Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Year's Resolution

This year, I'm keeping my traditional New Year's Resolution of not making any at all. It keeps me safe from failure and frustration. I won't feel guilty, either. I just reckon I'll change things when they need to happen.

California Weather

The weather here has been generally on the cold side (okay, James, VF, Gene, Bruce and VS, I know you people are laughing) with lows near or slightly below freezing. Several days of cold, foggyish, misty, dewey, rainy days. Not just rain, but gray weather. I love foggy weather, and it won't get here in full force until January. Jogging in the morning is getting harder.

Friday, December 28, 2007

My Favorite Ten Years After Songs

Who? No, not The Who. Ten Years After. For those who don't know them, or don't quite remember, Ten Years After is (was) an English blues/rock group that entered the music scene during the second British Invasion (1967). They are led by guitarist Alvin Lee and had only a few hits. I'm Going Home became popular as they performed it live at the Woodstock festival, then the 1972 FM radio hit I'd Love To Change The World, which can still be heard occasionally on classic rock stations. Anyway, I became a huge fan, collected all their albums and still listen.

Here they are: Woman Trouble, Spider In My Web (studio version as a never previously released bonus track on the remastered Alvin Lee & Company album), Going Back To Birmingham, Portable People, Once There Was A Time, As The Sun Still Burns Away, Working On The Road, Help Me (both the studio and live versions)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Seasons of Life

"There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven..." Ecclesiastes 3:1

My family is going through what I'll call a distinct season of life. We have added three children to our household in the last four years or so. We are so busy with family stuff that other areas of life like church are placed in a different category of importance. We have trouble making all the church meetings and functions like we used to. Most of the mid-week bible studies we can attend aren't able to accommodate our children, and we can't afford baby sitters to do this. We're mostly home bodies these last few years. We don't hang out with the same people anymore and if we do, it isn't at the same places.

Most other families we talk to share the same experience. It's a phase - or season - of life. As a Christian, I did completely different things before I was married. Then after marriage, we did different things yet. Then after having children, different things yet. Others tell us that it will change yet again after our children grow older.

It is difficult for me to get this, but I know I shouldn't judge my spirituality - or "walk" - by my past experiences. Seasons change every few months, and they do in life as well.

A Starbucks Christmas

A west coast grocery store chain - the recently renewed Lucky chain - was open on Christmas Day from 8 to 5. Mrs. Scott needed some chocolate chips for a cheesecake glaze, so I went to the store to get a pack. There were many people there. I noticed many people coming out of the store with those bright red and green Starbucks coffee drinks. Once in the store, there were many more people drinking Starbucks. Only later did it occur to me that all Starbucks stores were closed on Christmas and that people were using the Starbucks stand inside the store to get their Starbucks fix.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Tis The Season To Be Slow About Blogging

This is the season to be slow about blogging. Last year most of my blogroll was slow. I presume everybody is with famliy to celebrate Christmas. Maybe I'll lighten up on my heavy themes in my blogs this next week and post some fluff and human interest stories. If I get a theology brainstorm, maybe I'll just save them for later. Who knows?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

My Favorite U2 Songs

My faves: absolute #1: Where The Streets Have No Name. (One of my all time faves from any group)

Others: Sunday Bloody Sunday, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, I Will Follow, Gloria, Bullet The Blue Sky, Vertigo, A Man And A Woman

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 16)

Read the entire series of posts here.

I'm taking a slight detour from the train of thought on pastors' responsibilities and commenting on a very important bible passage that I included in Part 15:

The Apostle Peter exhorts church elders and says, "...shepherd the flock of God among you, not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock." (1 Peter 5:2-3.)

The phrase "those allotted to your charge" is vitally important in establishing the who and how of pastors' responsibility, but most important of all it establishes how membership is established and Who establishes it. Notice very carefully the grammatical structure of this phrase. "Those" are the sheep. "Your" is a possessive pronoun that indicates that it is the elders (pastors) who have the charge . "Allotted" is the verb that ties the sheep to the shepherds' charge.

Now, it is not possible from the grammar - as the elders of Grace Community Church wrongly claim when they say, "those who have submitted themselves to the care and the authority of the elders" are the ones they have responsibility over - it is not possible that the sheep are the ones who do the allotting. The sheep are allotted to the charge of the pastors. The allotting is passive - it is done to them. If it were the sheep that did the allotting, as the Grace elders claim, then the verse would read, "those who have allotted themselves to your charge." It doesn't say that. The sheep are not the ones who allot, they are the ones who have been allotted.

Also, it is not possible from the grammar that the pastors/elders are the ones who do the allotting. Otherwise the verse would read, "those whom you have allotted to your own charge." It doesn't say that either.

The only possibility from the grammar is that the object that does the allotting is neither the sheep nor the shepherds. So Who is the one who allots?  The bible tells us:

"For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body..." (1 Cor. 12:13)

"But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired." (1 Cor. 12:18)

"But God has so composed the body..." (1 Cor. 12:24)

The answer is God. He allots sheep to the charge of shepherds. This He does by assembling the sheep. It is God's assembly, not the shepherd's assembly.  The elders of GCC have made a large mistake in how they view relationships in the church.  Their teachings on the matter are widespread.  It is no great task, then, to realize that large problems can result from large problems in how one views the church.

Part 15 . . . . . . . . Part 17

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Rock Anthem Burnout

About 15 years ago I got burned out on the rock anthem songs. You know those long, signature songs by various classical rock groups that were endlessly played on the radio? Stairway To Heaven, Free Bird, Won't Get Fooled Again, Carry On Wayward Son, Hotel California, Light My Fire, Bohemian Rhapsody. You know? Man? Dude? Dude!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Slight Format Change

I have a list of ongoing blog series in the left margin. For some of the series I have taken each post and collected them into one post. I have found that this is difficult, time consuming and frustrating. Blogger's post editor isn't quite what I need for this task.

In light of this, I am now going to use labels exclusively for entire series. The existing collection posts will still be available in the margin, but at the end of each I will put a link to the series label for to access the continuation of the series. I know of at least one link to a series from another blogger, so I want to keep the collection post. I hope this doesn't cause problems for any readers who access them.

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 15)

Read the entire series of posts here.

Continuing from the same quote, in Part 14 of my series, from Part 2 of Pulpit Magazine's article on church membership with regards to pastors' responsibilities:

Elders can shepherd the people and give an account to God for their spiritual well-being only if they know who they are; they can provide oversight only if they know those for whom they are responsible; and they can fulfill their duty to shepherd the flock only if they know who is part of the flock and who is not.
The Apostle Peter exhorts church elders and says, "...shepherd the flock of God among you, not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock." (1 Peter 5:2-3.) The elders of Grace Community Church seem unsure who God's sheep are that they need to shpeherd. But the bible says that they are to shepherd those who are among you. If the sheep are there, they are to be shepherded. All it takes is for an elder to be among them for them to receive shepherding. It doesn't require the sheep's initiation. If a sheep is assembling with other believers, he is to receive shepherding. It doesn't first require the activity of placing himself on a list or having the elders do it for him.

Part 14 . . . . . . . . Part 16

Monday, December 17, 2007

My Favorite Who Songs

I used to be a huge fan of The Who in high school and college. That waned some, but I still like them. Here are my favorite Who songs:

Faves: Bargain, Blue Red and Grey, Summertime Blues (Live at Leeds), I Can't Explain, The Kids Are Alright

Next level: Substitute, Young Man Blues (Live at Leeds), Boris The Spider, I'm Free, Join Together, The Real Me, Heinz Baked Beans jingle

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My Favorite Beach Boys Songs

I was born and raised in California, have blue eyes and blond hair, go to the beach several times a year, really like the Beach Boys, but just aquired my first album at age 43. Here are my favorite Beach Boys songs:

Faves: I Get Around; 409; Surfin' USA; Fun, Fun, Fun; Help Me Rhonda; Barbara Ann

Next best: Surfin' Safari; Little Deuce Coupe; Sloop John B; When I Grow Up To Be A Man; Catch A Wave; Kokomo

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 14)

Read the entire series of posts here.

