Great blogpost from Voice of the Martyrs here.
Friday, March 30, 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Monday, March 26, 2007
Here's an editorial by a Brit RE: Microsoft's new Vista operating system.
The more I deal with Vista on a professional level here at my tentmaking, the more I want to jump ship to Mac as soon as my current Windows XP laptop lives out its hitherto otherwise useful life...
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Important article here from Koinonia House regarding the Darfur crisis.
The first paragraph reads:
In a recent press conference State Department spokesman Sean McCormack commented on the situation in Darfur by saying, "The Sudanese Government needs to understand something and they need to understand that the world is not going to stand by and watch the continued humanitarian suffering…" However the truth of the matter is that the world has stood by and watched for the past four years while the Darfur region of western Sudan has been ravaged by violence. For four years we have watched as politicians have pounded their podiums and proclaimed that "something must be done!" Yet if actions speak louder than words, then their inaction screams volumes.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Interesting take on Jefferson's Qur'an here, especially in light of Congressman Ellison's recent swearing-in ceremony. Dr. Welty kinda lets the air out of Ellison's sails there...
One of the blog feeds that I make sure is always up-to-date in my newsreader is from fellow Calvary Chapel pastor Charles Nestor. Today's blogpost refers to another article by Steve Camp, "Doctrinally Disfigured", which hits the nail squarely on the head RE: the current trend to trendifyize the church.
The first two paragraphs hit the initial home run which sets the tone for the rest of the article:
The face of evangelicalism has been altered so dramatically that it looks "doctrinally disfigured" suffering from one too many "botox injections" of pragmaticism and ecumenism; with severe "soteriological 'nips and tucks'" that gifted "plastic surgeons" skilled with the scalpel of New Perspectivism, Inclusivism, Open Theism and Postmodernism have cut away so much of authentic gospel "tissue" that what's left is just a synthetic, artificial "message-manikin." The "religious legislative laser technicians" have almost burned away the aged wrinkles of faithfulness to God's Word trying to give a "new face of influence" through political co-belligerence--turning the body of Christ into just another lobbyist group, PAC or "Christocrat." Seminaries are having "theological lypo-suction" done at such alarming rates that even the doctrinal positions of TBN, by comparison, are looking deceptively... "orthodox." And "full body makeovers" of local churches are being done so effectivel! y so as to not have to look like church, sound like church, act like church, be called a church, or function as a church that they could be featured on a special ecclesiatical episode of "The Swan."
All sardonic metaphor aside, here's the plain truth: the rule of faith is no longer considered the Scriptures, but experience; the goal of faith is no longer considered holiness, but personal happiness; the purpose of faith is no longer considered the glory of God, but being 'in conversation' with the culture; and the object of faith is no longer considered Christ, but self. In other words, 'Evangelical Christianity' is becoming completely unrecognizable.
This is an incisive, spot-on, awesome analysis of the current Christian scene - you need to read this article.
And Charles - thanks for turning us on to it.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
...a National Hockey League, that is. And the extraordinary gentlemen are the Detroit Red Wings. With their March 14th win over the Predators, they leapfrog over them with 99 points on the season, to take division, conference, and league lead. And with the regular season winding down, and the hunt for Lord Stanley's Cup in less than a month away... it is a good time to be alive.
Come on; say it with me...
LET'S GO, RED WINGS...
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
...and it just so happens that there are health benefits that derive from moderate coffee drinking.
...ahhhhh...unfortunately, I don't drink moderate amounts of coffee.
But I have an excuse! Full-time pastor, full-time tentmaker, and full-time husband. Three full-time jobs in only 24-hours...
Step off, man; I need my coffee.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Jumping from a link in one of Johnny Mac's recent blogposts, I found this article by Dr. Albert Mohler on "theological triage" - a very important concept that is very helpful in maintaining fellowship across doctrinal lines without compromising the foundational principles of the Biblical gospel. I can (for instance) sharply disagree with Johnny Mac over the issue of the perpetuity of the Gifts of the Spirit and over the issue of Calvinism, and still very much appreciate him as a brother. I can sharply disagree with Mark Driscoll over his ecclesiology... and, there it is again, that darned Calvinism... and still appreciate him as a brother.
