Thursday, July 26, 2007

Spiritual Welfare: Grazing on the Word

I read the phrases that I used to compose the title in an article by Coach Dave Daubenmire and it made me think:

Are you engaged in spiritual warfare or are you on spiritual welfare?

My fellow sheep, do you graze or do you harvest?

The one subsists only on what one is given. The other gathers in abundance to give to others.

Don't misunderstand what I say. I'm talking about your fellowship with the Word. Do you only listen to what others say, or do you struggle with the revelation of Christ in your own life that you might share Him with others in truth and encourage them to likewise seek His face?

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

What Do We Do With Social Misfits in Church?

Here's something that's been weighing on me as I observe even the strongest of churches among us. Every church has one or more people who are sociologically difficult. These are people who are odd or annoying, but not particularly in a sinful way.

Human nature is such that we tend to gravitate toward people who are the most like us. My area of North Carolina has seen population growth from people who have moved from other parts of the country. The potential is to have a mild version of the first century church in Corinth. The Midwesterners like to hang out together. The New Englanders like to hang out together. Also there are cliques formed along family lines or by social status (young families), sports (fantasy football), and specialized areas of ministry.

It's the oddball that sticks out. This person may not fit into any of these groups. He may have mannerisms that are hard to interpret or have interests that are not shared with anyone else. He may have a mental disability that affects his social judgment as to what is appropriate.

"Normal" people often don't want to be associated with such a one because they are afraid that their social reputation will be negatively affected by such an association. That is to say, most people fear that they will suffer some mild unconscious ostracization for being identified as the friend of the oddball. It's not that others will intentionally cast someone out for being associated with the oddball, but that they perceive that their association with the oddball will be less comprehensible and that this will in turn cascade into a loss of social value.

You can see the problem with this. Our considerations, whether we intend it or not, are for our own socialization. We are made to be social creatures. We long for meaningful interaction with others. yet by doing so, we deny the offering of good social interaction for the oddball. Social misfits need to learn how to fit in and we need to learn how to accept them if their poor socialization is not a matter of overt sin. Even if it is, they still need to be held accountable, and that is part of good socialization.

My question is, therefore, how will the social misfit learn to fit in if we refuse to socialize meaningfully with him?

Labels: , ,

Predestination in London

Warning to Armenians, take your Calvinix now!

This series of videos feature a panel of theologians discussing predestination. One of the theologians is apologist Dr. James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries. It is one of the clearest presentations of the doctrine that I have ever heard.

Hang in there for this last one. Some odd fluke of British broadcasting caused the program to switch from one channel to another right when Dr. White gets to a great point.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Think Inside the Box

Who says theology is dry, especially Reformed theology? Theologians do have a sense of humor. For those of you who may be interested in Theological parody and satire, have a look at Tominthebox where you will be challenged to think inside the box. Recent "news" items include the following:

So Easy a Calvinist Can Do It - Insurance for the Reformed. You, too, may have been preselected for insurance.

Only a few short months after releasing Calvinix, a drug for guarding the minds of Arminians against Reformed theology, Phinney Pharmaceuticals has recalled the product. Apparently Arminians have attended Reformed sermons after having taken the product and have come away understanding Calvinism.

The TULIP VBS put on by the First Baptist Church in Macon, GA, had a surprising effect. Expecting an angry backlash from the church community, the parents were pleased that their children were coming home discussing the doctrines of grace starting with Total Depravity and culminating in the Perseverance of the Saints.

Another drug offering, Spiritryl, is now available for charismatics "when being filled just isn't enough."

A protest in Armenia where Armenian Christians are upset over being called Arminians.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, July 16, 2007

Why I'm Not a Libertarian

I was just listening to Glenn Beck. He's entertaining, but I don't always agree with him. This is one of those cases. He just made the statement that the founding fathers were libertarians - not by name, but that the current political view that most closely reflects that of the founding fathers is libertarianism.

Let me tell you why I disagree. The founding fathers created a representative republic. Our federal legislative representatives are chosen through a democratic process and they legislate through a similar democratic process. our other governmental leaders are chosen by various democratic means or are appointed. The reason we need representation is so that our collective interest is voiced and protected in an orderly manner.

