Saturday, April 01, 2006



Adrian Warnock has the good on Tim Challies and the T4G bunch! It's shameful that such would be uncovered on April First!


Let's Not Fool Ourselves

"preacher, blogger, or procrastinator" starts a post this way
I think one of the biggest challenges of being a pastor is being there for your parishioners in a way that fulfills their needs, not necessarily our needs.
If there is a single most important discovery that I have made since I left "professional" ministry all those years ago, it's that I was in it "to exercise my gifts" instead of to simply serve my Lord and His people.

But this challenge is not just for pastors - it is for all of us as Christians. Do we seek service for our own sake, or for the sake of those that need the service? Do we seek service we like to do or service that needs doing?

God has so much in store for us and all of it far more wonderful than we can possibly imagine - all we have to do to receive that marvelous blessing is let go of our agendas.

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Look Out! Here It Comes!

Check out this animation depicting the propogation of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Way cool!

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Comic Art

I may be about to speak heresy for comic book fans, but there has never been a lamer villain that Lex Luthor. Now, I will grant he has improved in recent years, but he is still pretty lame. The basic idea was a classic brains (Luthor) v brawn (Supes) but it just never worked. In the first place, Supes was always too smart to be cast as a pure brawn kinda guy. This idea works much better when sent up against someone that really is pure brawn like the Hulk. We'll look at his brainy villain later in this series.

Luthor also suffers from not being visually distinctive. At the time he was dreamed up - total baldness was rare and that was his visual distinction, but now, it just makes him Michael Jordan. Besides, originally, his baldness was his whole reason for being evil. The result of an accident in his lab in the presence of then best friend Superboy, he grew to blame the Boy of Steel for his awful condition and had no choice but to turn to evil. Yeah, right.

From a purely visual point of view, the version of Lex you see here was far and away the best. I mean finally he looks like something that belongs in a comic book and not on the basketball court. This character still suffered from having a primary motivation being a hatred of the guy in blue tights more than any personal gain, which was huge weakness, but at least he looked good doing it. This look has been adopted by the TV cartoon, even if the character is more modern in nature.

The modern Lex, forged in the fires of the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" in a schemer and manipulator on an amazing level. In this guys case, the battle is cast less as brains v brawn and more as schemer v most straightforward and honest soul on the planet. Much better, but it leaves Superman appearing naive from time to time which makes no sense for the earth's greatest superhero.

The reason you see the flag is that Lex has managed to get himself elected President. This has made him more the enemyof the Justice League than Supes individually, his machinations can now be so widespread and byzantine - Smart move.

He has also done a stint as Bats nemesis when Gotham was destroyed by earthquake -- now that was a match up! Wits v wits, manuplation v manipulation. I would love to see a lot more of that particular battle.

But most of all, I'd like to see Lex look the part.

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And It Was So Much Fun Having Her Hang Around

Church ousts dominatrix from vicarage

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No Surprise Here!

Snail slows down pace of New Zealand coal mine

I wonder who was dumb enough to hire them to begin with?

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But Vectors Are A Mathematical Construct?

Chef serves tasty cow-nosed rays

I know one reader that will get that joke, AND remind me that a 'ray' and a 'vector' are different things - anybody else? - or am I only making myself laugh here?

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Musical Justice Achieved

Former Village People Cop Is Arrested

And now for the rest of the disco era....

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Friday, March 31, 2006


Growing Up

The other day, Al Mohler looked at an article about youth trends in clothing marketing and concluded
The article is worth a look. Sternburgh sees the problem through a New York City lens, but the problem is found across the country. The issue of dress isn't what's most important -- it's the fact that adulthood is disappearing as a recognizable mark of maturity and responsibility.
I find that statement deeply reflective of so much, not just in things like fiscal and family responsibility, but in one's walk with Christ as well.

What is the primary mark of adulthood? I would suggest that it is coming to regard others and not simply view everything through the lens of yourself. Whether those others are on a personal level like a spouse, or a societal level where one comes to realize that somethings are simply done for the good of the common order, maturity is best measured in denial of what you think is in your self interest in recognition of the needs, wants and desires of the other.

What's amazing is that if we do adopt that mature attitude we find that it contains the genuine fulfillment we sought with the purely selfish.

Consider this
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
The call to Christ is not a call to mere salvation - it is a call to maturity, the kind of maturity that seeks to give up ourselves to the purposes of Christ.

So why doesn't the church all people into that maturity? I think because we haven't gone there ourselves! If we want to bring Christ to the world, let's start with ourselves. Let's seek the maturity the world seems to deny. Let's let Christ live in us!

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Do Computers Dumb Us Down?

On Wednesday, BOTWT declared this the bottom story of the day

Law Professor Bans Laptops in Class

I'm not so sure. The prof describes her reasons:
Professor June Entman says her main concern is that students are so busy keyboarding they can't think and analyze what she's telling them.
Computers are masterful tools for managing information, but information is not reason or analysis. Sheer volume of research is not a substitute for the right research organized in the right fashion. Since I am not a lawyer, let's switch this discussion to something I do know - math and science.

I will argue that the use of calculators is a problem for a student of mathmatics. I can hear the moans now - "addition is so mechanical, the perfect place for mechanization." Arithmetic addtion, what you do when you add prices together in grocery store, is mechanical, but mathmatical addition is far, far from mechanical.

You learn arithmatic because it is simple and mechanical, but from it you can gain a sense of the function of addition, or subtraction, or multiplication, or division - a sense you will find most necessary if you are going to do anything higher in mathmatics than add up your grocery bill. With a calculator undertaking the mechanical task for you, you can never really gain that sense.

Of course, a lot of people never move to higher math, but do you know who will and who won't when they are learning to add? And how many people will be denied the opportunity to discover a love for higher math because they never experience anything but the purely mechanical with a calculator.

There are even programs to do higher math, but when it comes to the things of calculus let us say, all it can really do is approximate the answer. I have used them and have at times arrived at very weird answers because it substituted brute force for real human insight into the problem - when I scratched the same problem out on paper, I got much more meaningful answers.

All of which begs the question about law school - is it about having the information, or about learning to think like a lawyer?

In blogging, is about the technology, or the content?

Computers can be problematic. They subsitute information for reason, facts for argument. Focusing on computers is focusing on the tool instead of the job.

I'm proud of this prof - wish there were more like her.

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These Christians Need A Trip Behind The Wood Shed

It may not have been as gruesome as Mel Gibson's movie, but many parents and children got upset when a church trying to teach about Jesus' crucifixion performed an Easter show with actors whipping the Easter bunny and breaking eggs.

People who attended Saturday's show at Glassport's memorial stadium quoted performers as saying, "There is no Easter bunny," and described the show as being a demonstration of how Jesus was crucified.

