Saturday, August 28, 2010


Comic Art

SO BAD, THEY'RE GOOD - cheater edition

As we look at "doppleganger" villains, we are going to revisit some Nazi greats. Where else to start but Marvel's magnificent Red Skull. But we have written about him several time before, so we'll cheat a little and just give you links.

Red Skull here

Red Skull here

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Friday, August 27, 2010


reductio ad surdium

It seems to me that the term "gospel" has been discussed to the point of being absurd - hence the title of this post. Justin Taylor links to another discussion of it. I happen to like the point that the pullquote Taylor cites is trying to make, I really do, but why do we have to discuss the term "gospel" one more time?

The term has been used, misused, abused, and otherwise misshapen to the point of lacking definition altogether - or at least only being definable in the context of a specific conversation.

Anytime we spend this much time and mental energy on anything, I become concerned that that thing is being fetishized. We do not worship the gospel - we do not minister in the name of gospel - Jesus did not sacrifice for the gospel. No, we do thee things for an unto the Lord God Almighty.

Frankly, the good news offered by the triune God and His action in history cannot be synopsized. When we do try to make it short and sweet, we place boundaries on the boundless and try to contain the infinite, and therefore the uncontainable.

MAybe we'd be better off dropping the term?

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Friday Humor

This is a repeat, but it is an ALL TIME FAVORITE

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Thursday, August 26, 2010


"Non-Christian" Art?

Tony Reinke writes at length about the appreciation of art when it is created by a non-Christian (HT:Justin Taylor):
It seems to me that until we are open to this idea that God delights in the display of beautiful art by the non-Christian, we will find it difficult to glorify God through the art we see. This is specially true in the artisans who are not Christians, who bear the marks of their Creator while remaining under the guilt of their sin, and who are in desperate need of a Savior.
I agree, but there is a key word in that concluding paragraph that needs desperate addressing - "BEAUTIFUL."

Much that is sold to us as art today is deliberately ugly. It is designed to offend. Reinke's entire argument is based onthat fact that a non-Christian is still made in God's image, and I agree, and therefore what that artist produces can still reflect some of God;s glory - a fact that I also agree with. However, that being said - some artists set out intentionally to create art that spits in the face of God - art not just not intended to glorify God, but deliberately designed to "unglorify" God - as if that were possible.

Reinke offhands this issue:
Let me add one important qualification before we get to the question. In this short blog post I cannot begin to define what constitutes “true” art, and what does not. Obviously by “art” I do not mean art that seeks to glorify evil (i.e. pornography). Without going into the whole structure of beauty, that would be another post altogether, I am referring to good-natured beauty, the kind of beauty displayed in the riff of a skilled jazz band, or in the brush strokes of a 17th century French painter, or in the heart-exposing prose of a 19th century Russian novelist. To some degree I think this all qualifies as art. For the sake of brevity I am assuming that we are talking about “good-natured art.”
That's terrible because it is the crux of the question. As we have this stuff foisted upon us as "art" we lose our sense of what is, and what is not, beauty.

Unless we address the question of what is beautiful - the nature of who made it is an irrelevancy.

Which brings me to my final point. Christians are part of the problem here. I blog a lot here about people with special needs - and I take great exception to churches and even denominations that withhold the sacrament from such individuals becasue they cannot intellectually form a confession. Oh but they can appreciate beauty.

How do we allow God to touch us at the deepest levels? How to we move from believe to life transformation? we cannot "think" our way to a sanctified state. Nope beauty transforms us. Hence we MUST learn to figure out what is and what is not beautiful. As we have seen it has little to do with the art's creator.

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Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010


The Line Between Helpful and Legalistic

Godspace recently posted a "spiritual audit." If I reprinted it here - I'd steal the whole post, so please, go read it for yourself - I'll wait.

OK - good, your back. What did you think? Good or bad or somewhere in between? I know there is a place for something like this in our walks with God, but is this the right tool done in the right way?

Here is what I think is the "measure" of a Christian.

Yes, measuring time in prayer, or amount of scripture read can give you an indication of whether you are moving towards those things or not, but that is a little like measuring the ship's speed by the prevailing wind speed. It's indicative, but hardly accurate. You are measuring the means instead of the ends.

