Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Favorite TV Show
2005 Winner: Lost
2006 Winner: Seinfeld Re-runs
2007 Winner: The Office
2009 Winner... Colbert Report
It hasn't been a good year for TV. Shows in contention for the prize were American Idol, The Office and Farscape (re-runs I watched for the first time). But Colbert Report has been the most consistently funny!
2005: Caedmon's Call
2006: Iron & Wine
2007: Weird Al
2009... Buffalo Chips
This is a local university A Cappella group that I really enjoy. Katie got me all of their past CD's and I listened to them a lot.
I played a lot of SIMCITY4 in the 2nd half of 2009 and it was enjoyable enough to edge some Wii games like bowling, tetris, etc.
In a new category, I award my favorite website of the year to REMAX.com. Not that it functions perfectly, but I really do enjoy looking for houses. Maybe we will even buy one in 2010.
Most Influential Person
2005: Steve Gregg
2006: Steve Gregg
2007: Steve Gregg
2009... Katie Rose
It's hard not to be heavily influenced by someone you spend every day with! I'll let her decide if it's been a good or bad influence :)
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
The other night at the Sounds of Christmas concert my Kindergarten teacher was in attendance. Afterward she found me and we got to chat for a bit. A few memories came to mind (napping on a blue blanket, throwing up all over the place, losing a matchbox car under the heating unit).
That night (Saturday) I set my alarm to wake up for Lockport Wesleyan's service (for which I am the preacher). But when the alarm sounded, I turned it off thinking I would just rest for a few more minutes. Half an hour later I was having a dream about Kindergarten and the song we used to sing to start each day: "Good morning, good morning, good morning to you! Good morning, good morning, and how do you do?" The song kept replaying over and over, and getting louder and louder until I eventually woke up.
It was 7:37, leaving me just enough time to get ready and get to church on time (albeit in a hurry). I think it is neat that God (in my opinion) used my meeting with my Kindergarten teacher to get me out of bed in time to preach.
Friday, December 04, 2009
Tiger wants to keep things private and pretty much everyone is willing to oblige (except that they insisting on publicly saying, over and over, that it is private). Most are speaking as if a hurricane knocked over Tiger's house ("He's strong an he'll get through this). Almost all the companies that invested in him as a spokesman are willing to keep him as the face of their company.
Everyone except fellow-golfer Jesper Parnevik. He has more at stake here since he partially played the role of match-maker:
"I would be especially sad about it since I'm kind of -- I really feel sorry for Elin -- since me and my wife were at fault for hooking her up with him. We probably thought he was a better guy than he is. I would probably need to apologize to her and hope she uses a driver next time instead of the 3-iron."
"It's a private thing of course, but when you are the guy he is, the world's best athlete, you should think more before you do stuff ... And maybe not just do it, like Nike says."
I think Parnevik's statements take the issue as seriously as it should be taken. Woods is a public figure. He chose a public life, not just in that he chose to be a PGA golfer but also because he signed multiple contracts to be the face of big companies. As Tiger once said:
“I think it's an honor to be a role model to one person or maybe more than that. If you are given a chance to be a role model, I think you should always take it because you can influence a person's life in a positive light, and that's what I want to do. That's what it's all about.”
Tiger considered himself a role model. I think the companies are wrong to keep him on as their spokesman. But I also think, in light of their reluctance, Tiger should volunteer. He saw himself as a role model and he's obviously not a good one. He's been a liar and a cheater.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
It was extremely difficult to make out the number. I tried 3 numbers, but finally did get an answer from this 'Scott.' He explained, with a southern accent, that his mother had been killed by a drunk driver a few days previous in Florida. He and his family had driven down for the funeral and to take care of her belongings. He also explained that he was struggling with the big 'Why' question. He quoted a few passages (God works all things out for good, God won't allow us to be tempted beyond what we can handle). He seemed to just want some counsel. But then the conversation changed gears.
Apparently, on their way back home, the family car had broken down on the Florida turnpike. Scott wondered how things could get any worse! He wanted to send his family home via a Greyhound bus, but he was short on cash (no credit card?). Why was he calling our church, you may wonder? Scott suggested that his family had visited our church a few weeks previous. I had met him, his wife, and their two little girls.
Now, I find these to be difficult situations. There is always the chance that I did meet such a couple and simply forgot. There's always the chance that this is a true story and helping out would be a very Christ-like thing to do. Of course, that's exactly why a con-artist would use such a story! I told Scott that he should contact a local church down there and that we wouldn't be be able to just 'wire' him some money. As soon as I indicated that I wouldn't be helping, Scott hung up.
Now, if my recent history has anything to do with it, it'll turn out that Scott was legit and I blew a chance to help a family in need. If, on the other hand Scott is a con-artist (as I suspect) then I have a few tips for him. First, if you want to succeed in the scam business, you have to leave clearer messages. I almost gave up trying to call you because I could not tell the difference between your 5's and your 9's. Second, be more persistent. Never hang up. Force the pastor to hang up on you. Work harder to live your lazy life.
