Saturday, September 19, 2015


Comic Art


Friday, September 18, 2015


It's Not About Feeling Good

Matthew Westerholm writes about how to worship on a bad day:
When you know how the story ends, everything changes.

So, believer, how does your story end?

With a resurrection. Your perishable, dishonored, weak, and fallen body will likely die (unless Jesus returns first). But it will be raised as imperishable, glorious, powerful, and spiritual (1 Corinthians 15:42–44). In your flesh, you shall see God (Job 19:26).

With a reunion. Though you have not seen him, you love him (1 Peter 1:8). Your cry for your “Abba, Father” will be answered as you are swept into his arms. Your story ends with you seeing Jesus face-to-face.

And with a wedding. Your bridegroom comes on the clouds with a glorious entourage of angels to bring you the home that he has been preparing for all eternity. Our small tastes of the coming kingdom will be fulfilled with a feast — a wedding feast. Start planning for your wedding!

Are you trying to worship on a bad day? As you gather with your church for worship, look for reminders about the ending. Because of the ending, we can be steadfast, immovable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58). Today, allow God’s promised glorious ending to shape your experience of your circumstances.
Let em translate that, "Are you trying to feel happy when you don't." Talk about insight lite. Worship is not about attitude or feeling - it's not something you have to be pumped for - it is something you do becasue you are a child of God. Worship is a matter of obedience, not feeling. Worship is a result of God's on a throne and you are not.

Yes, sometimes it'll be wonderful and you will feel like you are floating away on a a stream of music. But most of the time you do it becasue it is what you are supposed to do when you have received grace beyond measure. The grace only a sinner can receive.



Friday Humor

Thursday, September 17, 2015


Good To Know

Robert Barron @ Real Clear Religion
Postmodern relativism and deconstruction have produced what I have termed the "Meh culture," that is to say, a culture dominated by the "whatever" attitude, a bland, detached indifferentism to the good and the true.

How often have you heard someone say, "that's perhaps true for you but not for me," or "who are you to be imposing your values on me?" or in the immortal words of the Dude in The Big Lebowski, "well, that's just like your opinion, man." Is it not a commonplace today that the only moral absolute that remains is the obligation to tolerate all points of view? What this subjectivism has conduced toward is a society lacking in energy and focus, one that cannot rouse itself to corporate action on behalf of some universal good.

John Henry Newman said that well-defined banks are precisely what give verve and direction to a river. Once those banks are knocked down, the river will spread out, in short order, into a large, lazy lake. Applying the analogy, he argued that objective truths, clearly understood, are what give energy to a culture and that when those truths are compromised in the name of freedom or toleration, said culture rapidly loses its purpose and cohesiveness. It is as though people today are floating on individual air-mattresses on Newman's lazy lake, disconnected from one another, each locked in the isolation of his or her subjective judgments.

The great 20th century philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand was one of the most articulate and incisive critics of the kind of relativism that has come to hold sway in our time. Following the prompts of both Plato and St. Augustine, Hildebrand delighted in showing the self-defeating incoherence of the position: if he is to be consistent, the relativist must hold that the claim of universal relativism is itself relative and hence not binding on anyone beside himself. Hildebrand taught that the philosophy of relativism flowed from the failure to honor the fundamental distinction between the arena of the merely subjectively satisfying and the arena of real values. There are many things and experiences that we seek because they please us or satisfy some basic need. One might find a cigarette appealing or a slice of pizza tasty or a political party useful, but in all these cases, one is bending the thing in question to his subjectivity. But there are other goods (Hildebrand's "values") that by their splendor, excellence, and intrinsic worth, draw the person out of himself, bending his subjectivity to them, drawing him toward self-transcendence.
Never heard of Hildebrand before, but can bet I will read him now.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Maybe People Are Looking For More...

Church Times carries a piece about an increase at attendance in mid-week services in cathedrals in Britain:
Cathedral deans in the Church of England have attributed the rise in attendance at cathedrals to a variety of factors.

Statistics published by Church House on Monday indicate that attendance at services on Monday to Saturday at cathedrals doubled between 2003 and 2013, from 7500 to 15,000.
The article drones on and on about external factors, length of services, anonymity, yada, yada, yada. I cannot help but think that it just might have something to do with the fact that people are looking for a genuine religious experience - you know a service that has not been so carefully choreographed (in either traditional or contemporary style) that the Holy Spirit can actually make a move.

