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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

What have you been talking about?

Ok, so I've killed my blog with the PROPM series. It's never wise to fill a blog with undefinable words (postmodernism), especially when your commenting on the churches undefinable response to undefinable words (emerging church).

So, here's some help:

Justin Taylor is in the process of laying out a very thorough discussion of the emerging church. Check it out. Start at the beginning. They are short thoughts so it won't take to long.

And if you'd like to take a quiz to see if you are emerging, Marc Heinrich has just the thing for you.

(If the quiz offended you, go here. Read below the comic.)

Monday, November 28, 2005

Overachievement for the Church?

Maybe I'm just in an overly sports fan mood (after all my Steelers just brought the score to 7-10 against the Colts, my Pistons are clearly the best in the NBA and my Texas Rangers haven't lost a game in over two months), but I read this quote on David Friedman's blog:

"Any coach, whether it's high school, college, pro, whatever it is, any coach's job is to try to maximize the potential and the ability that a player has. I don't really understand the word overachiever. I don't really know what that means. To me, what everybody is trying to do is do their best. If somebody is doing their best, I don't see why that really should be regarded as something that they shouldn't be able to achieve. Frankly, that's what they should be able to achieve. It's the ones that don't, to a degree, nobody is ever perfect, so in a way everybody is an underachiever, even some of the highest achievers. Every quarterback has thrown an interception. Every running back has fumbled. Every receiver has dropped a pass. So, it's never going to be perfect. But I really think that’s a misnomer. I think what a coach tries to do is maximize the performance of his players within the team context. That's really what it's about. Anytime you have an offensive line, again, the context there is also of the entire unit. One guy could block great, but if it’s not coordinated and consistent with the other guys, then you’re not going to have any production and it isn’t going to be any good. All five guys have to function as a unit and function as one. That's where your production of that unit comes from."--Bill Belichick

Team sports provide some great correlations to life. The Church is a composition of sinners who collectively can accomplish so much more than individually. It's not overachievement, we're supposed to be more together than we are alone.

PROPM--Part 4

Pointless Ramblings on PostModernism--Part 4, "Athenian Audience"

It seems that everywhere I've turned recently, the issue of Postmodernism is right before me. It's been the focus of some books, lectures and conversations I've had lately. As I've stated here before, I've struggled to understand the entire movement, and thought I'd take the next couple days to hammer out some of my observations. The observations don't mean a whole lot, remember, because I probably don't have a clue what I'm talking about.Our church has been walking through the book of Acts. This week was Acts 17:16-34. At first, I was bummed when I realized that I wasn't going to be preaching this passage. However, it was great to talk about this passage in LIFE Group and to sit and listen this week as Daniel preached the message.

Athenian Audience

It seems that in the postmodern era, Acts 17 has been claimed as a model for many of the churches. Paul does a masterful job of reading the culture of the city and responding to it. The lesson is illustrated that we need to understand our culture, adapt to it, and present the message in a "language" that is understood.

However, I just wonder if we always see the full message in Acts 17.

The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands... Most of the time we see that as a response to the "Unknown God" that Paul says he will reveal to them. However, reconsidering the context of Athens, this is a statement in contrast to every idol in the city. Paul is not merely saying that the Unknown God is different than all the others, he is stating that God Almighty is different from every form of religious practice in their city. This is not simply a statement of clarification to teach the Athenians. This is a statement of contradiction, explaining that all of their practices are wrong.

--because he was teaching Jesus and the resurrection. Some have attempted to claim that Paul was very non-confrontational in this passage, trying to affirm the Athenians more than transform them. However, Paul very quickly took the message to being about "Jesus and the resurrection." It is not too much to assume that since Paul discusses the resurrection, he obviously covered the crucifixion as well. If you read the manuscripts of some of Paul's messages (found in Acts) as well as his summaries of his teachings (found in the Epistles) we see that Paul very clearly taught man's sin, the cross, Christ's payment and the resurrection (I Corinthians 15:3-4).

because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed... Further strengthening the idea of Paul's preaching the resurrection is found in this area. Paul says God furnished proof that Christ will judge all mankind by raising Him from the dead. Judgement was part of this message. Not man's judgement, but instead, the righteous, holy juddgement.

some began to sneer... It is the very issue of judgement that seemed to set some in opposition. For the passage says, "now when they heard of the resurrection of THE dead" they began to sneer. The text seems to indicate that it was not the resurrection of Jesus that put people at opposition, but rather this concept of the resurrection for "the dead." More than likely, the people were either nihilists or gnostics, neither one seeing a use for the body after death. Paul teaches that they will be raised to life again, and then will be judged. This issue set some of them against him sneering.

