Welcome to Carnivorous Caribou

Monday, July 30, 2007


A couple of guys have asked about my plans for this year's Equip07 conference.

We have some significant health concerns within our Body that will keep me around the area for the week, however, I am currently planning on roaming Winona Lake on Wednesday (unless a surgery date conflicts for a church member).

I'm not registered and I have not signed up for any classes.

Therefore, I you see me, I'm just there to see folks like you. Please approach me and let me know if you read caribouyah.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Like Death Eating a Cracker...

That phrase is just one in a long directory of odd phrases I grew up hearing from my dad.

I don't think I ever understood what it really meant....

until this strand of the flu bug went pompei upon me.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Junk Mail

In the years Daniel was here, he always had my back. I never realized the amount of junk mail our church received until he left town, and I got to sift through it. The other day, I received a card that said:

The 4 most powerful words you can say about Greenville Grace Brethren Church are...

..."10 Years of Experience."

Apparently, just the fact that we've survived generates the four most powerful words about our place. "Hey, I guess when Jesus said, 'I will build My church,' He really meant it, and He's been doing it. See, I have the seal to prove it."

Oddly, since this ad is a bulk production and sent out to mostly businesses, it also states:
Your 10 years of valuable experience can be the single most important factor for others when they are deciding where to spend their money.
Sadly, I wonder if that was the sentence that caught some pastors' eyes.

In the end, they make one last push for their product through flattery:
P.S. Send No Money. As an organization that's been successful for 10 years, your credit is good with me.
Clearly, this ad is usually sent out to businesses. I don't expect a secular resource to come to me with theological accuracy (In fact, I would suggest the Biblical thing is to expect secular resources to NOT have biblical accuracy).

These sort of marketing business techniques are visible. But what other practices do we borrow that assume success to be something it isn't, or assume the power for success to come from somewhere it shouldn't? Daniel used to be able to protect me from receiving this type of mail. Of course, the Word of God is what can protect us from accepting this sort of philosophy.

*I am not critiquing the use of these seals. If your church is using/has used them, I am not condemning that. (The caption for the graphic is purely in jest.) However, if you bought the seals believing this is the way God desires to build His church...I am critiquing that.

Monday, July 23, 2007

NANC Classes Offered

For those living in the Darke County (Ohio) area, Beamsville Christian Church will be offering Nouthetic Counseling classes. These classes are quite affordable and help move a person closer to NANC certification.

I personally have benefited from this training (in ministry and faith) and several in our church have benefited from Nouthetic training. (Nouthetic comes from the greek word "noutheteo," which means to admonish, train or instruct.)

Steve Short (instructor) has divided the class into two parts, informal and formal counseling. These classes meet every other Thursday from 6-9 pm. Part 1 (which is required before Part 2) will meet September 6, 20, October 4, 18, November 1, 15 and December 6.

If you are interested, contact Steve at 937.547.0009 (and tell him I sent ya. You don't actually have to do that, but I've always wanted to say it).

Thursday, July 19, 2007

40milesNorth Coming!

This Sunday evening, 40milesNorth will be in concert at Greenville Grace. The concert is scheduled for 6:30, but you'll want to get there early to get a seat.

While we have always enjoyed Jeremiah and Marcie's sound (men and women from our church, of all ages have complimented their music), that isn't the greatest part of their ministry. Charity and I have known Jeremiah and Marcie since our college days. While they are extremely talented and have a tremendous harmony, they are most marked by their ministry hearts. It's a delight to know that the words that come from their mouths are truly the overflow of their heart.

Come join us and see!

Locution Confusion--Part 7

I recently offered several quotes from others, claiming McClain's perspective on soveriegn grace. But did McClain actually say anything that would lead to these conclusions?
Among careful students of the Scriptures and church history, regardless of their theological bias, there has always been general agreement that if there is any outstanding characteristic term in Christianity, that term is "grace." In much of the New Testament this term becomes almost a synonym for Christianity itself. Thus in some of the Pauline epistles there are benedictions which mention "grace" alone, with the implication that this term covers everything in the Christian faith, and that if we have "grace" nothing else is needed.

