Monday, February 27, 2006

Hello, I'm Johnny Cash

We were watching Johnny Cash - Live At San Quentin this past Saturday and this song really hit me. It was a Gospel number he sang with some female backup.

He turned the water into wine
He turned the water into wine he turned the water into wine
In the little Cana town the word went all around that he turned the water into wine
Well he walked upon the Sea of Galilee he walked upon the Sea of Galilee
Shouted far and wide he calmed the raging tide and walked upon the Sea of Galilee
He turned the water into wine...
He healed the leper and the lame he healed the leper and the lame
He said go and tell no man but they shouted it through the land
That he healed the leper and the lame
He turned the water into wine...He fed the hungry multitude yes he fed the hungry multitude
With a little bit of fish and bread they said everyone was fed
He fed the hungry multitude
He turned the water into wine...

Friday, February 24, 2006

Soon to be revised...over and over and over...

The first issue of the Beacon was an opening salvo fired against the “isms” of the 1930s with which McIntire and the majority of American Fundamentalists disagreed and basically set the tone for the entire life of the paper. The purpose of the Beacon was to be “A light set on a hill, a signal warning and guiding men-broadcasting the Gospel of Jesus Christ from the Collingswod Presbyterian Church”.[1] The Beacon promised to be a paper of religion and that politics would not be engaged “one whit”, but this promise was broken just a few paragraphs later when the Presbyterian Church of the United States (PCUSA) was called apostate and "in opposition to freedoms found in the Constitution which come from the Bible" and that prophesies found in the Bible were unfolding due to conditions in Russia and Germany which would signal the return of the Jews to Palestine.[2] While the primary thrust of the Beacon would be attacking McIntire’s former denomination and combating the forces of Modernism, careful attention would be paid to Nazi Germany and the plight of Jews, Protestants and Roman Catholics.


[1] Christian Beacon, Volume 1, Issue 1, February 13, 1936: 1.
[2] Ibid, 1. McIntire’s view of liberty is best expressed in Author of Liberty, published 10 years later, where he posits that the liberty found in the Constitution was Biblical, as is Capitalism and if one opposes his thesis then they are anti-Biblical and in opposition to liberty.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Bigger than you think

I think it's helpful to remember that whatever denomination you belong to is only a context. Sometimes we are so entrenched in our own context that we forget there's more out there. For instance, when I was a Baptist, I thought the "Church" was my limited milieu - meaning Independent, Calvinistic Baptists. I still thought this even though there are literally thousands of other Baptist churches in the state of Oklahoma where I grew up. I only knew and thought of what God was going in my context.
God's bigger than that and so is His church.
Thankfully, I have been able to experience what God is doing in others areas at the retirement center where I intern. I am in contact with Christians who are Presbyterian, Baptist, Lutheran, and yes, even Roman Catholic. It's been very helpful for me because I see that I am a member of the holy catholic church and not just the best conservative Presbyterian church.
It's great because it builds something within me that understands there's more out there than just what my denomination is doing.
That's comforting and it should be comforting to all of us.
The task is great, but God is greater and has people everywhere and is redeeming more and more of them through the efforts of many different contexts.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Dedicated or crazy?


You don't have to answer the question, but I did catch a lot of trout.











Friday, February 17, 2006

This is becoming...

One of my favorite snippets of scripture....and I think it's something that most of us deal with, but don't want to admit. In fact, I don't want to admit it clearly, so I'm posting it in Greek.

Myths of the Megachurch

I have had a love-hate realtionship with large churches. We currently go to a 1,600 member church and love it. Growing up, my wife and I both attended small churches. I have always had a jaded opinion of any church larger than 200 or so, but my view has been changing over the last 5 or 6 years.

I think this article provides good news for those who are leery of large churches.

Here are a few of the positive things it talks about, I'll let you read the whole thing on the site it's hosted on.