Melissa Salzmann, who brought her 4-year-old son J.T., said the program was inappropriate for young children. "He was crying and asking me why the bunny was being whipped," Salzmann said.

Patty Bickerton, the youth minister at Glassport Assembly of God, said the performance wasn't meant to be offensive. Bickerton portrayed the Easter rabbit and said she tried to act with a tone of irreverence.
And we wonder why we have a hard time convincing people that being a Christian is a good thing!?

It's one thing to help convince people of their sinful nature, but whipping the Easter Bunny?

Here's what gets to me, the gospel really can be "offensive" to people that don't want to accept it, claiming the performance wasn't meant to be that way is a bit of a cop out to the gospel and to the problem here. Simple taste says this was a bad idea.

So what have we accomplished with this little display? Just given the forces arrayed against the church a pile of ammunition they would not otherwise have, which means we have managed to take God's name in vain.

I hope there is a group of people at the Glassport Assembly of God on their knees, but somehow I get the feeling that they are to busy condemning the press for not "getting it."

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True Banality

I never comment on the LATimes because, well, it's the LATimes, pointing out anything wrong in that paper is overstating the obvious. After Hugh Hewitt got through with Joel Stein a while back he sunk even lower than the paper was on its own. So when JPod over at the Corner described a piece of his as
I had to take a look - here it is.
NONE OF YOU thought of calling? I mean, I could see if it was a small dinner party: You thought I wouldn't mesh well; you already had a smugly self-obsessed, attention-needy columnist, maybe Mickey Kaus ? I get it. But there were 500,000 of you at Saturday's pro-immigration rally downtown, more than 13% of the city's population, the largest gathering ever in L.A. This was a snub.
Let's see, we have one of the most important issues in the upcoming election cycle and this guy thinks it's your average LA party?

See, this is why I never read the LATimes - it leaves me speechless.

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This'll Tick Off Some Of My Acquaintances

This quiz says I'm a Centrist

Those acquaintances I'm talking about think I'm so far right that...well, the world doesn't need another Hitler comparison.

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Where Have I Heard This Before?

NFL Curtails End Zone Celebrations

And while they are at it, I am sure they can keep ducks from swimming too.

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Friday Humor

Worthy of Scotwise

The day finally arrived. Forrest Gump dies and goes to Heaven. He is at the Pearly Gates, met by St. Peter himself. However, the gates are closed, and Forrest approaches the gatekeeper.

St. Peter said, "Well, Forrest, it is certainly good to see you. We have heard a lot about you. I must tell you, though, that the place is filling up fast, and we have been administering an entrance examination for everyone. The test is short, but you have to pass it before you can get into Heaven."

Forrest responds, "It sure is good to be here, St. Peter, sir. But nobody ever told me about any entrance exam. I sure hope that the test ain't too hard. Life was a big enough test as it was."

St. Peter continued, "Yes, I know, Forrest, but the test is only three questions.

First: What two days of the week begin with the letter T? Second: How many seconds are there in a year? Third: What is God's first name?"

Forrest leaves to think the questions over. He returns the next day and sees St. Peter, who waves him up, and says, "Now that you have had a chance to think the questions over, tell me your answers."

Forrest replied, "Well, the first one -- which two days in the week begins with the letter "T"? Shucks, that one is easy. That would be Today and Tomorrow."

The Saint's eyes opened wide and he exclaimed, "Forrest, that is not what I was thinking, but you do have a point, and I guess I did not specify, so I will give you credit for that answer. How about the next one?" asked St. Peter.

"How many seconds in a year? Now that one is harder," replied Forrest, but I thunk and thunk about that, and I guess the only answer can be twelve."

Astounded, St. Peter said, "Twelve? Twelve? Forrest, how in Heaven's name could you come up with twelve seconds in a year?"

Forrest replied, "Shucks, there's got to be twelve: January 2nd, February 2nd, March 2nd.... "

"Hold it," interrupts St. Peter. "I see where you are going with this, and I see your point, though that was not quite what I had in mind.....but I will have to give you credit for that one, too. Let us go on with the third and final question. Can you tell me God's first name"?

"Sure," Forrest replied, "it's Andy."

"Andy?" exclaimed an exasperated and frustrated St Peter.

"Ok, I can understand how you came up with your answers to my first two questions, but just how in the world did you come up with the name Andy as the first name of God?"

"Shucks, that was the easiest one of all," Forrest replied. "I learnt it from the song, "ANDY WALKS WITH ME, ANDY TALKS WITH ME, ANDY TELLS ME I AM HIS OWN. . . "

St. Peter opened the Pearly Gates, and said: "Run Forrest, run."

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Because It Made Me Laugh Very Hard

The Dogone - Dog Gas Neutralizing Pad is a comfortable and least intrusive means for deodorizing gassy discharges in a thong design. This will eliminate pet odors and dog odors from flatus or flatulence.
Unfortunately, my wife is trying to fit me with one!

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Duh! - It's Called 'A Pump'

Scientists Make Water Run Uphill

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Virgin Conception?

Surgeons Remove Two Fetuses From Infant

...or neo-natal abortion?

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Because Deciding What To Buy At The Store...

Programmable Beverage Containers: Surface buttons on bottles release colors, flavors, fragrances, and one or two doses of caffeine just too much of a commitment

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Look! - Over There - It's Stigmata-Man

Holy comic books! Saints are the latest superheroes

This post is dedicated to SmartChristian

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Soup's On!

Pig's head hurled through window

Hey! - What's a broken window when you have manna from heaven?

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Thursday, March 30, 2006



Out of Ur, pimping the latest issue, interviews Andy Stanley
"What is distinctly spiritual about the kind of leadership you do?" I asked Andy Stanley. Nothing, he said. "There's nothing distinctly spiritual. I think a big problem in the church has been the dichotomy between spirituality and leadership."

His answer surprised me.

As pastor of a thriving megachurch north of Atlanta, with an additional ten satellite locations fed his sermons by video, Stanley is becoming the model for the next generation of large church pastors.


"I grew up in a culture where everything was overly spiritualized," Andy said. "I don't want to be a cynic, but raking out all the spiritual versus non-spiritual, I think, is healthy."

He agreed with those who contend that good leadership is good leadership, whatever the setting. "One of the criticisms I get is 'Your church is so corporate?' And I say, 'OK, you're right. Now why is that a bad model?'"

Good business principles work for Andy and North Point. "A principle is a principle, and God created all the principles," he summarized.


"Churches should quit saying, 'Oh, that's what business does,'" Andy said. "That whole attitude is so wrong, and it hurts the church. In terms of the shifting culture, I say thanks to guys like Bill Hybels and others who have been unafraid to say we have a corporate side to ministry; it's going to be the best corporate institution it can possibly be, and we?re not going to try to merge first century [with the 21st ]."
Boy its that one of those barrages of good and bad stuff mixed together in a way that makes it hard to sort it out so you end up just going along for the ride.