Again from Part 2 of Pulpit Magazine's article on church membership with regards to pastors' responsibilities:

Elders can shepherd the people and give an account to God for their spiritual well-being only if they know who they are; they can provide oversight only if they know those for whom they are responsible; and they can fulfill their duty to shepherd the flock only if they know who is part of the flock and who is not.

Jesus said, "Shepherd My sheep." (John 21:16). He did not say, "Shepherd those who you have decided for yourselves are your sheep." Jesus assumed that His sheep were discernible to His shepherds. The pastors at Grace Community church have admitted that they don't know who to shepherd. So instead of shepherding all Christians who assemble, they shepherd only those who both assemble and who come forward to submit themselves to the man-made "formal" membership created by the pastors.

It should be noted here that I am not singling out Grace Community Church and their elders. Their exact teaching is very widespread throughout evangelical churches. It just so happens that they posted an article right after I started this series that contains a great deal of points that I will be writing about. I plan to give many more examples from other sources in future posts.

Part 13 . . . . . . . . Part 15

Monday, December 10, 2007

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 13)

Read entire series in one article here, or as a collection of all posts here.

Quoting from Part 2 of Pulpit Magazine's article on church membership with regards to pastors'/elders' responsibilities in shepherding God's sheep:

The specific duties given to these elders presuppose a clearly defined group of church members who are under their care...Those responsibilities require that there be a distinguishable, mutually understood membership in the local church. Elders can shepherd the people and give an account to God for their spiritual well-being only if they know who they are; they can provide oversight only if they know those for whom they are responsible; and they can fulfill their duty to shepherd the flock only if they know who is part of the flock and who is not.
As I've already shown, a "distinguishable, mutually understood" membership in the local church means those Christians who are assembled. This is very simple, yet the authors of this article, along with the elder that interacts in the comments section, have the idea that pastors have no idea who God's sheep are. Their solution is to create a scheme where the sheep are burdened with the responsibility to come forward and submit themselves to these men. Only those who do so are deemed worthy of shepherding. Continuing with their thought process:

The elders of a church are not responsible for the spiritual well-being of every individual who visits the church or who attends sporadically. Rather, they are primarily responsible to shepherd those who have submitted themselves to the care and the authority of the elders, and this is done through church membership.
It must be noted here that sheep are sheep, prone to wander. Sheep may not even know to "come forward" or if they do, they may be in such a difficult spot in life that they aren't even able to. Jesus spoke of the shepherd who left the 99 to go after the one straying sheep. With the Grace Community model of church from this article, the pastors might not even know that a sheep is missing. A comment from JackW in the comments section really brings light to the issue:

Jesse, Is it possible that this formal membership deal came about because Elders wanted to define their own responsibility and accountability? An Elder should have a pretty close relationship with the One who builds His church and knows who His sheep are, right? An Elder should have the discernment to know who is under his overview, right? … or have they exchanged discernment for a list? Will the Elder not be accountable for all the goats that are on his list as well as the sheep that are not? If the Lord builds His church by sending a sheep your way, are you not going to provide accountability or minister to him because he is not on your list? “… all of this necessarily entails membership.” Sorry, that’s not making sense to me.
Here JackW hits the nail on the head. Many pastors are defining their own responsibility and accountability, ignoring what God already wrote on the subject, and as a result they can't even see God's sheep. They have blinded themselves.

Part 12 . . . . . . . . Part 14

300,000 Miles for Mr. Mileage

Today my car turned the 300,000 mile mark. I bought my 1990 Honda Accord brand new in early '90. It was the first year of a new model line, which is supposed to be the worst year, but this one is no lemon. I've been through a few clutches and a few timing belts, maybe an oil filter or two. I have no reservations recommending Honda to anybody. Beats the American stuff I've driven any day.

I have a knack for getting mileage out of all kinds of things. Shoes, boots, sandals, computers, T-shirts and other articles of clothing. My hairdresser, dentist, razor. My wife is cracking up right now as she's feeding me examples. I've had my razor since I was 16. Still going. Records, CD's. Furniture. My sandals lasted 10 years, my boots 8, my new boots are going on four. I have T-shirts that are 10 years old. I'm on my second pair of jogging shoes in the last 12 years, and I jog several miles every day. I had my last computer for 8 years.

Friday, December 07, 2007

My Favorite Rolling Stones Songs

Beatles and Zeppelin down, now for the Stones. My faves:

Top tier: Far Away Eyes, Factory Girl, Love In Vain, Neighbors

Next level: Street Fighting Man, Gimme Shelter, 19th Nervous Breakdown, Midnight Rambler, Paint It Black, Gomper, Dear Doctor.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

My Favorite Led Zeppelin Songs

I recently listed my favorite Beatles songs. Now for Led Zeppelin. There's only one song I don't like, Sick Again. Here's the fav's:

Top tier: Hats Off to (Roy) Harper, Boogie With Stu, Hot Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I've Been Loving You.

Next to top tier (really close): Rock and Roll, Battle of Evermore, Lemon Song, That's the Way.

Coming soon: Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, The Who, U2.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A Different Kind of Conspiracy Theorist

It just occurred to me that there might be a different kind of conspiracy theorist than the ones we read about. First there are the conspirators. Those who engage in conspiracy. Then there are the conspiracy theorists. Those who make up wild stories about supposed conspiracies, but who have little or no evidence readily available.

A different kind of conspiracy theorist would be one who takes the truth [of a real conspiracy - edit 12-07-07] and twists it so that it appears like a mere theory, one that looks bogus enough that nobody will believe it, and makes anybody who does believe it look foolish.

We Love You, Vianna

The lady that has been cutting my hair for the last 20 years - her name is Vianna - is retiring at the end of the month. Today was our last time in the chair. The rest of my family kind of joined her client list as they became my family.

I first came to her through a now ex sister-in-law. Later that year, my dad retired. She was at his retirement dinner. We saw each other and asked what each was doing there. Well, it was my dad, so that's why I was there, but I didn't know that her husband was my dad's boss. Anyway, through 20 years, the gossip and chit-chat has been wonderful. We wish you well.

My Favorite Beatles Songs

My favorite songs from the Fab Four include: Number one is Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da; number two is And Your Bird Can Sing; number three Your Mother Should Know. The others in no particular order: You've Got To Hide Your Love Away, Day Tripper, Norwegian Wood, Helter Skelter, She's So Heavy. I also like some of the odd songs like Rocky Raccoon, Good Night, Yellow Submarine, Maxwell's Silver Hammer.

Friday, November 30, 2007

When Do My Ideas Become My Ideas?

I have a mild interest in, but have thought little about, intellectual property laws, patents, trademarks and copyrights. A nagging question is, "when do my ideas become my ideas"? If use somebody else's work as my own, it might be called plagiarism. But what if I came to the same ideas independently? Or what if I learned many things from many people, then used what I have learned as my own? Where is the line drawn?

If I think the same thing as somebody else, an idea for a product for example, and the other person receives a patent a day before me, then my idea becomes, in essence, his idea, even though I thought of it independently. Isn't that theft? He uses state law to force me to not use my idea, and if I do use my idea, he can collect damages. How is this not theft? Thinking out loud.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Why Take The Chance?

Toll House recipe chocolate chip cookie dough is great. When we were kids, we used to try to get away with eating as much of the dough as mom would let us. But the purpose of the dough, she always said, was to make cookies. Today, things have changed. The dough rules. It makes sense. The dough is great, every time. But if you try to bake cookies from it, there's a chance it will not come out right, even though the cookies are great too. You could burn them or underbake them. Since the dough is always perfect, why take a chance on the cookies not turning out perfect?

Monday, November 26, 2007

End Of Weekend Potpourri

Okay, here's just some random stuff.

