Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Time well wasted

Thanksgiving 2005 was great.
Lots of food, hunting and hunting.

Loving Advent

The cool thing about the Church calendar is that instead of one Christmas sermon you get four.
I love it.
I do.
My all time dream for planning four Advent sermons is to begin with the promise of the one who will crush the serpent's head in Genesis, then move to the seed promise to Abraham in Genesis, then the promise of a Redeemer in Isaiah, then move to the promise fulfilled in the NT: the Redeemer has come.

I think it would be great.

If you're unfamiliar with Advent, read more about it here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving could possibly be my favorite holiday. There's less stress, more time to eat and relax, and fewer hassles. This year, we'll be in PA, and I'll be hunting Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Life is good.
Rock on.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Bible Belt Culture...

This picture is indicative of the perception that comes with living in the “Bible Belt”. Growing up in this area, I believed that the external things the population was involved in was what made us “better” than a state like say, California or New York with their Powerball, prostitutes, porn, and lack of moral regard.
The thing is, who cares? What I appreciate about growing up in the Bible Belt is that there was an ethos that held family and “God” in high regard. I like that, but what I don’t like is to see Sundays with full churches and people who don’t follow the Way. I do not think for a second that all the churches in the Bible Belt, or Oklahoma, are apostate and there are only a few churches with real Christians. I do think, however, that Bible Belt residents think that people will act morally because our state doesn’t have gambling, or liquor by the drink (a huge issue in the early 80s when I was a child). Cultures do not change because of rules, cultures change because of the Gospel.
Culture can be regulated, but that is only a restraint.
Two examples:
In Oklahoma City and further south, it is not uncommon on a Friday to have co-workers talk about how they are going to drive to the OK-Texas border to buy 6.2 beer instead of the state regulated 3.2 beer. Nothing illegal is taking place because of this drive, but the “moral” reason that 6.2 beer cannot be sold because it’s somehow worse is simply circumvented.

Then comes the lottery. I despise lotteries because of the damage they cause to families and how they destroy the lives of poor people. I hate them, but having a lottery in a state does not make one state more holy than another. Until recently, Oklahomans had to drive to Missouri or Texas to buy Powerball tickets, etc. Now the lottery is in Oklahoma, and while I believe it is horrible, it does not mean somehow that God is less present there.

The problem with equating what is allowed in this area as indicative of the spiritual climate of society is faulty at best. Part of the problem is that it creates a sense that moralism is equal to right standing before God. A good historical analogy is to look at Puritan culture in the 1600s-1700s where residents thought they were right with God because of where they came from. There is a huge threat of nominalism in this. I know nominalism is a problem in Oklahoma, and the Bible Belt as a whole. You are raised in church, your contacts come from church, that’s just what you do. Once a church culture has been built (I’m not saying Christian) people begin to look more to the externals around them, rather than themselves.

Obviously, Christians should live a certain way, but it’s in the view that ‘faith without works is dead’. God has given us the gift of faith and our works bear out what we believe. Many times, this is seen the other way, maybe as “works without faith is life”, meaning that because we in the Bible Belt don’t have these vices, vote for these people and go to church, it means we’re alive.
So rules are then equated as how we are holy. Because we regulate beer and liquor, it means we’re good. Because we keep out gambling, we’re holy. Because we do this and that, etc, etc, but rarely if ever, do we say, “because we’re trusting in God”…

And to further this point, here is a quick glance at the rough number of churches in the OKC/Metro area (where I’m from, sorry Tulsa). You will see around 1345 churches for around a million people. (This is not exact). That works out to 750 or so per church. I doubt that will work out.

Churches in OKC and most of the Metro area:
Oklahoma City: 805
Moore: 42
Norman: 112
Mustang: 25
Yukon: 46
Edmond: 94
Bethany: 30
Newcastle: 19
Tuttle: 18
Warr Acres: 10
Guthrie: 49
Midwest City: 26
Spencer: 41
Jones: 15
Harrah: 13

Now does this justify Oklahoma City as a Bible Belt city?