It seems to me that this section of the passage is often ignored today. Such a high premium is often placed on the response of the audience, that the accuracy of the message is a subpoint. Paul's messages were not often received overwhelmingly well. He would appeal to culture (he even quotes a secular poet in this message) and their basic understanding of God, but he never leaves it there. His message is often resisted.

I am not suggesting that the pastor preach stale, boring, lifeless messages. I am not claiming that illustrations should not be used to clarify the issue (Paul did). The pastor should have passion, he is sharing the revelation from God!!!! However, his primary concern should not be reaction of the audience, but his accuracy to the Word.

It seems to me that Paul was not saying to the Athenians, "Hey, we're a lot alike. I just see things from a slightly different angle." But rather, he was saying, "You guys are religious, however, you misunderstand who God is. Allow me to explain Him to you because some day you are going to have to stand before Him and be judged."

That just doesn't seem to be the point I hear out of many (not all, I have heard it accurately, including here at GGBC) who champion Acts 17 today.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Time Off for T.O.

An arbitrator ruled in favor of the Philadelphia Eagles today, giving them permission to keep Terrell Owens on the inactive list.

I want to give kudos to Richard Bloch for getting the story right. Hopefully, for the Eagles sake, they've learned their lesson and are moving on. (Actually, as a Pittsburgh fan, what do I care? Trade him for Randy Moss, Eagles!)

T.O. complained that the Eagles were a "classless organization." Ironically, I thought the same thing when they worked out a deal with Baltimore to acquire Owens. TO demanded out of San Fransisco (nothing new for today's athlete). When the team obliged, and shipped him off to Baltimore, he decided that wasn't acceptable. Philadelphia knew they were getting a self-centered prima donna when they traded for him. Should they have been surprised when he demanded a new contract one year after signing his last one?

I have no room for egos (Probably because mine is hogging the whole couch!). If I had been Andy Reid, I would have said, the day after TO caught his 100th touchdown, unacknowledged by the Eagles team: "We all know TO and did not find it necessary to acknowledge his accomplishments. We knew he could handle that part all on his own." Luckily, for the Eagles, Reid took a higher road.

Whether sports, ministry, marriage, work, you name it; character matters. It can't be replaced. It most cases it can't be taught. You may get lucky for a year or two (read here: Maurice Clarett), but eventually, you pay (read here: Maurice Clarett).

So it looks like Philly has learned their lesson. Maybe with his extra time, TO could drive up to Milwaukee and buy Latrell Sprewell (and his family that requires more than $7 million a year to feed, according to Spree) a Thanksgiving dinner. For it appears the whole NBA may have learned a lesson too.

PROPM--Part 3

Pointless Ramblings on PostModernism--Part 3, "Different Similarities"

It seems that everywhere I've turned recently, the issue of Postmodernism is right before me. It's been the focus of some books, lectures and conversations I've had lately. As I've stated here before, I've struggled to understand the entire movement, and thought I'd take the next couple days to hammer out some of my observations. The observations don't mean a whole lot, remember, because I probably don't have a clue what I'm talking about.

Different Similarities

With the pursuit of absolute truth in modernism, also came the conviction that the modernist possessed absolute truth. Gray was a four letter word, as black and white were the only true ways to describe things. Even issues that were subjective became controversies in absolute.

Postmodernism countered with a scepticism toward absolutes. The postmodernist acknowledged that everything I view is through my eyes, and that my eyes may distort the picture. Absolutes become a tricky thing, and they must be handled delicately.

At least in theory.

Tolerance, in some ways, is too easy a target. Our instinct is to desire everyone to be tolerant of our views. It's more difficult to be tolerant of the views of others. Modernism, with its passion for objectivity certainly scores low on tolerance. But I'm not sure postmodernism does much better.

