Saturday, March 15, 2008


Comic Art

As loud, boisterous and noisy is Volstagg of Thor's closest friends the Warriors Three, Hogun, another member of the trio is quiet. He is usually referred to as "Hogun the Grim" and with good reason. The guy says little, but he is really good with that mace. Nonetheless, why Thor and the other two hang out with him is a bit of a mystery to me. Oh sure, you want him around when the going gets tough, but hanging in the local grog shop, the guy is basically wallpaper.

Hogun even lacks the usual comic book reparte' when he is in the middle of a fight. While most guys have tag lines, wisecracks, or whole speeches they must delivery when they best a foe, Hogun just moves on. You think he'd at least mutter "Next!" to himself.

But then they are the "Warriors" Three and not the "Asgardian Good Times and Drinking Club." But seriously, this guy needs to lighten up a bit or some "inventive" genus is going to decide the reason for his social reticence, not to mention all that latent hostility, is because he is gay. Now, there have been gay super-heroes before, but a gay god would probably be a bit more than I could bear.

But I will say this about Hogun, next time I need someone to handle a snake/lizard/dragon thing, I know who to call.

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Friday, March 14, 2008


Being Smart

Chuck Colson staffer blog, The Point links to a Townhall local radio host blog on "Why Aren't Christians Smarter?"
Have you ever wondered why Christians aren’t smarter? I mean, we have the only true religion, we have a Book which is responsible for all of Western Civilization, and we serve a God who can safely call Himself the supreme champion at every trivia contest.So why aren’t we smarter?
His contentions:
Not thinking well is a sin.

God commands us very simply: Love Him with all our heart, and with all our soul,and with all our mind. Catch that last part … with all our mind. This means thinking is not optional for the Christian. Thinking, and thinking well, is a form of worship of God which is nothing short of obedience to His primary command. Hence, if we do not“use the brain God gave you,” (my mom’s favorite rhetorical chastisement), we are sinning.

Not thinking well is a scandal.

The most pervasive myth about Christianity is that it is incompatible with intelligence
First of all, the post is clearly a plug for his radio program and he is clearly reaching for a specific niche audience. Nothing necessarily wrong with that, but I do think it lends some insight into the real problem here, but the question is a quite valid one.

We need to start with a fact, it is a hard one to utter, and it is almost never spoken, but that does not change it. Demographically, there are a limited number of smart people in the world. Not everyone is smart. Not everyone can be smart. Sorry, smart is a bell curve.

Worse, as the store of human knowledge is growing exponentially those that are smart are increasingly limited in the area(s) in which they are smart. The visions of the "Renaissance Man" is pretty much dead, there is just too much to know to truly fill that kind of role.

So having laid all that out there are a couple of important deeper questions that flow from the question "Why aren't Christians smarter?" The first is if it is sinful to not be smart, does that therefore exclude people that are incapable of being smart from the gospel? Secondly, if one uses ones intellectual capability in some effort other than to be smart about Christianity, is one therefore automatically scandalous?

Well, let me suggest this to you. Niche marketing, like what is really going on in the underlying post here, may be part of the problem. In an effort to build audience and/or congregation we tend to make sweeping statements like "Not thinking is a sin," and we carve the world up into battling bits of faith.

Said the Apostle Paul:
1 Cor 12:11-27 - But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. For even as the body is one and {yet} has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not {a part} of the body," it is not for this reason any the less {a part} of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not {a part} of the body," it is not for this reason any the less {a part} of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?

But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those {members} of the body, which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our unseemly {members come to} have more abundant seemliness, hereas our seemly {members} have no need {of it.} But God has {so} composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that {member} which lacked, that there should be no division in the body, but {that} the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if {one} member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it.
It is no more a sin not to be smart than it is a sin not to speak in tongues. It is good to think and it is good to speak in tongues, but it is not good for everybody.

Maybe if we quit making such sweeping statement and started being a bit more gracious, this whole gospel thing would really change the world.

