Saturday, April 12, 2008


Comic Art

Let's just say, for the sake of argument that you are a god, maybe a Norse god. Suppose you die. OK, don't ask me how immortals die, I never have figured that out, let's just go with the flow here. What happens? Well that depends on if you have been a good god or a bad god. Now, in Norse mythology that means whether you died heroically or not. If you died heroically then Valhalla is the place to be. If not then you go to, well, Hel ruled by Hela. Convenient that whole naming thing, isn't it?

Anyway, Hela is mean, she's green, and she is waiting to take over all of Asgard if the all-father will but give her a chance.

As we continue our romp through the greatest creations of the comic master Jack Kirby, Asgard of Marvel and the New Gods of DC we turn this week to what has to be one of the most visually stunning inentions ever to come from the King's pencil - Hela. I mean look at this creature - how does all that stuff hold itself up? There must be enough truss work in that outfit to hold up the average iron framed bridge. And if so, how does she move in it? I don't care if Hela is a god.

Often allied with the God of Mischief, and her sometimes rumored old man, Loki, Hela's Technical title is "Goddess of Death." But despite her pretension to control of all the realm, she is far more reasonable than Loki, often striking deals to win more souls for her little corner of unheroic death.

But mostly she is classic Kirby visually, and if you think about it, quite visually reminiscent of some of Kirby's other classic creations, like Galactus, who also has crap coming off his head that appears impossible to support and for no discernible reason. Regardless, it is the kind of thing that when you are reading through a comic book, you just have to stop and look for a bit. Comic art at its finest.

Technorati Tags:, , , , ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator

Friday, April 11, 2008


"The Way!"

Milt Stanley links to Dan Weddle who writes on "Situation Evangelism."
It would be nice if we could formulize the Gospel but one thing you’ll find in the Bible is that there is no formula.

Jesus says, love your neighbor (Luke 10:25,26), sell all you have (Luke 18:18-23), be born again (John 3:3) and to groups he often sums up with "Repent" (Matthew 4:17). His gospel message was determined by who He was with.

Peter does the same thing in Acts. You will be saved if you repent for killing the Messiah (Acts 2), observe the miracle and believe it’s Jesus doing it (Acts 4:7-12), guys brought by angels heard the gospel preached to Gentiles (Acts 11:12-17). Each one is phrased differently based on the situation of each one.
This is an excellent point that needs to be looked at much more deeply - you see it is about so much more than just words and presentation. The gospel is not about acceptance, it is about transformation. As as such we are God's instruments in shaping the other when we do evangelism.

Interestingly, no sculptor can make the same statue twice in exactly the same way. You see, even two lumps of clay from the same lot will have somewhat different behaviors when subjected to the artist's hand. On one attempt the sculptor may have to hold the gouge at a 45 degree angle, but the next time, he may have to hold it at 40 degrees.

Not to mention that even with his best attempt, no two sculptures will be completely identical. There will always be variation in the result.

Now, just to carry the metaphor to an extreme, imagine the gouge telling the artist that He has to do it some certain way every time. Isn't that what we are doing when we try to do this the same way every time.

This is why the gospel is about relationship, not words. As God's tools we have to be come intimate with the material we are being used to shape so that we can be properly used.

Who is more successful? The artist that has made on beautiful pot, or the manufacturer that as made millions of mediocre ones. Now imagine that if the artist makes that one beautiful pot, that pot goes on to make others.

Different church, isn't it?

Technorati Tags:, , ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator


Friday Humor

An old farmer named Clyde had a car accident. In Court, the trucking company's fancy lawyer was questioning Clyde. "Didn't you say at the scene of the accident, 'I'm fine?"asked the lawyer.

Clyde responded, "Well, I'll tell you what happened. I had just loaded my favorite mule, Bessie, into the......"

"I didn't ask for any details," the lawyer interrupted. "Just answer the question. Did you not say, at the scene of the accident, "I'm fine!?"

Clyde said, "Well, I had just got Bessie into the trailer and was driving down the road...." The lawyer interrupted again and said, "Judge, I am trying to establish the fact that at the scene of the accident, this man told the Highway Patrolman on the scene that he was just fine. Now several weeks after the accident he is trying to sue my client. I believe he is a fraud. Please tell him to simply answer the question."