As to the meaning of the term as used in the New Testament writings, there is also general agreement. Grace is the unmerited favor of God in Christ. Salvation by grace, therefore, is not of ourselves, not of works, but the gift of God (Eph. 2:8-9). And if Christian salvation is by grace, then it is not of works; "otherwise grace is no more grace" (Rom. 11:6)--Alva J McClain, "Law and Grace" p1
"Unmerited favor" may be considered a rather incomplete definition. Some may decry the definition as simplistic or overly reductionistic.
As a matter of fact, all of the Old Testament quotation in verses 25-29 are brought in to support the entire foregoing argument of Romans 9, namely, a divine election within the historical nation of Israel based on sovereign grace.--Alva J McClain, "The Greatness of the Kingdom" p297
Since McClain believed that Old Testament salvation came by sovereign grace, perhaps examining Romans 9 will give some further explanation.
God has the right to reject Israel if He wants to; He has the right to choose one man and reject another. It may not sound right, and to most people probably doesn't seem right. But neither how it sounds to men nor seems to their finite comprehension changes the fact. The doctrine of election is hard to recieve, but remember that God has a sovereign right over His creatures.--Alva J McClain, "Romans--The Gospel of God's Grace" p174
Again, McClain sees election as a critical understanding to sovereign grace. Consider:
That is the answer to the Jew. God chooses according to His own sovereign will and sets aside all human ideas of merit and superiority.--Alva J McClain "Romans--The Gospel of God's Grace" p180
While some may consider such a view to be harsh and loveless, McClain reminds us that election is the only way mercy has come in the past.
Paul says, if you are going to say that God is unrighteous because He chooses one man and not another, then God was unrighteous at Sinai when He let you all live. Everybody should have died then, but God said, "I will have mercy." Grace, mercy, lovingkindness were the only reasons. If you do not like the doctrine of sovereignty and election, just remember that the only reason the nation was not absolutely destroyed was because of the sovereign mercy of God.--Alva J McClain, "Romans--The Gospel of God's Grace" p181
Such a view concerns some, for they believe defining grace with election is simply "head knowledge" and has no practical effect. Yet, McClain offers:
This context of grace is the only environment in which the will of God can be most fully realized in the Christian life. In this context of grace we grow (2 Peter 3:18); we stand (1 Peter 5:12); we are built up (Acts 20:32); we are made strong (2 Tim. 2:1); we are made perfect (1 Peter 5:10); we find freedom from sin's dominion (Rom. 6:14); we find complete liberty from legal bondage (Gal. 5:1-4); we find a sufficient motive for doing the will of God (2 Cor 8:9); we find an enabling power for Christian living (2 Cor 12:9); we find recovery when we fall (Heb 4:16); we find assurance as to the final outcome of the Christian life (Acts 20:32).--Alva J McClain, "Law and Grace" p68
He named us the Grace Brethren.

Perhaps we should consider how he used the word.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bengals Acquire Michael Vick

LOVELAND, OH--Due to an NFL policy (apparently inacted about 4 years ago), the Atlanta Falcons are required to trade Michael Vick to the Cincinnati Bengals at "bargain basement" price, according to an unnamed official. This transaction must be made in regard to other recent new developments.

Carson Palmer, when asked if he was nervous about Vick's arrival simply stated, "Not unless they move our training facility a little further north."

According to another unnamed official, Vick could have also ended up with the Cleveland Browns, however NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stepped in and blocked any transactions stating, "It would probably be inappropriate to send Vick to a team nicknamed the dawgs, even if misspelled, at this time."


I Said I Wouldn't Blog Angry, But...

