12.17.2009

a little holiday humor

This is a classic! I remember hearing it a couple of years and was glad to see it was having a resurgence. Just sit back and enjoy this beautiful holiday carol.

12.10.2009

more on manhattan declaration

I think this is a pretty good post in response to the Manhattan Declaration
On Why Conservatives Shouldn't Make Manifestos at Inhabitatio Dei

a little philly

Week four of our Philippians study. The worksheet may be underwhelming, but the passage is is not!
Week 04 [Phil 2:1-10]

leadership


We are just over a week away from a move back home. Going across the country from RI to AZ is no small thing. I absolutely hate moving, but there is one good thing that a move will do for you—that is purge your stuff. As a people, we tend to be accumulators. Fortunately, my wife and I are of the same mind on at least one thing, and that is that neither one of us likes clutter. We generally stay streamlined; we are always getting rid of stuff.

As I am packing up my books and files, I have taken this opportunity to cleanse. I have been going through the files and folders of articles, notes, and various other sundries I have collected over the years from my seminary classes, personal research, and sermon preparation. There were several pounds worthy of the recycling bin. Nevertheless, it also allowed me to rediscover a few gems.

One thing I came across were some notes from Darryl DelHousaye’s “Balancing Life’s Demands” course. Now I am grateful to Pastor Darryl for several nuggets over the years, but one that I am very grateful for is the distinction between “formal” and “informal” authority. The principle is this: Leadership is a function of authority, and leaders generally lead out of one or a combination of these two kinds of authority. “Formal” authority is that which is bestowed on the leader because of his or her position or rank. “Informal” authority, on the other hand, is that which is bestowed on the leader because the people want to follow him or her.

The leaders operating out of their “formal” authority have people following them because they have to. They are the boss, the parent, the pastor, the expert, etc. Often times, they will motivate by pulling rank, using threats, and generally demanding obedience.

The leaders operating out of “informal” authority just find that people are following them and looking to them for leadership. They have not demanded it. They have not asked for it, but they have demonstrated some level of competence, integrity, wisdom, or care—and because of that—people follow. They are persuasive because they are good people doing and saying good things.

Jesus said to his disciples, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:42–45). And there it is! If we want to be leaders, we need to take the mindset of the servant. It is not for us to pull rank or demand the allegiance others. We earn it by becoming their servants.

12.04.2009

why


A friend passed along this response to a dialogue he is having on one of those discussion boards online. I thought I would give a stab at responding.

Here is the challenge posed:
"Why make creatures some of whom are destined to fall, what's the point? Why make a force capable of causing a 'powerful deception'? As disappointing as the prize in the original Highlander film, we struggle though life to achieve... 'standing in the presence of god' - was that it? Seems as if he could have saved an awful lot of trouble, pain and suffering. Setting aside all of the other illogicalities of your faith, -- , I'm still left with - is that it, what is the point of that? Hollywood does this to me all the time now, I sit through a film all CGI and car chases and all the fireworks are meant to distract me from the fact that there is no real story that makes sense. Michael Bay et al think 'well what we need at this point is another explosion' when what they really need is a script. I think much the same about your god. I'll come out of his cinema thinking 'that didn't make sense'."

Here is my answer:
To the first and second question, at one level we do not need an answer beyond “Because he wanted to.” This is not to skirt the question, and it is not my final answer, but if God is, and he is the one to whom we have to answer, it does not matter what we think he “ought” to have done or do. He is the Lord! And “who are you, oh man!” Part of our faith is trusting that in the end, when we can see the movie in full, it will be clear and make sense of the apparent senselessness of the present. And we will be compelled to sing, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!” (Rev 15:3 ESV). I guess what I want to say is that we cannot leave the theater before the movie is even over and say, “That didn’t make sense!”

On the other hand, we have to distinguish predestination and foreknowledge. I do not believe—and when you take it as a whole, I do not believe the Bible says—that God predestined the fall or any of our personal falls. I think it is clear that God has not written a final draft of a screenplay, and we are merely puppets acting out the scenes with no ad lib or genuine freedom. God created all of this because he delighted to do so—because he wanted to do it and wanted to enjoy it. “But what’s the point, if he knew about the fall?” Why do it? Let us consider this question from a different angle. What if you knew the woman you were going to marry was going to be unfaithful (repeatedly) and that she would even attempt to murder you. Would you marry her? We would never do that. We marry only because we are blind to all the pain that could and often does follow. If God creates in the knowledge of all the pain that will follow, it is because his love is still greater. In other words, he loves the woman so much that he will marry her in the full knowledge of her rejection.

This leads to the question, which I think underlies our entire struggle, resentment, and bitterness towards God, and that is, “God, do you suffer?” As Syme, at the end of The Man Who Was Thursday, says, “Oh, I could forgive you everything, you who rule mankind, if I could feel for once that you have suffered for one hour a real agony such as I—” As much as we should want to claim the path of objective reason, one does not come to this place of agnosticism or dogmatic atheism but through the path of suffering. Our crises come not because we have seen too much goodness but from evils experienced and evils observed. And crisis comes because we believe God is sitting on his throne indifferently—and perhaps even with a twinge of good pleasure—watching us suffer as it all unfolds. This may be the god of our philosophical syllogisms and it may be the god of some Muslim, Jews, and Christians, but it is the not the Lord revealed in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. This God is the one who enters the garden asking, “Where are you?” The God who reveals himself through the prophets as the husband beside himself with the pain of his wife’s infidelity. The father who daily looks out at the horizon in anticipation of his wayward son’s return. The one who weeps at his good friend’s funeral. If God is angry, he is so because his wound is deep. It may be said that, my God is starting to sound a little too human like the pantheon of capricious and horny gods of ancient times. And, it is true, it would be wrong for us to take this too far; nevertheless, these are the analogies and metaphors we are given to reveal a God who loves and who gives himself completely to the redemption of his creation. God demonstrates his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. The logic that holds together this mystery is great, and beyond this response, but what it reveals is a God who suffers.

If we look at this narrative as a Michael Bay movie with lots of explosions and needless violence, then it indeed does not make sense. But if we see it as perhaps the story that underlies all of the great story driven movies, in which great tragedy, injustice, and darkness gives way to redemption and transformation, then we can hope against hope that the movie’s ending will resolve. This assumes biblical faith, which is not what picks up when reason ends, but an active trust in a promise.

12.01.2009

Tweets


Here is a really great post about why this pastor won't tweet.

11.30.2009

celebrating repentent sinners

Sean McDonough, one of my great professors at GCTS, posted this on the 15th chapter of Luke, famous of course the parables of the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, and the Prodigal Son. He rightly points out that these parables are directed at the Pharisees, who are grumbling about Jesus' acceptance of sinners.

