June 2008 - Posts
One of my pastor's pet peeves is the use of "Christian" as an adjective. And it is quickly becoming one of mine. And you should consider it a problem, too. You see, there is a bunch of craptastic crappiness that is being marketed to a subculture that firmly believes that any product prefixed with "Christian" is morally filtered and, therefore, acceptable to them and their children. There are "Christian" books, "Christian" magazines and "Christian" blogs. We live in a "Christian" nation and vote for "Christian" policies based on our "Christian" worldview.
Genuine Christians, I believe, have fallen for the same PR spin that is prevalent in our culture of consume that requires branding to attract and befriend a subculture in order to make a sale. Take for example some other subcultures which have nouns that are poor descriptives. There are "green" businesses, gay holidays, biker pubs and yuppie coffee shops. Part of the appeal of Starbucks is the atmosphere created by their marketing department. But it always seems devious when religions engage in the spin.
For example, while shopping for a new Bible at a Lifeway Christian Store, I was audibly assaulted by a man outside the front door with a keyboard and karaoke machine. Behind a sign that said something like "Christian Worship Songs" or the like, the man stood, eyes closed and oblivious to the passing crowds and crooned into the mike. It was absolutely horrible. The pitch was flat, the feedback was unnerving and ... well, it was just cheesy. Simon Cowell would have poked fun at his mother. Why? It wasn't because he was just there to praise God and make a "joyful noise." No, he was there to make a dollar off of me and other passersby. I have a general rule: I don't buy crap, even if it is prefixed by "Christian."
The word "Christian" is, in its purest sense, a noun. It is used to identify followers of Christ. A book, song or hairdryer cannot "follow Christ." So, by using "Christian" as a descriptive word is nothing but emptiness other than its use as a marketing term -- targeting a specific demographic.
Whether you agree with his approach or not, Rob Bell, the pastor of
Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI, writes effectively about
the subject. In his book, Velvet Elvis [link], he writes:
Something can be labeled "Christian" and not be true or
good. . . It is possible for music to be labeled Christian and be
terrible music. It could lack creativity and inspiration. The lyrics
could be recycled cliches. That "Christian" band could actually be
giving Jesus a bad name because they aren't a great band. It is
possible for a movie to be a "Christian" movie and to be a terrible
movie. It may actually desecrate the art form in its quality and
storytelling and craft. Just because it is a Christian book by a
Christian author and it was purchased in a Christian bookstore doesn't
mean it is all true or good or beautiful. A Christian political group
puts me in an awkward position: What if I disagree with them? Am I less
of a Christian? What if I'm convinced the "Christian" thing to do is to
vote the exact opposite?
Christian is a great noun and a poor adjective.
I recommend this: Instead of producing dreadful art, terrible movies, appalling music and other half-baked junk and selling it as "Christian" stuff, let's work hard to produce magnificent artwork, music, books and other works of our hands to stand on their own alongside secular contemporaries. If it's good, it's good regardless of a label. We give glory to God through excellence, not mediocrity. Remember, "Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the
name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the
way" (Colossians 3:17, The Message).
"If in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die." (Deut. 22:25 ESV)
The Supreme Judge always trumps 5 (or even 9 for that matter)!
I enjoyed these and though I'd share.
1. Zapfino is my new favorite font: [link]
2. A nuclear bomb going off in my lifetime is very possible. Here's how I see it play out. Israel is twitching because Iran is getting a bit too feisty for their breeches. Israel will strike Iran with air strikes and the whole region will become inflamed. America, now sick of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, will sit and watch with limited input except some funding and some diplomacy. Israel will hold their own because their GDP is disproportionate, but some Muslim genius will devise a plan to draw the U.S. in to align France, Germany,and Russia against us (China will watch). Now, embroiled in WW3, with a serious threat to America's economy and national security because of oil embargoes, blocked sea lanes and trade imbalances, our hand is forced to make glass fields in the Middle East. And we'll watch it all on FoxNews.