I have attended big cathedral Sunday mornings and mid-week services. All I observed really was that the Sunday morning was a corporate thing and the mid-week was an opportunity for personal devotion.

The key here, I think, is that it is a sign that people are searching. Rather than respond with statistics and questions of how to take advantage of the trend, maybe we should just reach out to those that are searching. Or is that too radical an idea?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


The Superlative

Megan Hill in CT:
I have never eaten an awesome meal. I’ve never driven an awesome car or taken an awesome vacation. I haven’t danced to an awesome song or streamed an awesome video. I do, however, know an awesome God.

My history with the word awesome goes back to my childhood, when my father—an amateur linguist and professional theologian—gently corrected my early attempts to apply that word (lit. “inspiring fright”) indiscriminately. In our family, we reserved the adjective for the One whose name is great and awesome (Ps. 99:3).

My dad’s point was not that awesome itself was some sacred incantation only for the divine (the lover in Song of Solomon, for example, ascribes awesomeness to his bride). He simply wanted me to acknowledge with my words that, in both character and magnitude, God is different from deep-dish pizza.

We live in a culture of inflated language. Our text messages and e-mails explode with exclamation points and smiley faces—and we suspect less enthusiastic communicators of being sarcastic or curmudgeonly. Our everyday language swells in an era where immediate eclipses thoughtful, where the objective meaning of words is questionable, and where affirmation is prized. Parents, teachers, and coaches praise children effusively for attempting even basic tasks. And our social media statuses daily attract hundreds of thumbs-ups. As they sing in The Lego Movie: “Everything is awesome.”

But if everything is awesome, then nothing is.

Monday, September 14, 2015


Learning To Talk Good

Chaplain Mike discusses the difference between language and lingo:
The authors and speakers and friends I love rarely if ever fall into this trap. I never know what they’re going to say or how they’re going to say it. They speak epiphanies. They build metaphorical worlds that carry me away and I am along for the ride: rising and falling on an open sea inhaling sharp salt air one moment, feet sinking into a spongy forest floor the next. It’s fairies and rabbit holes, wardrobes and windswept plains, ball yards and small town backyards, hobbits and desert saints and boarding school wizards, slums and palaces and log cabins and creaky old Victorian mansions.

But it’s not just the pictures they paint, the metaphorical worlds they create, it’s the medicine they give: words fitly spoken. Words that turn my head, that cause my jaw to drop. Words that make me stop and turn around. That make me shiver. That wrap me in a warm sherpa throw. That make my heart bleed ’til it’s whole again.

Not the same old lingo. Not tired trade language. If ever they use such words, they do so only as a foil for that which is clearly genuine.

Don’t let me settle for it, Lord. Put fire and hammers and balm and blankets in my mouth. Heal the sick, raise the dead, comfort the brokenhearted. Make the story real and build a new world.
The right word at the right time is a big deal, but too often we let that goal stand in the way of maturity. Too often we reach out to people and we "speak their language" in order to reach them. But when you are talking about something like the gospel, you reach out in order to pull them in. At some point you need to quit speaking their language and ask them to speak yours.

Let me give you an example. I studied chemistry in school. There is an instrument we use in chemical analysis called and "atomic adsorption spectrophotometer." Very useful device and in today's computer driven world (when I learned to use one you had to be capable of serious math to interpret the results but nowadays the built in microprocessor handles that for you.) you can train just about any one to use it. But those that are trained how to use it and read the answer are readily differentiated from those that really know the machine by what they call it. "AA," "Fire analyzer" are just two of the nicknames I have heard. Most cannot even pronounce "spectrophotometer." These people can use the machine, but they do not understand it - often they do not even know when the machine is giving them bad answers becasue something is out of adjustment.

Lingo is lingo when it is words thrown around without really knowing what they mean. The words themselves are not bad, it is that they have no genuine meaning in the conversation that is the issue.

So many in the church today can use the lingo, but it has not yet advanced to language. The reason people are turned off by the lingo is becasue of the absence of meaning, not the words themselves.

If we want to quit using lingo and start using language, maybe we don't need to change our words, maybe we need to infuse our lingo with actual meaning.

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