Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Purposefully crippled Windows

Warning: The following article is a "geek" article.

If you are not interested in "geeking," kindly move along.

If you are interested in geekdom - specifically Linux and Microsoft, I'd love to recommend for your light reading the Groklaw article analyzing recent patent activity from Redmond, and how it bodes for future modularization of the Windows platform (Vista is a purposefully defeatured system, and this article examines Microsoft's apparent plans to more fully defeature future versions of the OS).

Not for the light-of-heart.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Winter has arrived

Finally, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

One month later.

Here's the scene outside of my "tentmaking," as the snow fell throughout the afternoon...





This is my car... I'd parked it only four hours before, right before the snow started falling... look at how thick it is...


Video Venues

One of the blogs I read to help me better understand the Emerging/Emergent Church from their own perspective is the bob.blog. This is the dude who also does the PastorHacks blog.

In a recent post (where Bob discusses preaching via dialog), he links to all of his blogposts with the preaching category tag. Following that link, I read through a few of his blogposts from a while back discussing the issue of "video venues."

I've run across this subject before. Several Calvary pastors hashed through this very issue recently due to some of our own going to the whole multisite/multivenue model. There are arguments pro and con.

My take: I see precisely zero difference between a video venue and your average, run-of-the-mill megachurch. In the video venue, the average congregant's relationship with the teaching pastor is limited to watching him from afar on a video screen. In a megachurch, the average congregant's relationship with the teaching pastor is limited to watching him from afar on a... hey...

The perceived benefit of video venues is that you can pipe the teachings of a good, "big-draw" teaching pastor to more people. That way, more people get the benefit of great teaching. Why not have Chuck Smith teach the people in your neck of the woods one Sunday, Bob Coy the next, maybe throw in a dash of Rick Warren for flavor... you get the picture.

The main argument against video venues is the disconnect between the people and the teaching.

For the record, I agree with this argument.

Consider this, though... at a certain point in the numerical growth of a local congregation, you'll run into the same exact problem. So instead of multiplying fellowships, the current trend is to tack on multiple services... multiple venues...

Saturday, January 27, 2007

You need to read this article...

Pretty powerful post over on the ::sign of jonah:: blog. A former Vineyard pastor giving his testimony as to the very strange goings-on at TACF during the Tornado Ble-- er, I mean, the Toronto Blessing.

A quick excerpt from the blogpost:

Since leaving the Vineyard churches I have read a fair bit of analysis from the critics. Some make out that the Toronto Blessing was one huge conspiracy to lead the body of Christ into heresy. Heresy and apostasy I suspect may well be the result, but none of these destinations were intentional. I am honestly convinced that the leaders in the Vineyard churches are genuine born-again Christians who love the Lord, but have fallen into deception. They have not loved the Lord enough to keep His commandments. They have failed to obey the scriptures and have been led astray by our longing for something bigger and brighter and more exciting and dynamic.

Well put. I have had limited, peripheral contact with some of the secondary people involved in TB, and I can tell you to a man they really did/do love Jesus and His Church, and really did think that they were being obedient to Him in all the wackiness involved in the TB, and really did think they were being/bringing in a real blessing.

Their one fault, which rippled out into all that eventually became and came from the "Toronto Blessing" is summed up incredibly well in this one sentence: "They have failed to obey the scriptures and have been led astray by our longing for something bigger and brighter and more exciting and dynamic." They longed for something bigger and brighter and more dynamic than the verbal, confluent, plenary, inspired Word of God.

Guys, this is huge.

It's downright galactically huge.

Especially in light of all the pressure to follow after experience without context.

Experience is good; our God is a living, dynamic God. I do not believe He went AWOL at the close of the "Apostolic Age." Whenever that was.

But all experience -- all things -- must be viewed and evaluated through the unmediated Word. That's why at Calvary Chapel on the Lakeshore, if there's no solid Biblical justification, we don't do it. Period.