But on "first-order" doctrines like the nature of salvation (contained in the famous "solas" - sola gratia, sola fide), or the Trinity, or the Nature of Jesus - if we disagree on these or call these into question then we no longer have any basis for Biblically Christian fellowship.
Hence, when Rob Bell says stuff like:
What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archaeologists find Larry's tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births? But what if as you study the origin of the word virgin, you discover that the word virgin in the gospel of Matthew actually comes from the book of Isaiah, and then you find out that in the Hebrew language at that time, the word virgin could mean several things. And what if you discover that in the first century being "born of a virgin" also referred to a child whose mother became pregnant the first time she had intercourse? (Velvet Elvis, p. 26)
...he places himself outside of the community of faith.
Sorry, man; them's the facts.
And his weak disclaimer on the very next page that he "affirm(s) the historic Christian faith, which includes the virgin birth and the trinity" is negated by the previous citation on page 26 and its implications - if these foundational doctrines are called into question, then the Pollyanna, fideistic affirmation on page 27 is rendered pointless.
Ideas have consequence.
If Jesus was not born of a Virgin - and by that, I mean physically born of a woman who was unambiguously a virgin - then He is unqualified to be the sinless Savior, and we are all dead in our trespasses.
The little NRSV-ish semantic two-step shuffle he tries to dance around the issue of Isaiah's use of almah' is thoroughly unimpressive. There are much better explanations than ones which obliterate the foundation of the Biblical record.
But anyway; back to Mohler's article.
Here's a quote which summarizes his point:
The error of theological liberalism is evident in a basic disrespect for biblical authority and the church's treasury of truth. The mark of true liberalism is the refusal to admit that first-order theological issues even exist. Liberals treat first-order doctrines as if they were merely third-order in importance, and doctrinal ambiguity is the inevitable result.
Fundamentalism, on the other hand, tends toward the opposite error. The misjudgment of true fundamentalism is the belief that all disagreements concern first-order doctrines. Thus, third-order issues are raised to a first-order importance, and Christians are wrongly and harmfully divided.
Great article - well worth the read.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Well, now; this is exciting...
Here's a quote:
A Superior Court judge in New Jersey says homeschooling is just about the same as deliberate child abuse.
In fact, he says, he just might name a school district in his state as a defendant in a current court dispute, citing the district's "shocking" failure to monitor and test all students – including homeschoolers.
I found this over at Small Church Dot Com:
An old farmer went to the city one weekend and attended the big city church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was. "Well," said the farmer, "It was good. They did something different, however. They sang praise choruses instead of hymns."
"Praise choruses," said his wife, "What are those?"
"Oh, they're okay. They're sort of like hymns, only different," said the farmer.
"Well, what's the difference?" asked his wife.
The farmer said, "Well, it's like this - If I were to say to you: Martha, the cows are in the corn,' well, that would be a hymn. If, on the other hand, I were to say to you:
Martha Martha, Martha, Oh, Martha, MARTHA, MARTHA,
the cows, the big cows, the brown cows, the black cows,
the white cows, the black and white cows,
the COWS, COWS, COWS are in the corn,
are in the corn, are in the corn, are in the corn,
the CORN, CORN, CORN,
then, if I were to repeat the whole thing two or three times, well that would be a praise chorus."
As luck would have it, the exact same Sunday a young, new Christian from the city church attended the small town church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was. "Well," said the young man, "It was good. They did something different, however. They sang hymns instead of regular songs."
"Hymns," said his wife, "What are those?"
"Oh, they're okay. They're sort of like regular songs, only different," said the young man.
"Well, what's the difference?" asked his wife.
The young man said, "Well it's like this - If I were to say to you, Martha, the cows are in the corn,' well, that would be a regular song. If, on the other hand, I were to say to you:
Oh Martha, dear Martha, hear thou my cry
Inclines thine ear to the words of my mouth.
