Sunday, March 30, 2008

You've got to be kidding me!

Its been a crazy couple weeks at church, in a good way. I can't complain about long hours, because we've got plenty of volunteers putting in as many; and sometimes more!

But tonight it was about 8, and it was time to go home. Time to go, enjoy some beverages, play some xbox, and not think about anything important. So I stopped to drop off a laptop my friend had left at church.

I pull in.

Turn off my car. Leave the keys in the ignition, no big deal right? In and out.

Grab the computer.

Walk to the door. Give him the computer.


Here's a picture taken in context, to give you an idea of my mood:

After sighing multiple times, cursing only a couple times, and resolving that the Malibu's days are numbered; my friend Steve and I weighed the options. He then proceeds to successfully pry open the door with a screwdriver just enough to slip in a coathanger he fashioned into this apparatus:

The fact that he successfully snagged the power lock latch turns this shameful event into a pretty cool story. But, c'mon, your car randomly locking itself?

Friday, March 28, 2008

I'm screwed

Well, Tennessee was my darkhorse pick. Guess not.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Video from Good Friday

I've gotten lots of comments about the video from Good Friday, which was very powerful. A clip from YouTube is below, and you can get more from the artists website here

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Book Review>Vintage Jesus

This is the other book I finished Saturday, also a pretty quick read.

I first encountered Mark Driscoll (Pastor at Mars Hill Church, Seattle) in the book "Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches" and was less than impressed. He was so mean! But I've heard some of his messages online, and I'm glad to say he was much more "civil" in his treatment of the subjects in Vintage Jesus.

In short, this is a book I'm planning on taking some friends through. This is a book that answers basic questions about Jesus in a very down to Earth manor, and with enough humor to really keep you goin. I really like the dedication: "To anyone who takes Jesus seriously, but not themselves".

I hope this doesn't sound arrogant, but being raised by an "evangelical" Pastor, a lot of the material was review for me. I also could tell the influence of Francis A. Schaeffer in some of the chapters, particularly in viewing Jesus as Prophet, Priest, and King. This is material I have used in teaching Middle School Sunday School, so I was all over it.

One thing I did find funny was that Driscoll calls out Rob Bell (from similarly named Mars Hill Church in Michigan) out about his treatment of the Virgin Birth, but then practically clones Bell's treatment of the grand story of scripture going from the Garden of Eden to the City of God.

Only a couple of freaky things for me. The notion that there will be a sliding scale of rewards and punishments:
Furthermore, because Jesus is just, he will distribute varying degrees of rewards for each Christian in correlation to their faithfulness, just as he will punish non-Christians in varying degrees according to the wickedness they have committed. (page 223-244)
If you look up Revelation 20: 12-15 which is footnoted, I'm not sure everyone will draw the exact same conclusion. I don't see where "each will be judged according to what they have done" means 'some will have a better equipped room that Jesus is preparing' or 'Satan will go easy on the ones that did almost good enough'. Yikes!

The other freaky thing was when Driscoll was describing how Jesus is our savior, and how different people are looking for different saviors. He does this by comparing magazines targeted to different age groups, a brilliant illustration. But in describing what "mothers of mothers of jr. high girls" want, Driscoll includes this on the list of saviors according to what he sees in Redbook magazine:
"a husband who likes to snuggle and listen attentively while somehow remaining heterosexual. (page 191)"
To me, this is just dumb. When people are already itching to accuse "conservative" Christians men of being homophobes and chauvinists, why would you make a flippant comment like this? The implication is that if a husband "cuddles" or is a good listener; than he must really be gay. C'mon. That comment was completely unnecessary.

There are a couple of other "could've done without that" sentances, but for the most part this is an excellent book that I plan on using as a resource in our congregation.

Book Review>Pagan Christianity

Last Saturday I truly experienced Sabbath. 11am-11pm doing one of the following (mostly the first two) watching the tourney, reading, sleeping. It was glorious.

If anyone cares at all (and I don't think you do or should) you'll notice that I've had the same several books on the "current reading" list for a while. Well, I knocked off one and finished another I never put up there. Since people get turned away from blogs if they have to scroll to read a long post, I'll give you the short review and the "extended edition" (something I think I've tried to do before).

Quick synopsis: Highly recommend this book. Very thought provoking, extremely informing. The authors make a strong thesis and do not attempt to keep everyone happy. They draw the lines in the sand, and force you to do a lot of examination- personally and corporately. Ultimately, I disagree with the authors over-simplification in making sweeping, universal claims. I also find fault in the author's view of the early church's character. Pagan Christianity is a quick read, and again, recommend this book highly.

Extended Edition: Pagan Christianity. Dan Kimball had this up on his blog, and it piqued my interest. So, call me a tool if you want, but I read the trendy book and really enjoyed it. Apparently this book has been around for a little while, but the orignal author Frank Viola teamed up with "the most quoted man in Christianity" George Barna. The thesis for the book is simple: the modern church looks nothing like the early church. Pagan Christianity "explore(s) the roots of our church practices" (the subtitle). I must say, it was fascinating. The book concisely funnels lots of well-researched* information. Even if you don't "agree" with the author's conclusions (a return to new testament church) reading this book may be worth it for what I call, the "o'reily factor factor". This is when you tune in to some talk show, just to get pissed off. This book could have that effect on just about every Christian I know. The authors make well supported claims, and one must concede that on a number of levels, they're right. In short, the book says: don't defend our church practices as being biblical. You can still support them, just not biblically.

Many of the things we do are not derived from scripture, but rather from tradition as a result of synthesis from other cultures. Again, the authors make a strong case for at least examining why the things we hold important are important, and then examining how we can make that assessment scripturally. They also are not willy-nilly in making broad claims, so there's plenty to disagree with. Example:
Nevertheless, despite the fact that the contemporary sermon does not have a shred of biblical merit to support its existence, it continues to be uncritically admired in the eyes of most present-day Christians. It has become so entrenched in the Christian mind that most Bible-believing pastors and laymen fail to see that they are affirming and perpetuating an unscriptural practice out of sheer tradition. (page 101)
There's a great example of a strong statement being made, which I appreciate. However, can you really say that there is "not a shred of biblical merit" to support the sermon? Not one shred? I would disagree.

The other big place of disagreement for me is the way the author views the early church's character. Viola asserts that the modern church's headship is in the hands of people, not Jesus Christ. He says the early church had no hierarchy, and that our current structures are unbiblical and a hindrance to the priesthood of all believers. Now, is there much to be said for this? Sure! But let's not pretend the early church was some utopia:
...The dominating aim of (God's) nature is to put you and me at the center of the beating heart of God. To put you and me in the core of His eternal purpose- a purpose for which everything was created. The early church understood that purpose. They not only understood God's passion for His church, they lived it out. And what did such body life look like? Consider the brief glimpse below: The early Christians were intensely Christ-centered. Jesus Christ was their pulse beat. He was their life, their breath, and their central point of reference. He was the object of their worship, the subject of their songs, and the content of their discussion and vocabulary. The New Testament church made the Lord Jesus Christ central and supreme in all things. (page 246-247)
Now, I could be wrong here. But it is my understanding that many of the Epistles were written to guide and correctthe church's the apostles started. I'm sure the early church experienced the same problems that we face, in principal anyway. Maybe people didn't complain about the color of the carpet in the sanctuary, but I find it hard to imagine that no one ever bickered about the quality of food served at somebody's house.

Later, Viola says:
The New Testament church was organic, not organizational. It was not welded together by putting people into offices, creating programs, constructing rituals, and developing a top-down hierarchy or chain-of-command structure.
Hhhmmm...In Acts 6: 1-6 we read about the Apostles choosing seven men to distribute food to widows:
1In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word."

5This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
So, the Apostles made a judgement call on how to most effectively spend their time, and addressed a need by coming up with a job description then finding qualified people to perform that duty. Sounds like a hierarchy to me! Did they have an organized way to distribute food to widows? Sounds like a program to me! I'm exaggerating a little bit here, but my point is structure is not inherently evil, and its not entirely unbiblical.

