Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Conformist Non-Conformists

Hippies.  You know those folks from the 60's and early 70's.  They prided themselves on being non-conformists.  They didn't conform to the established norms of society.  Yet in their non-conformity they seemed to all wear the same hair, the same tie-dye t-shirts, same jewelry, same jeans, took the same drugs, protested against the same things, and listened to the same music.  Despite their non-conformity they were conformists just like the rest of society, only on a smaller scale.

The same can be said of religious groups.  They shun society itself, or at least certain forms and functions of society, and live and act the same together.  I'm no sociologist, but I wonder if the concept of conformist non-conformism is what it means to be a subculture.

A subculture to which I might be most familiar is the evangelical subculture, however one wants to define it or describe it.

What of the person who is a non-conformist even amongst the non-conformists?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all the From the Pew regular readers!  Also, Merry Christmas to all those who have never or will never even know my blog exists.  In any case, Merry Christmas.  And if I don't have a blog post lined up for next week's holiday, I wish you a Happy New Year too, even if I blog about other topics in the mean time.  And Feliz Navidad to my Spanish speaking readers.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Blogger's Cramp...and What To Do About It?

Long time readers of my blog (if there are many of them left) know that I haven't written much in the last so many months.  Because of my current job situation I have much less time to write.  Even when I do have time, I simply don't write the way I used to.  Lately I have had a string of great blog ideas, I start writing about those ideas, then I have to go to bed or something else.  The next day, my ideas don't sound so great and I abandon the thought, being glad I didn't follow through.

I have a few ideas why I'm not writing much anymore when I do have the time, so maybe I'll share those in the coming weeks.  Hey, now that's a good idea worth writing about!  Write about why I'm not writing.

Does anybody have similar problems, and if so, what have you done/are doing about them?  Oh, and if you're not reading my blog, nevermind.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Banned From The Lord's Table

Arthur Sido writes about the phone call he received from his church informing him that his family isn't allowed to commune with God.  What is also interesting is that one of the commenters doesn't see a problem with equating the Sido's family situation with gross imorality.  Let's call the fruit of man-made "formal church membership" doctrines what it is: rotten.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Moved To Today

Late night Wednesday/wee hours Thursday, Mrs. Scott and I both came down with the stomach flu, and were to host the family Thanksgiving meal this year.  Needless to say, we ended up having 7-Up and a wee bit of chicken noodle soup later in the day.  So, we've rescheduled for today.  Most people are done, but we're just getting started.  Mrs. Scott just did a basting round and the bird looks good in the oven.  Hopefully we'll be able to eat well.  Bon Apetit!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Why Arthur and I Love Blogging

Arthur Sido at The Voice Of One Crying Out In Suburbia writes about one of the major reasons I love blogging and reading other blogs:

It is true that the blogging world can often be banal and silly, sometimes even scandalous and a stumbling block to the Gospel. It is also true that done properly it provides a heretofore nonexistent medium for worldwide discussion, taking important conversations out of the world of academia and theological journals and making them available to every Christian. It used to be that you wrote a book, published it and waited for the reviews but now the review process is interactive and alive, allowing readers to ask questions and authors to sharpen their thinking in ways that perhaps they didn’t think of before.

Without a medium such as blogging I wonder what I would believe today.  The same thing I believed in 1995?  Maybe so.  And I'm glad that didn't happen.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Anniversary, Mrs. Scott!

We didn't realize it until somebody pointed it out after we set our wedding date, as we simply wanted a Saturday in the fall.  "Did you realize that your 11th anniversary will be on 11/11/11?"

Well, no, but we'll certainly be looking forward to it!

And today is here.  So, I want to say happy anniversary to Mrs. Scott!  I love you and the first 11 were wonderful.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Weekend Potpourri

Ending the FNP drought:
  • Played football with my boys out in the street today.  Nice chilly day, fall.  My arm hurts a bit after throwing for just a short time.  Must be getting old, but my boys are so full of energy because they're young. 
  • My cell phone apparently doesn't adjust automatically for Daylight Savings Time even though it is set to "automatic" for date and time.  Mrs. Scott has the same phone model and discovered that the phone must be turned off then on again for it to switch between daylight time and standard time.  Kinda defeats the purpose.  My clock radio did just fine.
  • Some friends brought dinner over a few nights ago because we were busy with an important matter.  One of the dishes was a green bean casserole with onion rings on top.  It was one of those childhood memories of mom's green bean casserole.
  • Next Iron Chef is doing a competition in the bleachers at Petco Park in San Diego.  We were there just last year!
  • It's good to feel the rain and cool weather of the last week.  That rain-on-the-pavement smell, too.
  • My favorite pickings out of the leftover Halloween candy were the Hershey's chocolates and the Reece's peanut butter cups.
  • obladioblada

Friday, November 04, 2011

Faith That Transcends Efficiency

So you're moving into a new place.  You're also a good cook.  You don't have the finances to hire professional movers, so you do what many others do: you get a dozen or so friends and maybe a U-Haul or bunch of pickup trucks and have a moving party.  Once all the boxes and furniture are moved into your new place, you do what is culturally acceptable: you feed your help.  So you prepare a nice home-cooked meal in your new kitchen.  Right?
Of course not.  All your kitchen stuff is still in boxes, yet to be unpacked.  Your kitchen efficiency is zero.  So you order pizza!

It is only after all the boxes are unpacked and things put away that any efficiency begins to take shape.  Then you need to get used to your new place, where to store supplies, etc.  So it is with the rest of life.  The first and last days of work at a job are the least efficient.  You're an important player that will make or break the company to the tune of millions, but your first day is a tour by an HR rep showing you where the paper clips and post-it notes are.  Infants are notoriously inefficient on a family and don't start contributing until well later in life.  A new software program contains an untold number of bugs until they are fished out by its users.  A new pair of shoes hurts your feet until broken in.  You get the picture I'm trying to paint here.

Our religion demands efficiency from us.  Training our children, redeeming the time, practicing righteousness.  Maturity vs. being tossed to and fro like children.  But the world has been changing.  People are having large portions of their lives torn down to be rebuilt from scratch.  Many areas of their lives simultaneously.  Major inefficiency is the result.  For now.  For these people, will there be a faith that transcends all the inefficiency?  Will their lives result in a glorious rebuilding with a new efficiency, or will they result in failure?  Time will tell, but I'm willing to wager that both will happen in large numbers.

Monday, October 24, 2011

How We View Each Other...and Ourselves

I've seen it around the internet a few times already, but here's a humorous pictorial grid of how the major Western denominations view each other...and themselves.  Once there, click on the image for a larger view.

I think there are some fairly accurate stereotypes contained here.  Having spent most of my Christian experience in churches and circles that claimed to be "Reformed", I can relate to the column and row labeled "Reformed" and "seen by Reformed" fairly well.

One of the best features of the grid is that each group is shown in how it views itself.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

(HT John Armstrong)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

You Only Have The "Gift of Singleness" if You Want to Be Single

"And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” The disciples said to Him, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.” But He said to them, "Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.” Matthew 19:9-12

Jennifer Vaughn at à la mode de les Muses posts about the unfortunate tendency of many Christians who advocate little else but waiting for those singles who would rather be married:

It’s very suspicious that the Christians advising this are, more often than not, either married (i.e., have a legitimate sexual outlet) or admittedly uninterested in sex (i.e., asexual, voluntarily celibate, or in possession of a naturally low sex drive). And they generally don’t even stop lecturing a moment to put themselves in others’ shoes. Rather than give up belief that fleeing and waiting is the only solution, many even accuse struggling singles of neither trusting God nor attempting to control themselves. The Apostle Paul was more sympathetic.

I not only agree with her, I would take it a step further and say that the repeated telling of single Christians that they have the "gift" of singleness, when in fact they have a strong desire to be married, can be a very damaging thing.  It's like saying that to have sexual desires or the desire to marry is a slap in the face of God.  Refuse a "gift" given you from God?  That's like biting the hand of the one who feeds you.

But notice the words of Jesus above.  He only lists three categories of eunuchs.  Those who were eunuchs from birth (i.e. those without the correct plumbing, anatomy, hormones, etc.), those who were made eunuchs by men (i.e. male slaves who were castrated as part of being taken as prisoner of war, etc.) and those who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom (i.e. remaining single by personal decision).  Those who are involuntarily celibate (i.e. haven't found the right match, a quirk of providence, etc.) aren't listed.

An additional problem is in limiting the application of Paul's admonition in 1 Corinthians 7 about it being better to marry than to burn (i.e. with passion) to the length of the engagement period for those who are already considering somebody for marriage.  Having problems with lust before even meeting somebody?  Tough.  Get it under control before you start to consider marriage or you've got no business marrying in the first place.  If this line of thinking doesn't place somebody in a difficult position, what does?

