Friday, August 31, 2012

Snakes are Scary: I cannot preach like this...

What she says.

How she says it.

To whom she says it.

I cannot preach like this.

It's worth every minute of the almost 7 minutes.  And then you need to watch it again.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mercy and Justice

There are several provocative pieces out responding to the relative "slap on the wrist" given to Anders Breivik, the Norwegian murderer of 77 who apologized to his kind for not killing more.  A mere 21 years in prison is what he got.  If that boy was in Texas...

I'm a little bit (or a lot) old school on this.  I think prison is not for rehab but for punishment.  I say this as one who has a sibling in the penal system whose job it is to help inmates become educationally equipped to handle the outside world.  And I'm fine with that, as long as its in the context of justice and punishment.

Here's why I think it has to be that way:  if you focus on rehabilitation or deterrence or even no-longer-a-threat, you're not asking the right question.  I think the question has to be this:  what did the guilty party deserve?

Focusing on rehab makes the guilty person into a sick person who needs to be cured, not an offender who needs to be punished.  Could the person be ill, addicted, infested, demonic, or anything else?  Yes.  And should some sway be given to a judge in that moment?  Probably.  But focusing on rehab instead of punishment takes the innate "ought" out of the equation.  It also victimizes the offender.  I call that no good.

Focusing on punishment as a deterrent to others misses the point altogether.  It leaves out both victim and perpetrator and focuses on the people who aren't even involved in the matter at hand.  Blech.

Focusing on no-longer-a-threat makes the guilty person into a risk probability who can be measured, weighed, or evaluated.  But again, the question of what they deserved is not being asked.  Instead, it's a simple utilitarian, mathematical equation.  If the risk is over X-percent, he stays in jail.  If not, let him out.  I call that no good too.  

C.S. Lewis said this and it couldn't be said any better...
Mercy, detached from Justice, grows unmerciful. That is the important paradox. As there are plants which will flourish only in mountain soil, so it appears that Mercy will flower only when it grows in the crannies of the rock of Justice; transplanted to the marshlands of mere Humanitarianism, it becomes a man-eating weed. (from the essay, The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment)
Justice should be given in instances like this.  And a pathetic 21 years for 77 murders falls woefully short.

And then I remember that I have stood before God as guilty as Anders Breivik.  And infinitely more so.  And while public justice should be unswerving, God's justice was accomplished and His mercy was shown at the cross.  It's enough to devastate.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Churches: Get an Interim

This post may not be valuable to you now, but it just might some day.

I'm (too) acquainted with a church that is going through quite the brouhaha in their pastoral search process.  One of the things adding to up-and-down nature of it is they are using current staff to preach on Sundays.

I've been asked no less than four times what I think about that situation.  Every time my answer has been the same:  get an interim pastor.

The response has been the same each of those four times:  we have people who can preach on Sundays, so why spend the resources or muddy the waters with yet one more body around.

I'm not saying I'm the smartest guy in the room in any room I'm in.  But I think an interim pastor serves several purposes...

1.  An interim pastor can preach on Sundays.  And he can often say things that others cannot or will not.

2.  An interim pastor can lead the staff.  In most every case you can describe or experience, the staff needs leadership from a central source.  And whether the church is congregational, monarchial, or prebyterian in its polity and leadership structure, a single focal point of leadership and accountability is crucial.

3.  An interim pastor brings a fresh set of eyes.  And that's much-needed in most cases.

I was blessed, unbelievably, by the interim pastor who preceded me at Heritage Park.  He said things that needed to be said.  He led the staff.  He brought fresh eyes to the situation.  And he set the church up for the transition.  I stepped into a functioning and ready-to-be-led environment because of his willingness to serve as the interim pastor.

