Saturday, July 31, 2010


Comic Art

For starters - when your real name is Leonard Snart you can hardly blame a guy for wanting an alias when he decides to "go public" with a criminal career, But I am not at all sure that Captain Cold, even if you have a freezing gun, is a smart choice. For starters, Mr. Freeze was already around - but then the parallels between Batman's and Flash's bench of opponents are numerous, and since they are what we seem to be exploring right now - well here we are.

Secondly, Keystone City, Flash's home base is in the midwest. It gets a little warm there in the summer, so I am thinking Captain Cold's "trademark," and lame, costume is a poor choice. Parka's are difficult with temps in the 80's and relative humidity in the soggies.

But there is one thing you can say for Captain Cold - he's smart. Yes, his cold gun was more or less an accident of invention, but he has managed to organize and ride herd on Flash's "Rogue's Gallery" for quite a while now - turning a whole plethora of lamish villain rip-offs to a potent force that can be quite interesting.

The Flash stories have become all about generations. It has been explored a bit amongst the rogues with a few of them passing the baton, as it were, to offspring. But Snart has not gone there. He is the most complex character of the lot and therefore would make the most interesting of such stories - he wrote giving comic book writers yet another freebie idea.

All I know is that if my dad gave me a freeze gun and a parka, I'd ditch the parka, and the powder blue pretty quick. The parka because purely on comfort grounds, the powder blue because when babies grow up they tend to leave such things behind.

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Friday, July 30, 2010


Lay My Burdens Down

Jeremiah is one certainly my favorite prophet and certainly one of my favorite books in scripture. Jeremiah speaks so plainly about the ills that beset Israel, and so often the words resonate to today's church. So I was excited when Mark Roberts decided to work his way through it in his daily devotional series. When he got to Jeremiah 23:36, he hit a note that seemed particularly pertinent:
“But stop using this phrase, ‘prophecy from the LORD.’ For people are using it to give authority to their own ideas, turning upside down the words of our God, the living God, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.” - Jeremiah 23:36


The phrase translated here as “prophecy from the LORD” employs a play on words in the original Hebrew. “Prophecy” renders the Hebrew term masa’, which literally meant “burden,” but also came to refer to an inner burden placed on the heart of a prophet. Thus masa’ could mean “an oracle” from God. You can see this play on words especially in Jeremiah 23:33. If someone asks “What prophecy [masa’] has the LORD burdened you with now?” Jeremiah was to reply, “You are the burden! [masa’].”

To build on Jeremiah’s word play, I’d say that we should not burden people with our “burdens.” Although God might truly speak to us, we must not use the language of “God spoke to me” simply to authorize our own desires.
How often we appropriate God's will for ourselves instead of subject ourselves to it. How often we claim God's authority when we seek only to garner authority for ourselves.

I have seen this so abused over the years that I usually STOP listening as soon as anyone claims direct divine guidance. Which leads me to the point I really want to make.

So many times when leaders have claimed direct divine "word" or authority and then ended up wrong, they are very quick to point out the call to grace and "confess." But here is the thing - Where is the doubt and confession going in?

Think about this for a minute. The difference between "I think we should..." and "God says we should..." is an enormous gap. In the first instance we failed - confession and grace indeed are excellent resolution. In the second instance we have operated in a manner that not only makes us wrong - BUT MAKES GOD APPEAR WRONG. Folks - that is serious damage to the church and to God's image amongst the world. Confession and grace does not begin to fix that.

The humility learned in failure needs to come into play somehow before we start claiming direct divine authority. I think the lesson of humility is that we can never be sure - and in such cases prudence demands the lack of the claim.

It is worthy of note that prophets generally lived on the fringes of society, ostracized, in poverty, often thought of as gooks, and generally compelled beyond all reason to keep talking like that. A lot of them, including Christ Himself, ended up executed or killed in some other fashion. It is not a pleasant place to reside. This fact also generally raises my suspicions of those that claim prophetic voice - anyone that would want it does not understand what it truly entails.

I pray that what I write here and say this is what God wants, but I am a sinner and therefore can have little confidence in it.

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Friday Humor

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Thursday, July 29, 2010


Signs, Signs, Every Are Signs

Atmospheric video:

Milt Stanley links to a post about "signs":
For one, we learn that much seeking of guidance is in fact seeking God’s rubber stamp for our own desires. I was not looking for guidance, I was looking for a “Yes.”
How often do we approach faith generally looking for affirmations instead of transformation? How often do we wonder what we can get out of God instead of what God can do to us?

It's so ironic - how little understanding we have. If we would only drop the agenda and let God give us what He has for us instead of try to box Him in to what we want - we would get so much more. We know so little of our heart's desire.

