Welcome to Carnivorous Caribou

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Kudos to Albert

Among many other things, Albert Mohler talked about two books yesterday on his radio show, "The Truth about Hillary" and "Harry Potter."

Now, this theologian and cultural commentator (who's known to be quite conservative politically) recommended one of these books, and discouraged all from reading the other. Can you guess which?

Mohler encouraged people that with parental interaction, Harry Potter books can be a great way to get kids reading and discussing good and evil.

The "Truth about Hillary," however, Mohler quickly discouraged. Many of the stories are simply placed on rumor, not verifiable fact. He also challenged that the believer should not delight in the moral faults of others, which can make us prone to a self-righteous attitude. Though it could be tempting to indulge in some dirt flinging, the higher road is to let this book go unread.

I really like Mohler's program, and would even encourage you to download a listen to yesterday's show. I totally think the man has biblical approach to issues, and found it rather refreshing that he wasn't terrified of one book simply because it mentions wizards, and wasn't ready to laud another just because it advances the conservative political view.

Jesus Christ and the Church of LCD

If you'll bear with me, I'd like to explore some of the thoughts I've been having lately about the church. These thoughts are strictly that...personal ponderings. They are in no way meant to claim that I think our church is doing things perfectly or that I am a pastor who has figured it all out. It's simply intended to get some conversation starting. They are meant to assess my ministry, as well as anyone elses. I plan on posting these thoughts in a series.

(Before we more on, I should establish what is meant by church. When I use the term, I mean the universal body of Christ. I am not referencing a specific body unless I also attach geography or a possessive pronoun.)

What is the Church of LCD? It's the church of the Lowest Common Denominator. No, it's not an actual denomination cropping up. Hopefully, no one is placing that description on their sign. In fact, it's a classification no one would want to admit to, even if it is applicable.


I just deleted a sentance I typed about the human race being adaptable. After I typed it, I stared at it and felt uneasy. We're not really that adaptable. When the Bible refers to the Israelites as a stiff-necked people (and other similar descriptions), we all feel the sting a bit. We all know we can be stubborn and dig in our heels. It's not so much that we adapt and change, as that we have the power to control our environment and change/adapt our surroundings.

I remember my mother-in-law telling me about the school she taught in for a short time. In this school district, students were struggling more and more in the math department. The school board got together to discuss this issue. Too many students were failing their math courses and possibly being blocked from graduation. The decision of the school board; they changed the grading scale for their math department, lowering the expectations. What happened there? Did they adapt? No, they adapted the situation to fit better around them. So the students still don't get algebra, but atleast they are getting C's now.

That balance in the church is always so tenative. We never change the message, it's our method that should always be changing. Yet, are there times that just by changing the method, we've also changed the message? Are we making sure we are being transformed, not that we are conforming the Body of Christ to fit who we already are.

This is not a post about any particular movement in the church. Whether seeker, emmergent, contemporary or traditional, the standard is the Word, not our style. But within whichever movement best descibes our church, are we reaching people where they are, but calling them to see their need to move beyond that place?

If you are frustrated by the vague nature of this post, I'll try to walk you through some of the specifics I've been thinking in the next few posts. Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Book Review

The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson.

I heard someone talking about this book the other day and then remembered that someone I love gave me a copy of it. So I searched the bookshelf in the basement and found the book.

Like other Wilkinson books, this one is not long, so you find yourself working through it in a day or two. People want to have significance. We want to believe we were created with purpose. We know inside there is more to life than what we see. Wilkinson's book addresses these issues.

I'll just be honest here...I did not like the book. However, I do think it's necessary to explain some reason's why. I think the book brought up unique thoughts for me that I'm glad it created the opportunity to formulate.

Wilkinson begins the book with a self generated parable. Of course, the Greatest Teacher of all time used parables, so it's a highly effective method to use...but it's probably the hardest teaching method as well. The story is actually a little hard to follow by the fact that Wilkinson turns adjectives into proper nouns for the sake of his story. Proper nouns include: Ordinary, Nobody, Somebody, Anybody, Familiar, Wall of Fear, Comfort Zone, Dream, Dreamer, Dream Giver. He then capitalizes these words later in his book, even when they aren't specifically refering to his proper noun (ie. "You will feel the strength and peace you need to accomplish Great Things" p98). It gets confusing. Also, I don't believe this was an intentional action of his, but the capitalization also seems to add greater gravity to his points. It made it seem like we were referring to something more authoritative than Wilkinson's fictitious story.

Wilkinson argues we were all born with a dream since we are created in God's image. He argues that is part of what it means to be an image-bearer of God (p.77). Wilkinson does not explain where he gets this conclusion other than experience. He does use I Corinthians 1:27 out of context, however, to say that we should all pursue our dream.

Border Bullies. Wilkinson talks about those who oppose your pursuit of your dream. He tells you their very presence should encourage you that you are headed toward your dream (p 103). He then tells you the bully is either motivated by fear, a dislike of change, a defeatist attitude, or they just don't like you (p 104). Nowhere does he acknowledge that they may be a form of accountability or genuinely know what they are talking about. They are to be convinced or overcome, but not listened to. He later makes the same argument about Giants, which are either people or things that create opposition.