I also have some tips for churches. Never send or give cash to strangers unless God audibly tells you to (though I'm sure that suggestion will give the con-artists a whole new strategy). Maybe I've just gone cold, but I think churches need policies against giving cash in such situations. At least in our area, there is just too much scamming going on. We get this sort of junk on an almost weekly basis (calls and actual visits). The story is always desperate, the cash needed immediately, and they're always eager to pay you back within the next few days. It's a scam.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
However we answer that question, we must admit the problem of lust (apparently real even before the invention of the internet) has only gotten worse. As I type this I've just been looking at a long list of terrible statistics about the American addiction to pornography. I won't share the stats because we all know they're bad. Will Willimon states that "lust is an ancient malady, but one could argue that technology enables this sin to be worse for us... the Web is peculiarly well-suited for the exercise of, and encouragement of, lust, which tends to be one of the most secretive of the seven."
I'm not sure, though, that the problem is much worse now than it used to be (after all, the NT addresses the problem of lust and sexual immorality often, seemingly because it was indeed a problem). But certainly the secret is out. Our culture wants us to lust (for sex and for sales) and we find it difficult not to oblige.
I'll make an embarrassing admission. Though I've personally never struggled with pornography, I did, into my early 20's, keep a computer file full of pictures of pretty actresses. It was pretty innocent by most standards (they were all fully clothed, these weren't even swimsuit type pics). But what did God think of that file on my laptop? Why did I have it? In the end, I realized that it was keeping my focus on surface level beauty and could have become, were it not for repentance, a first step toward pornography.
If we are going to learn not to lust, we will have to identify and defeat dangers in their introductory forms. Sexually immoral people don't wake up after 20 years of faithfulness to their spouse and decide to commit adultery. More often, adultery comes after a series of decisions that tolerate a little 'yes' and a little 'no' to love.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
But in doing some research on psoriasis I discovered that it is a non-contagious auto-immune disease. Let's take the 2nd half of that first. What 'auto-immune' means is that my body loves fighting invaders so much, that when it can't find any it turns on its own cells. Now, the theoretical upside to this is that my body is very good at protecting against bad invaders. This may be why I almost never get sick. In doing some (read... I know 1 other person with psoriasis) polling, I discovered that nobody with psoriasis gets sick very often!
Now in this season of the year where everyone is getting sick, I wish I could change the 'non-contagious' aspect of psoriasis. I feel like if I could spread my psoriasis, it'd help others not to get sick. Maybe medical experts think it is non-contagious because they simply haven't tried to spread it hard enough!
And so I'm about to end this post with the strangest line in the history of my blog. I invite people to rub my psoriasis plaques.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Check back tomorrow for another medical theory
Thursday, November 12, 2009
So, am I eating bugs? Please tell me I'm not eating bugs.
I also wonder if it has something to do with my eating habits. I could start keeping stats on what I eat and how late I eat and whether or not it corresponds to the coughing. Last night, for instance, I ate 6 mini-butterfinger bars just before bed. I also wonder if it has to do with laying on my back longer than usual (I usually sleep on my stomach). I will investigate, but maybe some readers have had common experiences :)
Monday, November 09, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
#1 Pick a Platform
#2 Win the Name Game
#3 Find your True Colors
#4 Hit Your Target
#5 Be Consistent
#6 Comment Unto Others
#7 Think Themes
#8 Add On
#9 Track the Facts
Now, nit-picky people may have been upset that I never finished this series. Truth be told, I purposefully held out for a time such as this. The 10th Commandment for bloggers is... Oh wait, I already told you with my title!
There is a time and a place for everything. The time for blogging as we knew it seems to have ended. The place for blog-like practices seems to be facebook (or will it be twitter). If I'm serious about Commandment #9, then it inevitably leads to Commandment #10. When I blogged #9, my blog had just had it's been ever day, week & month. As I type #10, my blog is on the decline (and has been for a while).
2005: 47k hits
2006: 58k hits
2007: 62k hits
2008: 48k hits
2009: 31k hits (estimated)
In other words, my blog peaked in 2007 and is dying fairly drastically. And so, I'm retiring. Not from blogging... Just from caring! In the past I wanted readers. I wanted hits. I felt bad if I didn't post. But lately I don't care, I don't count, and I don't feel bad. The Matthew Never Knew is hardly ever new these days! From now on I'll post when I post (and Katie can do likewise).
Then again, I'm a big fan of Favre.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
The Zombie Christian
A Zombie Christian is a person who has some of the same habits as a Christian (church attendance, Bible knowledge, etc), but has actually never made a commitment to follow Christ. They are dead men walking.
The Vampire Christian
A Vampire Christian is a person who has asked that the blood save them in their sins, but they have no intention of recognizing Jesus as their Lord. They just want a little blood.
The Werewolf Christian
A Werewolf Christian is a person who is generally committed to Christ, but there is 1 area that they refuse to surrender and/or repent of. They have a secret that they hope no one will discover.
The Head-Hunter Christian
The Head-Hunter Christian is a person that claims to have a deep spiritual relationship to Christ, but has no interest in being connected to Jesus' body. They only want the head, a decapitated Jesus.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Friday, October 09, 2009
Now, if the same executives are making both of those decisions, then I'm very confused. Every decision in part 1 is a risk. But the person who makes decision #1, if he/she is good at his/her job, must feel confident that it is a risk that will be rewarded. Why would such a person give up on a show before giving it a chance to succeed? Yet many shows are canceled after a handful of episodes (or just a couple of seasons).
To me it seems obvious that a show would need at least 3 seasons to prove itself. An network executives job is to decide what potentially new show will eventually catch on. To cancel it before it has a legitimate chance to catch on is quite absurd. This makes me think 2 different people have these two jobs, but how stupid is that? You hire one person (or group) to make good selections and then another person (or group) to cancel their selections just because they aren't getting extremely good ratings from the gate (and the ratings system, as a whole, is not as good an indicator of what people are watching as they might imagine).
