Monday, October 31, 2005

When good water goes bad...

I found this on Steve McCoy's blog and thought it was interesting because it just doesn't make sense to me. When people are in need of water, who cares if it was donated by a beer company! If it's that offensive, do what any good Southerner knows how to do and wrap the can in duct tape. (I can do that, and I'm not a full southerner!) Seriously, though, would anyone think that the SBC was passing out beer when people were literally thirsting for water.

Religious beliefs trump hurricane relief
Danielle PepeLast updated on: 10/29/2005 5:06:13 PM
WMP 9 or higher required
CLEWISTON — Hurricane victims who wanted water had some difficulty finding it at a relief station in Clewiston Friday. The volunteer group running a supply center doesn't like the company that donated the water, so they decided not to give it to those in line for help.

Twenty-two pallets of the canned water, distributed free by beer company Anheuser-Busch, bears the company's label – and members of the Southern Baptist Convention refused to hand it out to those in need.

Resident lined up for miles to receive food and water at the distribution point. But the water was left on the sidelines by the Alabama-based group.

"The pastor didn't want to hand out the Budweiser cans to people and that's his prerogative and I back him 100-percent," said SBC volunteer John Cook.

The SBC felt it was inappropriate to give the donation out, and they weren't happy when NBC2 wanted to know why.

"Why do you want to make that the issue? That's not the issue. The issue is that we're here trying to help people," Cook said.

No one disagrees with that, but the Red Cross says Anheuser-Busch is also trying to help.

The water has been available all along, but the SBC volunteers set it aside and few people knew it was available.

While the SBC is standing its ground, the Red Cross says water is water and they're now handing out the supplies.

The vice-president of operations for Anheuser-Busch, Mike Harding, released a statement on the donation Friday reading:

“As we have seen numerous times in recent years, safe drinking water is a critical need following natural disasters such as Hurricane Wilma. At the request of various relief agencies, Anheuser-Busch and its wholesalers have donated more than 9 million cans of drinking water since Hurricane Katrina hit in August, and when called on, we’ll continue to provide water to all victims of Wilma as long as it’s needed.”

"I don't think it makes a difference who gives it out. It's going to a good cause. It's going to help everyone," said storm victim Lisa Simmons.
And many victims are grateful Anheuser-Busch is stepping in to help.

UPDATE: Late Friday, as NBC2 was leaving Clewiston, we saw two members of the SBC handing out the canned water alongside the Red Cross.

From NBC2 News Online

From our costume party

We had another costume party with some of our seminary friends. Jen went above and beyond in making our outfits for this year.... all I did was make the lightsabers.

We had some friends show up as Calvin and Hobbes. That was funny.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Reformation Sunday, 2005

I'll be here pulpit filling for a good friend who's the pastor. I'm excited!

Eschatology quiz...

I thought this was interesting...

You scored as Moltmannian Eschatology. Jürgen Moltmann is one of the key eschatological thinkers of the 20th Century. Eschatology is not only about heaven and hell, but God's plan to make all things new. This should spur us on to political and social action in the present.

Moltmannian Eschatology












Left Behind


What's your eschatology?
created with

Friday, October 28, 2005

My how the years have flown....

Five years ago this weekend, I had just quit working at the place I thought would lead to my dream job, The Oklahoman newspaper in OKC. I was starting a new job as a Project Manager for West Teleservices in OKC. I knew the West gig wouldn't last beyond a couple of years, and in the back of my mind I wanted to move back to The Oklahoman in an outside sales position. (i kept getting turned down due to my age/experience) It seems that God had something different in mind, especially considering that now I am married, live in St. Louis, am a full-time student at Covenant Seminary, and work at UPS.

If any of my former peeps from The Oklahoman or West are reading this..."hi".

Craziness abounds man....I still love it though.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Could there be a better movie from 2005?

Batman Begins is so redemptive, it's not even funny.

Gotham isn't beyond saving......

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The big scam...

I'm a careful shopper, most of the time, so it shouldn't surprise people that I've been hooked on for a while. Not just since the hurricanes that drove gas up to over $3 a gallon here in St. Louis.

