Thursday, November 29, 2012

Church the way it oughta be...

"Thank you for building a church that looks ... like a church."

- The most frequent comment from community members after the new construction of the new sanctuary of

Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church .

Other notes from my conversation w/ Pastor Booth:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fathers, Do Not Provoke Your Children to Wrath ...

"Col 3.21 says: 'Fathers, do not exasperate your children that they may not lose heart.' What is it that we can do to make sure that our children do not become angry and lose heart?  On the other hand, what is the mistake that we make that provokes our children to wrath and causes them to lose heart?
Well, it's neither being too harsh or being too lax.  In the Bible, what will cause children to lose heart is when they see that the father is not interested in them.  If you do not have constant interaction with your children, your children will perceive that you're not interested in them.
Children want to please their fathers.  They want to please mothers too, but particularly they want to please their fathers.  And if you fathers do not show interest in your children, then they will lose heart and they won't care about what you say.  In fact, there will be a lot of anger inside...
Having quality time with children is the key.  Involvement is the key, both involved in discipline and involved in the positive side: reading to them, praying with them, doing things with them that count as much as you can.  None of us do this perfectly, but involvement covers all kinds of errors.  We make all kinds of mistakes in raising our kids, but those things are almost entirely covered up if we really have involvement with our kids in quality time - real wrestling with them.  Problems almost always boil down to either leaving it all to mom or letting the kids run wild... Fathers are the key...  Be involved with them as God is involved with His children."

- James B Jordan, Lectures on Ephesians 6

Here is Carl Honore: In Praise of Slowness

[for the record, I believe what God has taught us, that time is linear - not simply cyclical - but Honore's thesis stands because the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath, and we are blessed when we slow down at the right moments.]  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How Eschatology Works

Dr John Frame asserts:
"... I think that eschatological positions have had very little to do with the cultural pessimism or optimism of their proponents. Many of the most politically active Christians in the US have been premillennialists (Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson) or amillennialists (James Skillen, APJ), contrary to the postmillennialist claim that these positions foster cultural irrelevance and impotence. For many Christians, biblical admonitions to seek justice in society are sufficient reason to become culturally and politically active, and these are far more weighty than the supposed implications of any eschatological view."

With much respect, I disagree.  And in response, I offer an analogy from Benjamin Zander: The Transformative Power of Classical Music:

Dr Frame has given us a list of names, but these dear brethren are exceptional people whose legacies have not had the eschatological staying power to sustain any political and cultural activity for more than the short term despite their great efforts.  An optimistic expectation is air in the tires of obedience to the "Biblical admonitions to seek justice".  Without it, we are constantly working within a contradictory theology, merely staving off inevitable defeat; forestalling a failed end.

To paraphrase Zander: How would you walk?  How would you talk?  How would you be if you thought that every nation will end up being baptized and discipled?  That Christ's Church will triumph?  That the earth WILL be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea?  You see, these are totally different worlds.  Eschatology does matter.  Eschatology does make a difference.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sanitizing the Psalms

If David applied for a staff position in our churches and gave us his "diary of worship" to better understand his life, would we hesitate to give him serious consideration? I am sure we would want clarification on his imprecatory psalms as well as many other parts. Is it possible that we have a lot to learn in our churches from this man after God's own heart? Do we sanitize our worship in a way that would never allow someone to express the range of emotions found in the Psalms? 

Steve Cornell,  Don't Sanitize the Psalms

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Why I Lost Faith in the Pro-choice Movement


... [The] pressure built and built over months, and eventually years. And then, one day it clicked.
I was looking through a Time magazine article whose infograph cited data from the Guttmacher Institute about the most common reasons women have abortions. It immediately struck me that none of the factors on the list were conditions that we tell women to consider before engaging in sexual activity. Don’t have the money to raise a child? Don’t think your boyfriend would be a good father? Don’t feel ready to be a mother? Women were never encouraged to consider these factors before they had sex; only before they had a baby.
The fundamental truth of the pro-choice movement, from which all of its tenets flow, is that sex does not have to have life-altering consequences. I suddenly saw that it was the struggle to uphold this “truth” that led to all the shady dealings, all the fear of information, all the mental gymnastics that I’d observed.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Your Duty NOT to Vote!*