  • I've seen thousands of women put their makeup on in the mirror on their way to work in the morning. But for only the second time (in the last six months) I have seen a woman apply makeup at night while it was dark. Both times she used the compact mirror on the underside of the sun visor, with the small light to guide her mascara while she was driving.
  • Today I found out what a turkey Caesar salad was.
  • On occasion my wife has asked me who my favorite female celebrities are in terms of beauty/looks, etc. She keeps the list to celebs because there's no danger of them running off with me! Okay here goes. Number one, and classic, Geena Davis. Then, in no special order: Angelina Jolie, Selma Hayek, Catherine Zeta Jones, Scarlett Johanson, Nigella Lawson. Okay, maybe nudge Nigella Lawson up to number two. Halle Berry? Some people claim she has the perfect face. But I think that's the problem. No character uniqueness. Brittney Spears, Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Aniston, Paris Hilton, Janet Jackson? Yuck!
  • I'm done with the last cabinet shelf in the kitchen remodel. My dad's making rollers for the drawers and I'm on to painting and finishing the scalloped molding before re-installing.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Harmony of the Gospels and Bible Contradictions

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. And He sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it." Luke 22:7-8

I recently came across a blog (and I can't find the link, but wish I could remember) that noted supposed contradictions between the four gospels as to the day of Christ's crucifixion. The contention was that the four gospels don't agree on which day Christ was actually crucified. I have come across a number of supposed contradictions in the bible before as put forth by skeptics of the faith. I have also seen a number of supposed answers to these contradictions by well-meaning Christians - some of these even in error. But one thing that I find in many of these cases is modern thinking people who try to force technical standards of modern thinking and scientific research onto ancient storytelling. It doesn't always work. Another error is to place standards of technical writing onto verbal storytelling without realizing that we moderns speak the same way.

I don't recall from the blog whether the above Scripture reference was one listed, but it should be obvious from reading Luke 22 that the two sentences in the quotation above are from two different days. Luke mentions the Passover day, then skips backward in time in the very next sentence to describe getting ready for that day. An analogy would be the following: "I had a good Thanksgiving Day. I flew home, and my mom and kid sister met me at the airport. They took me home and the whole family was there. We spent all morning watching football and talking about life, then had a great turkey meal." It might be obvious to anybody who knows the narrator that he skipped back to the day before Thanksgiving to tell of his travel and meeting his family, then skipping forward to talk about the day itself. He doesn't need to warn the reader because the reader would know that he had to travel before the holiday. We moderns, even though we pay extreme attention to technical detail in formal writing, often verbally violate these rules when we speak - and think nothing of it. We then use it against people of other times and cultures.

Another group of supposed contradictions arise in Kings and Chronicles where the number of years which certain kings reigned or the ages at which their successors' births occurred don't agree. This is because the cultures of the two kingdoms, Israel and Judah, came to count time differently. In one kingdom they counted partial years as whole years and the other counted only whole years. (Thanks to Harold Camping here for his research) In our modern world, the same "contradictions" occur. This is why when the US team plays the Taiwan team in the Little League World Series that our twelve year olds play their thirteen year olds. The kids are the same age, but in the Taiwanese culture, the nine months of pregnancy is counted as a year. So their kids are one year old upon birth, whereas ours are one year old a year later. Another example is the way days and nights are counted in the world of vacation travel by travel agencies. The day you fly there might be counted as part of the vacation time. Judgment Day will be interesting when God debunks all the false claims made against the faith. He may even use technicalities to do so.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Software Update Woes

I avoided it like the plague for over a year. I kept getting reminders in the bottom right corner of my screen. I endured having to click the thing off every time I logged on because of what I knew. I knew it would be stupid. But somehow I forgot, or at least ignored what I knew would be reality. But I did it. I clicked on the idiot button that urged me to update my Microsoft Internet Explorer from version 6 to 7.

Nothing can ruin a weekend more than trying to install or update software. Our family had one of the best Thanksgivings ever, but this morning I just blew it. I tried to update. Of course the new version did anything at all except explore the internet. No access. No ability to access. Denials that it even could have access. Mrs. Scott, who is better at dealing with tech supports than me, picked up the phone. Three hours later, after speaking to people around the world, some nice man in the Philippines finally solved the problem.

Why software installation or updating never, ever, ever works is totally beyond me. It seems only reasonable that a software company could cause its own software to update automatically. Despite all the promises of smooth installation at the click of a button. It's not like they haven't had an opportunity to make it work. Millions of people call their tech support with problems. Do they listen? It's not like I have tons of weird other stuff going on, just other basic Microsoft stuff like Windows, Excel, Word and Internet Explorer. After many apologies on my part, Mrs. Scott finally realized how my mistake will affect the rest of our weekend.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I'm A Six Point Calvinist

I'm a six point Calvinist. If you're theologically ignorant enough to not know what the sixth point of Calvinism is, it will obviously be a waste of my time explaining it to you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 12)

Read entire series in one article here, or as a collection of all posts here.

This topic is very complex for me, as there are many interrelated points to consider. How to arrange them and order them is difficult, so I'll take this post to state some basics, to keep myself on track. This is for both me and anybody who might be reading.

My basic premise is that church membership is not something that man has to create, i.e. establish a "formal" church membership through a process where "regular attenders" can become "members." Church membership is an already existing reality for all believers since it is God who places us in Christ's body. Since "church" (ekklesia in the Greek) means "assembly," membership is realized through assembling, not through making a covenant with others, not by fulfilling a list of items created by church leaders, not by meeting man-made standards by a group of church people.

No covenant needs to be made with all others in the church because all relationships, duties, love and actions required of Christians are already part of the New Covenant in Christ's blood. There already is a covenant. Whenever church leaders or groups of people in churches create a list of requirements or standards by which Christians can become members, there are always standards or requirements not included in the bible. Because of this there will always be Christians who because of the way God created them or because of their obedience to God will fail to meet these standards, they will be wrongly treated by the churches as if they were sinning or deficient. Even if the only requirement is that one must become a formal member by doing something to get on the membership list, this requirement is in addition to what the bible requires.

I have a number of experiences with church memberships and how simply being faithful to God is viewed as falling short by those who hold to "formal" memberships. I have also talked with many other people and they have shared their experiences with formal church memberships as well. I hope to deal with some of these. I also hope to provide actual policies (many are ridiculous) on church memberships from looking at church constitutions, by-laws and statements of faith that are readily available on-line simply by going to church websites. There are even those out there who hold so strongly to a man-made formal membership that those who regularly attend a church and who appear to be obedient, faithful Christians in every respect are viewed as unsaved simply by their failure to become formal members.

I also hope to look at the authority of pastors/elders and their responsibilities before God, and compare what the bible has to say with what they think their responsibilities are and what they think God will judge them for on Judgment Day. Stay tuned, or maybe even set up your TiVo.

Part 11 . . . . . . . . Part 13

Saturday, November 17, 2007

John Elway's Greatest Last-Minute Comeback: Nobody Remembers It

John Elway is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play football, maybe one of the three greatest. The one thing that Elway did best, he did more often than anybody else: the last-minute comeback. He had 50% more miracle endings than the second best, Joe Montana. Yet what is perhaps Elway's greatest comeback of his life (I found an amazing YouTube clip), nobody even remembers it.

It occurred in -what else - the last drive in the last minute of the final game of his senior year in college. I remember it so well because he did it against my school in my freshman year. I doubt a quarterback has ever had more pressure. Not only would it be the last time he touched the ball in college, the game had much more meaning. It was his rivalry game. And not just any rivalry, one of the six or seven greatest rivalries in college history. He also needed the victory because a bowl game berth was hanging on it. So was his personal quest for the Heisman Trophy and the eye of the scouts who would decide his NFL future.

The odds were stacked against him. With 4th down and 17 on his own 13 with less than a minute to play and down by two points, he needed to drive his team down the field and score. And he did it. How could John Elway pull out a miracle in his last college game over his rival to get into a bowl and win the Heisman Trophy and nobody remembers it?

It's because he also made what could be the biggest blunder in football history. In calling the final time out to set up the win, he neglected to look at the clock before calling it and left some time on the clock after the game winning score. The consequences were so unbelievably devastating and of biblical proportions that they overshadowed his miracle. See if you can pick up on why Elway's drive is forgotten in history. View his amazing feat - and tragic undoing - in this YouTube clip.

A Glimpse of Eastern Orthodoxy

Abu Daoud at Islam and Christianity posts a series about Eastern Orthodoxy as written in an article by Frederica Mathewes-Green. This is a fascinating read for an ignorant Protestant. [Update: Oops! I forgot the hat tip: Erik Twist]

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 11)

Read entire series in one article here, or as a collection of all posts here.