So if you're ever in a position where your church is in pastoral transition, wave the flag for an interim.  It'll do the (church) body good.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mindset List for the Class of 2016

Reprinted in its entirety from Beloit College.  Funny stuff...
The Mindset List for the Class of 2016
For this generation of entering college students, born in 1994, Kurt Cobain, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Richard Nixon and John Wayne Gacy have always been dead.
1.They should keep their eyes open for Justin Bieber or Dakota Fanning at freshman orientation.
2.They have always lived in cyberspace, addicted to a new generation of “electronic narcotics.”
3.The Biblical sources of terms such as “Forbidden Fruit,” “The writing on the wall,” “Good Samaritan,” and “The Promised Land” are unknown to most of them.
4.Michael Jackson’s family, not the Kennedys, constitutes “American Royalty.”
5.If they miss The Daily Show, they can always get their news on YouTube. 
6.Their lives have been measured in the fundamental particles of life: bits, bytes, and bauds.
7.Robert De Niro is thought of as Greg Focker's long-suffering father-in-law, not as Vito Corleone or Jimmy Conway.
8.Bill Clinton is a senior statesman of whose presidency they have little knowledge.
9.They have never seen an airplane “ticket.”
10.         On TV and in films, the ditzy dumb blonde female generally has been replaced by a couple of Dumb and Dumber males.
11.         The paradox "too big to fail" has been, for their generation, what "we had to destroy the village in order to save it" was for their grandparents'.
12.         For most of their lives, maintaining relations between the U.S. and the rest of the world has been a woman’s job in the State Department.
13.         They can’t picture people actually carrying luggage through airports rather than rolling it.
14.         There has always been football in Jacksonville but never in Los Angeles.
15.         Having grown up with MP3s and iPods, they never listen to music on the car radio and really have no use for radio at all.
16.         Since they've been born, the United States has measured progress by a 2 percent jump in unemployment and a 16 cent rise in the price of a first class postage stamp.
17.         Benjamin Braddock, having given up both a career in plastics and a relationship with Mrs. Robinson, could be their grandfather.
18.         Their folks have never gazed with pride on a new set of bound encyclopedias on the bookshelf.
19.         The Green Bay Packers have always celebrated with the Lambeau Leap.
20.         Exposed bra straps have always been a fashion statement, not a wardrobe malfunction to be corrected quietly by well-meaning friends.
21.         A significant percentage of them will enter college already displaying some hearing loss.
22.         The Real World has always stopped being polite and started getting real on MTV.
23.         Women have always piloted war planes and space shuttles.
24.         White House security has never felt it necessary to wear rubber gloves when gay groups have visited.
25.         They have lived in an era of instant stardom and self-proclaimed celebrities, famous for being famous.
26.         Having made the acquaintance of Furby at an early age, they have expected their toy friends to do ever more unpredictable things.
27.         Outdated icons with images of floppy discs for “save,” a telephone for “phone,” and a snail mail envelope for “mail” have oddly decorated their tablets and smart phone screens.
28.         Star Wars has always been just a film, not a defense strategy.
29.         They have had to incessantly remind their parents not to refer to their CDs and DVDs as “tapes.”
30.         There have always been blue M&Ms, but no tan ones.’
31.         Along with online viewbooks, parents have always been able to check the crime stats for the colleges their kids have selected.
32.         Newt Gingrich has always been a key figure in politics, trying to change the way America thinks about everything.
33.         They have come to political consciousness during a time of increasing doubts about America’s future.
34.         Billy Graham is as familiar to them as Otto Graham was to their parents.
35.         Probably the most tribal generation in history, they despise being separated from contact with their similar-aged friends. 
36.         Stephen Breyer has always been an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.
37.         Martin Lawrence has always been banned from hosting Saturday Night Live.
38.         Slavery has always been unconstitutional in Mississippi, and Southern Baptists have always been apologizing for supporting it in the first place.
39.         The Metropolitan Opera House in New York has always translated operas on seatback screens.
40.         A bit of the late Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, has always existed in space.
41.         Good music programmers are rock stars to the women of this generation, just as guitar players were for their mothers.
42.         Gene therapy has always been an available treatment.
43.         They were too young to enjoy the 1994 World Series, but then no one else got to enjoy it either.
44.         The folks have always been able to grab an Aleve when the kids started giving them a migraine.
45.         While the iconic TV series for their older siblings was the sci-fi show Lost, for them it’s Breaking Bad, a gritty crime story motivated by desperate economic circumstances.
46.         Simba has always had trouble waiting to be King.
47.         Before they purchase an assigned textbook, they will investigate whether it is available for rent or purchase as an e-book.
48.         They grew up, somehow, without the benefits of Romper Room.
49.         There has always been a World Trade Organization.
50.         L.L. Bean hunting shoes have always been known as just plain Bean Boots.
51.         They have always been able to see Starz on Direct TV.
52.         Ice skating competitions have always been jumping matches.
53.         There has always been a Santa Clause.
54.         NBC has never shown A Wonderful Life more than twice during the holidays.
55.         Mr. Burns has replaced J.R.Ewing as the most shot-at man on American television.
56.         They have always enjoyed school and summer camp memories with a digital yearbook.
57.         Herr Schindler has always had a List; Mr. Spielberg has always had an Oscar.
58.         Selena's fans have always been in mourning.
59.         They know many established film stars by their voices on computer-animated blockbusters.
60.         History has always had its own channel.
61.         Thousands have always been gathering for “million-man” demonstrations in Washington, D.C.
62.         Television and film dramas have always risked being pulled because the story line was too close to the headlines from which they were ”ripped.”
63.         TheTwilight Zone involves vampires, not Rod Serling.
64.         Robert Osborne has always been introducing Hollywood history on TCM.
65.         Little Caesar has always been proclaiming “Pizza Pizza.”
66.         They have no recollection of when Arianna Huffington was a conservative.
67.         Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has always been officially recognized with clinical guidelines.
68.         They watch television everywhere but on a television.
69.         Pulp Fiction’s meal of a "Royale with Cheese" and an “Amos and Andy milkshake” has little or no resonance with them.
70.         Point-and-shoot cameras are soooooo last millennium.
71.         Despite being preferred urban gathering places, two-thirds of the independent bookstores in the United States have closed for good during their lifetimes.
72.         Astronauts have always spent well over a year in a single space flight.
73.         Lou Gehrig's record for most consecutive baseball games played has never stood in their lifetimes.
74.         Genomes of living things have always been sequenced.
75.         The Sistine Chapel ceiling has always been brighter and cleaner.
Copyright© 2012 Beloit College
Mindset List is a registered trademark