I can't contain it. Excuse my rant for a moment:

Fazoli's Now Charging for Breadsticks

Our family has always enjoyed hitting Fazoli's. Where else can a family of 5.5 (you can decide if a pregnant Charity or if I account for the extra .5) people eat from just three meals. Sure, we may be taking years off our children's lives, but kids are resillient...they'll bounce back from any strokes or heart attacks caused by clogged arteries or faulty digestive systems. We typically spread one lasagna out between three children by making every other bite come from a buttery breadstick.

Well, no more...

Last Saturday, after doing some shopping, we decided to hit a close Fazoli's to feed the family lunch. At the conclusion of our order, the girl at the register gives her usual upsale pitch (like a large drink? a dessert? a commemorative Fazoli's jetliner? stock in Fazoli's?) when they hit me with an unexpected offer. Would you like to pay $.25 each for unlimited breadsticks?


McDonald's Killing their McCookies.

I noticed a couple days ago that the marquee on the McDonalds sign stated "Fresh baked Cookies." Of course, I am never opposed to the idea of fresh baked cookies, but I already thought McDonalds had a good thing going with their shortbread cookies. Then, this morning, I noticed the display of about 50 chocholate chip cookies below a glass case (mind you, when you order one of the "fresh baked" cookies, I saw them under a display at 6:15 am), and asked the lady behind the counter, "You didn't get rid of your old shortbread cookies, did you?" Certainly, I thought, this would be impossible, for the shortbread cookies are a staple, they're even in the shape of McDonalds characters. The register lady simply stated glumly, "Yeah."


To those who have wondered if I've written other posts in anger, I will simply state that there is plenty happening in the American church front that is/has making/made me angry, however, I choose not to write about it, or I atleast wait until I have cooled off. This (RED, ALL CAPS, TELETYPE) is what it looks like when I'm angry. (And yes mom, when you send me emails in all caps, it feels like you are yelling at me.)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Locution Confusion--Part 6

As I've been trying to establish, words may change over time. We may become loose with a definition, or slang usage may taint its original intent. Other words may become obsolete with their lack of use. However, the obsolete words tend to preserve their meaning longer. We've examined the words in the title Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches to see if this plays out. I suggested that the words go from most clear to least clear in the following order:

Brethren, Fellowship, Churches, Grace

My suggestion is that with its frequent use (in and out of religious discussion), the word grace may have connotations not originallly intended. In the comment section of that post, Dr Peppo rightfully asked, "Are there any historical documents to shed light on what the founders of the Fellowship may have meant by "Grace?"

Great question my baby-sprinkling-friend.

Consider the following statements about McClain, offered by others...

While the Brethren movement was a Pietist-Anabaptist movement reacting to what had become the deadness of the Reformation, it is not to be forgotten that the Brethren were heirs, or "stepchildren" of the Reformation. The doctrinal emphases of the Reformers were shared by the Brethren to such a degree that there was little debate. The deity and authority of Jesus Christ (sola Christus), the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible (sola Scriptura), the doctrines of grace (sola gratia), justification by faith alone (sola fidei), the power of the Holy Spirit working for God's glory (soli Deo Gloria)--all of these appear without question or hesitation in the Brethren Movement.--Keith Shearer, "Childlike Faith" p8
It was the renewal of the Reformed doctrines of grace in the teaching emphasis of Alva J McClain (1888-1968) that marked the Grace Movement among the Brethren. Historically speaking, the Grace Brethren are theologically both Reformed and Brethren--a unique and happy combination indeed.--Keith Shearer, "Childlike Faith" p10
The Grace Movement, now the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, arose as the next phase of the Brethren movement, largely because of a "difference in how to view God's grace and the nature of salvation." Alva J McClain, the first president of Grace Theological Seminary, "emphasized the believer's assurance of salvation, the believer's security, the premillennial, personal return of Christ for His Church, and the outlines on the brilliant arguments of the Apostle Paul in The Epistle of Paul to the Romans on law and grace.--Keith Shearer, "Childlike Faith" p11
But tensions under the surface of The Brethren Church were increasing. On one side there was a growing movement, particularly under the teaching of Dr. McClain, that wanted to identify Brethrenism with a more Calvinistic, premillennial, fundamentalism. The Progressives had moved into mainstream evangelicalism at a time when dispensationalism and fundamentalism were growing movements on the American scene. These movements had a deep impact on many of the Brethren pastors and leaders, particularly through a series of strong pastors in the First Brethren Church of Philadelphia where McClain himself had pastored.--David Plaster, "Finding our Focus" p97

