Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

For the first time ever (at least that I'm aware of), I participated in 'Black Friday.' It's crazy, in my opinion, that so many people are willing to get up at and be at the stores before they open at 5am. I was not in 'the market' for anything urgent (I am a grinch and only buy Christmas gifts for a half dozen people or less). But I was keeping my eye open for a good deal on a TV. I am going to sell my 32 inch widescreen TV for about $300 and buy a 37 inch widescreen flat pannel TV for about $600. Since my current TV is very bulky, this will save a lot of space and be easier to reposition slightly for different settings (Wii, movies, out of the way for company, etc.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


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

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Power Rankings 5

Super Bowl Favorites
1. NY Giants
2. Tennessee Titans

Playoff Caliber Teams
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
4. Tampa Bay Bucs
5. NY Jets
6. NE Patriots
7. Carolina Panthers
8. Dallas Cowboys
9. Washington Redskins
10.Indianapolis Colts
11. Baltimore Ravens
12. Arizona Cardinals

Need some work to make playoffs
13. Atlanta Falcons
14. New Orleans Saints
15. Chicago Bears
16. Miami Dolphins
17. Buffalo Bills
18. Minnesota Vikings
19. Denver Broncos
20. Philadelphia Eagles
21. Green Bay Packers

Out of playoff picture
22. San Diego Chargers
23. Jacksonville Jaguars
24. Cleveland Browns
25. Houston Texans
26. Oakland Raiders
27. SF 49ers

In the race for 1st overall pick
28. Seattle Seahawks
29. Cincinnati Bengals
30. St. Louis Rams
31. Kansas City Chiefs
32. Detroit Lions

Monday, November 24, 2008

Grading the Texts

One of the two courses I've been taking this semester is on Wesleyan theology. Since I get graded on my responses to these texts, I think it only fair that I grade the texts themselves.

A Responsible Grace by Randy Maddox
Our Prof. said this was the hottest Wesleyan book out there and I can see why. It was a well-written and well-argued book placing God's grace and human response-ability at the center of Wesleyan theology.

A- Good News to the Poor by Theo Jennings
This is a liberation theology. Jennings passionately makes an argument for a preference for the poor. He heavily quotes Wesley. I think some of his quotes and scriptural references are taken too far, but it's a good book to stir us up.

B God and the World by John Cobb
I very much disagree with Cobb, but he was passionate and argued his position as best as it could be argued. He's a process theologian.

B Doxology by Geoffrey Wainwright
This book looks at theology from the perspective of worship/liturgy. An interesting book, but way longer than it needed to be.

C+ The New Creation by Theo Runyon
Not much to disagree with, but Runyon's book just isn't as strong as Maddox'. I thought it was sort of bland.

C Scriptural Christianity by Thomas Oden
This book aims to put Wesley thoughts and quotes into systematic categories. It may be a good quick reference, but I found the format of the book annoying.

C Practical Divinity by Thomas Langford
These 2 volumes highlight some key people in Wesleyan theological history with brief biographies and portions of their writings. Good idea, but he seemed to pick a good number of boring entries.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Atonement Theories

I'm trying to teach a basic overview of the various atonement theories. I'm trying to find a good mix of depth and simplicity. Line 1 (of each theory) gives a general idea of which groups tend to believe this view. Line 2 says what the theory views as the main problem provoking atonement. Line 3 describes the theory very briefly. Line 4 gives Scriptural support. Line 5 shares a movie that helps to illustrate the theory. Line 6 raises critical questions surrounding the theory. Any recommendations to what I've got?

Ransom Theory
1. Early Church, Eastern Orthodox, Pentecostals
2. Deals with the problem of Satan’s power
3. God trades Jesus for mankind, but gets both
4. Mark 10:45, 1 Corinthians 6:20, 1 Timothy 2:6
5. Illustrated by The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe
6. Satan wins? God deceives? Other Scriptures?

Moral Influence Theory
1. Mainline Protestant, Theological liberals
2. Deals with the problem man’s inability
3. Man is selfish, Jesus shows the way of self-sacrifice
4. Romans 5:8, Philippians 2:5-8
5. Illustrated by Pay it Forward
6. Depravity? Grace and works? Other Scriptures?

