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.