These are observations of McClain, but did McClain say anything himself? to be continued...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Conversation is Clear as Mud

Russell Moore has been hosting the Al Mohler Radio Program while David's cousin vacations. While it is Al's show, Russell brings a unique and equally entertaining twist. Never afraid to tackle a difficult topic, Moore invited Tony Jones to join the conversation.

It is not the first time Moore invited a interviewee with a different perspective. Charity and I listened to the interview during a drive today. This exchange seemed to summarize the entire interview:
Tony, you and I have been talking about your understanding that you ought not to have necessarily a central, defining confession of faith. You ought not to see orthodoxy as something that is settled, but orthodoxy, instead, as something we are moving toward. I wonder, Tony, in a local church, or even in the emerging church conversation, what if you have an emerging wing of Jehovah's Witnesses? Where are the boundaries, the doctrinal boundaries and how are those decided if you don't have a common confession?
Well, that's a great question, Russell. I was listening to your show on Wednesday, the call-in show, and somebody asked you about interracial marriage. You expressed that basically the truth is that we are all created in the image of God, and that there's nothing against a person of one race and of another race marrying one another. Now there was a time, of course, when the Southern Baptist Convention would have said, "This is truth, that an African-American and a white should not get married." This is something that in time, as we've learned more about human beings, and I would like to say, I you'd probably agree, we know more about who we are as creations in the image of God, and we know more about God's truth (Moore interjected, "I don't believe that's what happened at all."), we have come to realize that we were wrong, and there's nothing Scriptural precluding two people of two different races from getting married. So, this is a situ...it's not relativism. It's not anything goes. It is a deliberate process by which we listen to God's Spirit, we live together in communities of faith, and we have a different opinion about a particular area of truth than we had, say, one hundred years ago.
Moore suggested he does not belive Jones' depiction of the interracial marriage issue is completely accurate. Largely, he pointed out that it was because the SBC had a confession of faith, that others were able to appeal back to it and show the convention where they were being inconsistent. This was done as they examined Scripture and saw where they were falling short. (Moore did not excuse their previous stance, instead, he said they were "liars" when it came to their declaration of what God's Word had said regarding the prohibition for interracial marriage and had to repent of that.)

Granted, this was a live radio show, so Jones did not have time to prepare his answers. However, this should be a question he has fielded before, or atleast has thought about. A few of my observations from his answer:
    1. The question is not directly addressed, though he compliments Russell and says it is a great question.
    2. I believe the interracial issue was actually handled on Thursday and not Wednesday's show.
    3. While the SBC certainly had it wrong, regarding their former "official position" regarding interracial marriage, is Jones really putting interracial marriage on the same level as understanding the Trinity, how one becomes saved or even the nature of Scripture...all debates (but not all the debate) between orthodox Christianity and Jehovah's Witnesses?
    4. Jones places the change not in understanding the Scriptures better, but in numerous studies that grew our knowledge about being the image of God and truth.
    5. While he asserts it is not relativism or anything goes, he presents a process that diminishes our ability to place faith in what we call truth. Is he really saying that because the SBC missed it on interracial marriage (at one time), that they may be wrong about the Trinity and JW's may be right?
    6. It may seem nitpicky, but I'd like to know if God's Spirit is his way of referring to the Holy Spirit. If it is, that is a leaky way to refer to a member of the Trinity and could expose why he has trouble saying the JW's are wrong.
    7. He never said JW's were wrong.
    8. He never said JW's could not be part of the Emerging Conversation.
    9. He never stated he disagrees with JW doctrine.
It's an interesting interview. I'd recommend you download it and give it a listen. I find it odd that when asked what "emerging" or "emergent" means, the director of Emergent Villiage struggled to define it. Not surprisingly, Jones pleaded a couple of times that he and Moore were more on the same page than Moore realized. Each time, Moore responded that he doesn't see the similarity.