Continuing on in my examination of the articles at Pulpit Magazine, here's a quote from Part 1 of their series, from the section on the early church as an example:

In the early church, coming to Christ was coming to the church. The idea of experiencing salvation without belonging to a local church is foreign to the New Testament. When individuals repented and believed in Christ, they were baptized and added to the church (Acts 2:41, 47; 5:14; 16:5). More than simply living out a private commitment to Christ, this meant joining together formally with other believers in a local assembly and devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer (Acts 2:42).

If coming to Christ meant coming to the church - and I have no problem with this - and joining with other believers in assembly, devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer, why would anybody today who was already doing these things be considered a non-member of that assembly? Only in adding requirements not found in the bible could such an idea be possible.

Part 10 . . . . . . . . Part 12

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mickey Mouse Lived Here

I'm slowly progressing on my kitchen remodel that was supposed to be done two Christmases ago. I've got a few other projects going on and I keep running into Mickey Mouse work that occurred sometime in the past. This leads me to believe he lived here at one time.

When A Way Becomes The Way

Sometimes there's a way to do something. It's not the only way. Maybe that way is biblical, but not the only biblical way. A way to do something can easily become the way to do something. Because it's biblical it can easily be looked at as the biblical way to do something. Then when somebody does something else biblical, but not according to the way of doing things, that individual or group is accused of doing things in an unbiblical manner. Beware of letting a way become the way.

The Proverbs 31 Woman's Husband

"She rises also while it is still night, and gives food to her household, and portions to her maidens." Proverbs 31:15

Maidens? Plural? Something to consider for those rigid literalist husbands who demand more from their wives than they are capable of doing. Have they given their wives more than one maid? Hmmm?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I Love Lists

I love lists. Many kinds of lists. The top 100 movies of all time. The top selling albums or groups of all time. The top 500 rock songs of all time counted down and played. The top 25 college football rankings. David Letterman's top ten list. And of course my love for baseball throws any and all baseball lists in here. Many of these lists are other people's opinions, many are statistical facts. But I love lists.

Catholic Rightness vs Protestant Rightness

Roman Catholics think they're right, and so do Protestants. But in reading much about what each group says when they talk about truth, it seems that Catholics tend to talk about the church, where as Protestants seem to talk about doctrine. In general, Catholics believe that they are the true church, and they are right because they are the true church. Protestants believe that they hold to right doctrine, and because of this they are the true church. In short, Catholics believe they are right because they are the true church and Protestants believe that they are the true church because they are right. Just an observation.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Questioning My Faith

I'm returning to the post Society VS (new website for his blog) made regarding growing in the faith. He guesses that it can be likened to processes in human life. The four steps he listed are these:

1) Child - where we are told what is true
2) Teenager - where we know all the answers
3) Young Adult - where we question what we thought we knew
4) Adult - maturity that is a partnership with God

I must admit I've been questioning my faith over the last so many years. Step three. Actually this has been going on since the beginning of my faith. But I need to make a distinction here. The faith I've been questioning is not the faith - that faith handed down once for all - but my faith. I have been questioning what I thought I knew; what others have told me what the faith is.

I've been almost exclusively within Protestant/ Evangelical/ Reformed circles since my conversion. Yet within this, I've been taught what the faith is by legalists, fundamentalists, dispensationalists, covenant theologians, premillenialists, amillenialists, moralists, neoplatonists, neopuritans, neotraditionalists, political conservatives and a host of other isms, ists and knowitalls. Each of these has been content to set up a box containing all reality. Their boxes are limiting and force falsehoods upon us. I have dared to break out of boxes and tried to look at the world with the idea of God's purpose in mind; not man's knowitallism.

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world -- our faith. ( 1 John 5:4)

Friday, November 02, 2007

Number Nine: Yankee Announcer's Voice on Beatles' White Album

I'm convinced that the voice saying "number nine" repeatedly in the Beatles' White Album song "Revolution 9" is none other than the Yankees PA announcer Bob Sheppard. The White Album was put out in '68, so I'm guessing that the voice is an audio clip from Sheppard announcing a Roger Maris at bat sometime in '66 or earlier.

I Googled and surfed to find some confirmation of this. I did find a YouTube clip of him announcing a game in '06. At about 0:41 on this clip you can hear him announce a Texas Ranger player who wears uniform number nine. Forty years later, it sounds just like the White Album. After my discovery, I found this on Wikipedia.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Records, Tapes, CD's and The Holy Trinity

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. Ephesians 5:1

And now for something completely different. I am a Trinitarian, and unashamedly at that. I believe in One God in Three Persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe the bible teaches the Trinity, but I'm a bit more tolerant these days of Christians who have a hard time grasping this doctrine.

I also believe that God has built the concept of the Trinity into His creation. When man applies the concept of the Trinity to God's creation, he can reap benefits far greater than if he doesn't. Take music recording for example. Prior to the digital revolution, music was recorded on phonograph records. A needle cut the groove in a piece of vinyl, and the groove reflected the sound of the music. The vibrations that cut the groove made the groove a mere analogy of the original music. This is why conventional means are called analog. There is a point at which all analogies fail. With each successive playback of the record, wear and tear are introduced until major flaws are realized. One oops with the needle and the record itself (and thus the recording) would be damaged. Corruption in the vinyl is unforgiving.

On the other hand, when digital technology is used, the music is broken down into very small pieces that can be quantified, with each piece being equal in essence. The one piece of music is represented as many parts, whereas in analog music, the one original piece of music is represented with another one piece. This digital representation is a reflection of the nature of God. He is One being, but three (multiple) persons. He is the One and Many, the Unity and Diversity, division of labor, checks and balances. When the music is broken into small pieces, each piece has a relation to its neighboring pieces, that when combined forms something very close and almost indistinguishable from the original music. Now, here's the beauty of digital music. When one piece is corrupt, let's say from a "pop" or "hiss", it's neighbors (following a smooth curve of the music) can be looked at to determine where that corrupt piece should be. The program that plays the music back can make this correction and eliminate the corruption. In theory, the music never deteriorates, just as God lives forever and never changes.

Digital technology has greatly enhanced our lives. This is because the nature of God is applied to living. We now create things to imitate God. Many Christians have questioned whether Christians ought to be caught up in digital technology. A better question is why Trinitarians weren't the pioneers.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Christian Halloween

Okay, so the author is Catholic, but his list Top Ten Things to do for a Catholic Halloween is as Christian, Protestant and non-Fundamentalist as it is Catholic. (Hat tip to Chad Toney) Why (some) Protestants are horrified of Halloween is weird. Because of the cross, none of the forces of darkness have any power over them. Yet their fear gives them all the power they need.

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Parts 1-10)

. . . . . . . . (Click here for Newer Entries, Parts 11-20)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 10)

Read entire series in one article here, or as a collection of all posts here.

Continuing on in my examination of the articles at Pulpit Magazine, here's a quote from Part 2 of their series. It is in regard to Christians committing themselves to other believers in a local assembly.

The Exhortation to Mutual Edification [biblical "one anothers"] :...Exhortations to this kind of ministry presuppose that believers have committed themselves to other believers in a specific local assembly. Church membership is simply the formal way to make that commitment.
This is interesting. Church membership (as the elders at Grace Church define it!) is the formal way to make a commitment to other believers? I have a different understanding of commitment to other believers. A commitment to other believers is included in the New Covenant of Christ's blood. One does not commit to other believers by jumping through the hoops of a man-made church membership, one commits to other believers by obeying Christ with respect to loving others. The formal way to commit one's self to others is by actually committing one's self to others. It's that simple!

Part 9 . . . . . . . . Part 11

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 9)

Read entire series in one article here, or as a collection of all posts here.

Last month, Reformed Catholicism [Update: link no longer in use] posted (long post) with the following question: Did the Apostle Paul regard all the baptized as members of Christ? (and related questions for Calvinists). [Update: link no longer in use] While, in general, the question was framed within the context of all believers regardless of denomination or tradition, I related it to "formal" church membership in the comments section. The quotes offered in the article pointed to the apostles' treatment of all baptized believers as members of the body. My application to limited "formal membership" was taken by two of the RefCath regulars as a good point of how fleshing out systematic theology can butcher biblical theology.