My rule: Give every show 3 seasons. If after three seasons its getting worse in quality and in the quantity of people watching it, then you're executive(s) made a bad decision to which they should be held accountable. But by no means should a network cancel a show before it's 3rd season. That's either not showing enough confidence in your highly paid employees, or dividing up your employees against one another.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
"The problem with our prayer lives is not so much that we only pray when we are desperate, but that we're only desperate when we pray. We're not desperate nearly enough. Our greatest need, then, is a greater sense of need." (Matt Rose)
This week I preached on prayer. But only since then have I re-grasped my own quote. This week has been bigger than me. It's too big. There's too much to handle. I can't handle it. And so I find myself quiet, thoughtful, and prayerful. I pray because I need to pray. How unfortunate that, perhaps, next week or next month I may return to the routine life of feeling sovereign. Do we need such times or should I be seeking a state of constant desperation?
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
The Stork Theory
Some treat the Bible as a completely divine book given to us without any real human involvement. In other words, they think of the whole Bible as being given in a way similar to how the 10 Commandments were given. But outside of that example, this theory doesn't seem to fit with the evidence. It ignores the human element, God's desire to deliver truth incarnationally (as with His Son). This view is closer to the LDS view of how we got the book of Mormon.
The Trance Theory
Some treat the Bible as a basically divine book without anything more than a nominal human role. Indeed, God has been known to speak through people almost against their will (Balaam, Saul). But is this how we got the vast majority of the Scriptures? Were the writers in some sort of trance in which God worked around their humanity instead of through their humanity? It doesn't sound like Luke was in a trance when he thoroughly researched and planned his writing. Nor does it sound like Paul was in a trance when he forgot which people he had baptized. This view is closer to the Muslim view of how a supposedly illiterate prophet wrote a divine book.
The Fundamentalist Theory
Some treat the Bible as a perfect book in the sense that God made sure that every detail was accurate. Most conservative evangelicals take this sort of view. If God is perfect and knows how to preserve His word (by perfectly inspiring), shouldn't we expect a perfect book? Weren't the prophets simply repeating God's exact words to the people? On the other hand, are all biblical texts inspired in this way? Is the NT? Over the past years a few different facts have given me some caution about this solid view. First, we have to be honest about the fact that there are some seeming contradictions. It may be possible to solve them all, but we haven't done so yet. We should allow for copyist errors and we shouldn't de-emphasize the human nature of the authors themselves. Second, we must remember that Jesus (for instance) spoke in Aramaic and the Gospels were written (most probably) in Greek. So the authors were already 'interpreting' Jesus in a sense (and somewhat paraphrasing considering the different wording in parallel accounts). Third, I came to realize that certain aspects of the Fundamentalist theory were more reactions against liberalism than long held views of inspiration. Even still, I think this treatment of inspiration has a lot of merit, especially in regards to the OT prophets.
The Authority Theory
Some treat the Bible as a divine/human book in which authorized people wrote Spirit-led truth. This is the position I favor for the bulk of the Bible (yes, that means I believe different parts of the Scripture are inspired in different ways). The NT sources were not only Spirit-filled Christians (and thus inspired in that sense), but they were also authorities in the field (in that they had been with Jesus). This view allows us to maintain the fully human element of Scripture writing while understanding why only certain people (or other people with certain connections) are allowed to write what is considered Scripture. This view keep Jesus as the possessor of all authority since He's the one who appoints who can speak for Him (the Apostle's).
The Message Theory
Some treat the Bible as a perfect book in its area. God made sure that the message stayed intact. Indeed, it realy was the message of Jesus that changes lives (the earliest church didn't even have the NT yet). And we really do only have copies, not originals. So why bother defending probable mistakes. The Bible isn't so much synonymous with the word of God, but it certainly contains the word of God. There is a degree of truth to this when we're talking about the purpose of Scripture, copied manuscripts, and translational difficulties. But is this view really saying that even the originals were only truth insofar as the main message was concerned? If all of the Bible can't be trusted, can we trust any of it? And who gets to choose what the main message is?
The Masterpiece Theory
Some treat the Bible as a human book that was written with great passion and precision. In other words, the Bible is sort of like Shakespeare at his best. Certainly the Bible is quite beautiful (especially in spots). But in this view Scripture ceases to be revelation from God (and isn't that what Scripture seems to be?). And in this view, wouldn't it be quite possible (even likely) that an even better Masterpiece will be written someday (or already has been!). This is pretty much the view of the Bible that most non-Christians take and, in my opinion, when Christians view their book the same way non-Christians do... that's a red flag.
The Reader Theory
Some treat the Bible as a completely human book, but that inspired readers can glean from it. It's not necessarily the Bible that is inspired (after all, it is just paper and ink), but the readers who read it (as they are Spirit-filled). The Bible was meant to be experienced and has no power unless it is communicated to a human being. Of course, this view suggests that we have to pick either or (Is Scripture inspired, or is it the reader?). Isn't it really a both/and (the Bible works best when an inspired reader reads an inspired text?). Isn't God's word God's word whether we read it or not?
I suggest that the first two views place too much emphasis on the divine side of inspiration and the last two views place too much emphasis on the human side of inspiration. But even these views have elements of important truth for Christians to consider. The middle three views, I think, are where Christians should spend some time in thought. I prefer the Authority Theory mixed with a bit more Fundamentalist theory than Message theory. How about you?
