Saturday, May 25, 2013


Comic Art

SO BAD, THEY"RE BAD (special edition)

Let's see, virus infected, grossly mutated, multiple personalities, and just basically deranged. Yeah, that about sums up the villain alternately known as "Lifeform" and "Hunger." The bio (follow the links) is about as confusing as they come, and those names. You know, I once had a dog I named "Animal;" I took all sorts of heat for my lack of creativity. But I'm just a chemist for crying out loud. These guys are in the creativity business and "Lifeform/Hunger" is all they got?!

Let's chalk this one up to a "What in the world?" and leave it at that.
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Friday, May 24, 2013


Absolutely Nothing

Ron Edmondson asks, "What could the church learn from IKEA?" I will not bore you with his points as I reject the question on its face. There is a presumption in the question that I reject.

The question assumes that we are trying to sell a product in a competitive marketplace. We are not. People consume products, the church should consume people. I know, that sounds like a bad '50's cannibalism movie, let me lay it out a bit.

When people consume a product they are deciding how much of their life and energy it consumes - they decide what they like and don't like - the product is something apart from them that they manipulate. Christianity is not like that, it is not manipulable, it seeks rather to take hold of us and manipulate us into new creatures on the most fundamental of levels.

This is a very personal thing - it happens in the context of relationship - it can only happen in that context, hence the incarnation.

In contrast, modern shopping is designed, purposefully to take the human element out of it - mostly as a cost cutting measure. It is for a well informed public that knows the options and just wants to acquire the stuff. If anything modern shopping is designed to create a relationship with the store, not the people in it. That may result in brand loyalty, but does it change lives in any meaningful sense?

I realize IKEA is a successful retailer, but the church is not in the retail business.

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Friday Humor

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Thursday, May 23, 2013


God Is More Complex Than You Can Imagine

Mark Roberts on Psalm 149:
Psalm 149:6 is one of many verses in the Psalms that can, at first, startle or even shock us. The psalm begins with a call to praise the Lord and sing to him a new song (149:1). Israel is to rejoice in God and praise him with dancing and music (149:2-3). Why? Because the Lord "delights in his people" and "crowns the humble with victory" (149:4). So God's people are to praise him, even "as they lie on their beds" (149:5).

But then we read: "Let the praises of God be in their mouths, and a sharp sword in their hands" (149:6). This sword is given to God's people so that they might "execute the judgment written against" the nations and their leaders (149:7-9). How are we to understand this unexpected juxtaposition of praise and the sword?
Mark Roberts on Ephesians 1:
Did you catch that? I said God's strength is mighty strong. God's power exceeds our ability to grasp it, not to mention find words to represent it.
The sooner we can come to grips with our essential inadequacy, the better off I think we will all be. It seems like there are two responses to something as un-understandable as God, bend the knee or aggressive fear.

In an age when we work so hard to develop "self-image" aggressive fear seems to be the common response. What I am talking about here is the response that says, "You cannot be that much smarter than me, you're just being an officious jerk, stop bullying me an go away." In the end that is just a refusal to believe.

But when we actually grasp that God is, well, God, then we must bend the knee. We may not understand what's happening or what He is trying to tell us, but because we know He IS that smart and He has a viewpoint we cannot hope to obtain, it is entirely reasonable to go along with the plan.

It is sheer hubris that makes us doubt Christianity based on the "mysteries" - they should simply drive us to subject ourselves to the One so obviously smarter.

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Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Defining Who We Are Differently

Justin Taylor summarizes Carl Trueman on Luther:
  1. Luther saw church leadership as primarily marked by servanthood.
  2. Luther understood worship as rooted in repentance.
  3. Luther did not care for the myth of cultural influence nor for the prerequisite cultural swagger necessary to catch the attention of the great and good.
  4. Luther saw suffering as a mark of the true church.
  5. Luther was pastorally sensitive to the cherished practices of older Christians.
  6. Luther did not agree to differ on matters of importance and thus to make them into practical trivia.
  7. Luther saw the existence of the ordained ministry as a mark of the church.
  8. Luther saw the problem of a leadership accountable only to itself
  9. Luther thought very little of his own literary contribution to Christianity.
Let's sum that up in two words - humility and service. What a different essential message that is from the self-help, be a better you message that is heard fromthe pulpit so often these days. But it leaves a burning question in my mind - is where we are an inevitable result of the Reformation?

I don't think so - Luther's concern for accountability would provide for this to NOT have happened. Is it an inevitable result of democratization? Again, probably not.

It is; however, an inevitable result of sin. Sins visited The Church and hence the Reformation. Sin visit the church and hence we are here. And so we come full circle - confession, humility, service - that's where we need to go.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013


There Is No Mystery

Mark Roberts:
If you were living in Ephesus in the first century A.D., the word "mystery" or the plural "mysteries" would have had a different and distinctive connotation. You would have thought of the mystery religions, sometimes called simply the "mysteries." These were religious organizations that were based around certain secret beliefs and practices. Only someone initiated into the mysteries would be privy to some hidden source of salvation. In many cases, one could only be initiated into a mystery religion by paying a significant amount of money. Thus, most people were simply left out, forever unaware of the life-changing truth and experience of the mysteries.


Why did the Christians steward their "mystery" so differently than the pagans? Because they were following the example (and command) of God. God "made known the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure" (1:9). God delighted in revealing himself and his purposes for the world. Thus, whereas for pagans, the essence of their mysteries was hiddenness, for Christians, the mysteries were to be shared with all, to the ends of the earth.

I am consistently struck by just how much Jesus turned the typical model for religion on its head. Jesus did not demand sacrifice - He was the sacrifice! Thus to demand money to access the "mystery" would be completely antithetical to the very heart of the gospel.

You know it's funny, we are so willing to talk about grace when it comes to sin, but we are equally willing to be very demanding when fundraising. All sorts of talk about expectations and rewards.

God intends us to give out of gratitude and not as a part of any formula wherein our sacrifice is "returned sevenfold" or any other such nonsense. Somehow I cannot help but think that if we concentrated on producing mature Christians the money thing would take care of itself. Isn't that really the message Christ gives to us individually?

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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, May 20, 2013


What Can They Teach Us Generally

Justin Taylor looks at a Tim Keller book on "What the Puritans Can Teach Us about Counseling". It is a good post, but two thought ran through my mind. One, why are we struck a bit dumb by the idea of reading the Puritans and two, why counseling.

As to the first question, I cannot help but reflect onthe concept of fashion as it applies to faith. The Puritans are viewed as too stiff and uptight to have much to offer and yet, their tradition is rich and thorough. They are simply out of fashion. There is something wrong in Christianity when fashion has that much say. Why an we not just look at the Puritans, or any other movement dispassionately and rationally and extract the good and discard the bad? Most movements are born of a needed correction, they simply take on a life of their own and go a bit far. In so doing the needed corrective gets lost in the wash. That's a crying shame.

Which brings me to the second question. Counseling is one of those areas that antithetical to the put your head down and work hard ethic of the Puritans. It seems there is an effort to say that the Puritans were not antithetical to counseling. It is obvious they were not antithetical to caring for one's emotional life, but counseling is a different matter. Puritans were also a tight knit community and much of that care for emotional life came in the context of that community and not "professionals" like counselors. Seems to me that THAT might be the idea to take away.

Better relationships, not better professionals.

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