Saturday, May 13, 2006


Saturday Linkin In The Park...

...I think it was the fourth of July.

Ah, vagueness. Or avoiding the REAL point. Reasons why my PC(USA) will slip into meaninglessness instead of schism of reform.

Calico bear found. T.S. Eliot raised from dead to write book, Andrew Lloyd Weber starts writing. I'll take a nap.

Good attitude. Now write a post after you have actually served and let's see how it has changed.

When the joke writes itself.

Some of the best Russian news in a while.

THE message for Christian leadership. I may link to this every day for a week.

Which is much better than the converse.

The hills are alive with the sound of my wretching.

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Comic Art

For sheer ugliness, I don't think there has ever been a better villain, and as most great comic art, he is from the mind of Jack Kirby, than MODOK. His story is great.
M.O.D.O.K. (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing) was just another A.I.M. [Advanced Idea Mechanics] agent when the Supreme Scientist decided that he needed a "volunteer" for one of his experiments. Twenty-four hours later he was transformed into M.O.D.O.K. After being freed from the alteration chamber M.O.D.O.K. killed his would be bosses and took over the leadership of AIM.
AIM and therefore MODOK were largely foes of Captain America/SHIELD in the early days, but he proved so popular that he tangled with most everybody, most notably after Cap, the Hulk.

But as you can see here, he wrangled with Iron Man, amongst his many opponents. After a long hiatus, MODOK has been making some appearances lately which is great for old timers like myself, but these new stories don't understand - they keep writing MODOK - Nobody cares what the story is, you just like him as a villain because he looks the part. All head - so much head they had to build it special supports. What's truly amazing is that with all that head he's not all that smart, I mean Peter Parker is branier by a long shot, and Reed Richards, well.... In the end he is really pretty lame, which is why he went into hiatus, and I will admit that the new stories are better.

But look at that top Kirby image - do you really care how lame the story is when you have an image like that? That is just the stuff to tickle the mind.

Now, if you want a comic challenge - how about making MODOK a good guy - can anyone so abhorent in appearance be a good guy - wouldn't that be an interesting story.

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Friday, May 12, 2006


The Importance Of Sacrament

One of the things I have not seen mentioned in any critique of Barna's Revolution is that it makes no provision in his vision of the networked church for the sacraments.

Now granted, there are as many ideas about what is and is not a sacrament, their role and their meaning as there are churches - but they all practice them in some form. Christ's and the apostles' commands to at least baptism and communion (could I be a protestant?) are undeniable; we have no choice, if we want to call ourselves Christians, we need to do these things.

Further, these things require gathering in groups and they require someone to have established authority to preside over them.

It bothers me that I have not seen this critique of Barna's book offered elsewhere. You don't really hear sacramental practice in general discussed much anymore even among the mainstream. Why is that? There is no doubt that on the "growing edges" of our faith, the mystery is dying, but is that being reflected back into the traditional mainstream as well.

'Mystery' is the word that I love best when it comes to the sacraments - there is a mystery about them. That, in part, is why there has been historically so much debate about them. I think that mystery is reflective of the nature of God Himself. God is the ultimate mystery - indeed there is much we can know of Him, but we can never understand Him.
1 Cor 13:12 - For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.
I love that it is a huge question whether the sacraments are purely symbolic or whether they really are a means by which we directly encounter God, I love the fact will never really know - mostly because in the not knowing I think we do encounter God in a way that He cannot be encountered with knowing.

I also love encountering Him that way with others. I may not know much of what goes on in the sacrament, but I can see Christ in the face of those I share the sacrament with.

Finally, the sacraments are valuable because they are a time where we seek not simply to serve God, but specifically to encounter Him.
Ps 4:4 - Tremble, and do not sin; meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.

Ps 46:10 - Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
We encounter God in new ways through stillness and queitness and resting than we do when we sing energetically or work ceaselessly. Celebrating the sacraments creates that stillness and quiet, for a brief moment the strife indeed ceases and we seek the face of God for no purpose than it's beauty and His righteousness.

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

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Friday Linkitude

Howard Dean almost makes sense. And then, typically, backed away.

Know your Christian history.

Know your special forces bloggers.

Some University of Wisconson fans I have known deserved this.

Maybe 'Endangered Species Day' should be an endangered species.