Because I haven't heard anyone else say it, and I believe it needs to be said, and because I have a number of former students who are now 1st-time voters, I'll go out on a limb and say it: You have an ethical and patriotic duty NOT TO VOTE unless you have taken the time to know what you're doing. DON'T VOTE unless you know a good bit about the candidate you are selecting and why he is IN FACT better SUBSTANTIVELY and QUALITATIVELY than his opponent. This does not mean better commercials, better looks, cooler party, better more presidential-sounding voice, friendlier-looking name on the ballot, or the like. Don't VOTE unless you've taken the time to research the ballot - ESPECIALLY ON LOCAL ELECTIONS WHERE VOTES REALLY MATTER! And lastly: DON'T VOTE if you've never read the constitution. But hey - we've got 24 hours left. Don't let this stop you. It doesn't even take 24 minutes to read the U.S. Constitution [hint ... small constitution doesn't equal big gov't.]. So - go ahead and VOTE. But do your homework first, please.

Friday, November 2, 2012

I like the Fall

The Mist and All

by Dixie Willson
To be read slowly and quietly

I like the fall
The mist and all
I like the night owl’s lonely call
And wailing sound
Of wind around
I like the gray
November day
And dead, bare boughs that coldly sway
Against my pane
I like the rain
I like to sit
And laugh at it
And tend my cozy fire a bit
I like the fall
The mist and all

photo of Valparaiso/Boggy Bayou by me.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Glimpse Under the Hood

Last year Crossway changed [updated/revised/corrected] about 500 words in its uber-popular ESV translation.  I was unaware of this until quite recently when, while teaching a class on Ephesians, I was blindsided by one of them that was not insignificant.  I docked my students points on a memory quiz for "misquoting" Ephesians 1.17 - that God may give you 'a spirit of wisdom' vs 'the Spirit of wisdom'.  After several vociferous protests, and actually being shown several ESV's with the first wording I discovered that the original edition said 'a spirit', while both of my updated 2011's say 'the Spirit'.
I have been slow to jump on the ESV bandwagon because of an innate cynicism toward heavily-marketed products, [which this translation is] and an uncertainty of the philosophy behind the textual selections differing with the KJV/NKJV at many points.  But as time goes by, I have grown fond of the ESV, despite these reservations.  It is almost always the version I use for family reading [had a great time last night talking with my boys after reading Is 36.12 ... only rivaled in shocking verbiage by the original KJV's rendering] and more and more for pulpit use.

Here is a great clip of the revision committee debating about one of my favorite Greek words: doulos.

Book List [what I've been reading lately]...

You are what your mind eats ...

Friday, October 19, 2012

Enjoying the World As It Is

"They are darkened in their understanding - excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that's in them."

Why are they ignorant?  Because they just don't have a high I.Q.?  No!  It's because of the hardness of their hearts.  The Bible always teaches us that stupidity is the result of moral sin.  There is a moral stupidity which leads to stupid behavior in life.  The book of Proverbs deals with this repeatedly.  People do this that are dumb and basically that arises from the hardness of their heart.  

"These Gentiles have become callous and give themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness."

And so their lack of feeling, their hard-hearts, means that they have to pursue weirder and weirder forms of stimulation and they can't relax and enjoy the world as it is.

- J.B. Jordan, commenting on Ephesians 4.17-19

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Pressing Duty of our Time

"To establish the fact of decadence is the pressing duty of our time."

- Richard Weaver

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Paul VS Nero

"After Paul becomes a believer and the great apostle, he is arrested in A.D. 68 and is being led to the Mamertine prison in Rome.  He would have walked beneath the palace of Nero on the way to the prison.  Late at night, picture the scene: the palace of Nero, the parties going on, the bright lights, the music, and Paul - shuffling down the street in chains on his way to the prison and his execution.  No one would have ever imagined that the day would come when men would name their dogs Nero and their sons Paul."