It seems that in much of the exposure I have had lately, I have detected as much objectivity as before. We may be more tolerant of races, sexuality and appearances, but I don't know if there is more tolerance when it comes to beliefs. I understand that believers who have felt wrongly condemned by modernist practices are going to have some pain and frustration. Lately, however, it seems that I also sense a lot of venom in their responses. To me, it seems it is very postmodern to talk down about the church, how we've failed, how we're failing, how we've hurt others. The comments, at times, not by all, are also often filled with anger, hurt or condemnation. However, it also seems quite postmodern that when the very same questions are turned to personal responsibility, it's comfortable to rest in "none of us are perfect" and "I know there's a problem, but every question doesn't have to have an answer." To me, this appears every bit as condemning as modernism.

I understand that few truly believe all truth is relative. They may claim that, but practice says another thing. Most believe there is a subjective nature in our understanding of absolute truth. Instead, we become somewhat agnostic about the truth; I believe it's out there, I just don't think we can know it. However, this is impossible in practice as well.

By nature of postmodernism being a reaction to modernism, isn't it stating there are problems with modernism? Isn't it in essense saying, "Modernism got it wrong." And if we're declaring right and wrong, are we really that far from where we began?

Again, I just wonder if maybe we're right back where the Reformers and those of the Renaissance started. If postmodernism, when clearly stated and willing to look at itself in the mirror isn't just a slight reformation of modernism? If that in the end, the differences prove that the two are quite similar?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Emerging Conversation

Justin Taylor has an informative series on the Emerging Movement on his blog.

Currently, he's at 11 or 12 posts about it. Whether you are pre-emergent, post-emergent, pro-emergent or non-emergent it would be good to check out.

And if you're wondering, "What's emergent?" you'd probably enjoy it too.

PROPM--Part 2

Pointless Ramblings on PostModernism--Part 2, "How long?"

It seems that everywhere I've turned recently, the issue of Postmodernism is right before me. It's been the focus of some books, lectures and conversations I've had lately. As I've stated here before, I've struggled to understand the entire movement, and thought I'd take the next couple days to hammer out some of my observations. The observations don't mean a whole lot, remember, because I probably don't have a clue what I'm talking about.

How long?

Maybe it's the ill aftereffects of modernism, but the vague nature of postmodernism can be a bit frustrating. Other eras seem to be fairly neatly wrapped up, we can get a rough idea of when the started and when they ended. Postmodernism, however, can not be as easily assessed. I think there are a couple of reasons:

Unidentifiable Catalyst. What started the postmodern movement? Typically eras have begun with the conquest of a governement, scientific discovery, or even a great philosopher. It's hard to label which of those things, if any, helped initiate the postmodern movement. Some have suggested the influx of technology, but it seems to me that postmodernism had arrived before the computer was mainstream.

Short Shelf Life. We're really the first generation in this era. I wonder if the Reformers sensed the world was entering a new era? I wonder if people realized the ramifications of the printing press at the time of its invention? For us, it's hard to label because we are just at the beginning of it. In our society, anything lasting 5-10 years is labeled an era. In history, things lasting less than 100 years are considered short lived fads. (In reality, if we've moved out of modernism, it too was a very short era.) The further back you go, the longer something had to last to be considered significant. In 2510 AD, if we were to look back at the philosophy of this age, the distinction between us and the seventeenth century will seem significantly smaller.

Is it possible that we are focussing so much energy into something that will not survive long? Is it possible, that someday, historians will see modernism and postmodernism as two sub-sets of a larger classification? Is it possible that postmodernism is merely a transitional phase to another era which will last much longer? Or is it possible that postmodernism is the first of a series of very short lived eras?

I totally understand we should be reaching people as they understand things. I believe the Great Commission refers to all peoples, regardless of their philosophy. I'm not talking about evangelism.

I'm just wondering if we could be spending so much time scrambling to adapt our churches, our ministries, our study, and our preaching to identify with a mindset we will shortly find obsolete.

Monday, November 21, 2005

PROPM--Part 1

Pointless Ramblings on PostModernism--Part 1, "Jesus is not a postmodernist."

