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Archive for March, 2008

Meet the Committee


I am exhausted from a whirlwind weekend with a search committee.  I flew out very early Saturday morning on a plane crowded with people returning from Spring Break.  I flew back last night on a delayed flight that allowed me to have a whole row to myself, but unable to sleep due to turbulence.  So, I left before the kids were up, and returned after the kids were asleep- missing 2 days of their young lives.

I got a tour of the area, and the facility.  It is a fairly new facility and looks very nice.  They have plenty of land, so there is room for growth. 

The search committee was nicer.  There was plenty of good-natured ribbing to go around.  While “interrogating” me, I was not wearing something as embarassing as PJs.  Rather they “grilled” me over long delicious meals together.  I struggled to answer one question as Deep Purple’s Highway Star played in the background.  And one of the committee members struggled to pay attention to my answer too.  Lest you think it was pure pleasure, there were some tough questions.  Unfortunately for them, when I get tired I ramble.  Hopefully I didn’t do too much of that.

In between the 2 discussions, we participated in a worship service where I was able to preach.  It was a bit out of all our comfort zones in terms of style, but the host church was very friendly and they are reaching those who’ve been damaged by other churches.  I did a revised version of my recent sermon on the Tale of the 2 Sons (Luke 15:11-32). 

It was a preliminary meeting, so CavWife & kids stayed behind in FL.  If they want to extend a call, at the very least the 2 of us would travel.  But that is getting ahead of ourselves.  Now both parties seek discernment: Am I the right person for them?  Is that the situation for me?  I’ve got strengths and weaknesses; they’ve got strengths and challenges.  Now we ask that God would work in us to will and work according to His purposes (Philippians 2). 

Now …. I need some rest.

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Iain Murray traces the development of Revivalism in Revival & Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism.  Three factors are most important in the development of revivalism as distinct from revival: the Kentucky revivals, Dr. Nathaniel Taylor and Charles Finney.

The story begins in Kentucky during the revivals during the Second Great Awakening (early 1800s).  There were physical phenomena in previous revivals, but in Kentucky they seemed to take on a life of their own.  Previously, wise pastors put the emphasis on the proclamation of truth.  Most of the revivals took place among Calvinists, so there was an emphasis on doctrine influencing practice.  In Kentucky, the Presbyterians, Baptists and Methodists would join together for camp meetings.  They would celebrate communion, and people would hear a number of sermons.  The camps grew so large, you could have multiple sermons being preached at the same time.  When physical manifestations popped up, some of the pastors began to encourage them rather than restrain them.

By and large the Methodists encouraged the physical manifestations.  The Presbyterians were split over them.  What ended up happening is that those who supported and encouraged these physical manifestations soon began to preach against Calvinism as anti-revival and unbiblical.  They were anti-doctrine in general, and loathed Reformed Theology in particular.  Francis Asbury was one of the leaders in this new attack on Calvinism here in America.  He was one of the people who began to institutionalize the camp meetings.  He thought certain practices produced certain results.  The physical manifestations became necessary elements of revival, which was a new development.  This is a sad development, in part, because American Presbyterians had often assisted the fledgling Methodists.  This was clearly a knife in the back.

At the new Yale Divinity School, Dr. Taylor began his assault on Calvinism.  He rejected the doctrine of depravity.  He began to popularize Grotius’ governmental theory of the atonement.

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We sent this out as a family photo.

The evaluation with the cranio-facial team went well.  It was a bit overwhelming at times.  There were anywhere from 1-4 specialists in the room at any given time.  That was pretty overwhelming for me at times- too many conversations to follow.  It felt like dinner with my wife’s family.  This would be why she felt at home.  My job was to keep CavSon reasonably quiet while not being examined.  The plastic surgeon wants to do the surgery ASAP.  We are to call his office tomorrow and try to set up a time for it.  Life is pretty complicated right now.  There will be lots of changes in the next few months, and we aren’t sure precisely what many of them will be.

At least I’m not this guy!  I’m currently watching the Simpsons Movie.  Homer’s ability to consistently do the wrong thing is absolutely amazing.  So, compared to him … I’m  a pretty good husband and father.  It is pretty funny.  Utterly pointless and irreverent, but really funny.  Hopefully I won’t wake up the little girl.