Yes, as Christians we should do what we do well, and yes, there is a corporate element to any church - American law demands it. But, a church is not a corporation and it has decidedly different goals.

A corporation produces a product and distributes that product to a buying public. In a church, "the buying public" is the product. If you reduce your thinking of the church to services for the public, then you rob the gospel of its tranformative power. If you use a business model and you think of the public as the product, they cease to be peopple and become mere feedstock - raw material. That results in legalism or dehumanization.

And now I must stop or I will rant forever.

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Even When They Are Right They Are Wrong

This WaPo piece was fascinating. It's about the investigation in which radioactive material was smugled into the country to test our defenses. Here's what happened
In a test in December, undercover teams from the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, carried small amounts of cesium-137, used in industrial applications, in the trunks of rental cars through official crossing points on the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico. The material triggered radiation alarms, but the undercover investigators used false documents to persuade U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspectors to let them through.
Note - the technology worked - it was human error here, not technological. Yet, after another paragrpah describing the context of the reporting here are the following three paragrpahs of the story
The GAO told the subcommittee it was "unlikely" that the Department of Homeland Security would be able to complete its goal of installing 3,034 new-generation radiation detectors by September 2009 at border crossings, ports and mail facilities.

The government has spent about $300 million since 2000 on installing a current generation of radiation monitors at ports of entry.

Eugene Aloise of the GAO testified that Homeland Security is significantly behind schedule in deploying radiation portal monitors at U.S. ports of entry. Meanwhile, he said, the threat of nuclear smuggling persists.
Why do they talk about the monitors when the monitors were the only thing that did work?

I think this is a classic case of misdirection. They focus on what they can do (put in the monitors) to keep people from looking too closely at what they can't do (recruit and adequately train competent people) Besides, lobbying for the monitors means they increase the power and wealth of their little bureacratic fiefdom.

What gets to me is that we elect our legislators to smart enought o pick up on stuff like this and try to fix it, but instead they just seem to play along.

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Selling The Church

The Gad(d)about is talking about marketing items related to our faith.
As a former journalist, no one needs to make an argument with me about the need to collect money on what amounts to a great deal more work than people realize. Christians have every much a right to charge for their work as non-Christians. That wasn't my point.
Fair enough, but what about something like this
It is just one sign that the global cellphone market has found God. At a time when consumers are being inundated with offers to receive wireless sports updates, interactive games and more, Mr. Burstyn and other entrepreneurs are catering to customers looking for cellphones and related services that satisfy spiritual, rather than entertainment needs.

Companies are selling devices and services such as Christian ringtones and phones with timers that remind Muslims of prayer time. A Pittsburgh company named Jireh Business Development has even introduced a service called JirehMobile that sells what it calls "holy hip-hop" ring tones.
Geneerally, I hate being a demographic and I think it takes away something from our faith when it is rendered as such.

But what really bothers me is that people somehow think stuff like this makes their cell phone somehow "holy" or "sanctified." Worse, they think that if they stop listening to say James Taylor (there I go dating myself again) and start listening to some Christian musician I can't name because I don't keep track that they will somehow sanctified.

Sometimes I wonder if we are not developing a new sort of legalism - now we have to conform in the music we listen to, the books we read, and the other media we consume. And while I, like Matt, have no problem with anybody charging for thier work, I do have a problem with that expenditure coming to be viewed as a part of the Christian life.

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Illuminated Scripture

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As Long As They Keep Their Clothes On!

Senate to Vamp Up Debate on Immigration Reform

The thought of Ted Kennedy vamping makes me shudder.

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"I Know You Are, But What Am I"

Furor as London mayor calls US ambassador "crook"

Ah, the playground of politics...

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Why They Are In Direct Labor And Not Management

Construction Crew Unearths, Plays With Live WWII Grenade

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And Lives Happily Ever After

Boy, 3, Gets Trapped Inside Toy Machine

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Ear agony of toilet brawl victim

Although, that's a fair discription of what I used to feel like listening to Barry Manilow in college - my ears would hurt and I would often end up "brawling" with a toilet.

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I DO NOT Want To Know

Ex-funeral director charged in fetus hoard

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Yeah, But They Weighed 300 Pounds Each

Man Is Charged $4,300 for Four Burgers

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Freudian Dream?

Man Accidentally Divorces Wife in Sleep

I hate it when that happens! -- We've run up a fortune in remarriage costs - the flowers, the caterers,...

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Just What I Want For Christmas

No joke: Effluent purchase possible

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Losing Moderation

I am fairly moderate when it comes to immigration. I work with too many illegals on a daily basis here in southern California not to know that most are hard working people doing good things and contributing to the general welfare. Yes, all the bad things peope say are true, but like most bad things it's a minority. To my mind the illegal immigration issue is about 1) national security and 2) paperwork.

Having said that the demonstrations of this past weekend are going a long way to move my moderation on the issue to hardcore "kick 'em out" - of all the ungratful, unproductive, demand-something-for-nothing....

It dawned on me while thinking and reading about it - one of the big issues with mass deportation is the expense and effort of finding them all and transporting them to the border. Has it dawned on anyone besides me that those demonstrations would make that task relatively inexpensive?

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Rob Says A Mouthful

You know, Rob Wilkerson over at Miscellanies on the Gospel
Sin makes us want to hide in it and hide it from others. The gospel makes us want to reveal it to Jesus for forgiveness. The church makes us want to reveal it to others for healing and repentance. Praise God for the gospel and the church!
I do not know how we have come to view confession in the negative light that seems so prevalent today. It's not really about admitting we are bad - it's about discovering the goodness that only Christ can grant us.

When I was a kid, I bugged my parents and bugged my parents until I could get a pet American chameleon - they finally broke down and geve me the four bucks. I misunderstood the care instructions about keeping it in a warm place, put in on top of the furnace and it got cooked the first night it was home. I was mortified. In the afternoon one of my teachers found me not participating in recess and asked why. I explained I was worried about going home and telling my parents what happened. She asked me if my mom loved me, which I answered affirmatively. Then she told me she knew it would work out fine.

Well, that got me through the rest of the school day and the teacher found me as I made my way out of the school to reaffirm that it would be fine. I got home and told my Mom in tears. All Mom did was hug me and comfort me, and she bought me a new chameleon the next day, which lasted until the cat found it, but at least that wasn't my fault.

So many times that is analogous to the experience I have when I go before God in confession - just like my mother hugging me - God can and will make it better.

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An Excellent Choice For Indiana!

Oklahoma's Kelvin Sampson is leaving the school to become the next head coach at Indiana, multiple sources told

Sampson already told OU athletic director Joe Castiglione of his plans and was scheduled to meet with the Sooner team Tuesday afternoon.

