Archive for September, 2006

How Not to Do Evangelism

Traced back to the Sunday Papers.

I guess it was inevitable that someone would come up with a this as a joke.  I’d buy some, but I’m thinking most people aren’t looking at my butt, except to laugh.

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A visit to the Acts 29 Network caused me to pause and ponder.  And that is about how we view ourselves.  In responding to what they believe they say:

“The short answer is that we are first Christians, second Evangelicals, third Missional, and fourth Reformed. The more lengthy answer is included below and intentionally omits some finer points of doctrine and secondary issues as we allow the elders in our local churches to operate according to their convictions on these matters. ”

They start with the broadest category, and then narrow it down.  They begin with the common ground.  They are Christians.  I like how they put the emphasis on the Body rather than what part of the Body they are. 

Then they begin to progressively distinguish themselves from other groups within the Church.They are evangelical.  This is a broad subgroup among Christians.  It is often misunderstood, but they explain what they mean in terms of the historic, doctrines they evangelicals have held (authority of Scripture, the Trinity, deity of Jesus…).  This sets them apart from mainline and other liberal expressions of Christianity (which we would say deviate from orthodoxy).


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Great Moments in Dadhood

Yesterday was a day of great joy.  Not only did the CavDaughter put her own sock on for the first time (we’ll see how long it takes to repeat that feat) she uttered one of the most precious words to my ears- baseball.  Sorry Jollyblogger, but this here is my little girl and baseball is a pretty important word for her to know.  Her rapidly expanding vocabulary already includes ‘amen’ when we are done praying.

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The Sad Story of TO

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens reportedly attempted suicide yesterday.  He overdosed on painkillers as he recuperates from surgery on his broken finger.

While a tremendous athlete, TO comes across as a horrible human being.  I’ve never met him, so all I know is from what I see and hear on TV or the radio/magazines.  He is a man who burns bridges.  He made the 49er and Eagles organizations so sick of him and his antics that they got rid of him.  The Eagles got nothing in return too.  All of this in his greedy crusade to get more money (and the respect he thinks it signifies).  I’m not sure this guy has any friends. 

What put him over the edge?  I mean, he’s got the stinkin’ money.  Still not happy!  Perhaps while recuperating none of his teammates called. Perhaps only his mom and agent called.  That would be depressing- to realize that getting what you wanted cost you everything you need.  It is a sad story- hopefully it will have a great ending.  Perhaps he’ll realize that the God he says he worships is more concerned with his heart than his checkbook.

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When Sports Hurt

The first lesson in track and field should be to always keep your eye on the flying objects- especially javelins!

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Jesus Redux

Apparently Jesus returned, and I did not know it.  An evangelist in S. Florida calls himself “The Man Christ Jesus” who has returned without relationship to sin.  His followers often give him tons of money, including estates worth up to a million dollars.  “Jesus” is living large.  There are 30 “study centers” in the US, and centers in over 20 countries.  It is too strange to be believed.  Here is the Today Day Show piece on the him and the group.  There is also a Fox News piece on the group including an interview with a defender of “Jesus”.  And there is a promo piece put out by the group, translated into English.  This organization, Growing in Grace, has all the signs of a cult.  People are cut off from their families (even ‘Jesus’), an authoritarian leader, a unique perspective on the Bible etc.

What does he teach?

1. Sin no longer exists (Hebrews 9:26).

2. The Devil was destroyed 2,000 years ago (Hebrews 2:14).

3. He is the last manifestation of God in flesh (sounds like modalism).

4. He has established the Government of God on earth.

5. Every religion will end, and their leaders are corrupt, teaching expired doctrine.

Just so you don’t forget: “The man Christ Jesus, Dr. Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda, is coming to the USA!  The King of kings and Lord of lords has arrived in America!”

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Unexpected Blessing: Living the Counterculture Reality of the Beatitudes by Cameron Lee is a worthy read on the subject.  He picks up the idea that we are living in an upside-down world.  The kingdom is not like the world, and so the values of the kingdom are quite contrary to the world. 