He calls D.L. Moody an "innovative nineteenth-century leader." (p 111) I'm sorry, Moody was an amazing evangelist. It may seem nitpicky, but why not acknowledge the gospel mission? Why just call Moody a leader?

Actually, the gospel is never presented. It may be assumed. It may be alluded to. But it is never clearly articulated in a way that would explain justification of sin. One is never encouraged to examine their dreams in light of presenting the gospel. In fact, no distinction is ever made between a dream before or after regeneration. Paul says I am dead in my sin (Ephesians 2). My sin nature consumes all of me. Wouldn't that mean my dream had selfish motives? Wouldn't that mean my dream was more about me than about God? He never acknowledges a shift in the dream. In fact, he says one way to find what your dream is, is to remember what you wanted to be when you were a child (p 81).

According to Wilkinson, the dream is mine. This book is flooded with the second person pronoun. Sure, there was a Giver of the dream, but He gave it to me, I must pursue it, I must overcome obstacles, I must make it work, I will find satisfaction in it. I think at one point he tries to put the focus on God, saying we must be willing to release the dream to Him. But He spends chapter 12 telling us that we give up the dream to receive something better. He encourages us to look to the Dream Giver, but spends the whole time talking about our dream.

It's hard to review books like this. I don't want to sound arrogant or like a jerk. I think Wilkinson wants to help people. I think he's trying to call people to action and to a higher purpose than mortgages and careers. It's a short book, so I know he's not covering everything in great detail. Yet the book seems to lack balance and is quite void of contextually correct Scripture.

I'm not critiquing Wilkinson the author. I certainly don't think I could write a better book. But I am critiquing "The Dream Giver" the book, I just can't think of a situation where I would recommend it to anyone.

I'd rate the book a "1 point Caribou."

Monday, June 27, 2005

Word of worship

In our Experiencing God study, it encouraged us to look at many of the different descriptions of Who God is. We were then to spend time in worship to God about those attributes. I spent time in prayer to God about it, but want to do more. This blog actually seemed like a great way to declare the glory of God. (For every bit as bad as my writing is, it's infinitely better than my singing.)

The description that caught my attention most came from Jude 24:

"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." (Jude 24-25, NASB, of course!)

Him who is able to keep you from stumbling...

I never known God so intimately as when I have discovered the depth of my depravity in the last couple years. Jude just concludes some admonishments to the church: "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh." (Jude 20-23). Reread that list. I can't do all that in a day. If I'm lucky, I could focus on one thing and fulfill that for the day, but not all six things. Uh, actually, I can't even do one.

That's what I love about Jude's confession. It is Him who keeps me from stumbling. In our era of self-help, self-esteem, self-motivation...I've been caught in the trap of thinking God's grace ended at my salvation. I obviously knew better, but deep inside, I thought I could take at least a little credit for my walk.

Two things have since hit me:

1) What credit? Overall, my life is still a mess. In my heart I am regularly breaking the ten commandments, often manifested in my actions. I'm self centered and self absorbed. I'm self-righteous, thinking I compare favorably to others. But when I look at His Word, I realize I deserve death. I give into flesh far too often.

2) The righteousness that is in me is not mine, it's Christ's. My very passion for God and my obedience to Him is only made possible by Him...the One who can keep me from stumbling. Left to myself, I would turn my back on Him and walk away. But the Holy Spirit, "The Pledge" (2 Corinthians 5:5), assures that I can not depart.

I mourn for the ways I have taken the credit away from God. I've taken praise for myself. I've looked for praise for myself. I've even praised myself. But thanks be to Him who does not allow me to continue in self-worship, but instead, returns my eyes to Him and His Word.

Thank you Lord for keeping me!

Book Review

The Holiness of God by RC Sproul

Not exactly a title that will get your book placed in Wal-mart. I purchased four books by Sproul through half.com and can't wait to read them all. I started with this one through "ramdom chance" (like that exists), now realizing it's probably the place for any Sproul reader to start.

Resisting the trend of humanity (and the trend of Christianity, unfortunately), Sproul keeps the focus and attention on God. Spiritual quest easily becomes a study of the divine ACCORDING to what I see and understand. Sproul instead, reminds us that by being holy (cut or completely separate), God transcends us. It is not God who is an image of us, but rather, we are in the image of Him.

We don't like to describe God as terrible, but in it's original definition, this is not only an accurate, but glorious description. The strongest part of the book is when Sproul takes us along with Jacob, Job, Saul and even Martin Luther as they discover the character of God. By being driven to understand the justice of God, each further appreciates the mercy of God.

Sproul is smart (understatement of the day!). He also has a great sense of humor. He uses personal experience and colorful illustrations, not to teach, but to illustrate the principles revealed in Scripture. If you want to appreciate grace; if you want to know the Father better; if you want to grow not only in knowledge but in your relationship with Christ as well; this would be a great book to read.