But it also shows that this number of churches are likely not influencing their culture, i.e. salt and light, the way they should, as a whole.
My guess is that it stems from what I’ve been talking about, looking to that status of Bible Belt and church culture as what will keep us from "societies ills", as opposed to authenticating the Gospel in an incarnational way, that not only fights against things like gambling, but promotes real change in lives in our communities of Faith.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

OU hosed vs Texas Tech today

Not even close to a First Down.

Thanks Big 12 refs!

Oh yeah, once I find pics of the touchdown at the end of the game, that also wasn't close, I'll post them too.


And the fake touchdown.....where you're allowed to stretch over the goal line after you were down.

Friday, November 18, 2005

My hometown

This song reminds me of the town where I grew up.

Little Jimmy Jackson is jackin' up his Bronco.
He's gonna lay a little rubber later on at the truck pull.
An' all the girls are getting' pretty: they're sprayin' on the White
they're gonna get a rowdy tonight down at the football

Yeah, we let it rip when we got the money:
Let it roll if we got the gas.
It gets wild, yeah, but that's the way we get down,
In a Hicktown.

Well, you can see the neighbors butt crack nailing on his shingles,
An' his woman's' smokin' Pall Mall's watchin' Laura Ingalls.
An' Granny's getting' lit, she's headin' out to bingo.
Yeah, my buddies an' me are goin' muddin' down on Blue Hole Road.

You know, you know, we let it rip when we got the money:
Let it roll if we got the gas.
It gets wild, yeah, but that's the way we get down,
In a Hicktown.

We hear folks in the city party in Martini Bars,
An' they like to show off in their fancy foreign cars.
Out here in the boondocks we buy beer at Amoco,
An' crank our Kraco speakers with that country radio.

We let it rip when we got the money:
Let it roll if we got the gas.
It gets wild, yeah, but that's the way we get down.
Oh, oh we let it rip
when we got the money:
Let it roll if we got the gas.
It's buck wild, yeah, but that's the way we get down,
In a Hicktown.
In a Hicktown.

That's the way we get down in a Hicktown.
In a little Hicktown.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

An irony

Someone who disdains “radio” or “top 40” music, prefers local bands, indy acts, etc; but buys the new U2* album as soon as it comes out.

* the most popular band in the world.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Funny things about seminary

In any discipline, there is a vocabulary which goes with it.
When I was studying business in undergrad, we had "marketing words", "management words", and so on.

In seminary, I've gotten exposure to some great words which are fun to me (some words make me chuckle), I'm going to list a few, which will never make it into a sermon, but are fun nonetheless. If you dont' know what it means...I'll let you look it up! I'm being lazy today.

locus classicus
cognitive state
dispositional ontology (you Edwardsians will know that one)
ex opera operato
eschatological reality
hapax legomena
analogia scripturae

There is more. I'm not doing this to show off, I promise, just to blow off some steam about how various disciplines have their own language. If someone wants to humble me with engineering terms I will have no clue about, go for it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Represent us more fairly...

My friend Brandon has a must read post that does a good job conveying some thoughts that I've been mulling over lately...

Here's an excerpt:

Since the last election, when they appeared in force, Evangelical leaders have continued to be the interest of Larry King, the focus of CNN specials, the subjects of Time Magazine, and the drive of the blogosophere—all-in-all, a good year for getting press. But I’m not one who believes that there is no such thing as bad press, and usually that is because bad press is preceded by the names Robertson or Falwell. I’m not sure why these men and others like them continue to represent evangelicals. Like a Democrat sporting the bumper sticker, “He’s not my president,” every time Robertson makes the news, I feel like shouting from the rooftops, “He does not represent me!” And despite so many good candidates, even Time Magazine’s list doesn’t seem to grasp what it means to be evangelical. It captures some of the movers and shakers, but it also includes names that do not belong even among the most liberal among Evangelicals.

