July 29, 2006

Women in Ministry

This is a good article on the role of women in ministry. NT Wright offers great insight into various biblical texts concerning women; especially in Paul. He maintains male and female equality in redemption, but also reminds us that we are different in abilities and role. This difference, however, does not keep women from serving in a ministerial role.

"Part of the problem, particularly in the United States, is that cultures become so polarized that it is often assumed that if you tick one box you’re going to tick a dozen other boxes down the same side of the page – without realising that the page itself is highly arbitrary and culture-bound. We have to claim the freedom, in Christ and in our various cultures, to name and call issues one by one with wisdom and clarity, without assuming that a decision on one point commits us to a decision on others. I suspect, in fact, that part of the presenting problem which has generated CBE is precisely the assumption among many American evangelicals that you have to buy an entire package or you’re being disloyal..."

Women in Service (application/pdf Object)

July 27, 2006

Headlines and Titles

I don't know whether Floyd Landis took drugs, but you have to question the integrity of the news media when it uses inflammatory headlines. Floyd did not test positive for DRUGS only elevated levels of testoterone in his blood stream. This could be drug enhancement, but it might be a natural occuring thing.

If he used, then he should be punished. But that doesn't excuse the irresponsible use of titles and headlines.

ABC News: Tour De France Winner Flunks Drug Test

July 25, 2006

Monastic Spiritual Formation

Leadership Blog: Out of Ur: Spiritual Formation: we’ve already got a proven model, but do we want it?: "Recently friends from a major publisher of Sunday school curriculum called me. They were researching trends in spiritual formation, they said, and they thought I might help them.

After a few warm-up questions, they got to the heart of the matter: “What would you recommend for spiritual formation in our time?”

“The monastery,” I said.

There was a long pause.

“I’m serious,” I said."

I think Kevin Miller is on to something. There is something about doing life with other people and adhering to coporate disciplines. The responses are quite interesting, but the article is worth consideration.

I like his primary question:

"What would happen to your life if you lived in close geographical community and relationship with other people; if you lived in submission to authority; if you practiced silence and simplicity and discipline; if you regularly read the Bible and prayed and meditated on what you read; if you made study part of your life; and if you worked hard in some daily occupation, seeing your labor as full of dignity and offering it to God?"

I think the simple answer is that the world would be changed.

Jurassic Park

Despite the movie, I think I would like to see a cloned Jurassic Park. Unfortunately, we know they WOULD clone the Raptors. Because what is technology good for if you can't do something stupid that gets a lot of people killed!

CNN.com - Disgraced scientist says he tried to clone mammoth - Jul 25, 2006: "Hwang said Tuesday part of the funds were used to clone mammoths, using tissues of the extinct animal obtained from glaciers."

July 24, 2006

Uncracked

I finally started reading Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code. I have yet to read enough to have any thing of value to say about the book's message.

However, I have read enough to know that the code may remain un-deciphered due to Dan Brown's descriptive ineptitude. Who knew you could spend longer describing the trip from the hotel to the Louvre than it would take to make the trip from the hotel to the Louvre? Brown's description is inane and tiresome.

Authenticity

As a child I sat through my share of hellfire and brimstone preachers. Most ranted and stomped across the stage with more fury and passion than I saw anywhere else. It was interesting to watch this mild-mannered pastor suddenly transform into a ranting, sweating preacher. It was like they were taking on a preaching persona...in fact, they were!

Most people, postmodern or not, are seeking authenticity. They read blogs by "real" people. They watch "reality" television. They want pastors and churches that are "real."

There is this strange mix-up though. They want authenticity, but they don't want anything real. That may sound like an oxymoron, but it more like a true contradiction.

Blogs are just as real as news articles. People lie all the time on their blogs; just like the news media. People hide their ignorance on blogs; just like the everything else. Bloggers just happen to do it for free.

"Reality" television is simply not reality. Well, it is reality if reality comes with hours upon hours of editing. Notice there is alway conflict and action and no one ever going to the bathroom. Finding a place to relieve yourself on Vanuatu is reality.

Pastors and churches are "creating" an atmosphere that welcomes people. I am not saying this is wrong, just that it ought to come out of who we are, not what we want to see happen. Too often people try to create something because they "want to reach the lost." Instead of reaching the lost through who God has created them to be.

I have seen too many people trying to be "unoffensive" to the lost. Our message is offensive. We try to seek scientific reasoning to justify our belief. We use apologetics to convince others that our beliefs are reasonable. While I love science and believe apologetics to be okay, we must ask, "Why?" Why do we feel we need to defend ourselves? I don't have to defend myself to anyone. I just have to love God with my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love my neighbor as myself.