Now that's the conversation I seem to be having a lot lately.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

10 Best Years...

In the last ten years, I've had:
    4 different homes
    worked in 3 different ministries
    in 4 different positions
    in 2 different states
I've grown in:
    my library
    my theology
    my passion for Christ
    my family (by 4!)

Virtually everything has changed in some way, except:

1 amazing wife.

July 12, 1997 marked the beginning of the best 10 years in my life.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Did I Miss Something?

Consider the following paragraphs from an article:
LORENZAGO DI CADORE, Italy — Pope Benedict XVI reasserted the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, approving a document released today that says other Christian communities are either defective or not true churches and Catholicism provides the only true path to salvation.

The statement brought swift criticism from Protestant leaders. "It makes us question whether we are indeed praying together for Christian unity," said the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, a fellowship of 75 million Protestants in more than 100 countries.
I know nothing about the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (other than that the name itself garners suspicion), but I have to ask...

Why are they surprised by this statement?

Are we really in such a p.c.-driven culture where everyone "just needs to get along" to the point that the REFORMATION is relegated to a secondary difference? These are issues of justification by faith, relating to the gospel, relating to our salvation.

Should I be praying for unity (without repentance) with the Catholic church?

Seems to me that an Alliance of Reformed guys wouldn't think so.

(HT: DJ)

Monday, July 09, 2007

Locution Confusion--Part 5

As I've tried to lay out in this series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4), language can be tricky. There are certain words we just don't use much anymore. This can cause intimidation (as we have to search a dictionary to find out the term) but rarely create confusion. However, old words, with slightly different definitions, create great confusion.

For discussion sake, let's again consider the FGBC. In my humble opinion (I have no statistics or surveys to back my perspective), confusion with each term in our name is directly proportionate to its frequency of use in society. In order of least used/least confused to most used/most confused:
As I've stated before, I do not believe there is a lot of confusion in regard to the term brethren. A person uses the term "brothers" and we may be confused as to what is meant. Some people consider all mankind to be brothers and sisters. However, when the term "brethren" is used, it seems that most understand this is a term reserved exclusively for the bond found in Christ. (Of course, it also conveys a richer meaning when we know the term is derived from Matthew 23:8, thus it is an affirmation of the priesthood of every believer. Still though, I do not believe the issue is confused, but rather, the deeper meaning may be lost on many.)
This term speaks against denominationalism, yet speaks to cooperation. It conveys that we have no cardinal or pope above us, yet that their is accountability with others. We are not alone and the church extends far beyond geographic borders, but God's mission for the Church involves His work in individual churches. Autonomy, yet partnership. Even more so than brethren, the word "fellowship" can miss much of its deeper meaning.
At this point, the terms become more clouded. Do we mean a collection of regenerate people? Do we mean a congregation of saved and unsaved alike? Do we mean the building where the group meets? Beyond that, are we speaking of one small collection of believers or the Universal Church? (Notice each question could be answered adequately in the affirmative. However, I would state that the second question is not closely enough investigated that while nonbelievers may be attending our congregation and may consider themselves part of the church, and the church may even be confused as to their spiritual status, they are not actually part of the Universal Church and according to 1 John 2:19 should cease to be identified as part of the church the moment their true identity is revealed...but that run-on sentance is a digression for now. Perhaps another series will come later.)

We may be confused as to the word "church," certainly more so than "brethren" or "fellowship," but this is not the most confused term from our name.