By this time, the Judge was fairly interested in Clyde's answer and said to the lawyer, "I'd like to hear what he has to say about his favourite mule, Bessie."

Clyde thanked the Judge and proceeded, "Well... As I was sayin', I had just loaded Bessie, my favorite mule, into the trailer and was drivin' her down the highway when this huge semi ran the stop sign and smacked my truck right in the side. I was thrown into one ditch and Bessie was thrown into the other. I was hurtin' real bad and didn't want to move. However, I could hear ole Bessie moanin' and groanin'. I knew she was in terrible shape just by her groans. Real soon a Highway Patrolman came on the scene. He could hear Bessie moanin' and groanin', too. So, he went over to her. After he looked at her, he took out his gun and shot her between the eyes. Then the Patrolman came across the road, gun in hand, looked at me, and said, 'How are YOU feeling?' Now what would you say?"

Technorati Tags:, , , ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator

Thursday, April 10, 2008



Jollyblogger looks at Greek, hermeneutics and the Great Commission via a post from Dan Wallace. David makes some excellent points, but it is the pull quote from Wallace that I find most enlightening:
I don’t know the source, but I suspect it is from a Christian magazine article written in the last 75 years. My guess is that this idea would have found fertile soil during the Great Depression (when funds were definitely low and excuses for lack of action could be high; for a parallel, see Jas 2.1-13). There’s a myth foisted on the Christian public about the meaning of the Great Commission (Matt 28.19-20). It goes something like this: “In the Greek, the word translated ‘Go’ is really a participle and it literally means, ‘as you are going.’ But the words ‘make disciples’ are an imperative in Greek. That’s the only imperative in these two verses. Therefore, the Great Commission is not a command to go; rather, it is a command to make disciples as you are going, or make disciples along the way.” The exposition based on this understanding of the Greek text then attempts to salve the consciences of the congregation, permitting them to do nothing about the lost if it at all means going out of their way.

There are two major problems with this treatment of Matt 28.19-20. First, it is a misunderstanding of the Greek. Second, it is a misunderstanding of the historical context. This blog will deal with the first issue.

As for the Greek, it is true that the word translated ‘go’ is a participle. But it is not a present participle, which is the one that would be required if the meaning were ‘as you are going.’ It is an aorist participle, πορευθέντες (poreuthentes). As such, it hardly means ‘as you are going’ or ‘while you are going.’ The basic idea would be ‘after you have gone,’ and as such would presuppose that one would have gone forth before making disciples. But in collocation with certain kinds of verbs this basic meaning is altered. When an aorist participle is followed by an aorist imperative in narrative literature, it almost invariably piggy-backs on the force of the imperative. That is, it is translated like an imperative because the author is trying to communicate a command.
Forgive my impertinence here, and while I heard the "as you go" thing before I never took it seriously and I don't know how any protestant worthy the name could. I guess it is because I am a practical guy and not necessarily given to spending my time dissecting the words, apart from their apparent ramifications.

See, the whole "as you go" thing has ramifications that any serious student of history and business knows won't work. I don't need the Greek to tell me that "Go" is a command, because "going" is the ONLY thing that makes any sense in the circumstances.

Any decent business man will tell you that if you wait for the customer to come to you, your business will die. You have got to go get new customers. Any movement means going and getting people to join it. Consider presidential candidates - do they wait for voters to come hear them speak? No, they travel the country like mad persons, near to the point of exhaustion - they GO!

Now to my mention of "protestant" a moment ago. By the time The Reformation rolled around the Roman Catholic church was definitely an "as you go" type institution. It had political advantages which maintained its corporate viability, but it was a dead institution as far as its original mission was concerned. Any institution that is not actively "going" becomes its own end, instead of serving the end for which it was created.

We tend to get all balled up in the theology of reformation, but we neglect the institutional realities that drove it - big mistake. The Reformers knew they had to GO because it was the only way to restore the mission for which the church was founded - in fact, in the church's case GOING WAS THE MISSION, as we see here. But this institutional reality lies at the heart of the catchphrase "Always reforming." Do you every stop and think that that is a just a theo-speak way of saying "GO!"?

Where have you gone today?