Part of confession, I think, is letting go of desire. Our desires, like everything else, are a little mixed up - God will replace them with desires for things so much better.

The only sign we should pay attention to is the empty cross and tomb.

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Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Not So Funny On Second Glance

There was a time in my youth when I would see stuff like "The Holy Ghost Hokey Pokey" as posted at MMI and laugh. I found it so ridiculous that I figured no one could truly take it seriously. But with the experience of years, I have found there is always someone that takes something like that seriously, and I have to ask what damage is done?

There is really two levels on which to consider that question. The first is the stuff we do to appear "attractive." When I was doing Young Life work years ago, we worked so hard to be relevant and attractive. - and we succeeded. Problem was, in so doing we offered a form of "Christianity Lite," - a first step, but hardly the journey. But so many people have never gone past the first step that I sometimes weep. That first step is so attractive that entire churches now look like what we used to do as evangelism. But at least some people have sought to move forward.

But the "HGHP" is damaging on a different level. It seeks to reduce genuine worship to mere silliness. It seeks to trivialize real discipleship. And so many buy into it.

Nah, it's not funny.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Sometimes I Get An Icky Feeling...

...when I read stories like this from the Washington Times:
The Busy Moms Bible is simply a New International Version with multicolored inserts containing short meditations. One, called "pillow talk," is a pep talk about sexuality with a verse from the Song of Songs. "If you're just enduring sex rather than enjoying it, then you need to talk to your husband," the insert says before listing some of the problem areas.


Next on the pile is HarperOne's Green Bible, the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), with environmental verses in green ink and a forward by retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The green lettering, the preface says, is meant to highlight how the Bible speaks to "how we should think and act as we confront the environmental crisis facing our planet."
In a nut shell, that is not turning to scripture to hear the world of God, that is tailoring scripture to suit our needs and desires - prooftexting on a volume scale.

I also think the idea of adding pop psychological "meditations" to scripture seeks to supplant its authority.

I would love to see some demographics about who buys these things and the so many others like them. If it is serious church-going, God loving and fearing people then we have a much bigger problem in the church than I suspect. I tend to think its people on the periphery of the church, if they are in a church at all. I go to a very mainline church with a significant liberal group in it and I never see this stuff. Serious Christians tend to take their scripture seriously.

In the end though this is just a symptom of a much broader disease. In ways far more subtle we try to make God suit us instead of us suit God. I wonder if we could develop our sense to the point where we got that same slimy feeling when we did it in our subtle ways as we do when we encounter egregious stuff like this. I wonder if we might then have the power to be so winsome for Christ that stuff like this would simply disappear?

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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, July 26, 2010


The Inevitable?

Kruse Kronicle quotes George Bullard on the future fate of the national denominations:
Many national denominational organizations in North America are dying. The causes and signs of their demise are obvious, but few are choosing to make wise decisions to morph into 21st century denominations. Too many are choosing to recommit to old patterns or suicidal patterns of denominational life.

The death of national denominations is not imminent; it is not coming in the next five to ten years. However, if current trends continue some national denominations could reach subsistence level within 25 years. The death of national denominational structures does not necessarily mean the death of the denomination itself or its regional or middle judicatory expressions. These latter expressions may thrive in some locations.
Bullard then goes on to list things that the denominations are doing wrong. It is an interesting list, but if there is a theme, this is it:
First, many national denominations are demanding loyalty rather than earning loyalty. Congregations who respond to the call for more loyalty tend not to be the growing, vital, and vibrant congregations, but rather are the plateaued, declining, and passive congregations. Dying denominations are successful in reinforcing the myth that congregations exist to serve the denomination.
I think that is very fair - I have been most angry with my denominational structure when they simply failed to listen, respond, or reason - they just wanted to dictate. When we have attempted to get their attention by withholding our fees to them they have demanded the fees rather than asked one simple question, "Why?"

There is one point he makes that needs polishing though:
Second, many national denominations are professionalizing, formalizing, and centralizing their clergy education, credentialing, and support systems in an attempt to achieve a purer and more effective collection of clergy leaders. This approach certainly provides more control and creates more dependency among the clergy leaders, but is does not necessarily produce purer or more effective clergy leaders. It may also result in a lack of sufficient new clergy leaders, as persons called into clergy ministry seek out denominational families with a more open and flexible system.
From my perspective, clerical accountability is one of the chief function of denomination. But accountability is different than control and the key question is accountability in what areas. The denomination, like most congregations, needs to concentrate on creating good people to be clergy, not just loyalty and education.

I think Bullard is right - the denominations are not going to explode, they are just sort of going to peter out, and we are never going to be able to put our finger on exactly the point at which they die. Sadly though, that is a designed process and the illness itself. If they confronted the issues, they could be healed.

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