Saturday, October 19, 2013


Comic Art


Friday, October 18, 2013


Cue Dionne Warwick!

Mark Daniels title a post:

The World Needs the Church and the Church Needs Lots of Leaders

And I cannot help but have that old Dionne Warwick tune pop into my head.

But I am being flip about a very serious subject. Says Mark in one of the wiser things I have ever read:
Organizations need managers. But they die without leaders, lots of leaders who can shepherd ideas from vision to reality.

In my experience, the best leaders are first of all, servants. They're not people who bark out orders or, as the Brits say, "put a bit of stick about." Leaders know that even if they have the power of coercion over the people they've been called to lead, coercion is, at best, management. Leaders persuade, convince, inspire.

They're people who put their hearts on the line, have a passion for moving in a certain direction, and accept the probability of rejection and ridicule. (After all, it's always easier to be a lemming who goes with the flow than a leader who dares to call a halt to most organizations' suicide marches.)

And, in my estimation, anyone who tries to lead in the power of their own personality is crazy. I have come to understand the truth of what Jesus says to His followers "apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:8) and of what Saint Paul writes, "I can do all things through [Christ] Who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). The very best leaders I have ever known, like my internship supervisor, Pastor Jim Petteys, and my colleague and friend, Pastor Steve Sjogren, have also been humble servants of Christ who have relied on Him above all.

I have jettisoned the idea that only certain types of people are meant to be leaders. Jim and Steve, for example, are very different in personality and temperament. But both, in their own ways, showed me what a leader looks like.

Here's the thing: Everyone is called upon to be a leader sometimes.

But most people shirk from leadership and here's why: It's a lot easier to master the techniques of management or, worse yet, to pretend that we have nothing to offer others, than it is to take the grief of leading the charge for a vision, especially if we believe that vision has been planted in our minds and hearts by God.
Have you ever thought about the fact that the apostles, with the exception of Paul were not, in today's terms, "professionals." They were blue collar types - literate, but under educated.= - they were not of the leadership class.

The hardest part of what Mark is saying here, and the apostles experienced this, is that the "leadership class" has a vested interest in keeping its ranks thin and entry barriers very high. In apostolic terms this was called "persecution." Nowadays it generally does not involve trials and death sentences, it is nonetheless very real. One attribute of a leader that I think Mark left out is a willingness to suffer such persecution, regardless of its forms.

It's also a big reason why people do not pick up the mantle of leadership. But what a different plce the world would be if we were but willing to suffer, just a little.


Friday Humor

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Making Things Christian

J.D. Greear @ 9Marks:
Many Christians think that you just can’t serve the kingdom of God at work, and that kingdom work happens “after hours”—volunteering at the church nursery, attending small group, going on a mission trip, serving at the soup kitchen. Our work is a necessity that must be endured to put bread on the table. God’s interest in the fruit of our labors is primarily that we tithe off of it.

The Bible offers quite a different perspective. Scripture teaches us how to serve God through our work, not just after work. The Bible speaks clear and radical words to people in the workplace, showing us that even the most menial of jobs has an essential role in the mission of God.
He then goes on to list some attributes of "Christian work":
Ehhhh,hogwash. Greear is confusing cause and effect here. These are things that result when work is "Christian," they are not what makes work "Christian." What makes work "Christian" is real simple - Christians doing it.

Now, admittedly - that does not mean that if a Christian is a pornographer it is somehow "Christian porn." A "Christian pornographer" is, at best a very immature Christian. As that individual gains maturity they will make better choices, but that is not my real point here.

My real point here is that God is about us, not what we do. God makes us better and we then, in turn, make what we do better. If we do not feel like our work is the stuff of our faith we should turn not to our work, but to ourselves. If we are, in fact, a Christian in pornography, then perhaps we have some career decision to make. But if we are doing things more reasonable, then perhaps the fact that God is not reflected in what we do is because God is not reflected in us. Why not jsut start with confessing that and then going on from there?

You might just be surprised by the result.


Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Tis Jesus That Saves Us Not Doctrine

Justin Taylor asks:
How Much Doctrine Can One Distort or Deny and Still Be Saved?
Admits the problem, but justifies it anyway:
This is a terrible first question to ask.

But it is not an illegitimate question to answer if we care about sound doctrine and the salvation of souls.
Quotes a whole bunch of "reformed theologians and then concludes:
For more on this, see Horton’s posts “How Much Do I Need to Know?” “How Far Is Too Far?” He is especially helpful in identifying two common errors: (1) assuming that we only need to know the bare minimum that is necessary for salvation; (2) assuming that we need to know everything correctly in order to be saved.
Why not stop with the bad question? I understand, if you are Armenian you sorta, kinda have to ask but that is one of the biggest problems with Armenianism.

You see, ultimately the answer to this question involves judgement - GOD'S judgement! Who are we to even begin to try and fathom God's judgement, let alone think we get it right? It must be remembered that THE root sin is putting ourselves in God's place. All other sin flows from that very presumptive sin. Why flirt with it? Why put ourselves in a place where we can fall off this very bad cliff?