Lee does a good job of fleshing that out.  In the process, you will probably be challenged, and encouraged.  To quote John Piper, “the flesh turns the law into a ladder.”  We are tempted to turn the Beatitudes into a law to gaining the kingdom.  But they are in a context of grace- they are the marks of those who have repented and believed because the kingdom had drawn near in Jesus.  So we do not gain the kingdom by them, but their presence indicates that we truly are citizens of the kingdom.

As citizens of the kingdom, we will not be satisfied by the putrid and petty offerings of this substitute & shadowy kingdom.

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I admire Fox for creating a new division called FoxFaith which will acquire about 12 family-oriented films for distribution to theaters or on DVD.  They see an opportunity to tap into the Christian market.

Here’s the problem, family-oriented films are not the same as faith-oriented films.  Some family-oriented films can be quite opposed to faith.  I guess I’m saying the name FoxFaith would lead me to think these were stories of faith.  Yes, some of them are, like Love’s Abiding Joy.  It is based on a Janette Oke novel, and directed and co-written by Michael Landon, Jr.  Strawberry Shortcake though?   Everyone’s Hero?

Here we have a quote from the Family Game and Activity Book they sent me.  “With faith in himself that has been instilled by his family, he teams up with a talking baseball, and embarks on a sometimes perilous, often funny, cross-country quest.  In the process, he restores his family’s honor, befriends the world’s biggest sports superstar, and reveals the hero within.”  That, my blogging friends, sounds like secular humanism to me.  Oh, they talk about “God-given abilities”, but this is just self-actualization not about a Redeemer who restores me, befriends me and sends me on a mission in His name.

All I’m asking for is truth in advertising.  I want more family friendly films, but I don’t want them passed off as films about faith (unless I’m expecting to worship myself).

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Al got the privilege of writing the controversial chapter entitled Homosexual Marriage as a Challenge to the Church: Biblical and Cultural Reflections for Sex and the Supremacy of God.  He did a great job of staying on point and not engaging in name-calling or knee jerk reactions.

This topic is important because: “The covenant fidelity at the very center of marriage is a picture of God’s purpose in the creation of the world and the redemption of the church.”  As a result, homosexual marriage by its very nature would speak falsely of God and redemption.  This goes far beyond arguing on the basis of tradition and culture.  Mohler makes a good argument for “Compassionate Truth-Telling”.  It is “not only the accurate preseentation of biblical truth, but the prayerful and urgent hope that the individuals to whom we speak that truth will be transformed by that truth and respond to the grace of God in Jesus Christ.”  That is not accomplished by “turn or burn” types of arguments.  This does not mean we avoid the reality of judgment, faith & repentance, but that we see it in the larger context of creation, Fall & depravity, and redemption.

1. “We, as Christians, must be the people who cannot start a conversation about homosexual marriage by talking about homosexual marriage.”  How do you like that?  What he means is putting it in a fuller context.  We have to address the presuppositions held by those with whom we disagree on this issue.  In our worldview, morality is a reflection of the character and purposes of God for His glory and our good.  In a naturalistic & materialistic, it becomes mere social convention and part of the evolutionary process (and some advocates will use the term evolutionary in talking about ethics).  Part of the larger story is that gender is a part of the goodness of creation.  God saw Adam’s need.  Adam, apparently was still content.  This is why I believe the problem of his aloneness is not being lonely, but being unable to fulfill the creation mandates.  He needed a helpmate, a complement, to work side-by-side with him.  One aspect of that mandate is to fill the earth with God’s image, something homosexual relationships are not able to do if and of themselves (though many cannot totally suppress the imago dei and desire to have children via adoption, surrogates or artificial insemination).


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RTS Gets Missional

Let’s say I’ve been a tad busy lately.  Lots of meetings.  I’ll be thankful to get a break from the responsibilities of chairing our Presbytery’s Minister & His Work Committee.  But that is for another time.

