Monday, October 31, 2011

Rookie Pastor - FAIL.!

Recently, the pastoral trainees at Lancaster were joking with the session about implementing a new
church app that would allow the congregants to critique the service and performance of the young guys w/ texts and tweets.  This was too good to pass up without some humor.  Here's my list of the top postings with colorful commentary:

- Spring forward/fall back - starting the service on time # FAIL.!
- Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day off ‘Anyone … Anyone?” - Appropriate excitement when reciting call to worship # FAIL.!
- Your Playlist sucks - Psalm/Hymn selection # FAIL.!
- Uh, now what?? Remembering to say “You may be seated” after hymn # FAIL.!
- I needed filler – inserting the line “and bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies” without thinking – opening prayer # FAIL.!
- What version is He reading from? Announcing the actual reference without inverting the numbers - Scripture Reading # FAIL.!
- X, Y, Z – remembering to check fly before walking to pulpit # FAIL.!
- Don’t quit your day job - Starting off the “Our Father” on the right note # FAIL.!
- Don’t play poker for money … ever - Keeping a straight face while starting off the “Our Father” when Paul Thompson is in attendance # FAIL.!
- Hang in there, puberty was tough for us all – singing first line of “Glory be to God on high” without voice cracking # FAIL.!
- Milli Vanilli you’re not – lip synching words to unfamiliar hymn while leading worship # FAIL.!
- That’s gonna’ leave a mark – Not tripping up the stairs on the way to pulpit # FAIL.!
- If you thought last week’s sermon was good, wait till you hear it a second time – printing the notes for the right sermon # FAIL.!
- And now to paraphrase – Remembering to bring your Bible to the pulpit # FAIL.!
- Oh, that green button – aka – Oh … That’s why the sound booth guy looked so interested in my sermon - turning on lapel mic # FAIL.!
- Wake me up when it’s over - Opening sermon illustration # FAIL.!
- Well, at least it woke them up – Not hitting and knocking over the pulpit mic when making hand gestures during sermon # FAIL.!
- Note to self – call exterminator to kill chirping crickets in basement – sermon joke # FAIL.!
- Next time, I’ll fire off a cannon first to warn you it's coming – covering mic and turning head in time to not sneeze at 140 decibels # FAIL.!
- Just … stay … focused … not being distracted by ringing cell phone during sermon – train of thought # FAIL.!
- Just … stay … focused … not being distracted by screaming baby during sermon – train of thought # FAIL.!
- Just … stay … fo … uh … oh no! That’s my kid crawling under the pews – ordering your own household # FAIL.!
- Just … stay … fo … uh … oh no! That’s my ring tone! Finding reach-through to pocket in clergy robe # FAIL.!
- “All the Single Ladies”? … Really? – Pastor’s ring tone selection #FAIL.!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Reminds Me of Something Spurgeon Once Said about Sermon Length ...

According to author Christopher Buckley, before constructing the East Building of the National Gallery of Arts, the design team created its floor plans based on studies that suggested the average museum-goer’s attention span lasts for approximately 45 minutes. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Another Great Poem from Reading Time ...


By Phoebe Cary

Here's a hand to the boy who has courage
To do what he knows to be right;
When he falls in the way of temptation
He has a hard battle to fight.
Who strives against self and his comrades
Will find a most powerful foe.

All honor to him if he conquers.
A cheer for the boy who says, “No!”
There's many a battle fought daily
The world knows nothing about;
There's many a brave little soldier
Whose strength puts a legion to rout.

And he who fights sin single-handed
Is more of a hero, I say,
Than he who leads soldiers to battle
And conquers by arms in the fray.
Be steadfast my boy, when you're tempted,
To do what you know to be right.

Stand firm by the colors of manhood,
And you will o'ercome in the fight.
“The right,” be your battle cry ever
In waging the warfare of life,
And God, who knows who are the heroes,
Will give you the strength for the strife.

Friday, October 21, 2011

What about Galileo?