Monday, August 27, 2012

Remaking Jesus

A sweet, well-intentioned, elderly lady is catching all sorts of grief from all sorts of people.  I'll go ahead and pile on.

The lady decided to help the church by restoring a fresco painted in the late 1800's or early 1900's.  It had been painted in the Sanctuary of Mercy Church near Zaragoza, Spain.  Behold the Man was painted originally by Elias Garcia Martinez.

Here's what happened...

Now here's the deal.  Yes, it's a terrible restoration.  Some have said it looks like a kid's Crayon drawing of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic.  That may be harsh or true.

Here's what is true.

I take a brush to Jesus all the time.  I make Him look like what I want on a whim.  My remake is at-will.  And it involves the way I treat others.  It involves the way I pray.  It involves what I feel entitled to from Him.  It involves what I call "His will" when it's really my preference.  It also shows up when I get to be the evaluator of worship, whether or not it was "good" or "moving."


Pass me a Crayon.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sermon Notes from 8.26.12

Here are the sermon notes from today's sermon in a two-part series called Seeing Jesus.  This week we looked at Paul's encounter with the risen Christ in Acts 9.  To get these notes in PDF and the sermon audio, please visit  You can also get the audio via our podcast on iTunes.

Seeing Jesus 
Part 1 – Blinding Light 
Acts 9.1-19

Heart of the series: “We want to see Jesus” (John 12). 

Today’s IF: we would leave everything and follow Him.

We would leave behind our past.

  • Whether good or bad, we turn from it and to Him.
  • When we follow Him, He gives us a new future.

We would leave behind our direction.

  • We leave it behind because He is The King.
  • When we follow Him, He gives us a new identity.