What exactly do we mean by that term? (I think there is an answer)
How do we get to the bottom of figuring that out? (I think there is a way)
Is the term simply up for each person's own perspective? (I don't believe so)

more to come...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Locution Confusion--Part 4

We're blessed that Koine and Ancient Hebrew are extinct. Their obsolescence is our gain, for it preserves the words, and their attached meanings for all time.

Even in English, the church can take advantage of words that have died out. As society avoids the terms, and terms only become "church-words," the church can again preserve her intention. We should not shrink away from using such terms, but should embrace them; giving our people definitions and teaching them to add it to their vocabulary.

Consider the name: Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches

I grew up "in the fellowship," yet always struggled with the word "brethren." I wasn't sure why we didn't just use the term brothers. I didn't even know how to spell brethren.

I remember using a church Bible one week in Sunday School. For some reason, I had forgotten my Bible and the teacher handed me one from the class room. It was simply a paperback (I thought all Bibles were printed with leather covers at that time), but it's back cover intrigued me. It had a picture of our church building and near the top it stated: This Bible is a gift of Brookville Grace Brethern Church.

"Wow," I exclaimed, "these Bibles have our church's picture on them. Why don't we pass them out?"

"Because our church's name is misspelled," she calmly answered.

Now, it's nothing for me to miss a typo (A real shock for anyone who has read this blog!), so I looked over the Bible again. Now I knew the name of our church was misspelled so I had it narrowed down to four words. I scanned over it again.


Nope. That was spelled right.


Another easy one. Clearly it was spelled correctly too.


Seemed right to me. At least that seemed to match the way most people pronounced it.


Now, even today, I often type "chruch" when I"m typing too quickly. I double checked the spelling, but it was correct.

Dazed, I just stared at the teacher. This was the moment I was introduced to our church fellowship. We are Grace Brethren A name that carries back to 1708.

For years, I wondered about the name "Brethren." Isn't it time to replace it with a more contemporary word? Could we call ourselves the Fellowship of Grace Brothers or Grace Brothers Fellowship? In fact, is the word "brethren" necessary when you've already used the word "fellowship?" In fact, wouldn't "Brothers of Grace" be a cool name? Many times, I looked at the name of our fellowship and thought we had to change our name to be relevant or to have any chance at survival.

But then I realized something. Of the four words in our fellowship, "Brethren" is probably the least misunderstood word of them all. It's another example of how an obscure word actually conveys the original meaning best.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Locution Confusion--Part 3

Lest someone misunderstand a previous post, I do not believe the church should preach and teach in Greek/Hebrew. Obviously, pastors should be working in the original languages, but we should always communicate that work in clear and attainable ways. Preaching to a German/English/Spanish/Chinese congregation in Latin was ludicrous, we should not seek to return to that form.

I am not suggesting you literally say, "hamartolos" when speaking of John Piper's condition.

However, if we only used the word "bad," we would be missing the boat. There are words that the church uses, which may seem obscure to others, but those words say precisely what we mean. Some words the world may not use, but the church sure should (a very incomplete list):


Someone may protest: But won't such language seem pretentious? Couldn't we miss our entire audience? Won't such language make the church seem stiff and rigid? Won't the new person be confused, or worse yet, offended?

Not if done properly. I'll admit it, I occasionally consult a thesaurus when writing blog articles (you didn't really think I say "locution," did you?). But I don't advocate using a thesaurus for preaching. The glory is not in our oratory, but in the Savior, revealed in the gospel. However, there are some words which have retained the purity almost because of their obscurity. The pastor should not hesitate to use biblical language, understanding he may need to define it for the listener. And the listener should not hesitate to reuse the word, for it is not pastoral language, but biblical language.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Why Contend?

Ever see a church building and assume all if fine?

Take a closer look:

[And let us not forget, the "church" that preaches a social gospel, legalistic mandate or diminishes the work of Christ on the cross is preaching just as damning a message as Islam.]

We shouldn't be playing around.

(HT: 9marks Blog)