3. One verse of Scripture that I feel is often overlooked is Matthew 27:52. It tells us that, at the moment of Jesus death, "[t]he tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life" (NIV). Imagine the same thing happening today in Palermo, Italy: [link]. Freaky.
4. "Derrie-Air" [link]. That's funny right there, I don't care who you are.
5. Why you should get get off of the couch this weekend and go outside: [link]. Unless you're reading a book, of course.
6. Any Steeple People up to their eyeballs in water [link]? Let us know and we'll put the Liberty Forward army into action.
7. Have a great weekend. Really. Do it. I love you guys and will find time to rant next week. See ya.
Fairest Lord Jesus; Ruler of all nature,
O Thou of God and man the Son.
Thee will I cherish; Thee will I honor,
Thou my soul's glory, joy, and crown.
Fair are the meadows; Fairer still the woodlands,
Robed in the blooming garb of spring.
Jesus is fairer; Jesus is purer,
Who makes the woeful heart to sing.
Fair is the sunshine; Fairer still the moonlight
And all the twinkling starry host.
Jesus shines brighter; Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels heav'n can boast.
Beautiful Savior! Lord of the nations!
Son of God and Son of man!
Glory and honor, Praise, adoration,
Now and forevermore be Thine!
(Written by German Jesuits as Schönster Herr Jesu in the 17th Century. Published in the Münster Gesangbuch, 1677, and translated from German to English by Joseph A. Seiss, 1873.)
Many in the manufacturing industry know all too well what a "5-Why" analysis is. Root cause analysis has many names: failure mode and effects analysis, Pareto analysis, TapRooT, 8D, etc. All of the methods are meant to drive you down to the root cause of the problem so that you aren't fixing symptoms, but eliminating the problem at its source. I live and breathe it. And that is why news stories like this one are so very irritating to read: "Pregnancy Boom at Gloucester High" [link].
After reading the six-paragraph article in Time magazine, you may be like me and scratching your head. To summarize, the article says that 17 girls at a high school in Massachusetts are pregnant. That is "more than four times the number of pregnancies the 1,200-student school had last year." That is the problem statement. But then Ms. Kingsbury goes on to drive the root cause to a depressed economy and lack of availability of contraceptives. Huh? In other words, the "5-Why" looks like this:
- Lots of teenage girls are pregnant at the high school. Why?
- Many of the girls made a pact to get pregnant and raise the children together. Why?
- The girls are directionless. Why?
- Families are broken. Why?
- Their "wherewithal" has disappeared (Whatever that means). Why?
- The local economy is depressed. Why?
- The fishing industry has moved overseas.
There could be a branch after the first statement that goes down the path of explaining the root cause of contraceptive unavailability, but ultimately it comes back to the families losing their "wherewithal" because of the lack of income, doesn't it?
So, there you have it folks. The preggies are in the predicament because the "deadliest catch" has moved to Asia. So, if we are going to fix the problem, we need to convince the fish execs to come back and all will be peachy -- although slightly more fishy smelling than fruity smelling.
This whole thing reminds me of the every-word-has-a-Greek-origin conversation in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." It's insane.
Why are the girls pregnant? Because they had relations. Why did they have relations? Because they enjoyed it and were selfish. Why? Well, it isn't because of money. The focus on self is a problem with which we all struggle, money or no money. What we need is self-denial, self-control and self-sacrifice. See Galatians 2:20.
Napping is an art mastered by few. When you can fall asleep faster than me in the most awkward places, then you will have mastered the zen of napping, young grasshopper. Here is your green belt training: [link]. Ready. Nap.
B8, has drawn my attention to Abraham, recently [click here]. Here are some brief thoughts that I had this morning after some needed Bible time.
“The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. … Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree. … And Abraham was called God’s friend.” (Genesis 18:1, 2, 7, 8; James 2:23 NIV)
“Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’
‘No,’ they answered.