We would leave behind our comfort.

  • We leave it behind because it doesn’t hold the same appeal anymore.
  • When we follow Him, He gives us a new purpose.

You may have to take some time and figure it out. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Snakes are Scary: Book Recommendation?

Yes, this is a real book.

No, I don't think anyone should buy it.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I wish Johnny Cash was a member of our church

Really, I do.  I remember listening to him on my grandpa's old records and 8-Tracks.  Most folks my age met him in the movies.  Joaquin Phoenix practically channeled him.  If you've ever watched the movie Walk the Line, you know the drama and frustration and brokenness and ugliness and redemption within it all.

But man it is ugly at first.  Drugs.  Loneliness.  Alcohol.  Addiction.  Adultery.  Stupor.  Stupidity.

And right in the middle of it is honest music and the art of survival (as well as the survival of art - the kind that tugs at your soul and makes you wonder if he knew something you didn't).

Messy.  Man, it's messy.

And I said this on Sunday at church, and I mean it now:  the better we do church, the messier it's going to get.  I rode in the car today to lunch with our worship pastor, Frank, and told him about how I wanted to get things right on the organizational side of our organization called Heritage Park.  But I also know that running an efficient organization doesn't always make a church nor push the Kingdom forward.

When the Gospel goes forth, the lost get saved, the broken get healed, and the prodigals come home.  But lost folks are messy.  Broken people bleed.  And prodigals stink like pig slop.

But it sure makes for a great church.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Repost: Funny and True ~ 10 things about Church you should know

I stole this from Kevin DeYoung, who has some darn funny posts on occasion.  I will say you may not find all of these as funny as I did, but there are some chuckle moments contained therein...

Ten Things About Church You Should Know (But No One Had the Guts to Tell You)

There is no sin in making little mistakes of spelling or grammar. We all make them. But in case you wanted to know (you probably don’t), or in case you wanted to mention it gently to someone else (more likely), here are ten tiny things to keep in mind as you lead in worship, prepare the bulletin, or just converse about the church service.
1. There are 150 psalms in the Bible. This collection is called the Psalter or simply The Psalms. Each chapter in the book is an individual psalm. So even though we call the book “The Psalms” you’ll want to say “Psalm 23″ instead of “Psalms 23.” As much as we love that chapter, it still only counts for one psalm.
2. Speaking of extra S’s, the last book of the Bible is “Revelation”-in the singular. It may produce many revelations in us, but apparently it was all of a piece for John (Rev. 1:1).
3. A word to the selfless souls who input song lyrics for Sunday morning: “Oh” is not the same as “O.” The former is an exclamation, an emotional cry of anger, excitement, despair, or surprise. The latter is a vocative form of address usually followed by a name or title. If you lose your wallet and say “O God” you are probably praying to find it. If you say “Oh God” you are doing something else.
4. When the worship leader and the congregation go back and forth with a passage of Scripture or a prayer, that’s reading responsively. You may also call the congregation to read responsibly, but they’ll likely try to do that anyway.
5. Martin Luther made his famous stand at the Diet of Worms, with the i pronounced likeee and the w like a v. Or at least that will get you pretty close, and no one will snicker.
6. The shiny book with all the church pictures is a pictorial directory, but the man listed toward the front of the book does not engage in pastorial ministry. There’s no “I” in pastoral work.
7. While the i’s have our attentions, please note the difference between Arminians and Armenians. John Wesley was an Arminian. Alice Panikian, a former Miss Universe from Canada, is Armenian. Don’t confuse the ethnicity with the theology. I can’t comment on Panikian’s views on the doctrines of grace, but I’m fairly certain I can guess Wesley’s opinion of the Miss Universe pageant.
8. Keeping with the Wesleys, you remember that Hark! The Herald Angels Sing is one of Charles Wesley’s most famous hymns. The punctuation is critical. The herald angels sang “Hark!”–as in “behold” or “listen up”–when they approached the shepherds keeping watch o’er their flocks by night. They were not singing, “Hark the Herald!” The Christmas story would be less glorious with the angels singing about themselves.
9. And later in that song, when you get to “Hail the Sun of Righteousness,” that’s not a typo. Don’t change it to “Son.” Malachi would be disappointed (Mal. 4:2).
10. And finally, one more warning about our egregious little consonant friend. Stuart Townsend has starred in uplifting films like Queen of the Damned and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. He’s also done voice-over work for the animated television show Robot Chicken. The guy who works with the Gettys and writes all those sweet modern hymns-that’s Stuart Townend. Don’t be so quick to say yes to the S.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Beautiful Confession of God's Activity

