Saturday, May 02, 2009


Comic Art

Heroes and Artists - The Fantastic Four

Jack Kirby

Art Adams

John Romita Jr.

John Byrne

Simone Bianchi

Jack Kirby

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Friday, May 01, 2009



MMI links to and quotes Ed Stetzer:
The church needs to be unleashed, and we have to recognize that it’s the normal activity of normal believers to engage in normal ministry. Pastors and congregations are in a co-dependent relationship. My dad was a drunk and my mom would rescue him. She gained her identity from rescuing my father. The church has fallen into the same thing. We’ve created a clergy system with a superman syndrome. The pastor thinks it’s their job to rescue the church—and they get affirmed for doing it.
Heady stuff this, and how does one respond? I'd like to make a humble suggestion. It lies in two key words from Stetzer - "superman" and "affirmed."

Start with this premise - its not the system that is the problem but the people that are in it. Note then that we can do very little to change other people. So we are left with only one variable in this equation that we can affect - ourselves.

If you are a pastor ask yourself is you like being affirmed as superman. Betcha do. If you are a lay person and you want to be in clergy, ask yourself the same question. If you are laity and content with being there, ask yourself why you are afraid of being superman. Finally, ask yourself this - if Clark Kent never put on the red, yellow and blue with cape, would he still not have his powers and still not do good? Certainly that is the premise of the entire "Smallville" series.

My point - don't care where you sit on Sunday morning and what you do. You are superman. Go - be. Forget affirmation. Watch what happens. You'll be astonished.

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Friday Humor

If you do not get BBC America on your cable or satellite, you are missing the funniest show on televison, and YES - it's a car show! Here's a taste:

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Thursday, April 30, 2009


Unconditional Love

Justin Taylor recently linked to both John Piper and David Powlison on the question, "Is God's Love Unconditional?" Both men give very conditional answers to the question, and yes that is a purposeful pun.

I agree with the perspective of both men, but am intrigued by the approach. Both point out that there is a common understanding of the term and then a "biblical" understanding and that they are quite different. Of course the popular understanding amounts to cheap grace. But my intrigue lies in the communications strategies here.

When a term gets co-opted by a greater cultural misunderstanding, why do we work so hard to recover its "true" meaning? Consider the follow two algebraic equations:

3x - 15 = 0

3a - 15 = 0

Do they have different solutions by virtue of a different term for the variable? I don't think so - 5 is five is V. And so it is with the "biblical" concept of unconditional love. It is the concept that matters not the word. If the word has been co-opted, let's find a new one, because again, it is the concept that matters. Indeed, the new one may be less elegant - wordier - but elegance is not the aim - allowing people to experience Christ's love is the aim.

I agree, "unconditional love" has become a hack phrase used but pseudo-psychological hacks to justify otherwise unacceptable behavior. But why argue over it? Christ's love and forgiveness is not changed by what we call it. Heck, our understanding of that love is unimportant - He is the only one that has to understand it.

We just need to receive it.

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Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Oh Please!

Al Mohler recently tackled a theological "toughie":
Is the God of the Bible the supreme egotist? That question arises when human beings contemplate the meaning of the truth that God does everything for the sake of his own glory. Is God then a megalomaniac?
Mohler then started in the right direction:
Human beings are trapped in a human frame of reference.
Which, from my perspective should be all that is necessary to say. God is incomprehensible on our level and to frame a question in such purely personal terms is to lessen God by the question itself. Yet Mohler finds it necessary to go on for 19 paragraphs. He tires to end up in the right place, but cannot help but try to justify his verbosity:
Is God a megalomaniac . . . the transcendent Egotist? Of course not. In the truest sense, this is an arrogant and irresponsible question. How can God be other than he is in his perfection? But in another sense, the question is helpful, for it directs our thinking to the essence of God's glory and resets our theological framework. [emphasis added]
"Our thinking...our theological framework," when you first identify the question as "arrogant"? Isn't that self-contradictory?