You can read the rest of his post here.....

Monday, November 14, 2005

Enter this...

A no-hassles contest.

November Giveaway

Friday, November 11, 2005

Christian Pessimism of Culture

From Hendrikus Berhof as quoted by Anthony Hoekema in The Bible and the Future, which is a book that everyone should own because it's probably the *best book* on eschatology out there.

The average Christian does not expect to see any positives signs of Christ's reign in the world. He believes that the world only becomes worse and races in the direction of the antichrist...The average Christian is not aware of the presence of the Kingdom in the world today...Prevalent in our churches is a bad kind of pietism...which limits the power of Christ to his personal relationship to the individual believer, and which sees no connection between Christ and world-events, or between Christ and daily work.. This leads to an ungrateful blindness for the sings of Christ's reign in the present. Expressions such as "we live on the edge of a volcano", "it can't last this way much longer", "humanity is steadily becoming worse", "the end of time is near" are very popular in Christian circles. And they believe that this pessimism of completely in agreement with Christian faith."

Christ, The Meaning of History, pp 174.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

You need to be aware

I have been writing a paper for Pastoral and General Epistles and in writing on the authorship of 1 Timothy for my paper, I have been interacting with critical scholarship. This is important because: #1 It's required for the class.
#2 It's what people are taught out of the realm of conservative evangelicalism.

I think it is very important for Christians, especially pastors to be aware of what's going on.

For instance, this is the most popular book for New Testament in most colleges and universities and it would not "fly" in 90% of evangelical churches, yet people are taught from it. With this occuring, it would make sense for a pastor to be aware of the content of what it taught. This is smart because people will ask you questions about it when they come and visit, or if they are a new Christian, or even a confused one. Christians want to know if they can trust their Bible and those who are not far away from the faith may want to know if the Bible is "real", or just a bunch of letters, books and stories decided on by Constantine and the Council of Nicea, etc. We must know the arguments against our faith, not only the ones for. We must be ready to give answers, but they should be well thought out and legitimate.
I once heard a true story of a man who had been taught liberal scholarship and that the Bible could not be trusted. He was at an Academic Conference and asked a man some questions about critical theory, authorship concerns, etc. He was then met with a question of, "what sin do you have in your life that's keeping you from trusting God's word?" Some may laugh, but that is not appropriate. Here a person is being taught very clever things about why the Pastoral Epistles cannot be Pauline because of stylistic concerns and so many words are used that are not used in other "genuine" Pauline writings, and he is met with an answer that did not help.

We need to be familiar with writings and teachings that undermine historic Christian teaching. Yes, there could even be times when we will have our own questions and doubt, but instead of ignoring those questions, fears, or doubts, we need to confront them and study. It's not enough to just know what we believe, we must know why, and we must know why in the face of those conversations that tell us why we must not.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

More places

Other good places that I think the PCA could plant churches.

Grove City, PA – A city that has a college founded by Presbyterians in the 1800s. There aren’t any PCA churches, or an RUF in the area and I know that the school has PCA students. There are a few PCUS churches in the area, which are conservative from what I understand, but still I think the PCA would be successful area.

An RUF for the University of Pittsburgh. A large D1 school with no RUF?? I think that’s enough.

Pittsburgh, PA – I understand there is a church plant, City Reformed, that meets in the Botanical Gardens. This is great and I know it will work well, but more needs to be done.

I think later, I will make a post with pros/cons for the Oklahoma areas I listed yesterday.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

What I got today..

A Fender DG10-CE Left Handed model Acoustic Electric.
I am pleased.


These are a few places I would love to see the PCA plant churches in the next couple of years.

Southwest Oklahoma City (there really needs to be at least 2 with 1 Spanish speaking)
Northwest Oklahoma City (there's always room for more!)
Yukon/Mustang, Oklahoma
Edmond, Oklahoma (again....I know it can work!)
North East Oklahoma City
Moore, Oklahoma
Another PCA in Norman
Enid, Oklahoma
Ardmore, Oklahoma
Tulsa, Oklahoma (more!)