I am not saying we should purposely offend people, only that we shouldn't feel the need to defend ourselves and justify what we believe.

July 20, 2006

How True

Unfortunately this quote bring back memories of the first few months of the last church plant I pastored. Then reality hit!

Quote Details: Marquis de Vauvenargues: : "The things we know best are the things we haven't been taught."
Marquis de Vauvenargues

The Referee is...um...PARTIALLY Blind!

This belongs to the "Truth is Stranger than Fiction" file:

One-eyed referee sues Big Ten over firing

We let referee's who seem to be totally blind call games, so why fire this guy? And we let criminals play the game...oh, sorry!

July 19, 2006

Airing Dirty Laundry

Here is a good reminder, especially since I posted about Mark Driscoll, that we should not air our dirty laundry to the world. I also think we should focus on ourselves, and the not the failings of others (I think there is something in the Bible about this????).

church plant my eye: Emerging/Reforming/Missional

July 17, 2006

Leadership



I just finished reading Beyond Band of Brothers: The Memoir of Major Dick Winters.

To be honest, the guy needs a better editor or publisher. There were horribly written sentences, bad paragraph divisions, missing punctuation, and other bad editorial work.

I don't blame Major Dick Winters. He is a soldier not a writer. His story needed to be told; he just needs to hire a better editor.

But...the stories are enough to keep you reading, and the final chapter is worth it. His final list of leadership principles are invaluable. While watching Band of Brothers, I was inspired the portrayal of Major Winters's leadership and morality.

July 13, 2006

A Brain in a Jar

This article give me hope that one day I will be able to be that evil genius with his brain in a jar controlling my robot body! [Insert evil genius laugh]

Paralyzed Man Uses Thoughts to Move a Cursor - New York Times: "A paralyzed man with a small sensor implanted in his brain was able to control a computer, a television set and a robot using only his thoughts, scientists reported yesterday."

July 12, 2006

Consumerism and the Church

Skye Jethani writes an interesting article.

I guess the question for me is "How is the church supposed to respond in a consumeristic society?"

We recognize that people live life as consumers. We recognize that people church shop to find the church that is "right" for them (even the best of us do it). This tendency may not be the right way to do things, but the reality is that this is the reality.

So, the church has two choices. Either it is completely counter-culture and gives its message to empty seats and deaf ears, or it attempts to live out the true message of Jesus recognizing that people are consumeristic and, through growth, lead them down the road to true discipleship.

I tend to think that this article pines for the way things ought to be rather than deal with the way things really are.

LeadershipJournal.net - From Christ's Church to iChurch: "As a result, choosing a church today isn't merely about finding a community to learn and live out the Christian faith. It's about 'church shopping' to find the congregation that best expresses my identity. This drives Christian leaders to differentiate their church by providing more of the features and services people want.

After all, in a consumer culture the customer, not Christ, is king."

Billy Graham

No one can refute Graham's impact on the Church. His tone, his call to salvation, and his demeanor say it all. Here is an interesting article from Slate.

Get Your God at the Ballpark - Billy Graham comes out of retirement to preach at Camden Yards. By John Dickerson: "After speaking for 25 minutes, Graham made an altar call. He invited those who wanted to proclaim their faith to come down to the field to renounce sin and take up a life with Jesus as their personal savior. The aisles filled immediately, like they do when the visiting team scores a late-inning grand slam. People streamed onto the outfield. No security guards stopped them. Volunteers patted them on the arm.

This was where the incongruity of the venue worked so powerfully. Graham's message wasn't just for Sunday or weddings or funerals. What he was offering was the promise of grace at any moment, including in left field under an Esskay hot-dog sign. Too frail to walk, the old man left the stage as he arrived, driven across the field on a golf cart. It's the same way they bring relief pitchers from the bullpen. He was departing after one more save."

July 11, 2006

Looking for Leaders

This is a good article on the changes going on in leadership. I fall somewhere in between. I think that Leadership is influence. There is a statement in the article where a pastor says, "Do something, then write the book." I agree. We have too many people writing books who have never really done anything; it is all philosophical head-knowledge. Leadership is more than position.

Here is a good article on leadership in the postmodern world by Brian McLaren.

Looking for Leaders - LeadershipJournal.net: "Last December, Time magazine featured its 'Persons of the Year' for 2005: Bill and Melinda Gates, and Bono. One man heads a multi-billion-dollar business that impacts the global economy, and is now using a portion of those profits to impact the fields of education and healthcare through his charitable foundation. The other man is a rock star who is using his personal influence and platform to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic in Africa, the need for debt relief, and to challenge individuals toward greater personal social action.