Overall, an "8.5 point Caribou." I'd really love for some people to read it and comment here to let me know what they thought. It seems in many ways to state what the Bible clearly says, yet I have a gut feeling most would be repulsed by it's message. Would LOVE to know I am wrong on that thought!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Power 5

After a long break, it's back:

1)MANU--In one year he won the Olympic Gold and an NBA Title. If he keeps shooting like he did in game 7 (8-13) he could be winning an FBL title too.
2)THAD--With the NBA's new bargaining agreement, OSU gets that much closer to an amazing recruiting class (Oden is just teasing Wake Forest).
3)LBJ--it's bad enough that yet another athlete thinks they should make personel decissions, but you forgot to name your allstar center as player you'd like to see your team sign!!!!! oops.
4)STEELERS FANS--I know it's probably sacrilege, but Cope's retirement just made it even easier to be a Steelers fan (like that was ever a difficult thing). I just never got the big deal about that guy.
5)HEIN--even though she may over value Tim Duncan, it's still pretty cool to hear a graduate from your youth group's take on sports.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Since this series is going where few series dare venture, and where I never saw it going, I thought I'd give my thoughts about tonight.


Ginobili recovers from his mid series funk and post 32 points on the Pistons. Rasheed is tossed early in the third quarter after getting his 5th foul and then running his mouth. The refs call the game very closely tonight and many Pistons find themselves in foul trouble. Duncan continues his amazing disappearing act during crunch time, but with the foul trouble, even Duncan can't totally hide. Duncan is given the MVP trophy even though Robert Horry deserves it.



Ginobili just can't shake off the injury and Duncan shrinks away from stepping up. Detroit's big men manhandle the Spurs. Smelling blood, Detroit just continues to drop the hammer and pulls away to a decent lead. Chauncey Billups scores 26 and claims his second straight MVP (though Rip, Sheed, Ben or McDyess deserve it more). Larry Brown retires as coach and Darko wins Come Back Player of the Year next season (though how could he be considered comeback if he never arrived?).

but can't we dream


(This is not my original idea, but an adaptation of a post in Bill Simmons' email.) Detroit and San Antonio duke it out, neither team leading by more than 5 points. Of course, Duncan has disappeared (notice pattern?). Ginobili and Hamilton trade baskets each time down the court. With 2.6 seconds left, Ginobili makes an off balance turn around shot, putting San Antonio up by one. Detroit calls time out and imbounds the ball from half court. As Hamilton goes up for a 15 footer, Bowen nails him in the face. Hamilton, rendered half conscious, is unable to continue in the game. San Antonio is allowed to bring one player off the Pistons bench to shoot Hamilton's free throws. Darko is called in and nails both shots. Detroit wins the championship. Larry Brown retires. Rip Hamilton is named MVP. Darko rips off his jersey and reveals a "Lebron who?" tattoo on his chest.

For anyone keeping count...that's two rings for Darko and zero for Lebron.


It's almost been 2 months now since I started the blog. In some ways, it's been a success, and in other ways...well, we won't go there.

Technology is an interesting puppy. There's no doubt we can use it to enhance our services or even our teaching ministry (click here to enter "Wired Blog Forum"). But how does a person use it to shepherd others? Here are some of my thoughts:

1) It can never replace "normal shepherding." In other words, I wouldn't see the arrival of the "eChurch" as a good thing. Part of being the Body of Christ requires personal interaction. It's too easy to hide mood, attitude and even sin behind a keyboard and screen. People need to see in each others eyes; to share a hug or handshake. Therefore, I can see a pastor having technical savvy (possibly even a Pastor of Technology) yet I don't think his job could be completely fulfilled via the web. He'd still need to be making person to person physical contact.

2) It's personal...and it isn't. To some (like me) an email feels very personal. To others it feels a little cold and distant. When I left for college, my mother made a box to keep all the letters I would write to her. I think there are two letters in that box. Email was born, and I sent most of my thoughts via the net. I thought it was great. She was disappointed. Neither view of email was wrong. I was wrong, however, for not observing that emails weren't as well received as I hoped. In the same way, we need to be able to read people, to know whether electronic communication is received warmly or not.

3) Podcasting, mp3's, etc. I see this one as a huge way to encourage and build the body. People may not have an opportunity to read a book on a particular topic, but they can pop in a cd, or listen to an ipod while they drive. There is such good teaching out there on the web (and some poo)! This can be a great way to equip people and help them see the church corporately is entering some of the same discussions we are.

4) Blogs...eh. I know my blog isn't really the type that puts pictures of myself or the kids or shares much personal information (I like those, I just didn't feel like doing that), but I truly believe a person can read my blog and get to know me a little better. You can see what issues I'm dealing with. You'll understand my approach to things and hopefully pick up a little bit of sense of humor. I do believe it is something that can enhance relationships, since you get to know the person better.

Yet there are a few pitfalls.

Written word seems to be so intense. I can say something, and I can write something and written word will always have more gravity. I know I'm not a good writer, so I use words improperly at times, and don't really convey inflection like I should in writing. Just misunderstanding the tone of something can put a whole different spin on it. Then a person is able to read, reread, read into the words that were typed. Sometimes thing get much bigger than they should have.

Privacy is also a tricky thing. People that are not our intended audience can also participate in the conversation. Sometimes this is great; it broadens the scope of our thinking. Sometimes it can be detrimental, bringing others into a situation it'd be best they were left out of.

