Saturday, August 29, 2009

Golf Scores

Today Katie & I went golfing for the first (and perhaps only) time this Summer. I got a 45 (one off my record, shux) and she got a 63 on 18 holes. We play what some people call mini-golf or put-put. But I just call it golf and I call that other game that people play GIANT golf. I think everyone should follow my lead on this issue to make the giant golfers mad and/or confused.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Within arms reach, as I type this post on the Deadly Sin of Gluttony, is a large bag of cookies left on my desk by my mother-in-law. Well, more accurately, half of a large bag of cookies. I'm well known in these parts as a cookie connoisseur, and come October (pastor appreciation month), I'll probably have a whole bunch more cookies to critique. Spoiler alert... they will all pass my 'test' with flying colors.

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

Window Shopping

I know it's been mentioned before, but one of Matthew and my's favorite past times is looking at houses and floor plans. This weekend, we went to an open house in our area that was in a pretty good location, with pretty nice rooms (judging by the pictures on the internet) and also pretty well out of our price range by about $60,000. Unfortunately, some of the things that were contributing to the higher price were things that we really didn't want in the first place!

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


I am thinking of making my wardrobe VERY simple and wearing white t-shirts 5 or 6 days each week. I find white t-shirts very comfortable. And they match everything. And I don't have a lot of weekday shirts that I like anyways. Why not? This is your last chance to stop me.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dream Guilt

Katie & I were talking this morning about bad dreams. She had a dream about missing children and Mario Lopez (Slater from Saved by the Bell). I had a dream in which I killed one of my cousins (in self defense). Sometimes I wake up from dreams and feel quite guilty about some of my actions in the dream. According to a Wesleyan view of sin (voluntary transgression), I shouldn't really feel guilty (perhaps just fallen) after such a dream. Nevertheless, I sometimes do.

Is dream guilt ridiculous?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

School on Sundays

Last week, work was very busy and my normal break when I post on Wednesday's didn't happen. This week, the time was filled with composing an article for our church's newsletter about our Sunday School Program... hence the late posting (I could tell you were very interested in knowing why I didn't post last week, and what the hold up was today).

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 was going to post yesterday, but I just didn't feel like it.

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, of the Seven, is the most obviously deadly of the deadly sins. Every day on the news we see anger lead to death. But that's not really the kind of anger that is meant on the list of the Seven. A murderer's anger has long since turned into extreme bitterness and then rage. The kind of anger listed in the Seven Deadly Sins is the initial source that has the potential to turn into something far worse.

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


Envy, as Solomon pointed out, sometimes breeds achievement. But at what cost? And are achievements motivated by envy the kinds of achievements that bring lasting happiness? More often, envy simply produces sadness and not satisfaction. Willimon says that, “Envy debilitates its host. Indeed, of all the sins, envy seems to be its own punishment.” Certainly envy is the least pleasurable of all the Seven Deadly Sins.

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


The Bible speaks of both positive and negative pride. In one sense, pride in ones country, land, children, accomplishments, (etc) seems to be a natural (in a good sense) trait. In another sense, though, the Bible is clear that God hates prideful arrogance. Pride blocks grace and breeds quarrels. Pride goes before a fall.

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

7 Deadly Sins

Over the next month I'll occasionally be posting about the 7 Deadly Sins because I began teaching through them last night in men's group. The Seven are pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, gluttony, and lust. The list is not found in the Bible, but was developed over the centuries by guys like Evagrius, Thomas Aquinas, and Gregory the Great. Early Protestants, in keeping with their title, rejected the list (since it wasn't specifically found in the Bible), but recently Protestants have been taking more and more interest in the 7 Deadly Sins.

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


Wednesday kind of snuck up on me this week...

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."