Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Let Not That Be Said of Me

"Most men die at 27...we just bury them at 72." -Mark Twain

Friday, December 25, 2009


Just ordinary…


She was just a rural teenager.

He was just a young carpenter.

Just people.

Just in love.

Their situation was just like millions before it.

But an angelic announcement made it more than just a betrothal.

More than just a conception.


It was just a census.

And they would arrive to the City of David just a little late.

The crowd in this small town, just outside of Jerusalem, was overflowing.

There just wasn’t any room.

It was just a stable, but it would do.

It was just big enough, and it was out of the cold.


It was just about time, but where would he lay?

This feeding trough was just about right. Fill it with hay.

We’ll just lay him there.

Crying, just like any baby, he was now in the world he had made.

Just two people, alone with God.


It was just a star. But it marked where He lay.

They were just shepherds, but they were his first guests.

The gifts brought from afar, an expression of just how precious this Child is.

Just a silent night…but a night that would divide kingdoms, and families, and history.


They were just 12 ordinary men.

She was just a Samaritan woman.

It was just five barley loaves and two fish.


It was just a tree.

They were just nails.


It is just bread and wine.

Just the ordinary made extraordinary.

-Jay Risner (12.09)

Friday, December 18, 2009


Sexual assault is not funny...it's deplorable and disgusting. But this pic is outrageously funny.

Monday, December 14, 2009

From Ray Ortlund (Christ is Deeper Still Blog at TGC)

George Marsden, in his Jonathan Edwards: A Life, refers to Edwards’ belief in “the great end of creation, God’s redemptive love” (page 479).  He sums up Edwards’ thought this way:

“God’s trinitarian essence is love.  God’s purpose in creating a universe in which sin is permitted must be to communicate that love to creatures.  The highest or most beautiful love is sacrificial love for the undeserving” (page 505).

If Edwards is right, and he is, then sacrificial love for undeserving people is not a problem for pastoral ministry; it is even more than an opportunity for pastoral ministry.  Sacrificial love for undeserving people is the reason why the universe exists.

“To the praise of the glory of his grace.”

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Weekend Update

This guy should win the Heisman Trophy. No question:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What's a Sport?

NPR has an article on their website today that made me revisit my thoughts on the question above.

So, what's a sport?

Generally speaking a sport is any athletic activity that involves the following: objective rules and scoring, a field or court of play with relatively fixed dimensions, equal-opposing sides (individual or team) whose strategies directly impact the progress/scoring of the other team, a certain level of spectator freedom, and an understood winner and loser determined by the aforementioned objective scoring system.

For example:
  • Basketball is a sport. Two opposing sides, objective rules and scoring, a court, a time clock that declares that whoever is in the lead at its expiration is declared victor.
  • Football is therefore a sport...as is soccer, hockey, tennis (though lack of crowd liberty almost gets tennis in trouble), volleyball, rugby, et al.
So what is not a sport?
  • Golf - Golf is a game. It's played against courses that are without fixed dimensions. Though it's scoring system is objective, scoring is not done against an opponent--nobody is allowed to guard the cup or tries to block the ball. Plus, golf's spectators are not allowed to cheer with any measure of freedom. (Bowling is also a game. Though bowling does have fixed dimensions and objective scoring, none of us would ever be comfortable calling it a sport. If bowling had a goalie I might consider it a sport.)
  • Gymnastics, figure skating, diving, skateboarding, etc - These are not sports either. These are competitions. No doubt these activities require athleticism, but because of their subjective scoring systems they cannot qualify as a sport. 
  • NASCAR and Horse Racing - These are races. And since they are largely decided by something other than the human element (car and animal) they don't meet the criteria to be a sport. 
  • Swimming, Track and Field  - These are timed events. There is no fixed scoring system. (except when determining team achievement), but even with that the athletes are not ever opposing one another. They could perform all their events individually and a winner could be determined with the exact same criteria (the clock). Not sports.
  • Boxing - Boxing is often called a science, and for good reason. I am leery to call it a sport for the fact that most bouts are determined by a subjective scoring system. If every fight were determined by knockout or TKO it would be a sport. Therefore boxing is also a competition...but I'm not settled on this. Maybe we could call it a fight.
  • Baseball - Baseball is a pastime. It defies category. I quote John Kruk, "I'm not an athlete...I'm a baseball player."