In other words, the real point of the parables is not - as is so commonly preached - to encourage the sinners about God's great love and forgiveness for them, but to rebuke the (self) righteous for failing to welcome and celebrate their repentance with him and the father. A needed word for many of us who have been sitting in the pews for years.

more philippians

Week three of our Philippians study.
Week 03 [Phil 1:27-30]

11.28.2009

Follow-up

I think I am becoming infatuated with this guy. Here is an interesting interview with Dan Phillips the builder from my previous post. There are a lot of things to chew on here.

Here are the things that I think are very cool about him.
(1) He is using the market and a for-profit model for the common good. There are so many non-profit organizations that are trying to create these results. And even though they have great intentions and goals, they are dependent upon giving, grants, etc. to do their work. But if one can develop a profitable business that accomplishes the same goals, well then all the better.
(2) He is exposing many of our assumptions about what is possible. It is so easy for us to go with the flow or keep up the the Joneses, and get caught up in a certain way of life that is unhealthy and unsustainable. Until you see something like this, it is sometimes hard to imagine what is possible.
(3) He is able to critique much of the negative fallout of industrialization, capitalism, and market-forces; but has come up with a way to initiate positive change within the same system. In other words, he recognizes that these forces are driving us and unless we start to drive them, they will destroy us.
(4) He recognizes the value and dignity of work. He is helping the poor by employing them to work and teaching them skills, which will enable them to gain a level of independence and create a sense of dignity they have perhaps not felt in a long time. Plus, they become owners of their own property, which gives them a vested interest in maintaining it.

Check it out in three parts.




Cool Companies

Two in one day. Meet Phoenix Commotion in Huntsville, TX. This is perhaps one of the coolest things I have ever seen. Dan Phillips started Phoenix Commotions building low-cost homes out of reclaimed materials. In so doing, he is able to build homes for low-income folks like single mothers, train unskilled laborers (often-times the homeowners themselves), and reduce the amount of trash going into landfills. See some of pictures of their creations here. Other videos here.

This is practicing resurrection.

Cool Companies

Meet SWAP, Inc (Stop Wasting Abandoned Property). Started in the 70's in the face of a terrible trend of abandoned and blighted property, SWAP began with the mission of revitalizing neighborhoods and properties. As a Christian, I wonder about what a business model that practices resurrection might look like. I think it would be something like this. As the growth and wealth moves out to the edges, eating up more land and wildlife, moving people further from their places of work, and seeing the depreciation of neighborhoods in the interior; is there a place for businesses like this?

Chime in all you business and real estate minded folk.
Read an interesting and moving passage from the intertestamental work, 2 Maccabees. This is a story of the martyrdom of seven brothers and their mother set in the Jewish revolt against Antiochus IV Ephiphanes. It is illustrative of a belief in a bodily resurrection in Judaism before the time of Jesus, and how that belief fueled courage and faithfulness in the face of death.

Click on over to Resurrection and the Source of the Tyrant's Power.

11.25.2009

Moral Constipation

Cornel West is a very controversial figure with whom I think I disagree on quite a bit, but whom I find incredibly challenging AND entertaining, nevertheless.

Over at BigThink.com, he did a short interview on "What to Die for." You get a good flavor for what kind of character he is. I especially liked this quote:

"So many folk dealing with spiritual malnutrition, brother. The emptiness of the soul, which is often times inseparable from a moral constipation. Where the good and right just get stuck, and you can't get it out. You need a little ethical diarrhea to get the flow going That is what we need right now."

Priceless!

The Manhattan Declaration

On November 20th, the Manhattan Declaration was released led by Chuck Colson and some 150+ signatories. To the best of my understanding, this is meant to be be a wake up call to Christians and warning to legislators on the matters of life, marriage, and religious liberty.

Read it here:
The Manhattan Declaration

Now let it be said, there are several names listed as signatories, for whom I have huge amounts of respect. But...

My first question? What is hoped to be accomplished? It almost seemed like giving up and saying, “you win, but just so you know, we are not going to obey.” One of my problems in general is our confusion about what our role in the world is to be. There is the sense that I get, that we see our purpose as getting the proper laws in place. In other words, that we would Christianize (or re-Christianize) our country, our government, and our laws. Now, I don’t deny our ability and maybe even responsibility to seek laws that make sense and seek the common good, but it seems that the purpose of the people of God is to call the nations to God rather than to conformity to biblical norms. In many ways, the biblical norms are meant to guide God’s people in the midst of their wicked surroundings. I think we have given way too much credit to the government by giving our responsibilities and our way of life over to them. In the sense that this declaration is written to wake up the church to live more faithfully, I am fully for it.

I would say, however, that it is way too narrow. This – to me – is a case of selective convictions. If we want to have a culture of life, then we also need to be decrying economic practices which exploit domestic and foreign laborers, practices of production and consumption which are harmful to our environment, positively working to provide health care the poor, and so on. Too often, the people who are hammering away at XYZ evils are apathetic or even endorsing ABC evils. (And this possibly because they have sided with a political party’s platform rather than the whole counsel of God.) If we are honest, there is more explicit biblical justification for the (re)distribution of wealth, care for immigrants, just treatment of laborers, and even the just treatment of land and animals then there is against abortion. Now, I am opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage, but if we are going to be faithful to Scripture, we need to open up this discussion wider than the select issues mentioned in this declaration. That being said, I think the mindset found through Scripture is that the people of God would be better than the world. That they would live beyond and better than the laws of the land and thus bear witness to the world of the God’s good and perfect will, expose evil and injustice, and call them to repentance and faithfulness to him. If the rulers and laws demand that we be unfaithful to God, then we would disobey man rather than God. This seems to be the goal of the declaration anyway.

I have more to say on the subject of liberty. But, that will have to be for another day.

PLEASE MIX IT UP!

11.13.2009

new study: philippians

We are pushing right along in our small group moving to the Ephesians' canonical neighbor: Philippians.

Here are the first two weeks:
Week 01 [Phil 1:1-11]
Week 02 [Phil 1:12-26]

11.06.2009

Time Management


If he's wrong on other issues, he is not on this one. Thanks, Mario, for this FB status update : )

One of the great uses of twitter and facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was NOT from lack of time. - John Piper

10.30.2009

ephesians [week 11]

Final week of Ephesians.
Week 11 [Eph 6:10-20]

Here is a supplemental chart for the "Armor of God."

10.28.2009

Lovin' on

I can't stress this enough. I've made this plea before. I don't want to hear about youth pastors or youth workers "loving on" or advocating the "loving on" of their students. Not only should "Loving on" be reserved for the marriage bed, but I am certain it is illegal and emotionally damaging to minors.

10.09.2009

ephesians [week 10]

This weeks Ephesians notes.
Week 10 [Eph 5:22-6:9]

10.05.2009

on preaching

The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible. - George Burns

He may have intended to be irreverent, but I think he is right.