Protected? Yes.

From whom? Each other. Our collective interests conflict.

Why? Because we live in a fallen world.

The libertarian position is one that seeks to elevate the individual to autonomy. The liberal/socialist lie is similarly one that promises to elevate the individual to autonomy. The purpose of the libertarian is the autonomy. The ostensible purpose of liberalism is equity. The real reason for liberalism is so that politicians can take the money of people who are successful and buy the votes of people who feel disenfranchised. The result is virtual socialism. (There are enough socialists who realize this and who deign to take advantage of it that is problematic.) Both of these views ignore the fact that we live in a fallen world and need to be held accountable.

For this reason the founding fathers created a system of checks and balances so that no individual might assume unchecked power over his fellow human beings. It's a brilliant system, but it is neither liberal nor libertarian.

I am conservative because the purpose of conservatism is to hold people accountable to their fellow human beings, not for the purpose of enslaving them, but for the purpose of engendering a society perpetuated by personal responsibility. This method recognizes the fact that all is not well with the world and we are all inherently evil, but that this evil can be overcome and we can thrive. The Christians who founded this nation realized that we can influence sociological behavior with proper controls, but that the only true way to overcome evil is through Jesus Christ, but they realized that Christian liberty doesn't coerce or force people to be Christian.

Therefore, you can worship in these United States as you please. Not because you have personal liberty, which you do. But because it was recognized that people are evil and want to force you to worship according to their theology. Likewise, if your worship involves forcing others to worship according to your theology, you must be restrained. When we in the United States collectively fail to recognize evil, we will be conquered.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Internet Romance

Tonight I met my aunt and uncle for supper at the Crawdads cafe. Then we went to our seats and watched a good baseball game with my cousins. As we talked I came to confess that I'm having an Internet romance.

That's right. While I've been alone at home this summer I've taken up with a wonderful woman over the Internet. She's 32 and has a web cam just like me.

She likes chocolate and peanut butter. Her favorite color is purple.

She can also write lyrics, but hasn't done so in a while. (I've been looking for a lyricist to partner with. She just may be the one.)

She's also a Christian, which is a good thing, and does various women's and children's ministries.

She loves music and sings soprano in her church choir.

She loves kids and teaches school at Maple Grove Christian Academy. She also likes missions and is on a mission trip with her students.

Did I mention that I'm the headmaster at Maple Grove Christian Academy?

Did I also mention that Maple Grove Christian Academy is a home school?

Oh, and did I mention that my Internet romance happens to be with my wife of nearly 12 years?

I was in a play called "A Significant Life" at church a couple of months ago. I played a TV news reporter. My fellow reporter was Katie Hatchet, the writer and co-director of the play. We were set up on stage left. On stage right was Scott and Debbie Williamson, a married couple who were playing a stereotypical middle class married couple watching us on TV. We were the setting for a series of scenes playing on center stage. The couple would speak with each other and Katie and I would play out a news and commentary program and then a pertinent scene would play.

One scene had Scott and Debbie conversing, then it switched to Katie and I, then Scott and Debbie had a couple of lines before the scene. We were rehearsing this scene one evening as the opening night was nearing. Rodney Harrison, our worship leader, was setting up some mics in front of Scott and Debbie with his daughter sitting in a seat behind him. Scott and Debbie finished their lines and Katie and I started our lines. As we spoke, Debbie got up and sat back down in her husband's lap. They each promptly forgot that they had any more lines in the scene.

When Katie and I finished our section, we waited on Scott and Debbie to start their lines, but all we heard was them quietly muttering sweet nothings to each other. Katie looked over and shouted, "Hey! Start acting like a married couple!"

Without hesitation, Rodney added, "Yeah! I wouldn't want my daughter to see anything she doesn't see at home."

Husbands and wives - this observation from my aunt: if you're married, there's no reason you can't still be boyfriend and girlfriend. Treat each other to the romance of your lives.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, July 13, 2007

Busy Summer - Recent Thoughts

I know I haven't posted much lately. For those of you who don't read my Xanga, I did recently post about my recent camping trip with Mark Sherrill and Adam and Matthew Hatcher. This has been a busy summer, however, on a number of levels. For one, we're in full swing at work. I work in the laboratory furniture industry and this is the time of year when colleges and universities are especially inclined to renovate or build new labs. For another, my wife and kids are in Venezuela and we're all a little homesick. We've been blessed with the technology to be able to talk every day and lately my wife and I have taken to typing sweet nothings to each other into the wee hours of the night. 3 weeks and a day and we'll all be reunited in Venezuela.