I am reminded of the scene in the Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka movie (God save us from the Johnny Depp version) in which Violet Beauregarde, with her finger digging deeply and firmly in her nose, declares, "Spitting is a nasty habit." She sort of misses the point methinks.

Those of us that God has gifted with intelligence need to learn to turn it off now and then. The essence of God lies for me, as a person that over thinks everything, in allowing the mysterious to remain a mystery and in allowing some questions to go unasked. God is not subject to my understanding and I cannot insist that He be so.

There is a mystical side to our faith and no amount of rhetorical gymnastics can make it otherwise. Sometimes we don't need to think or develop theology. Sometimes we need to sit in the presence of the Almighty. Don't ask me how - I am still trying to figure it out. But I have gotten far enough to know that I can't ever really "figure it out" - I have to experience it.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009



God urges us to do the impossible so that we will turn to him in desperation and plead with him to do for us what he has commanded.
Andree Warnock
(That is Adrian Warnock's lovely and talented wife for the uninitiated)

Such a simple formula - so well stated - so often forgotten. I am so tempted to write about being confident victorious Christians in light of it, but what is really fascinating is the context in which Andree makes this wonderful statement:
"Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin.Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.” - Ezekial 19:30-32
The impossibility here is not building the best church, making the best speech, boldly stepping out into entrepreneurship - nope the impossibility that Andree chooses to confront us with is repentance.

Do we fear anything more than looking at ourselves honestly? We talk constantly of the infinite and graceful nature of God's love, and yet we are afraid to expose ourselves to it fully. I am reminded of what may be the most powerful prayer in all of scripture:
Mark 9:22b-24 - ...But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!" And Jesus said to him,"' If You can!' All things are possible to him who believes." Immediately the boy's father cried out and {began} saying, "I do believe; help my unbelief."
When we fail to repent it is because we fail to believe that God loves us as much as He actually does. All our talk of God's love is tested when it comes to this simple fact. If we believe what we preach then we repent.

Thank you Andree for this wonderful insight.

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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, April 27, 2009



Gary Peil at CGO wrote a fantastic piece:
Joshua had expected the toy to immediately swell up like a giant blowfish, but that is not how Grow Dinosaur works. My wife and I got the package that Grow Dinosaur came in and started to read. It promised 600% growth, but right after the warning not to swallow the dinosaur it said, “Do not expect immediate results. It takes the dinosaur up to 96 hours to grow to its full size. When the dinosaur is out of the water it will shrink back to its original size.” We explained to Joshua that when his dinosaur was in the bathtub it really was growing, but that it takes a long time. In fact it grows so slowly that you can’t even see it growing most of the time. Because a 96-hour bath was out of the question, we came up with another plan. We filled a clear bucket with water and put Grow Dinosaur in it so we could see the transformation that four days would bring.

I have to admit; grow dinosaur provided a pretty profound lesson for a dollar store novelty. It taught my son a lot about patience, and it reminded me of the importance of abiding in Christ. John 15:4-5 reads, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can to nothing.” Jesus tells us that the process of sanctification and spiritual growth in our lives is a process that takes time. He calls us to abide (remain) in him. Just as Grow Dinosaur had to be in the water to grow, we have to abide in Christ to grow.
We live in a short term culture. Take my retirement savings as an example. I, like everyone, have experienced more than a little trepidation as I have watched their values plummet these last few months. But, if you take the time to do the math - they are still worth more than I have actually paid in. I haven't actually lost a thing - unless, of course, I only take the short view.

What's also interesting is that it is the accumulation of small, nearly imperceptible growth that remains, while the spectacular gains of rapidity have gone *poof*.

I remember when I was a young man and it seemed that my "spiritual growth" was built around a cycle of summer camps and other "mountain top" experiences. There Christ was alive and vibrant, but here, when I could even find Him, He was sluggish and dull. But then I also noted that the "lessons" of camp soon faded. My determination to fix whatever issue I was convicted about faded in the rush of the new school year, or the new job. But the slow, nearly imperceptible growth that happened back in the sluggish and dull, that stayed.

