Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Night Potpourri

A week of series and seriousness:

  • There are pine trees along the fence line between us and the next door neighbors.  We swept the driveway today.  Wow, what a pile.
  • How early will Saturday morning come tomorrow?  I've got a strange morning class time.  Coffee to go?
  • Are you supposed to water the yard when it rains?  I'm not sure.  Gene R?
  • Fall.  That wonderful time of year where you clean the gutters and retrieve all the whiffle balls from summer.
  • It's really fun getting the younger kids to follow the changing of the color of the leaves.  Our street is lined with maples that are turning red.
  • I bought something tonight at the dollar store I really should have bought at the hardware store.  I opened the package and tried it out.  It was so flimsy it folded and the main part popped out.  I painstakingly put the part back in, and tried it again.  The second time the strap pulled out of the clasp.  So, I went to the hardware store and bought what I needed there.  I only paid a dollar for the first one, so it wasn't worth my time to return it.  I learned a lesson and it only cost me a dollar.
  • I've already used this song, and back then had no idea it would apply so wonderfully this week.  So, for the first time ever, I'm re-using a song on FNP.

Monday, October 25, 2010

More On The Church Institution

In a recent post, I briefly discussed the ongoing argument over the institutionalized church.  I received a few comments, and some good points were made by those who commented.  First, I'll give general answers to some of the comments.

Yes, I believe the church is an "institution," insofar as it fits the dictionary definition of the word.  Also, I do see a problem with groups that rebel against the idea of institution so much that they make having church in a house a requirement, or similar things.  Sure, there are home churches that stray to extremes, but there are also many of them that are solid and effective.  Many people equate meeting in a building with institution.  I don't believe this is necessarily true.  There are some problems with huge buildings and the gigantic mortgages that go with them, but what if your church building was paid off as it was built 200 years ago?  Not a problem, if you ask me.

Some people equate liturgy with institutionalization.  I don't, necessarily.  Or some type of church government structure.  Okay, there are huge problems here with the American church, but government isn't necessarily the issue, either.  The bible leave many things un-specified.  (I would recommend reading Alan Knox's series on church polity, including all the links he gives here.)

But the best question from the comments, and the one I want to focus on here in this post, is the comment from solarblogger:

So is there a level of institutionalization where the lampstand is automatically removed?

I would answer the question this way. If the structure - or level of institutionalization - of a church prohibits, prevents, hinders or otherwise diminishes the ability to minister, the ability to be ministered to, the ability to obey God for each and every member, then there are problems. Everybody must be able to love God and love their neighbor when the church meets in all the ways the bible sets up for us. If the inability of the body to function the way it should is extreme because of institutionalization, then the problems are severe.

It's interesting that the first church that receives input from Christ in Revelation is the church at Ephesus. Christ threatens them with lampstand removal because they lost their first love. What was their first love? Many people I've heard over the years answer that by saying that, of course, Christ was their first love. But was he? Verse 3 says they endured and persevered for His name's sake. They also couldn't stand evil men, false apostles, and the Nicolaitans. Could it be that the love they lacked, the love that diminished, was a love for one another? If it is, I can only speculate that it is so.

Let me say that lampstand removal is Christ's to do. But if a church has institutionalized itself out of the ability to function like Christ desires, how is it that Christ is still there? In my next post on institutionalization, I'll bring up some examples where God's commands are hindered by the church structure itself.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


The Philadelphia Phillies' dream of being the first team to win three consecutive NL pennants since the 1942-44 Cardinals has been slaughtered by the extreme underdog San Francisco Giants!!!! Juan Uribe hits an 8th inning opposite field home run to put the Giants ahead 3-2. Brian Wilson makes the perfect pitch - a low, backdoor slider - the pitch that awesome slugger Ryan Howard simply cannot hit. Howard was fooled badly, and THE GIANTS WON THE PENNANT! Another extreme form of torture!

The parties are spilling out into the streets! We're going to the World Series! Wahoooo!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Night Potpourri

A week of change and waiting:

  • It's really raining outside right now.  Not the first rain of the season, but the first heavy raining.
  • I wore pants today.  Very weird.  It was cold enough today, but with nice weather fading into fall, the string of shorts-wearing days came to an end.  Jeans feel strange.
  • Congratulations to the Texas Rangers on winning their first pennant ever.  Now, c'mon Giants, they're waiting for us.
  • I've been watching some playoffs on national TV while trying to listen on the radio.  Some of these telecasts have like a 20 second delay between what the radio is saying and when it happens on TV.  I remember the NBA finals while walking down the main drag at the beach in San Diego this summer.  I could hear cheers erupt at different times from different bars and restaurants.  Technology?
  • Our nine year old got a book from the library with some stories of comic strip characters in it.  Batman is featured in one section.  I hummed the TV theme from the show, and realized that my kids have never really seen Batman, Bugs Bunny, the Flintstones or the Three Stooges.  Are we bad parents?
  • In a July, 2009 Friday Night Potpourri, I mentioned that I was currently reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.  I finally finished it a week and a half ago.  Even though it took me well over a year to read it, I remembered exactly where I was each time I picked up the book.  Thanks to my mother-in-law for giving it to me.
  • An oldie and a goodie, no lyrics needed.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Which Church Institution?

