Saturday, May 29, 2010
A Prayer about Therpeutic Words.
Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18
Dear Lord Jesus, I love words. I especially love the way you use words to bring me healing… wisdom… joy… encouragement… freedom… and hope. You will never shame me with words. You will never manipulate me with words. You will never hurt me with words. You alone have the words of life…
My prayer is so simple today, yet so necessary. Grant me greater stewardship of my words. Jesus, as you speak to me, please speak through me. It’s humbling to realize that you, who created the world with words, are pleased to bring healing to others through my mouth. It’s equally scary to realize I’m am capable of bringing a lot of decay and destruction by the same mouth.
Every day, in every conversation, I prove the reality of the proverb which teaches that words have the power of life and death (Prov. 18:21) I also remember you teaching me that my words are simply a reflection of what is filling my heart. Indeed, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)
SO, rather than just ratcheting up some will power to have done with all drivel, reckless words, gossip, flattery, inanity, irritation, coarse jesting, excuse-making, confidence-breaking, too many words, and many more expressions of death-speak… Jesus, fill my heart with your beauty and bounty.
So fill my heart with the truth, goodness and riches of the gospel that… more often than not… the first and greater percentage of syllables out of my mouth will bring healing, not harm. May my mouth overflow with words season with grace because my heart has been more fully filled with your grace. So very Amen, I pray, in your name and for your glory.
HT: Scotty Smith
Friday, May 28, 2010
So, because of that, and because it's a beautiful day today, God is on the throne, and I'm a blessed man. . . way beyond my wildest dreams. . . . . Let's enjoy some little kid hilarity with the most viral video of all time, apparently:
Why don't you become the 200 millionth (and 1) viewer: (enjoy some outstanding auto-tune work on the 2nd one):
Love the British accent!
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
"Camp Vegas" doesn't help (anyone else sick of this one??) . From the makers of the ubiquitous "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas", we get more morally bankrupt advertising. Now, I'm not expecting an ad campaign from Las Vegas to be spiritually edifying or anything. The writers are brilliant advertisers, to be sure, and I wouldn't expect much different.
But, since this is my blog, and since I'm a little angry about it this week, I'm going to let everyone in on the secret at what you'll find, should you attend "Camp Vegas", (not Las Vegas in general. . .but the stuff that they're selling). This is top secret stuff, the only place to find out what you get there is if you look at the best-selling book in the history of the World, written by the Author of Time and Space, and given to the wisest person who ever lived. If you had trouble finding it, here you go:
Proverbs 5:3-9 (New International Version)
3 For the lips of an adulteress drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil;4 but in the end she is bitter as gall,
sharp as a double-edged sword.5 Her feet go down to death;
her steps lead straight to the grave. a]">[a] 6 She gives no thought to the way of life;
her paths are crooked, but she knows it not.7 Now then, my sons, listen to me;
do not turn aside from what I say.8 Keep to a path far from her,
do not go near the door of her house,9 lest you give your best strength to others
and your years to one who is cruel,
Proverbs 7:22-27 (New International Version)
25 Do not let your heart turn to her ways
or stray into her paths. 26 Many are the victims she has brought down;
her slain are a mighty throng.27 Her house is a highway to the grave, c]">[c]
leading down to the chambers of death.
Proverbs 9:13-15 (New International Version)
13 The woman Folly is loud;
she is undisciplined and without knowledge.14 She sits at the door of her house,
on a seat at the highest point of the city, 15 calling out to those who pass by,
who go straight on their way.
Proverbs 6:25-27 (New International Version)
25 Do not lust in your heart after her beauty
or let her captivate you with her eyes,26 for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life.27 Can a man scoop fire into his lap
without his clothes being burned?
Have fun at Camp Vegas Loafy!
I had mediocre expectations. I'm not a fan of self-important anything, much less self-important T.V. shows (which there might not be a bigger example than LOST). So, I wasn't dissapointed.
What I got was a 2 1/2 hour episode of "The Ghost Whisperer", thankfully, without Jennifer Love Hewitt. (hey oh!)
I know there are many nuances and side stories that they were "wrapping up" with this show. LOST viewers may cringe at my simplifying of the whole thing. I'm sure it was wonderfully intricate. The story I saw had alot to do with dead souls "looking for peace" and a purgatorial-like existence for all involved.
Now, there is a diversity of belief about purgatory amongst those who read this blog,. . . . but I think I'm pretty safe in saying that no one believes purgatory will be like THAT. So, my comments are not about the real beliefs of purgatory, but about LOST's purgatorial archipeligianness. (thank you, thank you. . I"ll be here all week. . . )
All of the characters on the show had already died, apparently. . .and were waiting for peaceful rest. (can we get Ms. Love-Hewitt on the phone?) They find it in a funeral home with a stained-glass window representing all the major world religions. . . subtle.