Gates typifies the Boomer mindset: build a powerful organization, then use it for positive impact. Bono, on the other hand, exemplifies more of a Gen-X approach: leverage personal influence to spur others toward 'love and good deeds.' But no matter the definition, both men are leaders, and both are having an impact. Is it unrealistic to assume that there is also room for both styles in the Church?"

July 10, 2006

It Always Amazes Me...

It always amazes me how much pain and disruption the human being can overcome. Floyd Landis needs a hip replacement, and yet was able to take second place in the time trial. Lance Armstrong stayed with the pack of professional cyclists on one of the toughest climbs with his rear brake clamped onto the wheel.

2006 Tour de France - Landis says he's riding with severe pain in his hip : "American rider Floyd Landis is in constant pain due to an injured hip that he said Monday will need to be replaced after he finishes the Tour de France."

The Too Famous Get More Recognition

Forbes released it's top 100 celebrities. Tom Cruise? #1? Give me a break!

Are the Rolling Stones still alive? They must be on their Steel Wheelchairs Tour.

The Celebrity 100 - Forbes.com

Unmotivated

I wouldn't call it writer's block, it is more like being unmotivated. Every time I go to pick up a pen or place my fingers on the keyboard, I get this feeling like "What's the use. I don't want to do this."

I am just having a few weeks of being severely unmotivated.

July 7, 2006

Almost Speechless

This article infuriates me! I can't even put it into words without saying something I shouldn't or being uncharitable. I respect Mark Driscoll as a man called by God, but I think he too often opens his mouth when it would be better kept closed.

From interviews and his rants, I find the last sentence laughable.

It must feel really good to be so sure of yourself.

Men Are from Mars Hill - Christianity Today Magazine: "The two hot theologies today are Reformed and emerging. Reformed theology offers certainty, with a masculine God who names our sin, crushes Jesus on the Cross for it, and sends us to hell if we fail to repent. Emerging theology offers obscurity, with a neutered God who would not say an unkind word to us, did not crush Jesus for our sins, and would not send anyone to hell. I came to Reformed theology by preaching through books of the Bible such as Exodus, Romans, John, and Revelation, along with continually repenting of my sin. I am, however, a boxers, not briefs, Reformed guy. I am pretty laid back about it and not uptight and tidy like many Reformed guys."

July 6, 2006

Preaching 4-Finding Your Voice pt. 2

After reading my last post on preaching, some might say, "Yeah, but my voice isn't all that good!" You may be right. Your preaching may not be all that good.

If your preaching isn't all that good here are some ideas:

1. Don't preach. Find a ministry that allows you to minister without preaching. Maybe God didn't intend for you to be a preacher. Maybe your skills are best served somewhere else in the kingdom. Too many good ministers have been trapped by all the expectations of a small church to do everything imaginable.

2. Don't worry. There are plenty of not-so-good preachers in the world. You are not the first person to pastor a church who could preach like [insert name]. Do the best you can with what God has given you. God doesn't always call the best preachers to make the most impact. Moses couldn't speak, but he could lead.

3. Keep improving. I don't think that a person can go from mediocre to great, but I do think we can all improve. There seems to be some hint of ability from the start that grows and develops. You may need some impartial listener to evaluate you. (In a later post, I will give a layout for evaluating sermons.)

4. Be Honest. Have you ever watched an episode of American Idol and wondered, "Can that person even hear themselves?" The answer is "no." The same thing is also true of preachers. We cannot hear ourselves. And all the accolades or criticisms are only half-right. We are not as good as most people say we are and we are not as bad as the rest say we are. But we do need to be honest about our preaching; realistic. Evaluations and video-taping are great ways to get a grasp of your preaching. Add to those a written manuscript and you have some very important tools for being honest about your preaching.

Interesting Decision From the NY Courts

The New York Supreme Court rules that homosexual marriage is not guaranteed under state law.

N.Y. Court Says Lawmakers Should Consider Gay Marriage - New York Times: "'There are at least two grounds that rationally support the limitation on marriage that the legislature has enacted,' the court said, 'both of which are derived from the undisputed assumption that marriage is important to the welfare of children.'

First, the court said, marriage could be preserved as an 'inducement' to heterosexual couples to remain in stable, long-term, and child-bearing relationships. Second, lawmakers could rationally conclude that 'it is better, other things being equal, for children to grow up with both a mother and the father.'

