Friday, November 30, 2007

November Blogger Awards

By my records, almost 50 BBC blogs were updated in November. Here are some of the posts that packed the most punch:

Josh M on church signs
Dave L on DOA
Kirk's Christmas Gift
Elizabeth R's Aspirations
Dena I on Rock the Vote
Heather D on Insta-Worship
Elizabeth S's Cereal-Bowl
AJ Needs a Hobby
Jess R's Promised Montage

There was a good 4-way race, this month, for BBC Blogger of the Month. But the race was won by Kelly T and the Mis-Adventures of 2! Remember, next month will have a December winner AND a 2007 winner. Good luck at finding my good graces.

January: Elizabeth S
February: Kirk P
March: Kirk P
April: Elizabeth S
May: Steph P
June: Julie M
July: Mark B
August: AJ T
September: Elizabeth S
October: Kirk P
November: Kelly T

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Odor is a confusing concept for me. I think most people think of odor as non-material, like some kind of magical aroma. But isn't what we call odor simply the extension of tiny particles from the source? I think this is a devastating reality for hypochondriacs because, if true, it means that when we 'smell' something bad we are not merely smelling a non-physical aroma, but are actually tasting, in a sense, the very thing we are smelling. In other words, our noses have parts that function just like the taste-buds on our tongues. As I understand it, when I 'smell' garbage, I'm actually 'tasting' tiny particles of garbage. And, yes, when I smell worse things than garbage, I'm actually 'tasting' tiny little particles of that worse thing. I could be wrong. I hope I am. Does 'odor' really exist or are we just breathing in tiny particles of the source?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Master's Program

Houghton College will begin offering a Master's in Theology program in the Fall of 2008. I have been thinking, over the past month or so, about whether or not I'm interested in applying. I've also been asking for some feedback from people with valued opinions. And now it's your turn! Haha.

It's very nearby (1.5 hour drive)
It's not super expensive (less than 16k)
A Master's could open up new ministry doors
The setup allows me to continue at our church

It costs money (16k)
I don't personally value degrees
It takes time away from work at our church
Gas is really expensive :)

What do you think?

Monday, November 26, 2007

There is a God

I have finished reading "There is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind" by Antony Flew. Flew's 'conversion' from atheism was made public on December 9th, 2004, but only in this volume do we get a detailed account of the long process and the specific evidence that led him to make such a drastic change in worldview.

The theme of the book is simple enough to discern. We must pursue the truth no matter where it leads us and such a pursuit leads us to admit the existence of a divine Mind. The book begins with a preface by Roy Abraham Varghese and his critique of the 'new atheism.' Next, we encounter and introduction from Flew where he dismisses 'other explanations' for his conversion from atheism (old age, special revelation, alliance with a church, etc).

The bulk of the book is a mini-biography of Flew and his atheism. He was, in fact, the son of a preacher (a Wesleyan-Methodist preacher, no less). He confesses, though, that he never felt any desire to commune with God, but credits his father with instilling, in him, a passionate pursuit of truth. Despite his early upbringing, Flew became a committed atheist by the age of 15, no longer able to reconcile the presence of pain with the existence of God (nor Calvinistic double-predestination). Flew now believes his conversion to atheism was done far too quickly and easily.

As a young scholar, Flew was a regular participant in the Socratic Club, presided over by C.S. Lewis from 1942 to 1954. Though un-convinced by his reasoning, Lewis was persuasive in convincing Flew to follow the evidence wherever it leads. Early on, Flew felt the evidence cemented his atheism. He spent much of his adult life writing for the presumption of atheism and against arguments for theism. Along the way, Flew debated some of the greatest thinkers of theism (including Alvin Plantinga, William Lane Craig & Gary Habermas). It was through these debates that Flew became aware of John Wesley's 'Arminian' alternatives to Calvinism. Already considering Wesley one of his country's great sons, this alternative proved significant in clearing the way back to belief in a divine Mind.

Flew then gives his four main reasons for accepting the existence of God: The existence of 'laws' in nature, a universed 'finely tuned' for life, the emergence of life at all, especially in regards to the complex nature of life as we now know it, and, finally, the 'beginning' of the universe in general. In light of these considerations, then, Flew comments that, "I have followed the argument where it has led me. And it has led me to accept the existence of a self-existent, immutable, immaterial, omnipresent, and omniscient Being" and adds that he is "entirely open to learning more about the divine Reality."

After further critique of the 'new atheism' by Varghese, Flew allows N.T. Wright to present a case of the historicity of Jesus and His resurrection. Why? In Flews' own words, "In point of fact, I think that the Christian religion is the one religion that most clearly deserves to be honored and respected whether or not its claim to be a divine revelation is true. There is nothing like the combination of a charismatic figure like Jesus and a first-class intellectual like St. Paul." Flew believes Bishop Wright's argument for Jesus' resurrection is "absolutely wonderful, absolutely radical, and very powerful."