I have been keeping up with gas prices since we left Oklahoma City back in May, 2003, and comparing them to St. Louis. It's been consistantly within a dime for the most part, until recently.

As oil prices began to fall, Oklahoma City's gas prices fell accordingly (although not proportionately compared to the /gal price at the same /barrel price this past summer), but St. Louis' gas prices did not. (and even more interesting, the poorer neighborhoods, which typically are a few cents lower in price were HIGHER than the wealthy neighborhoods)

In fact, Oklahoma City's gas has fallen to below $2/gal in many, many places, but in St. Louis, today's prices average between $2.38-$2.45/gal.

So, I checked Springfield, Mo; Branson, Mo; and Joplin, Mo; and it's within a nickle of Oklahoma City. Why not St. Louis any longer?

I don't get it. And to make it even more interesting, I buy my gas from an Oklahoma owned chain here in St. Louis (QT), and they're not charging $2.38/gal in Oklahoma.

The other night I checked Springfield, MA, just for kicks, and we're paying within a nickle of them.
Two weeks ago, as Oklahomans enjoyed 20-30 cents lower than St. Louis, I checked and St. Louis was within 10-15 cents a gallon.

Now, I understand that in mandated ethanol states, we will pay a little more for gas, but 30-45 cents a gallon higher than our neighbor to the south, when it's been within 10 cents/gal for several years?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Joel Osteen and the Gospel

From Good Morning America
Oct. 20, 2005 — Author and televangelist Joel Osteen attributes much of his success to his positive message.Osteen is the senior pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, which is attended by more than 40,000 people and the services are watched by millions on television. Osteen's father, a Pentecostal preacher, started the Lakewood church with a few dozen members in 1959.

"I think it has to do with the fact that I am positive and I preach a message of hope and encouragement," Osteen said of his success. "I don't believe in beating people down. We believe in making it simple and practical," he added."I think a lot of it is just God's blessings and favor," he said.

Osteen delivers a similar message in his best-selling book, "Your Best Life Now: Seven Steps to Living at Your Full Potential," and his new book "Daily Readings From Your Best Life Now: 90 Devotions for Living at Your Full Potential," which is coming out next week. His new book is a reworking of his first book into 90 bite-sized pieces for daily reading and inspiration.

"I just challenge you to change your attitude," he said. "It's a choice you make. Thank God you're alive and breathing. There are a lot of people in this world that are a lot worse off than all of us." "Just believe that God has a great future for us and life is what we choose to make of it so we have to make the most of it," he added.

Osteen has faced criticism for recently commenting on a cable TV program that non-Christians may not go to heaven. "I'm very careful about saying who would and wouldn't go to heaven," he said on CNN. "I don't know … I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don't know all about their religion. But I know they love God … I've seen their sincerity. So I don't know."

Osteen has since apologized. "I just don't like to take the approach of just being the judge of who's going to heaven and hell," he said. "I'm here to present the gospel, which is called good news," he added.

Asked about whether Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers' religious faith should be a consideration as the Senate prepares to take up her nomination, Osteen said: "Well, I don't think it should hurt you in any way. To me, having faith gives you character and helps you walk in integrity." "But I think you have to be qualified on all points," he added.

Here's my take: I am saddened by this because he does not truly present the Gospel: Christ crucified and Christ risen. I have watched his program many times and I commend him for wanting to be practical, but the Gospel is practical without cutting out the essentials. It's more than a smile and calling it "good news". Osteen teaches moralism and self-help, not trusting in transforming power of Christ.

I firmly believe that the Gospel transforms all aspects of our lives, from how we deal with our vocation to marriage problems. The thing is that the Gospel is so powerful that we don't have to water it down in order to help it help people. We can preach on having a good attitude and still have the full brunt of the Gospel without being "mean". We can preach on success without compromising the Gospel.

We can preach on any topic without compromising the Gospel, but here's the thing; when you have Christ centered, Gospel sermons, it offers more help than just a smile. It offers a real solution to the problem of the human condition: Christ. It also shows that our dependence shouldn't be on how well we think, or how great we smile, if we don't get mad when things go wrong, it shows us that there will be times when we're man, when we frown, when we aren't thinking the right thing, but in those times, we don't seek to change ourselves, we run to Christ to change us.