Thursday, September 24, 2009
"The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA. Thank you very much." (click HERE for Video)
Gekko was right. If the game is competing against one another to win the market, greed is good. If the game is a love for money, greed is good. If the game is to become all that we can be in and of ourselves, greed is good. If the game is becoming the most powerful nation under the sun, greed is good.
But what if that is not the game? What if life isn't a game at all? What if life is bigger than consumerism, materialism, selfishness, and patriotism? What if there is something beyond the sun? Greed makes all the sense in the world if the world is all there is to sense. But Christianity declares that there is someone beyond the sun and that we don't just live for ourselves, but for that someone and for others. And if this is true, then greed becomes a very bad, even a very ugly thing.
Greed, by definition, hurts others. One person cannot gain without another one (or more often, many) losing. Greed, by definition, can't be satisfied. Whatever a man gains, if he is greedy, there will always be something else to acquire. Greed, by definition, can't love. Love is sacrifice of self for others, greed is the sacrifice of others for self. Greed is not good. Rather, it is the very sin that turns good into bad. Ogilvy notes, "Greed turns love into lust, leisure into sloth, hunger into gluttony, honor into pride, righteous indignation into anger, and admiration into envy."
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Katie introduced me to Spider Solitaire, which I find somewhat annoying. I generally don't like playing games on the computer, but I do give my full endorsement to the Sim franchise.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
So I'm glad they didn't suck, but I just wish they could figure out how to actually win a meaningful game. I doubt they'll figure that out until they get a new coach.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Ellen DeGeneres has no qualifications when it comes to the music industry. She's a comedian. She's a talk show host. She's an entertainer. And she is, perhaps most famously, a lesbian. For any or all of these reasons the selection of Ellen has upset some American Idol fans. I, on the other hand, am not upset. I think Ellen is genuinely funny. Paula and Simon sitting next to each other was actually getting quite obnoxious (the producers seem to have tries to play up a sexual tension there). Frankly, I hope they seat Ellen next to Simon (that should take care of that issue). My guess, though, is that they will seat them Randy, Ellen, Kara, Simon.
In any case, I'm looking forward to the new season. I think it will be better. Sure, there were times when Abdul was so crazy (drugged?) that it was funny to laugh at her, but Ellen actually has the capacity to make me laugh with her. Abdul's redeeming value, to some, was that she was nice to the contestants. I imagine Ellen being very warm as well, but she also has a greater ability, I think, to be honest and to the point.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
2) When the ground is covered with fog and the sun starts rising, you get a beautiful effect. Weeds and overgrown yards instantly turn into mystical gardens.
That's all (I told you I only had a couple thoughts)!
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Why did God design us to go through stages of physical growth?
How could a good God call for the death of children in the Old Testament?
Why does God allow barrenness?
Are children born sinful?
Do children go directly to heaven if they die?
What is the age of accountability?
Are all people God’s children, or only believers?
Sanctity of Life Questions
When does life begin?
Is abortion murder?
What does the Bible say about birth control?
Should humanity practice population control?
If children are a blessing, should I try to have a lot of them?
Is good parenting a guarantee of good children?
Is it appropriate to physically discipline my children?
Who is most responsible for teaching our children?
What are the most important things to teach our children?
Should I leave an inheritance to my children?
Should we force our children to go to church and, if so, for how long?
Why are most people converted in their childhood?
What does the Bible say about children’s ministry?
What does the Bible say about youth ministry?
What is the significance of baby dedications?
Should infants be baptized?
Should a person with unruly children be in church leadership?
Why did God come to earth as a child?
Why are we told so little about Jesus’ childhood?
What is the significance of the story of Jesus at the temple?
Why didn’t Jesus get married and have children?
What are the best characteristics of children?
What are the worst characteristics of children?
Does God ever address children directly in the Bible?
How should we, as older children, treat our elderly parents?
Saturday, September 05, 2009
2. I started another semester at Houghton, but found out that this is the final year of the Master's Program there.
3. Just finished teaching through Jeremiah, about to finish 1st Corinthians, a third of the way through the Gospel according to Matthew, finishing AND beginning The 7 Deadly Sins.
4. The Buffalo Bills fired their offensive (in both senses of the term) coordinator yesterday, 10 days before the season starts. I suppose any news is good news at this point.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Jeremiah 1 (The Call)
Jeremiah 2-4:4 (God Files for Divorce)
Jeremiah 4:5-6:30 (Disaster from the North)
Jeremiah 7:1-9:26 (Empty Religion)
Jeremiah 10-12, 20 (Culture, Covenant, Complaint)
Jeremiah 13-19 (Living Parables for the Dead)
Jeremiah 22, 25-26, 35-36 (Jeremiah & Jehoiakim)
Jeremiah 23, 27-28, 45-49 (Submit to Babylon!)
Jeremiah 21, 24, 29, 34, 37-39, 52 (The Fall of Jerusalem)
Jeremiah 30-33, 40-44, 50-51 (Hope of Restoration)
Thursday, August 27, 2009
But is a cookie monster like myself really a sinner in disguise? Does taking an extra taste or two (or twelve) really measure up to lust, greed, and the rest? The Bible doesn't say very much against over-eating. In fact, in the Old Testament extra weight was interpreted as a sign of God's blessing. And in the New Testament Jesus Himself was accused of being a glutton (after all, He went to a lot of parties and talked a lot about great banquets). If anything, the Bible simply tells us not to spend too much time thinking or worrying about food.
