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Monday, January 30, 2006

Cliff Notes to Spotting False Teachers

If they bag on Job, I probably wouldn't keep listening.

I was channel surfing the other night and happened to stop on "Christian Television". Paula was on and I have to admit, I usually stop for a little while when she is speaking. This can be explained for two reasons:

1. The cuffs of her sleeves are always gigantic. Seriously, I find myself gazing at the television wondering how many children may be hiding in her sleeves. It's fascinating.
2. She's one of those speakers who often ends up rhyming. It's obviously on purpose, most of the time. But occassionally, I think the poetry just flows out accidently. That's when it's most entertaining. Usually, however, I turn before too long after being completely disgusted for her disregard for context in Scripture when preaching.

This weeks doozy came from Job 7:6. In the New Living, it says, ""My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle flying back and forth. They end without hope."

She then followed that by quoting James 1:7-8, that a double minded man will receive nothing. She said that Job was bouncing around like a weaver's shuttle. No wonder God didn't bless his life. He had to quit being double minded before God could bless him.

But is that what Job 7:6 was saying? An examination of the text, as well as preaching from a more accurate translation*, would have proved this wasn't the meaning of the text. Job is stating in chapter 7 that his life is short and ultimately futile. He is concluding that his life is but a breath (Didn't have to look too hard for that one. It was in the next verse.). Here today and gone tomorrow. (*Please understand, I'm not saying the New Living Translation is bad. It just isn't a word-for-word based translation and I would quesiton whether it is wise to preach from it. I would only quote New Living in a sermon if I had first looked it up in a more reliable translation and new the New Living accurately conveyed the idea while being more understandable. Also, fear the preacher who bounces around from translation to translation during a message, but that's another Cliff Notes indicator.)

I'm not sure what it is about Job, but I heard Joel pick on him as well. I can't remember his exact verse, but he claimed that Job's afflictions came to pass because he had dwelt on them. He merely reaped what he sowed by focussing on the negative. (Of course, that fits right into his "word of faith" teaching.)

Have they not read Job 1:8--The Lord said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil."

God says that Job is blameless and upright. The book of Job says that Job's miseries were caused by Satan's accusation that Job was only blameless because his life was so easy (thus acknowledging God's claim). God allowed Job to be tested to prove Satan wrong and to glorify God. Therefore, if a teacher wants to blame Job for his trials, they are basically saying that they can examine Job's character better than God. I think that would indicate they are a false teacher.

If a person calls you to turn to the book of Job, listen carefully. Are they making the same observations as God, or are they making "discoveries" even God wasn't privy to. If they tell you they can show you how to be good by seeing that Job was bad, take caution. What they really offer you is something bad in exchange for the good that we could learn from Job.

Acting the Fool?

I heard an interview with Todd Friel and Chad Allen, lead actor in End of the Spear. Allen and "Spear" are in the midst of controversy as Allen, who is very vocal about homosexuality, is playing the role of a Christian missionary.

Allen was asked about his worldview. He explained, "I believe in the relationship I have with God." He stated that he grew up Catholic, but explored Buddism, Hinduism and Native American religions before returning Christianity. But when Friel asked how he came to his conclusions, Allen explained that he simply searches his own heart, which he trusts far more than Scripture.

As he continued, it became obvious that he does not believe that Christ is the exclusive means to God. When Friel questioned him regarding John 14:6, Allen responded, "That's not my understanding. But it works for you so it is right for you." Allen explained that it is more important that your faith is strong and sincere than it is to determine the object of your faith. In his words, God is "bigger than right or wrong."

Friel explained that the Christian worldview requires that faith placed in the grace of God through the atoning work of Christ is the only way to receive salvation. Allen was excited for Friel, telling him, "Cherish it. Bless it. Spread it. Run with it. It's not our job to take it to each other and say, 'You must believe what I believe.'"

So in summary, it appears that Allen believes that He needed Jesus to die for his sins (although that may be assuming too much. He may define Christian in another way.), but he does not believe all people need to believe this? He believes the gospel is a beautiful message, though not necessary for everyone. He basically believes in being a Christian without a mission.

Is that even possible?

