Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Why Team Pyro - and I - Believe In Blogging

Dan Phillips at Team Pyro puts forth a wonderful description of why he believes in blogging, and sticks it in the face of high minded critics of blogging. Speaking of these critics:

Ironically, they often do so in blogs. Have you noticed? At heart, I think, some folks' real concern with blogging is that commoners are doing it, and doing it so artlessly. [Emphasis his]
Later, Phillips takes issue with the mainstream media:

The "mainstream media" existed for decades in lofty isolation, uncorrected, unaccountable, peddling misinformation and lies mixed with truth. Blogging and
alternative media opened the possibility of criticism — and blogging provides that same corrective to itself.
I take this and use the same concept applied to theology. We have our own theological mainstream media that needs to be criticized and corrected.

In these two clips from why Phillips believes in blogging - which are the same reasons why I believe in blogging - I see a direct parallel to my blog's title - From the Pew - and my subtitle - Because for too long it has been coming from the Pulpits, Seminaries and Denominations.

Long live blogging, or whatever freedom of speech and thought will come next in our world.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What God Is Doing In My Life

What is God doing in my life lately? This is a question asked by Alan Knox on his blog, The Assembling of the Church. My answer in the comments section was that I have no clue what God is doing in my life. I don't think I ever have and I don't know if I ever will.

I occasionally hear from people who claim to know what God was doing in their life. As a disclaimer, I'm not denying their discernment, I just don't know the same for my life. I also hear from others that they knew what God was doing in their life because of what happened later. For example, somebody might say that a period of time spent around married people and having to change diapers for nieces or nephews just before getting married shows that God was preparing them for marriage. Or maybe somebody had an extended period of being prepared to be a missionary, or to be a minister. If other people know what God is doing in their life, power to them.

I look back on my life, and really can't pinpoint things God did to prepare me for the next thing. I also look back and see things that took place, but those weren't used to a large extent to the benefit of others in the future. As an example, the first several churches I attended were very legalistic and had some strange beliefs. They held those beliefs over the heads of their followers. I was able to gain a recognition of legalism and its poisonous results in people's lives, but I haven't been in a situation to help others recognize and avoid or fight against legalism. I haven't written a book yet. Maybe I could say that God was teaching me about legalism, but toward what end, I don't know.

Sometimes I hear people say, "Oh, God's working on my pride!" but then wonder if boasting about being proud shows God really isn't. Is God really working on your pride? I could see somebody saying they don't know what God is doing in order to avoid being presumptuous.

But for me, I really have no idea what God has been doing these past several years, other than to say that they've been extremely painful and debilitating. Is it possible to know what God is doing in somebody's life? What is God doing in your life?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Night Potpourri

Dedicated to my biggest Friday Night Potpourri fan, my sister-in-law, who can't bear a Saturday morning at the laptop without seeing a new posting:

  • I got a lump of coal in my stocking this Christmas. From my mother-in-law. It was a Lump of Coal dark holiday stout. Mmmmm.
  • Tons of kids around and about this holiday season; no major altercations. Double plus good.
  • While driving in the car this week, our oldest noticed the bright red leaves of many silver maple trees have completely fallen off of one side of the tree and not the other. I noticed that too at the park while jogging. Wind? Sun?
  • Michael Spencer, aka the Internet Monk (iMonk for short) is ill and has a possibility, as far as I can tell, of cancer. Please pray for him. My prayers are with Michael and his family. He asked me to be a guest blogger on his blog earlier this year, and with what we've been experiencing, I've only made one post. The more important thing is obvious.
  • Jogging in the park yesterday in freezing weather, the grass was white with frost, and the Olympic size pool was giving off a huge plume of steam. People who swim in this weather are crazy. And probably have green hair.
  • It was good to spend much more time this year with nieces and nephews than normal.
  • What should I try to do for a living? Architecture is pretty dead, and my other job leads haven't materialized. Any serious suggestions are welcome.
  • What Christmas is all about.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri on Saturday

Thinking by design:

  • Congratulations to an acquaintance of mine (but friend of many friends) on his design website Grain Edit for making a list of top 50 design sites. It's number 16. (Hat tip: JA Escalante)
  • Friday Night Potpourri is a bit late this weekend because instead of writing this post, I was engaged in a massive late night Christmas card adventure. We made it to the post office today. A few addresses are still missing.
  • I saw a brand new US currency bill today. I light of the President's even-more-reckless-than-Bush economic plans that created massive amounts of money out of thin air, a new zero dollar bill has been introduced with Obama's picture on it.
  • It's Christmasses time for our family. Traditionally we have four or five Christmasses. Mrs. Scott's family always does Christmas Eve for dinner and gifts, and my family always does Christmas afternoon/evening. So we never have to choose. Also, we have our own on Christmas morning. Then, her dad's side of the family is pushed off into January to accommodate everybody being there. And we also have had a Christmas with one of our adopted kid's birth family, but that one isn't happening this year. So, four this season.
  • I've decided that I'm giving a slight edge in my "Which Rolling Stones guitarist do I like the best" (choosing from Brian Jones, Mick Taylor and Ron Wood) to Taylor. It's just that I think the best Stones albums were released in his era, and the songs are more powerful and emotive. Slightly, though.
  • Funny Facebook status: "Jon Gosselin became a fan of Tiger Woods."
  • The song of the week is some fine 80's pop culture Christmas music.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

In no particular order:

  • The huge winter storm hitting the US this week started with us. The San Francisco Bay Area got a very rare dropping of snow. We took the kids up the nearby mountain and had a blast - their first time seeing snow.
  • Many shops downtown are vacant, as are many office buildings around here. I'm not comfortable with the term "recession." It's too mild.
  • Julie Neidlinger writes about Joseph's place in the Christmas story - as Average Joe
  • Our Christmas decorations are stuffed away in our storage unit somewhere. Time to improvise.
  • Signal lights are way too red. What ever happened to hitting all the lights green by going the speed limit?
  • One of my favorite songs on my favorite album of my favorite group. A wonderful slice of Mississippi River delta blues. Raw and sloppy.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 31) - Review Of Whitney (1)

As I mentioned in Part 29, I would be reviewing a chapter in Donald Whitney's book, "Spiritual Disciplines Within The Church." My 1996 copy has chapter 3 as "Why Join A Church?," titled the same as the article on his website. The web article is a revised version of the first printing of the book. Quotes in this series can be found in the website article.

Whitney starts out his article with a question from a new Christian about church membership:

"Why should I join the church?"

Despite my seminary training and pastoral experience, I was unprepared for this new Christian's question. He agreed from our study of the Scripture that he needed to identify himself as a disciple of Christ through baptism, but he asked, "Can you show me from the New Testament that I'm supposed to officially join anything?"

Now he really had me.

"If I come and worship as often as the members," he continued, "if I fellowship with these believers as much as anyone else, if I profit from the teaching and other ministries of the church, and if I actively demonstrate love for my brothers and sisters in Christ here, why should I formally join the church?"

His question struck me with an uncomfortable logic. [Emphasis his]
First, a few observations. Several of which I have already addressed in previous posts in this blog series. One, the new Christian describes the state of his Christian walk. He is fully engaged in his church, is obedient to God's commands, and agrees with being baptized. Yet the membership question that he raises presupposes something about the idea of church membership that he has been confronted with: there is something missing. Obedience to God is not enough for the Christian life. There must be something more.

Two, as simple as the idea of church membership is (and I have shown how simple it is in this series), Whitney's seminary training and pastoral experience never adequately dealt with the concept of being a member of Christ's body. Such a fundamental point of doctrine was completely missing from a learned man's toolbox.

Three, the new Christian wanted to see a command to formally join a church from the bible itself.

Four, the logic of the new Christian's question - basically, "is obedience to God enough?" - was uncomfortable to somebody used to participating in a traditional system of "formal" church membership.

I will continue with more analysis of Whitney's subsequent study and the answering this new Christian's questions in the next post [Updated: obviously I wasn't able to continue with the analysis I anticipated.  Maybe sometime in the future] in this series.

Read the entire series here.