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Childrens

The whole squad:
It's amazing what you can get for three bucks the day after halloween (not the girl, but the costume):
Avery spent one whole day last week in this get up:
Jackie Boy was a monkey for halloween. He got the flu and didn't venture out, but we still tortured him by making him wear his costume:
Rocky Balboa:

International Headline

"As a datable event in our own history, the resurrection cannot be shoved into a closet of personal piety. Everyone has to deal with it. This isn’t just another religion story. It’s the international headline."
-Michael Horton

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Reformation Day!

"Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, in saying 'Repent,' intended that the whole life of believers should be repentance." Martin Luther, Thesis 1

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I am not posting anything original. 

I am simply a link peddler. 

I need to generate some original content before my copy and paste buttons wear out. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Go here to see a counter that updates just how fast social media, and web based communication is happening. Crazy stuff:


HT: Challies

Monday, October 19, 2009


O God of Grace,

You have imputed my sin to my substitute, and have imputed his righteousness to my soul, clothing me with a bridegroom's robe, decking me with jewels of holiness. But in my Christian walk I am still in rags; my best prayers are stained with sin; my penitential tears are so much impurity; my confessions of wrong are so many aggravations of sin; my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with selfishness.

I need to repent of my repentance; I need my tears to be washed; I have no robe to bring to cover my sins, no loom to weave my own righteousness; I am always standing clothed in filthy garments, and by grace am always receiving change of raiment, for you always justify the ungodly; I am always going into the far country, and always returning home as a prodigal, always saying, "Father, forgive me," and you are always bringing forth the best robe.

Every morning let me wear it, every evening return in it, go out to the day's work in it, be married in it, be wound in death in it, stand before the great white throne in it, enter heaven in it shining as the sun.

Grant me never to lose sight of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the exceeding righteousness of salvation, the exceeding glory of Christ, the exceeding beauty of holiness, the exceeding wonder of grace.

"Continual Repentance," in The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, ed. Arthur Bennett (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust), 136-137.

Friday, October 16, 2009


If I grew a beard I would hide out for a few months until it looked as good as this. That is some superb facial hair.

Ray Lamontagne

Thursday, October 15, 2009


"This is my endlessly recurrent temptation: to go down to that Sea (I think St. John of the Cross called God a sea) and there neither dive nor swim nor float, but only dabble and splash."

C. S. Lewis, "A Slip of the Tongue," in The Weight of Glory, page 187.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


A friend of mine sent me this today. Anytime it is linked to I have to watch it. 

Sports are unpredictable, but I have to say that it's unlikely you will ever see anything like this again.  I mean, people haven't even thought of stuff that preposterous to put in movies.  It's just insane. Enjoy:


Lessons from Chuck Swindoll

Chuck Swindoll is now in his seventies. He has been both President and Chancellor at Dallas Theological Seminary, Pastor at Stonebriar Community Church (where he currently preaches 3 morning services a Sunday), as well as a prolific writer and radio personality. His life and ministry have been rich. We should listen to any wisdom he provides. Here are his 10 lessons from 50 years of ministry:

It’s lonely to lead
It’s dangerous to succeed
It’s hardest at home
It’s essential to be real
It’s painful to obey
Brokenness and failure are necessary
Attitude overshadows actions
Integrity eclipses image
God’s way is always better than my way
Christlikeness begins and ends with humility

Which of these resonates most with you?

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Rare Monday Offering

"You will see a time in which we as a nation finally recognize relationships between two men or two women as just as real and admirable as relationships between a man and a woman."