If I believe that others don't need to repent of their sin and trust Christ with their life, do I really have faith in Christ? If I believe it is about the sincerity of faith and not the object of faith, isn't my faith in my faith, and not in Christ?

Ironically, Allen seems to believe that the story of the Nate and Steve Saint is a noble one. However, in practical application, wouldn't he say that Nate died unnecessarily, and his son took the same risk without reason. Let the tribe continue to believe what they believe. As long as they are sincere, I'm sure God will be alright with them. Rather than admitting he portrayed a noble man, shouldn't he explain, that from his perspective, he played the part of a fool.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Well Worth the Price

This guy is giving away free books. Seriously, go check it out.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

A Lack of Answers Creates More Questions

Joe Carter wrote a very gracious article in response to Brian McLaren's article. I suggest you read both (it will take a while) for Carter's comments are very fair.

Reading those two articles reinforced some questions I've had about the Emergent Movement. I'm not condemning the movement, but I just don't understand certain issues:

1) They pick up stones to throw at other stone throwers. I know that is a terribly strong statement, and one that we are all guilty (myself included) of at times. Self righteousness is a pervasive sin to all humanity. However, by constantly waiving the "non-condemning flag" of the emergent movement, I've found many to be doing the opposite. I have been deeply troubled by the number of condescending comments I've heard from those who would consider themselves emergent (again, not all). Too often, the comments seem to be, "I'm so glad I'm so much more enlightened than those fundamentalist Christians over there."
2) They complicate simple issues. The gospel should not be complicated. It should be simple enough for a child to receive (in fact, we must come to Him as a child). However, the conversion of a soul is a terribly complex thing. So complex, in fact, that only God can orchestrate it. I respect the emergent's repulsion to the "just sign here," "just say this prayer," "just repeat after me" process to conversion...but that doesn't mean the message needs to be made more complicated.
3) They consider themselves too wise. Again, not everyone (I know I've done some severe overgeneralizing, but much of the movement is defined by these characteristics...regardless of the fact that all do not display them). Why would I make such a bold claim? Because in McLaren's post, he suggests that maybe we can break down and understand the issue of homosexuality if we just examine it again for 5 years or so. Homosexuality has obviously been an issue since the Old Testament (why else would it be mentioned) yet McLaren suggests we may be able to get to the bottom of it ourselves? Where is the respect for the reformers? Where is the respect for church fathers? Where is the respect for the apostles? Where is the respect for the prophets and Old Testament saints? Where is the respect for the Savior? Do we really think we've figured it out better than they could? Do we really think we are so much smarter? Do we really believe their answers were bourne in ignorance?
4) Why wouldn't emergents want to separate themselves from those they don't agree with? As I mentioned earlier, Ed Stetzer wrote an article defining emergents. Some just want to communicate things clearly. Some just want to remove from church that which is only cultural and cling to only that which is Biblical Christianity. Some, however, wish to redefine doctrine. Why aren't people within the movement making these distinctions?

My friend Gary suggested that it is because postmoderns don't like labels. He's right. But if part of the cry of emergents is to point out that they are not like other evangelicals, why wouldn't some be willing to point out that they are not like other emergents?

(I should mention I was introduced to both articles at Justin Taylor's blog.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Acting Presidents

This is hardly an original idea, but Bill Simmons got me thinking, "Which actors who have played the part of a president could have the greatest chance of being elected?"

Here are the ground rules:

1. They can not be an actor who portrayed an actual president. Their presidency had to be totally original.
2. Their potential for presidency is based on the way they played the president at the time of their character. It doesn't matter if the actor's legacy has become tainted or typecast otherwise. In fact, the actor could even be dead now. We're considering at the time they played a president.
3. Their personal platform means nothing. If Alec Baldwin had played a conservative president, I could care less what his actual political views are. The actors are basically running for office, as the president they portrayed.