Should have happened a long, long time ago.

Yes, we have secret organizations to combat movies. And what about all the uproar over The Passion Of The Christ.

Comics and religion - a fine blending.

Just because aliteration is fun.

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Friday Humor

The following came from an anonymous Mother in Austin, Texas: "Things I've learned from my boys (honest and not kidding)":
  1. A king size waterbed holds enough water to fill a 2000 sq. ft. house 4 inches deep.
  2. If you spray hair spray on dust bunnies and run over them with roller blades, they can ignite.
  3. A 3-year old boy's voice is louder than 200 adults in a crowded restaurant.
  4. If you hook a dog leash over a ceiling fan, the motor is not strong enough to rotate a 42 pound Boy wearing Batman underwear and a Superman cape. It is strong enough, however, if tied to a paint can, to spread paint on all four walls of a 20x20 ft. room.
  5. You should not throw baseballs up when the ceiling fan is on. When using a ceiling fan as a bat, you have to throw the ball up a few times before you get a hit. A ceiling fan can hit a baseball a long way.
  6. The glass in windows (even double-pane) doesn't stop a baseball hit by a ceiling fan.
  7. When you hear the toilet flush and the words "uh oh", it's already too late.
  8. Brake fluid mixed with Clorox makes smoke -- lots of it.
  9. A six-year old boy can start a fire with a flint rock even though a 36-year old man says they can only do it in the movies.
  10. Certain Lego's will pass through the digestive tract of a 4-year old boy.
  11. Play dough and microwave should not be used in the same sentence.
  12. Super glue is forever.
  13. No matter how much Jell-O you put in a swimming pool you still can't walk on water.
  14. Pool filters do not like Jell-O.
  15. VCR's do not eject "PB & J" sandwiches even though TV commercials show they do.
  16. Garbage bags do not make good parachutes.
  17. Marbles in gas tanks make lots of noise when driving.
  18. You probably DO NOT want to know what that odor is.
  19. Always look in the oven before you turn it on; plastic toys do not like ovens.
  20. The fire department in Austin, TX has a 5-minute response time.
  21. The spin cycle on the washing machine does not make earthworms dizzy.
  22. The spin cycle on the washing machine will, however, make cats dizzy.
  23. Cats throw up twice their body weight when dizzy.
  24. 80% of men who read this will try mixing the Clorox and brake fluid.
  25. 80% of women will pass this on to almost all of their friends, with or without kid.
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Thursday, May 11, 2006


Not As Silly As You Might Think

Your Deadly Sins
Sloth: 40%
Gluttony: 20%
Pride: 20%
Wrath: 20%
Envy: 0%
Greed: 0%
Lust: 0%
Chance You'll Go to Hell: 14%
You will die while sleeping - and no one will notice.
How Sinful Are You?

When I first ran across this little quiz at If I should fall from grace with god... I thought it a bit trivial - I took it on a lark. While it is not ultimately revealing or anything when the results appeared, my response was not giggles, but conviction.

We have all gotten so wrapped up in the idea that sin is a state and not an action, that we often forget to take stock of where we fall short of God's standards. Of course, absent God's grace, such a stock-taking is truly a wasted exercise, but with that grace there is much to learn.

Prayerful confession is just such a stock-taking. I think we let the Roman Catholic tradition of priestly confession inform how we think of confession a little too much. We Protestants have little to fear in the act of confession. We sit down with God and talk about where we are screwing up today. There are no Hail Mary's or rosaries for us, no we simply get to experience a new touch of God's grace has He says to us, "It's all right - how do I help you not have that issue today?" You see God's grace not only forgives those actions but supplies the power to overcome them.

I think I've shared before on the blog how in a very dark period I swore never to return to church and yet God had me there, in the pew, Sunday after Sunday. I don;t know if I have shared that during each of those Sunday's I sat in church against my "better" judgement - one part of the service always touched me, always spoke to the gospel to me. It was the Assurance of Pardon.

The Corporate Prayer of Confession changed every week, sometime unison, sometimes responsive, sometimes read silently, but the Assurance of Pardon that follwed was the same every week - week after week. They were spoken each week by someone that has become a friend of mine in the intervening decades. They speak to me to this day.