The conclusions were based on an eight-month survey of 400 megachurches undertaken by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research — a research arm of the seminary — and the Leadership Network, a church growth consulting firm based in Dallas. The findings are based on answers supplied by the churches themselves.

The survey reveals that virtually all megachurches share common traits of a dynamic senior pastor, emphasis on conservative values, and building small groups to offset its size.

Among the megachurch myths that the study "debunks," Thumma said, are:
— All megachurches are nondenominational. Reality: Most are affiliated with a denomination.
— Megachurches water down theology. Reality: Most have high spiritual expectations.
— They are extensions of the Republican Party. Reality: The majority are not politically active.
The survey also says megachurches don't dwell on raising money, except when engaged in a building or capital campaign.
"We don't get up every Sunday and show a thermostat and say this is how much we raised," said the Rev. Michael Youssef, senior pastor of The Church of the Apostles. "Our focus is on worship. We don't know who gives what. We trust God. He's going to provide."


One of the results that most surprised Thumma, however, was the survey's findings on diversity. Most megachurches said they were serious about becoming more racially inclusive and 36 percent reported having a 20 percent or more minority presence in their congregation. Ten percent claimed to have no majority racial group.
Thumma said the size of megachurches may actually help build diversity.



HT, James....

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The hardest part about writing

Is the beginning. I have this killer paper that is in my brain. I know my topic. I have annoyed my wife and friends to death with hours pontificating and lecturing them on it and every time I begin a new document on Word, I cannot seem to write the perfect introduction.
If I wrote the paper without it, I could guarantee 25 pages in 5 hours or less.
But, I digress. I am still at the beginning, staring at another crappy introduction.
I guess I am over-thinking it.
I could rewrite it.
I think I just want to go for the jugular too soon.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Valentine Message to Jen

You know you know.

Monday, February 13, 2006

And they will know us by our eschatology...

Talk about doing the right thing for the wrong reasons....

Pastors hope to spread Gospel, hasten End Time
By Louis Sahagun Los Angeles Times
INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Pastors of some of the largest evangelical churches in America met Tuesday in Inglewood to polish strategies for starting 5 million new churches worldwide in 10 years, an effort they say they hope will hasten the End Time.The Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus have always been
the ultimate goal of evangelicalism. But when that would occur was any
Christian's guess.The Global Pastors Network's "Billion Souls Initiative"
aims to shorten the path to Judgment Day by partnering church resources with the
latest communications systems to spread the Gospel of Jesus.

In an interview at Faith Central Bible Church in Inglewood, James Davis, president of the campaign, said, "Jesus Christ commissioned his disciples to go to the ends of
the Earth and tell everyone how they could achieve eternal life. As we advance
around the world, we'll be shortening the time needed to fulfill that great
commission."Then, the Bible says, the end will come."Added Davis: "The current generation may actually live long enough to see this."Faith Central Pastor Kenneth Ulmer, who leads an Inglewood congregation of 10,000, agreed, but said church leaders have differing opinions of what to expect. "Meeting our goal has messianic dimensions. It will certainly mean some kind of new world order," he said. "I believe when that time comes, the power of peace will be greater than the power of war, the power of love will be greater than the power of hate, and fullness will be greater than poverty and hunger."

The pastors group, which represents combined congregations numbering in the tens of thousands, was launched in 2001 by Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for
Christ. Bright died in 2003. Over the past five years, more than 20,000
church leaders have attended Global Pastors Network events across the nation.
Among them were key executives of Pat Robertson's 700 Club, National Evangelical
Association President Ted Haggard and the Rev. Jerry Falwell. "Next year will usher in a new dimension for us," Ulmer said. "We'll be kicking it all into gear internationally with a wedding of technology and vision. We'll be sponsoring major events in Singapore, the Ukraine, South America and Africa."