Jesus places a very light burden in his statement.  Only those who can accept his statement should apply it to themselves.  The rest are free to pursue marriage and shouldn't be judged by the rest of us.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Why Is One Covenant Not Enough?

Alan Knox at The Assembling of the Church asks why if we already have the New Covenant - which is ratified by the blood of Christ himself - do we need a church covenant to determine who is a member of the church and whether we should love those people and how.  Of course, I have asked the same thing numerous times on this blog.

Alan frames the question in a slightly different way than I mostly have.  Yes, good question.  Why do we need Christ plus a man-made document?  Christ's blood plus our signature?  Give his short post a read.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tall Skinny Suffering of Children

Andrew Jones, aka the Tall Skinny Kiwi, types a few short paragraphs about allowing children to be children in and about the church, including when it meets.  It's very short so giving it a read will be easy as well as thought provoking.  Many of us have learned to be family oriented in many ways, but not so much when the church joins together.

Monday, September 26, 2011

But The Midweek Group Is My Church

Every church I've attended that claims to be Reformed has taught that the Sunday church meeting (aka worship service) is the central and most important event of the week for Christians.  If somebody had to decide to attend only one church activity during the week, the worship service should be it.  It contains the central focus of worship - the preaching of, and thus the listening to - the sermon, and singing and praying to the Lord.
Some people have neglected to attend on Sunday, but make other meetings during the week their main focus.  Inquiring leaders might get the reply, "But the midweek group is my church," and use the reply to warn against doing this.

But I'm wondering if those people aren't on to something.  Maybe they sense that those other weekly gatherings have more fellowship, more one-anothers, more stimulating one another to love and good deeds, more encouraging of one another (Heb 10:23-25) that is supposed to go along with not neglecting to assemble together.  And as Eric Carpenter writes at A Pilgrim's Progress, a former church of his had a built-in fellowship time that was very much enjoyed.  Arthur Sido, in the comments, notes that a former church his family attended had a difficult time getting people to stop fellowshipping during a built-in time so they could attend the formal teaching.  If more of the one-anothers that are listed in the New Testament occur in settings other than the Sunday meeting, why not allow somebody who realized this the benefit of the doubt in meeting during those other times?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Friday Night Potpourri

After a swing shift, Friday night at 11pm is my 5pm:
  • I've been thinking lately about switching Friday Night Potpourri to Saturday Night.  I'm working swings on Fridays and I usually crash immediately on Friday night after I get home.  Like last night.  I woke up on the couch in the wee hours with my blog editor still open and too tired to do anything other than go to bed.
  • I've encountered so many black widow spiders in the back yard it's hard to count.  I'm wondering why they only appear in the back yard.  It's been that way the last several houses I've lived in.
  • Leaves are beginning to drop in the back yard.  That means getting out the rusty leaf rake and putting it to use in the next few months.  Nothing like getting the rust worked out of a tool by using it.
  • I love a good cup of coffee every afternoon.  I'm not a morning coffee person, but usually have one after those post-lunch sleepy sessions kick in.  Makes the afternoon go faster and more efficient.
  • What is up with laptops and their bizarre keyboard mishaps?  I type and right in the middle of what I'm doing, large chunks of text are cut and pasted to other parts of the document and the vertical scroll bar goes wildly up and down.  I mentioned this to a co-worker the other day and he experiences the same things.  Then Mrs. Scott agreed.  Anybody have these woes and know what they are?
  • Popcorn ceilings. Or what everybody used to call "cottage cheese" ceilings. The inventor never took into consideration that kids and popcorn ceilings don't mix. Or... Must have been invented by the devil himself.  You've got to pick up all the little pieces...
  • song.

Friday, September 23, 2011

What Would Jesus Drive?

Occasionally I hear or read the question, "What would Jesus drive?" as if there were a certain type of car he would drive if he were living in our society today.  I think the answer is fairly simple.  Jesus said, "Lo, I will be with you, even to the end of the age."  He also said he would send us his spirit.  He also said that those who did/didn't do things to the least of his were doing it to him.  He told Saul of Tarsus that he was persecuting him.

So with all this, and the freedom we have in Christ, plus using wisdom in how we live, wouldn't it stand to reason that Jesus would drive whatever any of his followers would drive?  Except for an SUV, that is.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Can You Reform Yourself Out of Being Reformed?

Bobby Grow at the newer version of The Evangelical Calvinist asks, "Who's Reformed, And Who Cares?"  and discusses how we should define what it means to be included within the Reformed Faith of Protestant Christianity.  A clip:

[T]here are many classically Reformed proponents today who collapse what it means to be ‘Reformed’ into a fixed set of agreed upon Reformed Confessions (the so called Three Forms of Unity — viz. The Heidelberg Catechism, The Belgic Confession, and The Canons of Dort); if someone cannot sign off on even one of these ‘forms’ in toto, then their “Reformedness” is probably non-existent.
He quotes a commenter on an old post of his that answers this idea:

What are the core principles of Reformed orthodoxy? Are these primarily doctrines (e.g. election and divine sovereignty construed in a particular way), or are they primarily ethics of the way in which theology is to be carried out (e.g. semper reformanda)?... [M]y sense of the tradition and its founding is that the latter ethics are decisive.  That’s why there is no single confessional statement of Reformed orthodoxy (as with the Lutheran Formula of Concord), but rather a broad tradition of regional confessions that share a great deal of doctrinal similitude. Even where we would specify some doctrines as necessary to what it means to be in the Reformed tradition — such as election and the sovereignty of God — the ethic requires that these allow for a range of interpretive positions and not a fixed doctrinal expression. This gives Reformed thinkers the freedom to continually re-examine and re-express the truths that are encountered in Scripture.
And in his commenter's conclusion:

The greatest value of classic Reformed orthodoxy, in my view, is that classic Reformed orthodoxy does not have the last word.

I'm in agreement with Bobby and his commenter.  There seems to be a gatekeeper mentality within those who claim the Reformed tradition that includes a position as minister of definition.  It's clear to me, and I've written about it numorous times over the blogging years, that semper reformanda is the forgotten sola of the Reformation.  Maybe it's because it never was a sola to begin with.  The word reformed is in the past tense, as in already figured out.  If seeking to be reforming rather than already reformed means that some will strip a definition from you, then I'm fine with that.  The ethic really is more important than the label.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Friday Night Potpourri

A week is a week is a week:
  • Even if you don't write Friday Night Potpourri until Saturday afternoon.
  • Even if the Beatles wrote a song titled, "Eight Days A Week."
  • Especially when you think this FNP theme is cute then "This Week In Baseball" comes on.
  • One of the things about my temp job that I haven't experienced in several decades is that I get paid once a week.  This is so unusual that I don't quite know how to process it.  But a paycheck shows up every seven days instead of twice per month, and we're all thankful for that.
  • I've run out of "week" theme items so I'll switch to something random like breakfast cereals.  So there's a cereal called Reece's Puffs, a take off of Cocoa Puffs.  I guess some goof accidentally spilled some peanut butter in the Cocoa Puff recipe while in the General Mills laboratory.  Accidents happen.  Not that I would eat such a concoction.  I grew up on Wheaties, Cheerios, Corn Flakes, Shredded Wheat, Cinnamon Life and a half dozen other lessers.
  • The kids were bored late in the summer.  I can tell by all the stuff accumulated on the roof.  Cups, balls, newspapers, toys, rocks.  Time to get the ladder out and do some fall cleaning.
  • This last item has nothing whatsoever to do with a week.  Or so I've heard.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Still Yet Another Additional Anniversary of the World Not Ending

It's almost getting boring writing about this every September 6th, but today is the 17th anniversary of the sun not ceasing to shine, the moon not turning to blood and the stars not falling from the sky.  It is the 17th anniversary of Harold Camping's first of many, many failed eschatological predictions.  Having established a perfect record in his predictions, many of his followers ignore his prediction outcomes and believe in them anyway.  Even after every calendar in the world proves him wrong.