Part 30 . . . . . . . . Part 32

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

A review of the week's musings and happenings:

  • A night of cancellations: With our kids at the door ready to go to bible study, the phone rang. Study was cancelled. Determined to make use of the promising evening out, we chose the drive-in movies as our alternate. Five minutes into the movie, a fuse blew and we all had to go home.
  • All of our Christmas decorations are in our packed-in storage unit. Most are irretrievable. I think.
  • Leaves are still in every stage of changing colors. Still green. Yellow, orange, red, merlot. Many are brown. Some are...purple?
  • We raked the yard and the kids made a huge leaf pile. The next part is the most fun.
  • I get to see my parents now almost on a daily basis, living two blocks away. They walk in a local park and I either see them crossing the road while I'm taking my kid to school, or while jogging in the same park.
  • It's Christmas Party Season! How's your calendar look?
  • This week's song was one of my MTV favorites, and a parody! I love the reference to potpourri, the appearance of the parodied artist, and one of my favorite announcers. Listen - and watch - by clicking here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts:

  • My long time friend Tim Hammack - I've known him since he was in high school - is an accomplished chef who left his job at a five star restaurant in Napa Valley to be the soup kitchen chef at the Bay Area Rescue Mission in Richmond, CA. Tim takes unpredictable food donations off a truck every morning and turns them into fine food for the homeless. He also trains new chefs as part of a drug recovery program. Tim has been featured on several national news programs. Here is a recent story (an up-front ad precedes the main story.)
  • Dr. Lenny posts a proposed constitutional amendment I may be able to live with.
  • What would today look like if the 70's never happened?
  • My kids were talking about new video games. I remember when Pong came out. Man, we spent a lot of time playing that one.
  • It was so windy this morning that the leaves falling from the trees onto the wood back deck sounded like rain.
  • Wild thunder storms at sundown today. The visuals of the sky were stunning.
  • Another fourth grade phonograph favorite. I wrote in an earlier FNP that my first 45 was Three Dog Night's The Show Must Go On. I'm sure this week's cover of a Motown fave was not far behind. I've never heard the LP version, which this one is, as the 45 cut out the studio happenings in the background before the song started. Of course, it was years before I even knew this was a cover, but a great cover it is. Relive and enjoy!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Weekend Potpourri

Friday skipped a beat this week, so here's an extended version of the potpourri:

  • Cal beat #14 Stanford in the 112th Big Game on Saturday, winning in last minute fashsion 34-28, killing Stanford's Rose Bowl hopes.
  • Last week there was a dead skunk on the road when I took my kid to school. By the time I returned it had been removed. The smell from the road lasted for another week.
  • Tim Lincecum won the NL Cy Young award for the second consecutive year. Congrats, Timmy!
  • All the kids (including cousins!) are out of school the entire week. Daytime fun should multiply.
  • Since our move, I've been jogging in a new park. I rather like it, as I've used it since kindergarten. It has an Olympic swimming pool, one of the best on the West Coast.
  • The weather this fall has been outstanding.
  • In what is an obvious play on Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window, this video is my favorite from the MTV era.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

John Elway's Best Last Minute Comeback

John Elway was one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. He is probably most famous for his last-minute comeback victories. He has more come from behind victories than any other quarterback ever. Joe Montana is in second place and isn't even close. What is perhaps Elway's greatest last minute comeback isn't even remembered by most people. It happened 27 years ago, and I found a clip of it on YouTube. I certainly remember it because I was a freshman at the opposing school. Elway did it to us!

Consider the circumstances he faced and you might agree that this may be the most pressure-packed drive ever:
  • It was the last drive in the last minute of the last game of his senior year in college.
  • It was their rivalry game; one of the top ten greatest rivalries in college football history, and the ninth oldest. Bragging rights were on the line.
  • He was faced with 4th down and 17 from his own 13 yard line, down by 2 points with less than a minute to go.
  • A bowl game berth was guaranteed; but only if they won. So a bowl game was on the line.
  • He was one of the top two Hiesman Trophy candidates that year. So the Heisman Trophy was on the line.
  • NFL scouts were watching closely. So the NFL draft was on the line. And...
  • HE PULLED IT OFF! 87 yards in 45 seconds to score!

So why doesn't anybody remember it? Even though the finish to this game is almost unanimously considered the greatest comeback in all of football history, Elway's part in it isn't, because he made a great mistake in calling his last time out. He left just a bit too much time on the clock.

Watch this truly amazing comeback by Elway, and his mistake that caused it to be remembered by nobody, by clicking here. Then, click here for an electronic enhancement of the last play. Enjoy!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

Collected thoughts for the seven day period:

  • Visited my college campus today to get a copy of my transcripts. Berkeley. It's a beautiful campus. No riots or demonstrations today, but it brought back many memories.
  • People drove today like it was Friday the 13th and a full moon.
  • If you're bored and want a bit of entertainment, go to the courthouse steps and watch foreclosures being auctioned off.
  • My post last Saturday titled When Does The Church Sing TO One Another? was almost duplicated by Alan Knox without reading my post first.
  • Christmas stuff is out in many of the stores. I want to say it's far too early because it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but I seem to remember a few years ago it was out in October in many stores.
  • I saw a flock of geese flying north today.
  • Soccer is over, pee-wee baseball is over. Do I get to sleep in on Saturdays now?
  • I've taken the oldest kids over to an open space area in the hills behind where I grew up. We've seen deer, hawks, snake skins, but no coyotes like it shows on the sign.
  • He never made it as an actor; say what you want about the movie, but as I remember the soundtrack had some pretty good music on it.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

Music to sleep by on a Friday night:

  • The sale of our house is complete. Signed all the last papers, the buyer's funding came through, escrow is closed. Celebration? Yes.
  • A few days ago our two year old cried for well over an hour, "I wanna go home." Sad.
  • The leaves are definitely a different color now. Many of the maples are still green, some mixed, some red. Up on the hill looking down into the valley, it looks great.
  • Our ninth wedding anniversary is next week. Wow, nine years. Congratulations, Mrs. Scott!
  • There's a huge open space area out behind our neighborhood in the hills. We used to play out there as kids, but the slaughter house was knocked down decades ago. There used to be bones all over out there.
  • This was the first 45 record I bought as a kid. One of two in the same purchase, actually. Can anybody guess the other? You never will.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A Thousand Posts

This is my one thousandth post here at From the Pew. [And there was much rejoicing] I've been blogging here since April 11, 2005; approximately 4 1/2 years. Overall I've averaged about 220 posts per year, or about one every day and a half. The first year or so was much more lean, so I've since averaged about a post a day. A post a day is my base goal.

It seems both like I've been blogging forever with millions of posts and like I've hardly blogged at all. I sure have much more that I want to blog about, and I'm sure I could crank material out for as long as blogging is a viable medium. I've racked close to 25,000 site visits and over 40,000 page views (since implementing site data software). My very first post can be read here, and I still have the same basic goal.

Here's to many more posts at From the Pew.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

1989 Earthquake Aftermath

In a previous post, I wrote about my experience the day the earthquake occurred. The days, weeks and months that followed were ones of confusion and waiting. Even controversy. It turned out that there were far fewer deaths in the freeway collapse than previously feared, as most people left work early to watch the World Series! My good friend Mike was one such non-casualty. At the time of the quake, he would have been on that freeway on his way home, but he was already at the game.

The Bay Bridge was out of commission for months as a replacement section had to be constructed. This was a major bridge with six figure vehicle traffic each day. A new freeway in Oakland took years to be built. The World Series was delayed (ten days eventually) as there was structural damage to Candlestick Park. Expansion joints were located below seating section stairways. The concrete steps crumbled, and fans could see the parking lot through the new holes. There was talk of relocating the Series to Los Angeles. Over the dead bodies of 62,000 Giants fans would their first Series in 27 years be played at Dodger Stadium! Some people felt that a sporting event was so insignificant in light of such a disaster that it should be cancelled altogether. Cooler heads prevailed as the structural damage was fixed, and game 3 was played at the 'Stick after all. It turned out to be what the Bay Area needed as therapy.

The quake stirred fans, as they showed up for the postponed game 3 wearing hard hats with their team logo. The A's swept the Giants, and decided that in light of the catastrophe, they would celebrate their victory in the locker room without alcoholic beverages.