Without further ado, here they are:

10. Kevin Kline--President Dave Kovic in "Dave". Just a plain nice guy who was honest with people. He cared more about people than his own power. Not a powerful figure, but comforting.
9. Morgan Freeman--President Tom Beck in "Deep Impact". I really can't remember if I've seen this movie or not, so obviously, if I did see it, Freeman didn't put in a memorable performance. However, the guy's voice is really cool. I think we should send him over to Afghanistan with a bullhorn. Just have him say, "Osama, we see you. Here we come." With that voice, Bin Laden would come out of any cave with his hands over his head. His voice basically guarantees your nation 8 years of peace.
8. Gregory Peck--President in Amazing Grace and Chuck. I know, you're thinking, "What movie?" Actually, if you remember the Cold War, it's a pretty cool movie to check out. Peck gets a vote here for three reasons: a) great classic actor, b) great movie, c) he simply played the part of "President" for this movie.
7. Lloyd Bridges--President Thomas 'Tug' Benson in Hot Shots Part Deux. So he played a total bafoon in the movie. It would be a blast to watch all the slapstick humor for 4 or 8 years. Depending on who was running against him, he may get my vote.
6. Gene Hackman--President Allen Richmond in Absolute Power. I've actually never seen this movie. But Coach Norman Dale may be the greatest character of all time in one of the greatest movies of all time.
5. Michael Douglas--President Andrew Shepherd in The American President. Much like Kline, he played a nice, honest guy. He played a more powerful and adequate President.
4. Harrison Ford--President James Marshall in Air Force One. A shiver runs down my spine as I think of hearing my wife say, "He really is a good looking president," for 8 straight years. Ugh.
3. Bill Pullman--President Thomas J Whitmore in Independence Day. He had charisma. He gave a great speech. He fought against aliens and won. Everything you look for in a President.
2. Martin Sheen--President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet in The West Wing. Despite Jason practically begging me to, I still haven't caught the West Wing. But he seems to play a confident man, plus, overall face time has to get Sheen major props.
1. Dennis Haysbert--President David Palmer in 24. Said a writer to Bill Simmons, "I think I was actually more upset over the assassination of former President David Palmer on "24" last night than I would have been if our actual president would have been assassinated. It was like I lost a member of my own family. Maybe I'm just screwed up, but I don't think so. Here is my question: If you forced every registered voter in America to watch seasons 1-4 on DVD, and convinced Dennis Haysbert to legally change his name to David Palmer, don't you think he would win in a landslide in 2008? I have bounced this question off several people and Palmer has every vote so far, and most would have voted for him over Bush and Kerry." Simmons quickly agreed.

I think I would too.

Monday, January 23, 2006

A Better Weekend Than I Deserve

Just 5 ways (some small, some great) in which I had a weekend which was far better than I deserve:

5. My Pistons just keep winning. They are 33-5, while their former coach has a terrible team and players entering the stands. You asked for it Larry. Enjoy!
4. Living close to my parents. It's so great to be able to run down to see Mom and Dad for Dad's birthday. Sure beats the days when we lived in Richmond and it took eight hours just to get home. By the way, even if you aren't a car person, the Barrett Jackson Auto Auction is pretty amazing to watch.
3. The "Transition" is finally out in the open. I don't know how many times I've almost said things before I should have. Now I can atleast scratch one thing off the list to make me put my foot in my mouth!
2. The Bus Goes Home to Get a Ring. I missed much of the game because of an eteam meeting. But I didn't mind for two reasons: a) I enjoy the students more than football. and b) I was confident that the AFC Championship game wouldn't be the last game of the Steelers' season.
1. My mom is doing well. Her tests revealed that she had some cancer, but last week she had an operation which appears to have removed all of it. Thank you for praying. God's been very good!

Tranisition Explained

For last night's Vision Night, our church was presented with the elders' strategy to enhance our desire for multiplication. In case you missed the meeting, or you just want to review some facts, here's the basic outline (I'll be sharing many more thoughts in the future.)

Outreach Pastor--With one of our four values being multiplication (community living, relevant worship, Biblical teaching being the other three) the elders desire to establish a position focussed on outreach. This pastor will need to have gifts in evangelism, have church planting experience, and be a people gatherer. Pastor Daniel becomes the obvious fit for this position.

As Outreach Pastor, Daniel will help our Body by:

1. Teaching evangelism classes
2. Overseeing outreach ministries and events (for our local community)
3. Leading prayer walks and other outreach developing events
4. Continue on as an elder at Grace

He will also be helping us multiply churches by:

1. Coaching Church planters (He and Teressa will not be planting churches, but rather, coaching others who will).
2. Recruiting Church planters.
3. Making contacts in new communities.