Over the years I have often run into arguments over the "institutionalized church," or the "institutional church."  There are those who argue that the church shouldn't be institutionalized at all, and should follow a pattern shown in the New Testament - a more simple approach without all the buildings and programs and hierarchical authority and what have you of contemporary church.  Then there are those within the "institutional" church who like to point out that the people who argue against it don't have an argument, because, after all, the church itself is an institution, established by Christ.

Well, of course the church is an institution, and it is established by Christ.  But from what I read (from the most articulate of the anti-institutionalists), they aren't actually arguing against the idea that the church is an institution.  They are arguing that there are churches (even the majority) that have been institutionalized by man to such a degree that they don't resemble the simple institution established by Christ.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Night Potpourri

A week's end is very welcome this week:

  • Very warm weather into mid October.  Nineties and near 100.  I wonder when it will drop down to the 50's
  • We have a small orange tree out front.  Probably two feet high.  It has one flower blossom on it.  I thought flowers were supposed to blossom in the spring.
  • The power went off last night in the middle of the night.  One of the kids stirred, waking us up.  It was eerily silent, as a fan in one of the rooms and the bubbling of the fish tank were not heard.  And, it was very dark.  The glow of the LED's in the clock radios were out, as were the night lights.  No lights on for as far as I could see out a window, including street lights.  Knowing that I would trip over something in the complete dark, I picked up my cell phone and opened it.  It was enough light to walk around the house.
  • That's apparently not the only use of a cell phone, as I've heard people use it instead of Bic lighters at concerts.
  • I had a final exam last night in one of my classes at school.  I got an "A" on the final, and an "A" in the class.  Wahoo!
  • After some problems at the wrong time, I now know how to fix a carriage jam in an HP printer.  Judging from the number of posts about it online, it seems to be a problem for many other people, too.  Overall, our HP printer has been pretty good.
  • Oh, wait.  Another radio staple from the 70's.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Perception in Reading Blogs

Have you ever met somebody who came across a certain way, then after getting to know that person better you realize that they really aren't that way?  That's happened to me many times.  It's true in the blogging world, too.  Or maybe especially.

That's why I try to not place so much emphasis on first impression. This brings me to some tips on reading blogs.  Whether we know it or not, the impression of somebody we receive from reading them has probably as much to do with how we read as it does with how that person writes.  Casual conversation has the advantage of tone of voice, facial expressions and body language.  Writing long, thought out pieces - such as books, articles or papers - has the advantage of putting a lot of thinking into something, as well as personal review and editing from others.  Blogging is at a disadvantage because these things aren't always in the mix.  It is often thinking out loud, like casual conversation, but in written form without the thought process or review.  There are some shortcuts we use to convey emotion, etc., to try to fill in the gaps, but reading a blog cold and jumping to conclusions is really a hasty activity on the part of the reader.

That's why it's a good idea to read somebody's blog for a while before commenting.  Or, read the history of their blog.  There's a better chance of "getting" somebody's sense of humor, writing style, etc.  Interact with the blogger for a while before developing an image of that person.  Many people don't get these things, and it is the reason for so many internet flame wars and harsh criticisms.  Reading in order to understand is a very important thing.  "He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him."  Proverbs 18:13  Read well, my friend.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Baptism: Another View (Part 5)

Read Part 4:

In this post I'd like to offer my opinion of the effects (or lack thereof) of Christian parents or churches having baptism administered to their children. In other words, just how "effecatious" is infant baptism?