Andrew's Paul's e-mail (posted over at ::sign of jonah::) is eloquent testimony to where doing otherwise ultimately leads.

B-Mac Questions the Gospel

I was turned on to this blogpost from Jonny Mac's blog. It contains text and an analysis of an interview with Brian MacLaren.

If you've read any MacLaren at all, you're not shocked with the title, "Brian MacLaren Questions the Gospel."

Friday, January 26, 2007

That durned video game...

One of the blogs I read to keep abreast of ECM thought is (and you're going to love the name of this) "Open Source Theology," subtitled "collaborative theology for the emerging church." Some of the stuff on the blog is downright good and helpful... a lot of it gives me a hearty, head-shaking chuckle.

Here's one: It's an older post (Nov. 28th 2006), but it takes me a while to get through these to make sure I'm "getting it." The post is titled, "Left Behind: Eternal Forces Video Game Petition." (Note: The JPEG included in this post is not a screenshot of the cover of that particular game; it's just a graphic that I have in my library that I thought was incredibly funny the first time I saw it.) Now, the blogpost author posits the question (in a nutshell), "Nice idea, but wouldn't protesting this game just further alienate us progressive Christians (their term)? Would it be better to just ignore it?"

Now, before we go any further: I really really really really really really really really think the game in question was an abysmally bad idea. Though I've never played it, it seems at least to exalt violence, which even during the Tribulation is not an option for believers. Plus, why would I ever want to play the part of someone who's on the "Tribulation Force" in the first place? ...that'd mean I'd have missed the Rapture.

Another thing I could never figure out with the marketing dudes who pushed the "Tribulation Force" apparel and such. But I digress.

Back to the point of this blogpost.

What makes this article so endearingly amusing is to read the author's eschatology offered in brief at the end... and then the comments! Those are gems! The irony of a veritable host of ECMmers commenting on the "bad theology" of us iggnit', nukkle-draggin' dispensationalists is positively delicious.

Anyway, if you're interested, there you go.

"E" is for "Evangelical"

You gotta give it to Koukl & Krew over at the Stand To Reason blog. In their latest blogpost, they tackle an issue that's driven me up a wall for at least a decade now - the semantic drift of the term "evangelical."

On the note of great blogposts from STR, check out Epistemic Humility or Intellectual Instability?. Especially important RE: the ECM enamorment with "chastized epistemology."

Strongbad does the Emerging/Emergent Church

...well, okay. Not exactly. But the latest Strongbad e-mail speaks to the sometimes pretentious, usually amusing obsession of the overwhelming majority of the Emerging/Emergent Church Movement to "be relevant."

Or, in the case of Mark Driscoll, to be blankety-blank relevant, bleep it all.

Check it out; you'll crack up.

I did...


Chad Mhyre, over at simplemindedpreacher hooked me onto Performancing, a Firefox extension which is an über-cool tool for bloggers. Essentially, opens an in-tab, context-linked window for creating blogposts. To quote (i.e., steal) from Chad's blogpost:

If you blog.. you need PERFORMANCING. It’s an add-on to Firefox.. (if you don’t use Firefox… I can’t help you.. you have bigger problems).. Some blogging-types have to sign into their blog-host.. navigate through their controls.. bring up the “post/write” page.. and finally, they are ready to blog..

By the time you do all that.. you’ve probably lost inspiration..

All I have to do.. is click on a little symbol at the bottom of my screen, and this window…. (the one I’m typing in now).. pops up. From here, I can enter different blog accounts.. and have instant access to blog on one of them, or all of them.. with the same, or w/different posts.. It also imports all my categories.. allows me to add tags to Technorati and Del.icio.us.. gives me different “ping” options.. allows me to html edit.. easy link and photo upload options.. color and text size.. and.. keeps a history of all my latest posts.. making it easy to bring them back up, edit them, and publish them as an edit.