So, there you have it. I agree with the author's that tradition many times exists for traditions sake, and not the Kingdom's sake. I just don't want to "throw the baby out with the bathwater" in thinking that the first century church didn't experience the same problems the modern church faces, and that if we only would embrace the original practices that we would see the same explosive, powerful results as we saw in the early church.

*and expansively footnoted

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Best 2 Days in Sports

I love the NCAA tournament. I think it's really the best sporting event in existance. College Basketball has close finishes constantly. I won't be catching too much of the action with Maunday Thursday and Good Friday services. Here's my final four:
Keep in mind the Georgetown pick was mostly to stick it to my friend Lee the KU fan. More on the tourney later, back to work!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Quick Movie Recomendation

So I know I'm a little late to the party with this one, but I love the movie Once.

It's great. Good to watch alone, good to watch with a special someone, good to show to someone who disdains musicals (as I do). This is a "modern musical" almost anyone should be able to appreciate.

I won't give away the ending. Or how I felt about it. Ok, maybe a little. I was disappointed at first; but I came around

Once. See it. Buy the soundtrack.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Brief Word

From Michael McIntyre in his message on Sunday:
Christians should either make people want to imitate them, or eliminate them.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Shocking Article

Here is an article I saw on Yahoo a day or two ago. The headline: Study finds 1 in 4 US teens has a STD

Some of the article talked about how we educate young students in America, and I know this opens up a whole can of worms over abstinence based curriculum, whether condoms should be available at school, etc. Check out the following:

"Those numbers are certainly alarming," said sex education expert Nora Gelperin, who works with a teen-written Web site called She said they reflect "the sad state of sex education in our country."

"Sexuality is still a very taboo subject in our society," she said. "Teens tell us that they can't make decisions in the dark and that adults aren't properly preparing them to make responsible decisions."

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the study shows that "the national policy of promoting abstinence-only programs is a $1.5 billion failure, and teenage girls are paying the real price."

The article says that of the approximately 26% of the adolescents 18% of that was HPV. Now, this is a new thing since I was educated in high school. We didn't learn about HPV, so I'm going to do a little research. But this article makes me so sad for the following reasons:

-First and foremost, for all those young women.
-I am not doing enough to help equip the students and parents in the church community to deal with the issues of sexuality. I must stare this fact in the face.
-We cannot depend on the public school systems to educate our kids in areas of moral decisions. The schools can give them information, but they can't teach them what is right. We must also stare this fact in the face.
-When students are making poor choices, Planned Parenthood does a better job at being accessible to students than the church.
-To me this article points to the human condition that makes us feel entitled to choose our course of action without the reality of consequences.

After reading this article the other day, I get in my car on the way home and turn on the radio. What do I hear? "Love in this Club" by Usher and Young Jeezy. Which is currently #1 after only 3 weeks on the Hot 100 charts. Lets sample the chorus shall we? As with most modern hip hop songs, it drones on "I wanna make love in this club". Hhhmmm...So the gest of the song is, Usher arrives at a evening hours establishment, sees "miss shorty" on the otherside of the club, finds her most desirable, and then the verse rapped by Young Jeezy confesses to want to "bag her like some groceries". If you're really interested, and don't mind some vulgar words, you can read the lyrics in their entirety here.

Now, am I saying that music is to blame? No, not yet. Although the older I get the more I am tempted to jump on that wagon with the rest of the Focus of the Family folks. But we have to let students know that the messages they are hearing from Z107-7, reading in Cosmo, and seeing on The Girls Next Doorare bankrupt and that is not how life works. Man, I feel old.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Here is a great article.

Trouble Makers

Acts 17: 6-7: But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting: "These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, 7and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar's decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.
I think this is so cool. The early Christians, causing a ruckus wherever they went because of what they were claiming. I know it is a big thing right now to talk about "vintage" Christianity, but that's because it's true! I mean, when was the last time we were infamous because of the "trouble" they were causing by proclaiming God's Kingdom over the ways of the world?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Quick Update

What up!?

I was on a good roll there with the posts for a while, but the streak was interrputed by my church moving facilities (!)

So I'm currently typing this from my new office (!)

More soon, hopefully. Pics too!