Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
07/28/2010 - James WhiteI have really lined out an incredible schedule for myself this fall. Beginning next week I fly to New York twice in August, with a trip to Detroit sandwiched in between. I will be debating twice in New York, once with David Silverman, national representative of the American Atheists, and once with Christopher Ferrara, a Roman Catholic spokesperson and attorney. In the middle of the month I will be in Detroit, doing live programs on ABN (be watching!) and recording other programs during the day, then speaking at the God and Culture Conference that weekend. While some of those costs are covered sometimes (airline tickets, etc.) others are not (rental cars, food, sometimes hotels). Then September has me in Santa Fe and Southern California on consecutive weekends (two debates with Sungenis in Santa Fe, speaking on the doctrines of grace in the Escondido area the next weekend), with a major debate on the Tuesday in between where I will be teaming up with Michael Brown to debate Sir Anthony Buzzard and another unitarian! What a ten day stretch that will be! Then in October I am up in Minneapolis for a Bible conference, and the very next weekend in Newberg, Oregon for another debate with Sungenis. Barely ten days home and off to Peru with Heart Cry Ministries to train pastors in apologetics. Some of the costs for these trips are covered by the sponsoring churches and groups, some are not.
So, I wanted to let our supporters know of the continuing need to meet the extra expenses associated with the large amount of travel I will be doing over the next few months. I'd think some folks would want to donate just to get me out of town! But even looking beyond this fall, next February I need to get back to the United Kingdom. I will be seeking to visit a number of important papyri that are housed at Oxford or up in Dublin as well. So if you can help with these ministry efforts, please do so. Few things are more helpful than to go into these debates with a clear mind, undistracted by financial concerns and shortfalls. Click here to help!
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The Glorious Sonoran Desert
07/26/2010 - James WhiteGiven that more information (important information) is about to come out about the Ergun Caner Scandal and resultant Great Evangelical Cover Up (specifically, the recording of Caner's lecture to the US Marines has been obtained by the indefatigable Jason Smathers), I wanted to do something enjoyable real quick. Sadly, one of the pictures I took on my ride this morning simply disappeared from my camera, but I did get these three. But the story behind them is what makes them a bit more special.
I started riding in 1993. Sometime back in the 93-98 time frame I met Eddie McKee. And I introduced Eddie to cycling. Took him on his first 50 mile ride, and almost killed him. Had to ride alongside him and push him home the last few miles. It's called bonking. But Eddie is a natural cyclist, and in the years since, the student has become the master. Eddie is a monster on a bike. Massive aerobic capacity. And it was his being a cyclist that got him his wife! And that's where this story gets fun.
I had heard for years about how Eddie and Lucy met. Eddie lives on the "East side" of the Valley (I live on the West, which is not nearly as interesting as the East). And Eddie had started riding "Tortilla Flats." First, the name is very, very misleading. The Tortilla Flats ride is anything but flat. 36 miles (shortest route, 18 out and back), 3119 feet of ascent. Lots of climbs, lots of descents. It's a tough ride. If you are into that kind of thing, here is a link to the route and you can click the "show elevation" box to see the profile. Anyway, one day, many years ago, Eddie rode Tortilla Flats. The ride takes you out to a point where the pavement ceases and it becomes dirt. Only mountain bikers go beyond there, us roadies like the pavement. And while Eddie was stopped out there (and the first two pictures I'm providing were taken at that very spot), along came some more cyclists. And who did Eddie meet in that group of cyclists? Lucy. And let's just say that some of the floral decorations from their wedding at PRBC were in our sanctuary for years afterward. So, in a sense, Eddie owes his marital bliss...to me! :-)
Well, Eddie and Lucy had talked about Tortilla Flats many times, but now that I'm getting well into the "riding is really fun again, climbing is enjoyable again" weight range, I decided I needed to find out about this ride. Problem is, it is on the other side of creation from me, and this is summer in Phoenix. Get your ride done by 90 minutes after sunrise or be prepared to pay a steep price. And even then, with the dew points stuck in the 60s for the foreseeable future, long, hard efforts are going to drain you. So, you start early. Very early. In the dark early. So a few weeks ago Eddie and I planned to ride Tortilla Flats this morning. So, the alarm went off at 3:07am...that's how far a drive it is to the start from where I live. And off we went, around 5:10am, Eddie, myself, and Dave, a retired engineer who, in his sixties, can still outrun me up any hill on the planet (but he's the guy you want with you on a ride because I am convinced he could actually build a functional bike with the tools in his pack and the debris you can find alongside the road). In fact, my climbing bike Dave built himself years ago (passed it on to Eddie, who passed it on to me---bikes are expensive, and I don't know any rich folks who want to donate a 58cm Trek Madone for me to ride, so I'll take the hand-me-downs with thankfulness!).