Part 8 . . . . . . . . Part 10

From The Front Porch

One of my other blogs is titled From The Front Porch. I thought I'd include a picture from there.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Halloween and Christian Conscience

The annual debate in Christianity over Halloween is here again. There are scores of articles on the internet claiming that Halloween is a holiday with pagan roots, devil worship and the like, and should be avoided by Christians at all costs. All kinds of historical data is presented. There are also articles claiming that Halloween has always been a distinctly Christian holiday in which Christians should participate. All kinds of historical data is presented. Regardless, the whole debate is complex.

But this probably goes to show that there is no clear cut answer to whether a Christian should participate. Is a child putting on a mask and asking for candy a distinct act of devil worship? One article I read a few years ago traced the wearing of costumes back to the biblical idea that the devil and his angels were defeated at the cross. A little kid with a sheet over his head and saying, "boo", isn't going to scare anybody. Which is exactly the point. The principalities and powers were disarmed. They no longer have any power, and masquerading as a defeated demon can show Christ's triumph.

I now tend to look at Halloween from this last view. I was taught, from the first Christian circles I was in, that all of Halloween was necessarily evil. I was frightened by the idea of little children ringing my doorbell. So I hid in darkness and acted like nobody was home. My next Christian group was also frightened by Halloween, and they created an alternate activity safely within the four walls of the church. But I now see each of these as the opposite of freedom.

If somebody wants to refrain from Halloween as a matter of conscience, they can do so. But to place the limits of their own consciences on others and make a claim of sin is an attempt to stifle the very liberty of others for whom Christ died.

Resurrection Kids

Last night I overheard our six year old describe the resurrection to our three month old. "Everybody's going to die some day. I'm going to die, you're going to die, our brother's going to die, mommy's going to die, daddy's going to die. But it's okay because God will resurrect us and give us new bodies so we can live forever."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

New Link - Anti-Positivist

I'm adding a new link to my sidebar, Jim Fedako's Anti-Positivist. Jim writes on the topic of free market economics and some Christian issues. He also writes extensively on absurdities within his local Olentangy School District in Ohio. He's linked me, and I'm returning the favor.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Growing In Faith - Figurative and Literal

Read this very good short piece from Society VS. Rarely have I seen our faith explained in such a realistic way. Our faith is a very concrete thing.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Hermeneutics and Theology as Community Tasks

Here's an interesting post I came across at Heralds and Peregrines. One of the authors, who it appears was raised by Anglican missionaries in Chile, gives testimony to the blessings that occur when hermeneutics and theology are undertaken as community tasks. This is in contrast to the American tradition of letting the pastor figure everything out (or his seminary) while the dumb sheep sit on their hands and watch. We seem to let others (i.e. experts) build the box we live in, and are blind to the fact that God the Holy Spirit actually makes all of us the experts through the gifts He gives us. I don't think I'm moving to Chile anytime soon, but we here could use a dose of community as I think God intended.

Friday, October 12, 2007

RIAA's Lazy Man Payoff

Today in America it seems that the lazier the slob, the greater the payoff in so many ways. The RIAA case against music downloader/sharer Jammie Thomas is one such example. Thomas was sued for $222,000 for sharing 24 songs in "violation" of copyright laws protecting music as intellectual property. The basic premise is that this is theft.

Let me use an analogy to show how absurd this is. Suppose I have a new car, with a car alarm, and I park it in my garage at night, with a house alarm. Somebody breaks in to my house, disarms both the house alarm and the car alarm, and makes off with my car silently while I sleep. Would this be a crime of theft? Of course. Would you feel sorry for me? Of course, because I took every reasonable precaution to make sure my car wouldn't be stolen. Now suppose I left the new car in a dark alley in the worst neighborhood in town with the windows rolled down and the keys in the ignition, and somebody took it. Would it be theft? Still, yes. Would you feel sorry for me? Of course not, because my lack of responsibility for my own property invited the theft. You would tell me that it was the most stupid thing I've ever done. Now let's say that in the first case I demand a replacement car from the thief, plus a bit extra for the problems it caused, as a matter of justice. This is reasonable. Then in the second case I demanded several million dollars. This is absurd.

But the second case is the way the music, movie and software industries work in the eyes of the law. Brilliant marketing has placed music and software in every place, easily accessible with common electronic devices, with easy buying access for almost anybody - third parties completely unknown to the "owner" of the product. This has led to unbelievable profits. But this has also led to copying of music at an unprecedented rate. Decades ago, it would have been cost prohibitive to copy music because it would have taken top of the line equipment. Today, such copying is as cheap as anything there is, and it is much easier to do than get in a car and turn the key.

Along with the ownership of private property comes the responsibilty to protect that property. The recording, movie and software industries have done nothing to protect their own property, yet demand the most unjust punishment. I heard a quote from Thomas' attorney on the radio saying that 24 songs at about 99c per song should demand damages at about $24. He's not far from the truth. The bible demands restitution for theft according to what is stolen. Anywhere from 20% above cost to five times cost for an ox. Even if you view her actions as theft (and there is doubt even of this within intellectual property theory debates), Thomas' damages should be about $30.

Mass electronic piracy is the heavy price being paid by the recording insustry for decades of the irresponsible marketing of their own "private property." They refuse to take responsibility, yet demand that others be responsible for their own property at exponentially higher expense. Quit whining, RIAA, and take it like a man.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Going Postal

We're in the midst of an almost unbelievable mishandling of our mail by the post office. Almost unbelievable only because I've experienced it so many times before. We're getting numerous pieces of our neighbors' mail mixed in with ours. We're getting mail from other people with the same house number but on the next street over. Today we received a big pile of our next door neighbor's mail - but none of our own.

Years ago I lived in a place where botched delivery was the norm. I got mail that was not mine. Another person who lived in my apartment (there were hundreds of units) had my same initials and last name. I got her mail. Sometimes things took weeks to get to their destiny. I even got letters with a different address on a different street in a different city with a different zip code - but the same apartment number - all the time. I've always been diligent to forward others' mail to them, by hand delivery if necessary. The scary thing is that it usually never happens in return.

One time I saw a doctor for some tests. Without telling me, the doctor performed a biopsy, and although the doctor was on my plan, the lab wasn't. The bill was routed through a branch of the closest hospital, but my address (four digits, three words plus a three digit apartment number) was too many characters long for their computer to print on the letter. Their printer truncated the last character of my apartment number. Despite living there for years, the post office didn't deliver it to me. I finally found out about the biopsy when a collection agency called.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 8)

Read entire series here.

Continuing further in my examination of Part 1 of Pulpit Magazine's article on church membership, I'll now look at a statement in their next section on the basis of church membership.

Although Scripture does not contain an explicit command to formally join a local church, the biblical foundation for church membership permeates the New Testament.
Later on in the comments section, a comment by JackW appears:

I am committed to attending and ministering in a local church to which I am not a “member.” When I’m asked about it, I reply with the question, “How am I not a member?”
This is answered by Jesse Johnson, who appears from all I can tell to be an elder at Grace Community Church:

If you were at Grace Church, the answer to your question, “how am I not a member” is this: you are refusing to follow the leadership of the elders... If you refuse to do that, my question would be, “why not follow the leadership of the elders” (Heb 13:7, 17)?
Boiling this all down, the article states that there is no command to be a "formal" member of a church. JackW isn't a formal member, so therefore hasn't sinned in not being a formal member. But Jesse then says JackW refuses to follow leadership. This would then be a sin because it violates Hebrews 13. But formal membership, not being commanded by Scripture, is required by the elders at Grace Church. So, according to Jesse, elders have the authority to add to God's word and call a violation of their commands a sin. His answer has placed elders on the same authority level as God! Elders are co-equal with God at Grace Church, even if unwittingly.

[Update Oct. 10: In all fairness, I should have worded these last two sentences differently. They should read, "His answer indicates that the elders have added requirements that God's word doesn't require. This gives themselves authority that only God has; to define sin."]