This will create a position that will require Daniel to be taken from some of his current responsibilities. Those responsibilities will be covered by the creation of a Teaching Pastor position. The Elders have asked me to step into this capacity. My basic responsibilities will be:

1. Preaching.
2. Oversight of curriculum and discipleship.
3. Guiding the Elder Team.
4. Vision casting.
5. General Administration.

This obviously will create a void in the Youth Pastor position. Please be in prayer with us as we begin the search for God's man for that position. Though we announced the "transition" last night, it will not be fully taking effect until June '06...so that we will be able to find that man before shifting positions.

Any change is exciting and at the same time scary. Please pray with us as we pursue God's vision for us together. If you have any questions, comments, advice, concerns or thoughts, please feel free to call me, email or even comment here on the blog.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Definitions Emerging?

Ray Comfort and Todd Friel were talking about the Emergent Church. Their conversation centered around an article by Ed Stetzer. In the article, Ed classifies the Emergent Church into three categories: (tallskinnykiwi found it helpful too.)

Ed's thoughts in bold. Mine are just standard font.

"Relevants. Yes, I made up the word. Sorry about the grammar. However, it expresses an important idea. There are a good number of young (and not so young) leaders who some classify as “emerging” that really are just trying to make their worship, music and outreach more contextual to emerging culture. Ironically, while some may consider them liberal, they are often deeply committed to biblical preaching, male pastoral leadership and other values common in conservative evangelical churches."

This is probably the group that introduced me to the whole conversation. I see nothing wrong with presenting truth in a culturally relevant way.

"Reconstructionists. The reconstructionists think that the current form of church is frequently irrelevant and the structure is unhelpful. Yet, they typically hold to a more orthodox view of the Gospel and Scripture. Therefore, we see an increase in models of church that reject certain organizational models, embracing what are often called “incarnational” or “house” models. They are responding to the fact that after decades of trying fresh ideas in innovative churches, North America is less churched, and those that are churched are less committed."

I would agree that the view of Scripture and the Gospel are largely preserved intellectually with this group. However, the church isn't just an intellectual conceptualization, but largely functions in practice. I"m all for eliminating those practices that are merely creations of 20th century America. However, some functions are Biblically ordained (elders, preaching, church discipline, to name a few) and I'm not sure what happens to a church that abandones those.

"Revisionists. Much of the concern has been addressed at those I call revisionists. Right now, many of those who are revisionists are being read by younger leaders and perceived as evangelicals. They are not -- at least according to our evangelical understanding of Scripture. We significantly differ from them regarding what the Bible is, what it teaches and how we should live it in our churches. I don’t hate them, question their motives and I won’t try to mischaracterize their beliefs. But, I won’t agree with them."

This is the group that seems to get the most press. I know that labels defy all that the emergent church is trying to accomplish, but for the life of me, I can't figure out why leaders within the movement don't articulate some differences.

I can see great benefit in working on church plants with "relevants." I can see how "reconstructionists" can help us rethink the issues regarding new churches. I would not want to reproduce "revisionists" however. I firmly believe in substitutionary atonement, the reality of hell, and the authority of the Word of God. Their conversation may help us intellectually work through why we believe what we do, but I don't know that we can partner in the work of the Gospel.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Get Out of Here

You should be checking these out:

Todd Friel has joined Way of the Master, and they are podcasting.

You should attend the Together for the Gospel Conference. (Yes, that is Spurgeon in the picture, but I don't think he'll be there.) Even if you don't, you should check out their blog.

And check out my basketball career highlights. Click on Billy Joe Cuthbert.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Neither Rain nor Sleet nor Snow

Yes we are having youth group tonight.

Hope to see you there.

Theological Riddle

What should these things have in common:

RIDDLE UPDATE: Multiplication should come naturally for all of them.

(Riddle Rules: I will not comment, steer, acknowledge or guide the comments until Monday, January 23rd. Have fun!)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Steeling a Bus with No Breaks!

