Saturday, April 19, 2014


Comic Art


Friday, April 18, 2014


Battling For Church

Ron Edmondson lists "Seven Ways Satan Tries to Destroy a Church":
Church conflict – Satan loves business meetings that get out of hand or when two church members have disagreements outside of church. He loves when church members argue about trivial things, such as colors of the carpet or big things, such as whether to add another service. Doesn’t matter to him. Show him a good argument potential and he’s willing to stir the fire.

Burnout – Satan loves to burn out a church volunteer, staff member, or pastor. If he can make them feel they are no longer needed, their work is not appreciated, or that they no longer have anything to offer…he feels he’s winning part of the battle.

Rumors – Satan is the stirrer of dissension. He likes to plant little seeds of a juicy story, about someone in the church or community…sometimes even the pastor or staff…and watch them quickly spread through a church congregation or community. The version, of course, usually grows to a larger portion than reality. Satan likes that too.

Busyness – Satan loves to distract church goers with a plethora of activity that produces little results in Kingdom-building.

Lies – Satan attempts to interject what he calls a “half-truth”; just a hint of false doctrine and then watch it disrupt or divide a body. Of course, we all know that half-truth is really just a cleaned up version of a bold face lie, but Satan is clever enough to disguise a lie in a way where false teachers gain entry and do damage before being discovered.

Scandal – Satan loves a good, juicy, gossipy news headline in the local paper. If it will split, divide or destroy a church body…even better. If it will destroy someone’s Kingdom calling or work…he’ll take that too.

Marriage and family disruptions – Satan loves to destroy any relationship, but he also goes after key leader’s marriages; even the pastor’s marriage. He likes to encourage prodigal children. He wants to cause families to fight within the church and fight with the church. Satan knows if he can destroy a home, he has a better chance of destroying a church.
OK, ideally, I think he is right, but we live in a fallen world and all of those things are inevitabilities in a fallen world. They cannot be eliminated from our churches. The key question is, "How do we deal with them?" These forces, bad as they are are only destructive on a church wide scale if we make bad choices in handling them.

Trying to pretend like they can be eliminated is a diversion from the essential question of what to do when they happen.

There are no set answers for each situation is different, but trouble usually begins when a church attempts to hide its foibles rather than confess to them.


Friday Entertainment

Thursday, April 17, 2014


The Most Important Article Ever Written

Yes, the headline is over-the-top and sarcastic. What was I supposed to do when I ran across this article in the London Telegraph:
The Vatican daily L'Osservatore Romano on Friday devoted a full page looking at the Catholic identity of popular comic book superheroes while questioning the religious affiliation of some of the most popular like Superman and Batman.
This all was in the wake of last summers "Man of Steel" and the whole thing is frankly a bit silly.
In his article Vallini said the release of Man of Steel had also reignited debate about the religion of the main protagonist, Clark Kent, even though he apparently admits to being a Methodist.

America's mega churches have been urging the faithful to see the film from the pulpit and this has encouraged churchgoers across the country to flock to the cinema.

A separate review of Man of Steel published in L'Osservatore Romano on Friday noted many similarities between Superman and Jesus Christ but said the film was no threat to "disturbing the gospel".

Reviewer Emilio Ranzato said since Superman was created in 1932 there have always been comparisons between him and Christ, particularly as Clark Kent was sent to earth "to resolve the world's problems" and was initially reluctant to take that responsibility.
If you remember, everybody got a bit worked up because Clark Kent sought spiritual advice before embarking on his career as Supes. While that is a bigger nod to the church than Hollywood usually gives, its hardly a big deal. And frankly every superhero worth his/her salt is something of a Christ figure - nature of the genre.

I do love me comics, but it makes me a little sad to see the Vatican bite off this particular bit if silliness. This is the kind of thing that the mile wide inches deep stream of American Evangelicalism would take on hook line and sinker, but I expect more from the oldest religious institution in the world.


Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014


WHY Does This Require Discussion?

Some debates just should not be. MArk Tooley writing at Juicy Ecumenism looks at Flags in Church:
Last July 4 Christianity Today published an exchange on U.S. flags in church sanctuaries, with pastor/theologian Douglas Wilson arguing no and Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore saying yes. Moore has since become the new head of his church’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and his argument is compelling.

Wilson says churches have “absolutely no business displaying a national flag in the sanctuary” so as to avoid “unnecessary barriers to the worship of visiting Koreans, Russians, or Portuguese.” He’s also worried that the flag would imply “‘favored nation’ status,” exaggerate “claims of Caesar,” or meld “patriotism and religion.”