Wright first dismisses the ridiculous claim that Jesus never existed as completely unorthodox among Christian and secular historians alike. He then argues that Jesus was God incarnate by pointing out Jesus' behavior as the Word, wisdom, glory, law & Spirit of God. Finally, the Bishop argues that the resurrection of Christ is the best historical explanation for the empty tomb, appearances, and the radical nature of the early Christian beliefs.

All in all, a very worthwhile read. At times, the philosophical and scientific discussions were over my head, but, at the same time, Flew comes across as a very real person who honestly pursued atheism and honestly abandoned it in these past few years. Though he now considers himself a 'deist,' it is clear that he is considering Christianity. I pray his pursuit of truth continues to lead him closer to the Truth, namely, Jesus Christ.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


My favorite holiday has arrived!
Now to ruin your appetite.........
(So there will be more for me!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Grace Amazing

To the tune 'Friends in Low Places' by Garth Brooks
Written by Matthew & Katie for fun

Blame it all on my roots
That forbidden fruit
That God said would make them aware
Eve took and ate
And shared with her mate
They covered themselves and were scared
Then God came along
They knew they were wrong
They hid in the trees in their shame
Then God sought them out
And Adam cried out
But only to pass on the blame

But I got a friend
With grace amazing
Though my sins are scars
He can still erase ‘em
Take them far away
And I’ll be OK
Now all my life
I’m gonna chase Him
And I just can’t wait
Till the day I face Him
Cause I got a friend
With grace amazing

It’s been so long
But I’m just as wrong
But then, you’ve seen that I’m sure
That they fell is true
But I’m fallen too
Desperately needing a cure
And I looked in surprise
At the grace in His eyes
As he took my sin and my shame
Now I’m a new man
And I’m following his plan
And you’ll never hear me complain

Cause I got a friend...

For More Songs U Never Knew, click HERE

Monday, November 19, 2007

Worse than Sin

Sometimes being imperfect feels worse than sin. As Wesleyans, we usually define sin as a voluntary transgression of a known law of God. Sin is done on purpose, but, at least, those purposes can be repented of and addressed. Imperfection is a different animal. Making a decision based on faulty information isn't a 'sin,' but it can create havoc. Forgetting something important isn't a sin, but it can be disastrous. Sometimes I wish all my negative actions and in-actions were 'sins' instead of 'imperfections' just so I could get them dealt with through typical repentance! I suppose the fact that we are ignorant & forgetful of many things keeps us humble, but other than that, such realities just stink.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Piece Games

Piece games are my label for the host of games that tend to be played on boards and require tons of little pieces which are strategically moved. This, however, doesn't include RISK for reasons I'm too lazy to describe. Below are my favorite 'piece' games:

1. Othello
2. Connect 4
3. Checkers

Any other suggestions?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Card Games

There are card games played with a regular deck of cards and card games played with custom cards. The only card game I play with regular cards is a game a call Trix, which I'm sure has a more official name. It's like euchre with 2 exceptions (you don't have 'teams' and you don't try to win every hand, just the amount of hands you predicted you could win). At least that's what I'm told, I've never played euchre! As for custom card games, I like the following:

1. Dutch Blitz - Unless faster people play
2. Mille-Bornes - Most frustrating game
3. Phase 10 - Requires little concentration

Any suggestions

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Office Party 8

From When Jan sues Dunder Mifflin, Michael is deposed as a witness. Kelly and Pam practice their trash talk when Darryl plays Jim at ping pong.

This could be the last episode for quite some time, with the writers strike and all :(

BLOG NEWS: I added a link to Ping-O-Matic in the top right corner that seems to be more fruitful in providing ***'s. It does seem to have a 20-30 minute delay.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Board Games

The other night my favorite girlfriend arranged for some friends of ours to meet and play Monopoly. Monopoly is probably my favorite game of all time. I remember in my freshmen year at Bethany we played so often, and so late into the night, that they made a rule to close the lounge at 12:30. I remember one of my roommates getting so angry that he couldn't beat me that he made me play him 1 on 1 almost every night for about a month. Anyways, I was glad to play (and win) again the other night.

So what are the best BOARD games (not card games)? Here's the top 3 games I've played and enjoyed. Help me discover some new and great board games!