To say it was an enjoyable ride is an understatement. To say it was a workout would be an understatement, too. I took a shot at Canyon Lake, and evidently did not save it correctly to my camera. The first two pictures are at the turn around point 18 miles in, and this one I just had to stop and take on the way back. Just a few minutes before I took this picture I had been flying down the steepest portion of the climb (9%) at 43.4 mph...I'd say "hair flying in the wind" but that would be a bit of an exaggeration. The road is not nearly as smooth as South Mountain, and I would not want to be on it Friday through Sunday (it is the main route boaters take to and from the Salt River lakes), but this morning we had the road to ourselves. It was a little windy, rather humid, but a glorious morning for a ride. And I have decided that next time, I'm taking my Droid and its 8 megapixel camera! No more cheapie flip phone pix. This kind of scenery deserves at least a few megapixels.
The Sonoran desert is truly gorgeous. It can seem stark and foreboding to many when they first see it. You have to respect it. A fellow in the parking lot where we finished our ride was telling us that they had just given up looking for three hikers in the very same area who had disappeared three weeks earlier. This is the area of the "Lost Dutchman Mine" and the like. But it has a stark beauty that you grow to appreciate over time. There are so many places like this in Arizona, from the incredible forests on the slopes of the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff through these vistas in the Superstition Mountains to the beautiful views from Mt. Lemmon in Tucson---Arizona is truly a wonder.
Yet Another Reason to Get Up at 3:45am
07/24/2010 - James White
The heavens declare the glory of God.
(Taken on my cheapie riding phone at the corner of Jomax Road and Westwing Parkway at 5:37am, over an hour into my ride. Total for the past two days: 100 miles, and that while fighting off a bug. I think I've discovered a miracle cure!).
Advantages to Being Up at 3:45am
07/16/2010 - James WhiteIf it were not for this time period during the year, everyone would live in Phoenix. But, just as there are brutal weather periods back East, so this is our "the Chamber of Commerce would rather you didn't mention conditions right now" time. Predicted high today? 115. Low this morning? Well, I was riding by 4:15am (I have a great headlight for my bike) and I have a thermometer on my Garmin 500 that plunged at one point to a bone-chilling 93.4F. That was the low at sunrise. And no, with dew points now in the upper 50s and lower 60s (even had a little rain for a few miles), it is not dry and enjoyable like it was back in May and June. So that is why you get up at 3:45am and get going, so you can get 35 miles in before the sun begins to bake you.
About ninety minutes into my ride this morning I came out from an underpass and saw this. I carry a cheapie old flip phone while riding (I have very rarely fallen, but if I do, I don't want my Droid underneath me when I land) so the picture is less than impressive (I think I will find a really light upgrade phone with a really good camera next time, as I do see some great things while riding, now, 51,000+ miles mainly in the desert). But the rain squall was creating a glowing curtain of light, and it was gorgeous. A few minutes earlier the light had been coming from the West instead of the East as it was reflecting off of cloud tops to the West but was not penetrating the thick cloud layer to the East. That was an eery feeling, as it looked like sunset instead of sunrise. In any case, the desert has a grandeur all its own, and I often find myself humming "How Great Thou Art" as I wonder at God's creation, and give thanks that I get to enjoy the health to be out there in those early morning hours.
Reflections on a Passed Saint
07/14/2010 - James WhiteI attended a memorial today for a saint of God I knew many years ago. In fact, I was his assistant for a period of time when I was in college. His name was Pastor Harold Green. He was the associate pastor of the North Phoenix Baptist Church back in the 80s and 90s (I was a member there from 1978 to 1989). Harold was the kind of guy who always had a positive word for you, always directed you to look to Jesus. He had the fastest sense of humor west of the Mississippi. I still chuckle at some of the stories he told, and cringe at the few times I tried to get one past him (it just wasn't possible). He had a real pastor's heart. The church was very, very large, and when you came in looking for guidance or help, it was normally Harold Green who you ended up dealing with.