This quotation is from our President who over the weekend spoke at a Dinner for the Human Right Campaign. Al Mohler offered his commentary below: 

Those words represent a moral revolution that goes far beyond what any other President has ever promised or articulated. In the span of a single sentence, President Obama put his administration publicly on the line to press, not only for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, but for the recognition that same-sex relationships are "just as real and admirable as relationships between a man and a woman."

It is virtually impossible to imagine a promise more breathtaking in its revolutionary character than this -- to normalize same-sex relationships to the extent that they are recognized as being as admirable as heterosexual marriage.

HT: Challies and Mohler

Friday, October 9, 2009

Weekend Update - The Glories of Fall

I don't know about you, but this is MY most wonderful time of the year. Some great pics behind this link:

Autumn scenes - The Big Picture - Boston.com

Posted using ShareThis


Ambrose Everett Burnside: Union Army general, inventor of sideburns (seriously).

Thursday, October 8, 2009

This Week's Theme

Josh Harris of Covenant Life Church - Gaithersburge, Md

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Proverbs 13:4

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

Monday, October 5, 2009


I was going to post something else, but I realized Tim Challies beat me to it. So I give you this from Garrison Keillor:

Friday, September 25, 2009


Doug Wilson has facial hair so this counts as my Friday post. Go watch this trailer:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What I learned on Yahoo Today:

  • Oklahoma has the highest rate of people who have been married three times or more.

Then I read the article below in today's Tulsa World. I have to believe these statistics are somehow related.

Tuesday WWE event breaks Tulsa records | NewsOK.com

Shared via AddThis

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Book of Jonah - A Prophet Like His People

I wordled my sermon from Sunday:
Wordle: The Book of Jonah

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A collection of kisses - The Big Picture - Boston.com

The Boston Globe produces an absolute gem of a photoblog. They update every two or three days.

A collection of kisses - The Big Picture - Boston.com

Posted using ShareThis

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

No Other Gospel (Galatians 1:6-9)

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dude Perfect

The coolest thing I saw over the weekend was certainly not the OU game. It was this:

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Weekend Update

So I hear there are large numbers of parents upset about our President addressing their school aged children on Tuesday. Something about indoctrination, politicizing our kids, universal health care and Nazi propaganda. I get it. It's kind of a weird move by the administration, and probably poorly timed. How 'bout waiting until your second term, pal.   

Anyway, the battle cry from concerned parents is apparently something like, "don't bring your socialism into our schools!!!" Which is understandable, but have we pondered the absurdity of such a stance? It's akin to getting lathered up about someone dumping water into a lake. It's a government run school, people. Socialism is already there. 

That's the problem with republicans. If we had as much consistency as we do passion we might actually accomplish some things. But we don't. We're all lathered up about a government owned system of doctors taking care of our family, and we haven't even realized that a government owned system of educators has been teaching the hearts and minds of our children for years. 

Friday, September 4, 2009

Theology Thursday, but on a Friday - Ecclesiology

In light of all the church haters these days...and by church haters I mean those who profess to believe in Christ, but have nothing good to say about the church...there is a popular counter to their thinking that says, "you can't love Christ and not like his bride, just as you can't be friends with me, and do nothing but tear down my wife." It's a good parallel. One that needs to be pondered, because believers should have an affection for the church--the Bride of their Savior, Jesus Christ.  

But I believe most people, in theory, love the Bride of Christ. They want to be a part of the Bride of Christ in an eschatological sense. They read the end of the book, and they know how the scene plays out. The problem is they have found an extremely compelling reason (or list of reasons) not to live as if the eschatological truths will become reality. Which is to say they'd rather not involve themselves with fellow sinners in the worship of an infinitely great Savior. They must think, "Nah...there'll be plenty of time for that."


Athansasius - Iconographic Beardedness

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Live Free or Die

So much for New Hampshire living up to their state motto:

Court orders Christian student to attend public school (OneNewsNow.com)

Shared via AddThis

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mark 1:1-8

1The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.a

2It is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you,

who will prepare your way”b

3“a voice of one calling in the desert,

‘Prepare the way for the Lord,

make straight paths for him.’”c

4And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7And this was his message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8I baptize you withd water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Weekend Update

First the banks, then GM, soon it will be healthcare, and eventually the innerwebs:


"That's the news and I am outta here..."