He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, ‘It is the Lord,’ he wrapped his outer garment around him and jumped into the water. …
Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ … Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.” (John 21:4-7, 12-13 NIV)
Notice the parallels between these two passages. First, the Lord appeared to Abraham and his disciples at places familiar to each party—the trees of Mamre (see Ge 12:6, 13:18) and on the lake (especially see Lk 5:1-11 for how John and Peter both recognized Jesus), respectively. Second and third, the Lord came and ate with those he called friends. Finally, notice the responses in both situations when they recognized the Lord.
I never had any brothers or sisters, so I'm always fascinated when my
father talks about inter-sibling rivalry in his larval form. When I was
home visiting him recently, he told me about the elaborate ritual that
had been established around pie-cutting... a Solomon-like affair, in
which my wise grandfather pronounced that whatever brother cut the pie
for dessert must pick his slice last. The result? Equality in
pie-division at a sub-atomic scale. Apparently, the only thing that
beats a small child's greed is his eagerness to screw over his brother. (John Brownlee, [link])
I've heard it said -- and, admittedly, have repeated it in the past -- that common emotional decisions override logic, using emotion or pseudo-logic as the driving force to support the choice. In other words, emotional decision-making is bad because it isn't reasonable and logical decision-making is good because it is rooted in reason. Or you could say, emotion is bad, reason is good. I believed that nonsense and have propagated the myth many a time. But it wasn't until this week that I chose to sit down and contemplate it. And, today, I admit that this is a falsehood.
You see, emotion and reason are not opposite ends of a spectrum or diametrically opposed. Emotion and reason are integral components of every decision and its action -- both created at the beginning and called "good". They work together in different roles.
The catalyst for right decisions -- or the one ingredient that will prevent wrong decisions -- is not found in the subjects of emotion or reason. For the catalyst, one needs to look to morality. Or, maybe better stated, look to wisdom. Wisdom is the important subject in proper decision making. Reason solidifies the choice and emotion puts it into action.*
Consider this (If it is even possible): You make a decision based solely on logic, excluding emotion. You carefully weigh all pros, cons and possibilities. You check and double-check your math. Did you carry the one? Have you considered this? After much thought and reason, you choose. Later, you discover that it was the wrong choice. How did that happen? You considered every option and discovered nothing new. You even completely eliminated emotion. The answer: Reason and emotion apart is an illusion. What you lacked was wisdom.
Since there is "nothing new under the sun," and you may still be skeptical, consider these two individuals: David Hume [link], the 18th-Century Scottish philosopher and father of naturalistic philosophy (rationalistic -- or logical), and Jean-Jacques Rousseau [link], another 18th-Century philosopher and most prominent figure in Romanticism (man is innately good -- or emotional). You certainly would not want to imitate either one of these men or any of the men who were influenced by their philosophies.
But, if, rather than choosing which is "right," we presume that emotion and reason are not independent, then we don't fall off of the other side of the horse. We fail to even get on the horse because now we're mired in postmodern philosophy and its relativism -- or what is right for me may not necessarily be right for you.
Again, what we need to make right, correct and truthful decisions is wisdom. And where can we find that wisdom? Bueller?... Bueller?... Bueller?
* This sentence is still up for debate. I've proofread this one *gasp* and the jury's still out. Should I take it out? Talk amongst yourselves.
Whether it was just a Monday or something more serious, today was a rough day. Work was a breeze. It was about nine hours of computer work broken up by an hour of Rush Limbaugh and McDonald's. What was rough was the stuff going on elsewhere. This isn't a complaint, mind you. This is just an opportunity to put things down for my fellow Liberty Forward soldiers to take and share the burden -- a sort of battle handoff, if you will.
First, Wesley and I are reading in order to help. There is a couple at church who are on the brink of bankruptcy. They are brand-new Christians and their eagerness and new life is refreshing. However, they are still paying for the consequences of irresponsibility with the stuff that God has given them. They honestly don't want to file, but they see no other option. So, Wesley and I have committed to sit down with them and look for any other solution. I believe Wesley is reading some Larry Burkett stuff. I have been reading Total Money Makeover and Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey. And we've both consulted the Bible -- Proverbs, parables and such.