In a game where everything went Indy's way, the Steelers still pulled off a victory. A few of my thoughts about the game:

10. Marvin Harrison. I want to hate him, but I just can't. Remember when Jerry Rice was considered a class act and then he got all selfish and egotistical at the end of his career? I don't see that happening with Harrison. He just makes plays, and acts like that's what they pay him to do.
9. Mike Doss. I loved him at OSU. I thought he was a great draft pick for the Colts. But I really loved seeing him repeatedly torched tonight.
8. Tony Dungy. I know he's been bold about his faith, and this has been a traumatic and difficult year for him, but his questionable coaching history continued tonight. On the last drive, he took a couple of stabs at the end zone when they just needed first downs (playing at home, you play for the tie and OT) and on 3rd and 2 he runs a pass play. I'm sure those decisions will haunt him.
7. Troy Polamalu. A friend of mine explained to me that blitzing Peyton Manning is a major mistake. "That's exactly what the Colts want you to do!" He exclaimed. Ordinarily I'd agree and assume Pittsburgh's corners would get torched. But Polamalu makes that difficult to read. He can be on the line and still in coverage. He can be ten yards off from scrimmage and still be blitzing. He clearly made Peyton's day difficult.
6. Bill Cowher. He may have done his best job coaching in a playoff game ever. I stand behind his decision to go for the end zone at the end of the game. With a high powered offense like the Colts, playing in their stadium, you don't play for a six point lead. He did a great job.
5. Mike Vanderjagt. Manning called him an "idiot kicker" who "got liquored up" after Vanderjagt blamed a playoff loss on Peyton. Let's see how Indy responds to his miss. Greatest field goal percentage of all time, and he completely missed the thing. Not even close.
4. Dick LeBeau. After watching his defensive schemes all season, I'm convinced the man deserves another shot at head coaching. I'd hate to lose him as a coordinator, but he deserves more. "He already tried head coaching once," you may say, "and it was a failure." Sure, but that was a clown organization. The man needs a real shot with a real team.
3. Ben Roethlisberger. How does a young guy have so much poise? The second Bettis fumbled, Big Ben was already thinking about how to get to the Colts defender. He is a player capable of carrying a team. I love not having to cringe when I see that the offense is running a pass instead of a rushing play.
2. Jerome Bettis. Any fan of hard work has to be glad that was not Bettis' last professional carry. The man has migraines, diabetes and asthma. He plays hard and gives his all. Big Ben may carry the team with talent, but Bettis and Hines Ward are the real heart of the offense.
1. Terrible Officiating. Home field advantage should be about your loud fans. You should enjoy playing on turf instead of grass if you want. You should even be allowed to pipe in crowd noise to make your stadium louder if you want. But you should not get calls from the officials too. (Please understand, I'm not saying the Colts did anything to sway the officials). I can understand that officials may get intimidated by a home crowd, but this was ridiculous. The pass interference call against Randle-El was absurd. He was tackled before the ball got there. Polamalu's interception seemed pretty cut and dry. He dove, controlled the ball and hit his knee on it on his way back up to run. There certainly was not enough to overturn it by replay. And lastly, how does either offsides or false start not get called on the drive where Pittsburgh punted? I actually would have preferred they call false start than a no call. No call just isn't even logical.

Off to Denver, where I feel that if we can confuse Peyton Manning, Jake Plummer should be in trouble.

Could the Bus get a chance to retire in his hometown? You couldn't write it any better.

Defending the Gospel

I heard John Piper share in an interview how and why we need to defend the gospel. (Allow me to paraphrase.)

The gospel can be missed either by what we neglect to mention or by what we affirm wrongly. Each can be done in the following four areas:

1. The facts. Says Piper of the gospel, "It's news, not ideology."
2. Accomplishment. What did Jesus accomplish on the cross? (specifically the substitution.)
3. Obtainment. How does one obtain eternal life? (works? faith? combination?)
4. The goal. Why should one trust Jesus Christ?

Piper does a much better job spelling out these issues, but I thought I'd add some of my thoughts.