It seems that everywhere I've turned recently, the issue of Postmodernism is right before me. It's been the focus of some books, lectures and conversations I've had lately. As I've stated here before, I've struggled to understand the entire movement, and thought I'd take the next couple days to hammer out some of my observations. The observations don't mean a whole lot, remember, because I probably don't have a clue what I'm talking about.

Jesus is not a postmodernist.

It seems that much of the pressure lately is to show how the church is truly a postmodern entity. We re-examine texts and determine that passages like Acts 17 truly connect with our postmodern hearts. We then look to messages by Jesus and establish that He as well was a postmodernist.

But Jesus is not a postmodernist. There are values of postmodernism that He shares. There are tennets of postmodernism that He despises. Any effort on our part to prove that Jesus is postmodern typically misses the point of Who Jesus is. Postmodernism, even by its name, is a counter-reaction to the modern movement. Often the rationale seems to be that if I can prove Jesus is not a modernist, then that means He too must be a postmodernist.

Jesus is not a modernist. He isn't whatever philosophy dominated the Dark Ages either. And He isn't even the philosophy of whatever era preceeded the Dark Ages. I don't believe Jesus would have even classified Himself as whatever era fell during 5BCE-35CE.

A closer look at Scripture suggests that the I AM (John 8:58) extends beyond time eras. Therefore, we have to acknowledge that there were teachings in the Dark Ages, the Modern Era and the Post Modern Era with which Jesus would identify and embrace. However, there were/are also teachings that Jesus would call people to abandon.

It seems to me that part of discipleship is calling people beyond a "postmodern/modern/whatever else" mindset. Part of laying my life on the altar is acknowledging that even the way I previously viewed the planet needs to change. That does not mean we don't reach the postmodernist where they are. It just means that we should not see discipleship completed if we leave them there. (And the same applies to modernity.)

I understand that are ways the church has clung to things only because the resonate with modernity. I also understand that some may spot those issues much better than I. However, I think it's important that we keep in mind that our goal is not to turn the church into a postmodern entity either.

My goal should be to let Him define me, not my era.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Don't Just Sit There, Buy a Mac!!!

I've mentioned a couple times that my mac has been giving me trouble.

This weekend, customer service decided to replace the laptop since this one could probably be considered a lemon. But with all of these problems, do I really want another apple?


First off, the computer has been wonderful. I have no complaint except that it would break every five months due to a logic board problem. Ok, so that's not a minor deal, but no one else with a mac that I've ever talked to has had a similar problem. It appears to be a fluke thing.

Second, Mac has always repaired the situation quickly. Typically, I'd have my computer back within 5-6 days, with no data lost. However, this final time is particularly annoying, as it's taken a while for them to fix it, and track record shows replacing the logic board won't really fix the problem.

Third, I am not an extended warranty guy. They always just seem like a scam to me. My iBook (purchased over 3 years ago) had a one year warranty. I was worried about the response when my warranty expired. I've never received flack from apple when I've called them. They've always acknowledged that the problem is theirs and have been quick to fix the situation.

Yes, it's nice to be back on the bandwagon. It's why I made the switch.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Book Review

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

I have never been so nervous about giving a book review in my life. I have so many friends who love this book that I feel that anything but supreme approval will disappoint them.

Before I tell you about the book, I'll tell you my take about the author. I think he's hilarious, brilliant and deep. I think I would love to sit in a room and have a long conversation with him. I think if we spent a lot of time together and tried to become friends, we would drive each other nuts.