A press conference announcing his hiring at Indiana could take place as early as Wednesday afternoon in Bloomington.
Dick Vitale says:
There is no doubt that Sampson brings a special winner's mentality. He did a terrific job at Oklahoma, leading the Sooners to the NCAA tournament in 11 of his 12 seasons there. Oklahoma won 20 or more games each of the last nine seasons, including a 31-5 mark and Final Four trip in 2002. His squads averaged over 23 wins per campaign during his stint in Norman.

The Oklahoma program became one of the elites of the Big 12. He also worked to get the facilities upgraded big time. That aided the Sooners in recruiting.

He also built a winner at Washington State, winning 20 or more games in two of his final seasons at Pullman. Sampson led the Cougars to the NCAA tournament in 1994, the school's first trip in over a decade.
I'm happy! He fits the profile.
So, I don't have a name right now, I have a profile. Under 35. At a mid-major, maybe even Division II. Mid-westerner. Winning 65-70% of his games at a school with no real history of basketball success, 75-85% if the school has a history. Strong on fundamentals, I mean really strong. And good values off the court, high graduation rates.
He's not coming from a mid-major, but other than that - suits to a "T"! - Well, make that a motion offense and a man-to-man helping defense.

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Servant Leadership

Last Sunday. Mark Daniels posted his sermon on servant leadership. It's a great one.
But, filled with religious triumphalism and delusions of grandeur, James and John ask Jesus for places of privilege in His kingdom. Jesus tells them (and us) that He can't promise anybody special privileges. But He does promise that if we follow Him, we'll drink the same cup and experience the same baptism He experienced.

Jesus' cup, of course, was the experience of death. It was the very cup He asked God the Father to prevent Him from drinking during His night of agonized prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, even as He submitted to the Father's will.
I couldn't help thinking when I read it about two "traps" in learning to be a servant.

The first is service to the wrong thing. I have a pastor acquaintance that works harder than any pastor I have ever known - far more hours "on the job" than should be expected from anyone - truly a serving attitude. But he does so much that he micromanages his good volunteers, driving some of them off. He serves so much that he fails to lead. A leader will breed other leaders, and a true servant leader will breed servant leaders - a servant leader serving the wrong master will drive other leaders off.

The second trap is, or course, pride. "I have to be this kind of servant because no one else will do the job correctly" - ever heard that one? I've said it more than once. That's a kind of pride

I like the way Mark talks about servanthood not as work so much, but as sacrifice, Christ's sacrifice of His very life - and his marvelous example of the woman in mourning that gave up her car for the church.

Being a servant leader is an attitude, not an action.

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A New Milblogger I'm Watching

Live, from Iraq, it's CDR Salamander - his blog blurb reads
Proactively "From the Sea"; leveraging the littoral best practices for a paradigm breaking business case rightsizing the core values supporting our mission statement via the 5-vector model and the Human Capital Strategy.
How can you not read that!?

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Of Course...

Glad tidings of great joy: there could be a straightforward medical explanation for at least three of the world's major religions. Moses, Mohammed, and Jesus all experienced revelations on mountains, but they were probably just suffering a form of altitude sickness, say a group of Swiss and Israeli neurologists, casting doubt in the process on the very existence of God.
...the forces that have shaped most of human history have resulted from delusions, making the entire human race more gullible than a labrador retriever that falls for the old "pretend-to-throw-the-ball" trick. If we fell for that...why should I believe the guys making this assertion?

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This Just Ticks Me Off

Two-head girl dies of infection
An Egyptian girl who survived an operation to remove a second head has died from a brain infection.
It wasn't a "second head" - it was a conjoined twin, grossly malformed and incapable of sustaining independent life, but alive nonetheless. Check out this statement
The second head contained eyes, a nose and a mouth, but was not connected to any internal organs and was not capable of independent thought.
The video I saw showed "it" suckling, following objects with its eyes - "it" was alive somehow.

This is one of those places that people don't think about when they think about the Schiavo situation. Absent the court battle - this poor, malformed baby was discarded like a tumor, and now I am forced to ask "To What End?"

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The Best Of Pravda

What killed the dinosaurs?

I now believe Gary Larson was wrong - it wasn't smoking, it was reading Pravda!

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And The Sign Says...

Bird Droppings Prompt Orlando Warning Signs

Danger - Falling Poop!

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We Have GOT To Sober Up Those Lodge Guys

Man Improving After Moose Attack

It's not funny anymore.

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Boy, And I Thought I Liked My Meat!

Drunkard kills himself over meatless dinner

Of course, if I was a "drunkard."

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Because Godzilla Approaches

Japan tries to save giant radish

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Best Ever Air Guitar Song
1. Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven
2. Van Halen - Eruption
3. Guns N' Roses - Paradise City
4. The Eagles - Hotel California
5. Metallica - Enter Sandman
6. Cream - Crossroads
7. Jimi Hendrix - Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
8. Ozzy Osbourne - Crazy Train
9. Free - All Right Now
10. Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody
Do you see "Train Kept A'Rollin" - Aerosmith on that list anywhere? Now that is an air guitar song!

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But They Are So Much Better Fried!

Berlusconi says Maoist communists boiled babies

Before you stone me! - Rush Limbaugh calls it "illustrating absurdity by being absurd." Besides, I know you think dead baby jokes are funny, but I will spare you...

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006


So Which Is It?

In the Sunday School class I am teaching last Sunday an interesting debate devleoped. We are reading CS Leiws - but myself and the other instructor are deep into Total Truth some of the themes of which Lewis touchs on a lot so we brought up the issue that pervades Total Truth or discussion the spirtual/material divide. We presented it to the class using Pearcey's claim that closing that divide was the great intellectual challenge of our time and to allowing Christianity to thrive.

One of the class members responded that the greatest intellectual challenge to Christianity was not that divide, but convincing or being convinced of sin. A fact that has bee a repeated theme on this blog.

We seemed to settle on the compromise that the spirtual/material divide is the great issue when it comes to Christianity penetrating cultural, but conviction of sin was the great issue when doing evangelism, but that is somewhat unsatisfactory to me, too easy somehow.

I did think when reading Pearcey's book that closing that gap was "insufficient" because all it could really produce were diests or legalistic Christians. Conviction of sin is, to my mind the difference between a church-goer and a person that really engages their faith in a fashion that is completely life transforming.

So I am looking for comments here! What do you think? Can this even be an either/or issue? - Maybe it's a both/and? Let's hear it!