1. Probably the easiest for us to see. Many of us have learned the gospel in a series of points that are easy to articulate. In a counter-reaction to what can feel like just calling for intellectual ascent, however, many have resisted adherence to certain facts. We should not make the gospel just a series of information (what the reformers called "notae"), but need to make sure we preserve the integrity of those facts.
2. I think this because an issue of over emphasizing the wrong things. Did Jesus gain victory of demonic forces through the cross? Yes. Did He offer me healing through His work on the cross? Yes. Did the cross reveal the wrath of God against sin? Absolutely. However, if we affirm all of those issues above and beyond Christ's work of being the substitutionary payment for my sin, we've made a grave error. We have to proclaim the work of penal substitution first and foremost.
3. Some wrongly think that protestants believe "grace alone" while Catholics are depending on their "works alone." This is not quite accurate. Catholicism is actually a combination of works participating with grace (semi-pelagianism) to accomplish salvation. We have to be very clear it is by grace only, or works can creep into "participating" with grace in our churches too.
4. Like accomplishment of the gospel, the goal is often missed by over emphasizing other issues. Can Christ give me fulfillment? Yes. Can surrendering to Christ help me overcome sin and addiction? Praise God it can. Can trusting Christ with my life deliver me from hell? Thanks be to God, Yes! However, if we miss that the goal of the gospel is to enjoy God for eternity, we miss out. It is about redemption and reconciliation. Any other goal has us either thinking only about after we die, or focusing on problems that another person may not have. (If our goal of the gospel is fulfillment, how do we enter a conversation with the sucessful businessman who already feels fulfilled.)

We are all called to be defenders of the faith. It's not something we should do haphazardly.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Hooray for Hollyweird

I listened to Al Mohler's radio program where he responded to NBC's "The Book of Daniel." He didn't have the exact same take that I did, but it had some similar thoughts. (Of course, Mohler waited until after the show premiered, something wise I probably should have done.)

However, he lamented the fact that the media seems obsessed with the bizarre, even quoting a "Daniel" producer who said doing a show about a good kid who is struggling to show respect to her parents wouldn't sell. The "Book of Daniel's" plot is so over the top to be entertaining. But should we really be surprised?

We should take some comfort that a normal family, making moral choices and pursuing a Bibblical Christianity is not far fetched in the eyes of television viewers. Maybe the Episcopal church should be offended since the father is an Episcopal priest, but Biblical Christianity doesn't look much like the show represents.

No way is Hollywood's obsession with the abnormal more evident than in it's coverage of homosexuality (a topic in the "Book of Daniel"). The ratio of gay to straight characters far exceeds the ratio in real life. This could be explained as Hollywood's agenda to normalize homosexuality to society. If we see it enough on TV, we'll accept it as commonplace. This, of course, is the explanation most Christians accept.

However, maybe the fact that homosexuality is all over the air waves is because it's abnormal and sells. Perhaps we should get nervous about societies view of homosexuality if it disappears from the media. Maybe we should be scared for conservative Christianity if it's honestly represented on the silver screen.

From what it sounds like then, "The Book of Daniel" shouldn't make us nervous. And I agree with Mohler, I don't think we'll have to deal with this show for long.

I Didn't Want To, I Promise!

I was getting ready to post about something else, when I ran accross this on Al Mohler's blog. I didn't want to comment, but have no choice.

Warren has gotten out of control, in my opinion. With his PEACE initiative, he has lost the focus on what a pastor is called to do. Now, it appears he is willing to call anyone who isn't in his camp, the enemy.

As we've seen on this blog, the term "fundamentalist" needs to be defined. Who exactly is he referring to? (To the majority of the population, I would be considered a fundamentalist because I believe the fundamentals of the Christian faith are true and believe the Bible should be taken literally as much as possible. Is Warren referring to me?)

As a decent theologian, one should see the difference between our response to Christian, Muslim, and Jewish fundamentalism. Though I may have problems with extremely dogmatic Christian sects, if they hold to an accurate gospel message, I have to accept them as brothers and sisters, regardless of what they wear or what translation they believe is authorized. I can respect the devotion of the fundamentalist Jew or Muslim, but I also have to acknowledge that my worldview requires that I see them as wrong. We are not brothers and sisters, instead I should be striving to help them see the truth.

Third, is Christian fundamentalism really borne out of fear of other beliefs? Mohler asked the same question, and I think we have the same answer: "probably not."