Ultimately, electronic communication brings so many positives. It's cheaper, easier and more immediate than other forms of communication. It can enhance any person's ministry...provided it is received well.

And that's where we'll need to be patient.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Book Review

The Emerging Church by Dan Kimball.

So my friend Brian (yes, it's the same Brian from the "faith quiz." The same Brian who is probably a bit horrified to be a link just below Al Mohler on this site...in fact, why are you at my site? If you want to be reading things to make you think, you should probably just go straight to Brian's Site!) and I have had several talks about the Emergent Church "movement." Patiently, Brian has talked with me, and finally he handed me this book.

Finally, I've read it.

I found this book to be encouraging, intimidating, challenging, reassuring, informative and fun reading. Kimball definitely has done his homework, both in the school of life and with supporting research. I found his writing style to be quite conversational, almost feeling like I was sitting in a room talking to him. His youth pastor past rises to the surface as the book is full of clip art or boxed in areas of conversation from other authors. He seems to have found the balance between providing evidence but not turning the book into an academic exercise.

As with any book, I was very concerned to see how Kimball handled the Word of God. Actually, I found that Kimball is not really looking to do anything new or discover some new unlocked mystery, but rather embrace the church of the Bible. I found his usage of Scripture to be accurate to the context of the passage. I found myself pushed and stretched at times, but found nothing that troubled my "Reformed Evangelical" (see quiz below.) soul.

There are elements of the Emergent Movement that scares me. There are those who seem to focus more on the society than on the Word. There are some that are attempting to understand the Bible in the context of our culture, instead of understanding our culture according to the Word of God. I do not feel Kimball is one of those guys. He seeks to present Truth to a postmodern generation...but Truth is still his goal.

Is our church emergent? I don't know. We certainly look much different than a church in Santa Cruz (we better, since the people are different too!). We share the conviction of being true to God's Word, but if the things we do that aren't biblically mandated (or the way we do them that isn't Biblically mandated) begin to get in the way of people becoming disciples...I pray we have the same desire to reevaluate and adjust our thinking.

Pastor or not, I think this is a good read. I'd rate it an "8.5 point Caribou" book.

(By the way, if you are a church leader of any kind, you may want to put this in the category of "must read." The conversation is only going to be growing and even if you don't currently think the "emerging culture" is around you...it either is, or is coming soon.)

Knotted Up at 2-2

For my thoughts on the finals so far, see my Top Ten List.

A Quiz

my friend Brianhad a link to this quiz on his site. i hesitated with what to call this, not sure what adjective to put with it. is it fun? is it serious? is it beneficial? is it a waste? in the end, i came to the conclusion....it's a quiz.

You scored as Reformed Evangelical. You are a Reformed Evangelical. You take the Bible very seriously because it is God's Word. You most likely hold to TULIP and are sceptical about the possibilities of universal atonement or resistible grace. The most important thing the Church can do is make sure people hear how they can go to heaven when they die.

Reformed Evangelical




Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Neo orthodox




Classical Liberal


Roman Catholic




Modern Liberal


What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com

no label works perfectly, but maybe it will explain why so few of my posts make sense.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Pharisee and ESPNRadio

Like everyone else with a sin nature, I find myself prone to excess (but possibly more excessively!). Moderation is definitely a term that seems to escape my life. I seem to be able to twist every gift into something unhealthy for me.

"Hi, my name is Danny and I am an ESPNRadio-aholic." I love sports. I love to watch sports. I love to listen to sports. I even love to listen to people talk about the sports they have watched. Is there anything wrong with that? Unless in excess, no.

And herein lies the problem. I find myself controlled by the stupid radio. I begin scheduling my errands around programs or guests that will be appearing on radio. I look for thoughtless work I can accomplish so that I can keep the radio on even while at work. "So what?" you may be thinking.

Well, I don't like who I become when this happens. My every thought seems to become captive to the arena of sport. Not that it is Sodom and Gomorrah, but men without a Christian worldview do tend to discuss woman and sex in a way that doesn't glorify God. The cynicism and loveless dialogue seem to invade my heart and speech. I don't like what it then does to my heart. I worry that my passion for sports starts to rival my passion for my Lord.

So I turn it off, and stay away from it. This battle has raged for nearly 10 years now, and trust me when I say I seem to swing between the two extremes. I either listen to it way too much, or I avoid it. There doesn't seem to be a middle ground. Like the alcoholic, I convince myself I can listen to just a short program and I'll be fine. One week later, I realize I've practically had the radio on at all times. My gluttony on sports radio effects the quality of my walk with the Lord, so I choose to turn it off.

But is the battle over now? What does it say about my walk that I am not capable of listening to something without it consuming me? Doesn't this expose a weakness in my walk with the Lord? Is this weakness just "my thorn in the flesh" and I just should delight in God's sufficient grace? Do I have to overcome this weakness? If I do overcome it, how will I know? Will I be able to listen some day in moderation and not have it effect me?