+He's a romantic. He dreams big and pushes you to ask, "why not?"
+He won't settle for "easy answers." Dont' just give him cliche and expect him to be okay with that.
+He hammers the issue of total depravity. He gets that none of us are worthy of God.
+He's really funny. The book is full of sentances that make you laugh aloud. (And also make you feel like an idiot when you are laughing by yourself in public.)
+He knows that no works lead to the approval of God. He is very intolerant of those who may think their outward rules determine their relationship with God.
+He is an amazing wordsmith. He puts words together like few others. Every paragraph is entertaining. I liked reading it.
+For being single, he's pretty insightful about marriage. He listens to his friends as they share, and really chews on what they've said.
-He's too analytical about relationships. He's cursed by his mind, which causes him at times to think too much.
-While his sentances are amazing and his paragraphs keep you captivated, his chapters, at times have nothing to do with each other.
-He's inconsistent about sanctification. At times, he seems to really celebrate smoking and cussing; almost as if that's the sign of a mature believer. Then, later in the book he refers to a guy who grew in his relationship with the Lord, and his proof is all found in actions (talked nicer, more gentle). It seems that at one time, he thought his actions earned favor with God. When he realized that wasn't the case, he seems to abdandon right actions instead of seeing them as an outflowing for what God has done.
-I can't always pick up his humor. Sometimes he says troubling things and I'm not sure whether he's serious or not.
-The doctrine of total depravity is beautiful if it causes you to glory in the grace of Christ. I just don't sense Miller doing that. (More on that at the end.)
-He fails to see that some of the typical Christian answers are usually given because they are right. Miller speaks of finally becoming passionate about God when he was reading the Word more than ever before in his life. He doesn't seem to recognize this correlation, however. When he does quote the Word (very rare) he doesn't cite a text, but instead, just says, "an ancient texts says..." It seems the baby is thrown out with the bath water.
-He's a romantic. He spends the whole book talking about how the church isn't as loving as other environments he's been in. He mentions a very unique person who he is sure would be made fun of in church, but claims that on a secular campus the man would have been "loved and accepted by all." C'mon. While the church should be the place where a person is loved and accepted by all, and while we aren't doing that like we should, I hardly believe his secular campus is the social utopia he paints it.

According to Miller, the campus life at Reed College is quite pagan and secular. Miller has a very loving heart toward the students at Reed College. But he seems so blinded by his romanticism of the Reed life, that his heart doesn't seem to break over all the drinking, drugs and free sex kids are openly engaging in. He's searching so hard to see where God can be found in the midst of the campus, that he doesn't seem to care that some students could be making mistakes that they may pay for the rest of their life.

I also found the book to be a little too "man-centered." Even with the issue of total depravity, Miller seems to spend most of his time focused on what it means to humans, than what it says about God. He focuses and confesses the failures of the church, but doesn't always steer a person toward God in the midst of the conversation. (I know the God-centered/man-centered thing sounds like a harsh criticism, it's not so much so. Unfortunately, most books probably fit in that category.)

Do I recommend the book? I don't know. It's very well written. It's quite entertaining. He says the title of the book comes from the fact that jazz music doesn't resolve. I guess this may have been his intention, but the book doesn't seem to resolve either.

Mac Update

My computer was sent away and a logic board was replaced.

I finally received my new airport (since that didn't work when my computer was returned to me). No dice. They sent another airport card. Nada.

So now I'm waiting for the Mac consultant to call me back. I only have internet through the phone line again. So I'll probably be updating my blog on weekends only.

Making it hatd to brag about Mac.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Church; Warts and All

I've always had a problem with believers who wish to present themselves as flawless. Somewhere along the line, Christians became deceived that they were expected to be perfect. We lost that the gospel message is about forgiveness, redemption, and His righteousness being placed upon us. It became about being perfect, as if we were worthy of God's forgiveness upon our lives. We've missed opportunities to present the gospel when we've covered up our mistakes, instead of admitting them and seeing them as object lessons.

(Not everyone, mind you. In fact, I am surrounding by many people who willingly admit their sin, work to improve, but admit it to allow the gospel message to be evident.)

I've always assumed the church (collectively) should do the same as well.

I have a friend who may be sued by a Christian School. They've sent him a nasty letter and made some veiled threats. It stems from a cartoon he made. It's a biographical account from his childhood.

I read about it and immediately was enraged. I talked to him over email and found out the letter from a lawyer was the first communication the school had with him. I have nothing to offer in power, money or intellect. So, I thought I could at least offer my blog. I planned to write about it. To offer hyperlinks. To discuss how bad it is when Christians turn on other Christians, especially ignoring Scripture (I Corinthians 6). I was ready to shout about it from the rooftops.

But then I started to feel uneasy. Do I really want to air dirty laundry out on the internet? Would this be a chance for the world to see the church admit it messes up, or does this turn the world off to Christ, assuming even the church hasn't been changed by His message?

So I leave out all hyperlinks or names, just to say: I have a friend who is being threatened by a Christian School. I wish it wasn't so. I have no idea how he should respond. But I trust that somehow Christ can be magnified in the midst of this bad situation.