I know that Oklahoma would be a good place for PCA church planters to go. I believe people are hungry for grace. I believe that people want to be in a church that teaches the Gospel, people want to be a part of a community and not just be "at church", people want to be taught about the sacraments and actually see the Lord's Supper as more than just a "memory" that's all about me, (I really think that Heritage PCA's growth over the past year as a testament to that, as well as a Gospel driven ministry) , I think people want to see worship that is reverent and Christ centered, and I believe people want to be taught that sanctification isn't about how good you are, but it's the Spirit working in your life. You're not better because you did X, Y & Z, you're "better" because of Christ and you live your life depending on Him.
I believe people want that.

Any takers who want to work with the Southwest Church Planting Network???

Monday, November 07, 2005

What a great resource link

Go here and read "A Gospel Driven Ministry Culture" by Scott Sauls. It will blow you away.

I plan on bookmarking this page and reading everything on it.

Friday, November 04, 2005

In the interest of more fairness...

From a Southern Baptist Pastor's weblog:

Hi Danielle,

My name is Marty Duren. I'm a Southern Baptist pastorand noticed
your online story about the disasterrelief workers in Clewiston that refused to
distributewater provided by Anheuser-Busch.I would like to hear your response to
the AlabamaBaptist Convention statement which read, in part, "Atno time was
anyone deprived of water. In fact, therewas a huge surplus of bottled and canned
wateravailable at the Clewiston relief site. There wasnever any disruption in
the supply of water being given out to members of the public who continued
toreceive food, water and other types of assistance from Alabama Baptist
Disaster Relief workers."The clear implication of your story (4 times in
thefirst 1/2) was that people in line did not get waterat all, while the A-B
cans were sitting to the side. Could you please clarify for me exactly what
youwitnessed there? Specifically, was other pure waterbeing distributed or was
no water at all beingdistributed until the 2 SBC workers helped the RedCross as
you left the site?
Thank you very much.

This afternoon, I
received a response from Darrel Adams, the
Executive Editor and News Director at NBBH (NBC-2). It read:
Thanks for your email. We stand by the facts reported in our story and witnessed by
more than one reporter. No water was being given to the people in line until an
alternative to the Anheuser-Busch product arrived.
Darrel Adams Executive
Editor and News Director WBBH NBC2

In the interest of fairness

A person who works for an SBC state convention has been hitting all the blogs which have been talking about the decision to not pass out donated water to hurricane victims because it was from Budweiser. I will post his comments below as a blog entry so people can see them, and posts thoughts from myself and others below the quote.

Volunteers working with the Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief Unit honored the request of the host pastor to set aside canned water with an Anheuser-Busch logo. At no time was anyone deprived of water. In fact, there was a huge surplus of bottled and canned water available at the Clewiston relief site. There was never any disruption in the supply of water being given out to members of the public who continued to receive food, water and other types of assistance from Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief workers.It is an absolute falsehood to suggest -- as many irresponsible bloggers have -- that the Baptist volunteers withheld the basic needs of life from Floridians impacted by the hurricane. Contrary to misinterpretations of news reports, no one was denied access to water. One may disagree with the strong stand that many Southern Baptists take against the consumption of alcohol. One may even regard such opposition to alcohol as offensive. But it's impossible to say truthfully that this conviction caused any inconvenience or shortage for victims of Hurricane Wilma. The facts are exactly the opposite.The fact is that virtually all of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers serve selflessly -- taking time away from employment and family to minister in the name of Jesus Christ. Churches such as First Baptist Church, Clewiston, graciously serve as host sites -- providing a place where food, water and other necessities of life may be obtained by anyone in need -- without regard to religion or any other demographic consideration.--
Keith Hinson, public relations associate
Alabama Baptist Convention State Board of Missions
Montgomery, Alabama

Several questions -
*If* you had no other water, would you have used Busch's?
Why should the host pastor's request have been honored in the first place?
The availability of other water is not the issue. The good work done by the rest of the SBC relief effort is not the issue. The legalism of the host pastor *is* the issue. I still have no sympathy for his attitude and I still will criticize it at every opportunity.
Posted by: Doug 11/02/2005 at 09:11 AM

This blog has more insight to the controversy.