Technorati Tags:, , , ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator


Illuminated Hymns

Technorati Tags:
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Grace & Discipleship

Tod Bolsinger looks at Christian discipleship and concludes that calling and grace are not two sides of the same coin, but that we misunderstand the basic nature of grace.
You see the first time I remember hearing the gospel explained to me, it went something like this: “If you believe that Jesus was the son of God, that you know that you are a sinner and that he died on the cross for your sins, then you are a Christian. You can’t earn it, you don’t deserve it, you can’t make God love you any more or any less, but in Christ, he offers you his grace—a relationship with him, new life with him. If you believe these things, you are forgiven, you have received his grace. You are a Christian.” I remember hearing that and thinking. “Believe in Jesus?” Check. “Son of God, died on the cross?” Check. Check. Forgive my sins. Cool. I got it. And I kind of shrugged. Who didn’t believe this?

Then about six months later I heard a young pastor say, “How many of you are Christians?” And I raised my hand. “Now,” he asked, “how many of you are disciples?” I wasn’t sure what he meant but I figured that it had to be the “advanced” track or something and I was pretty sure that I didn’t want to do that. I had my own life to live, my own aspirations, my own goals and dreams and desires. Part of that was indeed, that I wanted a relationship with God and I certainly wanted eternal life. I only worshipped and served Jesus Christ, I just didn’t think of myself as very fanatical about the whole thing. So, for me, Christian. Yes. Disciple. No thanks.

Except… The pastor continued. His entire talk explained that Jesus never used the word, “Christian.” He never once preached a message that said, “If you believe I am the son of God and am going to die on the cross for your sins, you can receive the grace of God to forgive your sins.” Not once. Indeed in the Gospels the word “Christian” is never used. In the gospels, the word “believer” is never used to describe Jesus’ followers. And the word “disciple” is used 225 times. Indeed, what Jesus did say was… “Follow me.” (in fact, 23 times recorded in the gospels, this is his invitation. Not accept me into your life, have a personal relationship with me, but “follow me.”)

And usually the invitation to “follow” was accompanied by a warning of the cost of following:
“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Matthew 8: 20
“…whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:38

And in many ways this reframing of the life of faith made a huge impact on me. I remember listening to that young pastor that day and deciding right then and there that I would be a disciple of Jesus Christ and that there was no other option.

But what about grace? What about the grace of God that comes to us, just as we are, that knows everything about us, that loves us and invites us to be reconciled to God?
• …we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus Acts 15:11.
• For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God… Ephesians 2:8

I want to introduce you to what can be called "the WAY of Grace." One of the earliest terms for Christianity was to call this movement of following Jesus, “The Way”, sometimes “The Way of the Lord,” other times “The Way of God,” sometimes, just “The Way”(see Acts 18-19). And in some ways, this term truly does help us understand how the grace and the calling of Christ come together and can never be separated. Christianity is not just a set of beliefs, Christianity is not about making some spiritual transaction, or receiving some spiritual gift from God. Christianity is about following Jesus with all of one’s life. It is not about walking down a road but walking in his footsteps. And that following of Jesus on The Way is grace and only through grace can one enter into the Way of God.
A long pull quote from an even longer post.

The basic point is this - the gospel is about more than "mere" salvation. Christ did not come to save us, He came to change us - change us back into the people we were created to be.

This is going to get me into trouble, but think about that "Christian yes, Disciple no" comment Tod makes above. Why did the distinction arise? Could it be that it arose in the name of "effectiveness?" With the bar for "Christian" as Tod here defines it, being very low, success at evangelism becomes very easy, both to measure and to obtain.

But in doing so, have we cut people off from the genuine gospel? I am certain they do not enjoy all the benefits that Christ has in store for them - I will leave eternity for God.

But here is the thing that really bothers me - If we make it easy for people to get less than the whole product, for the sake of our apparent effectiveness, aren't we being pretty doggone selfish? And what do you think God will have to say about that when it is all said and done?

Technorati Tags:, , , , ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Oh Darn

Backwoods Presbyterian reprints a story on the continued slide of my denomination into meaninglessness. This concerns THE hot topic in our church today, the ordination of practicing, non-celibate homosexuals. Yes, this measures another breakdown in the church structure as individual prebyteries go their own way on the issue - we seek to be a denomination and become a convention. There is value to denominations and hierarchical structures, and I have discussed that before.

