Saturday, December 15, 2012


Illustration Appropos...


Comic Art


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Friday, December 14, 2012


How Do You Know?

Mark Roberts:
We have seen before in Ezekiel that God holds the people of Israel accountable for their failure to honor him. Yet, he judges the leaders of Israel with particular ferocity because they did not faithfully teach the people the ways of the Lord.

Chapter 13 reemphasizes the misdeeds of Israel’s leaders, especially the prophets. The divine denunciation of the prophets begins in this way: “Doom to the foolish prophets who follow their own whims but see nothing.” “Follow their own whims” translates a Hebrew phrase that could be literally rendered “walk after their own spirit.” In their attempts at prophesying and in their daily lives, the false prophets of Israel did not follow the Spirit of God. Instead, they did as they wished and they prophesied what they wished. Thus, their visions were “worthless” and their divinations were “deceptive” (13:6). They saw “nothing” but claimed to be seeing God’s truth.

As we grow in our faith, our spirits become more and more aligned with the Spirit of God. Yet, we must always beware of how easy it is to project our whims onto the Lord. This can happen even with highly regarded religious leaders, who mistake the imagination for the leading of the Spirit.
So, are their standards we can measure against to not fall in to this trap? We, certainly the so called "fruit of the Spirit" is one such standard, but I have known that to be abused as well. Any standard proposed will have subjective elements and it is in that space that things start to get problematic.

I am a bit of a pragmatist when it comes to knowing when I am aligned with God's will - if it works, it is - at least on the personal level. Corporately the definition of "works" is as subjective as anything else, but individually if you are within God's will your life will be one with minimal strife.

Not that there is a quid pro quo with God, but rather there is a sense that our strife results from being outside of His will. Think about it.
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Friday Entertainment

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Thursday, December 13, 2012


Why is this News?

Church Marketing Sucks went on and on for a period of time about "copy":
We’re launching a new series on copy. What’s copy? Any written communication, whether it’s text in a newsletter, words on a banner, a blog post from your pastor or signage on the wall. It’s all copy.


Copy is important because you can do so much more than just the basic and boring. The church has always used new advances in technology, from the printing press to the Internet, to advance the gospel. Now is an exciting time to do church because there are so many avenues to use copy and content, from social media to blogs to self-publishing. These are opportunities for the church to communicate and connect. Copy is used in some way in nearly every medium, from the words an announcer reads to the text on the video screen to the headline in a design. Copy is everywhere and so much of our communication relies on it. Brilliant design can’t save crappy copy, so you have to make sure it communicates.
It is stunning to me that people have to be sold that words are the most important means of communication. Check that, it's frightening.

With images and music one can cajoles, influence, and manipulate. But only with words can one argue. Moreover, Christ is referred to as "word." If the incarnation was meant to replace the word as communication, would Christ not have come when now?! Rather the Word was made flesh so that we could see the word in action - illustrated, not replaced.

Frankly, this is why education matters so much. The force of civilization, which is driven by religious impulse, is towards education and helping us rise above the mere image to the word. The fact that a blog has to convince someone that words matter may be the largest indictment of our educational system imaginable.

The church should be teaching people words, not finding ways around them.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Leading and Truth

Mark Roberts:
But, one of the reasons the people have wandered away from the Lord into a lifestyle of rebellion against God has to do with the failure of their leaders. In verse 26, the people "seek a vision from the prophet," but no vision is seen. Moreover, "instruction disappears from the priest, and counsel from the elders" (7:26). The Hebrew word translated here as "disappears" might also be rendered "dies" or "perishes." In other words, when the people went to their leaders for a living word to guide them, all they got was dead gibberish. No doubt, the people were impressed with polished speeches and what appeared to be divine truth. But the leaders spoke out of their own ignorance, and the people were guided, not into life, but into death.

We can see this very thing happening in our own day, as our leaders wander away from God's truth. This can happen even in churches that uphold biblical authority. Some years ago, I attended a church that affirms the inerrancy of Scripture. The preacher got up, read the biblical text, and then began to preach. His sermon was witty, compelling, and full of good advice. But it had absolutely nothing to do with the text he had read, other than an occasional word in common. Instruction had disappeared from that leader, at least on that particular Sunday.
The model today for many churches is "service provider." The church is in fact there to serve, but it serves through leadership. Leadership includes, among other things declaring and shaping the direction of the organization But we do not really lead anymore, we manage. Management allows us to get the good and services to the consumer, but leadership takes the desires of the consumer gently redirects them towards the best, not the merely desired.

Most people fear that not giving people what they perceive themselves as needing will drive them away. i disagree, what most people really want is to be lead. Seriously.

The problems arise when instead of leading, we dictate. Leading is a subtle art, and one that demands far more of the leader than it does of the follower. We dictate out of laziness. We dictate because our own character is not well enough formed to even be capable of leadership.

When your organization is failing, look not at it, look to yourself.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Idols and Worship

Mark Roberts:
Ezekiel 6 begins with a curious assignment. The Lord tells Ezekiel to prophesy against the mountains of Israel. Why the mountains? What have they done wrong?

Strictly speaking, the mountains themselves did not act contrary to God's will. But they were the setting where unfaithful Israelites worshipped in so-called "high places," using Canaanite shrines and practices. This was idolatry, pure and simple. Rather than worshiping God in the way he had specified, the people took on the ways of the land in which they lived, thus dishonoring God and calling forth his judgment. In Ezekiel 6, this judgment is proclaimed against the mountains in a poetic way. Of course, it was the people of Israel who were truly guilty of rejecting God's ways in favor of the sinful ways of the place where they lived.
I wonder if in our rush to be "culturally relevant" in our worship styles and choices how much of God's ways we set aside? No, we do not worship our God in pagan temples, but I wonder if when we emphasize only those parts of our God's stories that the culture wants to hear we do not do the same thing? If we believe that God works in history, I wonder if when we reject the wisdom accumulated over centuries about orders and forms of worship if we do not leave something vital out?

I wonder if when we examine our own lives we will find much of God's story missing?

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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, December 10, 2012


Maintaining Focus

Sometimes I get really irritated with Christian leadership advice.This post from Ron Ron Edmondson is a classic example. He goes on about how we tend to lose focus over time and then he lists three "solutions":
  • Keep retelling the vision
  • Keep practicing the vision
  • Keep sharing the impact of the vision with others
I cannot help but reflect on two very notable issues with this approach. The first is that our personal discipline leads to our professional discipline. If an individual is maintaining their focus on their devotional and prayer life then it will not be difficult to maintain their focus on stuff like this. This is true purely becasue discipline begats discipline, but also becasue the particular devotional disciplines open us up to the assistance of the Holy Spirit.

Secondly, this advice is predicated on a model that says only the pastor holds "the vision." Hogwash. If the lay leadership of the congregation has not participated in the development of and holds dearly the vision, the vision does not have as hot. Church is a communal activity and the community better be on board. If you are in this alone - you have a problem.

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