I once got a chance to meet and ask Ken Ham about the story of Galileo, science, and the Church.  His response really set me back on my heels.  He said that when Church officials refused to hear Galileo’s case – they were really only doing so because Church doctrine had been established by both Biblical language AND THE ‘SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS’ of the day. The scientists of his day were originally opposed to Galileo along w/ the clergy. It’s actually most analogous to mainstream/liberal ministers shunning intelligent design or young-earth scientists today.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Occupy Wallstreet Envy: Egalitarianism Gone Wild

In the first chapter of Romans, Paul tells us that, with God, ingratitude is a capital offense.  This truth is at the heart of the Christian faith.  It's why globally, countless Christians wake every Sunday to render thanks to God.  This general principle also applies to the countless Jews and Muslims around the globe. It is an evil to accept gifts from the hand of God without so much as a thank you in reply.
But it is easy for us to take good gifts for granted.  Narcissism comes naturally. Nowhere is this decadence more evident than in the rabble of whiners loitering on Wallstreet right now. These people who have spent their lives living off of corporate production now lashing out in covetousness and ingratitude demanding a share of other’s wealth [by posting google blogs on iPhones, while clothed in corporate textile fabrics, etc] .

I remember once hearing Sam Walton sum up his business philosophy with the old adage, “Sell to the classes, live with the masses; sell to the masses, live with the classes.” Walmart has been wildly successful not because they sell caviar, yachts, or Gulfstream interior packages. They sell Rubbermaid storage bins, fabric by the yard, and Doritos at a discount. Walmart booms because it reaches so many ordinary people in helpful ways. It provides a first job for many high school students, night shift stock work to other young adults who need the second income, and employment for elderly and handicapped workers who might otherwise not be able to find work. The managers of our local branch make a competitive wage and the supervisors are afforded regular opportunities for training and internal advancement. For all its flaws, Walmart makes my town a better place and as proof, I merely submit the thousands of people who shop there every week.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Context of Abortion ...

"Abortion is a religious issue not just because traditional religions happen to oppose it but because abortion is necessarily about sex... A woman (or more usually, the man!) wants abortion only because she wants to have sex without babies.
So in order to fully persuade the people in our society that abortion is not an option, that babies are holy and not to be treated as toys to be thrown away at will, we must achieve a much harder task: we must persuade them that sex is holy and not to be treated as a toy. For sex is the context of abortion. Abortion is different from other issues because sex is different from other issues."

- Peter Kreeft

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Lullaby of Broadway ...

“The next great heresy is going to be simply an attack on morality, and especially on sexual morality... And the madness of tomorrow will come not from Moscow but from Manhattan.”  

-G.K. Chesterton, 1926

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Genesis Debate, part 2

ME: So, when Scripture is read, should we wait for the lab results before saying the 'Amen'? Dave's point stands - if theology is subject to scientific consensus then what else is up for grabs? What stops us IN PRINCIPLE? Isn't it THE slippery slope that marks the point of departure, historically, from orthodoxy into liberalism?

A - love you, brother, but 'proven'? When scientists claim to have "proven" fossil aging in the billions of years in the same way that - say - they did the polio vaccine, a certain cynicism is in order. On the contrary, God's Word is sure. Its clear points are to be clearly and plainly believed.
@ Galileo - I asked for chapters - because that's what we have for creation. And their CLEAR point is 6-day creation, while the metaphorical "sun rising / setting" is incidental. There is no honest comparison.

A - hope to get together again soon, maybe in DC?

Pastor B, as 1 Peter commands, preach as the oracle of God, not the oracle of God**.
Let God be true and every man a liar [white lab coat notwithstanding].