Part 7 . . . . . . . . Part 9

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Down In Monterey

Every year, as is now our tradition, we go to Monterey to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium to celebrate our oldest's birth and adoption days. He's six this month. Monterey is a world famous destination on the Pacific Ocean, a little over a two hour drive from here, and has one of the most reputable aquariums. They recently added a great white shark to their tank and this was a treat for our kids. We caught hermit crabs on the beach - catch and release style. Tupperware can be a six year old's second best friend.

Here's a great pic taken by Mrs. Scott of our son playing with a decorator crab at the aquarium's touch pool.

Driving Pet Peeves

I've decided to compile a list of pet peeves of mine from the roadways. No, I don't carry a gun in my car. Good thing.

  • Merging onto the freeway at less than freeway speed. This is very dangerous and causes extreme traffic jams because slowing down to let somebody on the freeway makes everybody behind them slow down.
  • Using the freeway, instead of the offramp, to slow down. Same problem as the first point.
  • Tailgating
  • Green right turn arrows that turn yellow as if it were about to turn red, only for the main light to turn green. This causes drivers to slow down or stop for no reason.
  • DMV
  • Cops that drive like jackasses
  • When people have a fender bender and leave their cars right in the middle of the roadway or freeway until the cops show up. Get over to the shoulder so the thousands of people behind you can get to work.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Random Thoughts On Church

  • Church people know how to cook. Potluck meals have always been wonderful. Even among staunch Calvinists who call them Pot Providence meals.
  • I've never frequented a church with an organ. They've all had pianos.
  • I like church building architecture from previous eras.
  • I'd love to travel for a while and go to a different church every Sunday to see what's out there. Even if I stay home and go to different churches. It would be interesting.
  • It's late and I need to get to sleep.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 7)

Read entire series here.

Continuing in my examination of Part 1 of Pulpit Magazine's article on church membership, I'll now look at the next statement in their definition of church membership.

To become a member of a church is to formally commit oneself to an identifiable, local body of believers who have joined together for specific, divinely ordained purposes.
This statement makes it very clear that the elders of Grace Church view membership as an act to be performed by each individual believer. Yet the very proof text that they use, 1 Cor. 12:13, states something quite contrary:

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
Scripture makes it very clear that entering the body comes through baptism by the Holy Spirit. It does not say, "We all baptized ourselves into one body." Baptism happens to us. Entering the body of Christ is a passive event for the Christian, not an active one. As I will show in future posts, if one's definition of something is contrary to the proof text that supposedly proves it, all conclusions based on that definition are subject to being skewed. Because the Grace Church view is based on action of man rather than passive acting upon by the Spirit, I call their view a man-made formal membership.

Part 6 . . . . . . . . Part 8

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 6)

Read entire series here.

Now I'd like to examine some of the arguments put forth by Pulpit Magazine in their two part series on church membership. In my experience, their arguments are fairly representative of those who hold to a doctrine of man-made formal membership. In part 1, their definition of church membership (taken from the Grace Community Church Elders' Distinctives on Church Membership) is the following:

The Definition of Church Membership - When an individual is saved, he becomes a member of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). Because he is united to Christ and the other members of the body in this way, he is therefore qualified to become member of a local expression of that body.
What is immediately obvious about this statement is that there are two distinct levels of Christianity for the elders at Grace Church. The first level is salvation and membership in Christ's body, the second is qualification to become a member of Christ's local body based on the first. So not only are there two levels of Christianity, and two different memberships, but there are two distinct bodies of Christ. The body of Christ a person is saved into is different from the local body of Christ. It's truly amazing, but each time I've pointed this out in a discussion with a proponent of formal membership, they have denied that this idea creates two levels of Christianity! But it's right there in their definition!

What is more interesting is that the verse used, 1 Cor. 12:13, states that we have been baptized into one body, not two! Now for a question about their definition: where does the bible state that salvation qualifies a person to become a member of a local church? I'm not aware of any such passage.

Part 5 . . . . . . . . Part 7

Shirt-Sleeve Weather In San Francisco

Mark Twain is attributed with the quote, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." As a Giants baseball fan who lives about 30 miles inland on the east side of the Oakland Hills, I can agree. As summer winds down and temperatures drop in the rest of the country, San Francisco is getting its warmest weather of the year. As ocean currents in the northern hemisphere run clockwise, we on the west coast get our ocean water from Alaska. It's cold. This gives San Francisco its famous fog. But an autumn reversal of airflow brings hot air in from California's central valley.

The last several Giants night games were warm enough for people to wear shirtsleeves. I've been to nearly a thousand games in my life and I can count on my fingers the number of night games comfortable enough to wear shorts. The cold fog, high winds, coastal range, Oakland Hills, hot inland weather, and breaks in the hills make the Bay Area the toughest micro-climate area for meteorologists. It's not uncommon in the summer for temps to vary 35 degrees over a half mile in some areas. It might be 105 out here, then we go to a night game with layers of sweaters, jackets and blankets to freeze our fannies off with fog and wind in the low 50's, then return home only to go swimming. It really is true that the 49ers have better weather than the Giants.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The End of Time

The end of time came last night at midnight. No, this isn't about eschatology. Some of our clocks were getting fast or slow. So I called "time" (757-xxxx or pop-corn, etc.) and re-set all the clocks. Overnight, one clock's battery died, so Mrs. Scott called time to re-set it. She received the message that as of Sept. 19 (today) that time would no longer be available as a service to those with a phone. The end of time has come.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Back In The Kitchen

Life has put over a year delay in our kitchen remodel. The upper cabinets have been done (except for one shelf) for over a year. The lowers have been open for over that long, with the cabinet doors in the garage. The children have learned that the pots and pans aren't worth playing with any longer so they don't. But the last two weeks I've taken to painting the cabinet doors, and tonight I put a coat of primer on the cabinet face. I was able to install one of the doors this weekend. Once the lowers are painted and the doors installed, I still have to paint the scalloped crown molding and deal with the seams between the old and new cabinets (which are custom made by me and my dad). Then new counter top and tile on the wall.

We are keeping with the 40's style and all new stuff looks retro. I can't wait until I'm done. Then I can attack the rest of the 30 page list...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 5)

Read entire series here.

Society VS leaves a very good observation in the comment section of Part 4. To quote:

I like the route you are taking with this - and I agree in general with it - but at the core of the 'assembling' is an even deeper issue - usefulness of the church.

My brother told me something that opened my eyes 'churches are culture associations/clubs' more than they are churches/faith systems. I think I agree with what he said. Maybe the churches have lost their focus - and in the process - people have left church (seeing it's utter lack of use - or original intent). I think there is more to leaving church than we might think...I could be off - but it makes logical sense.

In both my personal experience and in talking with many other Christians, many people leave a church because of the formal memberships those churches have set up. (Several I've talked to have vowed to never become "formal" members of a church again.) People are welcome in many churches not because they merely confess Christ, but because they also believe not only in the essentials of Christianity, but the narrow sectarian beliefs of the leadership, and even the culture that church develops because of those narrow beliefs. Those who don't aren't welcome, and often are denied "formal" membership. Many others are turned off by the two tiered class system that "formal" membership necessarily, although not wittingly, sets up. (I will show this point in future posts.)

By requiring conformance to narrow sectarian beliefs and manufactured cultural "norms" as a part of membership, many churches are actually creating the drifting, non-participating "pew-sitters" that their "formal" memberships are designed to prevent.

Part 4 . . . . . . . . Part 6

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 4)

Read entire series here.

In Part 3 I left an open-ended question. If every Christian is already a member of the church, and if a Christian becoming a member of a church is foreign to the bible, how then is this membership a reality? The answer lies in the meaning of church itself. (See my What Is The Church? post). Unfortunately, in Western culture and the English speaking world, the word church is too often associated with a building, an institutional idea, a denomination made up of a collection of churches, or even Christianity itself.

Church, which is ekklesia in the Greek, means assembly. God's assembly. We as God's people assemble. We assemble together. When this view of church is seen, it is then easy to see how membership is a reality. We are members by assembling. There is no category in the bible of non-member, but there is one of non-assembler. We see this in Hebrews 10:24-25:

"...and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near."