Turn thou thy whole wondrous ear by and by
To the righteous, inimitable, glorious truth.
For the way of the animals who can explain
There in their heads is no shadow of sense,
Hearkenest they in God's sun or his rain
Unless from the mild, tempting corn they are fenced.
Yea those cows in glad bovine, rebellious delight,
Have broke free their shackles, their warm pens eschewed.
Then goaded by minions of darkness and night
They all my mild Chilliwack sweet corn have chewed.
So look to that bright shining day by and by,
Where all foul corruptions of earth are reborn.
Where no vicious animal makes my soul cry
And I no longer see those foul cows in the corn.
Then, if I were to do only verses one, three and four and do a key change on
the last verse, well that would be a hymn."
Friday, March 09, 2007
Stand To Reason, the blog of Koukl & Krew, have this to say about Dan Kimball's new book, They Like Jesus But Not The Church.
This is a great, short analysis of not so much the book, as much as Dan Kimball himself and his relationship with the ECM.
BTW, I agree with the STR post completely.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
I'm going to steal shamelessly from fellow pastor Troy Warner, who related on another blog a vision that was related to him by a friend whose father is a retired minister...
One day while Mr. Whit was in prayer for the ministry he was serving in God gave him a vision of a large field of wheat that was ready to be harvested. In the field he saw three huge combines coming through and harvesting large amounts of the fruit. He was excited to think that this may be prophetic of what God had in store for his ministry. He saw men like Billy Graham on these combines and asked the Lord where is mine? The Lord replied by showing him a sickle and saying I haven’t appointed you to plow to using a combine. I have appointed you to go and glean the edges of the field where the combine can’t go. There is precious fruit there that I don’t want to be lost.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Johnny Mac, in his latest blogpost makes the argument that "Calvinism necessitates premillennialism."
There have been many discussions over on another blog about the future of Calvary Chapel. Much of it is very good and very edifying... and some of it is absolutely mind-blowing in a "...did that guy actually say that?" sort of way.
One of the recent discussions revolves around the question, "What if your church never experiences numerical growth?" Good question. There are several factors involved in examining the question before answering it:
- What is the character of the people the Lord brings to you to minister to? Are they naturally itinerant?
- This is an important one for us here on the Lakeshore, as the Lord has drawn together a wonderful group of people who for whatever reason are either unemployed or barely employed. As a consequence, there is a lot of "shuffling" as new people come in, but "older" people then move on due to job reasons, etc.
- What is the actual point of the question itself?
- Where in the Bible is numerical growth a sine qua non indicator of a church's health?
- Many of those arguing for numerical growth cite Acts, but then smack those who in turn cite Jeremiah & others as counter-examples upside the rhetorical head
- Jeremiah & Noah were OT historical examples. Acts 2 is a NT historical examples.
- We do not form our doctrine from historical passages - that's part of the mistake of Pentecostals who insist that since "everybody" who was Spirit baptized in Acts spoke with tongues, that everybody should speak with tongues. Same class of error.
- But where in the didactic passages - the Epistles - do we find that numerical growth is a vital sign RE: a church's health that we need to obsess about?
Bottom line: If you are called to a ministry, you are called to be faithful to that ministry, no matter what the outcome.
If we are shepherds and not hirelings, we won't bail on the flock that God has set us over if they stop fulfilling or never do fulfill our expectations.
Especially extrabiblical ones.
Over and over and over again, I see shepherds being exhorted to faithful service to the Lord and to His kids.
Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. [I Corinthians 4:2]
Faithfulness is the watchword. Ironically, "fruitfulness" isn't even in the equation. I believe, of course, that if you are faithful you will be fruitful, but not necessarily in the way some hubristically insist. But bottom-line: the obedience is mine; the results are His.
And I really do pray for those men who have bought into any other concept; if my faithfulness in ministering is tied to anything other than "this is what the Lord has called me to, and this is where I stay until He moves me on; God help me, I can do no other," then I'm in for a very bumpy ride.