In response to Wilson, Moore admits “patriotism is dangerous…but that’s because it’s a strong natural affection that’s rooted in something good and right…akin to what God commands us to do in showing honor to our father and mother.” Moore notes:
When we honor our country, we are recognizing that we are not self-made or self-situated. We are here, placed by God in a particular plot of land because of the sacrifices of forefathers and foremothers we haven’t known. We have a responsibility to our neighbors of all faiths for the generations to come. Patriotism can become idolatrous, sure. So can family affection. But the gospel doesn’t evaporate family love. It just re-narrates it, and situates it in a right context, in which we seek first the kingdom of God. The same is true for the flag. Removing a flag doesn’t remove the tendency to idolatry or triumphalism; it just leaves such things unaddressed and untroubled. If a congregation already has a flag in the sanctuary, the first step might be for the pastor to use it as an object lesson in a right-ordered patriotism
I have been a part of such a debate in a congregation before and the whole thing frankly struck me as absurd. The entire argument is spurious. It is a battle between politic left and right and has almost nothing to do with church or worship. Virtually every argument put forth either pro or con is a red herring.

Will people from other nations be offended at a US flag in a church in the US? If they are its their problem, I have worshipped in churches around the world and was neither offended nor particularly inspired by the presence of the national flag of the nation in question. One has to decide to make such a thing an issue, and if they do it is for some reason other than the worship service before them.

As to the confusion of patriotism and religious devotion - well pretty much anything can serve as a fetish or idol - from worship music to computer solitaire. If people are getting confused about such a thing its not because the flag is there, its because the church is not teaching them the difference.

This is at heart a political argument, not a church one and by participating in it, we are giving it more credence than it deserves.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Kitty Kartoons

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Loving V Trusting

John Piper writes of the difference between love and trust:
Trust is more concretely demonstrable for children than love. A little child can be told to jump from the fourth step and daddy will catch him. “Trust me. I will catch you.” They can grasp that at two years old.

Similarly, a small child can grasp the application to Jesus: He will always be there to take care of you. In fact, he died once, to save and protect you. You will understand that more someday.

But what it means to love Jesus is not so easily demonstrable. Loving Jesus is more emotionally complex.
But I think Piper points himself out as someone who is outside the mainstream of society:Emphasizing a child’s duty to love Jesus more than emphasizing the need to trust him may cause a distortion of love into a set of deeds. Children are wired to translate all perceived duties into deeds.

But that is not what love is. It is before and beneath deeds. When Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15), he meant that love precedes and enables obedience, not that love is obedience.
When I look around today, I see a world that thinks love is pure emotion, without consequence in deed or action. I do not think that such emotion that does not produce action is a valid understanding of love either. These things are inextricable and indivisible. Love does not merely underlie obedience, it produces it.

Put another way (by James I think) the claim to love Christ, without obedience, is empty and void. They cannot be separated, nor can they be understood one from another. There is no sense in trying.

Monday, April 14, 2014


Maybe, Maybe Not

Reformation Theology quotes Martin Lloyd Jones from 'Preaching and Preachers:
"Why is it that you call people to repent? Why do you call them to believe the Gospel? You cannot deal properly with repentance without dealing with the doctrine of man, the doctrine of the Fall, the doctrine of sin and the wrath of God against sin. Then when you call men to come to Christ and to give themselves to Him, how can you do so without knowing who He is, and on what grounds you invite them to come to Him, and so on. In other words it is all highly theological. Evangelism which is not theological is not evangelism at all in any true sense. It may be a calling for decisions, it may be a calling on people to come to religion, or to live a better life, or the offering of some psychological benefits; but it cannot by any definition be regarded as Christian evangelism, because there is no true reason for what you are doing apart from these great theological principles. I assert therefore that every type of preaching must be theological, including evangelistic preaching."
There is a thing and then there is an understanding of a thing. For example - using a screw to attach two piece of wood. Most people can do that, but how many people can explain why, and most importantly, how the screw works. There is physics, material science, and horticulture involved in the process. Few people have knowledge in all of these areas.

While I agree with Lloyd-Jones that there is a cheap form of evangelism wherein psychological benefits is offered in lieu of a genuine confrontation with Christ, I think that such a genuine confrontation is quite possible without theology. I honestly cannot tell if this is an admonition to the preacher or the congregation. If to the preacher, then I will adopt it wholly. Too much preaching attempts to be empathetic without deep content.

If this admonition is tot he congregation, then I find it quite off-putting.

What I find most amazing is that a blog dedicated to Calvinist thinking would think the salvation process is dependent on what or how we think about anything. After all, God saves us, not our thinking.

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