In one way, I wish his 1994 prediction had come true.  You see, Major League Baseball was in the middle of a player's strike, and the last game played before the strike was on a Thursday night, the only night game in the majors that night.  It was in Oakland and I was there sitting in the bleachers!  Had the world ended in September like Camping predicted, I would have had a ticket stub to the last game ever played in all of history!  Now how much would that ticket stub be worth today?  But as it was, the world didn't end and baseball played again in 1995.  Darn!  Or, should I say "damn!"?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Night Potpourri

Is it really Friday?
  • Family Scott has attained basketball hoop.  A Facebook post by some friends resulted in the kids using the driveway for more than throwing or hitting rocks.  Score!
  • It seems like Tuesday for whatever reason.  Working a continually changing schedule for the last three months makes it difficult to know what day it is.  I usually know the date because so much of the work I do is tied to it, but not the day.  I turned on the game and the Giants were wearing their orange jerseys which means Friday.
  • There's no there there.  I'm working in a city I used to live in for a number of years.  Everything I did I had to drive over the hill to central county.  The downtown had been blighted for decades, and numerous attempts at redevelopment were unsuccessful.  But there are a few good places downtown that have come about in recent years.  Now I need to find out more.
  • Hey, my car is dirty.  Maybe I can get my kids to wash it next week.  Playing in the soap and water?  Hmmm.
  • Upon further review, I found a post from last month that says my kids washed their mother's car.  Life isn't fair, but I guess it can be next week.
  • I just found two dictionaries in the computer armoir.  Two.  I haven't read a dictionary in book form in quite a few years.
  • The summer sound...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Startup Mania

Work is very intense right now, and is the big reason for me not blogging much.  I worked 16 days straight (fifteen with overtime), had a day off, and then worked another seven overtime shifts.  But as much work as there is, it is very enjoyable.  A very complex plant trying to start up is very exciting and full of surprises.  Sometimes learning what shifts everybody will work is hour to hour and not day to day.  Unique problems arise, and problem solving is the order of the day.

Church is also in startup mode.  We've been occasionally meeting with a group that is "planting" a church, and the much desired fellowship is picking up.  There's a much greater emphasis on people than programs and we're enjoying that too.  I miss blogging and I believe my writing has suffered a good deal over the last year or so.  Even Friday Night Potpourri isn't regular anymore.  Until the startup at work is successful and things smooth out into normal routine, it looks like I'll be a working fool.  And that is welcome after so long without gainful productivity.  I'd love to drop some more theological posts here in the near future, but life things may be more the speed in the foreseeable future. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Questions About The Sabbath

Eric Carpenter (who blogs at A Pilgrim's Progress) mowed his lawn this Sunday.  Eric asked some questions about the Sabbath and what it means to keep it and break it, as well as whether there is a Sunday Sabbath to begin with.  I left a comment, but at the time I typed this post it hadn't yet been approved by the blog owner, so I'll paste it here:


In the book of Acts, there are 8 different references to the seventh day as being the Sabbath, and what the apostles did on that day (13:14, 27, 42, 44, 15:21, 16:13, 17:2 and 18:4). The church and its first day meeting had already been well established by the apostles.

Now, why, if Sunday were the "Christian" or "New Testament" Sabbath, does THE BIBLE ITSELF still recognize the seventh day as the Sabbath after the Sabbath had already supposedly changed to Sunday?

This is a question that Sabbatarians have never given a reasonable answer to for me.  Does anybody have any additional observations on the Sabbath question?

Friday, August 05, 2011

Friday Night Potpourri

Worked week:

  • I had an encounter with a skunk at 5am today.  Still dark, and perfectly still out, the skunk was startled by me and crossed the street and headed down.  Whew.  I had to get my gear in the car, and it crossed back and headed up the sidewalk toward me.  I was stuck with the car open, so I shook my keys at it.  It swerved around into the front yard and past the side of the house.  Our skunks are regulars, as they cut through our property, under the fence, and out to wherever they go in the middle of the night.
  • Well, we had plums and apricots already.  Now we get the fallout from our neighbor's fig tree.  Yummy, but a littered yard.
  • I was thinking about grease monkeys recently and what they used to do.  A friend put a 327 small block into a Vega wagon.  The torque almost wrenched the frame for good.  You could feel it as the car picked up.  A roll to one side.  And 140mph was a huge deal when we were kids.
  • It was very windy the last few days.  Out driving it was mostly garbage and pine needles flying around.
  • I saw a Google Street car out driving around last year.  I still haven't seen the latest and greatest up on the internet.
  • It's too late and I'm too tired to think about something to put on this 6th bullet point.  Some times I get not just writer's block...
  • Hmmm, I think it's time for a haircut.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Theological Comfort

"My job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." - Anon

Well, whether or not affliction is ever involved, I think there is the trap of becoming theologically comfortable.  This theological comfort is like other comforts.  We are at peace with our knowledge of God.  We understand him.  He becomes predictable.  My favorite show is on channel 40 at 7pm every night.  Sometimes it comes on at 4pm, but the schedule tells me so in advance.  His ways are routine.  I sit with a cold beverage in my easy chair and watch every night.  God comes home for dinner at the same time every night, takes His shoes off and relaxes.  We sit on the sofa across the room from Him.

When God becomes predictable to us, when He becomes comfortable to us, those who are not so comfortable can become predictably wrong.  Always.  Or at least as long as we ourselves are comfortable.  Those people are in the other room worrying about cooking and cleaning or maybe where their next meal will come from.  Why can't they relax like me?  Can't they see God in my living room?

Something I've come to realize in my own life is that each time I think I've got God - or the study of God - figured out, he changes it.  He throws a monkey wrench into my system.  Sometimes that wrench really messes things up.  Biblical theology messes with systematic theology.  There's that verse again.  Can I really get away with forcing an interpretation again?  Oh, well, I'm comfortable with doing so, so I'll do it again.  And tell you all about it.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Friday Night Potpourri

Well, it's back.  A fortnight in the rear view mirror:

  • Home from working overtime on swing shift.  Was tonight Friday Night?  It doesn't feel like it one way or another, but just like it's late at night, which it is.
  • In my lab work, there's lots of call for what is known as de-ionized water (or "deionized" as one word, DI for short).  Anyway, Microsoft Word's spell checker doesn't recognize the word "deionized".  So, in its suggestion box it lists "demonized" as an alternate.  Demonized water? I guess that's different than holy water, no?
  • Visited a new friend's house. The friend is new, but the house is old.  There's a concrete pouring in the back yard with the footprints of a young child imprinted in it and a name and date scratched in.  The date: 1952. 
  • One thing about swing shift is that staying up late (or early as the case may be) allows viewing opportunities of the "paperboy" tossing the paper on the driveway as the car flies by.
  • Summer is in full bloom and autumn is just around the corner.  My favorite season of the year.  The trees have, what, two months of totally green leaves left?
  • The roof has accumulated a number of small toys.  Many of them were batted up there by our middle boy.  When I find the red volcanic rock in the back yard, I know it's been hit over the house by a little slugger.
  • There's no other word to describe it than classic.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It's Not So Much About "Institutional" vs. "Organic"

I've been following for several years now websites that have to do with ecclesiology, namely with the differences between the traditional/institutional church model and the house/simple/organic church model.  Supporters of each idea have their own warnings about the other and their own bible proof texts, etc., and argue for their own way of "doing church."  I appreciate the dialog, monologue and exchange.  Even the flames and sarcasm.

But even though I do see the house/simple/organic folks' ideas and arguments in the bible and I don't see the traditional/institutional folks' ideas and arguments in the bible, I don't see the ultimate argument as one of institutional vs. organic.  What I do believe is foremost is whether a church accomplishes what churches are supposed to do.  For example, the "one-anothers" of the bible.  Even though I see one-anothers being employed in the church assembly (i.e. 1 Cor. 11-14 and Heb. 10), they certainly aren't limited to when the church assembles together.  And even though I don't see passivity in listening to sermons during a "worship service" without any one-anothers during the assembly in the pages of the bible, I would rather attend a traditional/institutional church that has the one-anothers right in all other areas of church than attend a house/simple/organic church that doesn't.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Blog Spotlight Monday - A Pilgrim's Progress

Eric Carpenter blogs at his A Pilgrim's Progress site.  Eric is a former "institutional" church pastor who felt convicted over a period of time that his paid pastorate in the specific corporate structure of his church didn't line up with the bible.  So, he has blogged about his journey; hence a pilgrim's progress.  He stepped down from his position, becoming unemployed.  His family started assembling with a group of other people in homes, or if you like, a simple or organic church life.  After a while of part time work, Eric got a full time job as a working man and continues to write about his life journey.

I came across Eric in the comment sections of Alan Knox'sThe Assembling of the Church blog and other blogs friendly to Alan (they attended the same seminary if I'm not mistaken).  Eric writes quite a bit about ecclesiology - or study of the church - but also about many other topics as well.  He isn't afraid to take on church theology head on and I find his writing stimulating and authentic.  Despite living in the South (Savannah, GA), Eric is a Phillies fan and we had a bit of fun last fall when they played my Giants, and he's looking forward to a rematch that I would gladly welcome.  Eric is in my "ecclesiology" links box as a result of his continual desire to examine the church in the light of the scriptures.  Check out Eric's A Pilgrim's Progress.

Starting Up and Not Blogging Much

It's odd. Mrs. Scott and I were talking this evening and I mentioned that I was involved in three start-ups right now.  I'm working during a startup at a new plant for a startup company.  It's their first plant.  And we've started meeting with a group that is doing a startup phase of a new church.  And if you wanted to push the issue even further, you could rightly say I'm in the startup phase of a new career.