And somewhere in my 30's the sluggish and dull became the bright and shiny. Oh sure, everyday existence still gets pretty monotonous and I still love to travel and gain new experience. But now my walk with Christ does not depend on that new experience. My perspective is different - longer term.

Such perspective is hard to attain in youth, which is why the trick is faithfulness. Even if your perspective is short term, God is long-term. Stay focused on Him, and over time you will find the bright and shiny at home.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009


Sermons and Lessons


Sermon Delivered at Darby, April 15, 1827

There was a watch-word which forcibly impressed my attention in the early gathering of this meeting; and apprehending that it was designed for the benefit of my own mind, I was quite disposed to profit by it myself and there to keep it but it does not seem as if this was the only object; it may, therefore, possibly be of use to some other minds on future occasions. I have often needed it, and there is no doubt that every serious mind may need also, that kind of exercise, to get into the closet, into that state, that was comprised in the expression, “Every man to his tent.” It implies to my mind a state of quietude, a state of calmness, in which the mind is susceptible of divine instruction; of hearing the intimation that is conveyed to every one of us, individually, when the di¬vine spirit stands at the door and knocks. “If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him.” We often need this state of quietness and retirement.

“Adam where art thou?” An inquiry is raised in us, when there is a state like being gathered into the tent, into the quiet, or into the closet. And hence the excellency of the privilege of silent waiting, or, of what we call silent worship, wherein every one may attain to that instruction conveyed by the spirit of truth, as suited to his particular state, without interfering with that of another.

This watch word, or call to this quiet and retired state of mind, was succeeded by another inquiry which has occupied my attention in a renewed investigation, that I hope, in conformity with the preceding testimony, may take hold of every mind present. It is an address of the apostle James, to a state, in which, I have hoped there were few or none present - a state included in the answer of the apostle to that question, “What is your life?” This is a question, which every one may ask who is retired into his own closet, where the mind is quieted and brought under that kind of feeling, in which a living exercise is felt, as to the object of our being associated and gathered. And it not only applies to us when seated in our silent, solemn assemblies; but it will apply to us through the whole course of our lives. And in our daily transactions, we ought ever to keep in view; the consideration; what is our life? And wherein does our life consist? It consists not in the abundance of our possessions. For we are told that, it is even a “vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” And it is so with every thing under the sun - every thing created, must thus pass away. And yet there is in the New Testament, as it is called, the term eternal life, and this must stand decidedly opposed to that which is but vapour, and breath, which after a little while vanisheth away; for eternal life does not vanish away, it must last for ever.

Now if this eternal life is our life, we come to understand within ourselves the nature of that living fountain that was preached to the Samaritan woman - it is that living water, and fountain of life, of eternal life, or life in the soul of man. Now “what is your life?” “Where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart, bringeth forth good things;” and “herein is your Heavenly Father glorified, that ye bring forth much fruit.” Now is not this the fruit of divine love in the soul? and has it not been portrayed in lively colors to our understanding in the preceding communication, in the fruits of that love that was manifested in the tenderness of feeling, and compassion shown to the poor man who had fallen into difficulties and trials, who was not dead but was left in a deplorable condition, and said to be half dead? Now where was the love of the priest, and what was his life? Now by this we may measure and compare ourselves - we may come to a certain evidence in ourselves respecting the feelings in our minds. For it is from the feeling, and the life that are in the soul, that the works and fruits will always proceed. “Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit” Neither “do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles.” It is impossible in the nature of things, that such contrarieties should be produced.

Wherefore, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Apply this unto thyself and by thy fruits thou mayest be known to thyself for “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” and what thy heart is fixed on, that will be set above every thing else and whatever it may be, it will be uppermost, as the thing that thou lovest best, profession to the contrary notwithstanding. It is in a state of retirement that we are to see and read - and it will be an easy matter clearly to read ourselves in this quiet, retired state of mind, if we are only willing to be searched. And here we should be willing to examine ourselves, to prove our ownselves whether we be in the faith or not, that faith which works by love; for all other faith may be overcome of the world, whereas the faith which works by love purifies the heart; and the fountain being pure, the streams will be of a like nature.