Friday, August 28, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Left and Right Have the Same Problem

"From the Left, the church tyrannizes the sheep by neglecting the revealed word for their own misguided sense of social justice.  From the Right, the church tyrannizes the sheep by going beyond what Scripture says to uphold their own social conventions.  One side subtracts from the word and the other adds to it, but both are guilty of exercising authority beyond that with which they have been entrusted."

-Eric Landry of the White Horse Inn

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Here's a list of books I'll be digesting this fall: 

Yes, I'm a Keller groupie. No, I don't think there will be anything new from Keller in this volume, and yes I will enjoy the heck out of it.

What's So Great About Christianity by Dinesh D'Souza: I have had this book for a couple of years, and loaned it out twice because I was reading something else. I'm fired up to read D'Souza. 

DEEP CHURCH by Jim Belcher: When a book is praised by Driscoll, Keller, McLaren, Rob Bell, Alan Hirsch, Scot McKnight, Ed Stetzer, Colin Hansen, Tony Jones and Richard Mouw it has to be interesting.

The End of Secularism by Hunter Baker: GREAT title, and given our current politcal climate it should be a timely read. It's getting a great deal of positive publicity.

Money, Greed and God by Jay Richards: Should be good fodder for the Republican in me. According to Edwards what we call capitalism does the most good for the largest number of people. This book explains how and why.

Finally Alive by John Piper: According to Tim Challies this is Piper's best book. That is a monstrous claim, but I hope he is right.

I'll be studying the book of Mark with a large degree of regularity so various commentaries on that gospel as well.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Psalm 32:1

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven
whose sin is covered.

Illustrated here: 

Friday, August 21, 2009


Andy Reid's 'stache is going to play a key role in the rehabilitation of Michael Vick...no doubt:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

An Irony

It is clear that the Obama administration is a pro choice administration. There is no new news to confirm this. It is a fairly established position. Fundamentally, our President would tell you, women have the right to control their own bodies. Now, whether a new life in the womb is a part of her body or just living in her body is another debate entirely. In a twisted appeal to freedom the abortion movement strives to protect a woman's uteran liberty to make that distinction. My trajectory in this comment is to point out that a nationalized health care system runs in opposition to pro-choice rhetoric. A nationalized system gives our bodies, albeit our sick bodies, over to the system. Thus, we actually lose control. National healthcare disables choice. In effect, our bodies belong to the government. 

So the administration that has championed the freedom to choose actually hates choice. They prefer tyranny. And in a tyrannical system people are not valuable, whether unborn or not.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

1 John 4:9-12

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love,not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us andhis love is perfected in us.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Not Exactly Facial Hair...

But certainly a fine mustache:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Titus 2:11-14

11For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Wilford, I say Diabetes, you say DIE-UH-BEAT-US. Let's call the whole thing off.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Collision of Slovenia and Africa

This video is fantastic. It's a Slovenian Jazz Choir singing Africa by the eighties band Toto. I remember watching the video for Africa back in the eighties when MTV was actually Music Television. I have also been to Slovenia on mission trips and find the people and the country fascinating. It appears Slovenia and Africa have collided.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

For Asher

Psalm 42

 As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

 My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?

 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.

 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

 O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.

 Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.

 Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.

 I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

 10 As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?

 11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

Friday, July 31, 2009

In Honor of our President and Majority Congress

That's a beard anybody in the proletariat could be proud of.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Assaulting Christoplatonism

Western Xians are Christoplatonists, meaning they tend toward dualism. They bifurcate life between things physical and spiritual...material and immaterial, and like Plato exalt the immaterial. Xians shouldn't be dualists. It's a non-biblical worldview that fragments life and denies Christ's Lordship of all creation. This dualism impacts so many areas, but one important area of theology it has wreaked havoc on is the doctrine of the bodily resurrection (both of Jesus and his followers). 