As Good As It Gets...

In the movie bearing the same title, the main character steps into a lobby of a psychiatrist's office and blurts out to the waiting patients, "What if this is as good as it gets?' The question leaves many in the lobby haunted as he walks on.

This week, I had the opportunity to meet with quite a few other pastors. As I sat in the room, I realized some things. I am one of the youngest guys in the room. Our church is probably one of the smallest churches represented. My responsibilities are probably some of the least of anyone else in the room.

As I looked around the room, the question crossed my mind, "Is this as good as it gets?"

My life is simple.--While most may not describe life with three children, ages three and under, as the simple life, it's not exactly complex either. There's a lot of energy, a lot of diapers, and a lack of sleep. But it's not complicated. I tell my kids, "I love you," and they answer back the same. (Well, except Kari, but I'm sure that drool coming out of her mouth is intended to express her affections.) Some days, I get the emense pleasure of saying, "I love you too!" as one of our kids has initiated the conversation. If I want a hug, a kiss, a wrestling partner...they are right there. They still think Charity and I are pretty cool.

My ministry is simple.--I love the guys I get to work with. I love the students in our youth group. I've got an incredible job with tons of freedom, with students who love the Lord. I even get to preach quite a bit. Our church is at a wonderful phase. We're big enough to dream big, but small enough to not be bogged down by a lot of things that can get in the way of ministry.

I looked at these guys around the room. All of them successful pastors. Most of them further along in life than me. I looked around the room and I wasn't envious at all. It is by the grace of God that I have experienced what I have at this point. It is totally within His right to take any and all of it away from me. I sat there in the room and the thought crossed my mind, that "this may be as good as it gets." It could all be taken away.

Unlike the characters in the movie, the thought made me warm inside. If this is the summit, it's reached higher than I ever imagined. If this is the best, it's more than I deserve. If this is "it," it is more than I think anyone else has ever experienced. If this is as good as it gets, God has indeed been good to me.

He alone is good. And I'm thrilled that He's shared it with me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Forthright v. Forthcoming

About a year ago, a friend of mine was experiencing an exciting development in his life. This exciting development followed a very painful time in his life, and was even indirectly related to it. Eventually, details of this positive element began leaking their way to me. It's highly complicated, but the delay of information created some suspicion for me.

Of course, I made things far more complicated.

At one point, I emailed this friend and asked him why he han't been more forthright with me. In every other area of our friendship he has always been quite open. Why the difference now?

I couldn't understand why he took such offense. He wrote me back, deeply greived and quite upset that I would say he hadn't been forthright. Then I looked it up: "straightforward and honest." My heart sank. Now I understood his pain. He thought I was saying he wasn't being honest with me. In essence, I was saying that he had lied to me.

I scrambled to try to figure out what word I did mean. Then, I realized, I meant forthcoming: "willing to divulge information." I simply meant I was disappointed to hear his news through the "grapevine" but ended up calling this friend a liar.

Luckily, he knows me well enough to know I have not mastered the english language. He quickly received my apology and we've been able to move on.

However, the word had a meaning, and the meaning did not reside in what I desired it to have. It can sound really personal and deep; caring and understanding, to say that words are defined by all of us...but isn't that dangerous? Isn't it possible that if I misuse the word forthright (or legalism, or predestination, etc.) that I'm not really giving "my definition" but rather showing my ignorance? I think my friend and I would admit that my "new understanding" of forthcoming was not due to cultural pressures, or higher understanding, but to ignorance.

But do I have the courage to admit that?

Friday, November 11, 2005

I Fear Unique Sounds

As I'm balancing the check book this afternoon, I hear a slapping sound coming from the nursery. My wife is feeding our youngest and the two older ones are presumably together in the room. Since my wife is really the expert about our children's play habits, I ask her what she thinks of the sound.

"It's sounds like Rachel is slapping Zeke," I offer as a possibility.

"No way, he doesn't sound upset," Charity quickly dismisses.

Well, I know he's not smacking her, or there would be a major meltdown. So I go back to balancing the checkbook. Every so often I hear the slapping sound repeated. I can't imagine what the sound is, but the kids seem to be happy. Actually, as I begin to think about it, too happy. Now I'm not just curious about the noise, I'm terrified to find out what awaits me.