I struggle to evaluate whether I've become a Pharisee (establishing my own rules to create my own self-righteousness) or whether I'm just guarding my heart (Proverbs 4:23). I know as Christians, we can be quick to solve a situation with rules...rules that God hasn't created. Yet, I fear that at times, we abandon safeguards because we fear becoming a Pharisee. God reveals to us that something effects our walk, but we refuse to give it up because we fear that the refusal may be some form of self-righteousness.

I guess I've adopted the perspective that it effects my walk negatively, so I am going to abadon it. I'm not happy that it effects my walk, I don't want it to. Maybe someday God will grow me in such a way that it no longer will. If and when He does, maybe I'll be able to listen in moderation. How will I know He has done that? I don't know.

Does anyone else ever feel this tension (not necessarily sports radio)? Am I alone here? What has the Lord shown you to draw the line between self-righteouss law making, and God glorifying discipline?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Book Review

One Thing You Can't Do in Heaven by Mark Cahill

I was first introduced to Mark Cahill when I ordered the video Being A Light in a Dark World by Summit Ministries. Mark is a former Auburn basketball player (there when Sir Charles wore an XXXL Auburn jersey) who has a total passion for Jesus Christ. I remembered watching the video and thinking, "This guy can't speak. He's all over the place!" Yet, I watched the video three times straight through. The man was captivating.

Since I had seen the video, many of Mark's illustrations were not new to me. This book is certainly not intended to be a doctrinal treatise on evangelism or salvation (It may be the first time I've seen quotes from Charles Finney and John MacArthur on the same page that weren't contrasting one another!), but rather a manual on how to share your faith.

Cahill gives some very helpful chapters on jumpstarting conversations about faith, what to do in the face of rejection, and even how to answer questions people may have. He gives very practical insights that a person can apply immediately after reading. He also fills the books with stories of him applying his teaching. If the way he equips doesn't excite a person about evangelism, surely hearing the way he's applied and the work God has done through it will.

My only concern would be that he seems to place most of his focus on evangelism on the acceptance of the audience, and not on the glory of God. He does temper this however, by admitting that to share our faith is always a winning situation for the believer, regardless of the response received.

It's an easy read (obviously, from my last review you can see how long it took to read!). It's a practical read. If you've struggled to share your faith, it's a must read.

Cahill book is a "7.5 point Caribou."

Monday, June 13, 2005

Innocent Guilt

Has America's therapeutic worldview weakened a role of the Holy Spirit?

Charity and I had a discussion this weekend that lead to us talking about the role of guilt in our lives. In our society, maybe especially in Christian circles, we seem to see the avoidance of guilt as an end to be pursued. We look ahead to a day in glory, when every tear will be wiped away (Rev 21:4), and assume then that feelings of guilt are a product of Satan which God desires to destroy in our lives.

But was guilt a product of sin, or a gift of grace given upon sin? Or can it be both?

So we're on the same page, allow me to define the terms for this article. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, guilt is: "a feeling of having done wrong or failed in obligation." In the same dictionary, guilty is defined as: "justly chargeable with a particular fault or error." Scripture clearly attests that the one who calls on Jesus Christ has that "guilty" verdict removed, and instead, the righteousness of Christ is imputed into his/her life. That is why the accuser of the saints (Rev 12:10-11) is silenced. His charge of guilty upon my life means nothing to God, because He sees the righteousness of Christ in me. Therefore, I do not say that a believer stands before God guilty, but does that mean I should not feel some guilt?

I think we can be too glib about the words of Paul in I Timothy 1:15. Paul says, "It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am formost of all." Sure he is praising the gift that Chist is, to even make our salvation possible. But do we think that at the moment he penned those words, that he was able to think of Stephen or others he ordered persecuted and not feel shame and pain? I doubt he was able to just get over it.

Do we understand the glory of God's salvation if we don't comprehend the depravity of our sin? If I am so quick to look to healing and forgetfulness, do I devalue mercy and grace? Our society tells us that bad feelings are bad, and that good feelings are good. Yet we know there are times we can receive good feelings from things that are truly bad. Can't bad feelings also produce something quite good? What if my suffering and pain produces in me a hatred for the sin to which I fall, which lead to an understanding of the hatred of that sin by my Father? Doesn't grace then arrive and show me its boundless ends which forgives that which He hates? Doesn't that then lead me to call upon Him for the strength to fight against such temptation?

Church Discipline is on the endangered species list in American churches. I do not believe this is because churches do not see the Bible as accurate (for it's decline is in liberal and conservative churches alike) but rather is found in our therapeutic worldview. When I sin, and then either confess my sin or my sins are found out, it then becomes the church's responsibility to make me feel better. Then the church wonders why the person continues to fall into the same pattern of sin. God instructs the church to counter this pattern with the gift of church discipline. Through the person's discomfort they might come to genuine repentance over the situation.

I heard a man teach once (can't remember who) that "if a person is feeling guilt about sin in their life, do not tell them that it is ok. Show them how they are forgiven, but do not interfere with a work the Holy Spirit may be doing in their lives."

Of course, like all things, there are extremes. I can think of times I became captive to my guilt and it began to control me. I am not asking about this. But how do we, as a community allow someone to know God forgives them, and we forgive them (on interpersonal issues), yet allow the person to work through feelings of guilt?