The movement is already taking on political dimensions.
In late January, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke to the pastors group in Orlando, Fla., on what it takes to be a leader in time of crisis, which is the subject of his new book. Giuliani, a practicing Catholic and supporter of abortion rights and gay rights, is weighing a possible 2008 presidential bid.
"There were those who questioned some of Giuliani's philosophies, and some members would rather not have invited him," Ulmer said. "But for most of us, he was invited to inspire, inform and enrich our leaders."
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

Friday, February 10, 2006

Nota bene

Keep up with your language skills once you have taken your language classes.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Get born again

Clear all your sins
Get born again
Just repeat a couple lines

Those are lyrics from an Alice in Chains song that I remember from 1999-2000. Those lyrics came to my mind yesterday as I was listening to someone give their testimony of faith.
Why did it hit me?
As my friend was speaking of his life story he talked about how he “went down the aisle” when he was young because you were supposed to, and he repeated the prayer he was told to say because you were supposed to.
But nothing happened.
Why?
It was just a cultural rite.
I was nothing more.
There was nothing real involved.
The words he said didn’t do a thing for him.
That's the meaning of the lyrics I quoted. I believe Jerry Cantrell, an Oklahoman, knows that ethos. Just repeat after me, that's all you need.

Therein lies the problem with how some view salvation. Many within the Church have been conditioned to think that salvation is found in the sinner’s prayer and it means that your slate is wiped clean and that's it.
That’s great, but there’s a problem. Salvation is holistic. It involves a fundamental change in all parts of life. When one is a Christian they are a new creature. The old has passed and the new has come. There is a new way of looking at the world. There is a new way of looking at Christ.
I was listening to Troy Polamalu the other day and someone asked him about his faith and he said that his faith in Jesus Christ shapes the way he looks at every aspect of life, whether it be football or hanging around the house.
He’s on to something.
Salvation is not:
Clear all your sins
Get born again
Just repeat a couple lines

Salvation is something that changes the way we live – period.
We are in union with Christ.
We have a disposition for love.
We are new creatures.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Still Hanging...


This is what our apartment looks like from the outside....

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

McSeminary? No, no, quicker than that!

In this week's preaching.com email, Michael Duduit talked about a book called The Portable Seminary: A Master's Level Overview in One Volume.
I didn't believe him.
I checked amazon.com and it's there.
For what it’s worth I don’t think this is a good idea. It’s setting people up to think they can spend $23.09, read 704 pages and come out on par with a seminary graduate.
Well, seminary is not Sunday School on steroids, it costs a little more than $23, and I would love to have a class that only had 704 pages.

What is this book missing?
The critical interaction, the grueling quizzes, tests, exegetical papers, and those professors who have devoted their lives to you and are in that classroom to take your questions and impart their knowledge and experience. Some say seminary is a waste of time, it’s cemetery and that all you need is a couple books and a Bible, you can do it on your own. I say, that’s great, just interact with someone who’s a student at a University and believes that Moses didn’t write the Pentateuch, and Paul didn’t write 1 & 2 Timothy. What will you do then?

There is a place for graduate studies, even seminary.

Seminary is a long road that is expensive, painful, yet fun.
It is a road that has twists and turns, but takes you somewhere.
It is a road that allows you to have many traveling companions.


I see this book the same way I see the bare bones outline I just did of Exodus, 40 chapters, 50 or 60 facts. You cannot honestly think that from that outline that one could comprehend the scope and majesty of the Book of Exodus do you? You wouldn't think that if you memorized my outline that you would know everything that Exodus has to say would you? Such is the way I see this book. It could give you a snapshot, but in the end, it's not the real thing.

Dr. Duduit joked about waiting for the How To books to come out for med school and law, and I think it's a good way to look at it. Something as serious as God's Word and as serious as the Gospel ministry should not be treated so lightly. I appreciate the fact that the book has good people behind it, but I do not think it should be presented in such a casual way. Knowledge takes time and experience, you can't get it in one volume.