In clearing off my desk I spent some time looking over the DMin courses that RTS offered this summer.  As an alum, I got a postcard or 2.  It is great to see Ed Stetzer teaching some courses (Church Growth & Development Core w/Mark Dever, and a Church Planting Seminar with Steve Childers).  I think the Reformed Community is a little behind on recognizing that churches are missional (and not just junior seminaries).  I think this is great, and that they add more such courses.  Maybe one day I’ll have the time and money to pursue a DMin so I can think thru these matters more thoroughly.

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Big Papi Makes His Mark

A Big Congratuations goes out to the Big Papi for breaking the Red Sox single season record for homeruns.  And then tacked on another for good measure.  It had been held by Hall of Famer Jimmie “The Beast” Foxx.  Jimmie was a huge man in his day- but is dwarfed by many of today’s players.  He was the same size as Tony Graffanino.

But Foxx was one big hitter, striking fear in his opponents.

Papi’s legacy continues to grow. 

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Well, WordPress lost my post, so lets try this again….

Two Texas churches are being sued for practicing church discipline, or the manner in which they practiced it.  In at one case the member tried to remove themselves from membership to stop the process.  They are claiming a violation of their right to privacy.  In a questionable call, the congregations notified congregants that the parties in question had committed adultery.

Churches need to protect themselves from such lawsuits by primarily doing two things.  1- clearly outline the process of discipline as a part of membership classes (including the fact that you cannot withdraw your membership unless you also recant your faith).  Also outline what kinds of sins will be so handled.  Have people sign statements.  2. -don’t do stupid things like send out letters specifying the particular sins for which they are being disciplined.  It is enough to say that they are being disciplined for one of the sins mentioned in the disciplinary process.

The right to privacy should not be used to hide one’s sins in a church.  The process of discipline should not be used to shame people publicly.  I believe churches can effectively exercise discipline without letting the whole world know what you did.  Of course, if I’m a real big sinner, the world knowing what I did is the least of my worries.  These people have hurt far more people more deeply by their actions than these churches hurt by telling people what they’ve done.

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David Powlison’s chapter, Making All Things New: Restoring Pure Joy to the Sexually Broken in Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, is excellent.  Keep in mind it is quite long (41 pages), and took me a few sittings with a busy schedule.

It is just recently that I’ve begun to appreciate David Powlison.  My first brush with biblical counseling was Jay Adams.  His writings seemed more polemical and extreme.  If Powlison was the primary spokesperson, perhaps lots of misunderstanding between the various camps of Christian counseling would have been avoided.  But alas, it was not so.  This quote in particular illustrates my point: “It’s about moving along a trajectory away from the dark and toward the light.  It’s about knowing where you are heading while you’re still somewhere in the middle.”  Sounds alot like pilgrimage.  And one of the early criticisms of people like Jay Adams was that it sounded like if you just repented all would be well.  Yes, if you recall that repentance is a life-long process.

So Powlison doesn’t want us to despair of change (you hear this in some people- once an addict, always an addict).  Nor does he want us to think change is easy and quick.  Over time real progress is made as we move from addressing the flagrant sins to addressing the more fundamental root sins.  It is not an easy fight, like just hitting a pitch.  It is more like football (the Jollyblogger ought to be happy) where you are fighting the line, the backs and safeties.

Okay… First, we should bring light to all that darkens sex.  Powlison breaks this down into unholy pleasure (overt sexual immorality & perversity), unholy pain (healing for victims of abuse), guilt, viewing sexual sin as a male problem (it just looks different in women), and sexual struggles in marriage (we bring baggage from the previously mentioned problems).


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I Got a Nibble

Well, I’ve been contacted by one publisher about my manuscript.  They made no promises, but would like to see some more. 

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“Persecution and difficulty will inevitably tell the truth about our motivations. … As long as we can have both God and the world, it is going to be hard to tell for sure.  But when we have to choose between God and the world, between serving God and progressing in our careers, between following God and getting married, between being rich to God and laying up large amounts of money, between obedience to God and life itself, then we find out in a hurry the true nature of our commitment.”  Iain Duguid in Hero of Heroes: Seeing Christ in the Beatitudes

btw: This is yet another great book in a great series.  Well, technically this does not fall into the same series as The Gospel in the Old Testament, but it does follow the same pattern, including questions for discussion after each chapter.