Ephesians [Week 9]

Here is week 9 in Ephesians:
Week 9 [Eph 5:1-21]

9.30.2009

Chesterton's What's Wrong with the World and Bonhoeffer on judging.

9.25.2009

humility in doctrine

In Dr. Mouw's post A Bavinck Revival - May It Spread!, he cited this quote from the 19th Century Dutch Reformed theologian, Herman Bavinck:

[W]e must remind ourselves that the Catholic righteousness by good works is vastly preferable to a protestant righteousness by good doctrine. At least righteousness by good works benefits one’s neighbor, whereas righteousness by good doctrine only produces lovelessness and pride. Furthermore, we must not blind ourselves to the tremendous faith, genuine repentance, complete surrender and the fervent love for God and neighbor evident in the lives and work of many Catholic Christians. The Christian life is so rich that it develops its full glory not just in a single form or within the walls of one church.

ephesians [week 8]

Here is week 8 in Ephesians.
Week 8 [Eph 4:17-32]

I would welcome any feedback. Again the idea is that people would work through it during the week, and then the small group meeting would be a discussion of what we learned. It is also intended to teach people how to read the Bible, finding what it means not merely what it means to me.

9.24.2009

good reads

Now I realize I have had some education and training, and I realize that I have a personality and temperament that takes some pleasure in abstractions, but I am aggravated when my reading and listening recommendations are answered with “I don’t get it” or “It’s over my head.” That’s the point! What is the point of reading a book or listening to a lecture that is not over your head? You wanted to read and listen to learn, right? We only learn when something is beyond our head’s current measure. Anything else is just masturbation, stroking what is already known—what is already believed. It is cheap and easy. It is painless. It does not pay. Monogamy, on the other hand, is difficult and demanding. It takes effort and may cost you your life, but you are better for it.

I think culturally, we've come to expect growth and health without effort, without blood, without pain. But where in time or space has that ever been so? Species are made strong through their struggle. Muscles and bones are made strong when they are stressed. Character is perfected through trial. And our brains are a made smarter by reading things over our head.

So, I will do my best to make appropriate recommendations, but it will be over your head—even if only enough to shave the bangs. I promise not to recommend Barth’s Dogmatics, but you must promise not to expect Green Eggs and Ham.

a good heart

A couple weeks back, Audra and I watched an interview with Jon Gosselin. Jon went from—as the interviewer said—America’s favorite dad, to kind of a deadbeat. The interviewer, who was kind of a hardballer, also questioned him about the days when his kids are going to become aware of all his antics. (Now, I should say that I can sympathize with Jon. Perhaps, I am the only one. His wife and his life were impossible to live with. I could see long before all of this that it would only be a matter of time before he cracked.) But Jon answered with a response I hear time and time again from all kinds of people—they’ll know my heart. Basically—my actions are shady but my heart is good. Now because Jon is/was a professing Christian, I can say this. What you do is your heart! Jesus does not allow us to make this distinction. You will know them by their fruit. Out of the heart comes all kinds of adulteries. Do not be deceived!

9.22.2009

Dostoyevsky's Notes from Underground

ephesians

Here is week 7 in Ephesians.
Week 7 [Eph 4:7-16]

the golden age

Do not say, “Why is it that the former days were better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this. (Eccl 7:10)

a prayer for the prosperous

I have seen another evil under the sun, and it weighs heavily on men: God gives a man wealth, possessions and honor, so that he lacks nothing his heart desires, but God does not enable him to enjoy them, and a stranger enjoys them instead. This is meaningless, a grievous evil. (Eccl 6:1–2 NIV)

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess 5:16–18 NIV)

Father, may we not suffer this grievous epidemic. We are among the most prosperous. We are among the most unhappy. We have everything without the capacity to enjoy them. All things are gifts to give thanks, but we can only see them as rights to demand. Our desire is never satisfied. We can do nothing except covet. Our neighbor is our competition, and you are a bother. Forgive us, Father. Give us the eyes to see all things as gifts. May we be thankful people with the capacity to enjoy what is given. Amen.

9.21.2009

quit your whining, brett!

9.15.2009

ephesians study

We have been going through Paul's letter to the Ephesians with our small groups. The following are the sheets we have been using so far. I wondered if someone might want to give feedback - maybe even use them. Do they make sense? Are the questions clear? Are the questions the right questions?

A quick note on some of the thoughts behind them.
(1) The hope is that each person will use the sheet to work through the passage for their own personal study during the week. Then our gatherings would be about sharing what we've found. Admittedly, this has been little more than hope so far.
(2) One objective is to teach each person how to read the Bible. We want them to be able to see and discover things themselves, the goal being an increased confidence and motivation to read the Bible.
(3) The questions are few and focus on discovering the main points and themes of the passage. To the previous point, we want them to discover each passage's point, not necessarily what it means to them or how they have previously understood it.
(4) The implications for living are important, but cannot be properly understood, until one properly understands what the passage means. So, these kinds of question are saved for the end [a little delayed gratification]. There are general questions, but each person is also encouraged to consider specific scenarios to consider for the coming week.

Here they are. I'll post more as we go along.
Week 1 [Eph 1:1-14]
Week 2 [Eph 1:15-22]
Week 3 [Eph 2:1-10]
Week 4 [Eph 2:11-19]
Week 5 [Eph 3:1-13]
Week 6 [Eph 3:14-4:6]

9.09.2009

question

This is on the website for Mars Hill Church, but this could easily be said of almost every church I know of. This illustrates how even the most reformed—who identify themselves with Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)—can be just the same in practice as Catholics are in doctrine regarding tradition. In other words, reformed Protestants criticize Catholics for allowing Tradition (the church's interpretation of Scripture) to carry equal (or close to equal) authority as Scripture. However, almost every Scripture-loving Protestant I know—including me—reads the Bible through tradition(s). Could there be any other reason why all Baptist churches must have a Sunday morning service, a Sunday night service, and a Thursday night prayer meeting (which is mostly gossip in the name of the Lord)?

So the illustration...

On Mars Hill's site, on a page titled "The Gospel", we find:

(A QUOTE FROM 1 CORINTHIANS)
“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures . . .” -1 Corinthians 15:1–4

(FOLLOWED BY THIS PARAGRAPH AND MORE)
What is the Gospel? The word gospel simply means “good news.” The central message of the Bible is the gospel, or good news, about the person and work of Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15:1–4, Paul provides the most succinct summary of the gospel: the man Jesus is also God, or Christ, and died on a cross in our place, paying the penalty for our sins; three days later He rose to conquer sin and death and give the gift of salvation to all who believe in Him alone for eternal life.

Did you notice anything?