- Dr Bill Creasy 
[paraphrasing F.F. Bruce in "Paul: From Sinner to Saint"]

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Memory Project #2: Ephesians

Since moving 1000 miles, I have temporarily set aside the memorization of Romans [but only temporarily] and have substituted a more manageable and timely goal: Ephesians.

It is more manageable because, unlike the mammoth 433 verses/9,495 words of Romans, Paul's letter to the Saints at Ephesus is a trim 155;  3,012 words in NKJV, or 3,014 in the ESV [~2,422 in Greek].  It can be read aloud or recited in under twenty minutes.

It is more timely because I have returned to teaching and am heading up a Sr Elective Bible class on Ephesians and Ethics at Rocky Bayou Christian School here in Niceville, FL.  The whole class [16 students + me] are going to be memorizing it this year.  The sooner I get to it the better.  I'll try to provide updates as I go.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The American Bible Challenge

The Premier is tomorrow evening [GSN] - this should be interesting. [I don't have cable either, but I'm sure we'll find it online somehow.]

Book List [what I've been reading/ listening to lately]...

You are what your mind eats ...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Happy Birthday, Edgar!

He was to poetry what Norman Rockwell was to painting.  Never accused of being too edgy or avant guarde, he was a poet for the man on the street, and a Christian deep down and all the way through.  If you have never read the poems of Edgar Guest, let today, his 131st birthday, be the day you begin.  They will warm your soul and help you along in the right direction.

Lord, Make A Regular Man Out Of Me
Edgar Guest

This I would like to be- braver and bolder, 
Just a bit wiser because I am older, 
Just a bit kinder to those I may meet, 
Just a bit manlier taking defeat; 
This for the New Year my wish and my plea- 
Lord, make a regular man out of me. 

This I would like to be- just a bit finer, 
More of a smiler and less of a whiner, 
Just a bit quicker to stretch out my hand 
Helping another who's struggling to stand, 
This is my prayer for the New Year to be, 
Lord, make a regular man out of me.  

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Good Sermon: 3 tests ...

About a year ago, one Sunday, I was invited to preach at our church and as is my habit, chose the gospel reading from the lectionary schedule as the sermon text - which providentially happened to be Matt 20.1-16.  This is the parable of the vineyard owner... not the easiest parable to interpret. I struggled through it and think that my study was rewarded, and the sermon was a blessing.  But shortly afterward, I found the following three-fold encomium of Lewis's [and Wright's] work here and was struck by how well it sums up my goals for a sermon:

"... the combination of logic, wit, and imagination."

Now I'm not sure that I can claim to have yet successfully combined these three in any single sermon ... but it sure is something to shoot for.  Here are two others who weigh in.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Isaac "suwaching" in the Field at Evening ...

Gen 24.63:  Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide - [לָשׂוּחַ Hebrew, laasuwach (OT:7742), used only here, and supposed = laasoyim; Septuagint, hadolescheesai, to meditate, or to pray.] 

Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown comment masterfully:

"But neither of these expressions conveys the full meaning of the original. The Syriac renders it to walk; and Gesenius suggests that the original text might probably be laashuwT, to go to and fro in the field (Job 1:7; 2 Sam 24:2,8). Blunt, accepting the present as the true reading, says, 'The leading idea suggested seems to be an anxious, a reverential, a painful, a depressed state of mind; and Issac went out into the field, not directly to pray, but to give ease to a wounded spirit in solitude. What more likely than that the loss of his mother-an event that had happened not long before (Gen 23) - was the subject of his mournful mediations on this occasion. But this conjecture is reduced almost to a certainty by a few words dropped incidentally at the end of the chapter - "Isaac was comforted after his mother's death." The agreement of this later incident with what had gone before is not set forth in our version, and a scene of very touching and picturesque beauty impaired, if not destroyed' ('Undesigned Coincidences')."

Monday, August 6, 2012


"We’re not materialistic enough… I think that we’ve over-spiritualized our relationship to God. In the Scriptures, how we deal with all aspects of creation is clearly part of our relating to God. The separation of the spiritual and the material is a gross error in modern Western thought. It’s like the heresy of Gnosticism in the early church. We’re still afflicted with that dualism. In public life, we think of God like Deists do as the Great Engineer. In private life, God is warm and fuzzy. We have this schizophrenia.