I think the Gospel offers a better solution.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

What to say

I really wanted to write something good today. I just don't feel like it though. I've got lots going through my head, both good and bad.
I've been reading a great book, Given For You: Reclaiming Calvin's Doctrine of the Lord's Supper, and it's been an eye opener to see the beauty of Communion and how the sacraments are visible words of God to us, promises. It's blown me away and really helped me.

I've been struck by how beautiful it is to get experience at a Retirement Center. Not only are the people great, the ecclesiastical backgrounds are so different, that it forces me to learn how to love people who "aren't like me". I love it!

I've been upset lately at Christians who think that politicians will save us. I tire at the mindset that "if only" we had the right Senator, President, Supreme Court Justice, things would be better. Things won't be better until God comes to make it all right, but until then, to borrow from Plantinga, things "aren't the way they're supposed to be". The world will not be perfect until God completes his plan of renewing all of creation and calling all of his people to himself.

I've been upset about my independent study. I'm working on a thesis that could really be something significant, but I've been hampered by one microfilm reel. I can't seem to learn patience from this because inside I crave the potential that could come from this paper. I have this feeling that this is my time to shine as a graduate student, who wants to begin applying to PhD programs in the next 10 months, but I don't want to wait!

I've been happy about my wife. She's great. It was an eye-opener for me to live without her for two week last month when she was in South Africa. I realize the whole "one flesh" thing. It changed how I plan to counsel people for marriage. Seriously.

There have been other things, but I have the blahs....blah....blah....blah.

Monday, October 17, 2005

You can keep it

Last week, I had the privelege of sitting under preaching lectures by Dr. Robert Smith, a Professor at Beeson Divinity School.
I enjoyed his passion and content, but one thing stuck with me more than others, and that is his emphasis that we should retain classical theological terms. (justification, sanctification, etc)
But he qualified it. He said that too often, we speak the language of Zion from the pulpit without considering that so many in the pew are Biblically illiterate, so we must constantly define and illustrate classic terms so they mean something to the people in the pew.

As a seminarian, I do enjoy big words, Greek and Latin terms and phrases, but the practical instinct in me says that it's silly to spew out aorists, genetives, and original languages just because you can. It doesn't help the average person in the pew, and frankly, I get bored with it becuase it seems like you're puffing your chest of knowledge because you say what every English word is in the Greek. (99% of the time, I think the person spouting just had fun with their concorance when they wrote the sermon and want to sound smarter than what they really are)
They don't care that you use a big words, they want to know how the message of the Bible can get them through their life.

That is why pastors need to learn to exegete their audience and learn to communicate to them in ways they can understand. This can be done without compromising truth. When we read the Gospels, we see Jesus, very God of very God, speaking to people in ways they can understand, using terms that his audience could understand. When we read Acts 17, we see Paul, brilliantly gifted and educated, speak to the people of Greece in terms that they can relate to.

Both Jesus and Paul could have "wowed" the people with their knowledge, but they used their words in a way that could be understood by their audience.
Something to think about.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

'tis the season

For Christians to ponder what to do with Halloween.

I thought this was a great article on Ransom Fellowship's website.

It really puts things in perspective.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Life under the sun...

Ecclesiastes 8:14 - There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: righteous men who get what the wicked deserve, and wicked men who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless.

This came to my mind when I was watching reruns of 24 on A&E. It wasn't because of anything on the show, it came when I saw a commercial of a program that runs on A&E - Growing Up Gotti. Here is a program that follows a mom and her sons whose wealth and celebrity came as a result of crime. They are famous for being members of a family that made its money from organized crime. They are rich because people were cheated and killed, yet they are glorified.
Now, I understand that the actual people in the television program did not commit the crimes themselves, but are decendents of the actual one(s) who committed their crimes, but the way the show is marketed, the only reason it is on television is so people can see the luxury enjoyed by the offspring of Mafia. The deeds of the wicked are getting the publicitiy we would think someone more deserving should get.......there's nothing new under the sun.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Observations from worship this morning

I had the privelege of leading worship and preaching at the reitrement center today and my assigned passage was probably the hardest one I've ever had, Luke 16:16-18.
I think the reason it's so hard is because it's sandwiched between two parables and in order to gain the force of the context, you really have to work hard, I mean hard.