It's like when you use sand and water to cleanse your hands. You take the dirt from the ground, and yet it has a cleansing effect. Is it possible that the Lord desires to use feelings of guilt in the same way in our lives at times? If so, I ask not to be delivered from it, but rather that God would use it to purify me.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Book Review

Where Have All the Dreamers Gone? "Observations from a Biblical Worldview"
by William Brown

Just finished the book today and figured I'd start giving reviews. You'll know what I think about the book, it will keep me accountable to keep reading and will give Jer a chance to rip on my thoughts some more!

Eight chapters to explore worldviews. Unfortunately, they are eight disjointed chapters. He maps out worldviews, expresses what they are, and how they are seen in media, politics and life. But he doesn't do it with any discernable pattern.

There is one cool chapter filled with his correspondence while in Russia. He makes some great observations, but doesn't really tie them all together.

It even begins and ends with an awkward sort of commercial about Cedarville University.

If you're looking for a book about worldviews, I would highly recommend Long Journey Home by Os Guinness.

Overall, I think Brown is President of a great academic institution (how bout their mens basketball program, eh!) and I respect the work he did at Bryan College too. But I'd have to rate this a "4 point Caribou" (on a 10 point scale) selection.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Pitt of Poverty

We were flipping through the channels tonight (and kept flipping) yet stayed there just long enough to see something that sparked my mind.

this news show was talking about how political superpowers were collaborating to assist empoverished Africa. it was described as the kind of revolutionary aid similar to that which America gave europe after the second world war. i know nothing about this proposal, but i do think africa is a continent that has long been ignored. while the topic had my attention, something else caught my eye (and honestly, also convinced me to keep flipping.)

the story was turned over to brad pitt.

right off the bat, mr angelina jolie makes the statement that "we could be the generation to end poverty." i don't want to nitpick, but bradley could not be more wrong. Jesus said, "The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me" (Matthew 26:11). Don't get me wrong, we are to constantly reach out to the needy and the poor, in fact, doing so is as if you've ministerd to Christ Himself (Matthew 25:40). The religion that God desires includes looking after widows and orphans in their distress (James 1:27). Our hearts should break for the poor, and we should do something about it! however, to have the goal of eliminating it is impossible. philisophically, poverty and riches are subjective standards. is the homeless man with the most possessions rich in comparison to those who have even less? is the person in the with the least amount of things in a lucrative neighborhood poor? furthermore, don't riches and poverty involve so much more than tangible possessions?

ultimately, i see the elimination of poverty as a vain attempt, for if it were possible, then Jesus' statement (and thus Himself) is seriously flawed.

but a second thought was, why is brad pitt sharing this information with us? what is our obscession with celebrity? i think brad is a good actor (though jeremy bear can do a much better job of judging that than i can). yes, brad is one of those guys that forces us manly men to look at our wife and admit, "ok, so maybe i can see that that guy is attractive." it's safe to say he's a good looking man. why does that make him credible to present this story? did he major in history, sociology or even anthropology? has he been working in these fields and only moonlighting as an actor?

the easy answer is "the show put pitt on the air because people would listen." sure, and again, why?

i truly hope the world does something to join the many Christian efforts taking place to help with the poverty of Africa. i hope they don't contaminate the effort with humanist thought.

i hope they don't have brad pitt in charge of the effort.

Spurs in 6

Wearing my Ginobili jersey, I can't see it coming down any other way.

GAME 1--97-79, San Antonio--The Spurs come out rusty at first (missing their first 6 shots) but then loosen up with easy baskets. Detroit has been successful in stopping teams with two superstars, but the three headed monster of Parker/Ginobili/Duncan is too much to handle.
GAME 2--102-100 OT, San Antonio--Detroit makes some adjustments to slightly slow San Antonio down. But foul trouble from Rasheed Wallace causes problems. McDyess is overwhelmed by Duncan. Big Ben guards Duncan well, but Nazr is freed up to rebound all over Campbell. When Tayshaun guards Manu, Parker's speed abuses Billups. When Tay guards Billups, Manu drives around Rip or Billups and opens up the offense for everyone.
GAME 3--87-80, Detroit--Defensive intensity is high for Detroit's first home game (a must win for them). Parker is freed up to go nuts, scoring 29 points and making Billups look slow. Duncan, however is silenced, and Manu is frustrated, never being able to get into the swing of the game.
GAME 4--88-79, Detroit--Ginobli/Parker/Duncan combine for 68 points, but only get 11 from the rest of the team. Bruce Bowen looks lost, with no one to guard and nowhere to hide on offense. Nazr is man handled in the post. Only glimmer of light is Robert Horry's 8 points. Detroit, meanwhile, continues its balanced attack, Rasheed leading with 24 points.
GAME 5--90-81, San Antonio--Pop wanted one win out of the games in Detroit and this is it. Detroit looks a little fatigued from a long, grueling playoffs. While Parker's quickness seems to be contained, Ginobili's speed and spontaneity wear Detroit down mentally and physically. Duncan records 23 points and 14 rebounds, but is overshadowed by Ginobili's triple double (22 points 11 assists 12 boards 4 steals).
GAME 6--94-93, San Antonio--An intense game, with neither team leading by more than 4 points. San Antonio takes the lead with an open dunk by Nazr (assist by Ginobili) with 3.5 seconds remaining. Detroit calls time out. Ginobili, having been burned by Derek Fisher last year, does not allow the pass to get to Hamilton, stealing it and dribbing into the open court to avoid being fouled.