I've been absent from the blogosphere lately as I've been working a lot, and working opposite schedules with Mrs. Scott.  I could purposefully engage in another startup (creating a new blog), but I won't do that.  I've kind of thought about our lives over the last few years as starting over in so many areas.  I might as well be involved in so many startups, doesn't it seem?  Is this how God works, starting people over in everything at once?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Blog Spotlight Monday - Wilderness Fandango

Bob Spencer blogs at a musical place on the internet called Wilderness Fandango.  I forget where I came across Bob, but I think it was on the Internet Monk site.  There are several things that make Bob's site a good read for me.  One is that he has a church history that I can relate to in terms of what church is and how people are supposed to fit into existing ideas.  He's not a fan of the "institutional" church model, and writes often about his visits to various churches and his ideas about what does and doesn't work in church.  Another is that he likes baseball.  I hope I've got this right when I say he's a Red Sox fan.  It's the team that most people in Maine worship, uhhh, I mean follow.

Bob is a big bluegrass music fan and often puts up clips of various pieces of music, many outside of the bluegrass genre.  Either way, they're always tasteful and a good listen.  But one of the things I enjoy most about Wilderness Fandango is that Bob is a good writer.  No matter what he writes about and no matter if I agree, he writes about it well.  So, there you go for a Monday.  Check out Bob's Wilderness Fandango.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cautiously Optimistic...Again

There are some rumblings for our family and possible connection with a church.  A colleague of Mrs. Scott is involved with a group that is planting a church and is in pre-startup phase.  We've started hanging out.  Hopefully things will click overall, as it has with just a small few so far.  We haven't jumped in head first yet, as we're again cautiously optimistic.  The last time we were cautiously optimistic it didn't turn out so well.  So we're hoping that something sticks this time.  If you care to pray, pray for the love of the brethren.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Friday Night Potpourri

Late again.  In the habit?

  • We got plenty of plums off the plum tree this year, and the apricots just ripened to the point of picking this last week.  We beat the squirrels this year.  There didn't seem to be many.  Sill some pits lying on the top of the back fence.
  • True to form, it hasn't rained here in the San Fran area for a few weeks.  We had tons of rain this winter, and now that summer is here, none.  That means extra special care in watering things.
  • Hopefully I'll get to be back on the normal Friday night routine for FNP.  Because of my job, I've been getting up a lot earlier and we've been trying to do family things at night.  Sometimes I just crash at the computer.
  • Why is it that the bbq potato chips always go faster than the regular potato chips?
  • Looking out the window, there's a huge fog bank to the south.  Bright and white.  It was overcast this morning and not all of it has burned off.  It's cool today with a breeze.  So somebody down there has no sun.
  • Saw Chronicles of Narnia 2 last night in the parking lot of a church in the downtown of a small town.  It used to have about 300 people in the 70's when I was growing up and the housing boom started in the 80's.  It still has a small town feel to it.  We brought our chairs and blankets, yet were still cold.  The kids liked the movie, and so did we.
  • Speaking of such towns...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I was unemployed for 27 months and between all the job seminars, job fairs, "networking," attending vocational school with numerous other unemployed or underemployed people, I got a fairly good idea of what was happening in other people's lives.  The stories, the difficulties, the situations.  I've done quite a bit of observing and thinking about it.

One theme to many people's lives is that they seem to be "stuck."  Stuck in the position they're in.  Stuck in the house they're in, stuck in the lease they're in.  Just plain stuck.  One example is of a man I know who had a great family and a great career making great money.  Now he's lost a lot of those things, but he's still paying the rent he paid when he could afford it.  Well, why not move into a less expensive apartment?  Because he can't qualify.  You see, his life doesn't match the status quo for moving into another place, regardless of how cheap it is.  But because he can make the payments in his current house - just barely with very little left over - that's the only place he can live.  In other words, entrance requirements are much more difficult than requirements to stay once you're in.  He already got in and now it's the only place he can stay even though he can't really afford it.

If once you're in something bad happens, you can't get out to somewhere else.  You're stuck.  The status quo is forcing a lot of people to be stuck and remain stuck.  What can be done for this?

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Friday Night Potpourri

A day late and a dollar short:

  • Yeah, yeah, late again.  But, what else can a man do?
  • The youngest kids got dish soap out and washed mom's car with it and the garden hose.  Two days in a row.
  • I wonder if "extra dough" really means extra dough.  So many ways of interpreting this, and... wait a minute.  If this applies to chocolate chip cookie dough, then it becomes easy.
  • The back lawn has been temporarily shut down for fertilization.  After reading the label on the back of the bag, it says that I'm supposed to wear long sleeves, pants, shoes, and to wash my clothes separately from the others.  Serious stuff.
  • There's a brightness difference between copy papers.  Yup.  Some whites are whiter.  It makes it weird when the plain paper drawer of the printer has multiple whitenesses of paper mixed in.
  • Despite living in the same house for over 50 years, my parents have had three different area codes and three different zip codes during that same time. 
  • So I'm at the gas station this evening, and the guy at the pump in front of me is pumping gas with his door open and stereo up, grooving to and singing this song out loud.  I couldn't help but join in.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Hymns vs. Choruses/CCM

Music in the context of the church has been debated for centuries.  Music has changed and it has its own history that would benefit most of those doing any arguing.  But what I want to write about here is using music and/or singing in the context of a church gathering, whether a Sunday meeting or a small group during the week.

I've been in churches that sung mainly hymns from a hymnal to a piano, and then in smaller settings in homes during the week, the piano might have been absent and the hymns sung a Capella. I've also been in churches where modern choruses were sung with worship bands up front.  Also I've experiences a few churches that had a mix of both.  In the churches where there was a mix, some of the people had opposite reactions.  Once my pastor told me that occasionally he was hit up by people after the service, in succession, that the church was boring and stuffy because of all the hymns, then alternatively that the church had jumped right into rock 'n' roll and was loud and disrespectful.

But as far as my personal tastes go, I prefer hymns to modern choruses or praise and worship music.  It's not because hymns are better, and it's not because hymns are better because they're older.  There have been multitudes of hymns that were bad, and time and discretion have weeded them out from the pool.  There are bad choruses today that will be weeded out in due time, leaving the best to last for several more generations.  The reason I like hymns is because of their "singability."

For the most part, hymns are easier to sing precisely because they were designed to be sung by a group of people.  The melody is there and a simple instrument might be the perfect accompaniment.  People who are more talented at singing can sing harmony.  On the other hand, many of the newer choruses were designed to be performed in a recording studio by recording artists with many instruments and special electronic effects, then put out as professionally recorded CD's, etc.  The songs aren't as much sung as they are vocalized.  Then these pieces are adapted to be used in church settings.  I find these types of songs much more difficult to sing in groups, and the result is often less than desirable.  There are some modern choruses that are perfectly singable in groups, and I like them as well.  All this is not to say that hymns are good and choruses bad, it's just to say that I prefer music that is singable by a group to music that is not.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Friday Night Potpourri

Toward the weekend ahead:

  • Friday, July 1st is one of the worst days to go to the bank.  The last time I went on a Friday, July 1st, it was insane.  Friday is payday for many people.  The 1st is payday for many people.  And since the 4th of July is on a Monday, Friday July 1st is a three-day weekend getaway day.  I hope none of you got stuck in a long line.
  • In the last town we lived in we established a tradition for the 4th.  There are fireworks over the water and the marina park is the gathering place for thousands of people.  From our vantage point, we can see four different shows from the various waterfront towns and nearby theme park.
  • This year we're determined to gather all the ripe plums and apricots off the trees before the squirrels get them all.  This year's yield looks to be several times what last year's was.
  • It promises to be a gardening weekend around the house.  Weeks to pull and plants to water and cultivate.  A house full of black thumbs don't make things any easier.  It's good that there isn't too much to care for.
  • Mrs. Scott just pulled into the driveway.  Sometimes that means a car full of stuff the kids will help bring in the house.  Let's see what's in store...
  • Okay, yes I sat down last night to do FNP, but fell asleep at the mouse wheel.  I'm getting up way earlier than I used to so the night owl in me is at a disadvantage.
  • They had then more hair than I have now.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Mui Overtime

I've been working a bunch of overtime at my new job, as it is a startup company opening their first plant.  So, my blogging time has been limited to sleep walking time which I guess isn't happening.  Hope to post something again soon.  Like tonight's Friday Night Potpourri!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Blog Spotlight Monday - Evangelical Calvinist

Bobby Grow blogs at The Evangelical Calvinist.  Bobby's blog is unashamedly theological in nature - and relatively heavy theology at that - but some of the fun in it for him and some of the fun in reading it for me is found in his many challenges to the rigid structures of classic or federal Calvinism.

I found Bobby frequently frequenting the comments sections of some major Calvinist blogs, several of which were already on my "don't agree so much with" list.  So, it only seems natural that somebody who makes the same challenges that I like to see people make would be somebody I connect with on a blog level.  Bobby has this sneaky way of inserting some subtleties into his comments, and as a result we had to correspond often in private rather than in the comments sections because it might get too thick.