1 Corinthians: "that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures"
Mars Hill: "the man Jesus is also God, or Christ, and died on a cross in our place, paying the penalty for our sins"

(Notice the leap that has been made. Corinthians only says that he died for our sins. Mars Hill interprets it through a specific mechanism of atonement; namely, the he died in our place paying the penalty that we deserved. Now this may be what it means by for our sins, but it is not obviously so from this passage. In fact, it may be that in this—most succinct of all—Gospel summaries the vagueness is meant to allow for other facets of Christ's death for sin. Notice, also, how they have imported a theological definition of Christ, which means that the man Jesus is "also God." Again, this may be a true statement, but it cannot be found in this passage. In fact, the most natural translation of Christ is Messiah, which in and of itself does not imply deity.)

1 Corinthians: "that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures"
Mars Hill: "three days later He rose to conquer sin and death and give the gift of salvation to all who believe in Him alone for eternal life."

(Notice again the leap. Corinthians merely says that he was buried and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. Mars Hill imports the (1) conquering of sin and death, (2) giving the gift of salvation, and (3) to all who believe. But these ideas are not in the text (I acknowledge, however, that the conquering of death does come later in the chapter). What if this interpretation is unnecessarily limited and narrow? What about the interpretation of his resurrection as triumph over evil powers? Or the first fruits of our own resurrections? Or the vindication of his message and Messiahship? See, there may be more-or a completely different-meaning to the Corinthian summary. And in this passage there is nothing about giving the gift of salvation to all who believe.)

(THE PAGE GOES ON WITH A WHOLE LOT MORE STUFF THAT IS NOT IN THE PASSAGE, BUT ONE-PARAGRAPH STICKS OUT.)
Mars Hill: "Religion leads to an uncertainty about my standing before God because I never know if I have done enough to please God. The gospel leads to a certainty about my standing before God because of the finished work of Jesus on my behalf on the cross."
Corinthians: "The Gospel...by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you - unless you believed in vain."

(Mars Hill has made a statement about certainty and assurance that-at face value-is actually in contradiction with Corinthians. The only assurance that Paul offers here is that they will be saved if they hold fast to the word. There is the possibility that without perseverance their faith will prove to be (or actually become) in vain. In fact, these conditional statements are found a few times in Paul’s writings. He even tells the Corinthians to test themselves to see if they are in the faith.)

So, what is my point? I actually do not know. I might just be trying to show off. As my wife likes to tell me, I’m smug. Nevertheless, I think I may be able to summarize what I am trying to say like this:
Let’s acknowledge that we all read Scriptures with a tradition/interpretation.
Let’s not let those traditions become more authoritative than Scripture.
Let’s try to read the Scriptures afresh; they might have more (or different) to say to us than we are allowing.

9.08.2009

guerilla monastics

Billy Sunday (Travis Mullen) has re-emerged as Guerilla Monastics (Travis and Noah Johnson). Check 'm out at Noise Trade:
https://www.noisetrade.com/gmonastics

By the way, Noise Trade also makes the list of "cool companies." They have given musicians the opportunity to take more ownership of their music, its distribution, and promotion. Musicians are able to sign up and sell their music for free. Fans are able to download the music for either the price of their choosing or sharing it with five friends.

8.30.2009

cool companies

While the free market can lead to great innovations, it can go very astray when profitability supersedes social responsibility. The beautiful thing is that the consumers really do have the power, if they should choose to use it, by purchasing and investing with their values. So I like to pass along companies that I think are worthy of our business.

Meet TerraCycle. This is a cool story. Tom Szaky got an idea while a 19 yr old student at Princeton. Considering the problem presented by our waste, Tom began taking the kitchen scraps from the Princeton cafeteria and feeding them to worms, harvesting their poop for fertilizer, and bottling them in discarded soda bottles. From those beginnings, the rest is history. The company has developed tons of very cool products all made from trash and packaged in trash.

Check them out.

8.29.2009

this is terrible

I can't even begin to understand how this can be justified biblically. This guy might make a great American (but I doubt it), but he definitely makes a terrible Christian. He either needs to change is ways or change his name.

Tempe Pastor Prays for Obama's Death.

Please spend some time reading Romans 12-13 and 1 Peter 2. If these can apply to wicked Roman Emperors, then they can apply to Obama. And that is not at all meant to liken Obama to a wicked Roman Emperor.

***This comes from the same genius that brought us the worst sermon ever about how real men pee standing up!!!

8.28.2009

Blurb about George Bernard Shaw at Read Mor Ded Peepl.

8.20.2009

bi-vocational ministers

The White Papers is an archive of papers and presentations by GCTS faculty.

Here is a provocative lecture on bi-vocational ministry by Korean professor Steve Kang. (BTW, if you want to learn about doing ministry, I strongly encourage you to listen some to the Koreans.) Kang raises a lot of thought provoking questions about "professional" ministry.

Bi-vocational Ministry by Steve Kang

8.13.2009

you ever get the feeling...

I am not a committed proponent of laze faire government, but sometimes it seems like there is an inability to see the big picture. It seems as if crisis puts us in reaction mode. So we are trying to solve individual problems without really seeing how to architect the big picture. I'm just saying.


The Unintended Consequences of "Cash for Clunkers"

8.07.2009

C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce at Read Mor Ded Peepl.

8.02.2009

i'm your biggest fan?

Become a fan of God on Facebook for the forgiveness of sins.

7.28.2009

who's more embarrassed?

I don't want to poke fun of other people's beliefs, but here I go.

In a bid to embarrass the weather gods into bringing some monsoon rain, Eastern Indian farmers have asked their daughters to plow in the buff.

"They (villagers) believe their acts would get the weather gods badly embarrassed, who in turn would ensure bumper crops by sending rains," Upendra Kumar, a village council official, said from Bihar's remote Banke Bazaar town.

So who is more embarrassed the gods or the daughters? It seems to me the gods are getting a show at the expense of the daughters.

7.24.2009

Atheists De-Baptize

This USA Today article describes a new ritual that many atheist groups are practicing - de-baptism. Apparently, they are using blow dryers labeled "reason" to symbolically blow away the folly of religion. It is a kind of mock ceremony, but many are finding it cathartic.

It was very therapeutic," Gray said in an interview. "It was a chance to laugh at the silly things I used to believe as a child. It helped me admit that it was OK to think the way I think and to not have any religious beliefs."

One seminary professor responded with...
Baptism "is a kind of adoption where you become a child of God, of the church and of the family," he said. "You can renounce your physical parents, (the church and God), but they cannot renounce you because you are their child. Anybody who makes fun of baptism probably hasn't gone into it in enough depth to know that."

Any thoughts?

7.13.2009

still applicable today

These words could have just as easily been written yesterday.

“It grieves them more to own a bad house than a bad life, as if it were man’s greatest good to have everything good but himself” (Augustine, City of God 3.1)

what the hell

Here is a post worth reading about our limitations when it comes to understanding hell and judgment.

7.09.2009

Worst Sermon Ever...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Mike Belue for turning me on to this gem. This is perhaps one of the most awe inspiring sermons I have ever had the privilege to hear. This will be a nice introduction to my next Top 5 list.