One way to think about the Platonic influence is many Christians would say our souls are just occupying these bodies for a short time, and like a snake shedding its skin will be rid of them one day. And so most Xians look forward to being disembodied. They even say at the death of a loved one…”that’s not really him lying there.” Which is slightly true, but it also slightly un-true. 

If you looked back to the Creation account in Genesis 2. Adam was not a human being until Adam became what the Hebrew calls nephesh…until God joined his body (dust) and spirit (breath) together. Which is to say Adam was not alive until he had both materiel and immaterial components. Your body is a very real part of the real you…and it will join you, more alive than it’s ever been at the final resurrection. (which would be at the coming of the new heavens and new earth, following the millennial reign of Christ on the earth…if your keeping a timetable). So what I am saying is when we die, it isn’t that our real self goes to the intermediate Heaven and our fake self goes to the grave; it’s that part of us goes to the intermediate Heaven and part goes to the grave to await our bodily resurrection at the consummation of all things.

So what's your view of eternal life? Some whispy, ethereal, spirit world existence where you get to be a wraith and float through eternity? Or is it physical? Eternal, physical life on a new redeemed planet earth? 

Isn't the physical so much more exciting to think about? That's because it's true.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I was going to read ND Wilson's new book on vacation. The problem is I started reading it three days before we left. I opened it one evening just to get started, and then I couldn't stop reading. I finished late the next evening...so much for that idea.

It's a unique book. Delightfully written. Funny (I laughed out loud at least a dozen times, and found my self reading most of its pages with a big grin on my face). But it's also smart. I read a lot of reviews trying to compare Notes to Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz. There might be some similarities, but Wilson is much more intelligent, and his book also has some measure of cohesion, which Miller's book did not. I should say I didn't dislike Blue Like Jazz. I just liked Notes much, much more. It suited me.

The book is a walk through the wonder of the world by walking through the seasons of a year, starting is Winter and ending with Fall. Further, he takes on the idea of God being the master storyteller, artist, playwright, etc... This is not a new tact, but Wilson really focuses on the ex nihilo creation as accomplished by God's word. In Wilson's view, as long as the world is turning (like a carnival ride) God is ever speaking. In addition to Creation there is much thought given to philosophy, Hell, the problem of evil and the resurrection. I told you he was smarter than Miller.

Wilson's writing style is borderline stream of consciousness, which can be annoying, but I think he pulls it off with a measure of charm. The language is a bit looser than most Christian books, which is, for some reason, refreshing. Overall, Wilson was able to take his subject matter (the earth and everything in it) and return the reader to looking at Creation and Redemption with a bit more wide eyed wonder. For this reason I would highly recommend this book. Particularly to those who get a little bored with the types of books Xian pusblishers normally churn out. I leave with this:

"If the world is fundamentally an accident, if in the beginning, there was no eternal personality, no eternal living being, merely super-hot, hyper-dense I AM matter (with no space and no universe outside of itself), and if, wandering those hyper dense, super tiny corridors of the Forever Matter, attending to its normal routine, there happened to be one little chemical that caught its toe and flopped into another very different chemical, and both of them said, "Oh, crap," in tiny voices and went deaf in the explosion, then when did the accident start making sense and why the hell do we have the Special Olympics?" (NFTTAW, p. 127)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I wordled my sermon transcript from Sunday:


1 Corinthians 15:16-19
For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who  have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope  in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Ladies and Gentleman,


Thursday, July 23, 2009


So I have failed in implementing my agenda for a post every weekday. It was supposed to happen this week...looks like next week will be more realistic. Here's why:

We returned from vacation Sunday evening. Monday was spent settling back into real life. This week I've been catching up on all the things that slip away from you during time away. I also had to prepare and teach our adults on Wednesday night, I'm preaching on Sunday (20 plus hours of prep for that), I have to be at wedding rehearsal tonight (thursday) for a wedding I am doing tomorrow night (friday). I lost my car keys (or a child has eaten them) sometime on Tuesday. I realized Wednesday the foundation of my house needs repair. I'm debating with my health insurance provider over some reimbursements. A couple of other projects that require some immediate attention are looming. Today is my birthday, and I am officially in my mid-thirties (34).