Another friend of mine was driving on the Bridge at the time of the quake and collapse. He had just passed the section that would collapse. Then when he reached the joint between the bridge and terra firma, the buckled pavement scraped the underside of his car. Not knowing what happened, he pulled off and checked his car out. He looked back up the bridge, and there was no traffic whatsoever in an eerie sight.

Having two teams close by has always been a blessing for me. Getting to drive to every game is something few fans have ever claimed. The '89 quake and Series are things I will never forget.

This is cross posted at my baseball blog, From the Bleachers.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

Attempt at thoughts after a busy week:

  • This last move was my fifteenth. All as an adult.
  • I've lived my entire life within 20 miles of my birth place, and 95% of my life within 10 miles.
  • Read the Internet Monk's annual Halloween rant here.
  • We have been enjoying beautiful Indian summer/early fall weather.
  • Walked into our nearly empty old house the other morning. There was a black widow spider on the living room wall. Wonder what that means?
  • Leaves have been changing color. I love autumn.
  • Family Scott is now faced with the daunting task of finding a new local Chinese restaurant for take out.
  • This video of a song could have been shot in our fourth grade class room. Why our teacher let us listen to this is beyond me.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Tuesday, October 17, 1989, 5:04pm, minutes before the start of game 3 of the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's. It registered 7.1 on the Richter scale. Just prior to this I was in the upper deck at Candlestick Park visiting some friends who also had tickets. I was on my way down the ramp to the lower deck, and was near the bottom of the ramp with a friend, who said, "Is that an earthquake?" I stopped, felt some shaking and looked down. My head was still but I could see the ground move several feet in each direction under me. Yes it was an earthquake, and a huge one. It shook for 45 terrifying seconds.

There were 62,000 fans there, and when the shaking stopped, there was dead silence. Everybody looked up and around. A few seconds later, a monstrous cheer erupted. Welcome to San Francisco! "We had an earthquake on national TV! Awesome! Welcome to California!" could be heard by many of the fans. No visible damage. We proceeded to the concession line to buy some goodies. Just then, the power went out. The cash registers were electric, so no change could be made because the drawers were stuck shut. The concessionaires took the next bill up. We made it back to our seats (seven rows behind home plate were where my season tickets were.) People were dazed and confused. The scoreboard and PA system were not working due to the power outage.

Players and police were out on the field. A chant of "Play Ball!" erupted from the crowd. Who needs a scoreboard? Scoreboard, schmoreboard. A fan just behind us had a Sony Watchman (remember those?) He said that the Bay Bridge had collapsed. This was simply unbelievable news. A few minutes later (how can you sense time when something like this happens?), a police car with a hand held mega phone blurred something out that sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher. We were all told to go home. Go home? This is the World Series!

Once out into the parking lot, we saw a TV news van with an open door. There were many television monitors, and since it was operating on battery power, we could see the damage being broadcast by the blimp. What we saw were truly horrific pictures. A section of the Bay Bridge collapsed. A freeway had pancaked on top of itself and miles of it were laying on the ground. A massive fire broke out in the Marina district. This was a major catastrophe.

The SFPD told fans to stay close to the stadium, as bridges were out. All the other bridges in the Bay Area were closed for inspection. We had to wait. We figured that we would be there a while, so we proceeded to a mini-mart at a neighboring RV park to buy some beer. We bought a case. The door was blocked by a table, as they didn't let people in. They took orders and made sales at the door. When we turned around to leave, there was a line behind us hundreds of people deep. Suddenly we got questions about where we got the beer. Not wanting to wait in line, people started bidding on our beer! We sold to the highest bidder and walked away with eighty bucks.

After quite a while of waiting, it was getting dark. Police were being called away because there was heavy looting downtown. It was at this point we got scared. We decided to make a run for it, and anticipated heavy traffic as we headed 50 miles down to San Jose to wrap around the bottom of the bay and up the other side another 70 miles home. It was the only way home without crossing a bridge. By the time we got to the San Mateo bridge, it was open. We hit a Denny's on the way home, and it was filled with fans who were talking about the event. I eventually got home at 1:30am.

I will never forget that day or the experience of that earthquake. Hundreds of people were feared dead from the freeway collapse. Some tourists from Connecticut managed to shoot some video from the collapsed section of the bridge, with the eerie sight of a car crashing to the deck below. The replacement section had a different paving surface, a constant reminder of that day. I will write more about this event, its aftermath and what happened in the postponement of the Series. [Update: a followup post can be found here]

Cross posted at my baseball blog, From the Bleachers.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

Thoughts throughout the week:

  • Early in the week, the temperature dropped into the 30's. Then the first rain of the season was one of the largest storms in 40 years, creating widespread flooding. But since it doesn't rain here between May and October, the parched earth drank much of it up. Today it was 85 with high humidity.
  • Still moving things into storage. Almost done. The first trip to storage is tossing things in. They fit. Today was like doing a jigsaw puzzle trying to fit things into tight spaces. Chucking a sitting chair up on top of a pile is great fun! We laughed, anyway.
  • Good ole fashioned metal Tonka trucks are a hot housing market for black widow spiders.
  • My dad and I saw a number of people talking on their cell phones while driving today - which is against the California vehicle code. But our governor's wife set the example. If it's good enough for her...
  • Lots of stories on the news recalling the San Francisco earthquake twenty years ago.
  • The song of the week? I saw these guys at Gilligan's Beach House in Modesto back in about 1994. 80's glam metal at its best, an upbeat song from the very first metal album to hit number one. Hilarious. Please don't mind the Spanish sub-titles, it was the best video of this song I could find.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

1989 World Series and San Francisco Earthquake

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the San Francisco earthquake that occurred just minutes prior to game 3 of baseball's World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. It was an event that one never forgets. I was at the game when the earthquake happened. October 17, 1989 at 5:04pm.

The Bay Area was already excited about the World Series between its two own teams, but the earthquake topped everything. A section of the Bay Bridge collapsed, a neighborhood in San Francisco's Marina district caught fire, a double-decker section of I-880 freeway in Oakland collapsed on itself. The Series was delayed for ten days as the emergency tied up life for a while. Dozens of people died, and widespread damage was reported.

I'll be writing a few posts about this event over the next few days, and will link to my baseball blog From the Bleachers for a baseball aspect. I'll write about the earthquake, what it was like on that day, and about the World Series. To start, I've written a post on how an accidental discovery I made about the ticket agency's phone system allowed a five-employee architecture firm to buy 2% of all World Series tickets that year, for us and our friends. Stay tuned for more...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

I missed last week due to our move. We're still in move mode, so I'll squeeze this in between waking up on the couch and heading for bed. Two weeks condensed thoughts on a Friday night. I count time after midnight but before I go to bed as still the same day as when the sun went down. It's still Friday.

  • Packing and moving bring back many memories. Many good, some not so good.
  • Just received "Waiting On God" by Andrew Murray in the mail, as suggested by a friend. It's a 31 day devotional. Maybe I'll write occasionally about it. It was written in 1896.
  • We lived there five years, and just today I hit the taco truck in the Ace Truck Supply parking lot that Mrs. Scott and I said again and again we should try.
  • We're now within walking distance from grandma and grandpa's house.
  • Not having an office to go to every day this summer, I got really used to my sandals. Now that I'm wearing my boots to do the move, it's weird and I miss my sandals.
  • Mrs. Scott's broken elbow is healing well, but still not up to "move" standards.
  • *blank*
  • Continuing with a FNP feature: Another great song from my youth. Not as popular as that other tune [that I previously posted] from the same group, but very intense. I remember hearing it on my next door neighbor's older sister's phonograph as a 45.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 30) - An Analogy

Throughout this series I have dealt with the idea that Christians who assemble with a body of believers, who worship God, who serve others, who love others, who attend all church meetings and pray, give, encourage, exhort, admonish, help, and all the other commands of the bible, still must formally join a church through their formal membership system to be obedient. I have thought of an analogy that puts this idea in perspective.

"You know, Steve, you were born in America to parents who were born in America. They were also born to parents who were born in America. You were raised by your parents in America. You attended American schools, worked in American jobs, and pay taxes to the US government. You watch fireworks on the Fourth of July and remove your cap during the national anthem at a ballgame. Don't you think it's time you become an American citizen?"

Wow. I guess so.

Read the entire series here.