7.08.2009

Three recommendations at Read Mor Ded Peepl.

A good introduction to an understanding of the Kingdom of God.

The true art of happiness.

The nature of Christian faith and discipleship.

7.07.2009

Top 5 Mistakes in Leadership

In the same vain of the previous post “Top 5 Mistakes in Marriage,” I list my “Top 5 Mistakes in Leadership.” List your own top 5 or challenge mine in the comments (or on your blog):

(1) Wanting to be in leadership.
(2) Blaming failure on those you are leading or external circumstances.
(3) Believing those you are leading are servants to your vision.
(4) Failing to or being unwilling to admit error or confess sin.
(5) Leading out of ambition and not out of burden.

Crazy Love

Put down your Osteen. Put down your McLaren. Put down your Dali Lama. Turn off your Oprah. Put down your Chopra.

And pick up your Chan.

www.crazylovebook.com

7.05.2009

praying today's psalm: psa 133

How good and pleasant it is
When brothers live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head,
Running down on the beard,
Running down on Aaron’s beard,
Down upon the collar of his robes.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
Were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the LORD bestows his blessing,
Even life forevermore.

(Psa 133:1-3, NIV)

Lord, you desire unity among your people, but we are factious and divisive. But what is at the root of our conflicts? Someone will say it is religion itself. Unity will only come when faith is destroyed. Someone will say it is because some have and others do not. Unity will only come when possessions are nullified. You know, Father, at the heart of it is our own self-centeredness. Our only ethic is what is best for “me.” Our only objective is to take care of “me.” My only goal is to exalt “me.” Everyone else is expendable to this one vision, and everyone else seeks the same. You have shown us another way: “In humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:3-5). Forgive us, Lord, for our failure. Forgive us, Lord, for we have ignored the most fundamental doctrine of our faith. Do a work in us. For your namesake, work a miracle in your people. Amen

7.04.2009

sitting in the pews

If you have ever listened to a sermon and thought “I could never have found all of that in there,” Fret not! It probably wasn’t there.

7.03.2009

Top 5 Mistakes In Marriage

Scot McKnight forwards this question. What are the top 5 mistakes made in marriage?

My Answers:
1. Getting married because you want to be married.
(I have seen many settle for the first person who wants to marry them because they wanted to be married so bad and felt this was their only shot. If you are not secure enough to remain unmarried, please don't get married.)

2. Ignoring red flags that arise and warnings you receive during dating and engagement.
(Guess what? They will not change, and it will only get worse once you put that ring on.)

3. Men withholding love for sex, and women withholding sex for love.
(It's a surefire way to drive them into the arms of another. If you don't, someone else will.)

4. Men not making their wives feel like beautiful women, and women not making their husbands feel like competent men.
(Same as above. If you don't, someone else will. If you think affection just comes naturally, you are in for some surprises.)

5. Slighting your spouse in public.
(Next time you see someone slight their spouse in public, look into that person's the eyes, and tell me what you see.)
Holding a grudge? See what the early Christians had to say about that. More from The Didache

7.02.2009

the scholar and the preacher

"When a gulf exists between the lecture-room and the pulpit, sterility in the class-room and superficiality in the pulpit often result." George Eldon Ladd in the Forward of The Gospel of the Kingdom

if god texted the 10 commandments

Maybe you have seen this one going around, but it is worth passing.

1. no1 b4 me. srsly.
2. dnt wrshp pix/idols
3. no omg’s
4. no wrk on w/end (sat 4 now; sun l8r)
5. pos ok – ur m&d r cool
6. dnt kill ppl
7. :-X only w/ m8
8. dnt steal
9. dnt lie re: bf
10. dnt ogle ur bf’s m8. or ox. or dnkey. myob.

7.01.2009

How did early Christians judge whether leaders were legit? More from The Didache.

6.29.2009

The practice of communion (or Eucharist) in The Didache.

praying today's psalm: psa 127


Unless the LORD builds the house,
Its builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
The watchmen stand guard in vain.
In vain you rise early
And stay up late,
Toiling for food to eat—
For he grants sleep to those he loves.

(Psa 127:1-2, NIV)

Lord, forgive us for our lack of belief—out lack of trust. I do not believe we believe this. I do not believe we believe that we utterly dependent upon your will. I do not believe we believe that our kingdoms cannot stand in the face of yours. We evidence that unbelief by our lack of prayer. We evidence that unbelief by our trust in formulas and strategies. We evidence that unbelief by our anxiety. May we not foolishly work in vain doing work that is not yours—that you are not in. Amen.

peta: more christian than christians?

Political conservatives and Christians often dismiss PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) as more than a little loony—and maybe they are. There is no doubt that they have taken the love for animals to a new level, which at times seems idolatrous or pagan. I think that if it came down to it, many of its members would choose to save an animal over a human ten out of ten times. Nevertheless, I wonder if PETA’s excess has blinded Christians from the fact that their name—at least—is something Christians should advocate for as well.

I often hear Christians shirk their responsibility to care for animals based on a notion that animals are soulless creatures given for man to rule over. However, it is clear from the Genesis accounts of creation that this is not so. I think our translations obscure this point.

In the second account of creation, it says that Elohim formed man with the dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a nephesh chayim (a living soul/being) (Gen 2:7). Many Christians generally speak of this as the act that distinguishes humans from animals and that this nephesh chayim is the mark distinguishing human nature from that of the animals. Nephesh is the word our English translations translate soul, being, or life. Gen 2:7 is translated nephesh chayim living being or living soul (KJV).

What is obscured, however, is that this phrase, nephesh chayim has already occurred three times (Gen 1:20, 24, 30) in the creation account and will occur once more (Gen 2:19). In each of these occurrences, animals are the reference. However, rather than showing continuity in our translations, the major translations translate nephesh chayim as living creature(s). (Actually, the ESV does show continuity by translating the description of man as a living creature in Gen 2:7.)

So, what is the distinction between man and animal? Is it nephesh (soul)? No, not according to Genesis. Is it intelligence? In degree only, because monkeys have shown the ability to learn language and many animals including rats and birds demonstrate remarkable problem-solving abilities. Is it emotion? No, animals are clearly emotional creatures demonstrating happiness, sadness, depression, fear, and love (?). Is it sentience (consciousness or perception)? No, animals clearly prefer to live and avoid pain. In the face of the predator, prey either flee, fight, or organize to protect themselves and their kind. Is it relationships or social networks? No, just watch Meerkat Manor on Animal Planet.

