Saturday, October 29, 2011


Comic Art


Honestly now, if you were trying to come up with the most disgusting mutant power ever, that was not pornographic, could you do much better than a prehensile tongue? And yet, we have Toad. The tongue is a fairly modern thing, coming up in the movies, but the character is as old as the Silver Age of Comics. Toad was originally, as conceived by Lee/Kirby a hunchback toady for Magneto to push around.

The addition of the tongue has made the character interesting, but there has got to be a better way. I mean real toads do not have prehensile tongues, so why should the mutant Toad. Why not give him a wart giving power? - even that would be less disgusting. Besides, have a power that does somethig takes away all the toady aspects of his character and every big baddy needs a dog to kick when things go wrong, so I kinda liked the old, undisgusting Toad. Once again, I am out-of-step with modern sensibility, because this little bit of ugly is really popular.

One question - where does that appendage go when it's not grabbing stuff?

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Friday, October 28, 2011


What To Do At Church?

9Marks links to a blogging debate on whether there should be theological education in local churches, collated here. I have to be honest - I read through part of it and quit - there was a bit too much self-importance involved and a bit too much view of theology as "the secret knowledge" of Christianity.

I just want to make two brief comments.

Firstly, theology is not that big a deal - it is possible to be a very mature functional Christian without a whole lot of theological knowledge. I think most of us are helped by how we understand and think about things, but that does not have to rise to the level of theological study. What we want to do is meet people where they are and help them mature in the way that best suits them. That means there will be theology for some, but for many, not.

Secondly, every Christian is entitled to as much knowledge, reading and study as they want. Office, not so much, that is a matter of character, but knowledge, heck yeah. By cordoning off knowledge as for the select we make that seem like what we need for office, and it allows those of us in leadership to avoid the character question - which I think is the root of many problems the church faces today.

Christianity is mentored, not learned.

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Friday Humor

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Thursday, October 27, 2011



Thom Rainer lists "10 Warning Signs for Churches":
If the pastor does not have adequate time to be in the Word or if he chooses not to do so.

If the members are spending time arguing about how money should be spent.

If none or only a few of the key leaders are actively sharing their faith.

If there is no clear process of discipleship in place, just a plethora of programs and activities.

If corporate prayer is not a major emphasis in the church.

If church members are arguing about worship style or worship times.

If church members expect the paid staff to do most of the ministry, instead of the staff equipping the members to do the work of ministry (“Why didn’t he visit me in the hospital?”)

If there are ongoing disagreements about matters of the church facilities.

If the church has more meetings than new disciples.

If the leadership of the church does not have a coherent plan for what is taught in small groups and Sunday school classes.
Rainer sees a pattern in all this:
There is a common pattern for most of the warning signs. Church members are more concerned about their preferences and desires. They are inwardly focused. They ask what the church can do for them, instead of asking how God can use them sacrificially and radically through the ministries of the local church.
I see a problem - The church is a place of preparing the members for ministry - BUT THAT MINISTRY MAY NOT ALWAYS CONFORM to "the ministries of the local church." Inward focus is indeed bad, but that which is bad for individuals is bad for congregations.

Here's the thing - if we really prepare people for ministry, they are going to take off in directions entirely unanticipated. TO demand that they conform to the congregational mandate is not only to squelch them, but if they are truly called, it is to squelch the Holy Spirit. The congregation has a mandate to support - including giving them a worship experience that feeds them - people who are out doing the hard work of expanding the Kingdom, not just your congregation.

Ask yourself this - was Jesus a control freak like that? He bugged out just when the apostles got busy.

Worth thinking about when you have compulsions like this.

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Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011


It's a good thing

Michael Johnson @ DG:
In a previous post, Tim Chester asserts that we can only change through ongoing daily faith and daily repentance. In other words, repentance is not exclusively for the non-Christian. Rather, together with ongoing faith, repentance should be normative for the Christian.