IN the end, Taylor's justification for asked this admittedly bad question is insufficient. We don;t have to care about either of those things - God does. God saves souls, not us. We don;t have to judge in the end - God does. All we have to do is our best. There is an old Marine Corps adage, "Kill 'em all and let God sort it out." Admittedly cruse, but really what I think pertinent here. Our job is to teach all that we can, evangelize all that we can - and let God sort it out.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


How Issues Explode

Ellen Painter Dollar writing @ Think Christian describes her own issues with genetic disorders and reproductive technology and accuses Christians of being light thinkers on the subject:
About 10 years ago, my husband and I went through a difficult few months as we considered whether to use a genetic screening technique to ensure that our second child wouldn’t inherit my painful bone disorder, as our first daughter did.

As we met with doctors and cared for our 2-year-old daughter, who went through a terrible cycle of broken bones, I was consumed by hard questions concerning the reproductive technology we were considering. Questions like:

  • Do I have a duty to spare our next child the suffering that my daughter and I have endured?
  • Does my deep desire to have a healthy child imply that I don’t value my daughter who is not healthy - or myself?
  • Do technologies such as IVF (in vitro fertilization) and PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, which we were considering) turn children into commodities rather than gifts?
  • What values guide my doctors and the care they give? How do those values intersect with mine as a Christian?

When my husband and I were making our reproductive decisions, we had one pastor say that as long as we weren’t producing embryos that would be used in scientific experiments, we needn’t worry about the moral implications of our decisions. His laser focus on the embryos we might produce and what might happen to them is echoed in some evangelical literature directed to Christians coping with infertility.

Such responses utterly fail to address other key ethical questions around reproductive technology, questions such as those I posed above, which preoccupy many prospective parents making hard decisions about using that technology. Treating human embryos with dignity is certainly one important concern when we evaluate reproductive technologies, but it is not the only one.

Similarly, those who identify as pro-choice are often reluctant to acknowledge that some choices made possible by modern reproductive technologies, such as using genetic testing for gender selection or to screen for conditions that many people would not consider terribly disabling, raise deep ethical concerns with sobering implications for how we welcome children into the world (or don’t).

So I guess her question is "Are there ethical situations where abortion, or even embryo destruction, can become a moral alternative?" After all, IVF and related technologies generally result in embryos (Life!) that is not brought to term and must somehow be dealt with. The problem is that there are really two levels of concern here. One is the ethical questions. The other is simply personal pain and grief. Clearly this woman's very personal suffering is causing her to question the basic ethical pretexts under which most Christians operate.

From this I draw two lessons. One is that Christian counseling can often be hamfisted. It sounds as if the counselors that she sought out worried almost entirely about the ethics and failed to empathize and sympathize with her personal pain. The other lesson is that it is in the face of personal sacrifice that our ethical convictions are truly tested.

The most difficult and painful decision of my wife and I's marriage has been to NOT choose to utilize reproductive technologies. We felt, and still feel, that the personal pain, and it must be said no small amount of social awkwardness if not oddity, that we experience as a childless couple was an insufficient reason to create the sort of ethical dilemmas that such technology forces on us. Our very real pain was secondary to the the ethics.

I will admit that people often overlook how painful that decision is. We are often commended for our courageous decision only to have the same person immediately launch into a telling of how wonderful their children are. Never realizing that while their children are indeed wonderful, each sentenice is a small prick at a painful wound.

We often allow our personal pain to cause us to question our ethical and moral concerns. That is an understandable human reaction. But ask yourself this - When Christ prayed not to suffer on the cross, He had a choice to walk away. He did not take it. Can we do less.


Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, October 14, 2013


It's Not The Tools

The Constructive Curmudgeon reviews a book that lambasts PowerPoint:
Frommer understands the power of PowerPoint—and that its power is not always in service of the good, the true, or the beautiful. Under the cloak of ubiquity PowerPoint often robs us of knowledge by encouraging poor cognitive habits, given its very nature. As Marshall McLuhan said (and most people forgot), “the medium is the message.” This overstatement emphasizes the rhetorical nature of all communication. Every message is shaped by its medium. As Frommer says, “a medium is never neutral” (xv). A text message has a different form, and therefore a different effect, than a face-to-face conversation. A written card differs from an email message, even if the propositional content is identical. Rhetoric, the art of persuasion, not only applies to spoken and written language, but to the objects and systems of communications themselves. It is no wonder that the greatest technological analyst of the last century (quirky, though he was), Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980), was, by training, a rhetorician and not a technology expert or sociologist. McLuhan did not live long enough to sniff out the significance of PowerPoint, but Frommer continues his great tradition of principled suspicion. (The book mentions McLuhan only once in passing, on page 226, but his spirit is everywhere.) Frommer writes that PowerPoint “has invented a comprehensive rhetorical apparatus in which all the classical techniques of argument have been cleverly absorbed or transformed” (xii).
I do not doubt the effects noted, but I don't think PowerPoint is the issue. The issues is twofold. One the inappropriate use of PowerPoint - there are times when things are not bullet points. Two, the fact that people nowadays want information graphically, not textually. We now make videos to transmit information far more efficiently and thoroughly communicated in writing, or even by lecture.

PowerPoint is a tool and like a hammer it can be used to build things or it can be used to tear things down. Which it is used for is up to the wielder of the tool. If it is used destructively, blame the person using it, not the tool.

Better, teach them how to use the tool.

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