There’s more to it than that.. but.. that’s cool enough.
here’s a link: http://performancing.com/firefox

I'd like to add a hearty "yee-haaaaaaa" to Chad's sentiments. I'm plunking this blogpost away in a Performancing window as my very first "live trial," and I love it.

If you're blogging, you need this.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Masculinity, Femininity, Family

There are few current teachers on men's, women's, and family issues that I feel are worth the time to listen to. Ken Graves is one. I liked Bob Coy's marriage audio tapes from waaaaaaay back in the mid-90's, and his more current "in the 00's" videos, which we've used in premarital counselling.

But most of what passes for masculinity/femininity/familyinity...ous...ness... whatever... studies tend to be very girlyfied, psychobabblish steaming heaps of hooey.

Enter, Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA.

He did a series on these subjects which, quite frankly, have shot right up to the top two or three on my personal all-time-faves list.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Power of Verse-by-Verse Teaching

Bob Hyatt, an ECM pastor who has an otherwise pretty good and helpful blog, has posted a blogpost "ruts.." where he makes the following statement:

When I started, 2 1/2 years ago, at this "teaching pastor" thing, doing it week in and week out- I had a lot to say. Now I've said it. And said it. And said it.

Bob's not real thrilled with the Calvary Chapel movement - seems to have somewhat of a bugger of a burr in his saddle over the fact that we don't consider ourselves to be a denomination. Seems to be unable to parse the difference between sharing common doctrine and vision vis-a-vis an actual, honest-to-God denominational structure.

That, and he's not precisely jumping for joy that some of the critiques of the Emerging/Emergent Church Movement are coming from the CC camp.

He seems to forget that the most telling, most incisive, most devastating critiques come from other sources (Johnny Mac, Koukl & Krew, etc - and if you want a really good unintentional critique of the ECM, read pretty much anything by Scott McKnight).

But I partially digress.

Back to Bob's bodacious botheration.

This illustrates the major strength of the primary, sine qua non distinctive of the Calvary movement: Expositional, verse-by-verse, Genesis-to-Maps teaching through the entire Bible.

Chuck Smith, the titular head of the Evil Empire (as perceived by a good chunk of the ECM and at least one Blog Of Which We Do Not Speak) has this advice:

When I first started out in the ministry, my sermons were all topical sermons centered around evangelism. I had two years of sermons, so every two years I would request the bishop for a change of church, and then I would move to a new area and preach my two years of sermons again. I did this in four communities until I finally landed in Huntington Beach, California. By this time my older daughter had started school and personally, I loved living in Huntington Beach. It was a lovely little beach community of only 6,000 people at the time, and I began to really know and like the people. But I was running out of sermons because preaching topical sermons, it is rather difficult to find the text. When you're searching through the whole Bible to find a text to preach on each week, it is difficult because the Bible's a good-sized book. Every week, though, I found myself going through, reading until some text really hit me. And of course, I had to have three sermons every week and it began to get difficult for me to find my text, especially since it had to be in the area of evangelism. Once I found a text, I was able to develop it, but finding a text was always a problem.

I came across a book at that time called the Apostle John, by Griffith Thomas and in the middle of the book, he had outlined studies of the book of First John. I began to read his outlined studies of First John and found that they were great expository outlines of this little epistle. There were 43 outlines, and I thought, "Wow, I can spend another year here in Huntington Beach if I just teach First John." So I announced to the people on a Sunday morning, that the next Sunday we would begin a study of the First Epistle of John.

The very first thing that Griffith Thomas explained in his book is why John wrote his epistle in the first place: in chapter one he said, "And these things write we unto you that your joy may be full"; in chapter two he said, "These things we write unto you that you sin not" and in chapter five he said, "These things we have written unto you that ye may know that you have eternal life."