But this call to daily repentance is not a burden for God’s children! Rather, it is good news. It’s just not easy.
I found it stunning to see it written this way. First of all, repentance is ALWAYS good news. It is difficult (think Chesterton here) but I alo9s find it stunning that anyone would think repentance was "exclusively for the non-Christian." After all, we Christians still sin.

But then it seems that most of what we want in this day and age is the comfortable and easy. We want to be like Christ, but only in the good stuff. He was persecuted by religious officialdom, we want to go to the most popular church in town. He carried a cross to his own execution. We want to sit on the couch and watch Jesus TV, buying Jesus gee-gaws and consider our selves saved. We can't even bring ourselves to admit our mistakes so we confuse theology to avoid it. We're pathetic.

Yep, repentance is good news. Too bad we cannot bring ourselves to it.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Forgiveness Understood

Justin Taylor links to Sam Storms on forgiveness:
Five Myths about Forgiveness

1. Contrary to what many have been led to believe, forgiveness is not forgetting.
2. Forgiving someone does not mean you no longer feel the pain of their offense.
3. Forgiving someone who has sinned against you doesn’t mean you cease longing for justice.
4. Forgiveness does not mean you are to make it easy for the offender to hurt you again.
5. Forgiveness is rarely a one-time, climactic event.
How little we hear such things when we hear sermons about forgiveness. What we hear is that the pain is supposed to go away, like the offense never happened? How often does the pain-causer use forgiveness as excuse to keep on causing pain? Which brings me to Storms last truth about forgiveness:
5. God forgave us in Christ by reconciling us to himself, by restoring the relationship that our sin had shattered.
Does forgiveness, particularly under the myths Storms has described allow for restored relationship? Yes, we are forgiven, but is our relationship with Christ restored, if we do not stop, or at least try to stop - confessing when we do not actually stop, causing Him the pain that our sin gives Him? Does God not have as much right to protect Himself from our misconduct as we do from the misconduct of others?

Relationships are two-way streets. I know, salvation, eternity, all that. Frankly, I have no idea who God will "finally save in heaven," as my grandfather used to say in every mealtime prayer - I can't know that. I am not God, I have neither His knowledge nor His wisdom, nor even the capability to obtain them. But I do at least see NOW as in a mirror dimly.

Relying on God's blessed forgiveness now must have consequences in my life now, or I can have no assurance of it. I must struggle to reach out to God as much as He has struggled to reach out to me, or at least as much as my feeble capabilities will allow, to KNOW that I am forgiven.

Anything else is a cheat - and it hurts God.

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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, October 24, 2011


"Just" A Christian

Chaplain Mike @ iMonk:
Over and over again, I watched as the pastor’s agenda became the church’s agenda, because the pastor was able to persuade people that it was God’s agenda.


Time does not allow me to list all the various permutations that have come to pass in recent decades. My point is not so much to examine or analyze them, but rather to point out that each and every change has been promoted by pastors and evangelical leaders in such ways that Christians under their tutelage have been expected to sign on, “follow the Spirit,” and support the program. A ongoing culture of religious expectation has been created and recreated. Faithfulness, passion, commitment, dedication—whatever you want to call it—is measured by one’s loyal participation in whatever new thing is happening in evangelicalism. We’ve noted the recent repeated calls to “radical” Christianity as an example of this.

It is in this context and out of these experiences that I have written posts like yesterday’s “It’s OK…to Just Be a Christian.” A mature Christian learns to distinguish between what the Lord expects, what the church expects, what others expect, and what one expects of oneself. I have come to believe that many of the expectations I and others try to live up to are not God’s expectations, but come from other sources.
I am struck by the tension that exists between God's working in community and the fact that a community can lead us down the wrong path. There is something to the idea that maturity implies learning the difference between what God wants and what the church wants, but in that lies the possibility of leaving community altogether.

In chemistry we talk a lot about "equilibrium" - it means essentially that a chemical system may look stable, but it is actually in a state where the reaction is running constantly back and forth in both directions. Thus while appearing stable on the macroscopic scale it is in turmoil microscopically - molecules bonding and unbonding constantly.

Sometimes I think Christian maturity is like that - reaching equilibrium.

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