Other Notes:

MVP: Ginobili. Averaging 22 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals per game, Duncan stats were arguably better. However, Ginobili did it with a flair and also seemed to sense the urgency and carry the team at times. Not quite taking captaincy from Duncan, Ginobili clearly replaces Parker as second in command, and seems to have established himself as a co-cornerstone to this team.
LARRY BROWN: Brown's press conference puts most of America into a three month depression, yet you can't tell if Detroit won the series or lost it. All Pistons players clearly allude to the fact that they don't see Coach Brown returning; in fact, Darvin Ham, Lindsey Hunter both seem jovial about said fact. By the start of 2005 season, Hunter is the starting point guard for the Cavs, and Ham is starting at small forward (moving Lebron to the bench to gain "much needed veteran wisdom" according to GM Brown).
MEDIA: With Ginobili stepping up, San Antonio can no longer be called boring or predictable. Announcers pretend that they have always loved this team and have been pulling for it. Some allude to the fact that Detroit didn't even belong in this series, but for the injury to Wade. Detroit is called all but a fluke champion, and Miami is picked to come out of the east the next year. However, this series proves to be only the first of three finals matchups between Detroit and San Antonio.

Pistons in 6

With my pistons cap on...here's how i see the series playing out:

GAME 1--97-79, San Antonio--I just don't see anyone coming into San Antonio for the finals, and Pop not having them ready to play. Media goes nuts stating the series will be over quickly, as Detroit does not have enough D to slow San An, and doesn't have enough O to keep up with the Spurs.
GAME 2--105-99, Detroit--Not sure whether the Spurs had a let down in game 2 or Detroit came out gunning, but Detroit shows it has the offensive power to keep with San Antonio. All Pistons were hitting their shots, as the offense runs more smoothly through Rip than Chauncey (Rip drops 8 dimes in this game.)
GAME 3--87-80, Detroit--Intensity is high for the first game at the Palace, but Detroit shakes things up a bit. While Tony Parker torches Detroit for 29 points, the offense seems to sputter for San Antonio. Duncan is contained to 16 points and Ginobili is smothered by Tayshaun, scoring only 14.
GAME 4--75-69, San Antonio--Taking a page from Detroit, San Antonio baits Billups into trying to take over the game. Billups shoots 5/17 from the floor and finishes with 16 points. Rasheed is ejected in the middle of the third with 18 points. Announcers begin to speculate that the wheels have come off the bus for Detroit and lament that this series is only going to get uglier and uglier.
GAME 5--99-88, Detroit--Having both been embarrassed in this series, both point guards realize they must get others involved. Mysteriously, Duncan has his obligatory "one game disappearing act" for a series, and Parker tries to hard to create for Ginobili instead of letting him get his own. Meanwhile, Billups only shoots 12 shots (making 6) and he and Rip each rack up 7 assists.
GAME 6--88-82, Detroit--Outmuscled by Billups, harrassed by the length of Prince, and exhausted by the relentless pursuit of Hamilton, Paker appears broken down. Early in the second half Pop sees this and replaces him with Beno. By the fourth, Pop realizes their only hope is to put Manu at point. Unfortunately, this leaves a glaring disparity at shooting guard and the two man show of Ginobili and Duncan can't outgun the entire Detroit team. Coincidently, since Detroit has no big gun to worry about, San Antonio struggles the entire series to figure out who Bowen should be guarding, thus he appears more as a nomad, than a defensive stopper.

Other notes:

MVP--The media cringes, struggles, hesitates, and then places the trophy in Rasheed Wallace's hands. His stats weren't great, and his emotions are scary, but he makes others around him play better and try harder. After being traded for, this team went from an above average team to the back to back champs. Jim Gray immediately saddles up to him and pretends that he has always thought of Rasheed as a quality guy.
LARRY BROWN--After washing the shampoo out of his hair, Brown immediately begins pursuing Robert Horry and Lindsey Hunter as the perfect compliments for Lebron James. Brown even promises Hunter a starting role, as he doesn't think Lebron is old enough to be starting in the NBA and plans to move him to the bench until he gains form experience.
MEDIA--Members of the media pretend that they always thought Detroit would win, because a team beats a couple great players every time. They say this is the new blueprint for winning (comparisons to Patriots and Red Sox) and they can't figure out why other teams don't follow said pattern. Then they declare Miami as the favorite to win the championship next year.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Power 5--Old Guy Edition