From a Kenyan Liturgy...
It is right and our delight to give you thanks and praise, Holy Father, living God, supreme over the world, Creator, Provider, Saviour and Giver.
From a wandering nomad you created your family; (Abraham)
for a burdened people you raised up a leader; (Moses)
for a confused nation you chose a king; (David)
for a rebellious crowd you sent your prophets.
In these last days you have sent us your Son, your perfect image, bringing your kingdom, revealing your will, dying, rising, reigning, remaking your people for yourself.
Through him you have poured out your Holy Spirit, filling us with light and life.
(HT: Trevin Wax)

Monday, August 20, 2012

We have a runner

We have a runner.

No, not that kind.  Forget pounding the pavement.  I'm talking about a relational runner.  One who, when things don't go right, heads for the relational hills.  Out of sight.  Get out of my mind.  All I want to do is cocoon myself and leave me the stink alone.  That kind of runner.

So far I've been told this one will sleep outside tonight.

And walk to a grandparent's house (250 miles away).

And just not eat for the rest of the week.

And it's all funny until you need to get somewhere and you're *ahem* running late.

But it's not so funny when you and I do it spiritually.  Mistakes happen.  Sins get committed.  And we run from God instead of to Him.  Things don't go like I predict or wish.  God is to blame.  Up the stairs, to my room, slam my door.

Not so cute.

And the Enemy laughs while the tantrum is thrown.  Because he'd love nothing more than to keep us separated from the Source of our Life.

For all the times I've run to God when I needed Him, His character hasn't changed and His disposition toward me hasn't either.  If He hasn't changed, why run from Him now?

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 8.19.12

Here are the sermon notes from today's sermon on the NT book of Philemon.  After finishing the messy book of Genesis, it seemed appropriate to point out that the NT has messes too.  Nowhere is messier than the book of Philemon.  To get these notes in PDF and the sermon audio, visit  You can also find the audio via our podcast on iTunes.

A New Testament Mess
Philemon 1-25

How will God get glory from a messy situation?

Use appeals when possible (v.8-10)

  • Appeal:  always first, and when you're in a peer relationship.
  • Authority:  when the greater good is at stake.
  • Autonomy:  only separate when you can no longer walk together.

Look for changed hearts in the lives of those around you (v.10-11).

  • The life change doesn't necessarily take away the consequences or repair the trust, but it can change the trajectory of the relationship.

Recognize that compulsion generally doesn't build relationships or honor God (v.12-14)

  • Paul protected the relationship by leaving the decision to Philemon.
  • A heart that gives from duty is not as honoring as a heart that gives cheerfully.

Try to find Kingdom Perspective (v.15-16)

  • Is God at work in ways I cannot see?
  • Is there a bigger picture to be grasped?
  • Do I value being right or being in right relationship?

Forgive because it's necessary; seek restoration because it's favorable (v.17-19)

  • Paul doesn't ask Philemon to forgive - he expects it.
  • Restoration isn't always possible, but it can be sought and is the best outcome.

State clearly any terms of the changed relationship (v.20-22)

  • Sometimes relationships change because of time or circumstances.
  • Paul went from the giver to the one in need.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Pat Robertson (again)

Here's a clip, 1:44 in length.

He has since clarified his statements in this press release.  Big quote from there:  "I wanted to say, but it didn't come out the way I intended, that adoption is not for everyone."

There are so many things wrong with this, that I cannot list them all.  Let me list three.

