Saturday, August 03, 2013


Comic Art

Villainous Art Edition 

Friday, August 02, 2013


It's Competitive Out There

Todd Rhoades quotes Pastor Keith Anderson responding to laments about secular activities being scheduled on Sunday morning:
The emergence of Sunday morning sports is just a symbol of a shift that’s happening in our society where the church is no longer accommodated or propped up by our culture.
Clergy lament this. It makes our jobs harder. But, if we are honest, there is something deeper: it is the resentment of the loss a privileged place of not only religious

Institutions, but Christian institutions, and not just Christian institutions, but Christian people, and the leaders of those people, the professional clergy, us. We are mourning our own diminishing cultural position and privilege. That’s what I hear just under the surface when clergy complain to each other about Sunday morning sports—its the loss of our place, our privilege, our position…

And, frankly, its a not a bad thing for the Church to stand on its own, apart from cultural props. I don’t want the Church to be dependent on the world to say that Church is important. I want us to say that this is important because of Jesus, the persuasiveness of the Gospel, for its own sake, on its own terms, not because my local Recreation Department says so.

I agree the laments are misplaced, but for an entirely different reason. The church was never "propped up" by culture. It was the other way around. The current situation has arisen because the church has abandoned its role IN culture and society - the church has chosen not to lead.

Yes, there came a point where culture and society started too push back against the church's predominant role. But in response the church caved.

Initially, it was a strategic retreat. Sufficient evangelism would win sufficient people to once again dominate culture. The problem is, we defined evangelism so narrowly that we failed to win people in a way that would also win culture. We gained affiliation, but we did not gain deep association.

People said "Yes" to Jesus, and then...

And now we find ourselves not in a strategic retreat, but in a retreat for our lives. But the strategy should not change, what should change is our fighting ability. We must seek to make disciples, not congregants. We must go deep, not wide. Jesus used twelve guys to change the world. We are rapidly approaching the point where we will have no choice but to repeat that.


Friday Humor

Thursday, August 01, 2013



Mark Daniels shares a marvelous sermon he wrote on Christ the King. Just one tidbit of this opus:
Dietrich Offeldt lived in post-World War II eastern Germany. It was clear that the people were going to trade the terrors of living under Hitler for the terrors of life under Soviet Communism, in which official atheism told the people to have no king but the state. Dietrich Offeldt was a Christian. “Leave East Germany,” his friends told him.

But he refused, explaining later: “Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. He is the ruler of my life, and he can dispose of my life in any way he chooses. I have found that every Christian finds himself or herself in a particular circumstance, a particular time, a particular place in which they live out their discipleship. My circumstance is communism; my time is the Cold War; and my place is East Berlin. I chose to be a disciple here.”

God has given you the task of being a subject of King Jesus in this town, in this time, in this place, and, as a member of a Lutheran congregation, a member of a denomination that grows bolder each day in repudiating the teachings of the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions we say are the bedrock of our faith, that subtly denies the kingship of Jesus in favor of getting along with a pluralistic world.

You and I could choose to avoid trouble with neighbors and friends by keeping our traps shut about Jesus, our king.

If we do that long enough, Jesus will no longer be our king. We’ll be subjects of the dying world’s two favorite kings, Safety and Security, which are only aliases of Satan, ticketed for death along with every other king but the risen Jesus.

Better to take the choice made by Dietrich Offeldt. He chose, he said, “to raise my flag and show my colors, to let those around me know for sure that I am a Christian, that Christ rules my life.”

Mark is so right...but...

But so often I know Christians that are bold about Christ being king for others, but not so much themselves. So often they tell others what it looks like to have Christ as King, while their lives show no evidence other than morality. When Christ is our king not only will we be bold in the face of adversity, but we will love those that bring the adversity.

Jesus was audacious. How did H get away with it? Earlier in this sermon, Mark looks at Christ's confrontation with Pilate. Whenever I read that story I wonder why Pilate did not have Him stuck dead on the spot. One does not speak that way to a Roman ruler. Jesus got away with what he did in speaking truth to authority because His very essence proclaimed not just the truth He was uttering, but the whole truth of what God can do for us and to us.

Do our lives, our demeanor, our spirit similarly proclaim the WHOLE truth? AS we focus on being bold for Christ we must also focus on allowing the Holy Spirit to reshape and remake us. If we do not, our boldness will appear only as conceit.


Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Why Not Leave Such Questions for God?

Dan Delzell writing at Christian Post argue the doctrine of salvation with Catholics:
The booklet states, "We do not 'earn' our salvation through good works (Eph. 2:8-9, Rom. 9:16), but our faith in Christ puts us in a special grace-filled relationship with God so that our obedience and love, combined with our faith, will be rewarded with eternal life." (Rom. 2:7, Gal. 6:8-9) Did you catch that? According to Catholic Answers, a grace-filled life of obedience is said to be rewarded with eternal life.

So is "grace" in the Bible God's unmerited love, mercy, and forgiveness for sinners on account of Christ? it those things, plus man's "grace-filled" works of obedience? Everything hinges on how a church defines the "grace" that is said to save us.
Oh just shut up! Frankly I have seen so much abuse of reformed theology that I find myself siding the the Catholics on this one. And frankly, in the end, I'm not sure we will know the answer. I think God is so much smarter than we are and so much deeper than we are, that even once our sin is removed in heaven, this one is still going to be a puzzle. The perfect dog will never understand how to fix a toilet and that's how I feel about this question.

I love as if my works may just matter to my salvation - the theology I hold says they don;t but the question is just open enough that I am going to hedge my bets. Which is what really ticks me off about guys like Delzell - the fact that they are so cocksure of themselves means there is a huge part of the gospel they have missed - you know the whole humility thing.

And it particularly angers me when it comes to Roman Catholics. These guys act as if the church, the only church for about 1600 years was just wrong for those 1600 years. How the heck to they think something got to them to reform? And if they think it was, why isn't Martin Luther revered in our traditions like Joseph Smith is in the Mormon tradition?

I would never judge who is saved and who isn't, but if you ask me to lay odds, I think I am more likely to meet Catholics that Delzell.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Social Media In The Church

Christian Web Trends lists "benefits" to using social media in church:
Branding. Sharing by you and your connections gets your organization in front of people and gives it personality.
Networking/subscribers. Once you connect with someone, it gives you the opportunity to interact with them and provide more news and information on a regular basis. May eventually lead to future sales/support/action.
Collaboration. Social media connections can lead to partnerships and new ventures.
Social proof. Likes/comments/shares imply content has quality and the author has authority.
Search rankings. Shares and likes improve search rankings.
Sales. Social media can lead to direct sales.
Learning. Connect with wise people who can help you get better.
Content. Connect with people who produce great content you can share with your connections and elaborate on.
Customer service. Opportunities to help and listen to customers.
Customer loyalty. Ongoing communication strengthens the relationship and keeps customers coming back.
Serving others. You can help others by encouraging, answering questions, providing advice, meeting needs.
Leading change. Social media can enable a person to build or join a tribe of people who share a passion. Together they can brainstorm, plan, coordinate and act to accomplish more than they could individually.

Personal Bonus: The 12 benefits above all apply to organizations using social media. One additional set of benefits I want to mention stand out because they’re personal (and because nobody wants a list with 13 items on it). Those benefits include friendships, encouragement, fun and laughs that come through social media.

I find that almost nauseating. That is all about marketing and nothing about discipleship. What in that entire list makes us into God's people?

Does that mean social media is bad? No, but it does mean these guys are asking the wrong questions when it comes to social media and church.

I would be really interested in thinking about how to use social media to help disciple people. Imagine a social media platform that would enable a geographically disjointed group of people to function as a small group. Imagine one for prayer support. I could go on here.

But this, this is pure marketing gibberish.


Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, July 29, 2013


The Place of Miracles

Jeff Dunn quotes Jim Stafford on Pentecostalism:
But we go wrong when we show a higher interest in miracles than in God. This is Pentecostalism’s persistent temptation—to let the effects of God’s presence become more central than God himself. When God becomes mainly a miracle provider, he stops being God. He becomes more like a vending machine.
I love that analogy to a vending machine. Note how perfectly it encapsulates making God something that serves our needs rather than making us conform to God's will.

I would also note that vending machines are very much about optics - that which looks good gets bought. Thus, in miracles, we tend to look for the spectacular instead of noting the small miracles that occur in our lives every day.

This also points out the inherent problems with using marketing techniques to grow the church. Marketing seeks to please the customer. In church the customer should be seeking to please God.

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