The one who is a non-member is the one who forsakes the assembling together. The member does what is by nature for a member of an assembly; he assembles. I still have much to write in the development of this concept, and might just post several dozen parts to this series.

Part 3 . . . . . . . . Part 5

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Fall Is In The Air

Today was the first day this year that I could feel autumn in the air. It's hard for me to explain the "feeling," but there are some distinct sensations that I can describe. The shadows are discernibly longer, since the sun is at a lower angle in the sky. This angle of the sun somehow changes the light somewhat. It appears to make things a slightly different color to me, maybe a bit more orange. It is a warm day today, in the low 80's, but there is some kind of feeling as to how temperature, humidity, wind (or lack of) and sunlight mix to form the feeling of fall.

Fall is my very favorite season of the year, with spring my least favorite. I love the color changes, and the gradual (at least here where I live in California) descent from hot to cool, day by day over several months. Cooler evenings and mornings turn to warm days. Then the leaves change color and start to fall. Then it's football-on-the-front-lawn weather. Pile up the leaves, play football in them, then pile them up again. And of course there's the Fall Classic - without the Giants.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

End Of The World Anniversary

Today, September 6, is the 13th anniversary of the world not ending. Harold Camping declared that September 6, 1994 would be the end of the final tribulation, and that on that date, the sun would become dark, the moon would turn to blood and the stars would fall from the sky. The universe would undergo undulation for a period of a few weeks until Christ returned to end the world and to throw a majority of people who had ever lived into hell.

As far as I know, it didn't happen. Maybe it did and I just missed the 10 o'clock news.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 3)

Read entire series here.

Proponents of a formal man-made church membership system often point out that the idea of a Christian not being a member of a church is foreign to the New Testament. They are correct. But where they err is when they then charge "non-members" with sin or failure to obey their pastors simply because they haven't become "formal" members (according to their church's understanding of membership) of their church. If the very idea of non-membership doesn't have biblical warrant, then why do these people invent the category of "non-member" and apply it to people that the bible doesn't even apply it to?

Now for something very important to my entire series on church membership. The reason that there is no biblical category for non-member? It's because every Christian is already a member of the church. A look at every passage in the New Testament dealing with the idea of members (see part 1) uses the word in a tense that shows that we are all already members. The idea of a Christian becoming a member of the church is just as foreign to the bible as being a non-member.

Part 2 . . . . . . . . Part 4

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Fence Is Done

Okay, the back fence is done. It is only sightly longer than 30 feet long. Our property is 50 feet wide, and somewhere a way back, property lines were adjusted so that there are three lots in a row that are made up of 30 feet of one lot and 20 feet of another. Since original property lines were recorded, the legal description is of the combination. Anyway, it was great fun in building. Without knowing it, I used Gene Redlin's main points in his The Cure For Boredom before he even posted it. (Thanks, Gene, not so much in explaining how it's done, but for the affirmation I received afterward!)

I left a few boards out so our 5 year old could play with their 6 year old until they moved out at the end of the month. I screwed the last boards in yesterday. Kinda sad in a way to see the old 4 foot fence gone, replaced by the 7 foot one (6 foot fence on top of a 1 foot retainer). But even though it reflects some sunlight and takes some of the breeze away, Mrs. Scott is very happy and I can move onto my next project.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Of Anglicans and Anarchists

For some reason, it seems, a higher percentage of the blogs that I either read, have read, have been influenced more heavily by, or are more interesting that all the rest have been blogs by Anglicans and anarchists. And there certainly isn't any main connection between these two groups. The Anglican church is headed up by the Queen of England, a monarch, and this is contrary to the ideas of the anarchists.

Anglicans seem to be better educated than the rest of Christianity, so maybe this appeals to me. They think out their beliefs a bit better. Not that I agree with them, but they seem to do so with richer language and better use of metaphor.

Anarchists, on the other hand, seem the same with respect to education. In order to be an anarchist (in the strict definition of the term, that is, having no ruler) one needs to have a good understanding of the political and religious ideology of the state. Anarchy gets a very bad rap in my book because people somehow have been taught to believe that with no civil ruler to govern the minute details of everybody's life, that complete chaos would result.

Thus anarchy is associated with chaos (even in the dictionary definition). This in not close to being necessarily the case. I believe in anarchy because I believe in biblical Christianity. Self government (i.e self-control) is the fruit of the Spirit, and when we govern ourselves according to the Word of God, we don't need (state) government because there are no lawbreakers. Our last church picnic was a good example of true anarchy.

Then there are many good Anglicans out there, but I'll never be one.

Welcome, Shelly

I wish to welcome new blogger, friend, friend of our family, fellow churchgoer and Giants fan to the blogoshpere. Welcome, Shelly, and your blog Shells on the Seashore. I've added her to my links.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 2)

Read entire series here and Part 1 here.

It just so happens that after my decision to start this series that Pulpit Magazine (a ministry of Shepherd's Fellowship, with John MacArthur and other pastors at Grace Community Church) decided to run a two part series on church membership. Read part 1 here and part 2 here. I have commented in each section at least once, and I think the content of both their original posts as well as the comments sections will provide a wealth of topic matter as I discuss church membership.

Part 1 . . . . . . . . Part 3

Friday, August 24, 2007

I Have Nothing To Write Tonight

Well, acutally I have lots to write, but I can't seem to put enough together to make a good post. It always seems like longer than I want, and the brain slows down sometimes. Blogger's cramp?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Memories of Lowly Attended Baseball Games

My favorite games are the ones when no fans show up. Yes I'm a fowl weather fan. Read about one over at From The Bleachers.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Building A Fence

Our rear fence fell down not long ago so this last week we have been putting a new one up. Hope to be back to more full time type of blogging soon.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Sixteen Biblical Ways To Acquire A Wife

Variations of this list are posted all over the internet, and for various reasons. Some are from atheists mocking the bible, some are for fun, while others are for making a point against the tyranny of imposing your personal beliefs upon others based on your own understanding of "what is biblical." It should be pointed out that none of these ways to get a wife are explicitly deemed by the bible to be "unbiblical." The list I chose has fifteen ways, and you can view it here.

And the sixteenth way? Mine. I'll post it at a later date.

Friday, August 17, 2007

If It's Not Wrong, How Can It Be Illegal?

James Leroy Wilson asks this question as he comments at the Partial Observer about a failed attempt by fundamentalist Christians to ban alcohol sales in an Alabama town. Their reasoning stemmed from the morality of drinking alcohol. Their opponents cited that such a ban would hurt the economy and hurt tax revenues.

But as Wilson points out, both sides missed the real points, which are "what business is it of the government if one person sells alcohol to another?" and "how can a free society prohibit something that isn't intrinsically wrong?"

A great many Christians readily label additions to God's word that restrict the behavior of others as "legalism." But, sadly, a lot fewer number see prohibitions to adding to God's word as applying to the state.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 1)

What is church membership? This question needs to be answered before one can deal with how to deal with Christians as members of churches. An even more basic question is what is the church. (I have given my answer in the earlier posts of "What is Israel?", "What is the Church?" and "Israel vs. the Church")

There are only two passages in the New Testament that directly deal with membership in the body of Christ (i.e. the church). These are found in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12. Other, indirect dealings with membership occur in Ephesians 3-5 and 1 Corinthians 6.

My goal in this series is to show what the bible has to say about membership and compare it to what men have to say about it. Most Christians have not studied out the bible on this and have simply believed what their churches have taught them.

Part 2 .

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Furrowed Brow Is Genetic

Whenever I'm in deep thought or concentrating on something, I have a furrowed brow. My pastor knows this well from when I first started at my church, listening intently at his sermons for any error in doctrine. Our new son has this furrowed brow from time to time. I'm concluding that it is genetic.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Why I'm Not Convinced That Bonds' Record Is Tainted Or That Steroid Use Is Cheating

A friend recently asked me why I didn't think Barry Bonds' home run record is "tainted." Here are some brief points. Also, I'll add a second set of brief points as to why I don't think his steroid use is "cheating" in the traditional sense of the word.