Part 29 . . . . . . . . Part 31

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 29) - Coming Soon: Review of Donald Whitney

Although I had previously been exposed to a formal church membership doctrine, the first time I read a popular evangelical author on the subject was through a chapter in Donald Whitney's book, "Spiritual Disciplines Within The Church," in about 1997. At a newly formed church we were reviewing his book during a bible study just after a church merge.

My previous experience with a legalistic church's membership ideas - and the practical problems they caused - prompted me to be extra careful with Whitney's book. I'm glad I was, as I recently reviewed my own margin notes in the copy I had in my bookshelf for years. I caught a number of errors in Whitney's reasoning back then, but over these years I came to the place of being able to spot more. As my bible study reviewed his book, we as a group found some problems, too, with this chapter on church membership.

Whitney's original printing (I'm guessing my 1996 copy our bible study bought in '97 was the first printing) has been revised since then. The chapter in question can be read here at his "The Center For Biblical Spirituality" website. Whitney's material, in this book and others, has been widely influential in the Reformed world over the last fifteen years. This particular chapter has been referenced by others with whom I have taken issue in previous parts of this series.

My aim is to review his writing on church membership, most specifically from this chapter. I expect to do this over another dozen or two parts in this series [Update: I will likely alter the amount I write about Whitney's view, probably in the downward direction]. I will also include references from the original printing, as some of the author's points are re-worded or re-emphasized in the version on his website.

Get a head start on my series by reading his chapter here.

Read the entire series here.

Part 28 . . . . . . . . Part 30

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri on Saturday

Last night I started writing this post, and I crashed before I could get very far. So, here goes, a day late.

  • As much as Tapatio hot sauce is my very favorite (I keep the 32 oz bottle in the fridge), I must say that El Yucateco red habanero hot sauce (hecho en Mexico!) really flames the soul. The habanero pepper (world's hottest) is soooo tasty.
  • Stood in the hot sun in 105 degree heat today to ref a soccer game. Polyester uniforms. Don't feel too sorry for me, my kid had to play in it.
  • Your child accidentally spill a soda on a bleacher bench at a pee-wee ballgame? Tip: a size 7 Pampers diaper will absorb the whole spill.
  • Went to the Giants/Cubs game last night and ran into some friends on the train home who go to a church on my search list. Maybe this is a hint?
  • Another hyper-Calvinist bumper sticker idea - this time retro 70's: "Go Jump In A Lake Of Fire"
  • Another fourth grade phonograph song. We all loved it, and it's the very first song every guitar player ever learns.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Building Trust By Trusting

John Armstrong posts at his blog about a business strategy based on trust, as written about by CEO Dov Seidman. Simply put, you build trust by extending it to others. Several examples from the business world are given, and Armstrong concludes that Christians should be doing the same thing in the church.

I've been involved in numerous jobs and church ministries where things were run in a top-down fashion by a micro manager of affairs. Trust in such a situation is the hardest thing to gain, and even doing the right thing can be an item of rebuke if it lands outside the leader's guidelines. Allowing people to make something better by using their own gifts and talents (these don't need to be known by us initially) can be the most rewarding thing for all parties involved. Jesus sent his disciples out on their own and the results were astonishing. He even left us here to accomplish his will. Shouldn't we at least trust each other the way he trusts us?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

End of the week thoughts:

  • The Giants beat the Dodgers tonight in Los Angeles. I'd love to be there.
  • Just found out yesterday we have to move within 20 days. Should be really fun. I don't know how this will affect blogging.
  • A large branch from the neighbor's olive tree broke off over the fence and landed in our yard. This year, this tree has been terribly messy with its leaves and fruit. Are olive trees always messy?
  • This fascinating snip from Jason at Pilgrim's Pub: "Aocedrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at rghit pelae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wihtout a porbelm. This is beuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe."
  • Another song played on the phonograph in the fourth grade. The all time number one June hit. Every kid's favorite.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 28) - A Real Life Example

Bob Spencer at Wilderness Fandango, a reader and occasional commenter on this blog, posts about his church's recent adoption of a "formal membership" system. Bob admits that he doesn't "get it" about the church membership requirements. "Commitment" as it is defined by the church leaders seems to be the point. Quoting:

...Are you tithing? Are you taking part in a church-based ministry? Are you attending regularly (according to to definition of the church leadership)? In the case of the church I was attending, if you make a solemn commitment to these things and five others, you're in. If not, you're out.

Does anyone else think it odd that I can say of myself, I am a child of God, a member of his family by adoption through Christ, but I am not a member of the local church, because by their standards I haven't measured up? You see, they've raised the bar a good deal higher than Jesus did.

Another thing: I've heard it said that for a Christ-ian all life should be ministry. But the local church likes to privilege its own organized and established ministries above all else. You have to be committed to participation in one of our church-based ministries. It simply doesn't count that you're pouring yourself out, day by day, to your children. Sorry, that just doesn't register on our membership scale. You need to come to church and fold bulletins, or pass plates, or work in the bookstore, or pull weeds in the garden, in addition to that other stuff. That way we know, we can measure it, and then we can confirm your status of membership.
Read Bob's post. The membership system he describes seems typical of the mentality I have written about in previous parts of this series.

Read the entire series here.

Part 27 . . . . . . . . Part 29

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

Random, er I mean, secret numerological coded thoughts on Friday:

  • Gilligan knows economics. James Leroy Wilson posts a YouTube clip of musician Dan Litwin singing a song about the fraudulent money system of the Federal Reserve. In the middle of the short song, a clip from a Gilligan's Island TV show has Mr. Howell talking economics with a small potatoes dictator. Mr. Howell states the need for precious metal backing of money for a strong economy, while the dictator interrupts, "In my country, all we need is a printing press and paper!" Gilligan looks on. How times have changed.
  • Last weekend in San Diego I jogged on the beach barefoot each day. I went a whole trip without wearing either socks or shoes.
  • Most places: No shirt, no shoes, no service. In San Diego at the beach: No shirt, no shoes, no problem!
  • Still reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. I'm a slow book reader. Waiting to break into Till We Have Built Jerusalem: Architecture, Urbanism and the Sacred by Philip Bess.
  • When did the word "loose" become a substitute for the word "lose?" I have seen this frequently in the last few years. "If you don't do it, you will loose out" or "If you gamble with that, you'll loose your shirt." I see this from people who otherwise know how to spell. Is this a fad?
  • Here's a purely upbeat song that I've always loved. Mid 80's at its pop music finest. Dig the clothes, makeup and hair!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Another View Of Divorce And Remarriage (1)

Perhaps no other topic, or very few anyway, garner as much heated debate, flamethrowing, false accusation and overall mistreatment of fellow believers (if they are even viewed as such) as the topic of what the bible says about divorce and remarriage. I've written on this before, here and here.

Thanks to my friend Peter, who supplied me a link to something a bit different, I read a site by Dr. David Instone-Brewer on this topic. Dr. Instone-Brewer has written two books and a number of articles on this issue. How it differs from other views I've heard is that there is an allowance under God's law for divorce in cases of adultery, abuse or abandonment, stemming from Exodus 21:10-11 and from extra biblical accounts of what the "any cause" statement really meant in Matthew 19 when the Pharisees confronted Jesus.

Quoting from his Christianity Today article:

Putting all this together gives us a clear and consistent set of rules for divorce and remarriage. Divorce is only allowed for a limited number of grounds that are found in the Old Testament and affirmed in the New Testament:

  • Adultery (in Deuteronomy 24:1, affirmed by Jesus in Matthew 19)
  • Emotional and physical neglect (in Exodus 21:10-11, affirmed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7)
  • Abandonment and abuse (included in neglect, as affirmed in 1 Corinthians 7)
Lots of interesting stuff on this site and plenty more in the links to his articles. There's apparently a critique from John Piper out there that I'll have to read, too. I'll be writing more about this soon.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Survey: Which Bible Translation(s) Do You Use?

