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.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Re-Thinking The Sunday Church Service (Part 12) - Checking Your Problems At The Door

Read the entire series here.

Quite often in the typical church service we're admonished to check our worldly cares and problems at the door on Sunday morning. This is supposedly so we can worship God with more focus and purity. But more than this it guarantees that our cares and problems will greet us at the door on the way out unchanged.

Wouldn't it be great if there could be some measure of edification from other members of the body while the church meets that could be more tailored to people's needs?

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

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Mourning and Dancing

...A time to mourn, and a time to dance. Ecclesiastes 3:4b

How often do these things alternate in life? It seems that most often they come in seasons. Seasons of mourning, seasons of dancing. Occasionally they come close to each other. I'm looking for some dancing. I already have my dance partner picked out. Maybe a week's work is necessary prior to a Friday night out.