1. Monopoly- My all time favorite
2. Risk- Hard to find people to play
3. Beyond Balderdash- Creativity reigns

In the near future I'll have 2 similar posts. One on card games and one on a category of games that needs a name (maybe 'pieces' games or something). I'm referring to games of strategery that require lots of pieces being maneuvered (checkers, chess, connect 4, othello, etc).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

City of God 4

I found some time to finish part 4 of Augustine's 'City of God.' Though the version is somewhat abridged, I've been reading the more interesting of the skipped chapters online. We are using each part as a discussion starter in our men's group. Here's some stuff that struck me from part 4:

~ Cain, obviously, married his sister
~ There populace, all from Adam, are unmentioned
~ Humans really did live longer, it's no mistake
~ Translators are 'inspired' just as original authors
~ 'Sons of God' meant Seth's line, not 'angels'
~ 'Nephilim' were just large men, not uncommon in history
~ The apocryphal books, like Enoch, are very suspect
~ The 120 years was not lifespans, but time until flood
~ Noah's flood is both reliable history and has symbolic value
~ Numerous possibilities exist as to how animals got to islands
~ There have been many 'freaks of nature' in human history
~ The idea of inhabitants to a supposed 'souther' hemisphere is crazy
~ Hebrew is thought to be the original language of mankind
~ Samuel to Malachi is the age of the prophets
~ The 'land' promises were temporal and conditional
~ Prophecies can be fulfilled in earth, spiritual, or both terms
~ We should not be overly literal or overly allegorical
~ David is probably the author of all the Psalms, despite titles
~ There was relative silence after the post-exilic prophets
~ Many prophecies split the 'coming' into 2 (incarnation and 2nd)
~ Humanity was less than 6,000 years old (Adam to Augustine)
~ Some gentiles were 'true Israelites' even in the OT (like Job)
~ Christianity truly began on the day of Pentecost
~ We have no idea when the 2nd Coming will occur

Monday, November 12, 2007

Essentials Again

I've posted about this before, but I love the discussion provoked by my list of 'essential' Christian doctrines. This time, I want to look at it from the vantage point of who is excluded by each essential element. I'll take you step by step through the verses I use to determine the essentials:

Hebrews 11:6
Anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

To be considered a Christian one must:
1. Believe that God exists
2. Believe that God desires relationship

The first, obviously, excludes practicing atheists. The second excludes, at least, the extreme forms of deism (the level of God's direct involvement in the cosmos is, of course, a different discussion that extreme deism which rejects active involvement completely, so far as I understand).

1 John 4:2
Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God

To be considered a Christian one MUST:
3. Believe that Jesus came in the flesh

This would seem to exclude some forms of gnosticism and/or some eastern religions that hold to a doctrine of the physical realm being either wicked or imagined.

John 8:24
If you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.

4. Believe Jesus is who He claimed to be
a. Jesus claimed to be the Messiah
b. Jesus claimed to be the Son of God
c. Jesus claimed to be the Lord
* consider further 'I AM' passages

This certainly excludes practicing Jews, not to mention any who claim that Jesus was simply another prophet or 'good moral teacher.'

Romans 10:9
[If you] believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved

5. Believe Jesus rose from the dead

This would exclude practicing Muslims and, again, Jews. It would also exclude many 'liberal Christians' who reject the historicity of the resurrection.

With this list, I feel we have the proper exclusivity while refraining from division over secondary issues. Given these 5 criteria, we can delay dividing with JW's or Mormons until we actually find out what they, as individuals believe. After all, in the end, people aren't saved by being in the correct group, but by seeking the true God.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

6 Televangelists

The top Republican in the U.S. Senate Finance Committee has launched an investigation of 6 popular televangelist ministries including Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland & Creflo Dollar. It'll be interesting to see what comes of that.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Office Party 7

In tonight's episode (from
Michael goes on a survival adventure into the woods - with nothing except the suit on his back - in retaliation of not getting an invite to a similar party from corporate. Back at the office, there is a birthday going on while Jim tries to revolutionize the party.

I wonder who's birthday it will be this time

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Matthew 7:14

But small is the gate
and narrow the road
that leads to life
and only a few find it

It seems to me we've done a pretty good job, as evangelical Christians, of affirming the first line of this verse. We've made it clear that we believe Jesus is the only gate to God. But it also seems to me that we've done, especially in the Americas, a pretty lousy job of affirming the second line. We allow tons of people to call themselves Christians even though they pretty much take their own roads. We don't stand up against sin among believers. But the door is the end. The road is the means. Can we really find the end without the means? How many of us will? It sounds like only a few. But other verses seem more optimistic. What do you think of this verse?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Voting Day

Unofficial Results:
Town Supervisor (1)
464 Richard Meyers (conservative) (x)
449 John Sweeney (republican, democrat)
Town Councilman (2)
567 Dan Engert (x)
488 Randy Wayner
476 Rob Degnan (x)
240 Richard Ray
(x) = my choice

Many of my readers may have the chance to vote today. Our church is a voting station, so I'll be surrounded by voters all day. They actually vote just a few feet from my office door. But that's Appleton. I live in Somerset. Different town. Different candidates. Different issues. There are basically 3 big issues in my town followed by my ignorant commentary.