However, my wife just doesn’t get the Simpsons.  But we still love each other.

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My Breakdancing Boy


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Okay, he really isn’t breakdancing.  He’s falling down while trying to walk in adult shoes.  But I thought it looked cool.

It is hard to believe it has nearly been 2 months since he entered our home.  Overall he’s fitting in well.  He and CavDaughter get along most of the time.  Just like siblings.

He no longer gorges on food.  He’s picked up some more words, but still prefers to just point and grunt.  He has trouble staying still when you change him, which can become very frustrating  when you are in a hurry.

He is doing well when we leave him in the nursery at church.  Our main complaint would be the whining.  But most kids his age whine.  That and how he can’t make up his mind: he’ll want to be helped up on the couch, then down.  Then up.  Then down.  Repeat ad infinitum.  Oh, and he likes to step on your feet.

Tomorrow (Thursday) we bring him for the monthly CMS cranio-facial surgical team evaluation.  CavDaughter gets to spend some time with a friend in the morning while we take him to Orlando.  The evaluation should take 2 hours, and we’ll get the dictation in about 2 weeks.  It will be the treatment plan for the next year.  I’m hoping he only needs one surgery this year, but we’ll see.

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I forgot Iain Murray’s book at home so my post on Revivalism will have to wait.  But while checking a few blogs I ran across this recent interview with Mark Driscoll.  In this section he addresses the question of revival and the remarkable growth experienced by Mars Hill and some other Acts 29 churches.

JV: Do you have a theology of revival? I guess many would see the rapid growth at Mars Hill (and some of the Acts 29 work) as taking on revival proportions. Is this how you would see it, or are you looking for something further (or do you even see revival as a helpful category)?

MD: I do. I have read both Jonathan Edwards and Iain Murray on this, for example. I have also studied many church movements such as the Methodists and Jesus Movement. I do believe that revival is akin to Nehemiah stacking the old stones that had lain unused for many generations. My city (Seattle) is still pre-Christian so technically I would say that we are more of a missions movement than a revival movement. But, as we spread through our campuses and church plants around the nation and world, I guess that is possible.

By God’s grace, we are multi-denominational and having what seems to be a positive and helpful influence on many churches, denominations and networks for which we praise God. In the end, we’ll see what God does. We’re off to an encouraging start but the game is far from over and maybe one day when I’m dead someone can write the report of what happened and see if it qualifies as something akin to a revival. For now, I’m just trying to follow Jesus, love my wife, enjoy my kids, pastor my church, preach my Bible, confess my sins, write my books and have my fun.

JV: Given your vantage point, what would you predict for the development of evangelicalism in the West over the coming 20 years?

MD: I would hope to see a robust gospel, love of church planting, and call for dudes to act dudely.

I appreciate his humility.  Unlike a revivalist, he’s not claiming he’s got a revival going on.  He is waiting for the test of time to reveal if what is happening is genuine.  It may be this humility that has opened the door for even more growth.  Earlier this year Mark publicly repented of the pride he saw charactizing his ministry, and by extension that of the church.  After the Resurgence conference he shared how Piper & C.J. Mahaney had a heart to heart with him.  And the gospel seems to make progress in this “missions” setting.

Adrian Warnock has Mark summing up Holy Week like this:

 “Something broke this weekend, spiritually. I’m not sure how to explain it, but God’s favor was evident everywhere. We had 8,070 people attend on Sunday, plus however many could not make it into the Eastside Campus or stand up outside the building to listen on speakers because there was no room in the parking lot or on the sidewalk. We had 3,648 for Good Friday services plus however many hundreds got turned away from the 7 p.m. service at Ballard. We had at least 11,718 people altogether this weekend, somewhere near 200 baptisms yesterday alone, and are still trying to figure out how many people got saved. . . .Yesterday, while singing with the congregation at each of the five services I preach live, I could not stop weeping. People were singing loudly with their hands in the air. They cheered all day as people came forward to give their lives to Jesus and be baptized. The pastors were up front laying hands on people, praying over them, and leading them to Christ by the dozens at every service. I stood off to the side during the singing to watch what God was doing, and multiple people walked up to me weeping and asked me to pray with them to become a Christian.”