Then again, that's exactly what was meant by the sin of gluttony. Gluttony is defined as excessive eating or drinking. I would change that definition just a bit and say that the sin of Gluttony is any excessiveness connected with eating or drinking. For some, the excess might be the traditional over-indulgence in food. For others, though, Gluttony may take the form of obsessing over one's diet. In America, we sin the sin of gluttony in both ways every day.
One-third of all Americans are overweight, but it's also true that we spend more on dieting than the gross national product of Ireland. Most Americans are either excessive in their food intake or in their dietary details. To both groups Jesus asks, "is not life more important than food?" In truth, obesity, bulimia & anorexia may all be connected to the sin of gluttony.
We need to eat. And we also need to know when to stop. But mostly we need to stop being so obsessed with food in either of the above directions. You are not what you eat, or don't eat, except perhaps in the most important meal of communion.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
For some reason, this isn't a depressing hobby. At the end of the day I'm happy to be living in our apartment in the barn (for those of you just tuning in... yes, a barn) and not have all the expenses that come with owning a home.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Is dream guilt ridiculous?
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I find Sunday School very interesting. Ours has held steady over the past several years in the 90's. We have an average service attendance of 200; that means about 45% of our church attends Sunday School. I believe that is a good amount, but I don't know why it isn't higher.
I grew up in the typical "dysfunctional" American family. We had our problems, and our business, but one thing could always be counted on. Every Sunday Morning, we went to Sunday School, and then we went to the worship service.
I guess because of that, I am much more committed to it than the average person. I've had the pleasure to both teach and attend Sunday School classes, and I currently have the privilege to serve at our church as Sunday School Superintendent.
It mystifies me when good Christian people are searching for a way to fit in and learn more about Christ, and they don't take advantage of all the resources around them, like Sunday School (Or, as we are slowly transitioning to call it- Discipleship Hour).
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
I have heard it said (many times) that Americans work the longest and hardest hours. Even if true, this must refer only to developed (and perhaps western) nations. The Deadly Sin of Sloth is usually equated with laziness and in my observation (mostly of myself!) laziness is a real problem in America. That being said, I've blogged about laziness before. I want to take the Sin of Sloth in a different direction.
Perhaps even more of a problem in America (and especially in my generation) is Apathy. I think the Sin of Sloth is less about laziness and more about missing passion. The opposite of Sloth is not hard-work, but joy and vigor. Many of my peers, including myself, hate to make decisions. It's not so much that we don't have preferences (we do), but we question what difference our choices really make. We begin to despair that our choices actually have significance.
Sloth, then, is the sin of despairing that life and the choices therein ultimately matter. It is deeper than laziness. Some lazy people are very passionate about ideas, but they are unwilling to be the one to act. But the slothful appear (and become) lazy because they've lost hope. Sloth leads us to say 'whatever' and 'I don't care' over and over again. Many major movies in the past couple of decades have had slothful lead characters whose lives have lost all significance. And the scary thing is, many of these movies suggest sloth as the appropriate response to reality.
But we need not despair. We need not be apathetic. There is hope and a reason for zeal. But the movies are right that hope and zeal cannot be found outside of Christ (where the main characters are looking). Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Anger, by itself, is simply a natural emotion. It would be inappropriate to never get angry (injustice, for instance, should make us angry). Our problem is not that we get angry, but what makes us angry. Far too often seemingly small and somewhat insignificant matters upset us. Winston Churchill once said that "A man is about as big as the things that make him angry." The trick is to get angry over the right things and to dispense of our anger in the right ways.
There are basically two mistakes we can make in regard to anger. We can vent all our anger emotions all the time OR we can't bottle them up until they explode. The Bible says a fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. The Bible also commands us not to let the sun go down while you are still angry. Thus, anger is natural, but we have to learn to deal with it in supernatural ways (meaning, in Spirit led ways).
I'm an anger survivor. As a teenager I had a horrendously short temper, but I bet nobody in college would have really guessed such a thing. When I surrendered my life to Christ at age 17, He knocked my bad temper out in one blow (much like Jericho). And so anger is less of a problem for me than, say, apathy.
At the risk of suggesting some very simplistic advice, I'd recommend that each time we experience the emotion of anger we pause and ponder what it is we're angry about. I agree with the ancient Chinese proverb which states that if we are patient in one moment of anger, we will escape a hundred days of sorrow.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Robin rightly pointed out, in his comment about pride, that it has less to do with thinking too highly about oneself and more to do with thinking about oneself too much! Indeed, Christians are called to think of others. In a sense, though, envy is the distortion of that aim, for in envy we are so focused on what others have that we neglect to be thankful for what we ourselves have. Even still, it is connected to pride in that we think we deserve what they have (and, perhaps too, that they don't deserve it!).
The Bible commands us not to envy, mostly because God knows how destructive it is. Envy rots the bones. It is the slow and silent killer. Envy led to the first murder. And envy was the emotion that led the Jewish authorities to want Jesus dead. Obviously, then, we need to overcome envy before it gains a foothold in our lives. But how? Stop comparing. Be content. Be zealous for God instead of stuff. All good answers, but easier said than done.