Satisfaction Theories
1. Roman Catholics, Conservative Protestants
----a) Commercial (Roman Catholics)
----b) Political (Protestant- Arminian)
----c) Legal (Protestant- Calvinist)
2. Deals with the problem of God’s justice
3. Man is in debt to God, Jesus volunteers to pay
4. Leviticus 16:10, 21-22, John 10:18, 1 Peter 3:18
5. Illustrated by The Last Sin Eater
6. Violence? Justice? Other Scriptures?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I have been a leading hater of cell phones (for example, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE). Yesterday, I bought one. But it doesn't count. Being a pastor, people need to be able to reach me at home. Rather than paying for a landline, we decided it made more sense to have a cell phone as our home phone for when I move in. It doesn't count as me having a cell phone b/c it will really only leave the house when I am traveling to and back from Houghton in snowy conditions. Also, we got a plan withOUT texting (my most hated element of cell phone usage).

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Case for WNY

No, this is not the latest book by Lee Strobel. This is my own argument for Western NY weather. When most of the country thinks of Buffalo, they think of a whole lot of snow. True enough, snow is definitely a reality here. But I believe WNY (and, in particular, Niagara County) is an fairly ideal place to live when it comes to weather. Unlike some more well-liked locations, we aren't threatened by the random hurricane, tornado, earthquake, fire, flood, etc. The only extreme weather we get is an occassionally powerful thunder storm and an ice storm every once in a while. The snow factor can be overstated. A few years back Buffalo got national attention for having like 7 feet of snow. But where I live, only 50 minutes away from Buffalo, we only got 1 foot! Sure, the roads are sometimes bad, but Niagara County is incredibly flat, which makes driving on them quite a bit easier.

What is your town known for? Is it true?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

< 20%

For the first time on record, the US smoking rate in under 20% for adults. I think this is very good news! In my opinion, smoking is stupid medically, financially, socially, and spiritually. I hope the rate continues to fall.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I define the term 'atheist' differently that some people. To me, an 'atheist' is someone who says 'there is no god.' Such a person is, by definition, an arrogant and unreasonable person because such a bold claim cannot be made unless every avenue of investigation has been pursued and the case for theism found bankrupt. That is why the Bible says that only a fool denies the possibility of God or a god. Because of this definition, I think atheists are idiots and few and far between.

Now, there are agnostics that lean toward atheism. But I don't think such people are idiots. I just think they've been misinformed and/or taught a wrong way to evaluate truth. Then there are agnostics who lean toward theism, but remain agnostic b/c of cultural skepticism.

Of course, there are theists who are practical atheists. And there are theists who are worse idiots than atheists. That's another story.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Power Rankings 5

1. Tennessee Titans
2. NY Giants

3. Carolina Panthers
4. Pittsburgh Steelers

5. NE Patriots
6. Washington Redskins
7. Tampa Bay Bucs
8. Dallas Cowboys
9. Indianapolis Colts
10. Philadelphia Eagles
11. Chicago Bears
12. Arizona Cardinals
13. Atlanta Falcons
14. NY Jets
15. Baltimore Ravens

16. Miami Dolphins
17. Buffalo Bills
18. Minnesota Vikings
19. Denver Broncos
20. San Diego Chargers

21. Green Bay Packers
22. New Orleans Saints
23. Jacksonville Jaguars
24. Cleveland Browns
25. Houston Texans

26. Seattle Seahawks
27. SF 49ers
28. St. Louis Rams

29. Oakland Raiders
30. Kansas City Chiefs
31. Cincinnati Bengals
32. Detroit Lions

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Who's Your Mouse?

At the end of this video, there's a mouse with an idea. Who, in politics, is playing the part of that mouse in your view and your country?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election Thoughts

1. I had predicted an electoral landslide and I was right. Despite winning by only 6%, Obama more than doubled McCain's electoral count. As an aside, I think if it were put up to a popular vote, the electoral college would certainly be voted down.

2. Against my hopes, hardly anyone voted 3rd party. This is my biggest problem with the American people. We dislike both the Republican and Democratic parties, but we keep voting for them over and over and over. Only 1 state gave more than 2% of the vote to a 3rd candidate (Ron Paul in Montanta, and he wasn't even running!).

3. It's amazing to me that even though George W. Bush is, perhaps, the most hated President of all-time, and even though John McCain ran a poor campaign, and even though the war hasn't gone well, and even though the economy stinks... A couple percentage points in handful of states would have placed Republicans back in the Presidency. This was a must win for the Democrats, but they barely won it.