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Friday Humor

Thank you for calling the United States Army. I'm sorry but all of our units are out at the moment or are otherwise engaged. Please leave a message with your country, name of organization, the region, the specific crisis and a number at which we can call you. As soon as we have sorted out the Balkans, Iraq, Korea, China, the Y2K Bug, marching up and down the streets of Washington, D.C. and compulsory Consideration Of Others training, we will return your call.

Please speak after the tone, or if you require more options, please listen to the following numbers:

If your crisis is small, and close to the sea, press 1 for the United States Marine Corps.

If your concern is distant, with a temperate climate and good hotels and can be solved by one or two low risk, high altitude bombing runs, please press 2 for the United States Air Force. Please note this service is not available after 1630 hours or on weekends. Special consideration will be given to customers requiring satellite or stealth technology who can provide additional research and development funding.

If your enquiry concerns a situation which can be resolved by a bit of Grey funnel, bunting, flags and a really good marching band, please write, well in advance, to the United States Navy. Please note that Tomahawk Missile service is extremely limited and will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

If your enquiry is not urgent, please press 3 for the Rapid Deployment Force.

If you are in real hot trouble, please press 4 and your call will be routed to the United States Army Special Operations Command. Please note that a compulsory credit check will be required to ensure you can afford the inherent TDY costs. Also be aware that USASOC may bill your account at any time and is not required to tell you why, as it will be classified. If you are interested in joining the Army and wish to be shouted at, paid little, have premature arthritis, put your wife and family in a Condemned hut miles from civilization and are prepared to work your *** off daily, risking your life, in all weathers and terrains, both day and night, whilst watching Congress erode your original benefits package, then please stay on the line. Your call will shortly be connected to a bitter passed-over Army Recruiter in an old strip mall down by the Post Office.

Have a pleasant day and thank you again for trying to contact the United States Army.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008


Young Leadership

Out of Ur carried a post by a young pastor looking at the generation gap in churches. he shares three lessons:

Pardon me while I put on my "old fart" hat here, but I can vividly recall similar feelings and perceptions when I was in my twenties in ministry. Now in my fifties, I would respond as follows:

Yep, trust is often and easily violated.
This has nothing to do with your youth and everything to do with experience. (Of course, those things do tend to go hand-in-hand.) Virtually anybody that has hung around for a while has learned that if someone is not actively earning your trust, chances are really, really good they are violating it, perhaps inadvertantly and without malice, but violating it nonetheless.

Yesterday's Battle Is A Lesson Learned. Or at least it ought to be. Indeed, we old guys can be fixated on stuff that may not seem relevant, but we are the ones that made it irrelevant to you and we intend to keep it that way. You would be wise to listen to us just a little and build a defense where we point.

Fast Is Also Mistake Prone.
Not unlike a baby whose bones are softer and therefore less prone to breakage when a child falls while still learning to walk, youngsters in ministry can bounce back from mistake while we will break our hips. But worse, ministry mistakes are usually not just "ours." They tend to leave, at a minimum, a lot of hurt feeling in their wake, and often broken lives. Nope slow is good.

I am struck by how a different things look for a different perspective, whether that perspective is age, race, gender.... Analysis of those various perspectives is only good if it is used to learn how to work with the other and not as a weapon. Such analysis is fantastic if it is used to avoid the valuable lessons that the other perspective has afforded.

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Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Is This A Good Thing Or A Bad Thing?

MMI reports:
Here's an interesting piece from Forbes Magazine about how businesses are starting to take notice of church leaders and Biblical concepts for leadership: "There are a lot of similarities between growing and running a megachurch and a business," says Timothy Hoeksema, CEO of Milwaukee's Midwest Airlines--and a megachurch member. "We can all apply a lot of the same principles." And anyway, many CEOs try to improve their leadership through precepts that ultimately have a biblical basis. "In the past, the church would go to secular leaders for leadership lessons, but now, it's vice versa," says Doug Schmidt, senior pastor of Woodside Bible Church in Troy, Mich., one of the nation's fastest-growing congregations, where attendance is more than 4,000 each Sunday. "The secular books I'm reading on this sound a whole lot more like the Bible."
The piece then goes on to cite what business leaders can learn from church,a nd to be honest they all strike me as "personal" lessons:

These are just some of the examples cited.

