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Archive for August, 2013

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Polyergus breviceps parasitic queen

Point: Contrary to the spirit of our age, the New Testament has a lot to say about false teaching and false teachers.  Believers are to be on the alert for them, to resist false doctrines , refute them, warn others about it and not to fellowship with false teachers.  Sometimes Christians today lack discernment and often will just let false teachers go because they use Christian vocabulary with different meanings; that is, false teachers have a pass among some Christians because their false teachings are “sprinkled” with a little bit of Christianese even though the true meaning of their contents are not Christian at all.  It might be appropriate to get the idea across that Christians must be aware of false teachers (be it in the form of a cult leader, compromiser, Liberal or secularists) with the following illustration.

Picture: Polyergus breviceps is a species of ant that is a “social parasite” of three other species of ants: the Formica gnava, Formica occulta and Formica argentea.  According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyergus_breviceps), these ants have

lost its ability to take care of its young and themselves. “The workers do not forage for food, feed the young or the queen, or even clean up their own nest”.[3] In order to survive, Polyergus workers raid Formica nests in order to steal the pupae which once hatched, become workers of the mixed nest.

Sounds like secular humanists who don’t have children of their own but wishes to control other people’s kids ideologically and otherwise, if you ask me.  The Wikipedia page continues,

What makes Polyergus special is the way a newly mated queen can, all by herself, take over a Formica nest and start a new colony.

The way the Queen Ant goes about it is further described:

After finding a Formica nest, she finds an entrance and is immediately attacked by Formica worker. The queen responds by biting with her sharp mandibles and releasing a pheromone from her enlargedDufour’s gland that, unlike many other parasitic ants, has a pacifying effect. The queen quickly searches for and locates the Formica queen and, with her adapted mandibles, proceeds to bite and lick various parts the Formica queen for an average of 25 minutes.[4] “Within seconds of the host queens death, the nest undergoes a most remarkable transformation”.[3] The Formica workers cease to be aggressive to the intruder and start to groom thePolyergus queen as if it were their own.[3] The takeover now complete, the Polyergus queen gains not only a nest, but a worker caste as well. She then lays her eggs and the cycle continues.

How does the Queen ant manage to control these other ants?  There are two important chemical strategies described.

First, the Queen releases a pheromone that reduces the defense of her victims:

Specific to Polyergus, when the queen first enters a Formica nest she releases a pheromone from her enlarged Dufour’s gland. Topoff did experiments to show that this pheromone has an important facilitative effect in colony usurpation; it reduces the aggression of the defending Formica workers. The researchers took the Dufour’s, pygidial, and poison glands from freshly mated Polyergus queens, using water as a negative control. These were crushed in distilled water to make a solution containing their extracts. Because it was impossible to prevent a Polyergus queen from secreting their own pheromones during a live encounter, they used the harvester ant Pogonomyrmex occidentalis (naturally attacked by Formica) as the subject. These ants were dipped in the above solutions, one ant/solution/test at a time, and placed in a petri dish with three Formica occulta “attackers”. They were observed for three minutes to see for how long the Pogonomyrmex was attacked.[5] The results were as follows: “the mean duration of aggression by the Dufour’s gland treatment was 53.3 seconds…The mean duration of aggression for the water, pygidial gland, and poison gland controls were: 143.5 seconds, and 137.2 seconds and 132.2 seconds respectively”.[5]

This is analogous to the tactics of false teachers ability to pacify resistance, whether it’s an appeal to “tolerance,” “unity,” the use of flattery, tickling of the hearer’s ear, etc.

Secondly, the Queen tricks her victims by absorbing the chemical of the original Queen by licking the dead or killed queen:

Topoff and Ellen Zimmerli also did experiments to prove that the Polyergus queen “tricks” the Formica colony by obtaining chemicals from the Formica queen in the process of killing her. In one test, the Formica queen was killed (by flash freezing then thawing) prior to Polyergus contact. Even though it was already dead, the Polyergus queen bit, stabbed, and licked the queen just as if it were alive: and the Polyergus was consequently accepted by the colony.[4] Another test showed that if no Formica queen was present, then Polyergus had little chance of a successful takeover. Clearly, the Formica queen is providing some sort of chemical(s) to the Polyergus queen, however unintentionally. That takeover can occur even if the host queen is dead, but not if she is not present, proves that chemical absorption is important. The Polyergus queen needs only kill one host queen to be accepted. If the colony was polygynistic, the Polyergus queen can take her time finding the other queens. “Hour by hour, day by day, she methodically locates and kills every Formica queen, sometimes taking several weeks to clear out all remnants of opposition”.[3]

 This is analogous to the tactics of false teachers equivocating Christian terminology in order to gain acceptance.