But there is something even deeper that concerns me gravely - it is the change in emphasis that this represents. Something like this fundamentally changes what the church does. Instead of being an organization designed to foster transformation into something better, we have become an organization that seeks to validate even our depraved state.

This so cheapens Christ's sacrifice and to make me almost physically ill, but further it completely ignores the power and impact of the resurrection. Yes, Christ died because he loves us just the way we are - but He was resurrected because He loves us so much that He wants us to be fully that which we were created to be - he wants to transform us.

Love that accepts me just the way I am is pretty cheap love. But love that wishes the best for me, that is love that is deep and abiding and true. Love that is willing to sacrifice so that I may achieve that best - well that only comes around once in history.

I shiver between deep sorrow for the failure to see this point that these actions represent and anger at the fact that this more-or-less spits on the empty tomb of the Risen Lord.

Now, of course, I am "homophobic" and perhaps even a "gay-hater." Sorry folks, I am neither. If you are gay, I love you more than you will ever know. I love you enough to hope and pray fervently that you will experience the transformative power that I have. No, I am not gay, never have been, but I am a sinner and I am frought with desires and needs that are wrong and evil and misdirected, and I have succumb to them.

But I have been blest with the grace of the Risen Lord and that grace allows me to overcome, if I but let it.

Technorati Tags:, , , ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator


Kitty Kartoons

Related Tags: , , ,

Monday, April 07, 2008



Timothy McCone writing at CGO speaks of desire:
Being a Christian is about wants. We are meant to be driven by passions, longings, desires, wants. There are plenty of religions and philosophies that glorify detached apathy in the world. Christianity is not one of them. Christ wants us moved by desires, but the desires must be ordered in the right direction.

Anselm of Canterbury prayed, "Lord, give me what you have made me want...Perfect what you have begun, and grant me what you have made me long for."

What do you want? What are you chasing after and striving for? What promises to satisfy you and justify your life, justify your sacrifice and struggle? Pursue it. Pursue it with Christ at your side, and let him show you how your desires can be properly ordered, and how what you want just might serve him.
I find these words both frightening and encouraging. On the one hand they are steeped in the presumption that God can change me sufficiently so that my desires align with His. That is encouraging. On the other hand, as someone who has been around the block a few times, I am frightened by the vision, and experience, of way too many people acting on that presumption when the Holy Spirit has yet to create the reality.

But there is a bottom line to this post that is fascinating - it is about passion. He is right that Christians are to be passionate people, alive with emotion, energy, enthusiasm. And yet, it seems those things lead us astray as often, or more often, than they are kept "properly ordered." Therefore, we need to subject them to our intellect and subject our intellect to prayer, scripture, and the Holy Spirit.

Desire is a funny thing, it supplies energy and enthusiasm, but it is so easily misdirected. I desire food, virtually all the time. If I acted on that desire, the results would not be pretty. As my Mother's senility advances, she cannot remember that she has eaten recently, and based on her desire, she eats again. In the months since my father's death, she has gained a tremendous amount of weight because her intellectual capacity is diminished to the point where her desire rules without check or balance.

Now, her, and my, desire is faulty. We both lack the capability to detect physical satiation; therefore, we always experience hunger. Sin is a lot like that. It gives us faulty desires.

As Christians, the Holy Spirit will bring us to a place where our desires will align with God's and we will experience the joy, energy and enthusiasm that goes with having our desires fulfilled, but it is a journey, and it is not a goal. No the goal is much simpler.

With my weight loss, my goal is not to fulfill my desire, but rather to bring my desire into alignment with reasonableness. I may never seek to have my desire fulfilled, for such will mislead me. So it is with our desires - we are sinful, yet saved. We seek only to have the Holy Spirit transform our desire - we must make that transformation our only desire - we must find our passion in the subjugation of our desire to Him.

The tension of the "already, not yet."

Technorati Tags:, , , , ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator

Sunday, April 06, 2008


Sermons and Lessons

This week by link! To Mark Daniels on Christ Lightens Our Darkness, Calls Us to Follow.

Technorati Tags:, ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Site Feed


eXTReMe Tracker

Blogarama - The Blog Directory