Which brings us to the title of this post.
In one of the comments I read:
”Just preach the word” is a mantra for some, but it is not enough (how many churches have you visited where the pastor faithfully preaches the word and the church isn’t growing?
I cannot begin to describe the sadness I felt upon reading this. I hope it's still the minority opinion in our movement... but I am beginning to fear that it is an outlook that's gaining steam.
And if it is - if this sentiment has become our implicit philosophy, then to answer the question as to what is the future of Calvary Chapel, I fear greatly that the outlook is very, very bleak, indeed.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Thought-provoking post over at simplemindedpreacher by John Vlk, "What If?"
It begins with this query:
What if you work and labor for years at the church God has called you to, and you see no increase? Will there come a day, you determine it’s time to throw in the towel?
This is a question that I myself have struggled with for a long time.
Also, Daniel Fusco grapples with this on his blog.
Monday, March 05, 2007
Saturday, March 03, 2007
What with Postmodernism's self-conscious inability to express anything with any great conviction unless it is the conviction that you can't say anything with any real conviction, I found this YouTube video (which I found over on Joe Thorn's blog) to be really really really really apropos and funny.
Tee hee hee.
Anyway, here 'tis...
Very good blogpost here by Mike Foster, a church planter with the Acts 29 Network down in deepest darkest Cincinnati; a critique of a lot of modern church planting - or, should I say, church "launching".
Friday, March 02, 2007
There are many over yonder on the... ah... progressive side of the church, who really really really wish that mean-spirited "Religious Right" would just go away and curl up with a nice, smooth latte; just today, I read on another blog from a dude I respect but have been disagreeing with more and more in recent days that he's slipping more and more towards the Dark Side.
Blatant political activism by the church is distasteful to me - and that was when it was conservative political activism. All this "happy shiny people holding hands" neoliberal semimarxist out-and-out socialist activism that's become vogue with the rise of the pomo church is beyond distasteful.
Weeeeeeeell, our good buddies over at Chalcedon have a thing or two to say about that.
You know, for a bunch of stark raving pinko commie Calvinists, with really goofy Pollyanna eschatology, sometimes they just make sense...
And I know that y'all are erudite and wit-it enough to have already heard of this, but I just got into a discussion with a co-worker regarding the "One Laptop Per Child" initiative which I think is super-duper cool.
The laptop itself, which has a target price of $100/ea., is powered by a hand-crank (five minutes of spin-up by your average pre-teen will give you a ton of computing time), uses a modified Fedora Core 6 OS, has built-in wi-fi connectivity and firmware/software that automatically detects and creates ad-hoc user networks which dynamically sniff out the most advantageous route to the internet, and a ton of really really really really really really really really cool other stuff.
And that's just the 'top itself.
What this is promising to do for children in the developing world is staggering.
You need to check it out.
Here's and article about a "Postmodern Bible Version," The Lost Spiritual World - which I pray is never taken seriously.
A quote from a promotional YouTube video about the new take on the Bible:
He was born in a manger a long time ago – not to a virgin – but to a gorilla. What's so funny? Who did you expect his ancestors to look like, Tom Cruise?
But wait. I'm not making fun of Jesus. I'm not mocking religion. In fact, from the deepest wellspring of my heart, I'm despairing something we've lost in our scientific culture.
Yes, if Jesus was alive today, he would understand that his ancestors, just like ours, were beasts.
No, he wouldn't run around claiming he was born of a virgin.
And, brilliant rabbi that he was, he would likely ask us to understand the miracle stories metaphorically – as morality tales – but certainly not as literal truth.
MEGA-MONDO HUGELY MUY IMPORTANTE DISCLAIMER:
This take on the Bible is being billed as "postmodern" - and while it is very much that, it has nothing at all to do with the Emerging/Emergent Church (aka, "Pomo Xianity").
The ECM has its own problems; but I have a hard time seeing even über-liberals like MacLaren, Bell, and McKnight endorsing this.
Perhaps y'all might find it a bit thought-provoking, too...