1) Should we keep fighting the AES Power Plant despite the cost and the risk of ruining our relationship to the counties biggest tax payer? Are they really ripping us off? Are they a benefit to the town?
I think the AES plant is paying less than they technically should. And I am sure they are paying less than they could. But I also think the town has been way to viscous in their dealings with the #1 tax payer in the county. We are fortunate to have them in our town. We need to stop fighting them and start working with them. I'm generally PRO AES.

2) Should we allow windmills?
The only argument I've ever heard against windmills is that they are ugly. I disagree. I think they look neat. I'm thinking of having one installed in my bedroom just for decoration. The current town board, from what I understand, opposed windmills until they realized everyone else likes them. Then they tried to take the credit for upcoming possibilities brought about by the current town supervisor. I'm very PRO windmill.

3) Has the current town board been nasty in their dealings with the current town supervisor?
I've never attended a town meeting. But numerous sources I trust confirm, to me, that the town board has been quite jerkish in their dealings with the town supervisor. I'm very ANTI current town board based on statements shared with me by meeting attenders.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Creation Geology

One of my spiritual gifts is skimming. The other day I skimmed through 'Theory of Earth' by James Hutton (the founder of uniformitarian geology). Geology is probably my favorite branch of science, but I've never found uniformitarianism convincing. I don't believe that the present processes are the best explanation for what we see. If the choice before us is either 'a lot of time' (uniformitarianism) or 'a lot of water' (catastrophism), I'll take water every day. And so did most/all scientists until Hutton came along. Below I will provide some quotes from Mr. Hutton with my commentary following:

We live in a world where order every where prevails... A living world is evidently an object in the design of things, by whatever Being those things had been designed... (but in our study of geology...) Not only are no powers to be employed that are not natural to the globe, no action to be admitted of except those of which we know the principle, and no extraordinary events to be alleged in order to explain a common appearance...
Here we see Hutton's deistic brand of religion. He believes the earth was designed intelligently, but he doesn't believe that Intelligence would remain involved in His creation. God can't be active in His creation. He can't do extra-odrinary things. My question is, why not?

The general amount of our reasoning is this, that nine-tenths, perhaps, or ninety-nine hundredths of this earth, so far as we see, have been formed by natural operations of the globe, in collecting loose materials, and depositing them at the bottom of the sea;
So he's claiming that 90-99% of geology is explained by slow and gradual processes (like erosion). I'd assume, then, that he's leaving 1-10% open to a catastrophic interpretation. I imagine just about the exact opposite. I think 90-99% of geology is due to catastrophe(s) while 1-10% is due to current processes.

It is only in science that any question concerning the origin and end of things is formed; and it is in science only that the resolution of those questions is to be attained. The natural operations of this globe, by which the size and shape of our land are changed, are so slow as to be altogether imperceptible to men who are employed in pursuing the various occupations of life
I can't help but interpret some arrogance from this quote. Only science touches on origins? Only science can account for origins? The regular citizen has no access to answers about existence?

On the other hand, it is quite possible that none of my readers are very interested in discussing uniformitarianism!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

City of God 3

Part 3 of the 'City of God' deals with the origin of the 2 cities. It was good, for me, to read this section alongside my creation series since much of Augustine's discussion revolves around Genesis 1-3. He speaks of Genesis 1 as an eyewitness account (God, of course, being the eye-witness). Atheism, according to Augustine, is a foolish and deadly disease. Hints of contemporary 'intelligent design' are found in this text. Here are some highlights

~ Time itself was created
~ The word 'day' in Genesis 1 is mysterious
~ He spiritualizes Genesis 1
~ Theorizes angels were the 'light' before sun
~ Theorizes that fallen angels, then, were 'darkness'
~ Believes creation was accomplished in '1' day
~ Fallen angels were lesser angels
~ Adam would have lived forever
~ Strongly defends the Trinity
~ Numbers in Scripture are important
~ There is no efficient cause of an evil will
~ 'Evolution' is a stupid theory
~ Doesn't know the age of the earth
~ Hate the sin, love the sinner
~ Against 'open theism'
~ Adam's sin was so serious b/c obedience was so simple

I found this section very thoughtful, insightful & edifying, but one thing I noticed Augustine struggling with was apparent conflicts stemming from his belief in the immortality of the soul. On three separate occasions he ran into issue because he wouldn't let go of that doctrine. It's not that I totally reject that doctrine, it's that I wish Augustine had questioned it and fleshed out why he believed it so staunchly.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Funny Friday 13

'Funny' is a stretch, but I thought this play was worth sharing

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Office Party 6

In tonight's episode, Karen returns in an attempt to lure Stanley away from Scranton. When Michael objects, he brings Jim into the war. The other office workers are disturbed by a "Finer Things Club." I watched last week's episode again and really enjoyed it. Today's question:

If you had to hire 1 character from the office to be a staff pastor at your church, which character would it be and what 'title' would you give them?