Here's a From the Pew survey of my readers:

Which bible translation(s) do you currently use? Which was your first translation? Please answer in the comments section.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Happy 15th Anniversary End Of The World

Today, September 6, is the 15th 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.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

It's been a slow blogging week. So here are some scattered thoughts for a Friday night:

  • It's been a slow blogging week because something's up, and I'm not telling until later.
  • Some good things have happened recently, so I'm happy about that.
  • The sunset tonight was gorgeous. Pink to purple.
  • Here's a question: should a church excommunicate over personal belief on the proper mode and subject of baptism? (i.e. not agree with the pastor?)
  • In the fourth grade our class had a phonograph record player. There were some 45's the kids played often, and we thought those songs were really cool. Here's one of them from the previous decade. Awesome!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

End of the non-work week odds and ends:

  • Last night I went to the Giants game against Arizona, and it was shorts weather. After 25 years of holding Giants season tickets, I have only been able to wear the t-shirt/shorts combo maybe a dozen times for a night game. It is usually extremely cold on a San Francisco summer evening.
  • A new neighbor in the apartment across the street installed a new lawn in their back yard. He came over and asked if I had a lawn mower he could borrow to mow it. I said yes. As payment, he offered to mow my lawn. Perfect.
  • Still unemployed. I have a number of friends in the architecture profession who have been out of work as long or longer than I have. No new jobs for them either. One friend found a new job, only to be laid off again a few months later.
  • Autumn is coming. I love the weather and the air and the sun. Just a few months until colored leaves.
  • Pennant races are shaping up in baseball. Mostly wild-card battles.
  • This song came out while I was in college. It was played quite a bit on MTV (back when MTV played music). Not my favorite genre of music, but the overall feel made it one of those songs I remember from a specific time period. My friend and I both had a crush on the girl in the video.

Monday, August 24, 2009

iMonk on The Evangelical Liturgy

Michael Spencer, aka the Internet Monk, is doing at least a 23 part series on evangelical liturgy. At the time of this post, he's at part 5. He's bringing years of observation and his own take to the table here. It will be interesting to me to hear this from somebody with a big past in Southern Baptist circles. He's had other influences too, but I see this already shaping up as at least a description of what standard evangelicals have done in church. Recommended reading.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

A highly ordered set of thoughts disguised as random - for a Friday night:

  • Not a faith-healing church. Julie Neidlinger at Lone Prairie mused about the newly added blue parking stalls at the front of her church parking lot.
  • Mrs. Scott and I agree that lately (caused by the recession?) the number of people driving 10-20 mph below the speed limit on the freeway has dramatically increased. And it's creating some dangerous driving conditions.
  • In a related topic, I asked several people in the body shop/rental car businesses (in context of my recent fender bender and subsequent car repairs) about the effect of the economy on their businesses. Accidents are up, despite fewer people driving, but repairs from those accidents are down, people choosing to live with the dents.
  • The sales rep at our new auto insurance company that wrote up our policies was the greeter, along with his wife, at the church we attended last Sunday.
  • The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing? Well, that's better than the left hand not knowing that there is a right hand.
  • Another song from my childhood. I just started wearing these, and I loved the song on the clock radio. Listen to the reference to Exxon gasoline in the lyrics! Tch-tch.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

Random thoughts on Friday night:

  • French fries and stout for dinner tonight.
  • Is our religion reflected in our architecture? In the 21st century? My friend Peter loaned me a copy of the book, Till We Have Built Jerusalem by Philip Bess. Tradition and New Urbanism.
  • I got stuck in bad traffic tonight, going counter-commute. It was a 49er pre-season game that caused it.
  • What do you get when a seven year old, a five year old, a four year old and a two year old play with the same bucket of Lego's? Answer: chaos and crying.
  • Quoting a friend: "Church girls I've dated are either dopey or crazy."
  • I once read a book entitled, "I Kissed Dating Goodbye."
  • I married my wife and chucked the book.
  • Another of my very favorite songs from my childhood. These guys are hip.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

New Profile Photo

I've added a new profile photo to my blogs. This photo was a professional headshot produced by my friend Deb Wat. The photo shoot was a very interesting process, and Deb is a true professional. Her objective for this shot was to draw me out of my element as a writer. I think it came out great, and my family and friends agree. Check out her site at Deb Wat Photography. I'm adding it to my links.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

I posted this late, but here goes:

  • I love talking with people from other places. On the train last night I sat next to a man from Tucson whose son graduated from college and was moving away from San Francisco. He mentioned that he had to wear a jacket at night in SF in August. It's usually 110 every day in Tucson. That started our conversation into anything and everything SF/AZ. Later at the game, I sat behind a woman from Toronto. She compared people there with people here. Fascinating. People are different in different places and it's great to hear about them from somebody who knows.
  • After living here five years, we finally got large garbage cans for greens and recycled stuff. Our new recycle can would have been nice all along, instead of the small plastic bins.
  • I mowed the front lawn and pulled all the weeds. Looks great. Now to get those weeds coming up out of the driveway cracks.
  • Back yard'll get done one of these days.
  • Both our cars got washed recently. Makes 'em look like new. Now to find them in parking lots.
  • This week's featured surprise song is one from my childhood. My folks missed the rock generation threshold by about a year. They didn't quite embrace Elvis, but their younger siblings did. So this song was big to me in the first grade because of how new sounding this genre of music was. I heard it on the neighbor's garage radio. It stuck for a lifetime. Here it is. Enjoy.

I Got A Foul Ball At The Game Friday Night

For those who would care about such a thing, I got a foul ball at Friday night's Giants/Reds game. The tenth in my life. Then, moments later, another one headed for my glove was deflected by another fan and off my bicep. Read about it at From the Bleachers, my baseball blog.

Monday, August 03, 2009

I Was A DJ, I Was What I Played

Back in high school I was an FM radio disk jockey. I worked at a small local station, KEGR in Concord, CA, in about 1981. The owner was a radio and electronics buff, and had the station set up in his own apartment living room. It did not broadcast over the air, so he needed no FCC license, but instead over the city's TV cable system. We were a bit far from San Francisco, and many of the FM stations didn't have very good reception, so our city carried all the FM stations over TV cable. Simple, connect the TV cable to the antenna hookups on the back of your stereo and you had crystal clear reception.

It was an amateur operation, with minimal advertising (paid stuff during off hours), so the DJ's worked for free. It was a cool job. The owner worked as a manager at Radio Shack so he kept on top of his DJ's by playing the station over the store's stereo systems. Clever. I got to play all the rock faves of the time, and aside from having to play certain genres during the hour, it was free format, and the DJ's even picked the song within the required genres. If you played five Hendrix songs in a row, the owner would call you on the phone and tell you to cool it.

This was a one man operation. No engineers or call screeners. Make sure the phone was off the hook while the mic was on. Had to go to the bathroom? Put on a long song like Free Bird. One DJ took advantage of some 25 minute live Led Zeppelin songs to take a swim in the apartment pool. For such times, we had to be careful to not put on songs that had backward skips in them.

The listening audience was small, and there were a few high school girl groupies. You know, sixteen year olds that moved out and were living with fifteen year old boyfriends with guns. Rock 'n' roll stuff to be sure. The station's call letters, KEGR (The Concord Kegger) were funny to me later because they interrupted Harold Camping's string of radio stations on his network (KEAR to KEIR, I believe).

Wild times in high school.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

Random stuff from the past week or so, if I remember it correctly, plus a new feature:

  • My fender bender took a bit of chaos to get fixed. An estimate plus several days in the shop, plus renting a car. Despite me being the one in the accident and having my name on both vehicle registrations, because Mrs. Scott and I switched to the same insurance company, and just because she was the one whose name was entered first into the account by the rep, she got all the calls from the other insurance company, body shop, rental car agency, followups, etc.
  • The body shop had a guy there named Steve Scott. There were other eerie similarities between my hometown and his mother, so that the woman I talked to at the body shop thought it might have been a practical joke. It was good fun.
  • Is Barack Obama the anti-christ? Some folks believe so. In a widely linked YouTube clip, a voice describes using Christ's words from our English bibles, which is translated from the Greek, which if spoken in the Aramaic that Jesus would have understood, Jesus referencing Old Testament bible verses describing something that indicates Satan falling down from heaven, putting two modern English pronunciations of ancient Hebrew words together, the sounds are similar to something that may be pronounced "Barack" and "Obama." I'm not sure how Satan falling from heaven translates into the anti-christ, but evidently sound similarities of word associations in different languages separated by thousands of years proves who the anti-christ is. They've tried this with a word "Rosh" in the Old Testament to show that "Russia" will invade Israel. Too bad one must know modern English to figure this out, as any other language in the world won't reveal the same result. Just gotta love this method of bible translation.
  • I'm currently reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.
  • Interesting post on Michael Vick and forgiveness here.
  • Here's the new feature on Friday Night Potpourri. I'll be including a link to a favorite song from my childhood, heard on the radio, or to other important music in my past. Most of these songs I've found on YouTube. They don't always fit my genre preferences, but were important at the time nonetheless. They bring back great memories. I'll also refrain from giving the song title so it will be a pleasant (or otherwise) surprise to you. Take a chance and click through to this song I loved to hear on the radio in junior high. Good night.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Individualism As By-Product Of Communalism

One of the things often preached against in today's culture, from many sources, is the ism known as individualism. While it is true that many people today are so concerned about themselves as individuals, that they would put the concerns of the individual above the concerns of community, there is also the reality that many put the concerns of the community above the legitimate concerns of the individual. Enough so that many of the concerns of the individual can be labeled as individualism, or even radical individualism. Putting the concerns of the community above the concern of individual can be called communalism.