I"m not looking for LOST to give an orthodox Christian view of the afterlife or anything; the church doesn't need LOST. But, the writers definitely represented A view of the afterlife, one that is, apparently very popular among t.v. writers.
Christians believe that to be "absent from the body" is to be "present with the Lord". There are no tormented spirits in some barren waiting place, (or desert island, or random church), searching for someone to "lead them home", etc. . . . Now, there is some detail involved with the 2nd coming of Christ and where everyone will be at that point, and what that will look like. (not enough time) But, suffice it to say, Christians will be "with the Lord".
I"m reminded of this wonderful truth today as I sing at a funeral for friends. John Ringoen met a tragic death this week, and our family has spent extended time with his family, walking and mourning with them. However, John Ringoen is not LOST, nor wandering about, nor needing anyone to lead him anywhere. John is home. He is with his Savior. We're celebrating that reality today, not hoping for a more restful afterlife. See, John is more alive today than he ever was. Everything makes sense to John, today. Reality has come home to roost for him. . . forever.
John's family have been deailing with this fairly publically, and sharing alot of bible verses, great memories, and hope with all of us. It's funny that some have thought John's family needed to "get mad" and not run so quick to God's Word in a tragic time such as this. To be sure, mourning will affect all of us in different ways, and we should all be patient and caring for one another. But, as Christians, we don't "mourn like those who have no hope", we know this story, we know how it ends, we know where John is today. It doesn't mean we're not sad or angry, or both. But, it does mean that we can hold onto things. It does mean we can be hopeful and encouraged at a funeral, and it does mean that we can run to our Bible and have definitive answers.
I"m looking forward to celebrating John today, but more importantly, celebrating that Jesus conquered death for us, a "sting-less" death for us as Christians. And, I won't be looking for any spirit guides or praying for more "rest" for John. He is with Jesus today. Maranatha, come quickly Lord Jesus.
(for a more detailed look at what the church can take away from LOST, check out Jared's blog today)
Thursday, May 20, 2010
So, there's an annoying trend in the NBA postseason this year of "turning it on for the playoffs". A handful of teams had mediocre regular seasons, leading many to believe that they would be done early in the playoffs.
Well, someone forgot to tell the Spurs, Lakers, and Celtics. We're headed for another Lakers/Celtics finals which should be a good one this time. Basically the Lakers are just tougher now, and won't be as easy for the Celts as they were in 2008.
But, back to the point. . . . this just shows that we need a shorter regular season. I like some of the recent ideas I've heard of a 60 game regular season, with a play-in tournament for the 8 seed in each conference, and equal "back to backs".
This would eliminate tanking for the bad teams in the league, becauase they'd be trying to play-in to the playoffs and the extra revenue therein. Also, teams couldn't hide like the Celts/Lakers this year and shlog through the season, because there'd be less games to do so. And, most importantly, there'd be no more of the terrible back to backs (or both teams would be participating in a back to back, so as to make it equal) which cause the most blowouts, no shows, and awful games during the season.
Yes, some of this is my own pride. . . I thought I had a pretty good read on this season, and didn't see the Lakers or Celtics making it as far as they have. I was wrong, but I was also right because neither team showed us anything in the regular season that would make us think they had this run in them.
(side note: Some of you know that I am a big Shaq fan. So, for years I followed the Lakers very closely. They perfected the "turn on switch for the playoffs" to an art form. Especially in 2001 when they went 58-22 or something and then went 15-1 in the playoffs (the one loss being in the finals when Allen Iverson beat them in overtime). They were absolutely unstoppable, they swept 3 50 win teams in those playoffs, the Spurs, Blazers and Kings. I didn't like the "switch" then, and I don't like it now. It's just too much for any athletes to handle. . . 82 games plus playoffs, plus back to backs. I heard Commissioner Stern say in a podcast that the teams "have 12 players last I checked" and so they should just play more guys more minutes to help with rest, etc. . . This is bad reasoning. If the league will continue to expand, (which is already has too many teams, we need some contraction), there will be even more of a watered down talent pool. I don't want to see the 11th and 12th man on the court in crunch time, . . this is the NBA. . . . alas)
All that to say, it will be a great Finals, because both of these teams are great defensive teams. I think the Lakers have the edge because of home court, and because Gasol, Odom, Bynum, etc. . will not be bullied by the Celtics as Lebron, Vince Carter, and Dwight Howard have been. Wow, those teams in the East need to turn in their man card. This is getting ridiculous. It's not like the Celts are the 90's bad boys or anything. No one is throwing anyone to the ground or adopting a "no layup rule". Man up Orlando! It's too late, though. Boston broke their will.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Check it out.