4. As of now, Al Franken is being kept out of the US Senate by less than 600 votes. This is very depressing as he must be one of the lousiest human beings on the planet. I can't believe such a man can get that many votes.

5. It was a bad day for life. Pro-life ballot measures failed miserably in Colorado and even lost in South Dakota. Doctor assisted suicide won in Washington. Obama won and will probably have opportunity to elect liberal Supreme Court Justices.

6. It was a bad day for homosexual marriage. Arizona and Florida banned it. Arkansas banned gay couples from adopting. Even California seems to have banned gay marriage, reversing earlier decisions in that state (Though this vote was very close). While black voters may have helped get liberals the Presidency, they were no friend to liberals in this area. In California, 'white' voters were AGAINST banning gay marriage 53-47%. But 70% of 'black' voters were FOR the ban on gay marriage.

7. In the end, I doubt any of this will impact my personal life very much.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

We will Cry with Hope

Three children died last night. I knew them. I'd held them and played with them. They'd been to our church many times. I'd seen them laugh and seen them cry.

I've been studying and teaching a lot about prevenient grace. I've been thinking a lot about the age of accountability. On mornings like this, the information becomes flesh. The arguments against the doctrine becomes cruel sounding. The Scriptures pointing to it become sources of peace and hope.

It's not a doctrine we take from any one passage. We believe dying children go to be with the Lord because of our beliefs about the very nature of our Lord. We believe He is loving and just and we have a hard time understanding how any other scenario fits with those qualities. But the doctrine is not without Scriptural support either. The Bible typically treats sin as the willful violation of a known law of God. The Bible is quite clear that children don't generally know right from wrong. The Bible speaks of God as one who takes ignorance into account. The Bible implies that the kingdom belongs to little children. The grace of God lovingly reaches out to such as these. They are absent from the body, but present with the Lord.

And so we do not grieve like the rest of men. We do grieve, but not without hope. We know that the God of the universe has, and will do, what's right. We are comforted knowing that they are comforted. We are hopeful knowing that we will see them again. That, one day, we'll be able to play together again.

Steven Curtis Chapman recently lost a young daughter. He had previously written these words, which I now echo:

This is not at all
How we thought it was suppose to be
We had so many plans for you
We has so many dreams
But now you've gone away
And left us with the memories of your smile
And nothing we can say
And nothing we can do
Can Take away the pain
The pain of losing you

And we will cry with hope
We can say good-bye with hope
'Cause we know our good-bye is not the end
And we will grieve with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
There's a place where we'll see your face again
We'll see your face again

And never have I known
Anything so hard to understand
And never have I questioned more
The wisdom of God's plan
But through the cloud of tears
I see the Father smile and say ' well done.'
And I imagine you
Where you wanted most to be
Seeing all your dreams come true
'Cause now your home
And now your free

And we will cry with hope
We can say good-bye with hope
'Cause we know our good-bye is not the end
And we will grieve with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
There's a place where we'll see your face again
We'll see your face again

We have this hope as an anchor
'Cause we believe that everything
God promises us is true

And we will cry with hope
We can say good-bye with hope
'Cause we know our good-bye is not the end
And we will grieve with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
There's a place where we'll see your face again
We'll see your face again

We wait with hope
And we ache with hope
We hold on with hope
We let go with hope

Monday, November 03, 2008

Why 12/31

I'm not sure if I put the date of my wedding on my previous 'engaged' post. Katie and I are going to be married on December 31st. Some have wondered why we picked this date. Here are some reasons (some are mildly romantic, others are otherwise).

1. I don't like long engagements. If I know I'm ready to ask someone to marry me, I know I'm ready to actually marry them. We've been together for over a year and we're ready.

2. For the past 3 or 4 years, Katie and I have participated in a New Year's Eve party at the church. This means that we've spent the transition from one year to the next together (even holding hands in a prayer circle) even when we were not yet a couple. So the 31st is meaningful to us in that way.

3. I like the idea of starting off 2009 in a truly fresh way. I didn't want to start another year not married to Katie.

4. Tax purposes (I told you they weren't all romantic)

5. It'll be easier for me to remember our anniversary and gives us the option to combine Christmas and Anniversary gifts into 1 more expensive gift, if necessary.

6. I was sort of thinking that a shorter engagement would prevent the wedding from becoming overly complicated and elaborate. Our wedding will still be fairly simple, but I'm partially amazed by all the details that can be added.