According to Genesis, the difference between humankind and the animal kingdom is the image of God, which bears with it a responsibility to reign over the other nephesh chayim (Gen 1:28) and cultivate the ground (Gen 2:5). The image of God, I believe, is to be a visible representation of God in the creation. This may include some abilities more advanced than animals, but many of these things are in degree only. Rather, the image of God seems to be a position in the created order—a responsibility. The sovereign God, grants a share of that sovereignty to humans. However, this reign is not an excuse to abuse, mistreat, and exploit the creation. If we are to reflect God in the world, one has to ask if we would want God exercise his over us in the same way we have exercised ours over animals (e.g., hunt us for sport, abuse us, subject us to deplorable conditions)?

6.27.2009

michael jackson

As if the world needs more commentary on the life and death of Michael Jackson, I will, nevertheless, give more commentary. Poor Farrah Fawcett. Her long struggle with cancer, which ended on the same day, was totally eclipsed by Michael Jackson's death. We tuned into Farah's Story last night to find that it had been replaced with Ann Curry telling Michael Jackson's. With all of this, I have had a few recurring thoughts.

(1) Americans really don't like death. Actually, Americans really don't like to think about anything painful. Actually, Americans are hell-bent on avoiding pain altogether. This pattern of emotional repression where we will choose not to grieve someone's death and only celebrate their life, rings with a twinge of dishonesty for me. It is not that I think celebration of someone's life is inappropriate, it is the act of repressing pain and grief that bothers me. And Americans have no tolerance for pain. Look at everything we are doing technologically, medically, economically, and I believe you will find the avoidance of pain underlying it all. But pain is a part of the human condition and it needs to be faced and persevered through. Actually, Michael is almost a perfect symbol of a life devoted to ignoring, avoiding, and medicating pain.

(2) The cost of greatness is great. I am happy to see that this has not been completely ignored in the coverage, but Michael Jackson was a severely dysfunctional and unhappy human being. This is a common pattern in the lives of those we deem "great." In fact, it is so common that I would almost dare to say it is necessary. I don't know whether it is their genius or their drive (or both), but I challenge you to find an example of one of these transformative personalities for whom this hasn't been true. As I understand it, even Gandhi had a terrible relationship with his own children.

(3) Apart from the "crotch grab to pelvic thrust" move, Michael Jackson's dance moves were sick...in the good sense...in the sense that it is sickening how good they were.

(4) We are very selective in our moral outrage. Have you ever heard stories about people in complete denial about loved ones' sins? "I don't believe he (or she) is capable that!" "There is no way!" or "You just don't understand, he (or she) is really good." That is what the whole world is doing for Michael Jackson. What crime evokes more outrage than pedophilia, and yet over and over I hear people in complete denial of the his capacity to do such a thing (even though he is a textbook candidate), or even worse, the plea for people let him off the hook because of all the great things he has done. Maybe he didn't do it, but it is not because Michael Jackson could never do that.

Not that it matters, but those are my thoughts on the matter.

6.22.2009

from 1902

These words were written by G.K. Chesterton in 1902. If he thought this then, I wonder what he would think about us today.

Civilization has run on ahead of the soul of man, and is producing faster than he can think and give thanks.
Baptizing, Fasting, and Praying with the early church. More on The Didache.

praying today's psalm: psa 120


Too long have I lived
Among those who hate peace.
I am a man of peace;
But when I speak, they are for war.

(Psa 120:6-7, NIV)

Lord, I think that in certain times and in certain places this kind of tension has not been felt adequately among those who profess your name. May your people in this time and in this place be able to say this with integrity. Amen

6.19.2009

Another Post on The Didache with a connection to Paul's teaching in 1 Cor 8-10.

praying today's psalm: psa 119


Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
To observe your righteous ordinances.
I am severely afflicted;
Give me life, O LORD, according to your word.

Your decrees are my heritage forever;
They are the joy of my heart.
I incline my heart to perform your statutes
Forever, to the end.

(Ps 119:105-107, 111-112 NRSV)

Lord, you give us enough light for the next step, and you have asked us to make that step in faith—trusting you. Give us the courage to do so. May your words give us life. May we eat it like bread and still hunger for more. Forgive us for treating your word as a burden. Restore to us the joy; may we delight it in it. May we delight in you. May we want your presence more than any earthly delights. Amen

6.18.2009

more contributors at read mor ded peepl

Yea! John DelHousaye has joined the cause at Read Mor Ded Peepl. I am very excited and honored that he wanted join in the fun since he is a major reason for my commitment to reading the ded. See his first post, which is about the earliest church fathers' views on "end times".

Also, coming soon. Rob Oliverio, who was a faithful servant at Harmony Baptist when I was interim pastor there, has returned to AZ after a year studying philosophy at Purdue. He is looking to contribute as well.

6.15.2009

marital roles

Some of the most difficult passages for the modern mind to understand and trust are those about marital roles, specifically the command for submission of wives to their husbands. The idea that there are any clearly defined roles or duties for each of the spouses to fulfill is generally unacceptable for the modern mind. Equality trumps any notions of authority or difference. Application of roles in destructive and demeaning ways has only amplified the resistance. On the other hand, it seems the resulting gender confusion and a failure to fulfill these roles contributes to much of the pain being experienced within our marriages. Men do not know how to act like men, and women do not make them feel like men. In the vacuum, women must step up to act like men, and men do not know how to make them feel like women.

If there are roles, what are they? What aren’t they? Ephesians 5 contains probably the most frequently cited teaching on the subject, and seems to be the springboard for most discussions on the subject, and so some analysis could be helpful.

Submitting yourselves to one another in the fear of Christ.

Wives, to their own husbands as to the Lord. Because a husband is head of his wife as also Christ is head of the church. He is savior of the body. But as the church submits to Christ, in this way also wives to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives just as also Christ loved the church and gave himself over for her. In order that he might sanctify her, by cleansing by the washing of the water in word. In order that he might present her, the church, as glorious not having a stain or wrinkle or anything such as these, but in order that she might be holy and blameless. In this way, husbands are obligated to love their own wives as their own bodies. The one, who loves his own wife, loves himself. For no one at any time hated his own flesh but nourishes and cares for it. Just as also Christ [does for] the church. Because a body part is his body. “On account of this, a man will leave father and mother and he will be united to his wife, and the two will be as one flesh.” This mystery is great, but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, you, one after the other, let each [man] love his wife as himself, and the wife, let her revere her husband.
(Eph 5:21-3, BAB)

Important observations:
(1) v. 21 “submitting yourselves to one another in the fear of Christ” is the fourth of four supplementary statements describing what accompanies being filled with the spirit (v. 18). In other words, it is very clearly connected to what precedes, in contrast to some who interpret that as the introduction to what follows. However, the discussion that follows is concrete application of the principle.


(2) Each has the relationship between Christ and his church as the paradigm for understanding how they ought to act toward the other. Christ is ground for and example of how one ought to live. In this case, the marriage relationship embodies the gospel. Male headship means embodying Christ’s sacrifice in the provision of love and honor. Female submission means embodying the church’s faith in the provision of respect and trust.