I announced to the people that we were going to begin a study on First John and I said, "Now, there are three reasons why John wrote this little epistle. By next Sunday I want you to be able to tell me the three reasons. When I greet you at the front door when you come to church, if I ask you three reasons why John wrote that epistle, I'm expecting you to be able to tell me." I had people calling me in the middle of the week saying, "We've read the thing through seven times and we can only find two reasons, are you sure there are three?" And I said, "I am sure there are three; keep reading." My sermon that Sunday morning was the purpose of the book. I had three points: reading the book will give you fullness of joy, freedom from sin and assurance of your salvation.

There are six places in which John points to Jesus Christ as our example. So that Sunday I said, "Now, next week I want you to find the six places where John points to Jesus Christ as our example, and the key words are as he, or even as he. Six places where he has pointed to Jesus as our example. Find them."

Again the people started reading through the book and it took them 8, 9, 10 times to find all six: if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with the other; if we say we abide in Him, then we ought also to walk even as He walked. He is our example in our walk. We ought to be walking as He walks, walking in the light as He is in the light, our example in righteousness and purity, for we are pure as He is pure, we are righteous as He is righteous. He said we should love even as He commanded us. And finally, as He is, so are we to be to this world.

The next sermon was false professions that people make. First John lists seven false professions with the key words if a man says, or if we say. I said, "Find the false professions that people are making." The congregation was reading through the book again, and the following Sunday, we dealt with the phrase "to know." How do we know what we know? I had them reading through the book again. I then started an expository study through the book. Beginning with 1:1 and going straight through the book of First John, I spent a whole year in the book.

The interesting thing was that in a year's time, the church had doubled in attendance. I had not given invitations in every service to accept Christ, but we had more conversions and water baptisms that year than any previous year. And the exciting thing was that the people had a greater joy in their walk with the Lord than they had ever known before. They were experiencing real power over sin, and they were assured of their salvation.

Isaiah said, "'As the rain cometh down from the heavens and returns not thither, but it waters the ground that it might give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater, so is My word that goes forth out of My mouth,' saith the Lord, 'it shall not return unto Me void. It shall accomplish the purposes for which I sent it.'" If God sent us this little epistle of First John to bring us fullness of joy, to bring us freedom from sin, and to bring us assurance of salvation, that's exactly what's going to happen to the people as you teach them that book. God's Word won't return void. Our words probably will, but His Word won't. If you are faithful in teaching His Word, it will accomplish the purpose for which God sent it. And that's why, when you read an epistle, it is always good to ask yourself, "What is the purpose of this epistle? Why was this written?" Find the purpose, and then you'll find out what it is that God is working out in your life and what you could be expecting to happen as you make a real study of that epistle or of that gospel.

I was able to stay another year in Huntington Beach, and with the new church growth it was greater than ever. As I was finishing First John, I was beginning to develop my own style of expository teaching. I thought, "What book of the Bible could I tackle in the same way as First John?" In seminary, I had a professor who told us that the book of Romans would revolutionize any church. I'd always heard what a glorious book Romans was but, I have to confess, I had read it many times and it didn't really turn me on. But I had a lot of confidence in that professor, and if he said it would revolutionize any church, I thought it would be fun to be a part of a revolution. So I announced to the people when we came to the end of our study of First John, "Now, next Sunday we are going to begin a study in the book of Romans."

I went out and bought all the commentaries I could find on the book of Romans and I began to develop outline studies similar to the outline studies I had in First John. I spent two years on Sunday mornings in the book of Romans. Again, the church doubled; we had more people saved and more people baptized than we ever had had before. It was glorious; it was exciting.