Bobby holds to a particular brand of theology known as Evangelical Calvinism, or Scottish Theology, and writes extensively on the subject, hence his blog title.  EC has its basis in the person of Christ as He exists in the Trinity as over against the rigid theological constructs of federal Calvinism.  It would be best to read his blog to get a better idea of what that entails.  Bobby is a recent cancer survivor and his zest for life is evident in his writing.  I have done my best to not hold his being a Lakers fan against him, but on occasion I simply cannot contain myself and counter with a feeble "Go Warriors," which really means nothing to anybody.  Check out Bobby's Evangelical Calvinist blog.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Martin Luther Plus Semper Reformanda Equals More Martin Luthers

This is a re-post of something I wrote about a year ago.


Martin Luther was a hero of the Protestant faith. His beliefs that the church was engaged in theology and practice that was not biblical led to its reforming; hence the Protestant Reformation. One of the rallying cries of the Reformation was "Semper Reformanda," or "always reforming."

Today in "Reformed" circles, this slogan is not given near the weight that the five solas are. Sola Gratia (grace alone), Sola Fide (faith alone), Solus Christus (Christ alone), Sola Scriptura (scripture alone) and Soli Deo Gloria (to the glory of God alone) are champions of the day. In my opinion there seems to be a line of thinking in Reformed circles that the Reformation was a one-time thing that solidified everything to be believed for all time. All reformation stopped at The Reformation.

Of course, reforming for the sake of reforming isn't in mind, as Michael Horton points out in this piece about the real meaning of the slogan. The original phrase was, “The church is reformed and always [in need of] being reformed according to the Word of God,” indicating that the reformation in view is passive; the Holy Spirit working in reforming the church. Horton also points out:

As Calvin argued in his treatise “The Necessity of Reforming the Church,” the Reformers were charged with innovation when in fact it was the medieval church’s innovative distortions of Christian faith and worship that required a recovery of apostolic Christianity. Rome pretended to be “always the same,” but it had accumulated a host of doctrines and practices that were unknown to the ancient church, much less to the New Testament.
Now for some questions. Could the same thing be said, at least in some things, about the Reformed church? Did the Reformation deal with every single problem with Rome? And if Martin Luther led the way for the church to be reformed, couldn't we say that along with the slogan of Semper Reformanda there should arise even more Martin Luthers?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Night Potpourri

The one-minute to go on Friday Friday Night Potpourri:

  • I've got to fix the side gate again.  The latch broke and the kids are now trying to push the gate open from the back yard.  Won't work, guys.  I know it can't open in that direction, and that's why there's a big rock lying there, to prop it open.
  • I remember several years ago hearing about how the internet was going to run out of space in 2010.  There wouldn't be enough storage, etc., to keep up with the growing demand.  That was supposed to happen last year.  Did it happen and I missed it?  Was the problem solved?  Was it another scare?
  • I got my main-gate badge at work today that allows me to take a shortcut on paved roads to the parking lot instead of going all the way down the side road and backtracking down a bumpy gravel road.  I should save several hours per day and thousands in car washings.  Not to mention damage to the suspension.
  • They don't make my socks anymore.  Or at least they came up with new packaging and are charging more.  Are socks really that critical?  Are they worth the price?
  • Reflecting on my best car ever.  A Honda Accord, 1990.  I got 18 years and over 300,000 miles out of it.  It was a rare 4-door/5-speed.  I miss my clutch!
  • There's a comedian on TV who is actually funny.  Mrs. Scott is laughing hysterically.  Yes, he really is that funny.  I used to watch some of those stand up comedy shows.  Not many comedians or comediennes really were that funny.  Only a few.  Some comedians say funny things and some are funny.
  • Old.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Needing Each Other During Church

Eric Carpenter at A Pilgrim's Progress writes a short post about how we need each other when we assemble with the church.  We can all speak to each other during the church meeting for mutual edification.  I really don't have any experience with churches that do this, but after so many years of not having it, I certainly know what can happen when there is no mutual edification during the meeting.  Mutual edification is pushed back into a place where people need to scramble to look for other ways for it to happen.  So much so that it's possible for mutual edification to not happen at all.  I wonder what it would be like to have a church that engaged with each other the way that is spoken of in 1 Corinthians 11-14.  I hope to find out someday.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Night Potpourri

Qwerty weekly:

  • I did a Google Images search on "Frank Viola."  The two of them are pretty evenly matched in the number of photos department.  Are they the same man?
  • I don't know if it's like this where you live, but a good percentage of radio commercials here are for mattress companies trying to make the best deal for you.
  • This week marks the first time our three year old takes any interest in baseball whatsoever.  He played catch with me, wanted his older brother to give him his all-star uniform top and ran around the house yelling "Buster Posey!"
  • My oldest son was fishing in the pond and accidentally caught a wild turtle.  The poor thing had a hook stuck in its mouth, so we brought it to a nearby museum animal hospital to have it removed.  Hopefully they let it go in the same pond.
  • In a bizarre episode, the store bakery had no cheesecakes in its cake case today.  The baker couldn't locate any either.  I was planning on picking one up for our Father's Day dinner.  So I settled on a chocolate cream cake Friday special for five bucks.
  • Lit up the barbecue tonight for the first time in quite a while.  Used the last of the briquettes, smoked up a good chunk of dinner, and later the kids tried creating some s'mores with marshmallows over the dim and dying coals.
  • I'm not sure how the movie clips fit in here, but it's the song I was after. 

Work Is Working Somewhat

Well, this is my third week of being gainfully employed after two plus years without.  It's good to work with my hands in a way that brings in a paycheck.  And doing something that I'm good at is helpful, too.  Although I wasn't even qualified for the job in the usual "academics plus experience" way, the intangibles added up in a "greater than the sum of the parts" way. 

A recent classmate of mine got a job in her former field that happens to be in a plant in the type of field I want to get into.  She told the boss that although I had no experience, she knew from my background and how I performed in a lab class that I would be able to do the job well.  And after my interview, he hired me.  I could sense in my interview that when his words changed from "you would be doing" to "you will be doing" that I would be offered the position.  Such stories aren't much told these days, but I'm thankful somebody is willing to take a chance and trust somebody, like me.  I've been given a fairly large amount of responsibility for some important things right off the bat, and I'm finding that I'm up for the challenge.

It's a temporary position that is initially a three month assignment through a temp service, but I hope that my dream full-time job will be coming soon.  I've been involved in hiring processes for that type of job that take quite some time to complete, so I'll have to wait a while before I know.  But right now is a small step in a good direction.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

No Blog Spotlight and Other Trivia

I missed posting Blog Spotlight Monday last night.  We had some bug go through our family and it was hit-the-wall time.  I hope to be back next week.  Also, I'm trying to think where to go next in part of my writing on this blog.  I think it's time to change some of the content, but not all.  I may re-post my previous series on church membership.  In any case, I hope to introduce at least one new direction in what I will write about.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Night Potpourri

A full week of work, including tomorrow:

  • It's odd to be commuting again.  But, thankfully, it has been a counter-commute that is earlier than the heavy traffic time.  The one big potential delay is having to wait 10 minutes for a train to pass.  A co-worker has that happen yesterday.  After work today, the crossing arm malfunctioned - with bells and lights - and I was detoured into the next city in a long runaround.
  • Many bosses.  It's quite interesting.  I'm working for a plant that is still under construction, and we're doing prep work in the lab for when it starts up.  Since it's still under construction, we're technically in a construction zone, and the construction company has rules and procedures that have to be followed because it controls the site.  Meanwhile the plant is on leased property of another plant, so there are rules and procedures of that plant, since we all access their right of way to get to ours.  Finally, I'm working for a temp agency that has its own guidelines for my employment.  Whew!  Got all that?
  • Our six year old says that mom's grilled cheese sandwiches come in third.  Grandma's are first.  Then Mrs. Scott's work's are second.  Hers are only third.  But... she's the one that makes the grilled cheese sandwiches at work, so she comes in both second and third.
  • School's out for the kids and their cousins and neighbors.  What does summer have in store?  Let's see... boredom?  Can I go to...?  Summer camps?  When is school going to start?
  • Chocolate chip cookie dough.  Who needs an oven?
  • We've had a bit of warming in our weather, so the neighborhood kids have taken to the garden hose.
  • At my previous job, I used to play this CD every Friday at 3:30, and this is my favorite tune on the CD.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Secondary Issues

What constitutes a "secondary" issue within Christianity is not a difficult thing to determine.  I don't think, anyway.  There is constant debate about so-called secondary issues - those issues that are not essential to the Christian faith as far as salvation.  Recently I have read a number of things about this, and quite a few people seem to think that secondary issues are made primary depending on who it is doing the deciding, and we'll never come to agreement.  So, it's a hopeless topic.  But, hey folks, I think it is easier than most people think.

