Saturday, January 09, 2010


Comic Art


Some bad guys defy broad characterization. You can't pin down who they are or why they are bad - they just are bad. And so the story goes for the bad guy we examine this week - from the pages of the Teen Titans - Brother Blood. Now, the title "Brother Blood" is an inherited one, and there have been a lot of them over the years. The single most unifying characteristic seems to be that they are leaders of a "blood cult." Sometimes appearing to a vampire with a church of thralls and sometimes just being a guy that likes blood as a cosmetic, Brother Blood's unique evil is that he needs the blood of others - a lot of it. I guess the whole cult thing is just a way to have some muscle always hanging around, but I have to tell you it makes me nervous.

You see, the thing is, depending who is writing the latest storyline with Brother Blood as the baddie, it can be made to appear that his greatest crime is not stealing blood form the living, but holding people n a religious thrall. Oh, it's a brainwashed cult to be sure, but there is little effort to create a distinction between that an genuine religion and religious conviction. Titan battles with 'Ol BB are often cast as the forces of secular reason against the mind-numbing effects of religious devotion. Never mind that this religious leader likes to take baths in giant pools of human blood, that's not what makes him bad. It's this habit he has of making people join his "church."

Needless to say, if I encountered a church that asked its members to obtain warm human blood for purposes of enriching its leader, oh it would be on - but one of the first things I would be doing is distinguishing between that bad church and my good church. The Titans need a religiously devoted character to help make that distinction. Instead they have the devil's daughter just trying not to eat her team-mates. What-a-world-what-a-world.

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Friday, January 08, 2010


A Phrase I Hate

Godspace recently wrote about "loving the unlovable." Her post is fine, but her choice of title - that phrase - really honks me off. May I explain why?

If we find someone, anyone, "unlovable," that is a statement about our sin, not their state of being.

Christ, in the ultimate expression of love, died for everyone. Therefore, everyone is lovable. Does not get any more complicated than that.

You may find people "distasteful," you may find them "sinful," you may even find them "ugly" or "unattractive;" however, if you find them "unlovable" then may I suggest some time on your knees in confession.

"Unlovable" is not a word a church founded on infinite grace should have in its vocabulary.

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Friday Humor

Q. What kind of man was Boaz before he married Ruth?
A. Ruthless.

Q. What do they call pastors in Germany ?
A. German Shepherds.

Q. Who was the greatest financier in the Bible?
A. Noah. He was floating his stock while everyone else was in liquidation.

Q. Who was the greatest female financier in the Bible?
A. Pharaoh's daughter. She went down to the bank of the Nile and drew out a little prophet.

Q. What kind of motor vehicles are in the Bible?
A. Jehovah drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden in a Fury. David's Triumph was heard throughout the land. Also, probably a Honda, because the apostles were all in one Accord.

Q.. Who was the greatest comedian in the Bible?
A. Samson. He brought the house down.

Q. What excuse did Adam give to his children as to why he no longer lived in Eden ?
A. Your mother ate us out of house and home.

Q. Which servant of God was the most flagrant lawbreaker in the Bible?
A. Moses. He broke all 10 commandments at once.

Q. Which area of Palestine was especially wealthy?
A. The area around Jordan. The banks were always overflowing.

Q. Who is the greatest babysitter mentioned in the Bible?
A. David. He rocked Goliath to a very deep sleep.

Q. Which Bible character had no parents?
A. Joshua, son of Nun.

Q. Why didn't they play cards on the Ark ?
A. Because Noah was standing on the deck.

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Thursday, January 07, 2010


Leading Spiritually

Justin Taylor links to a John Piper essay on what it mean to be a spiritual leader. It opens:
I define spiritual leadership as knowing where God wants people to be and taking the initiative to use God's methods to get them there in reliance on God's power. The answer to where God wants people to be is in a spiritual condition and in a lifestyle that display his glory and honor his name. Therefore, the goal of spiritual leadership is that people come to know God and to glorify him in all that they do. Spiritual leadership is aimed not so much at directing people as it is at changing people. If we would be the kind of leaders we ought to be, we must make it our aim to develop persons rather than dictate plans. You can get people to do what you want, but if they don't change in their heart you have not led them spiritually. You have not taken them to where God wants them to be.

Everyone has the responsibility of leadership in some relationships.
You have to love that - and agree with it - real Christian leadership is about changing lives, not herding them into churches, or programs, or whatever.

Piper then goes on to list a number of characteristics of such a person, and he divides then into inner essentials and "outer" qualities that define leadership in general, not just spiritual leadership. His lists are good one, but there is one outer characteristic that I have a hard time with, at least with his word choice:
Colossians 3:17 says, "Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus." 1 Corinthians 2:16 speaks of the spiritual man as having the mind of Christ. A spiritual leader knows that all of life, down to its smallest detail, has to do with God. If we are to lead people to see and reflect God's glory, we must think theologically about everything. We must work toward a synthesis of all things. We must probe to see how things fit together. How do war and sports and pornography and birthday celebrations and literature and space travel and disease and enterprise all hang together? How do they relate to God and his purposes?