This also, I think speak to the POWER of the liturgical. The repetition served not to rob the words of meaning, but to grant them extraordinary meaning. Nothing give me greater joy in serving my church today than when I serve as litrugist and can repeat these words for the congregation. I hope they offer the same grace to them as they do to me. I trust you will recognize them as scripture
God proves His amazing love for us in this, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. If we confess our sins, He is faith and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.
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Faith, Politics and the Environment

In The Screwtape Letters, the 7th letter, C.S. Lewis has his senior tempter character Screwtape counsel his nephew Wormwood on how to guide his "patient's" thoughts concerning WWII which was happening when Lewis wrote the book
The quietly and gradually nurse him to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the 'cause', in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce in favour of the British war effort or Pacifism.
Those words came bolting into my mind as I read some good stuff on Christians and the environment recently. First Amy Ridenour points to this excellent Townhall piece by Daniel Son in which he makes a case for the Cornwall Declaration - a statement on Christians and the environment from the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance that is sort of the anti-ECI (Evangelical Climate Initiative) and has a lot more signers. The declaration acknowledges our mandate for stewardship over the environment, but says Son
The Cornwall Declaration differs from the ECI in that it does not see global climate change as an immediate threat that requires emergency action. It states that ?public policies to combat exaggerated risks can dangerously delay or reverse the economic development necessary to improve not only human life but also human stewardship of the environment.?


While an inordinate amount of attention is given to distant, theoretical threats of global warming, a tragically minimal amount of attention is given to the life and death problems of today, some of which directly result from policies enacted to stave off the ?disastrous? conditions of global climate change.
This would begin to hint that the ECI people have an agenda that extends beyond this Christian mandate to care for the poor since they do indeed focus on the future at the expense of the immediate. One sense the temptation Lewis describes in the mix somewhere.

But the real clincher comes in this Daily Standard piece by Mark Tooley from last week. Tolley does an entirely political analysis of the ECI and quotes Christian leftie Jim Wallis extensively.
According to Wallis, "biblically-faithful Christians" are soon going to turn against the Religious Right and instead follow his Religious Left. Instead, it seems more likely that an easy acceptance of apocalyptic warnings about a burning planet will ultimately confirm, not overturn, the political leanings of conservative evangelicals.
I don't know how to read the article other than to come to understand that Wallis has indeed fallen victim to the temptation. He is nakedly bald in his attempts to accomplish political ends, the other end of the spectrum led in this piece by James Dobson and Chuck Colson sticks purely to the issue and the fact that not enough is known.

This debate is very informative on how faith and politics should and should not interact. In the first place, genuine faith is compromised, as Lewis suggests, when it becomes a tool of politics.

But the second and far more important thing to note is that there are many issues in politics that faith simply does not address directly. Says the Tooley piece
But their response also reflected the truth that evangelicals do not have a clear scriptural or historical teaching on Global Warming--as they do on an issue such as same-sex marriage.
Our faith has something to say about our stance on the environment, but very little in specific. As a political issue and a science issue, this one is best left to the professionals.

The church has a very specific mission. Sometimes the church must interact with the government, such interaction is politics, in order to accomplish that mission. But many issues just don't come under the direct mission of the church. In such cases the best we can do is elect politicians, whose characters have been well-formed likely by faith, and rely upon them to make the right decisions. To to more is to fall to the temptation Lewis describes.

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Illuminated Scripture

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Blog Stitches (links - get it?)

Avoid the plague! like it was, well, the plague. They'll be no cries of "Bring out your dead!" here. BTW, how does that square with this.

A sign of the end times?

Oh gee, ya think?!

Some engineer with too much time and a sketch pad.

BEcasue you have to link to any extensive quote of Chesterton. It's just too good.

Take that Evangelical Climate Initiative.

Finally, if you come visit I can take you somewhere without it costing $50 a piece to wait in line.

Acting does not make you an expert on authors. I wonder if she has read anything else Lewis ever wrote.

"Honey, the lights are dimming!" -- "I'm in the bathroom doing the best I can dear."

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Widening The Gap

Yesterday, Joe Carter reprinted a post of his from February of '05. In it, Joe quotes Eugene Peterson who says
Frederick von Hugel said the institution of the church is like the bark on the tree. There's no life in the bark. It?s dead wood. But it protects the life of the tree within. And the tree grows and grows and grows and grows. If you take the bark off, it's prone to disease dehydration, death.

