Today on The Paul Edwards Program – February 5, 2010

Conversations with Today’s Influencers and Critical Thinkers

4:00 pm – A True American Hero
My guest at the beginning of today’s program is Admiral Jeremiah Denton. Admiral Denton is also the former Senator from Alabama (1981 – 1987). He spent nearly eight years as a POW in Vietnam and is best known as the naval aviator who used his eyes to blink the word “TORTURE” in Morse code during a televised interrogation.

Admiral Denton is a Christian and the author of the book, When Hell Was in Session, made into a motion picture starring Hal Holbrooke.

4:20 pm – Shaping How We Lead by Who We Are
How does our internal relationship with God affect or influence our external relationships with others, especially in the realm of leadership? Robert Fryling is publisher of InterVarsity Press. He brings his years of leadership experience to bear on the issue how we think about our leadership goals and values.

5:05 pm – Christianity and the Culture of Sports
With the Superbowl coming up on Sunday, what better time to examine critically the relationship between sports and faith. Shirl James Hoffman has written an excellent critical analysis of how faith – especially evangelicalism – has acquiesed to a sports culture: Good Game: Christianity and the Culture of Sports.

5:25 pm – The Controversy over Scripture References on Rifle Sights
In the last month it was revealed that a Wixom, MI manufacturer of rifle sights for the US military has customarily inscribed Bible references as part of the serial number on each sight. This has raised concerns about a “Christian Crusade” against Muslims since most of those sights are being used by our military in predominantly Muslim countries. Tom Munsosn from Trijicon – the manufacturer of the sights – gives us his perspective.

Lead, Mr. President

The terror “event” over Detroit on Christmas Day hits closer to home for me than it may for many other people around the country. I live in Detroit. The house I grew up in, the house my 81 year old mother still lives in, is in the landing pattern of Detroit Wayne County Metropolitan Airport where Abdulmutallab had planned to detonate himself with the intent of causing catastrophic loss of life in the air and as much collateral damage on the ground as possible.

So when President Obama held a press conference to update the country on his administration’s response to this near “man made disaster” in the skies over Detroit, you can bet I was hanging on every word. He made his nine minute statement having just emerged from a high level meeting with his cabinet to formulate a response to the Flight 253 attack.

The president called his cabinet together “because we face a challenge of the utmost urgency,” but evidently not so urgent that his aides didn’t inform him about the terror attack over Detroit until three hours after the plane landed. He didn’t make a public statement about it until three days after it had happened. He continued his Hawaiian vacation for ten days after it happened. Remember that President Bush was roundly criticized for continuing to read to kindergartners for five minutes after the attack on 9/11.

The president’s non-pulsed response to a critical breach of airline security not seen since 9/11 is inexplicable unless one concludes that the president does not view his actions or those of his administration as in any way responsible for the breach. In his response to the terror over Detroit he spoke of the “systemic failures” of the  “intelligence community” and “the U.S. Government,” as if these were entities without a face totally disconnected from his presidency. In fact, in his statement President Obama took no responsibility at all for the failures leading up to the attack over Detroit. Rather he informed us that 

 “…the system has failed in a potentially disastrous way. And it’s my responsibility to find out why and to correct that failure so that we can prevent such attacks in the future.”

So the president calls a press conference to inform us that he isn’t responsible for the system failing. He’s only responsible for finding out why the system failed. He sounded more like a high school football coach whose team is down by 12 at half time:

“Time and again we’ve learned that quickly piecing together information and taking swift action is critical to staying one step ahead of a nimble adversary. So we have to do better, and we will do better. And we have to do it quickly.”

While the president takes no responsibility for “the systemic failures” which allowed a terrorist with a bomb in his pants to board a U. S. aircraft, it seems individual members of his cabinet do take some limited responsibility:

“I appreciate that each of [the members of my team] took responsibility for the shortfalls within their own agencies.”

The president has obviously surrounded himself with imbeciles. He admits that his closest advisers are responsible for “shortfalls within their own agencies” which led to an attack (not a potential attack) on United States citizens on an aircraft bearing United States markings and nobody gets fired?

Nobody gets fired because this president doesn’t view his administration as in any way responsible for what happened over Detroit on Christmas Day. As a matter of fact, I’m not so certain the president even holds the terrorists responsible. The way the president sees it, it’s we – the American people – who make the terrorists want to hate us, maim us, kill us, and disrupt our way of life because of how we have mistreated Al Qaeda enemy combatants at Gitmo! And he’s serious:

“Make no mistake, we will close Guantanamo prison, which has damaged our national security interest and become a tremendous recruiting tool for Al Qaeda. In fact, that was an explicit rationale for the formation of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.”

Enough of this blaming America. It’s time to lead, Mr. President. It’s your “system.” It’s your “intelligence community.” It’s your “U. S. Government.” You’re no longer the Senator from Illinois throwing partisan bricks at the occupant of the White House from the safety of your perch on Capitol Hill. You’re the president. Not of the world, but of the United States. You have been for nearly a year. It’s time to stop blaming “the last eight years.” It’s time for you, Mr. President, to take responsibility for allowing an attack on the United States, thwarted though it was by heroes who were able to accomplish with mere brute force what billions of tax dollars and government bureaucracy was charged with doing but failed to do.

Your first priority as Commander in Chief is to protect the citizens of the United States, not our image in the eyes of the world or the sensibilities of those who hate us. Lead, Mr. President, or get out of the way.

The “Chicken and Egg” Question for Church Leaders

Mark Driscoll makes an interesting point in this article at Resurgence:

 “…administrative structures grow to prepare for numerical growth…”

Most churches wait for the growth before adding ministry programs and never see it because the structure isn’t in place for growth to happen. This structure must include the right programs with the right people leading those programs. 

What are we waiting for? In what areas do our “administrative structures” need to grow in order to see numerical growth? What are these “adminstrative structures”? Should there be a programming priority (children’s ministry before youth ministry before worship ministry before…)?

Are Sunday School teachers prepared to deal with this?

CB103934From Symantec, the internet security people, comes this disturbing list of 100 online search terms used by your kids (ages 18 and under). For kids under age 7, “porn” is the number four most searched for word. “Sex” is number four with kids ages 8 – 18.

The study also shows that many kids are using search engines to find ways to disable or get around website blockers installed by parents.

What are the implications for youth and children’s ministry in your church? Kent Shaffer at offers this:

From a children’s ministry perspective, it is important to realize that statistically quite a few 7-year-olds in your class are searching for porn and exposing themselves to things much more serious than what traditional lessons cover. Obviously, children’s ministries cannot be straightforward about sex, but being too vague doesn’t work either.

Perhaps there are subtle ways to layer lessons with mature spiritual principles. Ideally, children’s ministry lessons should clearly yet subtly word things in a way that trains, helps, and ministers to the kids who are hurting and/or have picked up bad habits while simultaneously “going over the heads” and still teaching the kids who still have their innocence. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done.