And so, once again, it seems to me that the deadly sin of envy provokes us to be people of prayerful repentance. As we repent, God teaches us to love our neighbors and our enemies so much that the latter becomes the former in our hearts.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
Our cultures, also, both loves and hates pride. Arrogance is considered an anti-quality, but at the same time a high sense of self-worth, self-esteem & self-confidence is valued. According to the culture, most people's emotional problems would be solved if they thought more highly of themselves. Willimon states that "pride has been rehabilitated from being a vice to be avoided and has become a great virtue to be cultivated."
In apparently stark contrast, however, the Scriptures say that the road to happiness is paved in humility, meekness, and brokenness. It's not that Scripture calls us to think nasty thoughts about ourselves. God calls us to think highly of Him and this, in turn, will allow us to think of ourselves accurately. Our problem is not a lack of self-esteem, but that we too highly esteem ourselves.
Willimon concludes, somewhat surprisingly, that the sin of pride is unavoidable. I would only say that the temptation toward pride is the strongest of the Seven and the struggle with pride the most lifelong. Pride is the shrewdest sin insofar that it can attack you from any angle. One moment you can have pride in your accomplishments. The next moment you can repent of your pride and then become prideful of your new found humility.
Surely victory over pride is only possible in a life committed to repentance and brokenness before God.
Friday, August 07, 2009
Why? What value does this list have for us?
1. The Seven create an agreeable starting point for discussion. Nearly everybody will admit to struggling with some of the items on this list. Niebuhr taught that the doctrine of original sin was the only empiracally verifiable Christian doctrine, and in some sense he was correct.
2. The Seven focus on MY sin instead of YOUR sin. It's easy for Evangelicals to, when they are talking about sin, mention only things like murder, theft, and homosexuality. But the Seven are less comfortable for us to talk about since we deal with them (or fail to deal with them) on a regular basis. When G.K. Chesterton was asked to write an essay on 'What is wrong with the world,' he famously responded with the word 'Me.'
3. The Seven focus on the DISEASE instead of merely on the symptoms. Willimon states, "What makes the Seven so deadly is their generative quality... the Seven are leaders of wicked armies... they are the head, the necessary first step toward other sin." They are the root to which other sins are more often branches.
4. The Seven establish our need for Christ. Willimon also says that, "Jesus made the rather astounding claim that, when it comes to sin, it's the thought that counts... the main reason to spend all this effort talking about sin is so that we can name it, claim it, and move on to more significant lives than if we had lied about ourselves. The Seven help us to hit rock bottom so that we both have a foundation and are provoked to look up to the man on the cross.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
I've still been in Houghton mode the last 5 days, and have just resigned myself to the fact that here in reality, dinner and dishes aren't magically done by someone else...
So, now that's 8:00 PM and I'm finally home for the evening, I'm afraid I must focus on washing the dishes.
But, since I know you probably don't want a play-by-play of my dish-washing methods, I will leave you with a couple jokes about washing dishes. The second I'm sure you've heard before, and it's really not that funny... but I don't think there are that many jokes about dishes, so I have to work with what I got. Sorry! Feel free to post your joke if you have a better one.
If one man can wash one stack of dishes in one hour, how many stacks of dishes can four men wash in four hours?
None. They'll all sit down together and watch football on television.
A Teenager was at his grandfathers for the week. At lunch, the teenager decides to eat lunch with his grandfather
While eating, the teenager looks at his plate and notices a smudge on it.
He asks his grandfather, "Are these Plates Clean?"
His grandfather replies, "They are as clean as Cold Water Can get 'em"
At Dinner, Noticing more smudges then before, he asks "Grandpa, are you sure these plates are clean?"
His Grandfather replies "Yes! They are as clean as cold water can get 'em"
The next day at breakfast, the boy notices another smudge on his plate.... "Grandpa, Your 100% Absolutely sure these plates are clean?"
The Grandfather replies once more "I told ya boy, they are as clean as Cold Water can get 'em!"
As soon as he was done eating, they both get in the van to go to school, When he got in, the Grandfathers dog jumps on the teenager. The grandfather yells, "COLDWATER! BACK TO THE HOUSE! BACK!"
A mother and son were washing dishes while the father and daughter were watching TV in the family room. Suddenly, there was a crash of breaking dishes, then complete silence.
The girl looked at her dad and said, "It was Mom."
"How do you know?"
"She didn't say anything."
Sunday, August 02, 2009
Friday, July 31, 2009
67 for Hess Rd. attendance (1st place in district!)
30+ chocolate milks
Thursday, July 30, 2009
After lunch, we stayed inside and played pool, ping pong and sequence. I won't tell you who won, because Matthew only records the scores of the games he wins. Since this is his blog, I would hate to break his rules. :-)
After dinner (and, by the way, I think I am beating Matthew in the How-many-glasses-of-milk contest, even though we forgot to count) we went to the evening service, followed by a couple hours of volleyball.
Four hours of exercise later, Thursday morning was very difficult for all of us "old" people (over the age of 20). I hurt from my hands all the way down to my toes.
Now, I'm off to Matthew's morning Seminar on how to stay Christian in Culture. Toodles!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
My best friend Aaron Henderson has joined us again for camp (He comes all the way from Maine!). I think this is his 6th year of coming to camp with me. Here are some notes from the day...
~ I had 3 glasses of chocolate milk so far
~ Pastor Joe did a great job leading worship
~ Rick Cavenough had a good first message
~ It rained a lot after the service
~ We played 2 rounds of Trix (Oh Poop)
~ Aaron & Katie made me watch "Chuck" (tv show)
~ Just finished notes for my seminar on 'heaven'
Thursday, July 23, 2009
1. Paul was speaking from memory and made a mistake.
2. Paul was quoting correctly, but the manuscript was mistaken.
3. The exact number was provided in oral tradition and fell somewhere between 23k and 24k. Paul rounded down whereas the OT author rounded up.