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Genuine Marital Strife

This WaPO Op-ed is frightening The author starts by examining the extremely steep decline in marriage among blacks, but ends this way:
But human nature being what it is, if marriage is to flourish -- in black or white America -- it will have to offer an individual woman something more than a business alliance, a panacea for what ails the community, or an incubator for rearing children. As one woman said, "If it weren't for the intangibles, the allure of the lovey-dovey stuff, I wouldn't have gotten married. The benefits of marriage are his character and his caring. If not for that, why bother?"
Two things strike me here. The first is how cold the conclusion is - even the allusion to "lovey-dovey" stuff - it is an entirely self-centered appeal.

The other comment I have is where is the black church? What is wrong with its teaching that it produces such a decline in marriage and such a cold sounding woman?

I have received far more benefit from marriage than I could have imaged prior. And that benefit is not entirely because of my religious values. The economic benefits have been incredible, but that is not the real point I am trying to make - I am better for having to consider the other - it has improved my professional life tremendously, making me much better able to see from the others perspective - and that is just one example.

How do we get people to look beyond their immediate selves for just a second or two?

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Presbyterian News

I realize a lot of my regular readers think I am a little weird - being a Presbyterian, particularly PC(USA). Take the guys at BHT who link to this which is supposed to make fun of us. I have no problem with anybody making fun of us, we are good targets for that -- I can probably tell you more Presbyterian jokes than you can tell me, but next time, make it actually funny - ok?

But, that aside there is some interesting news from the Prebyterian front. It appears that in that traditional Scottish/English rivalry, we are not to be outdone by the Anglicans and we have an actual atheist in our midst. While I am happy the Prebytery (that's our local governing group for the uninitiated) is looking into it, I am confident little or nothing will come of it, although I'd like to suggest we send him to plant a church in Sweden.

One of the two big issues facing the church this year is the ordination of homosexuals. This post gives some great links on the matter - although I must take exception with his characterization of the Layman as on the fringe, maybe at the Presbytery levels, but not in the pew. The same blogger looks at the history of conflict in the church with the same helpful linkage.

This is a great post from somebody wondering "What ever happened to Calvinism in the PC(USA)?"
But do we even believe in Reformed theology? That is the billion-dollar question here! Do our seminaries trust in the Reformed essentials of classical Reformed theology--what is commonly known as 'Calvinism'? And if the answer is no...and you know by now that I feel the answer probably is, then it goes without saying that our pastors will not know the Reformed essentials either! And if pastors (teaching elders) do not know the basics, then the members certainly never will!

But again the question will not let go of me: When did we lose our birthright and heritage of Reformed thought? If that blessed saint of our congregation had never heard about our beliefs regarding predestination, then for how long have we been drifting? I wonder now if it really is too late to regain what we have lost, within our current denominational structure. I'm not saying this to be schismatic or destructive, but the question must be asked and faced---Can we do the hard work of convincing our denomination that we need to return to and re-learn the basics of what we believe?

To return to the Reformed camp, away from mainline drift, we will have to reshape the seminaries, governing bodies and publishers of our denomination. This will take years of work, with the ever-present possibility of failure, as each year more and more saints slip away from our fold by their fatigue with the same old fights.
WOW! that really lays it on the line. My opinion? Evanglicalism has taken us to a place where we are a little too narcissitic to worry about the bodies in the church apart from the local congregation - that's how we got here. The key is, I think to find some people genuinly committed to reformed thought and those others bodies - that's a tall order - it's the proverbial square peg thing.

Finally, the person that organized this little PCUSA dance asked a weekly question
Should Christians Point Out Other's Sins?
Short answer - YES! with love. Coming to grips with our own sin is the gateway to the glory of the gospel.

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The Environment - It Never Ends

Haven't heard much about the Evangelical Initiative on Climate Change in a few weeks - thankfully. But it raised it's head again this week in, of all places, The Huffington Post Blog.
Two thousand years ago, a small group of Christians faced hungry lions in order to carry out Jesus' command to "love one another." Today, Christians and our leaders are called to action again.
Fair enough - why don't we start with the immediate, how about drunk driving, or how about extreme sports - I personally know someone that lost thier life to snowboarding. I mean, why is this call so important on some fuzzy future issue, but we can't find our way clear on the stuff right in our face?

A lot of this nonsense is based on articles like this one:

Climate change 'harms world poor'

The basic premise is that because the poor cannot afford the protections the weathly can, they will suffer more in any disaster. Ah, but that begs the question - is the problem the disaster or the poverty? More importantly, is it really altruism if we create ever more expensive solutions for "global warming" so the impoverished can stay impoverished. I'd much rather bring them out of their poverty.

This is so transparent as to not even be useful. It is obvious that certain parties are attempting to leverage the moral authority of the church to their own ends.

Prometheus blog linked to the UK think tank on the recent ban on public smoking in the UK. The think tank said this
As we have seen from media coverage of the issue, the question of whether we should allow or forbid smoking in pubs is about much more than what we know of its dangers. At the very least, it's also about liberty, it's about responsibility and it's about economics.

We must acknowledge that, most of the time, science cannot tell us what to do. Science's voice must be heard, but it must not drown out others. The smoking ban that disappeared and then reappeared is a political mess. But this should only come as a surprise to those people who thought that there was an easy answer.
The same thing is true when it comes to Christian imperatives and global warming - if we accept the science, and I don't accept all of it - there are a number of other concerns at play here.

Oh, and just a note while we are looking at things environmental. There as an article in the NYTimes last week about how wonderful in was that a few harbor seals had moved onto some smaller islands off Staten Island. Well they are all over the harbors out here in CA and they are pests. The often take up residence on the front of people's boats in marina's and get territorial, denying people access to their own property.

One man's wonderful wildlife in another man's pest. I'm sure I could get a lot of people to help me round up the harbor seals out here and send them to New York if they really want them.

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I Really Hate That Fark Got To This Joke Before I Did

WWII airman found frozen in mountainside will finally get a proper burial. Vibranium shield to be passed on to next viable candidate in the program
What Fark linked to. Why it's really funny.

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A Blogotional Must-See

This is our dining room hutch!

Which makes this an absolute stop on our next trip to the midwest:

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The Terrorbuster Saga


Read this story from the beginning at The Terrorbuster Saga Blog

David Carter has better access to the President of the United States than any other soul on the planet - and no one in the media has ever heard of him. He works in a very small office in the Executive Office Building next to the White House in Washington. To the world he is just another bureaucratic functionary. But to the President, he is something very special.

Today, like every day, Carter drives his plain brown Ford Taurus from his one-bedroom apartment in suburban Virginia to his numbered parking spot in the heart of American government and trudges with a blank look on his face into a square box, to take a seat in a smaller square box and to move paper around -- well -- in this day and age, electrons.

This was not the life he had imagined for himself. He had gone to the Air Force Academy where he got one of the finest hi-tech educations available to man. When he began his military service he signed up for Army Rangers training. He wanted to "eat snakes" as they say. Not satisfied with the Rangers Training, he soon found himself in Coronado, training with the Navy Seals. He became a lean, mean fighting machine.