(3) These can still qualify has mutual submission in that each is called to sacrifice themselves for the other. If the woman sacrifices in respecting and trusting her husband, the husband sacrifices in exercising his headship in service of her (not him).

(4) These roles say nothing really about things like who works, who makes decisions, who controls the finances, and so on. When Paul describes Christ as the head of the church (4:15-16), he describes him as the one who holds the body together. In that way, I think the idea of roles has very little to do with some of the ways they are traditionally defined. Rather it means that the responsibility for holding the family together as a healthy, functional, and growing body rests squarely on his shoulders. The wife’s submission means that she will not do things that undermine his attempts to do that. I think the details on how this is lived out may be more fluid are typically taught.

praying today's psalm: psa 119


How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart;
Do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
That I might not sin against you.

(Psa 119:9-11, NIV)

Father, forgive us for our waywardness. Forgive us when we listen to every voice except yours. Forgive us for failing to treasure your word. Give us the strength and courage to seek it, and empower our attempts to obey it. May you have more of our hearts. Amen.

6.14.2009

sanctifying effect of marriage

Nate's post on marriage is a great reflection on why marriage is difficult but sanctifying

6.13.2009

moral outrage

Ben Myers posted this reflection on a recent uproar in Australia. I think it is interesting to think about. I am sure you can see the parallels in our society.

6.10.2009

free lectures

It really is amazing what is available out there through resources like iTunes U and so on. There are top quality lectures from some of the best schools and professors out there for free. Here is another resource, Academic Earth. It may be better if you're into matters of science, economics, politics, etc (as opposed to matters of religion), but if you like to exercise your inner nerd like me, then have at it.

in praise of pastors

In Praise of Pastors by GCTS professor Jeffrey Arthurs. A little word of encouragement for the over-worked and under-appreciated, who walk around with a big fat burden on their shoulders everyday.

6.05.2009

a parable

Here is another great parable by Ben Myers.

6.04.2009

business

Here is a lecture on business (from a theological perspective) that I can honestly say, I wish everyone - business person or consumer - would listen to. His biblical interpretation may be a little strained at points, but the business model is solid.

How Business Contributes To Human Flourishing
Jeff Van Duzer, Dean of the School of Business & Economics at SPU, discusses the role of business and the way that business should run to further God's purpose in the world.

(at iTunes U so iTunes is necessary for downloading)

6.01.2009

following jesus: the temptation

We pray lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil (or the evil one). Jesus was led into temptation that we might be delivered from evil (or the evil one. I have read the temptation story any number of times, and I have heard it preached and teached (or is it praught and taught) even more times. I think I got it in a general sense. Usually the moral of the sermon is “Know your scripture because the Devil will twist it!” or “Don’t worship Satan!”

I have never—at least any time I was paying attention—heard a teacher or pastor draw out the parallels with Israel’s wilderness experience. This is surprising given that all of Jesus’ answers to the temptation can be found in the context of Israel’s exhortation before entering the land. Consider the following allusions:

JesusIsrael
Lk 4:1-13; Mt 4:1-11; Mk 1:12-13 → Dt 8:1-20; 6:10-16
In the wilderness 40 days → In the wilderness 40 years
Before beginning his ministry → Before beginning their conquest
Temptation 1 – Bread → Dt 8:1-10 – You shall not live on bread alone
Temptation 2 – Kingdoms → Dt 8:11-20 – You shall worship the LORD alone
Temptation 3 – Temple → Dt 6:10-16 – You shall not put the LORD to the test
Faithful → Unfaithful

Where Israel was disciplined in the wilderness as a father disciplines a son, Jesus is likewise tested in the wilderness. Where Israel was not able to remain faithful, Jesus proves himself faithful. Jesus is found to be the only faithful son of God, where all others have failed.

The temptations seem to me to fall along these lines:
Self-preservation – Israel (Dt 8:1-10) was to remember that they depended upon God for their bread (i.e. Manna), and their hunger was to remind them of their dependence. Jesus was tempted to take it upon himself to provide satisfaction for his hunger rather than remaining utterly dependent upon God for his provision. His answer is to humbly trust in God’s provision.

Self-exaltation – Israel (Dt 8:11-20) was warned not to think that their prosperity and success in the land had anything to do with them. Rather they were to remain humbly faithful to God and to not follow other gods. Jesus was tempted to exalt himself by forsaking his allegiance to God. His answer is to humbly trust in God’s way (and time) of exaltation. (Ironically, it was when Jesus was faithful to the point of crucifixion that God raised him and he could say to his disciples “All authority has been given to me.” The very thing the Devil was offering him.)

Self-deification – Israel (Dt 6:10-16) is reminded that they are to trust and serve God. They are not to put him to the test as they did at Massah (v. 16). What did they do at Massah? In Ex 17:1-7, we see that they grumbled to Moses about the lack of water, which God then provided from a stone. The place is named Massah (testing) because they tested the LORD saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?” Why do I say this is the temptation of self-deification? Not because one consciously sets themselves up as a god, but because one demands that God prove himself to them. In other words, they make God serve them. Jesus was tempted to make God prove his relationship to him. Jesus’ answer is to humbly trust that he serves God on God’s terms.

the double-sided coin of temptation

James makes it clear that we should not blame God for tempting us because God does not tempt (Jas 1:13-14). However, there is a close relationship between temptation and something God does do: test (e.g. Heb 11:17). In fact, the relationship is so close that the same word is used. The Greek word translated “tempt”, “test”, and “trial” is one and the same: peirazo (verb) and peirasmos (noun). What is the difference between the two ideas? The answer is in the goal.

TEST → Prove faithfulness, Perfection
TEMPTATION → Fall into sin, Failure

This can be seen in Jesus’ temptation (Lk 4:1-13; Mt 4:1-11; Mk 1:12-13; and of course see also Job 1-2). Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. Both God and Satan are agents in this trial. Satan is trying to get him to fall in order to kill his mission. God, on the other hand, has given Jesus over to this trial in order to prove his faithfulness. As Hebrews says, he was perfected through suffering.

When we encounter temptation or trial, we are often tempted to attribute it solely to “dark forces” out to do us harm, but that might only be one side of the situation. Every temptation is equally a test in which God is proving our faithfulness. Each temptation provides a crisis point where one can either fall in sin or stand in faith. (This is not to say that both ideas are necessarily in mind in any given use of peirazo or peirasmos. Context is the clue to which is the most appropriate translation.)

How is it that James can say God does not tempt? James addresses our temptation to blame God for our failure. James is quick to remind us that when we are tempted (leading to a fall), we can only blame our own sinfulness.

5.27.2009

More on The Didache: The Way of Death

5.26.2009

If you (1) are an audiobook type of person or (2) want to get caught up on your ded peepl, Librivox makes thousands of pieces of literature in the public domain available for all to download FOR FREE.