My personal thoughts on this: it puts a black eye on Christianity in general. I'm not SBC, I'm a Presbyterian (PCA), but I have much love and respect for the SBC and I want to see them spread the Gospel. I do not think this type of action speaks well. The cans clearly did not resemble beer (if you think beer is sinful), so you cannot apply a slippery slope argument, or an argument of "separation". We Christians need to do a better job at ministering to our culture and if you have a problem with free water from a beer company, it's not the company's problem, it's yours. Here's why, if you own a business and you sell goods, would you refuse to sell your goods to August Bush IV, (or whatever his name is) because you're worried that the CEO of A-B is buying from you, meaning you condone his company?
What if he came to your church and sat on the front row and put money in the offering plate?
I could go on and on, but I think this quote sums my feelings best:
Theological liberalism begins with a desertion of the testimony - the faith once and for all delivered. But conservative theology can be equally misguided when, in its attempts to uphold the testimony, it deserts the reality of our testimonies - the faith that has been personally applied to us. The power to offer grace to sinners in the world comes from the presence of this living memory -the memory that God has offered grace upon grace to us.
Dr. Zack Eswine - Covenant Theological Seminary

We need to be a people of grace.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Quotes on communion from class today

Dr. Peterson was great today in Ecclesiology and Eschatology. Here's a couple highlights from his lecture on the Lord's Supper.

God uses physical things (bread and wine in the sacrament) to minister to us His grace.
That is so good of God, so gracious of God and so condescending in the best gracious sense.

The emphasis of communion is not our sin, but Christ.

The Lord works through the words preached and through the words ceremonialized.

By Jesus’ own words, the Supper speaks of union with Christ.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Can

Think it through

Yesterday, I talked about some SBC people who would not pass out water to hurricane victims because it had Budweiser on the label.
Now, I understand the rationale that goes behind this, "Beer is bad, budweiser makes beer, budweiser is bad, therefore if it has a Bud label, whatever it is is bad" and the folks who were given this water did not want to pass it out because they did not want to be associated with "evil". (for the sake of my argument budweiser is evil)
Now, some questions.
Does your grocery store sell Bud?
Do you watch NASCAR?
Do you eat at restaurants that sell beer?
Do you go to professional sporting events?

Now, let's get out of the arena of, "yes, but because we shop at Walmart does not mean we buy beer" because my logic is a bit naive.

Let us then think about the future. What does your stock portfolio look like? Do you own stock in a company that makes money in areas that you would never support? Most major US corporations have stakes in companies and support policies that the average Christian evangelical would not agree with.

Do you use AOL? If so, you have given money to a company that makes money off porn.

Do you have cable? If so, chances are that cable company makes millions off porn.

Do you use yahoo or google? They allow access to gambling websites, unchristian messageboards, etc, etc,....a world of pain and sin is at your very fingertips.

Do you spend money at companies which alllow "same-sex domestic partnerships" under their insurance plans?

That seems to sound different than seeing a Bud label on a can of water. You see, the water was tangible, but paying money to a company that supports anti-Christian goods and services isn't so clear.

There are so many areas in our culture where if we nitpicked ourselves enough, we would be forced to live in complete isolation and have no impact on our culture. We're called to be salt and light, not called to duck and cover. I think the end of Romans gives a good indication of salt and light. Paul says, "to greet those in Caesar's household", which assumes that there were Christians in Caesar's house, either relatives or servants. Think about the real suffering of Christians and Jews at the hands of Caesar. Why didn't he say "leave!"
Salt and light....
Think it through.

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