Then he got himself sent to Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis, Indiana (this was in the days before they closed the fort) where he went through "cloak and dagger" school. Carter wanted to be James Bond. It was as simple as that. He wanted to do military intelligence work behind the Iron Curtain, and he was getting himself as trained as he could.

Then, just about the time he was ready to go, the Soviet Union disappeared, as did his hopes and aspirations. He became just another intel weenie, reading reports and filing other reports. Oh sure, his academic training put him in project after project to develop computer and surveillance systems on the very cutting edge of capability, but it was book work. The world had denied him The Field.

Being a good soldier, he did his job and he did it well, but he never got the action he craved. Early middle age set in. His unquenched desire for "action" prevented him from settling into the kind of life that would lend itself to officer ranks. As soon as he "had his twenty in", he retired at the ripe old age of 43 and went to work as a "consultant" for a government contractor. Contractor: a title that enabled him to grossly overcharge for his knowledge about who to talk to in the military about what specific contract. Oh yeah -- and get the occasional insight into what their competition had been up to. It was still boring, but at least the money was good.

He?d never had time for women. He wanted to stay "unfettered", as he thought of it, in case the call ever came for him to travel to exotic lands. In retirement he had taken up with an incredibly gorgeous woman in her early 30?s. She worked in one of the development labs belonging to his employer. He stayed in excellent shape, so it did not bother her that she was with an "older" man. He would never marry. He was too old. Or so he thought. At least she made life a little interesting.

He was, if not satisfied, content; that is until the day evil turned its face to America directly and terrorists flew airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Those events lit a fire in his belly that he had not felt since Reagan was President and the Soviet Union was the Evil Empire. He found himself incapable of sitting still. Two days later, the phone rang. It was the FBI. The Patriot Act was going to pass very quickly and they needed his help connecting their systems with the CIA, NSA, DIA, and with a few other agencies no one ever heard about.

"I'm on my way," he heard the Good Soldier in his soul reply, as the fire in his belly flared with desire to do more.

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Understatement Of The Century

UN Security Council too often ineffective: ElBaradei

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The Perfect Gift For The Ultimate Curmudgeon

The Mosquito emits an irritating high-pitched pulse that most people aged under 20 can hear but almost nobody over 30 can.
I actually think this device will find it's market in those homes where the kids just don't quite get the "you're-over-18-time-to-move-out" hint....

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Testicle cells may aid research

I've donated something like 29 gallons of blood and blood products in my life, but a man has got to draw the line somewhere.

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I Would Think...

Poop prank leads to uproar would lead to some serious sanitizing of everything in "smell" shot.

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Cosmological Cross-Dressing?

Comets Posing as Asteroids Might be Source of Earth's Water

Well - I never - comets posing as asteroids...

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Just One?

Professor charged with swindling students

I had several and that was almost 30 years ago!

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Monday, March 27, 2006


Pastor Pay

In case you have not noticed, I have joined a ring of PCUSA bloggers - see the sidebar.

For my first link to the set, I want to look at a post from a blog called "Doogie Howsewr Did It, So Why Not Me?" the post concerns remuneration for pastors. Apparently the author is a young pastor and is wondering what he is "supposed" to make.
The question remains: Where is the balance between a congregation paying a pastor what they think she/he is worth and where is the line where a pastor can meet their needs and when their salary is taken just because the congregation is able to offer more?

There's something in the back of my head that is pushing me towards living in or close to the poverty line for the rest of my life. This said while I have a burden of debt that will keep me busy for the rest of my life. (sorry kids, no trips to disneyland)
He goes into a rather detailed discussion of amounts that I find amuzing and problematic. He neglects' altogether, the pastor's housing allowance tax avoidance scheme which is a very significant earnings multiplier.

But that aside, wondering about numbers is, I think the genuine problem.
1 Cor 9:11-12 - If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we should reap material things from you? If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things, that we may cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ.
It is a matter of attitude, it is a matter of placing the gospel first. Paul's attitude here is great - he does not demand pay so as not to hinder the gospel, but he never turns it down either, as we see several places in Acts.

When it comes to remuneration, a pastor should be grateful for what he receives, and gracious in the gifts he makes. Particularly in the PCUSA, the congregation will pay the pastor what it can and in accordance with his/her performance. If the pastor thinks it too much, then do not spit on those that would honor you, rather, be gracious with it and donate it in many appropritate places. If the pastor thinks it too little, then rely upon the Lord - He shall provide, if he doesn't, I suggest you re-examine your call.

Cross-posted at How To Be A Christian And Still Go To Church

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This WaPo piece is just irritating
The outpouring of spiritual healing has inspired a small group of researchers to attempt to use the tools of modern science to test the power of prayer to cure others.
The article actually attacks the studies as attempts to grant religion scientific authority.

Now here is the real problem I have - science does not have that authority to grant. I don't care if these people have the best possible motives, they grant science more than it deserves in a situation like this.

But if that is not enugh hubris, then their are the authors/publishers who think they can sort out whose "right" and whose "wrong."

This sub-head takes the cake

Results may 'depend of point of view'

so science studying religion has a point-of-view, while science about things like evolution is objective?

Anything that seeks to grant credence to faith in Christ forgets the source of all credence which is Christ Himself. And in so doing they give others the opportunity to skewer both.

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Now THIS Is A Problem

Mere Orthodoxy is tackling the idea of raising the stakes when it comes to discussing homosexuality in the church. The idea is don't say homosexuality is the problem - say fornication is the problem, ragardless of which sex it is with. That's an idea I have held for a long time. Anyway, Andrew thinks it's a good, if unworkbale idea:
I honestly don?t think that the pastors in our nation are capable of ?blistering and frank condemnations of fornication ? based on a keen insight into what that sin can do to a human soul.? There just isn?t the theological background to do so.


Our pastors simply don't know how to talk about sin in an understandable way, much less sexual immorality. We need, so desperately, to educate Christians to think well and rationally.
I'd like to think there are some pastors out there that could do this right, but then I run into a a post like this a Scotwise.
Lately, I have read so many articles concerning the positive confession doctrine, and I would have to agree that most of these preachers are in the extreme, and that many of them are preaching outright heresy.
"Positive confession" appears to be some sort of idea to take the "sting" out of confession - you know that place where we confront the fact we need God?

I see things like that and I that Andrew may be right. Scotwise says we should not worry too much about these extremes, but I'm not sure it's that extreme, at least in the sense that more hold the nonsense than the good stuff, particularly when it comes to ideas like sin and confession.

I've said it before, I'll say it again - I wonder if the place to start "fixing" the church is the seminaries?