I hope I don't offend anyone by my comments, but I really think this book is setting people up to think they can have something in a short time that really is a long, hard process.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Winners and Losers from Super Bowl XL

Just some short thoughts...

Winners
The City of Pittsburgh - One for the thumb and a chance to rub it in the Browns' fans faces.

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick - they weren't in the game, but still we were force-fed the sports media's continual butt kissing of them.

Trick Plays - Randall El's sweet pass to Ward shows that trick plays work as well in the pros as in the Pop Warner leagues.

My wife - not only did she have a great party, it was nice to see her team win.

The Magic Bullet - not only did it make my salsa in record time, it made over a quart of it, and a HUGE bowl of guacamole. That saves money!


Losers
Detroit - A city with a rich and diverse musical heritage gets shut out for the half time show.

Diet Pepsi - Brown and Bubbly? Some advertising agency is firing some people today for coming up with that one.

The "Here We Go" song - Since the Steelers got that one for the thumb, it looks like 26 years of tradition have been flushed down the toilet and they'll have to write new lyrics.

Jack Tatum - The Assassin did not leave a good impression with fans after his pregame, prerecorded interview. In fact, the interview and the bad taste it left in my mouth (and I presume many others) seemed to be in an odd place given the festive atmosphere of the Super Bowl.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Ben's Beard


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Troy Polamalu: Hair and Humility

I love this guy...

http://kdka.com/local/local_story_322155813.html
Troy Polamalu: The Silent Assassin Sonni AbattaReporting
(KDKA) PITTSBURGH Troy Polamalu exudes physicality on every play he’s on a football field. But that’s only a part of who Polamalu is.
Fans know him as the punishing strong safety for the Steelers.
He's a star on the field, but off the field, Polamalu is mild mannered.
“Truthfully, I don't see myself as somebody different,” Polamalu said. “My wife doesn't see me as someone different because she understands. I say this all the time, but it's the truth - that I love life.
“I love to live my life with faith and with a passion. Living life with a passion, loving my wife with a passion, and with that, football is no different,” Polamalu added. “I play football with a passion.”
Polamalu is just a couple months shy of celebrating his one-year anniversary with his wife, Theodora.
“I think nowadays in general, people don't take marriage as seriously as they need to,” Polamalu said. “We're definitely taking it very seriously, but we're newlyweds still.”
The Polamalus just started moving into yesterday.
“My wife's a housewife, so she likes to take care of the womanly things,” Polamalu said. She loves to cook and different things like that so I'm the guy that goes out and puts food on the table.”
Polamalu wants to have kids, but doesn’t think that they’ll have a big family.
“I don't think. She comes from a small family, and it doesn't really matter to me, but she's gotta give birth, not me,” Polamalu said. “If you say any number above two, you might make her mad.”
Polamalu was recently on the cover of Sports Illustrated. He isn’t overly impressed with himself.
“When I was younger there were definitely a lot of goals I set for myself, becoming an NFL football player who graduated from college, and I think that kind of reiterated that I'm on the right track,” Polamalu said. “But my goals from when I was younger and now as a grownup are different, you know? So I valued that stuff when I was younger -- prestige and honor -- but I don't really value those anymore.”
Polamalu’s hair has become a big part of his persona. He had some tips for KDKA’s Sonni Abatta.
“It's more like a money pit -- buying shampoos, conditioner, rubber bands,” Polamalu said. “As you know, you need to rotate shampoo and conditioner every couple weeks.”
(© MMV, CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

The God shaped hole

In a lecture today, Dr. Jones was speaking on common grace and I found his words very compelling. He was following after Augustine's Confessions, chapter 1, but made this his own.

God has put something only He can satisfy in our heart. Nothing will
satisfy human longings other than God himself. Whatever yearnings for
truth and beauty sinners have comes because they are made in the image of God.
This is common grace. The gospel fits human nature, particularly its aspirations
for meaning and significance.

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