4. He's referring to Exodus 32:28 where 3,000 died by the sword and combining it with Exodus 32:35 where an unspecified amount died by plague. Paul must have known through some tradition (oral?) that the unspecified amount was about 20,000.
5. He's referring to Numbers 25 where 24,000 died. But that is a total of how many died for the sin of sexual immorality in that episode. Paul tells us that he's only giving us how many died in 1 single day (notice the wording in 1 Cor. 10:8).
6. He's combining the 24,000 in Numbers with the 3,000 in Exodus into a new number (23,000) so as to keep both texts in the readers mind.
The first option I'd eliminate is #6, as it seems to be playing too fast and loose with numbers (and I'm not aware of other examples of Paul doing something quite like this). I don't like #4 either as the reference certainly seems to be Numbers and not Exodus (Exodus was the reference quoted for the previous sin of idolatry).
That leaves us with #'s 1, 2, 3 & 5, all of which raise the issue of inerrancy in one way or another. #1 is perhaps the most severe solution, as many would be very uncomfortable with the possibility that Paul could have been mistaken about anything while writing God's word. #2 is less severe in that it is only suggesting that a scribe made an error (not an error in the original manuscript). But we don't have any variations on the 24,000 number in Numbers. #3 may be surprising if true, because it reveals that, for Paul, the oral tradition was referenced here in priority over the written Torah. #5 is what I like to call the 'easy out,' but it too assumes an oral tradition was present. One wonders why Paul rounded differently than the Torah, Philo & Josephus.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Saturday, July 18, 2009
I have no idea what I want to discuss!
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Yesterday, I received a birthday card in the mail from Allstate, our car insurance company.
Let me quote the front cover for you:
Happy Birthday Katie Rose!
Looking Back to 1986:
- Challenger exploded 74 seconds after lift-off,
killing all 7 astronauts.
- Nancy Regan began "Just Say No" anti-drug crusade
- Wall Street was hit by insider trading scandals
- President signed sweeping revision of the US tax code
- Supreme Court upheld affirmative action
- Libya fired on United States warplane
- US bombed Khaddafi headquarters
- Chernobyl nuclear power plant mishap threatened world safety
- 100th birthday of the Statue of Liberty was celebrated with fireworks and tall ships
- WiIlliam Rehnquist took the oath as 16th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
Now, I have always been mildly interested in history, so I'm always willing to hear some facts about what went on in the past. I just don't think "The Challenger exploded the year you were born" is the best way to open up a HAPPY birthday card. Kind of starts on a depressing note, don'tcha think? Everything else that follows it is either (to me) not very interesting or equally depressing.
Then, when you open up the card, it gives some stats comparing American Living then and now. For example:
In 1986, Stamps cost 22 cents. Now.... 42 cents (should I feel special that they were anticipating my birthday so much that they made my card several months ago??)
Then, the average expense for a new home was $80,300. Now.... $218,400 (this one belongs on the cover with other depressing facts about 1986)
Bread cost 64 cents for a one pound loaf in 1986.
But in 2009, it's $3.19!
Then, on the next page:
"It's your day to make a wish! Happy Birthday!"
I would say I wish I was back in 1986, but the only good thing was the home price :-)
And lastly, to end the card:
"Allstate. You're in good hands."
Friday, July 10, 2009
Fixed Hour Prayer- A commitment to pray daily at a specific time
Silent Prayer- A commitment to be quiet before God for a set time
Conversational Prayer- An ongoing dialogue w/God each day
Praying Scripture- Meditatively reading through Psalms
Nature Walk- Being out in creation and letting God speak to you
Prayer of Examen- Examining your past 24 (or week) with God's help
Saying Grace- Thanking God before each meal you eat
Fasting- Giving up a meal to make time for prayer
Intercessory Prayer- Praying for a list of people you care for
Prayer Meeting- Joining a group that meets regularly for prayer
Watching- Giving up sleep to make time for prayer
Thursday, July 09, 2009
By Sam Walter Foss
* for another great Foss poem, click here
"The proper way for a man to pray,"
Said Deacon Lemuel Keyes,
"And the only proper attitude
Is down upon his knees."
"No, I should say the way to pray,"
Said Rev. Doctor Wise,
"Is standing straight with outstretched arms
And rapt and upturned eyes."
"Oh, no; no, no," said Elder Slow,
"Such posture is too proud:
A man should pray with eyes fast closed
And head contritely bowed."
"It seems to me his hands should be
Austerely clasped in front.
With both thumbs pointing toward the ground,"
Said Rev. Doctor Blunt.
"Las' year I fell in Hodgkin's well
Head first," said Cyrus Brown,
"With both my heels a-stickin' up,
My head a-pinting down;
"An' I made a prayer right then an' there--
Best prayer I ever said,
The prayingest prayer I ever prayed,
A-standing on my head."
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Since we've officially been married for 6 months now (unofficially also, since we didn't get an actual 6-month anniversary- darn June for not having a 31st!) I will share my best bit of advise to date. It's pretty simple... and yet extremely complex.
Everywhere you go, whether its at school or work, home or with friends, everyone is talking about communication, and how important it is to communicate effectively.Sadly, even though everyone knows it... very few people try harder to be good communicators. If you look for it, the majority of the problems and conflicts between people come from not communicating correctly.