First, why isn't adoption a viable option for every Christian couple (the kind who would write in to Robertson for advice on the 700 Club)?  I'm on the opposite side of Dear Pat - yet again - because I think every Christian couple should at least pray about adoption.

Second, thank you, Dear Pat, for deriding special needs kids who "grow up weird," especially those of the foreign kind who make our house look like the "United Nations."  As a father of a special needs, internationally adopted child, I know first-hand that there are challenges.  I also know there are blessings abundant that far outweigh the challenges.

Third, once again you pervert the Gospel by your application of it.  He previously told a man it's okay to divorce his wife with Alzheimer's and get on with his life.  In doing so, Dear Pat missed the Gospel and the place where it is displayed:  the covenant of marriage.  Here, Dear Pat misses the Gospel in the analogy where it is most clearly seen:  adoption.  Foreigners become family.  What else does the Gospel mean if not that?  J.I. Packer says that the Gospel's summary is this:  adoption through propitiation.

It's not just that Dear Pat is irrelevant.  Now he's damaging.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Snakes are Scary: I hope there's...?

Maybe you've seen the t-shirts that say, "I hope there's beer in hell."  Apparently this church sign did too and had enough of it.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Jesus is Ruthless

Have you ever thought of Jesus being mean?

Savior.  Teacher.  Healer.  Helper.  Risen.  Lord.  King.  Yes to all of those.

But mean?

Consider some of the things that he said to the religious people of his day:

You hypocrites!  Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: "This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." (Matthew 15.7-9)

You are blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel. (Matthew 23.24)

You clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. (Matthew 23.25)

You are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness.  (Matthew 23.27)

And it just gets worse from there.  Making a whip and clearing a temple - that's an instance that comes to mind.

So why so mean?  Or is it mean at all?

I offer that it's not mean, but it is ruthless.  Jesus knows that religion (in the external form type of emphasis) keeps us from Him.  It keeps us dependent on ourselves instead of God.  It keeps us looking inward instead of upward.  And He loves us too much to let us go on in our self-absorbed addiction.  So He speaks ruthlessly and brutally, but He does so lovingly.  He does the former because He has to in order to get our attention.  The latter is true because of who He is.

So if it feels a little rough, it probably is.  And it's probably because you're religious.  He spoke tenderly to the grossest of sinners ("Woman, where are your accusers?  I don't condemn you either.  Go sin no more").  So if you're feeling scoffed at by Christ, check your religious-meter.  And if you enjoy Him scoffing at someone else, know that the words He speaks are for you, not for the other person.  It's a trait of religion to enjoy when curses fall on others.

Ruthless?  Yes.  But in love.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A New Old Discipline

I have bitten the bullet.

I'm entering again into the world of higher education.  On the student side.  Previously, I have ventured back into the classroom, but the pupils survived my Greek Readings class.  This time I'm on the receiving end, not the giving.

I am pursuing the Doctor of Ministry (DMin) degree at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School near Chicago.  I have 10 classes and a project to get a doctoral degree, and I hope to be smarter on the far end of things.  For those who care, I'll travel up 2-3 times a year for Monday through Thursday class periods.

But I'm relearning how to learn again.  I have leisurely read 30-50 books a year for the past 13 years.  Now people will be asking about them, reading my papers about them, and so forth.  Sheesh.  What was I thinking?

But it's a good, new, old discipline that I'm getting into.  It's stretching parts of my brain that haven't been stretched in a while.  I'm looking forward to the challenge.

Learners grow.  I'm counting on that.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What a Stud

We hit a milestone as a family, and have a super-handsome boy as a result.  My Bear has glasses and "can really see" (his words).

Monday, August 13, 2012

Psalm 3.3

But You, O LORD, are a Shield about me, my Glory, and the Lifter of my head. (Psalm 3.3).

Which of those are you most in tune with today?  Which do you need Him most to be?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 8.12.12

Here are the sermon notes from today's sermon, the last in the Fascinating Families series from the book of Genesis.  To get these notes in PDF or the sermon audio, please visit   You can also find the audio on iTunes via our podcast.