So, yes, the church is dead but it protects something alive. And when you try to have a church without bark, it doesn't last long. It disappears, gets sick, and it's prone to all kinds of disease, heresy, and narcissism.
I truly understand the point that is trying to be made here, but I have to admit to finding it unsatisfactory. Let me explain why.

We do not have a spiritual life and a worldly life. We are not birfurcated beings. It is not as if we start life as worldly people and upon meeting God, a new tiny spirtual person is formed and slowly that tiny spirtual person grows to overwhelm the worldly person. We are but single being that God seeks to transform from a fallen state to a state of grace. God does not seek to improve our spitritual life - He seeks to improve our LIFE.

This is true for the church as well. Indeed it is a collection of sinners, but to call it lifeless bark there merely to protect that which is living within, is to sell far short the vision that God has for the church and for us as His corporate people.

To borrow the language of Nancy Pearcey's Total Truth
"Thinking Christianly" means understanding that Christianity gives the truth about the whole of reality, a perspective for interpreting every subject matter.
It seems like there are only two mindsets when it comes to church, one is described in Joe's post - a sort of hold-your-nose necessity. The other is what I'll call the "marketing view" where the church is just a worldly tool to do the real spiritual work and therefore we should use all the tools the world can offer, managed like PepsiCo. Both views belie a gap between the church and "real" spirituality. They are the corporate equivalent of saying "I have my spiritual life on Sunday and my job on Monday." As God seeks to transform our WHOLE being - so He intends to make the church into His very real, very good body.

There are so many things we do that widens this vision and thought gap between the church as we do it and the church as God intend it to be. "Let's be practical here...." "That's asking too much of people...."

I am tired of compromise on the church. I seek to allow Christ to transform me completely, I pray for Him to make the church as He wants it, not as we are willing to acquiesce to it being.

I am going to start by asking myself whenever making church-related decisions if I am widening the gap between the church as I expereince it and the church as Christ intend it, or narrowing it. "Does this decision uphold the church as God's plan for us, or does it give the church status as earthly necessity?"

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

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The Cost Of Informing Our Poltics With Our Faith

When religious faith goes public, it better be pretty good religious faith because you can bet someone is going to challenge it. If a person of faith in public life fails to meet the standards that faith sets for them, both the public good that person may have accomplished and the veracity of the faith are called into question. This questioning reflects not just of the individual, but on the public affiliations and religious organizations that the individual is associatesd with. A public person of faith must hold themselve to a much higher standard than a non-public person because so much is at risk. Whether pastor of politician what they do reflects not just on them, but on all who wear the same labels they do.

Those were the thoughts that passed through my mind as I read this article from Newsbusters. The article desires to bust Katie Couric's chops for daring to question Joel Osteen on matters of faith, in this case his enormous wealth accumulation. In this case; however, I have to side with Couric - Osteen is not a great representative of evangelical Christianity, and while Couric's handling of scripture was a bit hamfisted, her basic line of questioning is probably right where I'd go with Osteen if I had the chance.

This episode makes two really important points. The first is that if a person is very public about their faith, they can rely on the public holding them to account on their faith. From pedophile priests to Osteen's millions, the public is going to be watching very hard. Everybody loves a game of "gotcha" and in a world of saved sinners, gotcha is an easy game to play. This says to me there is no room for the lukewarm believer in public life.

The other point here is that the community of faith must hold those within, and especially those in public life, to account. Osteen's prosperity gospel is just wrong, and the rest of Christianity ought to be declaring it loudly and longly. You see, the real problem with Couric's interview is not that she nails Osteen, but that she clumps him with the rest of us.

In the blogosphere, iMonk and his buddies at the BHT have been very good about pasting Osteen to the wall and making sure anyone who reads them knows he is way out of the ballpark. But unfortunately, their megaphone is just not as big as Osteen's or Couric's.

What we need to learn how to do, I think, is to "speak the truth in love", but do so loudly. So often, loud equates to ugly, or unloving, but I am not convinced it has to. We can ill-afford to have Couric confuse Osteen with mainstream Christianity, but we are not true to our faith unless we find a way to denouce him with grace.