The essentials of the Christian faith are not difficult to identify.  The virgin birth, the real and actual death, burial and resurrection of Christ.  The Lordship of Christ.  The gospel.  The second coming, and so on.  These things have been held throughout history by the majority of the church, and they continue to be core beliefs.  The early creeds are an example.  Whether somebody drinks beer or wears certain clothes or allows their daughter to go to college or has a certain form of church government or whether women wear pants or even whether somebody sprinkles or dunks during baptism simply aren't essential doctrines.  People make them out to be, and that's the problem.  Denying that Jesus came in the flesh is a major problem, but denying that every last Christian child must be homeschooled isn't.

And there's a big difference between having convictions that you un-hypocritically hold to and judging other people based on those convictions.  The list of trivial things that are used to judge and condemn people - even to an eternity in hell - doesn't end.  Think about it.  God is going to cast a professing Christian into the lake of fire on judgment day to spend an eternity in hell because they drank a beer now and then?  Because they wear the latest fashions and dress well?  God is going to let you into heaven but stick you in a golden corner with a jewel laden dunce cap on because you baptized people the wrong way?  Think about what that means.  We would be willing to wish the worst on our brothers and sisters because of our personal preferences and pet doctrines?  What kind of Christian attitude is that?  It's the kind of attitude that Jesus says will condemn the Pharisees.

I'm not claiming innocence on this, as I spent a good amount of time in legalistic churches and groups, and learned how to judge people harshly on secondary issues.  But once God shows you the ugliness of it all, it is refreshing to not waste so much energy on condemning others.  It's a freeing thing.  And that's one of the things that Jesus came for.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Blog Spotlight Monday - PILGRIMS PUB

Jason Nota is a Christian who blogs about beer at PILGRIMS PUB.  I like beer - good beer, that is - and I also like Jason's blog.  So it is only natural that PILGRIMS PUB is on my blogroll and has been a regular read for quite some time.  Jason does periodic beer reviews, complete with rating systems, often trying Midwestern beers I've never heard of.  He also puts up stories on beer, writes about the history of beer, and, one of my favorite types of writing that Jason does, he occasionally dismantles the false and so-called "Christian" doctrine of alcohol prohibition.  He has written a number of posts on Christian liberty and limits of conscience.

I find Jason to be fairly sober about beer, and has a really good concept of enjoying God's creation.  I also love his blog's subtitle:

The selling of bad beer is a crime against Christian love- 13th Century city of Augsburg law.

If you like beer, or even if you don't, or even if you don't think beer should be dranked by Christians, go ahead and take a read over at PILGRIMS PUB.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Re-Thinking The Sunday Church Service (Part 14)

This is a re-post of the 14th part of my ongoing blog series, Re-Thinking The Sunday Church Service.  This series appeared in late 2008 to early 2009.  For a brief explanation, click 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.

Friday Night Potpourri

A week of work, finally.  Or maybe just the beginning:

  • I was reminded a number of times this week that there were already a number of guys named Steve at work, and now I'm another one.  Funny that I haven't run into anybody named Mike.
  • I drove by our old house this week, as I took our oldest to play with his former next door neighbor.  I parked in front of the house, like I did so many thousands of times before.  The house remains about the same, with no changes other than a few potted plants on the porch. 
  • Shortest. Name. Ever.  The previous record for short names I ever knew was five letters.  The guy was named Ed and his last name was three letters.  Well, I met somebody with four letters in their name, a two-letter first name and a two letter last name.  Must be a good jump start in taking tests.
  • A day of much needed sleeping in prompted several of our children to get their own breakfasts.  Knowing how it was done, they attempted culinary mastery on short notice, and came through with flying colors.
  • We're still in rainy season here in California, it seems.  Rain keeps interrupting my watering schedule.  There are ten foot snow banks in the mountains and it continues to snow.  Tahoe is white.  In some areas there is over 30 feet of snow.  Some people are digging down to find their cabins.
  • Friday Night Potpourri is a bit late, as I was so tired I nodded off at the computer.  Then it was all I could do to drag myself to bed.  So, here on Saturday morning I sit finishing this set of trivial - yet ultimately important - set of thoughts.
  • What other song could I post this week?

Thursday, June 02, 2011

I Finally Have Work!

After a very long time of being unemployed, I now have a job.  It is a temporary position in a lab at a chemical plant that I started this week, and my family and I are very excited.  I haven't written much on this blog about my personal life and work (with the exception of humorous trivialities) because it has never been my aim to do so.  But today, I'll put a bit of personal info here.  I'm trying to avoid any TMI situation, so I'll keep it light.

I had been out of work for just over 27 months, being laid off from my architecture job back in early 2009.  Since I was in residential architecture, the housing collapse not only ended my job and career, but my vocation for the indefinite future.  My vocation's unemployment rate was/is estimated at about 50%.  After many months of looking, I realized it was time for a career change.  So, for the last three semesters I have been in vocational training in what is called Process Technology.  This is schooling in how to operate the equipment and processes in places like oil refineries, chemical plants, water treatment plants and related things.  Although I have a temp position, which may end up being towards permanent hire, I am in the application process for several much desired permanent jobs.

The past number of years have been extremely trying on my family, not merely from the lack of work and all the hardships that such a thing causes, but also from illnesses, injuries, broken relationships and deaths within family, friends and church, as well as numerous completely bizarre occurrences that Alfred Hitchcock, Stephen King and Jerry Seinfeld couldn't get together and script after finishing several fifths of whiskey in downing hallucinogenic mushrooms.  Over all, we're praying that this job is the first step in a right and new direction for us.  Thank you to all who have prayed with and for us over these last few years.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Re-Thinking The Sunday Church Service (Part 13)

This is a re-post of the 13th part of my ongoing blog series, Re-Thinking The Sunday Church Service.  This series appeared in late 2008 to early 2009.  For a brief explanation, click 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.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Blog Spotlight Monday - OrthoCuban

Father Ernesto Obregon is an Eastern Orthodox priest who was born in Cuba and decorates his niche in the blogosphere at OrthoCuban.  I first came across Fr. Ernesto at the late Michael Spencer's Internet Monk blog, where he has been a regular commenter and a member of iMonk's "Liturgical Gangstas" group.

One thing that interested me about him is that I knew little about the Eastern Orthodox faith, and one of Spencer's purposes at iMonk was to include others from varying Christian traditions and backgrounds in the fabric of his blog.  Spencer had many issues with modern American evangelicalism, and the inclusion of people from some older traditions was one way to give his evangelical readers the idea that evangelicals did not have a corner on the Christian religion.  Fr. Ernesto has always had a way of bringing insightful observations to any given discussion, and often stated the Eastern Orthodox view on an issue.  I started reading his own blog, and he has been a regular on my blogroll ever since.

On OrthoCuban, Fr. Ernesto discusses many points of doctrine from the E.O. position, and offers a balanced view on many things, including civil and criminal justice as well as politics.  One of the best things about his writings - other than being a good writer - is that he comes to the table without the conservative political views that are often the foundation of the evangelical mindset, and will often offer a good critique of popular evangelical ideas and what its mouthpieces speak publicly.

His own story is an interesting one to be sure, how he came from being born in Cuba to becoming an Eastern Orthodox priest.  He currently lives in Alabama after many years in Florida.  Check out Fr. Ernesto's blog OrthoCuban.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Harold Camping: An Untold Story (4) - Why People Continue To Follow Him

By way of analogy.  Imagine somebody giving you a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle as a gift.  You look at the box, and it has an image of what the completed puzzle will look like.  It is the image of a stunning photograph or a beautiful painting.  The image is amazing, because if it weren't, the puzzle wouldn't sell.  Maybe it's of a beautiful marina in Maine, with hundreds of nearly identical boat masts against a background of choppy blue water.  Or of a field of flowers or a forest of redwood trees.  Since it's the grandest of puzzles, the 1000 piece puzzle, you know its complexity and its mundane-ness will combine to form a good challenge.

You open the box and dump its contents out on a table or other surface.  Now, we've all experienced the dangers of putting a difficult jigsaw puzzle together.  Pieces can be easily lost.  They can fall on the floor, or behind furniture.  Children or pets can carry pieces away.  A shirt sleeve can accidentally knock pieces off and vacuum cleaners can easily suck them up.  The puzzle takes a long time to complete, and often others do your cleaning up for you as the table might be needed for a holiday family get together.  A puzzle fanatic may have several puzzles going or have multiple puzzles in the toy box.  Pieces from one puzzle can find their way into the boxes of other puzzles.  The challenges go beyond the simple putting together of the pieces in the original box.  Often there are numerous sittings required to finish the puzzle and each time the puzzle is alternately brought out and put away.