  • The steroids Bonds allegedly took were not banned by baseball during the time he took them. It seems odd that people would retroactively apply the current ban to Bonds and others.
  • There is an arbitrary standard as to which performance enhancing steroids are banned. Curt Schilling had radical surgery and received non-banned performance enhancing steroids prior to his famous "bloody sock" game, which led to the Red Sox' championship.
  • Americans are biased toward hitting and offense, especially home runs. Last time I saw a list of players busted for testing positive, there were more pitchers than hitters. Over whom did Bonds have an unfair advantage? All the pitchers who were just as "juiced" as he was?
  • Sosa and McGwire were both purported steroids users in their home run chase. But Bonds' rival for his record-breaking season, Luis Gonzales, vehemently denies using them, complete with character witnesses. How did a journeyman like him hit so many?
  • I'm way too familiar with statistical fluctuations throughout baseball history - and the reasons for them (such as ballpark dimensions, baseball strategy fads, philosophy, weather, strike zone enforcement, rule changes, etc.) to believe that the offensive surge during the mid 90's to early 00's was caused by steroids. Again, why do people believe that steroids helped hitters and not pitchers?
  • Baseball history (as well as life) is full of performance enhancing substances. Medicine, nutritional supplements, dietary aids, protein powders, etc. Heck, we've been told for fifty years that a bowl of Wheaties is a performance enhancing substance. Popeye's spinach?
  • Bonds' steroids were illegal? The US government and its legal system is usually the last place I look for guidance in morality and ethics.

And as for steroids as "cheating":

  • The arbitrary standard for performance enhancing substances, as listed above.
  • Traditionally, "cheating" is a term applied to situations when personal performance is NOT enhanced. Using a cheat sheet in taking an exam, for example, is NOT an enhancement in personal performance. The test taker doesn't know the answers. It is a mere illusion to performance. Using a corked bat in baseball is NOT an enhancement in personal performance, it is an enhancement in the performance of the equipment. Cutting in front of a base when the umpire is not looking to get to the next base quicker is not an enhancement of personal performance. Applying a foreign substance to the pitched ball is not an enhancement of personal performance, but it is, again, an enhancement of the performance of the equipment. But steroids are not some magical pill, either. Benefits are only gained through hard work and exercise, which are part of being an athlete. The actual performance of the players themselves has been enhanced.
Maybe I'll post some additional thoughts some time soon.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Internet Connection Problems

I haven't posted in days now. I've had a great deal of problems connecting, and my ISP says it's my modem. I'll try to correct this within a few days.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Using The System To Beat The System

James Leroy Wilson reflects on comments to his own posts about hard-core libertarians' and anarchists' takes on Ron Paul's candidacy for president. Quote:

"...unless hard-core libertarians and anarchists vote only for candidates who promise to abolish the government immediately, they must accept the compromises of politics. If they are committed to parties and elections, they can't let the perfect become the enemy of the good. Too often I hear complaints that so-and-so is not a "real" libertarian because so-and-so doesn't have the same priorities or strays from the hard-core line once too often. But if such a person can persuade more people to take the country in a libertarian direction, wouldn't we all be better off?"

One of the reasons I have such respect for Wilson is that although he has ideals, he understands that getting there takes time, patience and choosing the right battle. He accepts a slow move in the direction of the ideal. He is an incrementalist, and one who is consistent in his inconsistencies, if you will. Using the system to beat the system is a valid strategy.

This brings to mind several things said by both Jesus and Paul. Jesus said that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Paul, in writing his epistle to the church at Philippi, sent greetings to them from the saints in Caesar's household. These were servants of Caesar who were converted by Paul's preaching. Yet they remained in Caesar's house. Several centuries of this later and the Roman Empire was largely Christianized. Introducing a Christian message into a statist structure will eventually mean the fall of that structure.

Let's all work to divide the state against itself so that it collapses at the feet of Christ.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Some Random Facts About Me

Here are some random facts about me that not many people know:

  • I was born with a tooth, and it was pulled when I was one day old. My parents' dentist was just out of school and came to the hospital. He was my dentist for over 40 years and just retired a couple of years ago. It's genetic, as my niece was born with a tooth also.
  • I'm very shy, quiet and reserved when people get to know me. I'm told how mellow and calm I am, but on the inside I'm the most intense person I know.
  • I learned to read and write at an early age. I was reading encyclopedias when I was four, and I catalogued my parents record collection when I was five. My childhood IQ was something like 185, and I skated through school on brain power alone. It wasn't until my upper division work in Chemical Engineering at Berkeley that I even needed to study. With no study habits ever learned, it was too late. I dropped out after three years and later became an architect.
  • I jog two miles every day.
  • I'm a European mutt, being parts: English, Irish, Swiss, Lithuanian, German and Swedish.
  • I'm a direct descendant of a slave in the Colonial South.

Wheat and Tares

Ron McKenzie uses his experience growing up on a farm to explain the parable of the wheat and tares. He contends that in relation to the wheat, the tares are few in number. Some teachings hold to equal amounts of each, as if evil were as prevalent in the established kingdom as good. Unfortunately, there are some churches where the pastors are so zealous about keeping tares from being sown and so zealous about uprooting the tares when they think they see tares, that enormous amounts of wheat are uprooted in the process.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Five CD's For A Deserted Island

If I were stranded on a deserted island and was able to choose five CD's to listen to until Gilligan helped me off the island, these would be the five. They're not my five favorites (only three of them are) but they would give me just the right amount of musical diversity to avoid going crazy.

  1. 1. Boston (Boston's self-titled debut album)
  2. 2. Led Zeppelin III
  3. 3. Led Zeppelin IV
  4. 4. Clear Blue Sky - George Strait
  5. 5. Bach's Goldberg Variations as recorded on harpsichord by Ton Koopman.

Now, you can guess my favorite three if you want.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


I fell asleep on the couch last night and stayed there. I was out. I got almost ten hours, and I still feel tired. I was going to post last night about Israel and the Church, but I'll have to do that tonight. Mrs. Scott was gracious enough to let me sleep, and took both baby feedings.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Yo, Commish! Get With The Program!

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig has been acting like a weasel over whether he would try to be in attendance when Barry Bonds breaks the home run record. Read my post about it over at From The Bleachers.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

What Is Israel?

In my last post, I gave a brief description of what I believe the church to be. Here, I'll give what I think Israel to be. There are several ideas of Israel. One is Jacob's new name given to him by God. One is an ancient geo-political nation in the middle east. One is a geo-political state today. I'm dealing with none of these. I'm concentrating on the idea of God's covenant people.

Israel is God's people. The people under the Old Covenant were Israel. True, they were a nation, but fundamentally they are a people. God's people. In Romans 11 there is a tree, which is Israel. It consisted of God's people, the Jews, as branches. Many of the branches lived in unbelief. God cut them off from the tree. Some branches remained. Some new wild branches (these are the Gentiles) are grafted in. Grafted into the same exact tree. Then Paul says that later on, some of the old branches may be grafted back into the tree from which they came. Grafted back into the same exact tree.

The tree never changes. Israel was the people of God before Christ came. Israel is still the same tree. Israel today is the people of God. As a Gentile believer, I have been grafted into Israel. Israel today is the same Israel as before Christ, except that a few branches were pruned, and a few were grafted in, and a few pruned off will be grafted in at a later time.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What Is The Church?

What is the church? I've mentioned in the past on this blog that (maybe in comparison to the idea of institution) that the church is, not an institution, but the people of God. I'd like to make an important modification to this.

The distinction in my modification is more one of function as compared to essence. The church (i.e. ekklesia) is not the people of God in an all encompassing sense, but it is the people of God assembled. The church is the assembly of God.

This has major ramifications on my views of ecclesiology, eschatology, the kingdom, pastoral authority, OT prophesy and other things touching these. Stay tuned for further discussion.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Yet Another Gospel

Keith Darrell admits to making ordo salutis - the order of events in the chain of salvation - the gospel way back when he was in college. I posted a while back on being taught that the doctrine of justification by faith alone was the gospel. I've also made in times past the gospel to mean many things in addition to what Paul said were the first things of importance. Among these things were the doctrines of predestination, election, the five points of Calvinism (I heard one preacher say that the bible is Calvinism) and a few others. There are those who hold that somebody who doesn't know what these things are can't be a true Christian. They are everywhere.