1. Kenny Rogers--this is starting to get ridiculous. Winner of 8 straight and a league leading 1.62 ERA.
2. Past His Prime Time--doesn't it just feel like a couple of years ago that Deion played in an NFL game and a playoff baseball game in the same day? Man, he's slowed down. (Conflict of interest here too. I just want to get back to hearing his craziness in pregame!)
3. Dennis Boyd--no rust on the Oil Can. Imagine being abused on the mound by a guy who could be your dad.
4.Like Father, Like Son--listen to dear old dad rip the media for noticing that K2 ruined his season popping wheelies in a parking lot.
5.Zo--what? You're not rooting for Detroit yet (and for Wade's injury to bother him about 48 more hours). How bout this. Zo works in Charlotte and leaves the people out to dry, signing a free agent contract in Miami and stating the beautiful quote, "I work for Nike, not Charlotte." Then, continues to collect his full pay in Miami through his kidney injury and one failed comeback. Signs with the Nets (multiyear contract) and again, continues to collect while suffering through injuries. Goes on injured list. Demands a trade. Gets trade to Raptors but refuses to report. After being cut, returns to Heat to validate career with championship ring (yeah Zo, your 8 minutes a game are the key if Miami wins it all.) This should be a no brainer. We should all be rooting to see if Tayshaun has any answers for Manu!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

My First (maybe only) Music Review

Charity and I (along with the kids) had the privilege of attending our first CD release concert. Miah and Marcie did another fabulous job.

Here's how it works. If you haven't heard 40mN you're the one missing out!

Go to their site. And grab their new cd "all this space." you can thank me later.

You can also come to our church for their concert on june 24.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Marriage, Singleness and Sex

if that title didn't get your attention, maybe this post will.
The Wailer has a great discussion called "Single Thought" on his site. Check it out, and contribute.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Is Legalism the Christian Race Card?

In some ways, I see parallels between the Billy Hunter situation and the modern church. (In case you didn't know, Billy Hunter is the head of the NBA Players Union. He is in labor negotiations with the league about a collective bargaining argreement. The league made a proposal that looked acceptable. Hunter presented the proposal to the players, whose agents became upset that the negotiating role of an agent becomes diminished with this agreement. Coincidentally (?), the Union then rejected the league's offer saying it was miles from acceptable. When the League suggested this was due to pressure from agents, Hunter fired back that the league was being racist, assuming a black man couldn't lead and have an opinion on his own without the influence of white men).

What a long parenthetical explanation, eh? My point exactly. The head of a labor union (comprised by a majority of blacks) declares it's employer to be a racist and we've moved on as a society. Why?

Because we're sick of hearing race brought into a discussion where it doesn't belong. Racism is a horrible, ugly, antibibical, depraved action. It ignores the issue of God creating all man in His image, thus possessing a Divine Sanctity. It is deplorable, not just to Christians, but the the world as well. As believers, however, we should be the most offended by it.

Nothing destroys the fight against racism like the improper abuse of its claim. Every time a person makes a false claim of discrimination, it only weakens the case for those who are truly being oppressed. We, by our nature, become numb to things when we are constantly bombarded with them. Billy Hunter claims racism in a case and the world was not outraged to investigate if he's right. Scarier yet, no one seems to care if he's right or wrong. In fact, the only argument I have heard is, "Who am I to say if he thinks it's a racially motivated action? Only he can determine what he feels?" Really? Is that where the truth of this issue lies? In his emotions?

I feel our society has influenced the church in a similar way. Racist actions aren't a huge issue in the American church (Sadly because races rarely unite, making it hard to descriminate in a local body. You don't see a lot of racially motivated actions WITHIN a local body in the way they relate to one another.) However, I think the church has members who play another card that is even more deadly...Legalism.

Legalism is deplorable. Jesus was never as bold as when He spoke to the Pharisees/Saducees/Teachers of the Law about their legalism. Legalism does not exist without self-righteousness. Legalism can not take place without pride. Legalism causes one to depend on self, rather than a Savior, for their redemption. Legalism keeps people on a path to Hell. No wonder it made Jesus upset.

However, Jesus did call people to righteousness. ("Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more." as one example.) Legalism is calling things wrong that God has not called wrong. It is declaring a set of rules to define a person's devotion to God. Clearly articulating what God's Word declares as sin is not legalism. That's just called shepherding.

When people are quick to play the legalism card (just as some play the racist card) it does nothing for the cause of defeating legalism. Instead, it over saturates our system to the accusation. I must admit that when I am blasted for supposed legalism, I am almost numb. I used to be greatly disturbed at the accusation (and was driven back to the Scriptures to see if I was making leaps Scripture did not permit...and like many, there were times I have made those illadvised leaps). However, now it seems that agreeing with a biblical definition of sin makes you a legalist to the person who wishes to continue in the sin. (Mind you, I am not speaking to preference issues, but clearly articulated truths in Scripture that run against the vein of our society.)

I don't know which bothers me more; being called a legalist, or no longer caring when someone calls me one. All of us run that risk. Yes we need to let grace abound!!! (Does a believer have any other choice?) We need to preach a gospel of faith in the gracious gift of Jesus Christ alone for our salvation (for any other message is not a gospel). We must fight valiently against those who would declare they can reach God through their own working or activities. Legalism leads to death. We must fight it.

Yet, when we declare legalism where it does not exist...we suffer a defeat in the battle and not a victory.