Often this communalism can identify individuals that don't fit in, i.e. misfits, loners or those who simply don't identify with some of the beliefs of the community, and incorrectly name them as individualists. This can occur when somebody doesn't agree with the particular form of church government, or of specific doctrines that are hashed out differently in different traditions.

I've heard the charge against Martin Luther, for example, that he was guilty of individualism. But Luther wasn't somebody who wanted to leave the church, or who made the claim that he had no need for church. He wanted the church to come to a better understanding of what he thought the truth was. That he placed an importance on the individual that was not previously granted by the church does not mean that he believed in individualism over and above the community. The opposite extreme of communalism may have been the cause of the charge.

If a community adds rules or regulations that are not warranted by an orthodox understanding of the faith, and is willing to exclude or minimize those individuals who fail to come to the same understanding - even through no fault of their own - it may just be that the community has its own ism to deal with. So, a labeled individualism may in reality be communalism run amok. When understandings of a certain type are widespread just because most people believe in them, those who are on the fringes are often without a solution. Communalism is just as dangerous, if not more so, than individualism. A lone individual can fade out as irrelevant and might have no affect on others, but a community that forces its not-so-correct beliefs on everybody might do harm to many more individuals.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cooperstown, Steroids and Bill James

Baseball stats entrepreneur Bill James, famous for his invention of new statistics and his ability to judge player ability based on those stats, has at long last commented on how steroids in baseball relates to the Hall of Fame. Read the four page .pdf file here. He believes that as we progress into the future, steroids will become a non-issue with respect to the Hall of Fame. He makes five basic arguments, in essence:

  1. 1) Steroids essentially keep us young. Many people outside of sports are taking these, and most people in the future will be doing so as well as life-lengthening drugs evolve. With society using them, they will look back on our time and wonder what the fuss was all about. The steroids users of today will be looked at as pioneers of a better life.
  2. 2) Some players who used steroids will make the Hall. Once these are discovered, an argument will arise to let the others in as well who were shunned.
  3. 3) History is forgiving, and statistics endure. He uses arguments from other players' faults and how they are viewed over time.
  4. 4) Old players play a large part in the Hall of Fame debate. They will not likely divide their ex-teammates into "users" and "non-users."
  5. 5) For the longest time there were no baseball rules against steroids, if there were they weren't enforced, and with a majority of players using them, was it really "cheating"? How then could players be kept out? And a great quote: "With the passage of time, more people will come to understand that the commissioner’s periodic spasms of self-righteousness do not constitute baseball law."
I agree with his assessment and have held many of these sentiments for a while now. James doesn't say all of these things by moral conviction, necessarily, but by how the future will shape the argument as time passes.

In addition to what James contends about baseball's Hall of Fame, I think the same thing will occur with respect to the use of these types of drugs, whether by athletes or not, and the decriminalization of drugs will follow.

Another thing I think should be debated. If a majority of players were taking steroids, who had any advantage over who? Who had the advantage when Bonds went to bat against Clemens? If pitchers were using steroids to be better pitchers, why did offensive statistics increase during the "steroids era?" Could the statistical change be due to other factors? With the Manny Ramirez issue [Updated 07-30-09: David Ortiz was also named today], it is clear that performance enhancing drugs are still widespread, especially the ones undetectable by currently enforced urine tests.

Give the article a read. I think James has enough influence on baseball that the debate will change as a result.

This is cross-posted at my From the Bleachers baseball blog.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri A Day Late

Random thoughts a day late:

  • We heard rain in the kitchen the other night. The dishwasher was on. We ran, to find out that the entire counter was covered in water to the depth of the bullnosing, and water falling over the edge. It was coming from the drain vent in the back of the sink. After taking it apart, we found that a grape was tossed by the garbage disposal blades into the dishwasher drain opening and was stuck there. The size of the grape matched the opening exactly. The drain water was forced up and out the vent, which was pointing back to the counter and not into the sink. One in a million.
  • Six degrees of connectedness. I had lunch today with somebody I met on Facebook. We had seven mutual friends, some from other parts of the country, most of whom have no connections to each other. That we could all know the same unconnected people is bizarre. Most of them we each knew in different ways. We had a lot in common, too. We started out our conversation with, "How in the world do you know all these same people?"
  • Rickey Henderson will be enshrined into baseball's Hall of Fame this weekend. He is one of the all time greats, and I got to witness his entire career, most of it from the front row of the left field bleachers in Oakland. We loved him, and he loved us back. Simply amazing.
  • I took my three sons for a walk around the block tonight with flashlights, the first time with our two year old. Way too funny.
  • I was in Berkeley, CA today for a few hours. It's still a pretty strange place, but it has mellowed over the years from the 60's-80's wackiness. I went to school there in the early 80's when Reagan was in office. Constant cultural entertainment if nothing else.
  • Moe's Books in Berkeley has a good selection of theology books. Check them out sometime.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

Random mush before midnight:

  • Got into a fender bender this week while picking up my son from summer school in the school parking lot. Somebody backed into me, denting my bumper and breaking the headlight. I was able to describe the accident to their insurance company from 3,000 miles away while we both had Google Satellite open. That really helped. Now for the estimate, body shop and rental car. Grrrrr.
  • It's been 100 degrees here all week amid a very mild summer. We live close to the water so it's a bit cooler here than in central county.
  • A friend from here who has been living in Texas for a few years is visiting another friend who lives in San Francisco. He's complaining on Facebook about the 59 degree weather there being too cold. We'll be right over...
  • I've noticed a drastic drop in yellow jacket population here in California over the last few years. I hate those things; they are evil. A bee-keeper friend says they're not native and we should eliminate them at every opportunity. I'd love to see them gone.
  • We're black thumbs here. We killed the back lawn, the front porch plant, the way back yard, and the front lawn is mostly yellow. We've killed a few of our kids' take-home plant projects. The front porch plant was easy, dumping the dried contents into the greens can and the plastic pot into the recycle.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Size Matters, Church Wise

Michael Bell, occasional contributor to the Internet Monk blog, has a fascinating statistical analysis of church sizes. Be prepared to do the math. It's worth the read.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

Junk and stuff for a Friday night with good weather:

  • I watched Johnathan Sanchez of the San Francisco Giants pitch a no-hitter on TV tonight. I had a ticket for last night, and my family has tickets for tomorrow night. Not the best part of a sandwich to not eat. Congratulations anyway!
  • I had a business call with somebody from North Carolina tonight. He asked about our rainfall here in California. Uhhhm, we don't have any from May to October, I told him. Or very little. He said he visited the East Bay (Oakland area) several years ago, and it was cold, so he had to wear a jacket in summer. Uh, yes to that, too. Living here is weird because San Francisco is famous for its fog and cold evenings, yet California is famous for sunshine and hot weather. Outsiders can't figure it out.
  • I understand that it was the 500th birthday of John Calvin. I'm unemployed so I can't even afford that many candles.
  • I've written several posts on this blog about the dog doo on my front lawn. I figured out it's really cats.
  • Do a Google Maps view of your neighborhood, then type in "church" in the search box. Interesting.
  • For Father's Day I recieved some CD's: Foreigner's Double Vision, The Who's The Who By Numbers and UFO's Strangers In The Night. Excellent all.
  • More pages are falling out of my bible than ever. I've had it for almost 30 years. Time for a new one?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Blogroll Disclaimer

Blogroll Disclaimer:

All the sites that are linked to in my right margin under the various links windows like "Tried and True," "Notable and of Interest" and the others are there because I want them to be there. They don't necessarily reflect my views or opinions, but then of course I give you as my readers the intellectual credit for already knowing that. I don't often receive guilt-by-association accusations from my readers, and unless I get really big like iMonk or Team Pyro, I don't expect that to start soon. Some of those linked I agree with to a good degree, some I used to agree with them but no longer do. Some of them I even have there as somebody I disagree with that I like to write about disagreeing with them. A few I no longer read but am too lazy to delete the link.  And a few more I don't read at all but put them there because you might like to read them.