Fascinating Families
Part 11 – Blessings and the Big Picture
Genesis 43-50

Blessings (48.14-19)
  • Success is from God
  • Gifts are from God
  • Empowerment from God
  • Outcomes from God

Big Picture
  • We don’t see the big picture unless you see a big God. (45.4-8, 50.20)
  • Be careful what you call bad and good.
  • His purpose is about His glory.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Snakes are Scary: Execution Updated

This is a haunting piece of art for me.  It makes me think.  It messes with my noggin.  In my modern-day world, is this what a hillside in Israel would've looked like in the Spring of 33 AD?

FYI, it's a work entitled "The Execution of Christ" by the Gao brothers.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Church Leadership: is it embarrassing to you?

Stolen...ahem...borrowed and reposted in its entirety from the NavPress Blog.

I’m embarrassed when church leaders take their disagreements into public forums.
I’m embarrassed when church leaders compare attendance then silently compete with other churches.
I’m embarrassed when church leaders are unwilling to fellowship with other churches or church leaders because of a theological difference of opinion.
I’m embarrassed when church leaders choose business practices over biblical practices in their oversight of Jesus’ bride, the church.
I’m embarrassed when church leaders prove through their attitude and actions that they are spiritually immature believers.
I’m embarrassed when church leaders make decisions that enhance their personal agenda rather than making decisions that further God’s agenda.
I’m embarrassed when church leaders view themselves as career ministers when they were called by God Himself to be pastor shepherds.
But most of all... I’m embarrassed about the times I’ve exhibited some of these tendencies.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wading into the water (part 3)

Since I'm on semi- to full-blown controversial topics this week, I'll run one more up the flag pole.

If you know a guy named Jonathan Merritt, then you probably are pretty well connected into evangelical life in America.  He's the son of a Baptist pastor, an author, a representative for younger ministry-minded types, and overall a pretty well-spoken guy.  He leans farther left that I am comfortable on some of his applications of the Gospel, but we have a more in common than we don't have in common.

He's also brave.

He was outed by a blogger who told tales of his own personal exploits with Jonathan.  Claims of Jonathan being a gay man were met by shock and head-scratching in the evangelical world.  And Jonathan responded with bravery.

But not THAT kind of bravery.  You know that kind:  it gets you on CNN to talk about your sexual orientation and how you've been oppressed by all these people and you're glad now to live your life authentically, etc.

His kind of bravery was different.

He confessed to doing something inappropriate and sinful.  He called it sin.  He explained some of the reasons why.  And he took responsibility for it.

And then he ran into the arms of Jesus again.  And again.  And again.  And again.  You get the idea.

He's healing from his past.  He's confessing the sin of his present.  He's looking forward to a glorious future.  He has a girlfriend, apparently.  He's connected to his church and getting support in various forms from them.  He's working hard at becoming the man God wants him to be.

That's brave.  The Enemy would love for us all to run from God rather than to Him in our need, in our sin, in our hurt, in our failing.  Especially when it is revealed by someone else and we're suddenly and embarrassingly in the spotlight.

He didn't hide.  He didn't flee.

He ran.  To God.  And that's the best play every day.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Wading into the Water (part 2)

Well, since I'm in the pool, I might as well keep swimming.

Julie Anne Smith was sued.  By her church, Beaverton Grace Bible Church, where the pastor is Chuck O'Neal.  For $500,000.

Why?  She had been shunned by the church for some issue that they called church discipline.  She wrote a blog about it.  They called it defamatory.  The lawsuit was summarily rejected and the church had to pay Mrs. Smith's legal fees.  Booyah.

Can someone please explain to me how a pastor should sue a former church member for an opinion?  Just at what point did that seem like a good idea?  A biblical idea?

I have no clue as to how people get into situations like this, but someone needs to look at a Bible and at a Throne every so often and remember that you will stand before the latter and be judged by the standard of the former.