Being a student of Edwards and Murray, I have a hard time thinking they are using the typical manipulative techniques advanced (but not invented) by Finney which fit in with his rejection of depravity, substitutionary atonement and other biblical teachings.  It will be interesting to follow this over time.  Hopefully Mark will remain humble, indeed increase in humility, as he watches God changes lives thru the gospel of His Son.

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In my earlier post on With One Voice by Reggie Kidd, I summarized Bach, Bubba & the Blues Brothers.  I wanted that to function as a book review of sorts.  Now I want to expand those summaries of Reggie Kidd’s ideas and play with the concepts abit.  I’ll interact with material from the book and throw in a few ideas of my own.

Bach- Some Christians have the time, aptitude and resources to fully appreciate classical culture.  I say fully because I appreciate classical culture though it is not where I live.  It is like a vacation spot where I am spoiled at times by Mozart, Bach, Rossini, Tchaikovsky and others.  I haven’t spent the time to study their background and the origins of the various pieces.  I enjoy them, but I don’t have a full appreciation of their work.  But some of my fellow Christians do fully appreciate them.

Classical culture points us to the transcendent.  It is largely about the quest for truth and beauty.  It requires the highest of skills to play/perform.  This is what makes it beyond the reach of most congregations except on special occasions (like a “vacation”).  We need to venture to a performance of Handel’s Messiah periodically to get a taste of beauty and transcendence.  Some of the greatest hymns have been set to music by these musical giants as well.

But I love what Reggie says: “Now, Jesus loves Bach’s music and that of his aesthetic kin- of this I am certain.  I am equally sure, however, that he finds their most elevated and demanding stuff to be but nursery tunes.”  Even in our heights we fall far short of the bar set by our Creator.  Let us not think our worship is better because our songs are more elegant or deeper.  All our praises need to be purified by the blood of Jesus.

But the lush music is a pointer for our longings as well.  Reggie notes the disagreement between Ambrose of Milan and his disciple Augustine of Hippo (you may have heard of him).  Ambrose loved lush music in worship.  Augustine feared it, thinking it would distract him from the text.  They should work together!  A rich text may require rich, lush music.  Music is to capture the meaning of the text, amplifying it so we are lost in wonder at the Redemeer’s love for such as us.  Reggie puts it this way: “there is an expansiveness of spirit Christ would inculcate in us and which art of this kind fosters.”

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Fantasy Baseball Draft


It was delayed, but we had our baseball draft tonight.  I’m part of a league with a bunch of guys from a church in Charlotte, NC.  I tried to balance best player available and the scarcity principle until the last few rounds.  Scarcity takes the drop off in talent at a position into account.  I don’t know if it worked.  Here is how my team shaped up, in order.

OF Matt Holiday  Rockies

DH David Ortiz  Red Sox

2B Brian Roberts Orioles, but possibly soon the Cubs  (there are not many high ranked 2B, and he gets lots of steals)

SP Josh Beckett  Red Sox

RP J.J. Putz   Mariners

3B Chipper Jones  Braves

SS Rafael Furcal  Dodgers

OF Brad Hawpe  Rockies

OF Delmon Young  Twins  (this is the one pick I’m kicking myself for tonight)

SP Javier Vazquez  White Sox

OF Jacoby Ellsbury  Red Sox  (I figure Coco will probably be traded.  Jacoby will get me steals & runs if Tito figures out can actually lead off in the regular season and not just the World Series.)

SP Brad Penny  Dodgers (he’s their opening day pitcher)

1B James Loney Dodgers

RP Jason Isringhausen  Cards

C Ivan Rodriquez  Tigers (‘Tek strikes out too much, and that counts in this league)

SP Dustin McGowen  Jays

OF Jeremy Hermida Marlins  (could be a big sleeper pick)

SP Derek Lowe

2B, SS Felipe Lopez  Nationals

RP Hideki Okajima  Red Sox

I’m a bit concerned about having so many Dodgers.  Now it is time to build my watch list.

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