After dumping the contents out, the strategy follows.  The face-down pieces are turned over.  Maybe you look for the edge pieces, and especially the four corner pieces.  Maybe you group them by color similarity or theme.  You identify the corners, and start a frame, then fill in.  Many of the pieces look exactly the same and you know those will take the greatest amount of time to put together.  Some pieces don't fit with any other piece.  You get stuck and can't find certain pieces.  You begin to doubt if all the pieces are there.  Maybe some of them are lost.  Maybe they weren't all in the box to begin with.  Maybe there are some from another puzzle.  You form doubts and start asking questions.

But...But the one thing we never do is question the picture on the box.  We have unwavering faith in the picture on the box.

And this is why Harold Camping is successful and has followers who continue to follow him despite being wrong.  He has sold himself and his followers the picture on the box.

Now back to being stuck.  There are several ways we get stuck when putting the 1000 piece puzzle together.  One is that we find a piece that fits.  We continue to try to fit other pieces around it, but to no avail.  Then we suddenly see a piece that fits that really doesn't fit.  We see a slight gap between two pieces, then realize that the piece is very slightly crooked.  We put it in where we thought it would fit, the colors and details seem to fit, but we realize it was a very close miss.  The jigsaw cut it with a curve that almost fit the curve of the piece that really goes there.  No wonder all the other pieces wouldn't work until we found the piece that really didn't go there!  Another way we get stuck is when we try to fit a piece with every other piece already in place.  It doesn't work.  Then we try to fit that piece with all the other pieces that haven't been placed yet.  Still no fit.  We try all of it over and over, dozens of times.  We bang our heads against the fireplace bricks.  Then we suddenly realize that the piece, which we thought we identified from the picture on the box, needs to be turned upside down!  And in no time, the piece fits somewhere and, boom, other pieces start fitting together with great speed!

In order to get the piece to fit, we need to turn it upside down.  Harold Camping needs to turn the "no man knows the day or hour" pieces upside down to get them to fit the picture on the box; the picture in which he and his followers have unwavering faith.

Each failed end-of-the-world prediction by Harold Camping is simply pieces of the puzzle not fitting together quite right.  To him and his followers, it is simply a matter of tweaking and trying new pieces until they all fit together to result in the picture on the box.  Because they have unwavering faith in the picture on the box, they are completely unable to realize that it is a false picture.  They continue to successfully add more pieces that really seem to fit together, even taking wrong pieces out and replacing them with new ones; thus they can mark their progress, but never coming to completion.  Harold Camping's view of the end times is a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle that he and his closest friends are putting together.  What they don't realize is that the 1000 pieces from the bible dumped out on to the table won't result in his picture on the box.  They have placed their faith in the picture on the box, and not in the pieces inside the box.  People who have faith in the picture on the box will follow Harold Camping.

Read Part 3

Read entire series here.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Re-Thinking The Sunday Church Service (Part 12)

This is a re-post of the 12th part of my ongoing blog series, Re-Thinking The Sunday Church Service.  This series appeared in late 2008 to early 2009.  For a brief explanation, click 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?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Night Potpourri

Enough for a week:

  • My last final in Process Technology was this week, having now completed three semesters of coursework.  Incidentally, or maybe coincidentally, I start a temporary job next week in a lab at a chemical plant.  It will be nice to work for a while until I get that full-time career job...I hope.  This long period of time has taken its toll and we all hope it's over.
  • From here.  Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway takes exception to a Colorado punk rock band with the name "Elway."  His lawyer asked the band to change its name.  The band's reply was choice: "We have no intention of changing the name again. We love the name, regardless of what connotations are inferred by the listener. Surely, if the Dead Kennedys could become one of punk's most popular bands without incurring litigation, Elway can keep their moniker and continue making so-so music for our dozens of fans to enjoy."  I guess all press really is good press after all.
  • My six year old loves Trader Joe's roasted seaweed snacks, and I do too.  So, I was driving by and decided to drop in.  Mmmm.  I love the peanut butter cups, too.
  • Well, the world didn't end and the rapture didn't happen.  Buster Posey was injured in a terrible collision.  Tornadoes hit California.  I got a job offer.  Oh, and the garden hose sprung a leak.
  • It's been about the coldest May I can remember.  Not even close to a 100 degree day, and few 90 degree days if any at all.  Maybe a couple.  Wonder what this summer will be like.
  • Maybe we can do the painting project this summer that we wanted to do for a year.  We've got the colors picked out already, and bought matching towels.  The towels might wear out before we get around to it, so maybe we should just set those towels aside.  I love to paint the house.
  • It just doesn't get much better than this.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Re-Thinking The Sunday Church Service (Part 11)

This is a re-post of the 11th part of my ongoing blog series, Re-Thinking The Sunday Church Service.  This series appeared in late 2008 to early 2009.  For a brief explanation, click here.


In Part 7, I noted that the 1 Corinthians passage showed all the members of the assembly involved in edifying the whole body. The typical American church model, though, has one person - or very few - doing all the work on Sunday. This is made odd when a good deal of preaching is in telling the church attenders that they are a bunch of pew sitters that don't do much, and should get involved in helping the body.

So, a very many church people are hindered from doing the work of building up the body, then condemned for not doing the work of building up the body. I can see why so many people want to leave church.

Harold Camping: An Untold Story (3) - What He Actually Predicted

There has been a decent amount of confusion over Harold Camping's various rapture/end of world predictions.  He has made many predictions, and has changed some of his predictions before, during, and after they didn't or weren't occurring.  I'm not going to go into his math calculations or how he arrived at his conclusions, but I'm going to give a point by point list of his various predictions - the ones I remember anyway.  I'm also not going into his reactions to his failed predictions here, but will save those gems for a later post in this series.

  • His first prediction (or set of them if you will) he held from the early 70's to the late 80's.  He predicted the "final tribulation" period to be the 2300 days (book of Daniel) from May 21, 1988 (Jewish Pentecost) to September 6, 1994 (Jewish Rosh Hashana).  This great tribulation would not be filled with an anti-Christ and global nuclear war, no, but something far, far worse: nobody would be saved.  God's salvation plan was finished and Family Radio would be a "comfort ministry" to true believers who were waiting for the end.  On Sept. 6, "immediately after the tribulation of those days" the sun would be dark, the moon would turn to blood and the stars would fall from the sky.  Massive earthquakes, tidal waves, and a complete upsetting of the laws of physics would terrorize the unbelievers still living on earth.  This would continue until somewhere between September 15 (Jewish day of Atonement) and Sept 22, 7 days later.  Christ would then appear on the clouds of glory (Camping long held to Reformed amillennialism), separate the sheep from the goats, cast the wicked into hell, receive the true believers to himself, destroy and recreate the earth (end of the world), and initiate the eternal state. [Update: I forgot the resurrection of the dead]
  • Not long after his May 1988 date for the ending of salvation, Camping noticed that people were still apparently hearing the gospel, repenting and becoming saved.  So he adjusted his tribulation ideas to hold that salvation would still be possible, but it would decrease greatly until Sept 6, 1994, which was now the new date for the end of salvation.  His predictions were private and he refrained from making them public.  Until September of 1992, when he announced his end times plan to the world over his radio program.
  • Nothing happened on Sept 6, and that evening on his call-in radio program he - after working all day on his calculations - figured out that he slightly misunderstood the Greek word "immediately" that I referenced above.  He read it literally and expected it to happen at sundown the night before (ancient Jewish start of a day) Jerusalem time.  He now suggested that everything would be the same, except that the apocalypse would start sometime before Sept. 15, and his original prediction for the end of the world would still happen.
  • When nothing happened again, he took to his calculator and shifted his prediction to October 15, 1994 for the end of the world.
  • When nothing happened again, he took to his calculator and shifted his prediction to December 25, 1994.
  • When nothing happened again, he took to his calculator and shifted his prediction to sometime in February, 1995.  I apologize for not remembering a specific date, but it might have been the Jewish day of Purim.
  • Then nothing happened yet again.  He then figured out that it was still the day of salvation and that he was very happy about that.
  • He then made another prediction for the end, this time to occur sometime in early 1996.  I forget that exact date, too, and it might have been the Jewish Purim date I mentioned about his 1995 failed prediction.
  • In the late 90's and early 2000's, Camping - to my knowledge anyway - left off on the predictions.  Instead, he had new theology brewing in his basement.  With nothing but a bible (ahem!) he figured that September 6, 1994 would also be the date for the end of the church age - or, wait, was that May 21, 1988?  In either case, God was now done with his church and Satan had taken it over.  All true believers were to leave their churches and gather in informal fellowships (with no baptism or Lord's Supper) and support Family Radio, of course.  All church leaders, i.e. pastors, elders and deacons were now under the direct control of Satan and were not to be trusted.  Ironically, this revelation of his retroactively applied to Camping himself, as he was a church elder until he announced that God was done with the church.  Self-fulfilling prophesy?
  • Then a few years ago, Camping went public again with a new prediction for the end of the world.  What he originally thought was a 2300 day final tribulation was now a 23 year tribulation in his re-worked scheme.  This would put Judgment Day and the end of the world sometime in the year 2011, but he somehow didn't know a date.  [Editor: This was truly strange, as he usually does know the date that Christ returns]
  • Later on, he revealed that May 21, 2011 would be the end of the world.  Or at least I remember it that way.  He had no October 21, 2011 date yet.  [If anybody has more info on this, I'd like to hear.]
  • Then later, he predicted that the May 21, 2011 date would be for a "rapture" of true believers out of this world, with apocalyptic catastrophe occurring on the earth until the October 21, 2011 date which would be the end of the world and Christ's return to earth.
  •  When nothing happened on May 21, 2011, within 48 hours Camping announced that he didn't know why nothing happened, but that October 21, 2011 would still be the end of the world, just as predicted.  The "bible absolutely guarantees it" after all.
I hope this helps anybody interested in this to get a bit of the Harold Camping prediction timeline.  If anybody has anything to add, or if I missed something, or if you want to make a correction, feel free in the comments.