Chuck O'Neal, you have to stand for that one.  And your elders along with you.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Wading into the water (part 1)

Well, I've saved commentary until now, but I guess I'll jump in.

There was a huge cultural brouhaha about Chick-fil-A last week.  In case you were under a rock, Dan Cathy stated his family's stance and support of traditional marriage.  It caused an uproar.  So, some thoughts...

1.  Some have gone off the deep end threatening a boycott.  I think that's a great idea, because it makes the line one person shorter in my Chick-fil-A.  Boycotts have always worked, made huge impact on companies, and make the boycotters look terrific.  NOT.  In fact, my guess is that most people who were boycotting last week are at lunch right now.  At Chick-fil-A.  Southern Baptists are professional boycotters.  And their boycotts haven't made a lick of difference either.  Except in public perception.

2.  Rahm Emmanuel and Thomas Menino are dumb.  I'm glad they're not in my city or national offices. Mayors can't decide that a particular company can't do business in their city based on the moral stances of it's C-level officers.  First of all, it's unconstitutional.  We've got a pesky First Amendment and all.  Secondly, Chick-fil-A will build right outside the city of Chicago or Boston, make a killing, and give its tax monies to another municipality.  (Sarcasm font:  on) And of course, all the municipalities in the U.S. are just flush with cash right now. (Sarcasm font:  off)

3.  Our cultural conversation is no longer a conversation.  It's more like a kindergarten screaming match on the playground of our nation, where name-calling, "I'm rubber and you're glue," and general fit-throwing is accepted.  Both ends of the spectrum are guilty.  Shame on us all for letting perception and emotion rule the day, our words, and our actions.

4.  No one is victimized by Dan Cathy expressing his opinion.  I'm not even sure why people were surprised.

5.  How exactly did people showing up, supporting a business, spending their own hard-earned money, and not fighting, fussing, sandwich-boarding, protesting, shouting, rock-throwing, or anything that you normally see on the nightly news got labeled as hate.  If someone can explain that to me, please say so.

6.  Some allegedly Christian bloggers are making a lifestyle of taking up someone else's offense.  The bloggers act hurt because someone else (with whom they share a point-of-view) is offended.  Someone asked if Jesus would've been at Chick-fil-A or with an openly gay friend having Starbucks (to which they answered the latter).  One day, I wonder if the "new Pharisees" (which is what they are quickly becoming, a left-leaning group where left-leaning law is unquestioned and left-leaning appearances are everything) who support "tolerance" will be on the receiving end of a whooping.  And no, I don't consider myself better than they are - I have received many and deserved many more beat downs.  I only wish they'd ask God if He's offended by some of the things they take up as offensive.  But they don't seem to do so.  They hide behind, "God wouldn't want us to hurt others or be hurt," as if God wasn't a willing victim or a ferocious judge.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Friday, August 3, 2012

Snakes are Scary: Hymnllustration?

Is this what Charles Austin Miles meant when he wrote the hymn In the Garden?

And He walks with me and He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My morning so far...

I type this as the Peanut is playing guitar and the Ninja is banging out a symphony on the piano.  I type this as I remember our babysitters sitting on the couch with our kids sprawled all over them last night watching Kung Fu Panda 2.  I type this as I've stepped on 3 Legos this morning.  I type this as I have breakfast in the oven because the Queen had to report early to work this morning.  I type this as I'm saddened because there are a mere 4 weeks before everyone heads back to school.

This is our crazy life.

And I wouldn't change a bit of it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Powerful Power under My Control?

The most powerful force under your control is the power of desire.

Everyone has them.  And they're not some evil consequence of other people's choices.  They're God-given and the motivation to which Jesus most often appeals.

But they are powerful.

If they go unmanaged, mismanaged, or get unruly, they are powerful enemies.  People need AA and nicotine patches for a reason.

James put it this way:  when desire has conceived (a.k.a. when it's unchecked and allowed to go its own way), it gives birth to sin, and sin, when fully grown, brings forth death.  Did you catch that?  Desire -> Sin -> Death.

What we do with them is no small thing.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...