Leaders must have a theological standpoint that helps give coherence to all things. This will give the leader a stability that keeps him from being knocked off his feet by sudden changes in circumstances or new winds of doctrine. He knows enough about God and his ways that things generally fit into a pattern and make sense even when they are unpleasant. So the leader does not throw up his hands but points the way onward to God.
If these are characteristics of leaders of any stripe, then based on this I cannot except leadership in business or politics or any other realm of life that does not share my theological viewpoint. I would be most interested to examine where Piper draws the line here. As an ardent Calvinist does Piper therefore mean that I cannot accept leadership from an Arminian? Or does he mean that as a Presbyterian I cannot accept leadership from a Baptist? My current pastor is an annihilationist and does not believe in hell. Am I to therefore disregard his leadership?

I indeed want a leader that is thoughtful and consistent and philosophically guided, but theologically so is a tough call. There are so many areas of life to which theology simply does not speak, or alternately is too exclusive to allow real leadership to ever function since consensus can never be reached.

Now bear in mind, my objections here are not to this being a characteristic of a spiritual leader. I look for spiritual leaders that are theological consistent with me. But Piper places this as a characteristic of leadership generally - that's where I have a problem.

I'd be hard pressed to have clients, since clients are leaders in a sense, if I had to have theologically consistency with them. In terms of religious orientation, the majority of my clients at the moment are Hindu.

I think this one should have been part of the "inner circle."

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Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Facing Fear

Mark Daniels preached a sermon back in June of last year that is simply outstanding:
To yield to fear, to allow it to control our lives, is more than psychologically and physically destructive, though. Fear, quite simply, is the opposite of faith.
Many speak of the "culture of death" we live in, but I worry more about the culture of fear. Children now ride bicycles with so much protection, it is surprising they can move. I have been involved in a couple of day care/nursery school situations where tens of thousands of dollars had to be raised to meet child protection standards for playgrounds that had served children for decades as they were. What were expected bangs, bruises, and broken bones of my childhood have become the great fears of parents today. Don't even get me started on "germs."

What are we afraid of? As Mark says:
When Paul speaks here about “flesh,” he’s talking about the world’s way of doing things. It describes all that we do in order to feel important or secure, gain acceptance from others, and even, to placate God. We can be enslaved to the fear that that system breeds, Paul warns us.
We simply fail to believe that God will take care of us.

And yet, all of us have had hard times of some sort. Maybe financial, maybe health, maybe the loss of a loved one, but here we are. We have all that we need and a God that loves us. God is and has been true to His word - all we have to do is know that. Again, Mark:
Faith is the calm assurance that we are accepted by God as we are.

Faith is the certainty that God accepts and transforms sinners into His friends.

Faith is the belief that no matter what, God is bigger than our problems, bigger even than death, and that when we belong to God, all ultimately will be well.

Faith is the God-given certainty that the Lord we know in Jesus Christ, Who has conquered sin and death, will stand by our sides in all circumstances, granting us peace today and life forever with God tomorrow!
Scripture says:
Isa 35:4 - Say to those with anxious heart, "Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come {with} vengeance; the recompense of God will come, but He will save you."

Isa 54:4 - "Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; neither feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; but you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.

Jer 30:10 - 'And fear not, O Jacob My servant,' declares the LORD, 'And do not be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from afar, and your offspring from the land of their captivity. And Jacob shall return, and shall be quiet and at ease, and no one shall make him afraid.

John 12:15 - "Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, seated on a donkey's colt."
Amen and Amen.

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Geek News Of The Day!

Pi calculated to 'record number' of digits
Sounds like fun!

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010


How To Change The World?

quotes a Philly paper on a "sermon" by George Gallup (Yes, the George Gallup.)
Believers could transform the world in a decade by remaining faithful to the church, by caring for others and, by their example, making it easier for people to believe in God, said George Gallup, who has spent 50 years in the field of polling.
Interesting beginning, with the exception of that "making it easier..." part I'm right there with him. I mean how hard it is to believe in God is up to God and nothing worth having is easy. But, the caring and example stuff is pretty good. It continues:
He also said that the lack of cohesiveness among various churches leaves a spiritual vacuum that church leaders could fill if they banded together to speak for those who are marginalized by society.
OK, now I starting to worry, ecumenism and social justice in a single sentence - that's troubling. And then there is this repeat:
He urged the congregation to counter "lukewarm" attitudes by "living spontaneously and with abandon, making it easier for others to believe in God," he said.
Ok, we've descended into liberal claptrap.

There are forces at work to rob the church of two very fundamental things. 1) Truly being a disciple of Jesus is hard, not easy. God has never intended it to be easy - He'll provide us with all the help we need if we let Him, but that's still hard, it's just hard with help. 2) Sin and evil are real, the key to truly being a Christian is to learn how to identify and condemn them while still loving. And that is the hardest task of all.

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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, January 04, 2010


Free Yourself

Mark Daniels links to a Daily Bread devotional on letting go:
It has been said that “one person’s junk is another’s treasure.” When David Dudley tried to help his parents clear their house of “unnecessary items” before moving to a smaller home, he found it very difficult. He was often angered by his parents’ refusal to part with things they had not used for decades. Finally, David’s father helped him understand that even the worn-out, useless items were tied to close friends and important events. Clearing the clutter felt like throwing away their very lives.

A spiritual parallel to our reluctance to let go of the clutter in our homes may be our inability to clear our hearts of the attitudes that weigh us down.
Note that in the illustration the desire to hold on to things also kept the parents in the home - like virtual prisoners. To be free to move they needed to let go.

The attitudes that hold us back from a deep relationship with Christ enslave and imprison us. They are more than just obstacles, they are shackles. Worse, it is a self-inflicted imprisonment

Why do we hold ourselves in prison?

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