I have been blessed with a husband that is (or tries to be) a good communicator. If we have a misunderstanding about something, we try to work that out immediately. I'll give him all the credit for that, because I know I some time have the female-tendency to want to sulk and stew about it and make myself miserable (ladies- why is that???)
So there you have it. Communication. ^forehead smack^
Who would have thunk it??
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
In this post, I'm going to make a quick case for the 'no' answer. I don't believe it is mandatory for a good bible teacher to be able to read the bible in its original language. But before I argue that, I want to make a few concessions to the 'yes' answer. First, I believe it is better to know Greek than to not know Greek. Second, I think it is potentially dangerous to teach the Bible without concern for the fact that it was written in Greek. Third, I have to admit that part of my argument may be biased by my reluctance to study Greek. But all that being said...
I don't think my lack of knowledge in the area of biblical Greek prevents me from being a good bible teacher (in fact, I don't think it prevents me from being a better bible teacher than many teachers who do know Greek). And here are my reasons why. First, there are a lot of excellent scholarly translations. The argument by scholars that you MUST know Greek goes against the idea that many of these same scholars are involved in the translation process. Didn't they do a good job? Second, there are a lot of excellent resources for studying Greek words without knowing the Greek language. Certainly in the ancient world, before these study tools emerged, it was more important to know the Greek language. But is that still the case? With all the resources available, any pastor who cares has access to the pertinent information. Third, I think those who would answer 'yes' (you MUST know Greek) have to admit that they may be biased by the fact that they already know Greek and that puts them in a position of elitism if Greek is a must. Willful ignorance is not charming, but neither is strong sense of superiority. Fourth, and this is perhaps the point I consider most important, I have heard various scholars who are experts in biblical Greek say very different things about the same Greek words! It seems to be the case that you can even maneuver the Greek to fit what you want to say too!
I'm more interested in learning 50 or so key Greek words and understanding what they mean and how they were used in the ancient world. And this concludes a post that the vast majority of you will have found very boring!
Saturday, July 04, 2009
Read excerpts of the article below and then discuss
Turkish television station Kanal T hopes the answer is a ratings success as it prepares to launch a gameshow where spiritual guides from the four faiths will seek to convert a group of non-believers. The prize for converts will be a pilgrimage to a holy site of their chosen religion -- Mecca for Muslims, the Vatican for Christians, Jerusalem for Jews and Tibet for Buddhists....
"We are giving the biggest prize in the world, the gift of belief in God," Kanal T chief executive Seyhan Soylu told Reuters. "We don't approve of anyone being an atheist. God is great and it doesn't matter which religion you believe in. The important thing is to believe."
A team of theologians will ensure that the atheists are truly non-believers and are not just seeking fame or a free holiday.
Friday, July 03, 2009
Jesus of Nazareth- I think this is the best overall Jesus film that I have seen. Yes, it is super long. And I think Jesus seems a little too stoic. But I think the producers really cared about getting things right and were skilled at telling the story.
Gospel of John- This is just the 4th Gospel word for word, so it's hard to argue with the dialogue. I think this movie did a pretty good job at portraying Jesus. Some of the scenes helped me to see certain characters in new ways.
The Nativity Story- Even though some of the historical details are probably not quite right in this film, I think it was very beautifully filmed and acted. Both Mary & Joseph were excellent. The beginning and the end seemed a little odd for some reason, but the middle was nice.
The Passion of the Christ- This movie seems to be based on the idea that Jesus' death had to be the bloodiest death ever or the atonement wouldn't work. Some of the satanic episodes seemed very odd. Pilate seems like a pretty nice guy in this movie.
Jesus CBS- I like that they tried to emphasize Jesus' humanity, but I just didn't like the acting in this movie. I guess I prefer a bit more balance between a fun-loving portrayal of Jesus and a Jesus with a sense of the seriousness of His mission.
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Some will object that the clergy is a very necessary role. Someone needs to be the 'representative' between people and God. Someone needs to serve communion. Someone needs to baptize. Someone needs to visit my next-door neighbor when they are dying in the hospital. Someone needs to preach. I guess I see Jesus as the mediator. I think all true disciples should be able to serve communion to all other believers. I think any Christian should feel free to baptize other Christians. And I think the neighbor should visit their sick neighbor.
If a local church is filled with people who truly respond to God's leadership in their lives and truly love each other, I don't think one (or a staff-full) of pastors will even be necessary. Any decent sized group of genuine believers will have people gifted for all the various roles pastors are called to do in America. If we're honest, pastors just aren't good at ALL of these roles at once (who would be). Nobody is good at everything, but everyone is good at something.
Monday, June 29, 2009
(Note: I am aware that this is only Monday; Matthew and I switched this week; you will be hearing from him on Wednesday!)
Friday, June 26, 2009
Now I gotta get ready for Sunday!
- a sermon for lockport
- a ss lesson for hess rd.
- an evening service for hess rd.
And then I can start my papers for these classes!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Pro- There haven't been any un-rinsed milk glasses sitting on the counter
Pro- Its been about 90 degrees in our apartment, and I get the whole bed to myself to spread out
Pro- No sports on the television!
Con- I miss Matthew.
I know that's three pros and only one con, but to me the con is MUCH worse.
Here's waiting for Friday!!
Monday, June 22, 2009
So I am going to set my maximum at 20 glasses of chocolate milk.