Conclusion

As Christians we must be careful to discern, warn and refute false teachers and their false teaching that comes into our midst and wishes to take over.

 

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Foundationless picture

These are Presuppositional/VanTillian/Covenantal apologetics links from around the web between August 15th-21st 2013.  What other links did we miss?

1.) 

2.) 

3.) 

4.) Is God a Jerk?

5.) Collection of 

6.) One and the Many Problem

7.) Making Faces–Article by Dr. Oliphint

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Every Good Endeavor Keller

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

This works explore the Gospel implication towards the area of work and career. I wish there were more books on work from a Christian perspective that’s Gospel driven. While Tim Keller doesn’t answer everything concerning a Christian view of work, the book does manage to do a good job of laying down the foundation of a Christian view of work—and as a result this book was better than I originally expected. I appreciated Keller’s consciousness of worldviews—and worldviews as meta-narratives. If one’s foundational presuppositions (what Keller calls “first order beliefs”) is off, then it would definitely lead to practical problems concerning work and employment. The book is divided into three section—God’s plan for work, our problem with work and the Gospel and Work. The conscious reader will noticed this three fold division of the book reflects the Christian Creation, Fall Redemption motif. This is definitely a reflection of Keller’s attempt to address the issue of work from the Gospel. I thought the book was nuance enough to deal with some of the complexity of work in today’s sin-saturated world: Keller is careful enough in his work to make sure a Christian view of work doesn’t make one self-righteous, thinking they are necessarily better than non-believers at work. Bringing the Reformed doctrine of Common Grace, he accounts for why non-Christians can sometimes even do their work better than Christians! And this is true in spite of the destructive world views some people hold to. In addition, Keller pointed out that for the Christian we don’t work to be accepted but the Gospel declares we already accepted by God because our sins are atoned for by Jesus. Therefore, we are free from the shackles of self when we work because we now live to please God—there is no need to seek work and accomplishments at work as a form of salvation. Keller also noted how the reality of sin means our work will be frustrated in this side of eternity and that we should expect it—yet our eternity in heaven means we might finish some of our task that’s our deepest longing then. If one follows Keller’s footnotes you will definitely tell that he’s a man who reads much and quite diversely. I only have two criticisms of the book: The first being in chapter six his approach to the book of Ecclesiastes adopt the outlook and conclusion of theological liberals such as his belief that the book had two narrators, the book was not authored by Solomon and thereby the genre was a “fictional biography,” etc. I was surprised at his omission of any conservative arguments to the contrary. Secondly, in a section of chapter eight in which Keller was talking about the idols of Postmodern cultures, he writes that “ultimately postmodern thought makes an idol out of reality as it is” (145). I would disagree: I think postmodernity’s idol is not reality per se, but “perspectives” and “perceptions” of that reality, in which one can only get a “slice” of what is real, provided if we can know it depending on the particular Postmodernist. Postmodern’s theme that there is no objective knowledge given our participation in the process of knowing things slant it to idolize fragmenting knowledge into tribes such as Asian American, post-colonial, post-Christian, feminists perspective, etc.

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NOTE: The following is a handout for a topical message/discussion on the issue of suffering, an important pastoral/counseling/apologetics issue that is best addressed before someone goes through tough times and trials in their life.

Storm Wikipedia

Don’t Waste Your Suffering (Handout)

Selected Scripture

Purpose: Have a biblical understanding of suffering so that you have hope in Christ when life’s trials come upon you.
FIRST, don’t be surprise when suffering comes

Jesus tells us this: John 16:33

Apostle Peter tells us this: 1 Peter 4:12

Secondly, understand…

1.) God is in control (Matthew 10:29)

 

2.) God uses suffering in our lives for our good (Romans 8:28)

 

3.) You can handle the suffering God gives you (1 Corinthians 10:13)

 

How God uses suffering:

1.) God uses suffering to make us like Christ (Romans 8:29)

 

2.) God uses suffering to produce in us hope (Romans 5:3-5)

 

3.) Suffering shows us the mercy and compassion of God (James 5:10-11)

 

4.) Suffering makes us have eternity in perspective (2 Corinthians 4:17 cf. 1 Peter 4:13)

 

5.) Suffering is a way of relating to Jesus (Philippians 3:10)

 

6.) Suffering is a way of manifesting to others Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:18-20)

 

7.) Suffering allows us to comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

 

Responding to suffering in light of God’s truth:

1.) Go to God for comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

 

2.) Be comforted that one day Suffering will be no more (Revelation 21:4)

 