We rely on God through the ministry of others. Luther said, When we pray to God, Give us this day our daily bread … He doesn’t send manna from Heaven. He raises up farmers and bakers and shopkeepers. The way God gives us our needs to us is by the vocations and hands of those people."

- Ken Myers

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Brave Chickens

Here is a great article from my friend, Dr Goetsch summarizing the dynamics of the Chick-fil-A controversy. Ironically, Boston Mayer Tom Menino apparently does not believe in giving Bostonians the freedom of choice ... regarding where to buy a breakfast sandwich and whose business to patronize and values to support.
If you're in need of a bit of clarity and definition here, perhaps you will be helped [as I was] by this reminder from my good friend Scott Cline:  Please read it carefully though - like Chesterton, he is making his point by surprise, so it might take more than one go-round to get his drift and mine [that marriage is not ours to redefine and human nature has not changed in history.]:
"I strongly support the right of homosexuals to marry each other. In fact, in many cases, their doing so may be a great act of faith. Were I a pastor, and were other factors notwithstanding, I'd gladly marry a faithful Christian man of homosexual orientation to a faithful Christian woman of homosexual orientation. I'm thankful that the US of A has never denied homosexuals the right to marry."

Thursday, July 26, 2012

תהום tĕhowm: [n] "the deep; primeval ocean; abyss"

This week, while preparing a sermon for Mark 6.45-56 in which our Lord walks on the water of the sea in a wind storm, I came across this quote, which struck me as a timely reminder:

"[Columbus's] sailors imagined all manner of sea creatures and sundry monsters of mythic proportions.  They fathomed horrors out of the deep recesses of their own souls - where indeed the fiercest horrors do dwell."

- George Grant, The Christian Almanac for August 3rd

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Happy Birthday Elwyn!

Today is the birthday of the great writer, E.B. White.  It was he who wrote Elements of Style with William Strunk Jr.  But he taught most of us to love language as a gift from God [not just ... say ... a highly-evolved form of grunting] in the pen with a radiant Wilbur and in a 76-cent genuine indian birch bark canoe, searching for Margalo.

I have a list of five books that I want my children to have had so much exposure to they can quote lengthy passages from memory:

Charlotte's Web
Stuart Little
True Grit
The Princess Bride
The Chronicles of Narnia
[okay, that was cheating ... there are actually seven in that series, but, what are ya gonna do?]

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Process of Creativity

 by Dr David Goetsch
[abridged; used with permission]

People debate endlessly about whether creativity is the result of nature versus nurture. Imagination, originality, and innovation can be applied in any field. Architects are creative in their designs of buildings. Engineers are creative in their solutions to human problems. Business people are creative in how they structure deals. Coaches are creative in developing their game plans. I can say with certainty that the kind of creativity needed in problem solving and decision making in organizations can be learned. Creativity is a process that can be approached systematically and in the 6 phases below.


 Many people think that creativity reveals itself in a momentary flash of insight that simply arises out of the blue. But when it comes to problem solving and decision making in organizations creativity begins with preparation. Preparation in this context means learning, gaining, experience, and collecting information in the field or discipline associated with the problem. Creativity requires preparation. It involves gaining education, training, and experience in that field. It also involves staying up to date and familiarizing oneself with all of the pertinent information about the problem in question. The key is learning to use the intuition that can come from blending knowledge and experience rather than letting knowledge and experience limit the imagination.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pentecost Sunday Prayer

We praise You, Lord, because You have heard our prayer.  Once again, You breathed out Your Spirit upon Your disciples and restored to us times of refreshing so that men might walk with You in the cool of the Day.  We thank You, Christ, that You did not leave us to forsake us, but ascended so that in the fullness of time, You could send us a Helper - another Comforter, reversing Babel with tongues of fire and sending forth Your Word into every nation.  So bless us with Your presence this morning and send Your Wind into the four corners of the earth for the good of Your Kingdom and glory.  Amen.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ascension Blessings!