Not that this is intended to be a post on Christian celebrity (that is still coming), but it seems to be the culprit here too. I can't imagine the pressure of being known by others and then being asked questions. But the pressure only increases when you begin speaking on issues you really shouldn't.

(Again, I did not intend to write another "Anti-Warren" piece, but how many of these things need to add up before we acknowledge that being a Christian best seller doesn't mean it's good for Christianity.)

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Brushes with Celebrity

Fame. Celebrity. Notoriety. Prestige.

No matter how hard we try, we're still effected by it. We read passages like James 2, and we desire not to show favoritism, yet we're easily dazzled. Before posting some of my thoughts on the positive and negative effects of celebrity influence in the church, I thought I'd allow you to see glimpses of my encounters with celebrities. (Some you may not find famous, but I was impressed to be having contact with them.)

Starting with the disasters and working the way to the more pleasurable...

10. Barry St. Clair--BNYC '97. After an evening session (where St. Clair was the speaker), Charity and I headed to Applebee's for a late meal. After we were seated, St. Clair and an intern were seated at the table next to us. Trying to be funny, I look at Charity and say, "Man, wasn't the guy that spoke tonight a drag? I mean, could a guy be more boring than that?" I then pretend to be startled to realize St. Clair was sitting next to us. I thought I was overacting enough that he would know that I spotted him and was trying to be funny. Well, he didn't buy it. Instead, he turned his head disgusted. My attempt to say hi in a unique way, instead insulted the guy.
9. Chris Rice--Same conference. Rice lead worship for the conference all week and performed a concert the night before (of which I missed). The amazing thing about Chris Rice at conference was that he mingled with the kids. He'd eat with them. He'd even let them play around on his guitar. I'm sitting with my youth group at lunch the next day when I see Rice walk by. Trying to act cool for the kids, I call out, "Hey Chris, come here for a second." Not knowing me from Adam, he makes his way toward our table. I explain to him that I missed the concert (not a flattering detail) and ask him to perfom the "Cartoon Song" at a session because, "...it's one of my favorite songs." Rice gives me a polite, but disinterested nod and walks away. As he heads for the door, a student of mine that attended the concert informs me that he performed the "Cartoon Song" only after explaining to the audience how much he hates the song and hates being known for it.
8. Bebo Norman--Standing outside a club for a Caedmon's Call concert, a man approaches on the sidewalk and asks us what we think of Bebo Norman. I had never heard of him, and took some shots at his obviously unique name. Then we walk into the club and find out Bebo is the opening number. As he begins, I feel this nagging feeling that I've seen him before. Then it hits me. He was the guy with the microphone outside asking me what I think of Bebo Norman.
7. Ron Harper--I'm walking the Salem Mall (back when that was something you could do without a death wish) while in high school. Walking the opposite of us was a 6'6" well built man. I turned to my friend and said, "Man, that guy looks like Ron Harper." Then we realize odds are pretty low that a man that tall would have his unique look. We grab some scrap paper and follow him into KB Toys. He's with his niece and he tells her that he'll buy whatever she wants. I approach and ask for his autograph. He quickly scribbles what looks like "Roy Hape" and then asks me leave him alone. I obliged.
6. Francis Chan--One of my favorite speakers since hearing him at BNYC a couple years ago. Last summer I had the privilege of introducing him at a question and answer session over lunch. He's sitting at the other end of the tent, so I approach him to tell him how the Q & A works. Trying to act calm and kind, I put my hand on his shoulder to tell him we need to begin. I may have startled him, but he quickly turns and gives me a look that says "it's really not wise for you to be touching me." I removed my hand, and in his defense, he was as fun and friendly as he seems as a speaker after that.
5. Ohio George--George Montgomery is a racing legend from the 60's-70's. He has a speed shop in Dayton, Ohio. In junior high, my dad took me to his speed shop to order some parts and pick George's brain. I remember walking into the lobby of his shop. It was filled with so many trophies I was sure they couldn't be all for one man. George was pretty matter of fact and stuck to the point in conversation. I simply stood there in silence.
4. Bob Glidden Growing up as a "Ford man," Glidden was certainly a hero. Attending a race near Cincinnatti, my dad takes me over to Glidden's car. Dad and Glidden have met before so they enter into a conversation about racing and how the car is doing. I just stand there, staring at his car. After we walk away, Dad must have noticed the ghost-like look on my face. He asks me what I thought. I say nothing except that I wish I had his autograph.
3. Josh Harris--Yes, he's the "Kissed Dating Goodbye Guy" but he's also written other books (Not Even A Hint, Stop Dating the Church among others). But Josh is also doing a great job leading a church in Maryland. I took a long shot at emailing Josh to ask him some questions. He responded within the week and even lavished some free loot on me. I was touched by his humility.
2. Audio Adrenaline--One year removed from high school, I'm interning at a local church. While at youth conference, I'm asked to lead the band to a room so they can enjoy lunch. The lady in charge of the meal left her purse in the room and asked me to stand guard. At first, I just sit in the corner of the room, watching the guys eat ribs and hearing their conversation about football. One turns to me and asks if I follow the NFL. I tell him I love the Steelers and they quickly ask me to join them at the table. They offer me some of their food and we sit around talking football for over an hour. Really cool guys. Ever since then, I always stop to listen when I know an AudioA song is on. (That and the fact that I think the lead singer looks like Jack Baurer).
1. Hakeem Olajuwon--or Akeem, as he was called in that day. My dad takes me to an Indiana Pacers game during Olajuwon's second season. He's hurt so he skips the game. During warmups after halftime, I sneak passed some security to get Olajuwon's autograph. The man is huge. Seated in a folding chair, he is still taller than me as I stand there. I hand him my pen and his hand completely swallows it. He scratches his name quickly and then hands the paper back to me. It was a rushed moment (as security was walking toward me telling me to get away from him) but he took the time to make eye contact with me and thank me for being a fan. Then he changed his name and probably made my autograph worthless.