To be honest there is much I think leadership in the two realms can learn from each other, but there are fundamental and important differences. The church does not exist merely to attract customers or motivate workers. The church seeks to change people at their very core. Business is satisfied purely with producing action, church wants something very different.

There should be increasing influence of faith in the workplace, but it should be coming through transformed disciples in business leadership positions.

Consider, if there is anybody that runs a business on a church model, it is Oprah Winfrey. And what has she gotten for her efforts? Her own sort of religion. That is not what we are after here. We don't want to turn consumerism into a true idol, it is close enough already.

If some business men approached me to teach them the "secrets" of church leadership, I'd tell them the only way they will figure that out is to commit to a year of one-on-one discipleship/accountability with a sincere Christian.

Then I would watch the world change.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Butler 70, Cleveland State 55


Automatic bid to the dance.




Milt Stanley links to a post by Pastor Buzz on Authenticity.
An authentic Christian bears the authentic marks of a life like Christ; likewise with authentic Christian communities. It is only through such provenance that the world will accept the message.
Pastor Buzz' post begins with an extended illustration of establishing the provenance of a stamp for his collection. He notes that there is a difference between the genuine article and something that is just labeled for sale. How many things are labeled "Christian" but lack the authenticity?

Think about it. Christian authenticity is rare, very rare, and thus very precious. I wish that it were not so rare. The question is, "Why?"

Well, for one thing there is an unacknowledged difference between the promises of the Christian life and the Christian life itself. The marks of authentic Christianity that Pastor Buzz lists are - The blind see. - The deaf hear. - The lame walk. - The voiceless have a voice - to which I respond, yes, but...

Because we live in the "already, not yet" even authentic Christians get those things wrong sometimes. Sometimes the healing does not work. Sometimes we abuse the power and authority that comes with such miracles. Sometimes we make the miracles into idols. We misstep so often. It is in the missteps that I think we see the real marks of an authentic Christian.

Are we humble? Do we confess? Do we learn from our mistakes? You see, even the devil can perform miracles and create the appearance of healing. But the devil will exploit those abilities for his own ends, only the truly selfless Christ will use then genuinely for the benefit of the other.

Are you authentic?

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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, March 10, 2008



Justin Holcomb at CGO writes of "gratuitous grace." In it he relates a story where his father forgave him for a seriously awful thing. I know the feeling, I have a similar story - it involved a car and I was only about 12. Anyway, his conclusion to the story:
In that moment, the reality of forgiveness and gratuitous grace grasped me in a powerful way. Now, when I confess my sins, I think of this experience of absolution. My dad didn’t take grace “too far.” Rather, he noticed that I was a freaked-out neurotic mess wondering how heavy the wrath of God and discipline of my father would fall upon me. He took on the consequences of my sin and literally paid for them for me.
But note - his very language implies conditions there is a condition of being sufficiently "freaked out" and a condition of confession. My story with my father has similar condition associated with it.

So, how can we, as Justin claims, not go too far with grace, if grace comes with these conditions? Does grace extend to the unrepentant? I know in the case of my father, had I not been sufficiently humbled and honest, there would have been a very different result.

Punishment is not for punishment, it is for instruction. Had I been less contrite, my father would have punished me, not out of anger, but because I needed to learn sufficient contrition in the instance.

I certainly think the same holds for our Heavenly Father. I am not going to here try and unwrap that in terms of eternity and heaven and hell, but I am going to take note of its reality. Those who would contend that a loving God would not punish or hurt are just wrong. Such things are, in fact, expressions of love and acts of grace.

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Sunday, March 09, 2008


Sermons and Lessons

We present a sermon by link this week. The subject is prayer and the text is one of my all-time favorites - Elijah at Horeb from I Kings 19. I give you Tod Bolsinger. Not to mention Part 2. And Part Three. -- Part Four.

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