But life is generally very, very good, and I'm doing better than I deserve. I just suck at blogging.

(UPDATE: I found my car keys, and yes one of my children was to blame, which means I'm not losing it.)

Friday, July 10, 2009


So posting has not come as easily as I had hoped, but I haven't had a real clear plan for this blog and its 4 readers. Therefore, beginning the week of the 19th (next week I am on vacation chasing my kids and trying to read so we'll start the 20th) this blog will have a weekly breakdown. I think it will look something like this:

Monday Musings - Monday's will be for thinking out loud...sermon thoughts from Sunday, personal reflections, etc...

Tuesdays are for Text - Just a bible passage. No more, no less.

Wildcard Wednesday - all bets are off for Wednesday: sports, music, religion, politics...whatever needs to be said, posted, linked to, etc...

Theology Thursday - I'll be interacting with an area of theology or a theological idea on Thursdays.

Fridays are for Facial Hair - You know the drill here. And speaking of...in honor of his 500th birthday, which is today, I give you a man who knew how to grow a fine beard: John Calvin.

Friday, July 3, 2009


It's a holiday weekend so rather than post something substantive we'll just start a new Friday tradition. From this point forward Friday's will be a tribute to facial hair. Most men shave, and this is a good thing. But some men allow their facial follicles to grow amok, which gives us the masculine phenomenon that is facial hair. Some might grow a simple mustache. Others, a full on beard. The goatee is very popular, as are extended sideburns. The redneck favors the fu-man-chu, while the hipster emerging church pastor will sport the little soul patch below his bottom lip. Whatever the case may be we men love our facial hair. It's an expression of our masculine creativity. If it makes one statement to those around you that statement is, "I like to grow hair on my face." 

I give you Charles Bronson:

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New Amazon Shipment

I got my new Amazon shipment, which makes for a good day. Let me share my summer reading with you:

The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education 
by Craig M. Mullaney 
This was a recommendation from Al Mohler. It has received some remarkable reviews and should expose me to some topics I otherwise know nothing about. It's the memoir of a Craig Mullaney...a recent West Point graduate, turned Rhodes Scholar, turned foot soldier in Afghanistan. Mullaney is barely thirty years old so a memoir is a bit premature, but by all accounts he is an extraordinary human being.

Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective 
by Fred Sanders and Klaus Issler 
These two guys are actually contributing editors to this collection of essays on the Trinity. This should be good. Bruce Ware wrote one of the essays, and it comes by recommendation of Darrell Bock. My only fear is it may be too introductory. We'll see. This is a topic that's always good to visit. There is so much error in regards to the dual nature of Christ and how that relates to his place in the Godhead. Lovers of The Shack beware.

Missions in the 21st Century 
by Andrew Walls and Cathy Ross
I had Dr. Walls for my favorite course in seminary--Understanding the Western Missionary Movement. He hasn't written many books. Most of his published work is comprised of collections of articles he has written. This is what Cathy Ross has done for this volume. I believe Dr. Walls is the most important church historian of the last 50 years, and I look forward to reading his insights.

Notes from the Tilt-a-Whir
by ND Wilson  
This book comes as an interruption to a series of acclaimed children's books that Wilson has been writing. The publisher describes the book as "an aesthetic examination of the ways in which humanity has tried to make sense of this overwhelming carnival ride of a world. Wilson takes a whimsical, thought-provoking look at everything from the "magic" of quantum physics, to nature's absurdities, to the problem of evil, evolution and hell. These frequently humorous, and uniquely beautiful portraits express reality unknown to many Christians-the reality of God's story unfolding around and among us." Perfect summer reading.

Theology in the Context of World Christianity 
by Timothy Tennent 
This is another missions book. I am looking at some D.Miss programs so I'm trying to bone up on the current thinking in Missiology as best I can. Tennent, Phillip Jenkins, and Mark Noll have recently been catching on to what Andrew Walls has been teaching for years--that the global expression of the Christian faith is upon us, and it is not primarily Western. I've never read Tennent...should be good.