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

Read entire series here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Blog Spotlight Monday - Northern Gleaner

Gene Redlin blogs at a piece of e-real estate known as Northern Gleaner. Gene was one of the earlier blog connections that I had when I started blogging, and has become a friend.  One thing about Gene is that he's quite unique and doesn't fit "the box."  Whatever box that is.

Gene lives in the Chicago area and is originally from North Dakota, and has a special heart for the prairie.  He has an interesting church background with a bit Lutheran and some charismatic influences.  Gene proclaims himself to be a prophet.  I've been in exclusively "cessationist" churches (that all sign and related gifts are no longer being used by God), so my friends that have that view might not understand what Gene means by the prophetic.  Gene has strong opinions on many things and it shows in his writing.  His friendship in my own navigation of things church has been invaluable.  Read Gene at Northern Gleaner.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Harold Camping: An Untold Story (2) - Camping vs. Family Radio

There's a reason I titled this post "Camping vs. Family Radio."  It's because they're not the same thing and they don't necessarily believe the same thing.  There have been quite a few people pointing out the hypocrisy of Harold Camping/Family Radio's end of the world prediction for May 21, 2011, yet at the same time signing operations and advertising contracts that extend beyond the end of the world.  Why not put your money where your mouth is?  Then there are the people who say, "Wow, Family Radio has such great Christian programming.  Outside of that nutjob Harold Camping, that is.  I listen to everything but him."  Then there are the self-appointed theology police among the Campingites who wonder how Camping allows such obvious doctrinal error on his station from the other programming.

I'm not an expert on Family Radio, and haven't paid much attention to them over the last ten years.  But I do know that it started out as a partnership long before Camping developed his peculiar brand of theology.  Yes, Camping is the president of Family Radio, and a co-founder, but he's not dictator.  It's a corporation and there's a board of directors.  There is a significant percentage of people who have worked at Family Radio over the years that do not follow Camping or his teachings, including some decision makers.  I'm not privy to all the give-and-take or checks and balances at Family Radio, but I have personally known many people who have worked there.  So, there are people there who knew the world wouldn't end and who knew their operating and advertising budget would need to continue next week and in the years to come.  Many of these non-Campingites have had to endure the embarrassment of Camping's foolishness.  So when you read some stories about Family Radio and have some quotes from employees who say they don't believe Camping and have never been pressured to do so, I believe them.

There have been people of other theology systems who work there.  Calvinists who don't believe Camping, Arminians, charismatics, Roman Catholics, homosexuals.  There are normal Christians who want to work in radio and want to play traditional music, or operate short wave, etc.  Camping has a great control over his own programming, and thus can use Family Radio name to do it, but he doesn't own the whole ball of wax.  And for that we can be thankful.

In my time at his church, I talked quite a bit with people who did or had worked at FR.  Many of them had reservations about the spirituality or even salvation of the non-Campingites who worked there and wished Camping had more control over things.  Anyway, this is just to say that Harold Camping and Family Radio aren't totally synonymous.  More to come...

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

Read entire series here.

Harold Camping: An Untold Story

Now that it's no longer 6pm on May 21 anywhere on earth, Harold Camping, president of Family Radio, has once again proved through another false and failed end-of-the-world prediction that he is a false and failed teacher of Christianity.  I've thought about writing a series of posts on Camping given that I have a very personal and experiential tie to him.

You see, I was converted to Christianity through his gospel ministry, attended his church many years ago, sat for a bible study every Tuesday night in his living room, and experienced first hand the terrible fallout of his first failed end-of-the-world prediction back in 1994.  I also figured out where he went wrong in his prediction and personally confronted him...or tried to anyway.  And he would have none of it.  I repented of Harold Camping.

In some ways I am embarrassed to admit that I have had such a bad camping trip (ahem!), but in other ways I am glad that I have been able to some degree in helping others (including myself) avoid such bad teaching.  And his bad teaching hasn't been limited to end times predictions.

What I hope to accomplish in this series is to give additional information on Camping and his teachings that are little known, to correct some misunderstandings and common factual errors believed about his teachings, to show some of his errors and how his end times beliefs evolved over time, to offer some insight as to what it was like to be on the inside back in 1994, and to increase my blog site traffic.

First, before I get into the end of the world junk, let me just say that once upon a time, Harold Camping preached the real, true Christian gospel and had many very solid, biblical beliefs about Christianity.  It is because of this that I converted to Christianity.  And it is in spite of his many false teachings that I continued in the Christian religion the way that I did.  And the first thing I want to mention is that holding to false beliefs and being caught up in things one ought not be caught up in can lead to the ignoring of responsibility.  I heard the gospel from him, attended his church, and told many there of my conversion.  But he and his group were so caught up in his prediction that they failed to baptize me.  I'm not saying that the following passage is talking about being saved by baptism, but being baptized is part of the Christian religion.  More to come in another post.

And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.  He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned."  Mark 16:15-16


Read Part 2 here.

Read entire series here.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Re-Thinking The Sunday Church Service (Part 10)

This is a re-post of the tenth part of my ongoing blog series, Re-Thinking The Sunday Church Service.  This series appeared in late 2008 to early 2009.  For a brief explanation, click here.


Alan Knox on his Assembling of the Church blog posts about a new website called Participatory Church Gatherings by Andrew Wilson (read the introduction here). [Update: blog link no longer available.]  Wilson quotes D. Martin Lloyd-Jones on questioning the sit-on-our-hands-while-two-or-three-people-do-everything model of church. I'll be following this site as it moves forward with its ideas.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Night Potpourri

The end:

  • It looks like I may be starting to work pretty soon.  Stay tuned...
  • Today I was in an industrial area, driving on a gravel road, about to park in an odd parking lot, when all of a sudden a cargo ship went by just a couple hundred yards in front of me.  I guess I was a lot closer to the water than I thought.  Strange sight to see a ship go by on "dry land."
  • Looks like Family Radio's website is down.  I'm wondering why.
  • Mud, mud, mud.  Our three year old found the hose at the same time he found a pot full of soil.  We had a very earthy sidewalk for a half hour.
  • What's the difference between a frog and a toad?  An alligator and crocodile?  A rabbit and hare?  I've lived this long and I don't know.  I'm sure there are many others I can come up with if I think hard enough.
  • Yesterday was one of those reading program things for kids where if you read a certain amount you get to go to an Oakland A's baseball game.  My third grader was there with many from his class and I was along as well.  And so were 11,000 kids from all over.  In case you're interested, a game crowd sounds much, much different with 11,000 kids there.
  • Okay, yeah it's over eleven minutes, but what's that compared to eternity?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Re-Thinking The Sunday Church Service (Part 9)

This is a re-post of the ninth part of my ongoing blog series, Re-Thinking The Sunday Church Service.  This series appeared in late 2008 to early 2009.  For a brief explanation, click here.


In keeping with Part 8 where I was writing about all the members in the church service involved in edifying the whole body, Alan Knox at The Assembling of the Church posts about spiritual gifts in the assembled church. To quote:

Scripture only gives two requirements for someone to exercise their gift when the church is assembled: whatever they do must be motivated by love (1 Cor. 13) and must edify the church (1 Cor. 14:26). No gifts should be refused, and no gifts should be elevated above the others - as long as the gifts are used to edify other people. Similarly, the people should be given the opportunity to use their gifts when the church is assembled, and they should be reminded that God holds them responsible for this. In other words, if someone is in charge of the meeting time, that person should make sure that others are given opportunity to edify the church. And, the people gathered should be reminded that God wants them to participate and expects them to participate in building up the body.

Giving all the people an opportunity to edify others, in the context of the church meeting, when the entire church is together, is a good example of "power to the people." Leave it to God to design such a thing. Those who are "nobodies" in the eyes of the world can have great power in Christ's church. No wonder so many poor people throughout history have become Christians.