When we go public with our faith, and especially in politics, it puts an excessive burden on us to be true to our faith. If done right it will sharpen and deepen our faith and both the faith and the nation will be better for the exchange. Here's hoping both are up to the task.

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The Linkin Bedroom

Let them have AIDS. I'd really love to know what they think after they are diagnosed.

Pump prices examined. I don't understand the hullabalu - it always goes up in spring, down in fall and when annualized it's not that much money.

Women in church office. Where the PCA has it all over the PCUSA - we USAers should still be discussing that, not the same thing about GAYS.

Ions make ozone and ozone is smog. I've only know that since freshman chemistry. Who cares when there is a product to sell.

Maybe so. But I think this negates it.

Well, an anti-toxin would be too messy. Remeber toxicity is function not only of the presence of a tosic agent, but the time and method of exposure.

A Steyn-slap to the Da Vinci Code. Nobody does it better.

Best double-take headline of the day.

Yeah, they could get in the way of a good old fashioned Stalinist pogrom.

If it's with sharks it might be a fair sentence.

Learning to be the church post Christendom.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Can You Call Yourself A "Christian" Apart From The Church?

This may be the key question raised by George Barna's Revolution. Barna would. of course, argue that his revolutionaries are not apart from the church, but that they are redefining church.

In a purely sociological sense, I think he is right, he does not present a vision that eliminates church, but rather he reimagines church not as an institution, but as a network. This is a huge sociological change that is revolutionizing all sorts of institutions. We are seeing networked bloggers bring traditional journalistic institutions to their knees. Work-at-home types are transforming the nature of business. This is just two examples.

The key issue is, does this change work for the church? Jollyblogger makes one very devestating argument in pointing out that networks serve the individual, the individual does not necessarily serve the network, and that this is not a biblical model. I think David is right about this, and I want to take it just a step further.

The very essence of Christian faith is submission - submission of the self to God. Networks, as opposed to institutions, require no submission. By their very nature, members come and go, step up or don't. When you are operating in a network and a member does not step up, you don't go find out what the issue is, you just find someone else who will, meaning the member is not held accountable and has not submitted.

Say you put a little "teeth" (rules of some sort) into the network, now you have taken the first step to institutionalization and it won't be long before things will fall apart, or a full-fledged institution will be born. Institutionalization is, if there is to be any submission, or any accountability, an inevitability.

Let's go back to my assertion that submission is the essence of Christianity. The submission is to God, not to some institution, so why is the institutional inevitable? Simple, because people are God's chosen instruments on earth.

Direct experiences of God are rare. We most often experience God in the life of other Christians; therefore, part of our submission to God is submitting to others.
Phil 2:3-8 - Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Now, none of this changes the fact that institutions generally, sometimes I think inevitably, corrupt and that we may need to alter our point of submission. But if we are to submit and such makes institutionalization inevitable, should not our efforts be turned to fighting the corruption in the instituions and not merely leaving them?

To call ourselves Christians we must submit to God. We experience God in others, thus we must submit to other Christians. Such submission inevitably lead to institutionalization. Thus anyone that calls themselves "Christian," apart from institutional affiliation, is a Christian in a most tepid and unsatisfactory sense. I guess they can call themselves "Christians" if they want, but anybody can label themselves just about anything, it does not make it so.

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

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Linkin Slept Here

Rather than buying votes, I wish he'd, you know - have a decent conservative policy with a decent conservative staff.

Amen and Amen - HT: Between Two Worlds.

Al Mohler rightly calls this - The Two-Edged Sword of Medical Technology - Boy Howdy!

Or, they could just study harder and their grades would improve and they would gain confidence. Oh, I'm sorry, the teachers or their parents might have to work harder then too. My bad.

Yes, this is sarcasm. Funny too.

The real source of all that bad carbon and hence global warming. Speaking of which, science appears to have compeltely left the building. Here on the other hand is related wisdom.

It's a good thing this country has its moral compass completely intact. Theres that sarcasm again.

As long as no one is about tossing them - that would be discriminatory.

Is this sanitary? And will this woman want one - I know everyone needs a hobby, but jeez.

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The Terrorbuster Saga


Read this story from the beginning at The Terrorbuster Saga Blog

No city in the former Soviet, taken as a whole, can be described as beautiful. There are too many hideously ugly block apartments that were dilapidated they day they were built, let alone 40 years later. But at the core of the old cities there are batches of genuine architectural splendor ? all of it, of course, dating back to the tsarist days.