Forgive my formatting blunders. I still don't understand blogspot.

What are you reading???

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Make My Life A Miracle

"Your danger and mine is not that we become criminals, but rather that we become respectable, decent, commonplace, mediocre Christians. The twentieth-century temptations that really sap our spiritual power are the television, banana cream pie, the easy chair and the credit card. The Christian wins or loses in those seemingly innocent little moments of decision.

Lord, make my life a miracle!"

Raymond C. Ortlund, Lord, Make My Life A Miracle, page 151.

Friday, June 12, 2009

False Creek

Last night was very surreal for me. For the first time in eight years I set foot on the grounds of everybody's favorite baptist megacamp: FALLS CREEK. I had taken students to Falls Creek from 1997 to 2000, and then took a group of just seventh graders in 2002, but I had not entered its gates since that time. 

A youth pastor called me a month or so ago and asked me if I'd come speak to his Falls Creek campers. I'm not sure why, but I agreed to go. I think secretly I was intrigued about how Falls Creek had matured in the last eight years. It was developing new infrastructure. It had completed a 35 million dollar tabernacle to house its 7000 weekly attendees. It had changed its programming model...a model it had been using for at least 50 years, and was beginning a new era in its storied history. Well, having now returned from the nations largest youth encampment here are my impressions of the NEW Falls Creek.

1 - The New Tabernacle is nice, very nice. Not to mention freaking huge. I know it was expensive, but to get kids out of 95 degree heat and into a climate controlled environment where they can remain attentive was a good move. The massive screens help the speaker tremendously. This building is unlike any I have ever seen: tons of seats...hug stage...expansive aisles...very state of the art. It's a completely out of place building, considering most of the infrastructure at Falls Creek looks like a third world country.

2 - The worship band was good, but it was interesting that the song that garnered the highest level of participation was a traditionally arranged version of Horatio Spafford's It is Well With My Soul. Last time I was at Falls Creek there was a giant youth choir, an orchestra and an old man who led the students in worship songs and hymns. The new model may be the most significant difference in the programming. Not sure if it was better or worse. We'll call it a wash.

3 - The Youth Evangelist was decent. He didn't say anything bad. He just tried a little too hard to use cool words, catch phrases and the like. Decent message...if you are into evangelistic preaching with a distinctively Arminian bent. They used to use different pastors from churches in the state. I think I preferred the old way. Lower expectations, and fewer uses of the word "dude."

4 - Shorts at night was a huge development. Up until the early 90's campers were not allowed to wear shorts at any time. In the mid nineties they allowed for shorts during the day time, but they maintained that jeans, pants and dresses were the appropriate night time attire. Now it's all shorts, all the time. Probably a good move, but I used to like seeing students dress up to go to the tabernacle. Now they just show up. Not a big deal, but it's ironic that they went lax on the shorts rule after getting an indoor, air conditioned tabernacle. They needed to allow shorts when they met outside in the sweatbox that was the old tabernacle, but they also needed to allow shorts to diminish an already legalistic ethos at the camp.

I pulled my student ministry out of Falls Creek because it provided a truly awful camp experience. That's not to say Falls Creek is awful. It's just not a camp. It's a literal city of teenagers. It need not deceive itself. It's primary attraction to teenagers is other teenagers. If the job of a church camp is to retreat, and to be challenged spiritually, intellectually, relationally and physically then Falls Creek just wasn't going to get it done. It was too big. It was too Arminian. It was too...Southern Baptist. Because of the structure of the camp a kid could go to Falls Creek, attend the sessions, take part in his cabin programming, but basically do nothing for a week. Nothing, besides look for cute girls and take afternoon naps. This and a host of other things didn't work for me, so I stopped taking kids. For a relatively young (and stupid) youth pastor that was a really wise move.

All that to say, I learned several things about myself last night. Primarily, that I am not a Southern Baptist.