It has been a blessing, really. I'm not just talking about the opportunity to help, but the ability to better understand my own finances -- and stupid decisions that shall not be repeated. But it has also been a burden (again, not a complaint, because I bear it gladly) because I love them and really want the best for them.
And then there is the pregnant girl who is in prison. Her grandmother lives across the street from the church. Her mother lives nearly three blocks from my house. And none have a relationship with Jesus. So, this is a double burden and probably the one that has caused some Joe-tears on the way home.
I called the detention facility after work twice to be educated on how to visit the prison. Being all too familiar with government bureaucracy because of prior Army experience, I knew the task was daunting. But it seems that a call to "Programs" tomorrow will be fruitful because Wesley and I are deacons and our visit will be unique because it will be "religious".
After the two phone calls, I contemplated the subject of a young, pregnant woman in prison. Because this is a "battle handoff," take a moment here to contemplate it. She is twenty-something with a late-August due date. More than likely she will be hauled off to Nashville to be locked up in the women's facility. The child will be born and then what? I don't know. I'm not familiar with such things, but it breaks my heart. Really, it does.
And, then, at 6:45 PM with all of this in my head, I remembered to tune in to Chuck Swindoll. I speak often of him here because he is a companion on some days during the drive home. And, you know what? He reminded me of something. Oh, glorious moment! Reminders are sometimes the greatest thing. I love great reminders.
Here it is: "Stand firm". Stand firm. That's it. Just stand firm. Read:
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made
perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus
took hold of me. Brothers,
I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I
do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some
point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who,
by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control,
will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious
my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is
how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends! (Philippians 3:12 - 4:1, NIV, emphasis mine)
And, now, being equipped with a reminder, I can gladly heft the burdens and stand firm. The load is definitely lighter with encouragement but this soldier bears it gladly and stands firm.
Quite possibly the greatest U.S. Open of my lifetime: [link]. Happy Father's Day to me!
As if a crazy website for Rapture documents wasn't enough, now I read that Yisrayl "Buffalo Bill" Hawkins is predicting nuclear war on Thursday, June 12, 2008 [link]. Mr. Hawkins is the founder of the House of Yahweh, another Texas kook cult. Oh, and get this, he has been arrested for bigamy and
breaking child-labor laws; and one of his elders was arrested for
sexual abuse of a 14-year-old girl. But, don't worry, they're not all like that, so the Texas Child Protection Services won't get involved (Hint: that was sarcasm).
Don't rush out and spend all of your money on wild women, yet. Buffalo Bill has missed it before. In grand Jehovah's Witness-style, Bill predicted the end would come on September 12, 2006, and the day came and went without drama to the chagrin of some African followers who donned gas masks and hid in underground bunkers for days, only to find that they have been the laughing stock of their neighbors ever since.
Honestly, I'm a little miffed that I didn't have more notice. I had ordered some stuff on eBay
and it isn't supposed to be here until Friday.
Next page »
1. Why? Because iFriday was late.
2. Despite what Hallmark, American Greetings and those online greeting cards say, dads aren't lazy, clumsy, TV-watching oafs. So, I have developed three Father's Day cards and will publish them on Scribd [link]. I'll post more early next week.
3. Our little Otter will be one year old this weekend. Who knew that a little girl would be my kryptonite?
4. My two favorite country songs: "Mountain Music" by Alabama and "Meet in the Middle" by Diamond Rio. Runner-up: "Fishing in the Dark" by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
5. Quote of the week: "In essentials, unity. In nonessentials, liberty. In all things, charity" (Philip Melanchthon, quoted in Leslie Flynn, When the Saints Come Storming In).
6. Have a glorious weekend. It'll be 95+ degrees here, so we'll find a puddle of water to soak in. See you on Monday. Love ya.