I picked up a copy of Halley's Bible Pocket Handbook. In fact, I made a practice of giving one of these to every new convert. I've always said the first book you should have in your library outside of the Bible is Halley's Bible Pocket Handbook. It's just full of valuable, good, background information, cultural, archaeological, historical. For a little book, it's got more nuggets and more facts than any other book I know. So, they came out with a revised edition, and it had a new cover jacket on the front. And on this jacket it said, "The most important page in this book is 867." Now, I had so admired Mr. Halley that I thought, "I wonder what he considers to be the most important page in this book?" I mean, I had always gotten a lot of value out of the whole thing. So I turned to page 867 and there he said, "Every church should have a method of systematically encouraging the congregation to read through the whole Bible." And, "Ideally, the pastor's Sunday morning sermon would come out of the area that they had been reading the previous week." He gave a suggested reading, so you could go through the whole Bible in a year. I thought that was just a little strenuous, but I thought we could go through in two years. Taking ten chapters a week, fifteen when we get to the Psalms, we could go through the whole Bible in two years. And then the thought occurred to me, Chuck, you can stay in the church the rest of your life, if you just start teaching through the Bible.

I discovered that it was much easier to get sermons when I was confined to one small area for my text, and the quality of the sermons were much better, for I was able to spend much more consecrated study on the next text I was going to be speaking from than I did when I was hodgepodging around the whole Bible. When you have to find your text within a certain portion of Scripture, it makes you really push and do some consecrated and valuable studying. So I took up Mr. Halley's suggestion, taking the people straight through the Bible and that's been my practice ever since.

At the present time (1989), we are going through the Bible at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa for the seventh time with our congregation. I have slowed down considerably. I am only taking a couple of chapters a week, sometimes three chapters, but I've really slowed down my pace going through. And I'm loving it more this time than ever because I am progressively learning more. The last time I went through I slowed down to five chapters a week. Now, I've slowed down to two, sometimes three chapters a week. By the time I'm through with the present systematic teaching, we will have a very thorough commentary on the entire Bible because I've made it a personal practice that every time I go through the Bible I read a new commentary, or sometimes two or three new commentaries, so, as a result, I've been able to read most of the major commentaries on the Bible.

Friday, January 19, 2007

...but at least he's not LIBERAL or anything...

Scott McKnight. Widely regarded as a calm, moderate voice amongst ECMmers. He's a theologian who's conversed with conversational conversationalisticalists in the Emerging/Emergent conversationicalition...ish. Thing.


Capt. McKnight of the good ship Friend of Emergent has identified himself as an ECMmer and has become something of an apologist for the movme--er, converstaion.

And I tell you... when I read things from ECM-types, I must say I'm not remarkably thrilled with what I read.

For instance, in this article, Dr. McKnight repeats a statement I've read a few times now from his very... pen. Keyboard. Whatever.

In a very telling apologetic for the Emerging/Emergent Church Movement, he winds up laying out the soft doctrinal underbelly of the "conversation." I'm sure that any analysis of his "from the inside" analysis of the ECM will meet with similar response (see three paragraphs up), but anyway...

In explaining the political aspect of the ECM, McKnight says:

I also lean left in politics. I tell my friends that I have voted Democrat for years for all the wrong reasons. I don't think the Democratic Party is worth a hoot, but its historic commitment to the poor and to centralizing government for social justice is what I think government should do. I don't support abortion—in fact, I think it is immoral. I believe in civil rights, but I don't believe homosexuality is God's design.

...did you catch that? In this statement, McKnight winds up demonstrating the very epistemological squirreliness that drives theological (and otherwise) conservatives up a wall.

Let's break it down.

I don't support abortion—in fact, I think it is immoral.

Oh, goodie. I'm sure the aborted babies are all a-twitter with happiness and joy that the slaughter of their trimester-mates is "immoral." It's reassuring to read that an ECM luminary considers abortion morally repugnant. Whew! And I was worried about the "conversation...!"

...aaaaaahhhh... abortion isn't "immoral." It is categorically infanticide. Yes, that's an absolute statement. And not very epistemologically chastened. Terribly sorry.

I believe in civil rights, but I don't believe homosexuality is God's design.


But it's a bit more intense than that.

Let's substitute "pedophilia" for "homosexuality" in McKnight's statement, to see the problem.

I believe in civil rights, but I don't believe pedophilia is God's design.

...yeah, it's a bit more than just "not God's design."