Now “what is your life?” and where is your life? where are those feelings, those heavenly feelings, or feelings with which the good Samaritan was clothed, and which distinguished him as neighbor to the one that fell among thieves? How forcible, how instructive must that parable be, to one that is thus circumstanced to inquire, who is my neighbor? Let us then inquire, who is my neighbor? It is an investigation and inquiry profitable to be raised in the youthful mind; and if the operation of this gift leads to that inquiry, don’t quench it, I entreat it of you, dear children, but simply regard and cherish it, and here you will be instructed and taught by that teacher, which is the grace of God in your own hearts. This is an all-sufficient teacher, who will show you with clearness and certainty whether you are in the faith, whether you are in that living, practical faith, which stands not in words, letters, books, papers, or in anything of the kind; for it is that which operates in the soul, that constitutes a practical, living faith, which brings forth the fruits of righteousness, and those feelings of the mind which lead to do good one to another, as comprehended in the first and great commandment. Thus when we rightly consider the subject, and when love to our Heavenly Father is the supreme object of our attention - when our life is employed to do that which is - and when we delight in feeling a sense oft in our own minds, then it is, that we can love every body - and when we feel any thing like hardness or disrespect arising in the mind, toward a fellow creature, we immediately suppress it, and counteract it; and in the room thereof set up the cross to our natural propensities, as animals and men. And when we take up the cross to these, and suppress those feelings which would go to harm one another, there will rise up in their stead, feelings of good will to men, and glory to God in the highest - this is the result - the fruit brought forth by such a disposition as this. And when there is no action to be performed in an external sense, such as the Samaritan performed for the suffering man, yet in the disposition that we feel, we are accepted. And if this disposition be felt and lived in, we become prepared for any occasion which may offer for our active duty; and the disposition being already in the soul, feelings of love and good-will predominate, and we shall be prepared for those works of righteousness which have their origin and their foundation in this eternal spirit; and here it is that we can say, “glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Now the profession of Christianity so far as it produces this effect in individual minds, - so far as it rises and prevails, gives demonstration where we are, and if we act to the contrary, still we have an evidence; for by their fruits shall ye know them - so by our fruits we may know ourselves, and see what our life is. And one of our greatest delights in this state will be, to feel no evil in the heart toward our fellow creatures; and so will it be our greatest happiness, to feel the heart glowing in love to our Heavenly Father, and in peace and good will to men. And this, when uninterrupted, constitutes a life of God in the soul of man; and when this life of God in the soul of man rises so as to have dominion over every contrary disposition, it is the kingdom of heaven in man; which, as we come to know it, will enable us to feel and realize, and we shall give forth an evidence in our lives, and a demonstration in our conduct, that we are the disciples of Jesus Christ. And herein as there is a death to every thing that is contrary to this eternal life in the soul, we know what it is to be “buried by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

Now I would, that encouragement might be administered to every mind present, to press after this; for it is by pressing, striving, and laboring, that we shall in due time attain to it, if we faint not. There is, therefore, no cause for being discouraged, though the conflict may seem long, and we may seem to gain but little. Keep thy eye on the object, the standard raised in thy view, as a mark to aim at, and the prize of enjoyment will be obtained.

Fear not, therefore, nor shrink back at the difficulties, trials, and troubles which you may have to pass through in this journey. Dwell in littleness and simplicity, and learn a daily lesson of meekness and lowliness of heart, and thou wilt find rest to thy soul, and also, that this eternal life is the life in thee, and that every inferior life will be absorbed and swallowed up in this. Then follow it up; I entreat you, dear children, to flee from the dangerous snares of custom which are surrounding you.

You have great need to be watchful; you have great need to be careful; you have need often to retire into your tents, and to sit as Mary did, when it was said she had “chosen that good part, which should not be taken away from her.” And it will never be taken from you, unless you deprive yourselves of it. Then sit at the feet of your divine instructor, and hear the gracious words that proceed from his mouth, and then will your strength be renewed from day to day, and you will know a feeding on that divine food, which will nourish this life in the soul.

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