“After all of the final details, something happened.  A cloud of glory appeared and I suspect it was the same cloud that used to reside in the Holy of Holies.  This is God’s cloud.  This cloud came down from Heaven and it lifted our Lord Jesus Christ off the ground.  And it carried Him into the sky out of their sight and into Heaven where he took his throne.  This is the ascension.   And our Lord Jesus Christ is still there in Heaven.  Theologians call this time His present session.  That is, He sat down at God’s right hand where He must reign and rule until He comes again.   This is what we see in the book of the Revelation.  We have magnificent creatures, seraphim and cherubim,  angels, glorified men.  These people and angels are numbering in the millions and millions surrounding the throne and paying tribute to the One Who sits on it.  He is at the same time the Lamb Who was slain and the Lion of the tribe of Judah. 
So what is the ascension?  It is the Lord’s rise to glory at His Father’s right hand.  We urge one another to exalt the Lord.  And we ought to exalt the Lord, because God has first exalted Him.  You can praise me more than I deserve.  I can lift you up higher than you belong.  But  it’s impossible to lift the Lord Jesus Christ up higher than He belongs because there is no higher place than Heaven and right there at the apex of all things sits the King, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ, 40 days after His resurrection and 10 days before Pentecost, ascended to God’s right hand.  That’s the doctrine; that’s the fact of the ascension.
The ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ is essential to theology and the believer’s life.  Thus we need to understand not only what happens but what it means…  well, according to Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost this chiefly means: Jesus is the King.  Not that He will be the king someday or at the second coming or if you want him to be king or if you accept him as your personal Savoir.  But what Peter is saying is that in ascending to God’s right hand and sitting on the throne that Jesus is the King.”

-          - Michael Phillips, 
in his ascension sermon, which I STRONGLY recommend to you

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Circumcised Ears [and earbuds]

God tells us [through the inspired endorsement of the synecdochal LXX quote in Heb 10.5-7] that if we want to think about our bodies being prepared for service to God, the one part of our body God uses to describe that willing servant-like body  to be used for the purposes of King Jesus, - the one thing is hearing ears, ears that have been circumcised ears, ears that have been 'dug open' [Ps 40.6] and hear the will of the Father...
God says that to do the will of the Father, it requires your body.  And particularly, it requires your ears: the ability to listen... because hearing is a way of submitting to things.  We've got a whole new world now where sounds are no longer a reminder of our need to submit to the created order in a way that our sight is.  Now through earbuds, we can control the world of our hearing.  That is momentous in the history of the world.  It can be a powerful device for good, but it can be a horrific, powerful device for evil as well, because hearing reminds us of our submission to what is around us.  Seeing is not that way - we gaze, we apprehend, we rule.  So ... be careful with your ipod!  That's what I'm saying!

- Dennis Tuuri, Sermon 'Listen' on Psalm 40

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Apologetics in Light of the Resurrection

"[Like Thomas], those who live in the world of the enlightenment will naturally ask, ‘but did it happen … and how do you know?’ And they must be encouraged to come with their questions.  The prim and proper Bartian would no doubt prefer it if Jesus had said to Thomas, ‘Go away and come back when you’ve got a better epistemology!’  But interestingly the story works the other way round.  Good historical answers are available just as Jesus could in fact be touched…

This is because the resurrection, if it means what the NT says it means, is not a creatio ex nihilo but a creatio ex vetere.  As in Romans 8 – just as the old ontology is swallowed up in the new: what is mortal being swallowed up,  not replaced with life but swallowed up in it -  so the old epistemology, quite properly, is transcended and therefore included in the new.  There is no complete disjunction.

The resurrection itself is not the abandoning of the old body and the emergence of a new one, but the raising to new life of the old one itself.

Think about this: the mark of the nails on the body of the risen Jesus are thus the sign that validates historical inquiry into the resurrection. The nail thrusts themselves, like the skepticism of the enlightenment, were meant to wound but now remain as evidence.  Go figure…

-Tom Wright

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Managing Oneself

Managing Oneself
by Peter R Drucker ,  HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW, JAN 2005 [abridged]

Most of us will have to learn to manage ourselves and develop ourselves. We will have to place ourselves where we can make the greatest contribution staying mentally alert and engaged during a 50-year working life, which means knowing how and when to change the work we do.