The essence of the message was God's faithfulness in light of how the Law and the Prophets pointed to the Messiah and the coming of the Kingdom.
The hard thing is to not get "too seminary" people, but things have to be said like what the law did/does: points to God's holiness, points to people's need; the various aspects of it (legal, cerimonial, moral) and how they cry out for somone to step in our place and fulfill it - Jesus.

Then how the Prophets enter into the situation. They predict the forerunner to the Messiah (John the Baptist) as well as predict the fulfiller (Jesus), and it culminates with John's ministry and Jesus coming to innagurate the already/not yet Kingdom of God.

If you stop and think about these verses, it's huge. It's got redemptive history written all over it. It's got Covenant written all over it.
It's beautiful.
Oh man, I felt really Presbyterian today.

Also, I've been dealing with a pulled muscle in my ribs for the past couple of weeks and wouldn't you know that leading two services back to back (readings, singing, confessions, preaching, benediction) would re-aggrivate the pain and by the end of the second service I could barely stand.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Watch how you use the "H" word

In Ecclesiology and Eschatology, we have been studying the topic of degrees of error, and a very helpful chart was given in class by Dr. Peterson, who borrows it from Dr. Jones.

Anyway, it was very helpful to me because of how cavalier in tossing out the word "heresy" many can be when discussing that with which they disagree.
Many times I have heard (and I used to talk this way as well) of the "heresy" of, say, Arminianism, Charismatic churches, or even dispensationalism or Covenant theology.
Now, that is plain silly if you consider what heresy actually is: it is teaching something that is a damning error.
By damning error, we are talking about denying basic truths of Christianity. This would be someone not believing in the Trinity, or denying that Jesus is God. That is heresy.

But if we consider varying degrees of error, we can find much better terminology to describe that with which we do not agree.

DEGREES OF ERROR (from bad to worst)
– Wrong opinions: Misunderstanding of Verses
– Errors: less serious… more serious.
– Systemic Errors: errors that affect other parts of the system of truth
– Heresy: damning doctrine

Now discussing things that one does not agree with can fit better in that framework, rather than dropping an "h" bomb on the idea you dislike.
For instance, if I were to critique an idea with which I disagree such as out and out Arminianism, I would not label it a heresy. I would approach it either as "error" or "systematic error" depending on how much it affected the particular person's theological framework.

This does several things:
It helps to still affirm aspects of the unity of the Church. (John 17)
It also makes me approach the topic as being something complex, instead of generalizing
It also acknowledges that my brother who holds particular view X is still my brother and there are still essentials we affirm together.

Disagreements approached within a framework of understanding various degrees of error allows for better interaction between God's people frees them from becoming heresy hunters, etc.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Duty and Dependence

In Luke 9:1-5, Jesus is commissioning his disciples to go out and preach the Gospel and heal people. In this commissioning he gives them a specific set of duties to fulfill, ranging from not taking any thing to meet physical needs (food, money, etc) to shaking the dust of their feet when their message is rejected.

Many times we can look at Jesus' list and see a litany of rules and regulations that would certainly be hard to follow. But why did he give them this set of extras? Was it so they could talk about how well they were able to keep them?
I don't think so.
Think about the disciples; many of them were rugged fishermen, at least one of them was a tax collector who would have known how to make a buck, and we can reasonably assume this group was a collection of men who knew how to take care of themselves. This not only drives a stake in the heart of self-suffiency and self-reliance of the disciples, but it gives we "can do" Americans something to take a closer look at.
You see, Jesus isn't giving these duties to his disciples as a means of self-reliance and a way of instilling a "can do" attitude, he is giving these duties as a way of learning dependence upon God.

There is an underlying assumption that there will be needs: physical, as well as the emotional/spiritual dynamic as well. In these times where they are hungry, or they are tired and would love a walking stick, those are the times they realize that they are sent by God and granted authority from God and need to depend and rely upon God for their needs. Also, when the time comes where they experience the sting of rejection, the principal still rings true: depend upon God, not only in the times where the Gospel is accepted, but where it is rejected as well.

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