And, thanks everyone for checking my bounceback email . . . Didn't you feel loved and affirmed after receiving it? I thought so.
By the way, I won't know how many of you responded because I'm not checking that email account (he he). firstname.lastname@example.org is the summer email.
Tough day 2 of the sabbatical. I have some friends going through some crazy hard stuff, and I have a courageous wife who whilst speaking the truth often gets branded a "judger" by people. Alas, . . .apparently "honesty" is no longer a word that has any meaning. It's either "accept everything I do" or "judge" . . .no place for tough love these days. Thanks Jody, for pressing on and loving people enough to be honest. It's certainly saved my life from many a pang.
Monday, May 17, 2010
See, this is the kind of hard-hitting blogging that you have to look forward to this summer. . . you 5 blog readers, you.
--Today is day 1 of my sabbatical. It has gone well, I have helped Jody with some projects, started my tan, read, played with Sam, and bought sandals. We'll see what tomorrow has in store:
I will be blogging my thoughts over the next few months. I"ll be visiting quite a few churches, and will try to stay away from "church rater" nonsense and over-evaluating things. That said, since I'm not in the office, I may be motivated to blog more, we'll see. And, I'd love to hear from any of you, don't be scared to say hi, just because I'm not in the office. . . I'm on sabbatical, not quarantine :)
--I'm kind of getting tired of the new worship wars. . . that is. . . over the regulative principle, reformed, should we be relevant, what are we doing on Sunday, etc.. . . . .It's just an exercise in broad brush attacks, and I"m weary of it. These are case-by-case things that need to take into account the motivations of those involved. If you don't know the motivations. . . don't act like you do. Most of you have no idea what I"m talking about, . . . . you should be thankful for that.
--Speaking of that: Here's a great take on the Contemporvant video from last week: Bob Kauflin is such a mature, pastoral guy. I always love his thoughts. I was going to write a blog post similar to his, but he did much better than I would've :). These are good thoughts, and good things to take away from this video.
Notice, he did not use this video has an opportunity to bash the contemporary church, or make broad brush accusations and judgements about contexualization, etc. . . I"m just sayin'
--The NBA playoffs have been really interesting. I fully agree with the Sports Guy's take on Lebron, that we need to recalibrate his career in Dr. J like categories, instead of Jordanesque ones. Jordan, Magic, Bird, 2000 Shaq, Iverson, etc. . .never lets the Celtics do that to them. His warrior cred went down a few notches with that loss. We'll see if the Magic have some warrior in them, I'm not hopeful. However, Gasol will be waiting, and Kobe as well. That could be a really interesting series. I must say, though, I'm rooting for the Suns, and Steve Nash from the West. I'd like to see him get a crack at the Finals. I think they'd give the Celtics big, big problems.
--Is it Football season yet?
--The Marriage Ref is a great, great show. Check it out.
--"Brothers" and "Up in the Air" are my two "spiritually profound, non-oscar, accesible, don't have to brag that you watched it, learn something" great movies of the year. Great flicks!
My facebook diatribe from a few weeks ago seemed to have offended some folks and russled some feathers. It's been weird, I'm feeling avoided by some people since I wrote that.
Hear me say this: That was not my intention there. I'm sorry for being a little "broad brush" myself with that blog. I should've been more nuanced, . . .please accept my apology. If you can use Facebook well, for God's glory, not your own, in balance,. . . then go for it. I couldn't, so those were my thoughts on the matter. Many folks are stronger than me with that kind of stuff, (you know, they can turn off college football after the 1st game is over and not watch the double header. . . . just sayin') and I hope Facebook continues to serve them, and not vice versa.
Looking forward to blogging more this summer. See ya!
Monday, May 10, 2010
So, every blog in Christendom has posted the Northpoint video from a couple of days ago (scroll down). And, that, along with this Sunday's services, along with a Bob Kauflin interview. . .brought a thought into my head.
Music is not the mediator of God's presence. Jesus is.
This weekend, we had baby dedications (20 of them!). . . because of that, we only got to spend around 9 minutes singing at the beginning of the service,. . and probably 10 more at the end. That's less than we usually do.
But, God spoke, powerfully through his Word (Tom gave the best Mother's Day sermon I've ever heard), and through the dedication of our children. It's great hearing the dad's pray for their families, . . . It's powerful watching them value the passing down of their faith to their kids. It affects people sitting in the pews (hopefully convicting some of them).