Who Dey...who cares?


I'll admit one thing to Bengals fans if they will admit one thing to me.

Palmer's injury hurt them. Sure it did. But I don't think there'd be any sympathy for me if Tommy Maddox made an apearance. All it took was one look at the Cincinnati sideline to know the wind was out of the sails as he was carted off. Kitna tried. He's just obviously no Carson.

This Bengals team gets rattled too easily. As long as things are going well, the team looks like a championship caliber team. But throw a couple snags into things and they begin to fold. It's not an issue of being "soft," I think the Bengals play physical ball. It's a matter of composure. I don't know if the Bengals need to draft it (how do you assess that skill?) or they will grow into it.

But for now, we'll keep riding the Bus, and the Bengals can watch us next week on TV.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

First Post of the Year

It should be deep. It should be percipient. It won't be.

Just some of my thoughts from the last post and till I get to post again.

1. Buckeyes, Buckeyes, Buckeyes! Tressel will never be a media darling because his interviews are far too calculated for their taste (a trait I admire). However, he is a great coach. He stays out of the way of those who are doing their job, jumps in when necessary, and keeps things cool.
2. I didn't even see the game. I was helping empty out the old building and then we had an elder meeting that night. I taped it and watched it tonight. You know what though, I didn't miss the game one bit. Our elders are a joy to be with and God is doing incredible things in our midst.
3. Danny the waterbaby. While most have been supportive and encouraged me that it's OK to tear up a bit (I couldn't sing during the first half of worship, I was such a mess), I don't plan to make it routine. It's not that I think there's anything wrong with it (Yes, I'm aware Jesus wept too), that's just not typically my style. However, I'd also love to keep the immense feeling of gratitude forever. God has been so good to me (Better than I deserve, to steal from CJ Mahaney). Greenville Grace has been a huge part of that.
4. Keep praying for my mom. One of the tests didn't come back good. Mom's facing surgery and possibly some other treatment. If you're reading this mom, I love you and am praying for you (and don't expect you to have to comment since the "word verification is too confusing."
5. Pushing through a book Have you ever been in the middle of a book, only to receive a book you'd rather read? I'm trying hard to finish the one I started (as that would be the disciplined thing to do) but it's hard to do when I can see the other book in my computer bag. I've read a couple pages of the second book, and I can't wait to start it (and blog on it!).