Kiev, unlike Moscow or St. Petersburg, has not only man-made splendor, but natural splendor as well. The heart of the city is situated on bluffs rising above the Dnieper River, and there are hills throughout the city creating grand vistas. The Ukraine, the traditional "breadbasket" of eastern Europe/western Asia, is an extremely green place. In summer, those grand vistas usually afford a view of a huge blanket of green.

The group found themselves in the Hotel Kiev, a Soviet-era high rise hotel located across the street from a beautiful park and an old imperial palace which now serves as the parliament building. The hotel was serviceable, but not exactly "nice." The views from the upper floors were amazing, though. Carter and Amy didn't really seem to care; they were basking in the glory of their newfound affection.

Fortunately, the first couple of days "in country" on a trip like this are devoted to recovering from jet lag and getting to know the lay of the land. Carter and Amy took full advantage. They acted like tourists, taking in all the magnificent sites, the Monastery of the Caves, St. Sophia, palaces and churches galore...

But it didn't last long. Carter was left in town, as a liaison, while Amy and the team moved to a military base a few kilometers out of town. Fortunately, being a liaison did not take a lot of time. Carter visited the headquarters of "the charities" that seemed to be pushing all the others out from around Sophiaskia. The first thing he noted was that computers were everywhere. Given that he had been unable to hack into the place, he was amazed that so many computers were in the office.

Carter left quickly and went back to his hotel room. He broke out his laptop. This was, apparently, the only piece of computer technology he has brought with him. But soon, he set his suitcase down next to the computer and pulled a cable from inside the lining and plugged it into the laptop. Amazing things started happening.

First, the suitcase sprouted an antenna, parabolic in shape, to connect Carter to the Internet via satellite without going through the Ukrainian systems. He started hacking into systems at American environmental groups, and established an identity for himself as a member of the Board for something called "" Soon, business cards were printing out of the suitcase along with a passport, and assorted other identity papers.

Carter broke out his best navy-blue suit and returned to the charity offices. The business card identified him as Adrian Stevens, general counsel and Board Secretary for He presented the card and asked to see the general director.

As he was being escorted to the conference room, fortunately well back in the building, he noted that there was a server room, and the computers in the place were networked together. He also noted the receptionist giving his card to a clerk who disappeared into a room that was RF shielded. "Gotcha," he thought.

The rest of the meeting was pure lie. He represented himself as a conduit through which much money could be made available for the work the charity did, requesting only that his group get sufficient credit for its efforts. He started to pull out his laptop and show his Powerpoint presentation, but the general director, who looked more like a prison guard than anything else, cut him off.

"We have sufficient funding," was all the GD said.

"But, we are talking millions here, surely?," responded Carter-cum-Stevens.

"We have sufficient funding," repeated the GD as he signaled two men who were standing just outside the door.

Carter was not exactly physically removed from the building, but it was obvious he had no choice.

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Monday, May 08, 2006


The Blessing Of Confession

Last Friday, Reformation Theology looked at the value of corporate confession in traditional liturgical worship. I have to confess that this spoke made my heart sing hallelujah's!
Many churches have put aside the corporate confession in favor of only music but the church has historically made the corporate confession central to worship. For most it makes the time of worship more authentic and joyful for it strikes a blow against self-righteousness and humbles us before God as we say what we know to be true of ourselves. It reminds us that we are not better than others and that it is only grace (an alien righteousness) which makes us what we are. God remembers, in the covenant in Christ's blood, not to treat us as our sins deserve. In it we pray for personal sin, for the sins of our local church, our local community, our nation and world.

But Corporate confession of sin would bring only despair were it not for our knowledge of God?s faithfulness to His covenant promise, His forgiveness and mercy.
As John Hendryx goes on to point out, such corporate confession should be followed by the pulpit declared "Assurance of Forgiveness" - What great joy that pronouncement can bring!

The post also offers a number of the liturgical and responsive prayers the author likes - so do I might I add.

I have attended services without such confession and I find it a hollow experience. You see, despite my salvation, I remain a sinner - I canot bring myself to worship the Almighty until I have "cleared the decks" of all that junk that stands between Him and me. To declare His majesty, without first setting myself right with Him seems insincere somehow.