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Ben Patterson wrote a chapter entitled The Goodness of Sex and the Glory of God in Sex and the Supremacy of Christ.  He starts by talking about our cultures obsession with sex, relating some graffiti: “Sex makes free” and “Copulo, ergo sum” or “I copulate, therefore I am”.

Sex is certainly over-rated in our culture.  People on TV make it sound like the end all & be all of life.  It seems to be the great pursuit.  This is, as Patterson reminds us of C.S. Lewis’ ideas, the Enemy’s plan, to encourage us to twist and misuse pleasure.

God is not against pleasure- He created it.  He made our bodies in such a way that sex brings great pleasure to us.  God is pro-pleasure, including sexual pleasure.  Since Satan can’t remove the pleasure from sex, he will twist it and prompt us to mis-use it through immorality, perversion and abuse.  As Screwtape says “An ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure is the formula.”  What an apt description of addiction.

Patterson moves on to trace the idea of the Bible as a Book about Marriage and Sex.  It begins and ends with marriages.  In Genesis 2 we see Adam and Eve marrying.  In Revelation we see the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.  Marriage metaphors run thru many of the main themes of the Bible.  He notes Hosea’s marriage from Hades as a picture of God’s marriage with Israel.

Beyond that, the Bible is clear that sex is an area devastated by sin, and one which Jesus came to redeem.  Jesus is not out to destroy our sex lives, but to redeem them for His purposes & glory, and our greater pleasure.

Lastly, The Song of Songs is about the joy of married sex.  It is filled with numerous metaphors describing its joys and satisfaction.

But we need to build our theology of sex on solid ground.  We can quickly go off track if we don’t remain firmly grounded in what the Bible does say (and many a Christian group has gone in wrong directions).


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With the help of Justin from Ekklesia 360, I got all of the technical issues sorted out.  This week’s sermon- Restoring the Peace– is now available on The Sermon Cloud.  Now that I’ve done it, I get it (understand it).  I can use the technology to enhance the material on our church web site as well.  I hope others are edified!

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Yes, the Shirt is Available

If you are like me, you may want one of these shirts.  It is not just some photoshop special, anymore.  Justin Taylor reports that this shirt is for sale.

The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University, which houses the Edwards collection, will make them available shortly.  The secured the right to reproduce it from the designers.  So theology Geeks like me, and possibly you, can get yourself a copy soon.

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Movie, or Not a Movie

Is this the plot of a real movie or not?

“Kham’s life is turned upside down when an international mafia syndicate, based in Australia, captures his two beloved elephants and smuggles them thousands of kilometers away to Sydney. The two elephants are far more than mere animals to Kham and his father; they are part of his family and were being prepared to be presented as a token of devotion to his Majesty the King of Thailand. The only way Kham can possibly save the animals is by venturing into a foreign land for the first time. Taking on a mafia group to rescue two elephants from a foreign country presents a huge challenge, even for a martial arts master like Kham. Despite the help of Sergeant Mark, a Thai police Sergeant based in Australia, and Pla, a Thai girl forced into modern day slavery, the going gets tough. They must take on the ruthless gang of Madame Rose, whose henchmen include Johnny, a Vietnamese thief and martial arts expert, and the hulking TK. Kham has no choice but to risk his own life for the animals he loves. “

If this absurd plot interests you…. Go see The Protector.  Supposedly the final fight sequence- taken in one shot- is awesome.  I’m thinking rental, with lots of fast-forwarding.

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I heard the song “Work” on their website.  I really liked that one.  There is a concept video for Good Monsters on YouTube.  Very strange..  that song will need a few more listens before I decide if I like it.  A fan video of Mirrors and Smoke is also there.  It is the song with Leigh Nash.  Reminds me of something that Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash would have sung.  I like the song.  They used a bunch of cartoon clips to tell a story.

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