What Are My Strengths?
Most people think they know what they are good at. They are usually wrong. More often, people know what they are not good at – though more are wrong than right. Yet, a person can perform only from strength. One cannot build performance on weaknesses, let alone on something one cannot do at all.

Whenever you make a key decision or take a key action, write down what you expect will happen. 9 or 12 months later, compare the actual results with your expectations. I have been practicing this method for 15 - 20 years now, and every time I’m surprised.

Practiced consistently, this will show you within 2 - 3 years, where your strengths lie - and this is the most important thing to know. It will show you what you are doing or failing to do that deprives you of the full benefits of your strengths, where you are not particularly competent, and where you have no strengths or ability to perform.

#1:  Most importantly, concentrate on your strengths. Put yourself where your strengths can produce results.

#2: Improve your strengths. Analysis will rapidly show where you need to improve skills or acquire new ones. It will also show gaps in your knowledge.

#3: Discover where your intellectual arrogance is causing disabling ignorance and overcome it. Far too many people - especially people with great expertise in one area - are contemptuous of knowledge in other areas or believe that being bright is a substitute for knowledge.  Go to work on acquiring the skills and knowledge you need to fully realize your strengths.

Your bad habits - what you do or fail to do that inhibits your effectiveness and performance - will quickly show up in the feedback - problems like a lack of manners. Manners are the lubricating oil of an organization – simply saying "please" and "thank you", knowing people’s names, or keeping up with family news - enables two people to work together whether they like each other or not. Bright people, especially bright young people, often do not understand this.

Comparing your expectations with your results also indicates what not to do. We all have a vast number of areas in which we have no talent or skill and little chance of becoming even mediocre.
One should waste as little effort as possible on improving areas of low competence.

It takes far more energy and work to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from 1st-rate performance to excellence.
Yet most people, teachers, and organizations concentrate on making incompetent performers into mediocre ones. Energy, resources, and time should go instead to making a competent person into a star performer.

Friday, April 20, 2012

How to Become the Local Pastor [when you're not]

1.  Root for the local teams.  Rooting for the Steelers is borderline immoral wherever you live, but especially if you have accepted a call to move from Pennsylvania to some other area of the country.  You have a new hometown now.  With Ruth, you must be willing to say "your people will be my people; your team, my team."  Interestingly here in my [new] home, professional sports are secondary to college and even high school.  Be sensitive to pick up on things like that and adapt.

2.  Get a local phone number.  Nothing reinforces the impression of your being an outsider like an out-of-state area code preceding every call you make in an attempt to overcome your outsider status and build local relationships.  Besides, it's an excuse to upgrade to a smarter phone [more on that in a future post] and switch networks if necessary to get optimal coverage in your new territory [I got no reception in several spots of our church property with my original carrier - BIG PROBLEM!].

3.  Never refer to your old location as home.  It is not.  You are home where you are now.  So stop calling the old place home - especially publicly and especially from the pulpit!  My former location was "my old house"; the "place where I used to live"; the "town where my parents live" or "raised me"; "where we came from"; anything but home.  When you return there for family visits and vacations, you are going on a trip to see family.  You are not going home.  You are home now.  Adjust your heart and adjust your vocabulary accordingly.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"Here I Stand" Day

Today, 491 years ago, one of our Fathers, Martin Luther, quietly gave his reply to Emperor Charles at the Diet of Worms with these words:

“Since your sere Majesty and your Lordships seek a simple answer, I will give one. Unless I am convinced by the Scriptures or clear reason (rather than pope or councils who contradicted themselves), my am bound to the Scriptures and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand.  I cannot do otherwise.  May God help me. Amen."