Each side in the Protestant baptism debate has its criticisms of the other with respect to the baptizing of children. Paedo-baptists often make the claim that Baptists' refusal to baptize their children has negative results. Because children are not baptized in Baptist churches, Baptists are sometimes accused of neglecting would-be elect children and are denied the very sign of the covenant itself. The failure to baptize children is then viewed as the worst thing that one could do to them. God's blessings come through obedience to the covenant, so Baptists are cutting blessings off from their children. Because Baptists sometimes view their children as unregenerate until a profession of faith is made, parents are tempted to be lax in their teaching and preaching to children because they're looked at as being not yet in the covenant; in other words the presumption of unregeneration until proven false through profession of the faith takes away from the church's duty to the children. Their churches, the argument goes, are then overrun with worldly people within a generation or two, and apostasy soon results. If this is the case, then it stands to reason that we should see a greater conversion rate of children in paedo-baptist churches.
Baptists, on the other hand, often criticize paedo-baptists for baptizing infants because these infants include all future false professors as church members from birth. Their churches, the argument goes, are then overrun by worldly people within a generation or two, and apostasy soon results. This supposedly explains to some degree the problems with theology in mainline denominations. The conclusion is sometimes that baptizing infants is the worst thing one could do to them. The baptizing of only professing adults (or children old enough), safeguards the church from these problems because the non-professing are never allowed heavy influence in church matters. Also, paedo-baptism can lead to a false assurance of salvation because of the "covenant promise." I've heard from Baptists who happen to have attended paedo-baptist churches (maybe because it's the only good church in the area) that a covenant smugness can take over and parents are tempted to be lax in their teaching and preaching to children because they're looked at as being already in the covenant; in other words the presumption of election until proven false through denying of the faith takes away from the church's duty to the children. If this is the case, then it stands to reason that we should see a greater conversion rate of children in Baptist churches.  The argument each side levels at the other is essentially the same.

But I've had enough experience with both types of churches to know that neither has the corner on their children growing up to be true Christians. Baptists are just as good at placing their children as recipients of the blessings of the covenant, i.e. teaching, bible memorization, church attendance, prayer, education, and the rest, as are paedo-baptists. Paul takes up the argument in Romans 2 that when Gentiles do the law, their uncircumcision is counted as circumcision. "If therefore the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?" Rom. 2:26. Both sides see that their children are to be discipled according to the Great Commission.  So, then, I don't think that whether children are baptized or not is the real issue, but whether the parents and churches raise their children in the fear and instruction of the Lord.

I've certainly heard of many wayward paedo-baptists who were not born again until adulthood, after straying from the faith, give testimony to God's remembering them because of the promise through baptism, because their parents had them baptized. Well, there are many wayward born-again-as-adult Baptists who make the same claim with respect to their parents raising them well in the faith as children. I believe it's about adherence to the New Covenant itself, and not a supposed sign, that God honors.  Not that baptism isn't important, as both sides agree that it is, it's just when children are to be baptized that is closer to the center of the argument.

Read Part 6.
Read entire series in a single post.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Friday Night Potpourri

A short six days this week:

  • Autumn is starting out well.  Cool mornings, having to squeegee the car windows, with warm days.  The leaves are turning red on the maple and liquid amber trees.
  • Our oldest turned nine this week, and he received a model fighter jet from a relative for his birthday.  The parts are smaller and more detailed than anything I ever did as a kid.  This is his first model, and he's picked it up so fast it's amazing.  Hundreds of tiny decals and parts the size of a pinhead.
  • Neighbors are already decorating for Halloween.  One house has about a half dozen spiders on the roof that are about three feet across.  Looks creepy.
  • Took the kids' car seats out of my car for grandma to use.  Perfect time to vacuum what's underneath.  Wow.
  • Seventy four shopping days left until Christmas.  That means that there's seventy three days left until the shopping really begins.
  • It was everywhere ten years ago.  So, here it is again.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Programmed Church - An Institution Unto Itself

John Armstrong posts a short, two minute YouTube clip talking about today's church model, entitled Has the Church Traded Methods for Worship?  I tend to agree with him, and I also think there is a tendency to oppose these same methodologies and programs Armstrong alludes to, while at the same time not knowing that we fall into the same traps ourselves.  I hope to be writing about this more in the near future.

Sunday, October 03, 2010


Congratulations to my San Francisco Giants on winning the National League West on the last day of the season!  It's about time, you guys.  Now go to work on getting that parade down Market Street.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Saturday Night Potpourri

A day late:

  • Speculation as to why my Friday Night Potpourri is a day late...
  • It's not really because the Giants lost last night.  I hurt my knee this last week and it has been really painful at night.
  • The apricot tree was trimmed today.  Yahoo!
  • I tried to reposition some of the scalloped brick driveway trim as some of the kids have been playing with them.  I discovered that tree roots have pushed them up.  This is the reason the kids can play with them.
  • Sitting here day by day waiting for my Giants to clinch a playoff spot.  Will they do it, or will it result in a total collapse?  Time and the devil will tell...
  • Grandma is a really good grandma.  She's 80 and she gets down on her hands and knees to play cars with our three year old.  We love grandma.
  • It's been at least a hundred degrees here all week, and this morning there were rain drops on my car.  I wonder where that came from.  Rainy season doesn't officially start for another two weeks.
  • Wow.  I almost totally forgot about this song from the 70's.  Another clock radio staple.