3.) See future glory greater than present reality of suffering (Romans 8:18)

 

4.) Rejoice, since suffering is a gift (Philippians 1:29)

 

5.) Rejoice, since God is completing you (James 1:2-4)

 

6.) Make sure you are saved

 

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HC

Purchase: Amazon

An excellent work by economist Thomas Sowell.  This is the second book I’ve read by Sowell and he doesn’t disappoint.  This book is about intellectuals, which he define as those whose occupation is chiefly dealing with ideas as the product that they market.  Here Sowell makes a good distinction between intellect and wisdom; and just because intellectuals deal with ideas do not necessarily mean they are wise or correct.  Nor does that mean they are smarter than others (such as doctors, chess masters, etc).  In fact, as Sowell goes on to argue in the book, typically intellectuals are those with specialized knowledge (versus ‘mundane’ knowledge) who seeks the approval of peers which can immune them from the typical tests of removing good and bad ideas through the market such as other job sector.  This in turn allows intellectuals’ bad ideas to go on for a long time and often intellectuals get away from the responsibility of their bad ideas with little or no consequences.  The book has a wonderful chapter on specialized knowledge that has led some intellectuals to think they thus have authority to speak on other areas outside of their specialty (think of Bertrand Russell, Noam Chomsky, etc).  I enjoyed Sowell’s example of this in the case of how some liberal intellectuals criticize police officers’ for firing too much rounds in officer related shooting.  The criticism often is without the consideration of studies on gunfire under stress, where a NYPD study shows the low accuracy of shooting under pressure (such as shooting a target 16-25 yards away in life-risking scenario results in 14 percent hit, etc).  At times intellectuals can be down right misleading with their twisted worldview such as the uncritically accepted notion in history that president Herbert Hoover did nothing during the Great Depression or how Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is nothing more than a loner and a follower of Anthony Scalia, etc.  Readers will enjoy Sowell’s examination of the axioms intellectuals take for granted such as the “One day at a time mentality” of the elite versus long haul consequences of action.  I was surprise that the book devoted two chapters on intellectuals view on war.  I highly recommend this book and wish to read more like it.

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contradiction

Over the years I have noted in the blog of the incredible intolerance coming from the Tolerance crowd: From last year’s frightening Hatred of Pro-Homosexual advocates against Chick Fil A to last month’s Christian preachers being attacked by hate mongers during PrideFest 2013: there are more and more examples of this on the news with each passing day.  If one doubt that Secular Humanism is a religion, look at the Left’s Political Correctness becoming the new blasphemy codes.

Two news story stood out this week:

(1) Gospel singer and Ex-Gay Donnie McClurkin have been axed out from MLK memorial concert by the Mayor of Washington D.C. after pressure from Gay Rights Activist.  Or should we say political correctness “Hack-Away”-ist.

(2) Then there’s the story of Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk Punished for Objecting to Gay Marriage.  My, how the situation has changed in our military:  At one time being openly homosexuality was forbidden then we get Clinton’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy” and now being against homosexuality in one’s personal view can bring about consequences for a service member’s career.

What now?

As Christians we need to keep on standing for what is right and speak out against what is false and sin.  Yet we must not forget to lead the discussion to the Gospel and Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior of our sins.  We must also keep on pressing the antithesis by challenging the idolatrous worldviews driving the attack against Christianity while also noting the inconsistencies and rational dilemma of those who attack the Christian worldview.  The best way to get to the worldview behind the attack against Christianity is to ask for the basis for their morality–given that they believe we *OUGHT to be tolerant and loving, where does this oughtness and moral obligation comes from?

We are living in a time where we need believers to have more Gospel clarity and a wholistic, Biblical and Presuppositional apologetics in engaging the World.  Never forget to share the Gospel Hope of how sinners can be made right with God by God’s Grace Alone, Through Faith Alone in Christ Alone.

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procrastination-walter-henegar-paperback-cover-art

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover–and also it’s size.  This little booklet is useful for biblical counseling as a booklet for the counselee to go through and underline/highlight.  It is practical, addresses the heart of the issue and is Gospel based and Gospel driven–all major plus as to why one should have this book handy.  I just used it with someone in my church and realized that I can definitely use this booklet with others as well.  As with all good counseling resources, it’s not only useful for others–it was also convicting for me as the Pastor reading this.  Walter Henegar’s booklet has challenged me to think about procrastination biblically–typically I think of it as being lazy or something I’m not doing.  The author notes that it’s not just an issue of something absent, but also what is it that is present and a substitute of what one ought to be doing.  The booklet is also able to give gospel hope for why believers can change.  Highly Recommended.

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