Blogroll Disclaimer Disclaimer:

The fact that I have a blogroll disclaimer in no way as much as implies that I need a blogroll disclaimer. I have one simply because I sat down in my chair I got from a Home Express closeout sale - one with a cheap yellow cushion - and wrote it. In an effort to keep from writing a blogroll disclaimer disclaimer disclaimer, I simply note that bandwidth and time considerations are helpful in avoiding this. Please read my blog often, and if you want to send money, please email me first. If you give enough, I might add a PayPal widget or something. Thank you.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Infantile Trust In God

Occasionally I hear trust in God compared to an infant who is in complete reliance upon its caretaker. An infant cannot do anything for itself, but receives everything from others. This trust, though, is completely passive. Is this real faith?

I've also heard numerous times within Protestantism that failure to "pray without ceasing", as in every minute of the day, or failure to be continually in a state of giving thanks is tantamount to practical atheism.

What, then, could be said about an infantile trust? Can there be anything said for a passive, non-conscious, non-active trust in God? When we seem to have no faith, is there a faith behind the faith? If yesterday I trusted God for salvation in an eternal sense, yet go most of today without even thinking about God, could I not realize tomorrow that even my inaction is a form of faith? After all, yesterday I trusted that I would still have faith tomorrow. And I found that yesterday's faith carried me through today.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Hypocrisy and Self-Control

Do you use words that you don't allow your kids to use? Do you drink, but not allow your kids to do the same? Any number of other things? Are you a hypocrite for such double standards? I occasionally hear this from people.

But this is not necessarily hypocrisy. I drive a car, but don't let my kids do the same. I use power tools, knives, chemicals, etc. I also use words that my kids can't. It's not hypocrisy when the use of things have to do with the varied levels of self-control possessed by the different people in view. There are certain words I don't let my kids use, not because the words are bad in and of themselves, but because of kids' tendencies to abuse them. I know a number of families that shun their kids' use of words like "stupid," "hate," "idiot" and others like them. Most often it seems, the kids use them to attack other people (i.e. "you're so stupid!"), whereas adults tend to use them more appropriately (i.e. "I did stupid things when I was younger.") Some words and acts require a great deal of tact and self-control in using them, and exercising self-control in the right situation is hardly wrong.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Life Happens

...time and chance happeneth to them all. Ecclesiastes 9:11 KJV

I had a conversation with a friend the other day, and we talked about how life progresses. We both are in our mid 40's, and have each discovered things about life now, and how we have passions for those things that probably wouldn't have been as pronounced when we were younger. Things can happen at a place earlier in life that are changed by a big event. We wondered why some things take place that seem so irrelevant to later things, yet those things delay the others.

Life happens.

That's what. We simply have no other way to describe these things. Why God throws us a curve or forces us to change tracks against the red switching light, nobody here knows. Why did I sit at that pizza parlor (that doesn't exist anymore) with those people (who I haven't seen in 20 years, and likely never will again) for several years without any record existing of our time there? What did it prove? It seems to be a waste of time for what I'm doing now. What will come of it?

Who knows. Such are the mysteries of life.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 27) - A Sermon On Membership In The Church - by Kevin Johnson

Kevin Johnson at Prophezei, puts an mp3 of one of his sermons in a blog post. [Update: link no longer in use] (Listen to the actual sermon here. [Update: link no longer in use] He also prints a disclaimer: "Warning: Listen at your own risk.") He preaches on what makes one a member of a church - being there and participating. Simply being a functional Christian implies that one is already a member of that church. He also explains how his church creates their membership roll:

We recognize you for who you are in Christ. You want to be a member of our church? Come. Take communion. Sing the hymns. Pray with us. Live with us. Do it on a regular basis. And we will consider you a member. We will recognize you as a member. And we'll even do it whether you agree with that or not. Because this is not about an individual decision to join the church. This is about the church being the church. So, if you come, and you take communion, and you do it on a regular basis, and you give to the church, and you worship...I'm sorry, you're gonna be put on the membership list.
Pretty simple, huh? He also gives a challenge to those who believe in Sola Scriptura: Where in the bible does it say to require an additional oath to become a member of the church? The sermon is average sermon length, I'm guessing 30-40 minutes.

Part 26 . . . . . . . . Part 28

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

Not-so-random thoughts this time on a Friday night:

  • Tonight I watched my first full hockey game of the season. It was really exciting. Especially the last 4.2 seconds. I can't wait for the next game.
  • My four year old son's favorite animal is the penguin.
  • I have a friend originally from Pittsburgh whose wife comments on my blogs occasionally. I sent him a note tonight.
  • Right after that I watched my favorite baseball accomplishment; a complete game shutout. "The Franchise" blanked the A's and had the game winning RBI.

Now for some random thoughts just a few minutes before midnight:

  • Eclectic Blogroll additions here at From the Pew:
  • Will Hapeman blogs at Willohroots
  • Chemist and organic farmer Dr. Lenny and his alter ego Lemme Howdt blog about science, earth and poetry at The Zone.
  • Dave Cuzner et al blog classic modern graphic design at grain edit.
  • I went to high school with and bought my first guitar in 1979 from outstanding musician Rich Flynn. If you live in the Bay Area, go see him.

And, early Saturday morning is still Friday night:

  • Michael Spencer, the Internet Monk, fishes up a post from his archives about how culturally atheistic Chinese nationalist students here in America see Christianity for the first time.
  • My bible is almost 30 years old, and it looks like it. NASB hatchback.
  • I'll be painting somebody's bedroom purple in the morning.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Survey Results: Changes In Faith

The week before last I took a survey of my readers called Changes In Faith. The results are in the comments section of that post.

Everybody that responded has changed their religious affiliation to some degree or other. Nobody has remained in the church grouping of their childhood, and several don't assemble with a church. This may have more to do with the content of my blog and what type of people read it than with a cross section of society. Even so, most people I know have changed affiliation. The Billy Goat asked if I've read James Fowler's Stages of Faith. I haven't, but here's the Wikipedia link. This book seems more like an age dependent psychological development than what I'm trying to get at. Even though I asked about the faith of one's childhood, that faith isn't childish because it is held by the adults around them.

I'm interested in what makes people change churches, denominations, traditions, etc. Why would somebody grow up Catholic and then change to Protestantism? Or vice versa? Were those decisions rational? Doctrinal? Convenient? Compromise for the sake of another? Outward conformance without inward conviction? Due to bad personal experiences?