I was able to catch up on my online reading yesterday and found a few unrelated items of interest.

Because of the absence of my wife I've been particularly enjoying PaPaTevia's musings about marriage on his blog recently in the wake of his 25th wedding anniversary.

If you're like me and find archeology interesting, you may like models of ancient sites. Here's a rather large one of ancient Jerusalem.

Here's a humorous video from repentandtrustdotorg on YouTube. "8 Reasons I Don't Share My Faith" - do you identify with any of these reasons?

There were also a couple of interesting posts about genetics. On Answers in Genesis, they report that scientists have found another layer of complexity in the genetic code. Scientists have found, much to their astonishment that a single gene can produce more than one protein depending on what enzyme "reads" it. This is a form of information compression that make zip files look like child's play. On Triablogue they have a humorous "report" about the discovery that humans share 50% of their genes with bananas.

On a theological note, Strange BaptistFire posted an article about the Glory of God.

“Glorify” is the verb form of the noun “glory,” which translates the Hebrew word kabod, meaning “weight” or “heaviness.” This word speaks to heaviness in terms of dignity, and indicates a radically humbling emotional impact on any who encounter true glory; as seen, for example, in the experience of the Prophet Isaiah, who, when encountering the glory of God, began to call down curses upon himself for his sin (Isaiah 6).

Consider that God already has "glory" and we can give Him no glory that He doesn't already have. When we glorify God, we don't give God more glory than He already has. Instead, we recognize His glory and align ourselves with Him.

In Him,

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Ghost Rider

I just borrowed the movie, Ghost Rider, from my brother-in-law. I have to admit, I never read the comic book and a movie about "the devil's bounty hunter" where a man "sells his soul to the devil" and then tries to "beat the devil and win his soul back" is not something I'm going to pay money to see. From the onset, I know that this is premised on theological fantasy. However, I also know that cartoon characters are generally fantasy and that people generally can tell the difference between the fantasy world of the cartoons - oh, excuse me: graphic novels [cough] - and that perfectly entertaining stories can be told where the typical moral tension in any good plot can bring to mind considerations of good things or bad things while the fantasy remains simply fantasy.

With most of the cartoon superheroes, the fantasy lies in scientific speculation. You have the science fiction genre, but I would classify this as science fantasy. Superman got his powers because he's an alien from outer space and some difference in the light from his sun of origin and our sun causes him to generate super powers. Spiderman go bitten by a radioactive spider and the qualities of a spider change him genetically somehow. The X-men are simply human mutations, relying on a flawed understanding of Darwinian evolution (which itself is flawed).

Other superheroes are simply speculations of the capacity of natural man to achieve great feats of skill and strength. Batman learned great martial art skills and combined them with great feats of engineering. Doc Savage was simply a strong, intelligent man with a crack team. Captain America was a military hero with great skill. I'll call this humanistic fantasy.

Then there are the few who have super powers that were derived "supernaturally". I call this theological fantasy. For example, Captain Marvel summons his power from ancient Greek mythological gods. Ghost Rider belongs in this category.

In theological fantasy, and Ghost Rider in particular, It doesn't bother me that the theological foundation is erroneous. After all, the fantastical is accepted as being mere fantasy. What bothers me is that the minds of watchers of the movie or readers of the comic books can easily end up dismissing TRUE theology as fantasy. In the "making of" bonus material, the writer said that he wanted to take elements of "Christian mythology" to write the story. I would consider that theological considerations are either true or not. If it is true, it belongs in Christian doctrine. If it is not true it doesn't. It is true that there are extra-Biblical stories and doctrines that are the product of human invention. These are not Christian. Neither can they be considered "Christian mythology".

Ghost rider - it's a fun story, but beware that true theology doesn't appear to be mere fantasy.

Labels: ,