I think that is where legalism steps in - when we focus on the means and the by-products instead of the ends. In fact, if you think about it - Christ's earthly ministry is all about that. He discovered (forgive the unavoidable temporal language) that Judaism had gotten lost in a maze of means (temple practices, etc.) and by-products (detailed obedience) concluded that man need to fundamentally change, so by His death, resurrection, and the indewelling of the Spirit, He enabled that.

So, have you fundamentally changed? How do you even figure out if you have? One thing I kow - you will not do it alone.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010



To my pastor friends:

I hate to break this to you, but you are not THAT special. And the sooner you realize that, the better your ministry will be. You are not smarter than the rest of us. You have a heavy burden, but then so do we all. YOU are not here to save us, or the church - that is God's business - you are just a tool in the effort - AS ARE THE REST OF US.

With that intro, you might guess that I find this web site, "Pooped Pastors," a little off-putting.
But I also try to communicate to the students the incredible gift God gives when he calls us into ministry. There is nothing that even comes close to the grand and glorious privilege of serving as a shepherd of God’s people. Pastors get a front row seat on God’s awesome work in people’s lives, an open door into the hearts of God’s people and a taste of reality that nobody else will ever experience.

I can’t tell you the irritation I felt when someone would tell me that I didn’t live in the real world. I wanted to say (and often did), “You don’t know anything about the real world, you twit! I see more of the real world in a day than you’ll see in a lifetime. I’ve cleaned up after more suicides, stood beside more deathbeds, buried more babies, listened to more confessions, bound up more broken hearts, shared more secrets, and experienced more pain than you’ll ever know. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!”
You know dear pastor friend, if you built disciples in your church instead of just built your church you'd have someone to share those burdens with instead of just complain about it. The burden comes with the job, it won't go away, but you can share it - I think that's what the whole "body of Christ" thing was all about.

Here's the thing. Every job has unique burdens, and yours does have a few. Being a job in the public eye, you're going to get a few stupid arrows thrown your way, but some of them are probably deserved too. Yes, by virtue of your position people will bring their pain to you that they might otherwise keep to themselves.

But let me tell you about my job. As a consultant, the regular employees of a company will always blame me when something goes wrong because, even when I told them how to do it right and they did not listen. I'm dispensable they are not. As a consultant, I am often fired more times in a year than most people are in a lifetime, and most of the time through no fault of my own. Oh yeah, and you know when I get called? When businesses are failing! When they have gotten so many notices of violation and are threatened with fines so severe that the business will fail and anywhere from 10 to 200 people will hit the streets unemployed if I can't figure out a way through it. No, no arrows or pain in my life.


You're special - I'm special - WE ARE ALL SPECIAL. The sooner you figure out that you're one of the rest of us with a different job - the sooner you figure out we are here to help you not be the objects of your ministry - the sooner you model the humility and self-denial God demands of all of us; the sooner God will work in all of us and you won't need stupid websites from people that think they are better than the rest of us.

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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, August 23, 2010



Justin Taylor blogs off two posts by a gentleman by the name of Keith Simon. This all starts in a good way - that is to say, it starts by discussing intimacy, but the way it ends I find a bit baffling. It ends by implying that the essence of intimacy is "correction."

Look, I do not want to imply that there is no role for correction in an intimate relationship, but I do not think it defines it. Intimacy also implies knowing when someone is ready to receive correction, and the trust that these posts are full of can only be built from grace. Sometime you correct and sometimes you just love - even about the same sin.

Way too many people think the time for correction is when the consequences of someone's sin has finally come home to roost - yet typically, that is the time when correction is least needed because the problems are so readily apparent. Way too often people expect "fruit" from their correction and end up building distance in a relationship when that never comes to pass - yet, then is when grace is most needed.

The other important thing to remember is that correction is really the Lord's job. We may, from time-to-time, become His tools in that effort - but we need to proceed very carefully, with deep humility.

This entire discussion is based on Proverbs 27:6: “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” But just a bit later int hat chapter of Proverbs is verse 17, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Correcting someone has a unique and painful way of bouncing back on us. Simon acknowledges this briefly in his first post, but he seems so set on telling us how to correct that he misses what I think is the point.

We have to balance scripture with scripture. Christ said:
John 8:7 - But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."
When correcting, our target is often ourselves.

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