Cross-posted at How To Be A Christian And Still Go To Church

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Dadmanly looks a Victor David Hanson interview with Hugh Hewitt and "Amen's" their thoughts with some Teddy Rossevelt quotes. Somehow this from TR...
A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticize work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life's realities - all these are marks, not as the possessor would fain to think, of superiority but of weakness. They mark the men unfit to bear their part painfully in the stern strife of living, who seek, in the affection of contempt for the achievements of others, to hide from others and from themselves in their own weakness. The role is easy; there is none easier, save only the role of the man who sneers alike at both criticism and performance.
...came to mind when I read these stories a bit later

Chirac leaves summit as Frenchman speaks English

Reid: Bush 'Dangerously Incompetent'

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If They Don't Close The Road...

Love struck toads cause road closure

...they'll get struck by something other than love.

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A Church That Understands Forgiveness

Church members beat, hog-tie burglary suspect

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It's amazing isn't it - you see headlines like:

Climate Model Predicts Greater Melting, Submerged Cities

Sea rise could be 'catastrophic'

...that would almost lead you to belive that this one was impossible:

Explorers ski across Arctic Ocean

It's nice to know Chicken Little is alive and well, and rapidly losing credibility.

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If Jamie Won't I Will

Jamie 'must back squirrel-eating'

With biscuits and country gravy!

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They Have Evil Super Powers?

Sinister secret of snail's escape

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It's Been All Downhill Since Lavoisier

One Dead in French Chemistry School Blast

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I Wonder Why The Clinton Administration Never Looked For A Cure For This

Doctors called on Friday for more research into a very rare, poorly understood syndrome that is the opposite of the most common sexual complaint in women.

Instead of failing to get aroused, women suffering from persistent sexual arousal syndrome (PSAS) experience constant, unprovoked feelings of excitement
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I Do -- I Do!

In nationwide open casting calls, potential heroes will arrive in costume to prove their mettle - revealing the true nature of their superhuman abilities and invoking the noble credos by which they live.
I could be "Tub-Of-Goo-In-Spandex-Man" -- My power would people running away at the sheer horror of the sight.

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Why Visiting San Francisco Is Never As Nice As It Should Be

Sometime after 9 p.m. this Friday (March 24) the five-year-old "healthy penis" will hop into a van - perhaps even a limousine - and wave goodbye to San Francisco, his birthplace and home since the summer of 2002.
They actually have something like that wandering the streets...

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Sunday, March 26, 2006


Doing Church

Reformation Theology has a great post this past week on "doing church"
Alright - so God wants us to participate in this thing called "church." But what exactly is "Church"? What are the priorities in the life of a church?


But back to our list (whether or not it is written down, it exists somewhere in our mind) - lets examine it and ask if we put things like prayer, sound doctrine, evangelism, baptism, the Lord's Supper and worship on our top 10 list when we look for a church home? Really - do we? How close to the top of our list is how the church handles the word of God? Is that a priority for us? Where do you think this would rank on Christ's list of priorities?

I believe that consumerism is not just out there in the world; it is right inside the Church. We want to be entertained, we want to feel comfortable. Don't get me wrong - one of the worst sins a preacher can possibly do is to make the most amazing message, "the Gospel of Jesus Christ," sound boring. I believe a boring sermon is a scandal! Yet if someone cannot find contentment or spiritual nourishment in the gathering of the people of God, or in the consistent accurate presentation of the Word of God - if that is not enough... then something is seriously wrong.


But many pastors, while convinced of the message of scripture, avoid the hard hitting doctrines of God's holiness, wrath and sovereignty because.. well ... if we're honest, we know that some folk will leave if we tell it just the way He said it. But on the other hand, we have no right to adjust or avoid the clear teaching of Scripture. I also believe that the people of God are crying out to hear about God as He really is, and the Gospel as it really is.

I think as pastors we need to face this head on and say, "yes, some will leave," just as some quietly vacated the crowd in Jesus' day when He outlined His demands for discipleship, or pressed home His Father's Sovereign Grace in election (Jn 6:37-66). But that's the point - Jesus didn't preach to please the crowd, but to please His Father. He wasn't seeking to build a popularity base in Israel, but He did say, "I will build My Church."
Great stuff, I do have one disagreement with the post though, and that is at the end, and that is his discussion of submission to pastoral authority towards the end of the piece. Now Samson hits the right tone when he insists that such responsibility scares him, that's a great start, but I think more in involved.

Pastoral authority is earned, and it is granted by those that submit themselves to it. The fear factor that Samson is concerned about should be mitigated by the fact that his flock will call him to account if he fails. A pastor should not have to wait until he stands before the Lord to find out if he did well.

I might have more faith in an institutional grant of authority if the institutions used biblical standards for leadership qualification, but they don't, education matters more than spiritual maturity - politics more than purity.

It should be scary to be a pastor, but it should also be scary to be a parishioner - we are in this together.

Cross-posted at How To Be A Christian And Still Go To Church

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Do NOT Let The Best Be The Enemy Of The Better!

Apparently Abdul Rahman is to be released in Afghanistan. Good News!?

Oh No - Michelle Malkin and the army of bloggers that has been following her coverage on this issue continue to agitate.

This issue appears to be working itself out pretty well. - not perfectly, but well. And so, here we are, conservatives all, being glass-one-quarter-empty types - which frankly is what hurts us everytime.

Of course, Rahman still has trouble to face - he is in a radically Islamic country, but we cannot flick a switch and change that.

Just once I'd like to see us enjoy a small victory instead of complain about not getting it all.

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Finally, A Little Common Sense When It Comes To Choosing A New IU Coach

The Indianapolis Star earlier this week printed a list of decent, and reasonable, candidates for the IU job - this is spectulation mind you nothing from the University.

One basic comment - does the IU program any longer represent the cream of the crop? - Is it still a premeire program? The Athletic Department has had financial troubles so I wonder if for some of these guys it would be a lateral move at best. They'd all be good choices, but....

Hobbs and Brownell would both get a step up, possible Few, but he has a hell of a program going at Gonzaga now, clearly one of the best in the country. The others are all doing better in the tourney this year than IU did so they obviously have a lot of raw material to work with. I do think Alford increased his desirability a great deal with his Big 10 tournament win, but the Big Dance performance showed they had left it all in Conseco.

Somehow Mike Montgomery keeps sticking in my head...

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Sermons and Lessons


Douglas Steere was educated at Michigan State, Harvard, and Oxford in the early decades of the twentieth century. A Rhodes scholar, brilliant thinker, and skilled author of many fine devotional books, Steere has spent most of his life teaching philosophy at Haverford College and is a member of the Society of Friends (Quakers).

He is one of the few American authors in the past century who has combined academic integrity with spiritual authenticity. He also holds a delicate balance between contemplation (the inner life) and action (the outer life). He and his wife, Dorothy, have traveled on many missions to Africa, Europe, and Asia as members of the American Friends Service Committee.