HIM: B- you can still say the "Amen" whether the days are meant to be literal or figurative, because the message of Scripture is that GOD created the universe! The same way that 400 years ago, the congregation could say the "Amen" to the "...geocentric" verses before "the observatory results" were in, because the message is NOT geocentrism OR heliocentrism.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

It Gets Better …once you repent

There has been a lot of media coverage recently because of the recent suicides of some young students who had allegedly been the victims of bullying [which seems to be the contemporary equivalent of antebellum lynching] because of their nascent homosxlity. Never before have we needed more clarity on this issue. Never before have we needed more honesty about this issue. But both are very hard to come by. The dirty little secret is that it doesn’t get better. The homosxl life is a meatgrinder that leaves people mangled, used, and desperately alone in the end. I hope we can say this with honesty and love to our dear ones in the struggle.
Below is an abridged essay written by Ronald Lee who refers to himself as a former gay [of several decades] and now devout Christian [Catholic]. He has written bravely and frankly to set the record straight and this lengthy essay is well worth the read.

The Truth About the Homosxl Rights Movement
Ronald G. Lee

There was a "gay" bookstore called Lobo's in Austin, Texas, when I was living there. The layout was interesting. Looking inside from the street all you saw were books - like any other bookstore. It all looked so innocuous and disarmingly bourgeois. But if you went inside to browse, before long you noticed another section, behind the books, a section not visible from the street. The pornography section. Hundreds and hundreds of videos involving men catering to every conceivable sxl taste or fantasy. And you would notice something else too. All the customers were in the back, rooting through the videos. As far as I know, I am the only person who ever actually purchased a book. The books were, in every sense of the word, a front.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Remember Tyndale ...

Today is the day many in the Church remember the life and work of William Tyndale.  He died on this day in 1536.

A lot has been made of the King James Version of the Bible this year, but if you're like me, you haven't heard or thought much about this dear saint.  Below are a few of the phrases we take for granted, that originated with him:

Jehovah (from a transliterated Hebrew construction in the Old Testament; composed from the Tetragrammaton YHWH.

Passover (as the name for the Jewish holiday, Pesach or Pesah)

scapegoat (the goat that bears the sins and iniquities of the people in Leviticus, Chapter 16)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sporadic Mycophilia: Golden Chanties ...

Today I found my first wild golden chanterelles - one of the most precious finds for any mycophage [top 3 choice edible on any list] because of their taste and because they have never been successfully cultivated by commercial farmers.  They were beautiful, if a little over-ripe.  I found them circling the ground near a large, mature oak in some woods almost within sight of the side door to my office.  They smell strongly of dried apricots - not even a trace of mushroom or fungal aroma ... simply wonderful.  Bright, buttery yellow gold, they stood out from the forest floor, that is only just starting to clutter with the bright colors of fall leaves.  You can see from the picture their deep ridges/wrinkles [NOT gills & NOT growing out of dead wood/tree base and NOT in a true cluster]. They sliced solid with a white center down the stalk.  We sauteed them with some pineapple, honey, salt, general seasoning spice mix, and of course, lots of butter - then served with pasta. 
It vividly reminded me of a Leithart passage a friend shared with me recently.  He notes how Moses recounts the construction of the tabernacle to parallel the 7 days of creation in Genesis 1.  “Day 3: Table of showbread on north side outside the veil, with bread arranged [Ex 40:22-23]” corresponds to Day 3 of the creation week: “Golden land and food”.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Genesis Debate, part 1

Here is an old online debate I had with a dear friend on our reading of Genesis 1-11.  Enjoy!

HIS THESIS:  Science proves that the earth is billions of years old and this is compatible with the teachings of early Genesis. 

MY THESIS: The earth is only thousands of years old and any honest reading of Genesis demands this view.

ME: A - your position can be summed up in w/ the words: square peg; round hole; hammer not included.
Here’s a big clue: something interesting to note - Unbelieving scholarship uniformely confirms … without blinking … the simple reading - without the pressure of having to actually make the account seem believable, … like the insecure, affection-starved girl mistaking lust for love, we confuse honest exegesis for sophisticated interpretations.

Can you give me the one or two strongest reasons WITHIN THE TEXT ITSELF for a “loose interpretation”?

HIM: B! Good to hear from you! I remember talking about this before with you : D It seems you haven't changed your mind on the age of the earth, but you have changed your mind on baptism! Your wisdom is now suspect... HAHAHA (kidding) : D"

No doubt similar arguments were made during Galileo's time...