Children's Ministry

Here is a great little post affirming children's ministry.

Preaching

Read a rant on preaching here.

There is a great quote from Gabriel Moran.
“Probably only a clergyman could believe that preaching is a good model, let alone the best model, for understanding the religious life of mankind. It would be a near impossibility to find any non-clergymen who think of preaching and sermonizing as significant at all. Most people who give a thought to it conclude that preaching is an anachronism which is allowed existence because it bothers no one. However, if one’s professional life is centered on any activity, it is possible to view the whole world in light of that endeavor.”

Curious if anybody has any thoughts. Hopefully more than those who had opinions on Brueggemann's video.

5.22.2009

The Didache's Way of Life Here.

5.20.2009

Affairs


I am increasingly hearing reports of struggling couples. Many times, these stories include affairs. Sometimes, it has not reached the level of an affair, but the relationship is incredibly dysfunctional and dissatisfying all the same. In the book The Truth About Cheating, M. Gary Neuman presents the findings of his research into the reasons behind husbands' extramarital affairs. What did he find? For the most part, the affairs had very little to do with sex or attractiveness. Rather the affair stemmed from an emotional need the other woman was able to fill, which for the man could be summed up in the word respect. That is, in the course of the marriage, they were not feeling respected, appreciated, supported, believed in, etc. Sometimes the men may not have even been able to articulate those feelings, but when another woman came along and demonstrated interest in what they did, made them feel successful, or gave them a feeling of adequacy; they were hooked.

I can say without a doubt that this accurately describes the sentiments I hear from husbands dissatisfied in their relationships. What is so interesting is that this is far from new material. In fact, this is the wisdom of the Scriptures vindicated. The Apostle Paul writes to the Ephesians:

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
(Eph 5:22-33, NIV)

What is interesting is that while husbands are commanded to love their wives, wives are commanded—not to love their husbands—but to respect them. Just as M. Gary Neuman has discovered, if you want your husband to feel loved, make him feel respected. Neuman is working on a similar study directed at the wives' affairs, and I predict he will find something similar for wives only that the other men will have come along and made them feel loved. That is, he paid attention to her, made her feel special, honored, beautiful, secure, etc.

So, are you dissatisfied in marriage? Check to see whether these unmet needs are at the root. Do you want to bring about the best in your spouse? Make sure you are working hard to meet these needs. Here are some ideas.

Women: Praise your husbands for their successes. Show gratitude for their attempts. Defend them. Support them in their decisions. Be encouraging. Remind them of the things they do well. Speak well of them to others and in public. And trying to be lovable won’t hurt either.

Men: Tell your wives you love them. Tell them how beautiful they are. Leave notes, texts, or voicemails during the day letting them know you are thinking of them. Be playful. Help around the house. Work hard to provide and protect the family. Have a spine. Initiate. Speak well of them to other and in public. And trying to be respectable won’t hurt either.

5.08.2009

We cannot remain ignorant...

WARNING...VIDEOS ARE HARD TO STOMACH! PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.

So, below are three videos on three issues. Each obviously has a side of the debate it comes from. Each are meant to appeal to our emotions. Shock and awe. Some would suggest that that is not fair. We should engage the mind, use arguments, data, etc. I believe all of that is true; however, I believe there is something about facing the brutal reality of a thing that is needed. I want to suggest that what ties these three issues together is expediency and disconnection. (1) We do what is expedient no matter the consequences and (2) We are disconnected from the consequences (i.e., we don't have the kill the cow ourselves or watch it).

Also, each of these issues is one that the Bible does not directly address. Nevertheless, I believe that each of these issues is a matter of morality. So the question is, why?

FOR THOSE OF US WHO DON'T THINK ABOUT OUR CONSUMPTION AND OUR WASTE, WE SHOULD KNOW WERE IT GOES...
There is a garbage swirl in the Pacific Ocean bigger than the state of Texas. There is a garbage swirl in each ocean.


FOR THOSE OF US WHO EAT MEAT, WE SHOULD KNOW WHERE IT COMES FROM...
Please don't right this off because of your feelings about the source or the narrator. Let the images stand for themselves - if you can even make it to the end.


FOR THOSE OF US WHO SUPPORT ABORTION OR ARE INDIFFERENT TO IT, SHOULD KNOW WHAT IT DOES...
I chose the shortest one because it just becomes too much.

5.02.2009

for all coffee drinkers...

Storyville Coffee is giving away 100% of its May revenue (up to $1,000,000) to International Justice Mission to help stop slavery and human trafficking. Drink up!

4.25.2009

praying today's psalm: psa 76


At your rebuke, O God of Jacob,
Both horse and chariot lie still.
You alone are to be feared.
Who can stand before you when you are angry?
From heaven you pronounced judgment,
And the land feared and was quiet—
When you, O God, rose up to judge,
To save all the afflicted of the land.

Surely your wrath against men brings you praise,
And the survivors of your wrath are restrained.

(Psa 76:6-10, NIV)

Father, forgive us. Forgive us for our lack of fear. Forgive us for drawing you up in our minds as some eunuch—some impotent nice guy in the sky. Lord, you are unsafe and uncontrollable, and may we never forget it. You are the Lord! And as such, restore in us the right and proper fear. Let us remember that your day is both the great and terrible day of the Lord. Amen Amen

4.22.2009

the biggest loser: church edition


The times have made it some slim pickings for churches and non-profits out there. You can sense the desperation when it comes to the financial outlook. Donors supporting these churches have taken a hit to the groin—or they imagine they have—and so giving has dropped and the churches income streams are diminishing.

There is no doubt there is some serious strain out there, but in many cases the cry of desperation appears a little silly. For some, it is kind of like listening to an obese person say “I am starving!” “Sure your feeling hunger pains, but let’s be honest…” It is like the person who lives in a new half million-dollar house, has their kids in private school, and drives a shiny car (or two), who complains about how tight things are these days. The fact of the matter is that many churches are sitting on debts for large building campaigns and have been operating with the mindset that all this stuff is necessary for ministry.

I think that—like the hit show The Biggest Loser, which has risen in the face of our obesity crisis—it will be the ministries that can shed their unhealthy weight who will win in the face of our financial crisis. Rather than trying to increase the income stream, I believe our churches should be thinking hard about how to get back to basics. Like an addict who believes their chosen indulgence makes life possible, we have been seduced by the world’s standards of success, and so high overhead has become the necessary path to success. But it is not, and we know it is not. A friend of mine from Zimbabwe—a country whose financial crisis makes ours look silly (e.g., their 94% unemployment)—tells me about western churches who come to build their churches new buildings all the while the fastest growing movement is one that meets outside under the trees. Do we believe ministry can be done with little to no overhead? I believe the winners in this time will be those who can shed their unwanted pounds and become slim, fit, and healthy. The biggest losers.

Painting is "Diverse Community" by JEM