Kind of sounds like the affects that we usually ascribe to the music huh? See, if you're a person who gets fired up about "extended" worship times and hates it when other things happen in the service besides the singing, you might have thought this weekend was a failure at some level, or at least a less satisfying service. But, that's putting music in too high a place. God spoke Sunday, through his Word, and through his dads.
We don't need to be married to an experience (perhaps like the one in the Northpoint video) with lights, candles, and all the cultural trappings. We need to be expecting to meet with Christ through his Word, and through fellowship with our brothers and sisters. We are a family, remember. And Jesus gets us to God, nothing else.
Friday, May 7, 2010
So, there's alot to say about this video. . . . I'm trying to not take this too seriously since it is, after all, a joke. :) But, I think there's some things to be gleaned. Here are my thoughts:
1. Ouch. I can take a hit. I've been guilty of some of these things. I'll plead no contest. And, as a songwriter for the church. . . double ouch :)
2. Well placed shot that the evangelical world can be a bit cookie cutter. Duly noted.
3. How ironic that North Point church produced this video :) that's all I'm going to say.
4. When people start to point out the problems with this approach to worship. . . some might start with the lights, rock concert vibe, too casual of a preacher, etc. . .the window dressings. But, the problem here, and why the joke is funny and painful, is the lack of God's word. That's the most important and biggest problem with an approach like this. If folks are saturated, affected by, remembering, and confronted with God's word, than change all the window dressings you want. . . .
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Thank you, Dane Ortlund, for giving me a full-on gospel shot today when I was feeling pretty "sick".
HT: The Gospel Coalition
Justification’s Double Liberation
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” –Lam. 3:24
Our tendency in our evangelical universe is to articulate justification by faith alone morally, for the past (conversion) and future (entrance into heaven), without applying the soothing salve of justification emotionally and psychologically, for the present. We embrace Christ for forgiveness of sins but move on to other ideas and strategies when it comes to our emotional life and the daily pressures that do not lie directly in the “moral” realm. This is a great mistake and a recipe for worried, half-hearted Christians, dabbling their toes in an ocean of grace, thinking they’ve hit bottom.
When sinners are justified, however, two (organically linked) liberations wash into their life. The first and more obvious liberation is moral. The second liberation is emotional and psychological.
To be sure, these are two interlocking facets of a single gift. Yet it is easy to embrace the former and neglect the latter, as my own heart has been discovering over the past 22 months (under the tutelage of Martin Luther, Herman Bavinck, G. C. Berkouwer, and Paul Zahl).
The second liberation is more subjective and more slippery. Rescued sinners bring to their new life in Christ a host of latent emotional lifelines onto which their affections have latched—relationships, skills, bank accounts, sexual stimulation, a reputation, a salary, a golf swing, a sense of humor, an education, affection from children, affection from parents. These have provided psychological stability. Often one lifeline in particular is the lifeline of all lifelines. As long as we have this, we know we’re okay.
Transposed onto biblical categories, it is by this that we sought to be “justified.” This provided the security about which our heart of hearts has whispered to us, “If all of life unravels around you, at least you’ll still have _________.” It was a final retreat, a felt lifeline to emotional sanity. Whether familiar with the tune and words or not, every human heart fills in the first stanza of the hymn—“When ____________, it is well with my soul”—with something.
We must continue to clarify in our churches and books and preaching and conferences and blogs how alarmingly easy it is, operationally, to swallow the first liberation without the second. We embrace God’s free forgiveness of sins yet go on funneling our affections and emotions into our old felt securities—what the Bible calls idols. We rest assured of our ultimate destiny; but the internal frenetic scurrying continues in the meantime. The old lifelines lined up in the heart continue to function as psychological nicotine when life’s pressures rise.
This miserable half-liberation manifests itself in any number of ways—seminary students finding their emotional security in academic performance; businessmen finding psychological stability through profits; pastors assuring themselves of the legitimacy of their ministry through congregational favor; mothers undergirding their sense of worth with obedient children; church planters silently validating themselves through growing attendance. Each is a question of securing that elusive sense of “okayness,” of justification. More subtle than deliberate; more sub-conscious than self-conscious; more emotional than moral. But justification nonetheless.
The knife that severs these functional lifelines onto which the heart is latched is the gospel, returned to daily, tenaciously. For Jesus is the one person who ever lived who was, from the womb, “okay.” “Justified.” And on Calvary he allowed himself to be made un-okay, to be condemned, so that you and I can walk into every class, every business deal, every pulpit, every parenting endeavor, every church plant, every anxiety-generating real-life situation, already justified. Not only morally, but emotionally. Not only for the past and the future, but for the present.