'Intuition and experience suggest that a child benefits from having before his or her eyes, every day, living models of what both a man and a woman are like,' the court said.

The court rejected parallels to laws barring interracial marriage, and the claim that sheer homophobia lay at the root of current law. 'Plaintiffs have not persuaded us that this long-accepted restriction is a wholly irrational one, based solely on ignorance and prejudice against homosexuals,' the court said."

July 5, 2006

Bearly Legal

Sorry! Bad pun...but this bear cub has a penchant for partying.

Bear driven to diet on pizza, booze

Preaching 3-Finding Your Voice

Contrary to many modern pastor's advice, I don't think a pastor should purchase someone else's sermons in order to preach them. I don't think they should NEVER do it, but certainly no more than once or twice a year or one sermon series a year. I am talking about pretty-near complete sermons or outlines. I think a pastor should read and listen to sermons on a regular basis.

No idea is completely new. Good sermons inspire and inform your preaching. Like reading is to the writer, so sermons are to the preacher. (I also think preachers should listen to good comedians.) Listening to good spoken-word performers helps the preacher learn timing, audience interaction, pacing, and flow. Listening and reading other people's sermons give you new ideas and fresh approaches to topics.

There are several reasons you should not preach other people's sermons:

1. Integrity. Whether we like it or not, the people in your church expect you to prepare and preach the sermons. We don't approach this from a legalistic, bow-to-their-whims approach, but simply recognize the expectations. The integrity issue comes from taking credit for the arrangement and presentation of ideas that are not yours. In order to maintain integrity, you should be honest with where you got the sermon. So the question becomes, Are you willing to tell your people every other week that you are preaching a purchased sermon?

2. You are not "Fill in the Blank." You are not Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, Ed Young, Rob Bell, or any other star preacher for that matter. Unless you buy every sermon from a particular person, mixing and matching sermons from several different authors and yourself is like taking one chapter from Stephen King, one from John Grisham, and one from Danielle Steele and passing them off as the same author. It just doesn't work.

3. The star preachers don't know your people. They don't write their sermons with your people in mind. You know the needs, hurts, sorrows, joys, and passions of your people; therefore, you should be the one deeply praying for them and crafting your sermons to address the needs of the community.

4. You are the one who is called. This is probably the most important aspect of this whole post. When you preach other people's sermons, you shortchange the calling of God on your life. God calls, transforms, and uses YOU to prepare a sermon. God wants to speak through you. Granted you may not be as good as one of the star preachers, but God didn't put that star preacher in your pulpit; He put you. God wants to use your voice and your mannerisms and words to speak to these people.

If you preach someone elses sermons on a regular basis, you have no opportunity to find your own voice. Finding your own voice takes time. You have to read and listen to sermons. You have to learn the basics. You have to practice, practice, practice. One day, you will a voice that is distinctly you.

When I was learning to play the guitar, I read an interview with the great Santana. He said (paraphrasing) take your lessons, practice, learn to play the classics and stuff you like, but one day lock yourself in a room, turn off the lights, and play until you sound like yourself.

This thought from the great Santana reminds us that we are never separated from our influences, but, through us, our influences come out in a unique and different way.

July 4, 2006

Here Is to Sports Greatness!

Just don't tell him what's in it.
Kobayashi sets record at Nathan's contest

Good Quote

We are created to be creative; made in the image of God. But sometimes we forget that all the ability was given us by God. This quote is a good reminder for all of us who create.

"Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better."
- Andre Gide

July 1, 2006

Is It Really A Win?

It is a shame to see the Tour De France reduced to a witch hunt for druggies. Doping is a beast created by the very sport trying to eliminate it. Only the youngest, fastest, and strongest survive, and if someone else is doping, then everyone else feels they have to dope in order to keep up.

But...

With the top contenders out, if they are proven innocent, then the winner this year hasn't really won anything worth having. How could it be considered a win if you haven't really competed against the best? Yeah, you have won the race against the tour, the domstiques, and a few good riders, but you haven't won against the best of the best.

Someone might say, "Yeah, but it is not their fault that the person didn't show up for the race." That's true, but they still have not faced down the best of the best and beat them. A few years ago Jan Ullrich was asked about winning the Tour after Lance retired, and, while he wanted to win the Tour, said that it wouldn't mean as much if he wasn't beating Lance in the process. That is true sportsmanship.

Contenders Ullrich, Basso barred from Tour de France

Good Quote

A perfect quote for the study and practice of theology. Unfortunately, we have too few people of first-rate intelligence.

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald