecute that kind of immoral behavior," Pace was quoted as saying.
The newspaper said Pace did not address concerns raised by a 2005 government audit that showed some 10,000 troops, including more than 50 specialists in Arabic, have been discharged because of the policy.

The Sope-Bocks: I applaud General Peter Pace for taking the correct stand on this matter. His comments are right on target. There is NO REASON for him to apologize to anyone. His personal beliefs are his own and NO ONE need apologize for their personal beliefs. While I agree that he should be loving and respectful in his statements and (more importantly) actions, being forced to accept and celebrate the choice of homosexual behavior is NOT something anyone should be confronted with -- military or civilian.
These gay advocacy groups need to sit down and shut up! There is NOTHING "outrageous" or "insensitive" in what General Pace said in the interview. I listened to part of his comments. He was soft-spoken and respectful, but also firm in his resolve. Pace answered one question with a very straightforward and truthful answer, "
The US Military’s mission fundamentally rests on the trust, confidence, cooperation amongst its members, and the homosexual lifestyle does not comport with that kind of trust and confidence and therefore is not supported within the US military. I’ll leave it at that."
Homosexuality *is* an immoral act. It is NOT natural, normal or moral. The lifestyle choice is rife with promiscuity, predatorship and infidelity -- all matters that point to trust, confidence and cooperation. General Pace should be applauded for standing his ground and speaking the truth.
I, personally, plan to be active in the fight against these homosexual advocacy groups as they seek to villainize General Pace. Here's hoping you will join the fight as well. It's high time conservatives (especially Christians) stand up for our beliefs and convictions.

Monday, March 12, 2007

OnThisDay: March 12th
1350 - Orvieto city said it would behead and burn Jewish-Christian couples
1664 - First naturalization act in American colonies
1789 - US Post Office was established
1912 - Girl Guides (now the Girl Scouts) was founded in Savannah, GA by Juliette Gordon Low
1938 - Nazi Germany invaded Austria (Anschluss)
1945 - New York was first state to prohibit discrimination by race & creed in employment
1956 - Dow Jones closed above 500 for 1st time (500.24)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

TOPIC: Who is St. Patrick?
From Kelli Mahoney,
Born: Wales, AD 385
Died: County Down, Ireland, AD 461
Given Name: Patrick Maewyn
Growing Closer to God: St. Patrick was not a Christian growing up. Prior to the age of 16, he actually considered himself a pagan. Yet, after he was sold into slavery by Irish slave traders at 16, he grew closer to God through his prayers. After spending six years as a slave, he was able to escape to Gaul. He studied under St. Germain, the Bishop of Auxerre for 12 years, feeling a calling to return to Ireland in order to convert the pagans to Christianity.
Becoming Bishop: After St. Palladius left Ireland to go to Scotland, Patrick was then made the second bishop to Ireland. His exceptional speaking skills made him adept at winning converts to Christianity. The Celtic Druids were upset by his ability, and arrested Patrick several times. Still, he was able to escape the Druids each time and return to his travels. He established several monasteries, churches, and schools around Ireland during the thirty years that he was able to travel around the country. He died on March 17th, AD 461, thus the day was commemorated St. Patrick's Day.
The "Confessio" of St. Patrick: The "Confessio" or "Confession" of St. Patrick continues to be one of the most unique records of St. Patrick's life. He discusses the things that happened in his life with a focus on his spiritual growth.
Folklore: Here are some of the stories told about St. Patrick:
  • It has been said that he raised people from the dead.
  • Stories relay how St. Patrick's hilltop sermon drove all the snakes out of Ireland. However, there are no snakes native to Ireland, so many believe the "snakes" were just symbolic of pagans.
  • He originated the symbol of the shamrock, because he used it in his sermons to represent the Holy Trinity. Each leaf represented the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and they come together to create one entity.
  • St. Patrick is not truly a Saint in the Catholic tradition, as he has never been canonized by Rome.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

TOPIC: Child's Play from Dawkins
Richard Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion, has been a New York Times bestseller for more than twenty weeks. Why so popular? Dawkins is the professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, and in some ways he is remarkably well suited for a job like that. His writing is marvelously clear and engaging. His early book, The Selfish Gene, an explanation and defense of evolutionary theory, has been called the best popular-level science book ever written. He leads the “Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science” and calls his website “A Clear-Thinking Oasis.”
He pointedly contrasts his own rationality with what he calls religion’s irrationality. His attacks on religion are shrill. For example: through one full chapter of The God Delusion, he maintains that teaching religion to children is child abuse. This is not just an arresting figure of speech, an exaggeration to make a point; Dawkins soberly compares religious upbringing to sexual abuse, and finds religion the worse of the two. The famous scientist supports this with no systematic data, just a few pages of anecdotes, stories of people who suffered at the hands of ill-advised religious education. Stories like that, sadly, can be found; but what do they represent?
If religious training is thought to be child abuse, an obvious scientific hypothesis follows: Children with religious upbringings should show some of the symptoms that are typical of abused children. These symptoms are well known. They include fear, panic attacks, eating disorders, depression, low self-confidence, irritability, difficulty relating with others, substance abuse, and so on. Not every abuse victim experiences most or all of these, but outcomes like this are typical. If a religious upbringing equals abuse, there ought to be signs that something like this happens to children of religious families.
There is data to test such a hypothesis. It was published well before Dawkins’ book, so he had ample opportunity to know what science had to say. Christian Smith, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, led a massive, authoritative study called the National Study of Youth and Religion. The results were published in the 2005 book, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Eyes of American Teenagers (with co-author Melinda Lundquist Denton), published by Oxford University Press (yes, that’s Dawkins’s university). It is the best study of its kind to date.
This study sorted its 3,290 participants into levels of religious involvement: the Devoted, the Regulars, the Sporadic, and the Disengaged. Because America’s predominant religious groupings are Christian, the “Devoted” and “Regulars” were predominantly Christian — Protestant and Catholic. Therefore these results can fairly be taken as relating specifically to Christianity. (Results for other religions are hard to determine from the data.)
The closer teenagers were to “Devoted” rather than “Disengaged,” the less they engaged in these negative behaviors:
  • Habits: Smoking, drinking, marijuana use, TV watching, pornography use, “action” video game use, R-rated movies
  • At school: Poor grades, cutting classes, getting suspended or expelled
  • Attitude: Bad temper, rebellious toward parents
  • Sex: Early physical involvement, including number of partners and age of first sexual contact.
Those more “Devoted” on the scale showed more of these positive outcomes:
  • Emotional well-being: Satisfaction with physical appearance, planning for the future, thinking about the meaning of life, feeling cared for, freedom from depression, not feeling alone and misunderstood, not feeling “invisible,” not often feeling guilty, having a sense of meaning to life, getting along well with siblings
  • Relationships with adults: Closeness with parents, number of adults connected to, feeling understood by parents, sensing that parents pay attention, feeling they get the “right amount of freedom” from parents
  • Moral reasoning and honesty: Belief in stable, absolute morality; not pursuing a “get-ahead” mentality; not just pleasure-seeking; less lying to parents and cheating in school
  • Compassion: Caring about the needs of the poor, caring about the elderly, caring about racial justice
  • Community: Participation in groups, financial giving, volunteer work (including with people of different races and cultures), helping homeless people, taking leadership in organizations.The findings are overwhelming.
On page after page, chart after chart, on every one of the ninety-one variables studied, the closer teens were to the “Devoted” end of the scale, the healthier their lives were. These are the results of Dawkins’ “child abuse.” This is what he complains is so bad for children. H. Allen Orr wrote, “[Dawkins] has a preordained set of conclusions at which he’s determined to arrive. Consequently, [he] uses any argument, however feeble, that seems to get him there.” In other words, he sees just what he wants to see. It’s ironic — that’s what he accuses believers of doing.
What can we conclude? This study suggests (though its methods cannot prove) that growing up Christian is a very good thing. Concerning Dawkins and his book, we can easily see that his attack is falsely based. We also see that this “rational” scientist ignored science and clear thinking to make the point he wanted to make. Twenty weeks a bestseller. For those who bought the book and found it persuasive, this should provide serious doubts about its credibility. (Other reviewers have found flaws on a similar scale throughout the book.) For followers of Christ who have been concerned about the bluster raised by books like this: This, like other baseless attacks, will pass. The Christian faith has stood for a long time; it will withstand this, too.
This article was originally published in the Hampton Roads Daily Press.

Friday, March 09, 2007

TOPIC: Good casting is true present in entertaining `Ultimate Gift'
Orlando Sentinel

If you ever wonder why we still call them "movie stars,'' look no further than The Ultimate Gift. It's a parable, a slight movie about a poor rich boy who has to learn the meaning of work, thrift, selflessness and faith from his richer-and-deader-than-Midas grandfather. Casting the right dead grandfather and "names'' in some supporting roles never paid off better.
This latest and most entertaining offering from Fox Faith, the religious-themed arm of 20th Century Fox, has James Garner as the charming old man whom his greedy, mean-spirited relatives watch on video as he tells them what he's willed to them. Bill Cobbs (Night at the Museum) is the crotchety old attorney presiding over this will reading. Lee Meriwether (Barnaby Jones) is his longtime assistant. And after grandpa's dispensed with his other heirs, he gets around to announcing a series of tests for his estranged, spendthrift grandson, Jason (Drew Fuller), all leading up to The Ultimate Gift. The 30-ish jerk Jason is packed off to spend time with Gus, an old Texas pal of grandpa's.
If you've ever needed to pass life lessons on to a ne'er-do-well, you could do a lot worse than Brian Dennehy. He does more with a wry shake of the head than most actors can manage in a soliloquy. One last casting coup -- the sickly little girl who must teach Jason selflessness and faith? She's Abigail Breslin, the Oscar-nominated pageant dreamer of Little Miss Sunshine, much more interesting here.
The movie sends Jason on a series of executor-monitored quests -- to work on a ranch, give up all his money and possessions to see who his ``true'' friends are, to South America where his father died, to learn the lessons grandpa, who wasn't on speaking terms with him, didn't get around to teaching him. "I made a lot of mistakes with you,'' grandpa Garner says. "The only way to make it up to you is to not give you anything."
It's enough that Garner, Breslin, Cobbs and especially Dennehy show up in this. They class up the movie, and while a little more sass would've made Garner's character more memorable, it's enough that he brings a couple of generations of good will to the part. Fuller is perfectly obnoxious as Jason, but never a caricature.
You get the sense that this Michael O. Sajbel film -- he also did the passable religious epic One Night With the King -- spent its money wisely. Faking Texas and Ecuador in North Carolina (where this was filmed) saved cash. Who cares if their ''jungle'' is just trees covered in North Carolina kudzu? They used what they saved there for cast and soundtrack songs. B.B. King, Bob Dylan and Patsy Cline underscore the action.
The faith element here is kind of shoe-horned into the last act of the movie. But The Ultimate Gift manages to be funny and moving, and several steps above the Hallmark Channel pabulum that Fox Faith has mostly rolled out up until now.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

TOPIC: Continuous Media "Snacking" -- Bite Size Entertainment for an Attention-Deficit Age
Just a few decades ago, educators and other observers were warning that the American attention span was growing dangerously short. Serious political debate had been sacrificed in favor of "sound bites." Educators reported that students had difficulty maintaining focus on a subject -- even for just a few minutes. Well, it now looks like those minutes may be turning into seconds. WIRED magazine reports that younger Americans now constitute a culture of media "snacking" and "bite size" entertainment. Apple Computer's iTunes service sells music by the song -- not just the album. YouTube and similar Internet sites offer films and movies that often last a minute or less.
As WIRED reports:
Music, television, games, movies, fashion: We now devour our pop culture the same way we enjoy candy and chips - in conveniently packaged bite-size nuggets made to be munched easily with increased frequency and maximum speed. This is snack culture - and boy, is it tasty (not to mention addictive).
Today, media snacking is a way of life. In the morning, we check news and tap out emails on our laptops. At work, we graze all day on videos and blogs. Back home, the giant HDTV is for 10-course feasting - say, an entire season of 24. In between are the morsels that fill those whenever minutes, as your mobile phone carrier calls them: a 30-second game on your Nintendo DS, a 60-second webisode on your cell, a three-minute podcast on your MP3 player. Like Homer Simpson at the all-you-can-eat seafood buffet, we are capable of devouring whatever is in front of us - down to the plastic crustaceans - and still go fishing for Colbert clips at 3 am. (Mmm... truthiness.) But not all munchies are created equal. This 12-page menu lists the tastiest - and tiniest - offerings.
Several factors have been blamed for the shortened attention spans. Many blame television for the problem, noting that the pace of television programming and the structure of eight-minute segments between commercials trains the mind to expect shorter attention demands. But, if television shortened the national attention span starting decades ago, the Internet and its massive media expansion seems to be producing an even shorter attention span. All this may be great for the marketers, but it spells further challenge for educators, parents, and preachers. How will people be able to listen to a serious biblical sermon if their minds are set to pay attention only for a few minutes -- or even less?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

TOPIC: Survivor!Source:
Playing games is fun... BUT playing the wrong kind of games, in the wrong places, is dangerous. Run the race well. Play fair and enjoy your blessings. Be a peacemaker, not a war monger. Speak the truth in love. Never compromise the Word nor its meaning. Those are ways to be a "survivor".

Monday, March 05, 2007

TOPIC: The Sope-Bocks Takes a Turn
Over the past three years The Sope-Bocks has been online, it has pretty much been a blog about "whatever" -- whatever I was thinking about... whatever I read in the news... whatever was the topic of the day on the Internet... whatever.
During the past few months, I've been praying about direction in my life -- purpose. I've asked God for direction in all areas of my life. To me, at least, it seems that more than one area of life has a definite direction (though those matters are not discussed in my blog). One part of my life that can be discussed is the direction of The Sope-Bocks. As I look over the articles and posts that have caught my eye or raised by eyebrows, I find that The Sope-Bocks has taken a turn towards topics on Christianity and how believers see the world -- along with how the world sees us.
I make no bones about it. My postings are based on my own beliefs. If I'm wrong, then I'm wrong -- and don't mind being corrected. Just remember that my faith in God and the Bible are unshakable. And just for the record, I'm happy to offer a blog with a decidedly conservative Christian slant. Lord knows there are very few of us with the 'nads to stand the heat from liberals, atheists and all of the other worldly forces that attack us for our points of view.
If you're a conservative Christian, and you read The Sope-Bocks regularly, I thank you. If you're a left-winger who happened upon The Sope-Bocks and want to choke me for my posts, I thank you. IOW, I welcome you -- no matter who you are or what POV you represent.
My sole goal is to make you THINK and consider the ideas presented herein -- whether your conclusions are in agreement or in vehement opposition. One thing I ask is that you don't label me beyond what I have labeled myself. Offer me and my "soapbox" the same courtesy I offer anyone else. The truth in love, is my motto -- Speak the truth in love (even when that means being firm). No compromises. No apologies. THANKS for being a part of The Sope-Bocks.