I won't even get into the statement about how centralizing government is what governments should do. Good night, McKnight; smacks more than just a wee tad of Marxism, comrade.

...and I'm sure that the dudes over at the Chalcedon Foundation might have a thing or two to say in response to that patently insane statement of the good doctor's. ...and the Chalcedon dudes can hardly be accused of being evangelicals.


There is much that can be gleaned from the ECM. Again I state I am appreciating guys like Driscoll more and more.

Unfortunately, the more I read, the more I realize that McKnight represents the major center of the "conversation."

And that's very disturbing.


Check out simplemindedpreacher, a blog by Chad Mhyre, pastor of Calvary Chapel of Charlottesville.

You'll be glad you did.

Friday, January 12, 2007

charlesnestor: "Can We Know Anything?"

Great blogpost from Charles Nestor here regarding the "knowableness" of truth RE: the Emerging/Emergent Church Movement.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Sign of Jonah: Top Ten Most Dangerous Teachers

The dudes at the Sign of Jonah strike again. The blogpost Top Ten Most Dangerous Teachers is a very interesting list of the top ten theological nut-jobs that the SOJ readers nominated (...anointed...?) for the title.

I can't think of a single one that's on the list that I don't think should be. I of course would have added some of my own...

In no particular order (except perhaps #1):

  1. Rob Bell
    • Mr. Velvet Elvis himself

  2. Scott McKnight
    • Mr. I-Never-Met-An-Absolute-Truth-That-I-Did-Like, claims not to be a liberal then promptly expounds upon liberal concepts (both theological and political) while sparing few words lighting into us iggnit' theological conservatives...

    • Dangerous because he claims to be "not liberal" and has wound up becoming quite influential among the current batch of Emerging/Emergent pastors and... beyond

  3. "Pastor" Fred Phelps
    • The "God Hates Fags" wingnut who has taken to protesting the funerals of American soldiers.

    • His websites favicon is an upside-down American flag.
    • Look, I'm not one to argue in favor of the "just war" theory; but come on...

  4. Berten Waggoner
    • Lady pastors. 'Nuff said.

  5. Andy Stanley
    • "One Point Preaching.

    • I believe it was Nathaniel Van Cleave who said, "sermonettes for Christianettes." He was the Bible college teacher who heavily influenced Chuck Smith

    • OPP is a recipe for disaster as it trains God's people to become relatively satisfied with as little of the Word as possible. And it's a very popular book/concept; even many Calvary pastors are jumping on the OPP bandwagon. The end is near.

  6. George Eldon Ladd
    • Ladd's works on the Kingdom are the de facto eschatological underpinning of the overwhelming majority of the ECM. Even theological conservatives like Driscoll pour out oblations at the altar of Laddian eschatology.

There's more, but it's Friday, and Sunday's a-comin'.

Oh, that brings up Tony Campolo.

Anyway, I have to head to the hospital, and then try to grab some sleep; tomorrow's going to be a very full day, and I still need to get to serious studying for Sunday...

Read the Sign of Jonah blogpost.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Great post at charlesnestor.com regarding the ECM and parallels with Gnosticism. Whereas this will almost certainly be regarded as "unfair" and "broad brushed" and "you never dialogged with us" and "why didn't you just fingerpaint your feelings onto a hemp-fiber canvas and choreograph an interpretive dance so that we can all dialog about how it makes us feel" blah, blah, blah... it is quite insightful regarding the large (just about overwhelmingly large) liberal wing of the ECM - guys like McKnight, MacLaren, Bell, et al...

Anyway, worth the read...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Captain's number is retired.

I wasn't able to watch the Steve Yzerman tribute on Tuesday; but thankfully, on the eight billion two hundred thousand three hundred twelfth day, God created the DVR.

I watched the tribute; I just finished getting that thing out of my eye which somehow mysteriously became lodged there sometime within the first five minutes or so... The Captain's number has been retired - only the sixth Wing to have been honored so.

Had to go up to YouTube and get the actual raising of the number.