Our Parish meditation yesterday for the children centered around a remembrance of our elder brother, Martin, and his example of conscience and conviction.  We took some time to define conscience and conviction and then to remember many other Biblical examples of men and women who have taken similar "stands".  Martin was not "standing" there alone.  In fact, he was standing with a great cloud of witnesses who had gone before him - men and women of conscience and conviction, of whom the world was not worthy.  How many of our Fathers and Mothers can you name from this cloud? We recalled many with joy - Shiphrah and Puah, [the Hebrew midwives]; Daniel; Esther; the Apostles who obeyed God rather than men. The two stories we know Martin was thinking about during that time [from his letters] were Moses before Pharoah and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego [Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah].

Monday, April 16, 2012

Calvin on communion, change management, fragmentation, pastoring, and so much more ...

"We are very pleased that the Lord´s Supper is being celebrated every month, provided that this more frequent observance does not produce carelessness. When a considerable part of the congregation stays away from Communion, the church somehow becomes fragmented. Nonetheless, we think it is better for a congregation [to take Communion] every month than only four times a years, as usually happens here.
When I first came here, the Lord´s Supper was observed only three times a year, and seven whole months intervened between the observance at Pentecost and at the Birthday of Christ. A monthly observance pleased me, but I could not persuade the people, and it seemed better to bear with their weakness than to continue arguing stubbornly. I took care to have it recorded in the public records, however, that our way was wrong, so that correcting it might be easier for future generations."

- John Calvin 
in a letter from Geneva on August 12, 1561 [less than 3 yrs before his death]

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Simply Ming

Chef Ming’s Top 5 Tips for Business Success

Always keep your door open to staff and treat them like family.

Do demographic research to help select the location of a brick and mortar business and ensure you’re reaching the right audience.

Be present–literally–Know what is happening with all aspects of your business.

Set yourself up for success before launch–have the ability to pay for expenses for several months, even with no profit.

Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth.

-Chef Ming Tsai

Monday, March 12, 2012

Wright with Colbert

Stephen Colbert (SC): Bishop, thank you so much for joining us. Now, you are a bishop of the Anglican church, correct?
Bishop N.T. Wright (NTW): Correct, yes.
SC: Okay, great. Well, welcome. Now, I'm a Roman Catholic; no hard feelings about the whole Henry thing. Okay?
NTW: Absolutely.
SC: Let's not try to make this... let's not try to settle any scores. Okay?
NTW: We actually have an annual golf match of Anglicans and Catholics, and I'm sorry to say that they won the first two, but we shared the one last week. So we're getting on alright.
SC: Okay, great. Well that's a good ecumenical step.
NTW: Absolutely. We played for a dogma a hole.
SC: A dogma a hole?
NTW: Go figure, yeah.
SC: That's very nice. Now, you talk a little bit about dogma -- really quite ancient dogma -- in your bookSurprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection and the Mission of the Church. I love the nameSurprised by Hope. I believe that will be the title of Hilary Clinton's next book, also.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Amend or Defend

Unpopular law
by | Janie B. Cheaney [abridged] World Magazine
… last month when Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg suggested, in a visit to Egypt of all places, that the document she has sworn to uphold is approaching its sell-by date. "I would not look to the U.S. Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012." Other models might better serve, such as South Africa's: "That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights [and] had an independent judiciary."
It may be the first time a justice has actually said this, though the Court has been stretching the document for at least 80 years. Ginsburg's comments indicate that the elastic is shot, a notion seconded by Adam Liptak of The New York Times.
Liptak argues that nobody wants to model their sparkly new constitution on ours because it's "terse and old," with "relatively few rights," and is notoriously difficult to change. "Other nations routinely trade in their constitutions wholesale, replacing them on average every 19 years."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ordination Charge

Charge at the Ordination of CJ Bowen to Preach
by Glen Knecht

Build your ministry on these 2 things:

1. Humility
Whitefield said on his death bed that he wanted to attempt to preach one last time.  Who is sufficient for these things?
2. Tears
Tears are the lubircation of your preaching.  They show you care for the hurting, sinful, tempted, sporadic attenders, those struggling with doubts.  They show you are a shepherd of the whole flock, not just a part.

Banish these 2 things:

1. Pride
2. Professionalism

Pray every day to be delivered from these.  You will overcome them.