Much of the change over time for me has been in large part due to the Protestant belief in "Sola Scriptura," or Scripture alone. Church groups have claimed the bible as their authority, yet when I check what they believe with what the bible says (or seems to say to me), even at their request, I find a difference. If enough differences add up to the extent that those differences prohibit basic fellowship, then I would consider leaving that group. Maybe I should also ask if people believe all the same teachings of their church. That would be interesting, too.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

Random thoughts on a Friday evening:

  • Curse the ice cream man. So wishes Mrs. Scott. He drives by just a few minutes before dinner and causes a stir among the neighborhood children. Discord in our house while dinner might get burnt...
  • Chasing squirrels at the Berkeley marina was fun with our seven year old.
  • With our new laptop I got to sit at a cafe and write a magazine article. Wow, a real writer. Now to get something published.
  • An ad for an architectural job for which I'm neither over- or under-qualified. It actually looks pretty good. Let's see if I get an interview...these are pretty rare these days.
  • Today with the kids was just one of those days. :(
  • The plastic button on the kitchen sink sprayer broke and now turning on the water means it comes out of the sprayer. Any plumbers out there?
  • Ceiling fans are wonderful in weather like this. Ahhh.
  • There's a complete toy store inventory under our sofa.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

Random thoughts on a Friday night:

  • Man, it's dead out there in recessionland. No lines to park at the post office, or even to get into the parking lot. No teenagers at the mall at 3:30pm. Rush hour traffic jams are fewer and farther between. No wait times at restaurants. Baseball attendance down.
  • I haven't read a book followed up by seeing the movie in a long time. Both me and the Mrs. have bookmarks in Richard Yates' Revolutionary Road and plan to see the movie - starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet - after we're done.
  • Missed rock song sequel opportunities: Bruce Springsteen's 957 Channels and Nothing On; Sammy Hagar's I Can't Drive Sixty-Five; Prince's 2009.
  • Our new laptop computer is really cool. Now to sit at a cafe and write some articles or a book...
  • I walked around downtown San Francisco the other night. It's easy to spot the tourists. :)
  • What did Jesus really do the first 30 years of his life?
  • I'm wondering if putting together a list of things my ideal church would do or believe would be fruitful.
  • Time to go to sleep.....

Thursday, May 28, 2009

From the Pew Survey: Changes in Faith

Here's a question for my readers. What are your faith systems of 1) your childhood, and 2) today? How has your faith changed over your life? I want your answers to be as specific as possible, i.e. "I was raised without religion and now I'm a Baptist" or "I was born into a nominal Catholic family and now I'm an atheist." Feel free to add some steps if there are more, such as "I was Mormon, then Jehovah's Witness, then Reformed Baptist, then Lutheran, then I lived in a commune in Berkeley, and now I'm an Anglican priest."

For me, I was raised in a typical non-religious suburban American family that never went to church. I became a Christian at 30, and after brief stops at Harold Camping's church and a Reformed Baptist church, am in a non-denominational Christian church that generally considers itself evangelical, Protestant and Reformed.

How about you?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Re-Thinking The Sunday Chruch Service (Part 14) - Drive-In Church

Read the entire series here.

In Part 13 I described a disjointed body. One where all the parts were arranged in their proper places, but were not connected.

A few years ago I remember reading about a church in Los Angeles in the early 70's that met in a drive-in movie theater. Cars would park and hang the speaker from the car door so that they could listen to the sermon, then easily leave when church was over. I don't remember reading if girls on roller skates would dispense the elements of the Lord's Supper, but it would be a good fit.

Most all of us would ridicule such a notion. Obvious criticisms would be: that American culture would be superimposed upon the church. Congregants would be far too lazy to get out of their cars. Only in California. Individualism reigned supreme. With each family or individual being in their own vehicle, a disconnection would occur and members would be forced further apart as church members.

Would such criticisms apply only to the drive-in church, but not to churches where members are sitting next to each other with the same disconnectedness? Is the problem with the drive-in church model, or is there some already existing problem that is simply taken to the next step? It seems to me that a church meeting where there is interaction between all the members would help prevent (but not necessarily eliminate) such strange church models.

Part 13 .

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Doing What You Desire In The Lord

I was reading a very short post on Pulpit Magazine by John MacArthur about the decision making process of the Christian. He boils it down to three factors. First, if it is prohibited by Scripture, don't do it. Second, you need wisdom. Third, consider your own desires.

In short, if it's okay to do, then do it if you desire. I agree with this, and don't think I hear it enough from conservative leaders that doing what you want, if it's not wrong, is what God uses to advance his kingdom. But in real life there's a catch...

What is prohibited by Scripture or dictated against by wisdom is a great debate within Christianity. Coming to your own conclusions may irk quite a few people and gain their judgment against you. Laundry lists of sins not actually prohibited by the bible make an impact upon people that can be very negative, and liberty is lost.

I've never heard a legalist describe himself as such, have you?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Few Homeschooling Thoughts

A while back I posted some thoughts on homeschooling that were triggered by an article by John MacArthur on homeschooling. I have found differing views on homeschooling within the Christian community. Many favor it. Many believe it is mandated by the bible. Some doubt it. Here in California, it is as common as water with people I know, and isn't only a Christian phenomenon. One family I know homeschooled their children here, then moved to a part of the Midwest where homeschooling was almost non-existent and seemed to be reserved for a cultist mentality.

One thing I've come to realize is that homeschooling is only as productive and valuable as the parents make it. Several of my friends are avid homeschoolers. For one family, it is a major part of life. They organize groups and go to conferences and promote curricula. Another has homeschooled all their children for decades now. You might call these people experts. Yet, one thing they have in common is that they believe there are many families that simply shouldn't be homeschooling. One says about a third of families shouldn't be, while the other has a laundry list of abuses and failures observed over the years.

Some families homeschool out of conviction. Others because they believe the public schools are lacking. Some believe the public schools indoctrinate children in false belief systems, while many of these same people believe the public schools are poor at educating children. If the public schools are so bad at educating, how come they are so good at indoctrinating? Popular songs by Alice Cooper and Pink Floyd make me wonder just how indoctrinated all the children really are. In any case, if homeschoolers can effectively make a difference in the world, then great. The foot is in the door in this country and hopefully the bad examples don't make it tough on the good ones.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Re-Thinking The Sunday Church Service (Part 13) - A Disjointed Body

Read the entire series here.

In Part 7, I noted that the 1 Corinthians passage showed all the members of the assembly involved in edifying the whole body. In this passage Paul uses the analogy of a human body, with eyes, ears, hands, feet and a head. When members of a body don't interact with each other, the body is in a sense disjointed.

Imagine a body. Now imagine that each body part is severed from all the others, then put back together, but with a very small gap between them so that none of them are touching. The body would look just like a body, but wouldn't function properly, or at all, because none of the body parts have an opportunity to function with all the others. Or, imagine the same body with only a few parts connected to a few other parts. Or, all of the parts are only connected to one other part, yet not to each other. Each of these bodies would be seriously dysfunctional.

When our church bodies are disjointed, they are dysfunctional.

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

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Now Contributing to iMonk Blog

Michael Spencer, aka the Internet Monk - or iMonk for short - has introduced me as an occasional contributor to his blog Michael's blog is top rate and is one of the most read Christian blogs on the internet. He writes on very diverse and often controversial topics from a large expanse that he terms "the post-evangelical wilderness." His readers are even more diverse than his blog archives, as the comments sections attest.

It is both humbling and an honor to contribute to Michael's blog. If you're not already a regular reader of his, check him out more often.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Friday Night Potpourri

Random and not so random thoughts on a Friday evening:

  • Finally flattened the jungle in the back yard.
  • Church camp in the redwoods next weekend. Love the smell.
  • ...Complete with a trip to the beach.
  • I've recently taken a liking to Frank Sinatra's music.
  • Our family was slammed with bad colds this last week. Each of us have lost our voice.
  • Tomorrow is Saturday. What a scheduling conflict. I'm sure it conflict's others as well! :-) Mom's day out....

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Anaotomy of The Apostolic Body

I just read somewhere a question as to why Christ would choose Paul as an apostle, being an educated upper crust Hebrew, when the others were uneducated smelly fishermen and tax collectors. This is a good question, one for which I have an opinion.

"...but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong." 1 Corinthians 1:27

In Israel at the time of Christ, religious success was attained by the educated religious leaders. They controlled the religion of the Jews to a large degree. They set up the traditions and rules of men and the common people followed. Much of it was contrary to God's idea of righteousness. Uneducated men would be the perfect tools of God to confound the haughty leaders, but under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who was a better teacher than all the teachers of Israel. When the common people saw what their peers did, it was easier for them to identify and to side with God.

Paul on the other hand, was an apostle to the Gentiles. They did not have God's law, not being Jews. What better tool of God than somebody who knew God's requirements for life in intimate detail. A Hebrew who was connected to the core of God's revelation in his law. Paul's task was to translate the Hebrew Scriptures into a language that theologically ignorant Gentile Christians could understand. The other apostles weren't initially as qualified as Paul for this task. His epistles are littered with OT quotes. The simplistic message of the cross and resurrection would confound the wisdom of Greek philosophy.