The following selection comes from a book first published in 1938 titled Prayer and Worship. This particular selection deals with the subject of "intercessory prayer," that is, praying for people and/or events. As is his style, Steere invites us to engage in this highly important work of prayer while keeping in mind the necessity of responding to God?s call through action.


1. The Inner Springs of Prayer

Prayer for others is a form of petitional prayer that makes deep demands on the faith of an individualistic generation that has so largely lost its sense of inner community. Yet, at no point, do we touch the inner springs of prayer more vitally than here.

For when we hold up the life of another before God, when we expose it to God's love, when we pray for its release from drowsiness, for the quickening of its inner health, for the power to throw off a destructive habit, for the restoration of its free and vital relationship with its fellows, for its strength to resist temptation, for its courage to continue against sharp opposition - only then do we sense what it means to share in God's work, in his concern; only then do the walls that separate us from others go down and we sense that we are at bottom all knit together in a great and intimate family.

2. No Greater Intimacy

There is no greater intimacy with another than that which is built through holding him or her up in prayer. The firm bond that existed between John Frederic Oberlin and his parish was laid each morning in the hour that he devoted to prayer for his individual parishioners. We are told that as they went past his house at this hour in the morning, they did so in quiet, for they knew what was happening there.

Forbes Robinson's Letters to His Friends reveals his constant use of this form of prayer for his Cambridge associates. He remarks in one letter that if he really would reach some need in his friend's life, he would always prefer a half-hour?s silent petition for him to an hour's conversation with him.

3. The Power of Renovation

An unbeliever once mockingly begged Catherine of Siena that she pray for his soul. She prayed by day and by night, and the power of renovation disarmed and brought him to his knees. I know of a Japanese girl whose father had found a whole chain of reverses too much for him to meet normally and who had taken the alcoholic shortcut. She prayed for him hour after hour until the time came when he yielded, gave up drink, committed his life to the center of Divine love he had experienced, and with the help and love of his devoted family he has continued a new way of life.

4. Lapping at the Shores of Our Lives

It is not a question of changing God's mind or of exercising some magical influence or spell over the life of another. Before we begin to pray, we may know that the love of the One who is actively concerned in awakening each life to its true center is already lapping at the shores of that life. We do not do it at all.

Such prayer is only cooperation with God's active love in besieging the life or new areas of the life of another, or of a situation. If you pray for something other than what is in keeping with that cooperation, you go against the grain, and if you remain in prayer and are sensitive, you will realize this and be drawn to revise it. As in all petitional prayer, the one who really prays must be ready to yield.

5. You Are Called

You may pray for the release of some area of life in a friend and find that you are called upon to set right something in your own life that has acted as a stumbling block to him. You may pray that your friend be given courage to endure certain hardships and find that you are drawn to pack your bag and go and join him or that you are to give up your pocket money for the next month or even perhaps to give a fortnight's or a month's salary to help along his cause. In intercessory prayer one seldom ends where one began.

6. Tiny Promptings, Gentle Whispers

During these active forms of work in the silence: in contrition, in purification, in simplification and refreshment, in petition, and in intercession, frequently, if we were sensitive and listening, there come clear insights of things to be done. Often they come in that receptive silent waiting after we have opened our needs and where we do nothing but wait for direction. Again, they may come during the day and push their way in between events that seem to bear no connection with them.

These insights are precious and to be heeded if we are to live in response to that which we feel in prayer. When they involve some real adjustments that may be costly to effect, the Quakers have called these concerns. They lack a word for the tiny promptings, the gentle whispers that are equally as important and that may represent concerns in the forming.

7. The Molten Freedom of the Person

"Prayer is incipient action," and these clues are the lines along which the molten freedom of the person in prayer is to be cast. "Mind the Light" reads an inscription on a sundial. Come under holy obedience.

Here is the unformed side of life?s relationships - the letters to be written, the friends to be visited, the journey to be undertaken, the suffering to be met by food, or nursing care, or fellowship. Here is the social wrong to be resisted, the piece of interpretive work to be undertaken, the command to "rebuild my churches," the article to be written, the wrong to be forgiven, the grudge to be dropped, the relationship to be set right, the willingness to serve God in the interior court by clear honest thinking, and the refusal to turn out shoddy work.

8. Established in the Power

Yet we need more than the intimations. We need spiritual staying power to carry them out. "Profession of truth, without the life and power, is but a slippery place, which men may easily slide from," wrote Isaac Penington. He commends his own practice of praying to be established in the power that will enable him to carry out these leadings. "I wait on him for the strength to fulfill it."

Here in the silence, as that power gathers, it is well to face the difficulty one will meet in carrying out this concern. Here in the silence it is well to see the only semi-inflammable character of the bridge you mean to burn; to face the inertia, the resistances, the amused smiles of friends; the coldness and want of understanding on the part of many who resent having their attention called to social justice in which they are involved?the strangling doubts of your own later hours?doubts that led Teresa of Avila to say: "I see few people who have not too much sense for everything they have to do." These need to be met and overcome in the silence.

9. The Precious Chain of Influence

If we ignore these leadings, they poison future prayer. Katherine Mansfield wrote, "I went upstairs and tried to pray, but I could not, for I had done no work." And if they are ignored, they break the precious chain of influence that this act may have set going. You become a link in this chain when you begin to pray. If you fail, it must wait for another. "Were you faithful? Did you yield?"

There is nothing greater than this constant fidelity. "The world goes forward," wrote Harold Gray, who served a term in Leavenworth during the war for his conscientious objection, "because in the beginning one man or a few were true to the light they saw and by living by it enabled others to see." Holy obedience to the insights, the concerns that come, that persist, and that are in accord with cooperation with God?s way of love is not only the active side of prayer, but is the only adequate preparation for future prayer.

10. Loving Back

There can be no complete prayer life that does not return to the point from which we began - the prayer that is a response to the outpouring love and concern with which God lays siege to every soul. When that reply to God is most direct of all, it is called adoration. Adoration is "loving back." For in the prayer of adoration we love God for himself, for his very being, for his radiant joy.

"Religion is adoration," was a favorite remark of that veteran of prayer, Friedrich von Hugel. "The most fundamental need, duty, honor, and happiness of men is not petition or even contrition, nor again, even thanksgiving ... but adoration." Adoration is not alone a special stage in prayer, although it may be that, too. All the truest prayer is shot through with it and its mood is the background to all real contrition, petition, and intercession.

In adoration we enjoy God. We ask nothing except to be near him. We want nothing except that we would like to give him all. Out of this kind of prayer comes the cry "Holy! Holy! Holy!" In the school of adoration the soul learns why the approach to every other goal had left it restless.

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