I think this is also true for ourselves as a body. Think about your typical week at church - how much sin do you participate in and see around the place. You see as congregations we mess up too, and as congregation we need to "clear the decks" with God and with each other.

Update: Mark Daniels chimes in.

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The Source Of Authority and Leadership

When we organize ourselves into institutions, whether they be clubs, homeowners associations, governments, or churches, at the beginning the leaders are the Leaders. That is to say that the people that assume the insitutional positions of leadership are the best leaders anyway; the people that have organized and lead to get to the point of institutionalization. They have earned the right to have the institutional positions they take on. Such people earn their authority, or in churches have it granted to them by God.

However as things go on, poeple begin to desire those leaderhsip positions for their own sake, and they begin to learn ways to attain those offices by manipulating the institution without regard to ability to lead or the orignial aims of the instituion. In other cases they come to such offices simply because someone has to do it, and they are the best qualified, if not fully qualified. The institution begins to grant leadership and authority based purely on position or office, and not based on ability and commitment to the goals of the institution itself.

This is one of the beauties of democracy - elections are a form of earning authority and office. In this media saturated age, sometimes how it is earned is misleading and/or misguided, but at least it is earned in some sense.

This is not always the case in non-governmental institutions. We are all familiar with the Peter Principle. I think it is especially true in churches. Poeple seek leadership and authority for all sorts of wrong reasons. And even in churches that elect their leaders, there is such disengagement on the part of the congregation and usually far more slots than willing bodies that much unearned authority and ledership results.

Scripture makes clear that leadership and authority are not ours to have, but ours to earn, nay to be awarded:
Matt 23:10-12 - And do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.
When the church does begin to institutionalize and leadership offices emerge, clear qualifications are established.
1 Tim 3:1-7 - It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, uncontentious, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?); and not a new convert, lest he become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he may not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
If the church is to survive, and survive well in compliance with God's wishes, we need to spend less time worrying about institutional authority and more time worrying about earned and God-granted authority. We need to prioritize and make sure that those that hold the institutional offices have truly been granted and earned the authority we seek to bestow upon them.

You see, it is not a matter of education, it's a matter of character. Look at the I Timothy passage. You don't see requirements for seminary educations or workshop training. Not that those things are not incredibly useful - only that they are not the measure by which we can evaluate leadership and authority.

I must confess, I am very tired of people telling me what authority they have over me by virtue of position. I want to be lead, but I want a leader worthy of the title.

There is a reason Barna thinks people are "worn out on church," and it lies at the heart of why his book Revolution appealed to me despite my disagreement with many of his conclusions. Bad leaders lead to revolutions.

Fortunately, bad leaders do not mean the institution itself or its goals are irretrievably corrupt - just the leaders. Any effort to fix the church has to start with leadership, the right leadership, the God-granted leadership.

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

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Linkin, Blinkin, & Nod

Comparing apples and horse manure.

If you have the power of God's Turth on your side, do you really need the courts?

The reason we need to improve science education in this country.

Because we all need a bit of decoration for our blog from time-to-time.

Thinking well about church growth.

WE ARE NOT A MEDIA DEMOGRAPHIC! And we do ourselves no favors when we act like it.

You mean it's not real? And know, this is not about professional wrestling.

The coalition of the extreme in action.

Royalty alienating it's subjects. Makes the whole shunning Di thing look pretty tame.

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Sunday, May 07, 2006


Sunday Go To Linkin'

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Good News

Mark Steyn - Amen

Disaster on the horizon - Narrowly averted - Prayer answered.

Worrying about the nearly infinitely improbable. Of course, it is an eventuality, but the odds in our lifetime are almost zilch. The odds we can do anything about it, much closer to zilch. The odds some people can make a decent living scaring people about something this close to zilch - very good.

Littered with cigarette butts and full of potholes.

How not to do church (check the second item) Does that strike anyone besides me as just a tad bit off-mission for the church? I'm thinking Brad might.

Just desserts for LA sports egos.

Now this is a handicap match!

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Sermons and Lessons

I thought it good to consider a little Spurgeon this week - on one of my favorite passages of scripture, I Kings 19. So, from September 10, 1871 here is

God's Gentle Power

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