I would like to share only two Harold Green stories briefly here. The first showed his humor. We were attending either a wedding or a funeral at the church. I even remember where we were sitting in the very large main auditorium, and I happened to be sitting next to Harold Green (which makes me think this was a wedding, since, in your late teens/early twenties you attend a lot more of those than you do funerals, and the slow and noticeable transition between the predominance of the one over the other is, I think, part of God's way of reminding you that your a mortal and you should be considering eternity). In any case, they started that well known song, "Morning Has Broken." Harold leaned over to me and in his own inimitable style said, "Please, whatever you do, make sure they do NOT sing this song at my funeral." Well, I just attended the funeral, and his wishes were carefully observed.
But the far more important story relates to something he said to me that I have carried with me my entire life. (I am thankful that I and my father had lunch with Harold about two years ago or so, and I had the opportunity to tell him about this incident, and how much it had impacted me). The staff at NPBC was very large, and as is the case when you put redeemed sinners together in close quarters, sometimes friction developed. Well, I saw Harold mistreated, clearly, by one of the other staff members out in the main area of the offices (I had a small office directly across from Harold's). I followed Harold into his office and asked him, "Harold, how do you put up with that?" And he turned to me and said, "Jim, if you ever get your eyes off the Shepherd and onto the sheep, you will burn out of the ministry quickly." I have never forgotten those words, to be sure, and am thankful for the wisdom I learned from Harold Green.
The memorial was more like a reunion. It was surreal to see so many people I had not seen, in most cases for twenty one years. Some had changed little, some had changed a lot. But, we had all changed. I had hoped Rick Green would be there, Harold's son, and he was. Rick and I had sung in a group there at NPBC called "Liberation." Some of my fondest memories go back to Liberation and the traveling we did, singing in churches all over the area (we even won the small group competition at the Christian Music Festival in Estes Park, Colorado, in the summer of 1981). Rick sang tenor, I sang bass. Time has been far more kind to him in appearance than it has to me, to be sure! And I really wanted to make sure to get a chance to say hello to Pastor Richard Jackson. My wife was with me, and I knew that he would never recognize me, but he would probably recognize my wife, since she, like Rick Green, looks almost identical to how she looked when Richard Jackson officiated at our wedding in June of 1982. Pastor Jackson was very gracious, and said that he has kept up with my work, and is thankful for what the Lord has done in my life. It was great to get a chance to speak with him, if only briefly.
I am sure Harold Green would have been pleased that some of us (myself included) had to stand along the walls of the chapel building (which is larger than most church buildings, seating over 500) for his memorial. And yet, there was much laughter, much joy, for you just could not think back upon your interactions with Harold without smiling. So many of us had gone our various ways, and it was a reunion tinged with sadness, yet, with an abiding joy and thankfulness for a life lived in service to Christ.
The Lord Knows All. He Has All Wisdom. He Encourages His Children
07/03/2010 - James WhiteWhen I went to bed last night I had no idea I would spend the entirety of Saturday writing a small book in response to the further promotion of an evangelical cover-up, a sad defense of the blatantly indefensible. But the Lord knew, of course (sorry, open theists, you are just wrong!). Now, I mentioned in my "geek video" posted a few days ago that I have moved from the BlackBerry to the Droid (HTC Incredible, specifically). It is a lot easier, and faster, for me to check my mail on the Droid than it had been on the BlackBerry, so as I was laying down I decided to just take a quick look. Two e-mails had arrived in the few minutes that passed between my shutting down my Mac and getting to bed. They came from two brothers, neither of which I get to see with any regularity. One is local, one far away. In any case, both e-mails were tremendously encouraging, and I was able to go to sleep with peace, thanks to those brothers. They know who they are.
During the day today, as I was laboring on the four-part response, two more brothers sent unsolicited e-mails of encouragement as well. I was reminded of the previous evening, and was once again thankful for the people of God and the fellowship of the Spirit. So to all who have written in encouragement, who understand the necessity of integrity in preaching, exegesis, theology, and apologetics---thank you once again. I know God is still in charge, and we need to remain faithful even in the face of compromise and error.