I walk up to the door only to notice a piece of furniture has been moved to block my line of vision. I also noticed the room smelled really good. I had no idea what to make of that.

Zeke was sitting on the floor playing with some trucks. He seems happy enough. However, while he is playing, Rachel is dumping baby lotion into her hands and then smacking it into his hair. His head is nothing but a large collection of white sludge. I froze. Not sure what else to do, I yelled for my wife. Needless to say, this was a new thing, not a habit of theirs.

So now Zeke has really greasy hair (even after repeated washings).
Rachel has really soft hands.
Kari now sleeps in a room that smells really good.
Mom and Dad have no idea what to make of the situation.

I never new it would be possible to be frustrated, amused, annoyed, laughing, confused and relieved all at once.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Am I a Legalist if I Only Want It Defined Properly?

Legalism is batted around in many circles today. As our society struggles with how to define truth, evangelicals struggle with how to define truth. The term is used so much, that I've actually had students ask me if they were legalists before. Typically, if you think you might be a legalist, you probably aren't.

If you believe that lying, stealing or adultery is wrong, you are not a legalist. That's called being a biblicist. (Exodus 20)

If you have convictions about "grey areas" and live according to those convictions, you are not a legalist. You're simply consistent with your personal morals. (I Corinthians 8)

If you impose your personal convictions on someone else, you are not a legalist. You may not understand Scripture completely, but if you're humble and teachable, you're certainly not a legalist. (Acts 11).

Check out the Bakers Evangelical Dictionary for the definition of legalism. In it's original usage, a legalist depended on the law for his justification. A person believes their adherence to the law earns them favor before God, not grace.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

When Did Truth and Love Get a Divorce?

Truth and Love once had a beautiful marriage. According to much of the conversation happening around us today, doesn't it appear the two have filed for divorce?

I'm amazed by the number of contemporary comments that seem to see truth and love as objects in opposition to one another. It seems that we are now taught you can either love someone, or you can tell them the truth. Rarely, if ever, can you accomplish both. This is especially the case if the truth isn't pleasant.

I think many think the divorce papers were filed clear back in John 1:14: "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."

Somehow, Christ being full of grace and truth has become the story of two cosmic forces warring inside of the body of the Son of God. It's been perceived as the truth kept Him from being overly gracious, and the grace kept Him from being overly truth oriented. However, grace and truth still appear happily married in this passage. Christ was full of both, not balancing one another out, but both being fully manifested in His being. It was/is possible for grace and truth to coexist.

And while it may just be my personality and perspective coming out, it appears to me that most not only see love and truth as divorced, but love is the noble divorcee, while truth is the one no one chooses to associate with. Truth has become the creepy member of the divorce. The one who is the most to blame for the breakup. We're embarrassed by it and don't want people to know how much we used to love being around it.

The church is responsible to show the world that truth and love are still married. It's our job to share, not only that the two coexist, but that they are as strongly united as ever!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Mad at Mac

Have you ever been in one of those situations where you can't figure out if you're getting good service or not?

The "logic board" on my iBook went bad...


for the fourth time.

While the second customer service representative was quite friendly, I did find myself waiting for nearly an hour to get to the bottom of my problem.

I've got diagnosing a bad logic board down. First, the computer begins to run slow for a week or two. Then, one day, while I'm typing, the screen will appear to shake, then the computer will lock up. If I'm lucky, I can get a few files off of it before it quits working all together. However, I spent nearly an hour going through diagnostic tests on the phone with a Mac rep to make sure the logic board was really the problem.

Today my iBook arrived back. However, the Airport no longer works. Again, I'm on the phone for over an hour just to find out there is a problem with the Airport. However, the Rep wanted to tell me that the Airport problem (though I have never had a problem with it) had nothing to do with my logic board problem.

My Apple Care program has expired, so I am pleased that they are willing to fix the problem. But are they really fixing it? About 5-6 months from now, my laptop will lock up again, and I'll be out of a computer for a week or two. It doesn't seem the problem is fixed, it's just dealt with for a while.

I bought a Mac because I'd never heard someone complain about the customer service or the computer itself. Now, however, I'm starting to think, "I shoulda' bought a Dell."