Archive for October, 2005


Love, Innocent Style

October 21, 2005

And now for something completely different. If you’ve seen this before, it bears reading.

These are answers to the question: What is Love? posed to 4-8 year olds.

“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.”
Rebecca- age 8

When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.”
Billy – age 4

“Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on
shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.”
Karl – age 5

“Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of
your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.”
Chrissy -age 6

“Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.”
Terri – age 4

“Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.”
Danny – age 7

“Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired
of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My
Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss”
Emily – age 8

“Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop
opening presents and listen.”
Bobby – age 7 (Wow!)

“If you want to learn to love better, you should start with
a friend who you hate,”
Nikka – age 6

(we need a few million more Nikka’s on this planet)

“Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he
wears it everyday.”
Noelle – age 7

“Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are
still friends even after they know each other so well.”
Tommy – age 6

“During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared.
I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn’t scared anymore.”
Cindy – age 8

“My mommy loves me more than anybody . You don’t see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.”
Clare – age 6

“Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.”
Elaine-age 5

“Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still
says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.”
Chris – age 7

“Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left
him alone all day.”
Mary Ann – age 4

“I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her
old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.”
Lauren – age 4

“When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and
little stars come out of you.” (what an imagination)
Karen – age 7

“Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn’t think it’s gross.”
Mark – age 6

“You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it.
But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.”
Jessica – age 8


Another Dilemma for the New Pope

October 20, 2005

This was too funny not to pass on.
Courtesy of Mike M.

If you’re not sure what a “metrosexual” is, go to this link ( by Picasa


Don’t Trust Your Brain

October 19, 2005

I have appreciated the work of Dr. Daniel Amen, especially in the field of research into Adult Attention Deficit Disorder. Having ADD myself, and working with so many people who have ADD, I have found that Dr. Amen’s approaches are much more workable than other therapists and pop psychologists.

But in his latest book, “Making a Good Brain Great” he is getting positively Biblical…and perhaps he doesn’t even know it. In a discussion with Newsweek magazine this week, he talks about the factors that go into improving the chemical and emotional makeup of our thought patterns. Here is his assessment about some of the things we obsess about:

You are what you eat, but you are also what you think. Every time you have a thought, your brain releases chemicals. When you have good thoughts, happy thoughts, it’s a completely different set of chemicals than when you’re feeling angry or hopeless. But thoughts lie. Just because you have a thought, it doesn’t have to be really true. No one is ever taught this. People can get these sad, mad or nervous automatic thoughts and they can come into your mind and ruin your day if you are never taught to correct them. If you have a sad, mad or nervous thought, write it down. Talk back to it. Don’t believe every thought you have. That’s not being irrational; it’s being more rational.

Notice that he tells us to distrust the thoughts of our brain. This is also the standard approach in lie-based thinking therapy, also known as Theophostic. It is not what others are doing to us that cause anguish, stress, and a “bad brain”, it is primarily our inability or unwillingness to challenge and correct lie-based thinking that gets us in trouble.

The Bible says something similar to Dr. Amen in 2 Corinthians 10:5: “Take every thought captive and make it obey”. I disagree with him that no one is ever taught this. And I disagree with him that it is as straightforward as just thinking something different.

The mind and the heart store values and ideas differently. The brain stores things in a temporary state. That is to say, we look at new ideas coming in and we compare them to the absolute system of beliefs that we have developed. An example: We may believe all our lives that we will never measure up to our parents. This transfers in adult life to believing we will never measure up to bosses, pastors, spouses, coaches etc. A new idea is given to us from a book that says in order to be successful in life we must approach everything with a confident, winning attitude. That works fine until the first thing begins to go wrong. Given a choice whether to believe our new idea or the one we have harbored in our hearts for years, we will regress to the old idea.

The word for “take captive” in 2 Corinthians 10:5 in Greek literally means “to hold onto and embrace“. This is what we would do to someone who tried to rob our house and we catch them. We hold onto them so they can’t get away. Most of us try to avoid negative thinking. Dr. Amen is suggesting the right course: Attack the thought and make it reveal how and when it got in. Only then can we challenge its right to be there.


Pucker Up

October 19, 2005

Dr. Michael Penn in his book “Kissing Christians” hints that we may be missing something in our contemporary worship services. In this article in the Boston Globe he says that early Christians used to kiss one another. And in case you have an image of people leaning way over toward one another and pecking on the cheek, Dr. Penn adds, “ritual kissing — on the lips — was a vital part of worship”. The church of the first three centuries met in homes instead of an open public place, so the feelings expressed (we can assume) were much more intimate and casual.

It is what Dr. Penn adds next that gets interesting:

In antiquity, a kiss on the lips was seen as transferring a little bit of one’s spirit to the other person. You have a lot of early — I kind of think of them almost as Greco-Roman Harlequin — novels that speak of the kiss as this transfer of spirit. Christians modify it a bit, to suggest that when Christians kiss each other, they don’t just exchange their own spirit, but also share a part of the Holy Spirit with one another. So the kiss is seen as a way to bind the community together.

There’s another side, though. There was a concern that kissing an individual who has promised to join the Christian community but isn’t yet baptized should be avoided, because the spirit that would be transferred wouldn’t be a holy spirit but a demonic spirit. So you have the kiss working as this ritual of exclusion.

This idea of “transferring a little bit of one’s spirit” is consistent with the teaching of 1 Corinthians 6 where we are warned that having sex with a prostitute is joining her to Christ. That could only be possible in the spirit realm since Christ is joined to the believer through the Holy Spirit who lives within him. The early church saw men and women kissing men and women. They did worry a little about the erotic nature of this practice, but it didn’t stop them from doing it.

Should we revive this practice today? Frankly I would welcome it, but I don’t think it is going to happen. Let me explain why I believe this using a totally different picture. In Italy, more wine is consumed per person than in any state in America. Yet, the alcoholism rate is less than half of what it is in our country. How is that possible? It seems that the drinking of wine is not associated with drunkenness in Italy. They use it as a beverage, as we would with milk, Gatorade or Latte Frapuccinos (whatever they are). Their use of alcohol is innocent and this precludes them from yearning for a misuse of alcohol. In essence, their constant consumption of alcohol innoculates them from abusing it.

In the same way, our contemporary Christian emphasis away from any casual touching and kissing between men and women actually cause the meaning of touch to become more sexual and therefore more deadly. If Christians were more deliberate with kissing, preferring to experience intimate friendships among the entire body of Christ, we wouldn’t be seeing so many extra-marital indiscretions. The early Christians did not kiss one another in private, but out in the open in the worship services. Like the Italian drinking of wine divorces wine from alcoholism, the public practice of kissing divorces kissing from forbidden intimacy.


Wyoming Wonderland

October 18, 2005

This past week, I spent teaching and counseling
with some fine young cowboys. The school I was at is nestled just to the east of Yellowstone National Park and south of Cody. This picture was taken out the door to my cabin. On the morning we left to go to the airport, the stars were as thick as ants on the ground at a church picnic. We don’t get views like that in Sacramento due to the spillover of light from the city. It was a feast for my eyes. Posted by Picasa


An Atheist Challenge

October 18, 2005

Recently I was challenged by another blog writer to a conceptual debate. He was trying to prove that Christianity provides a very weak ethical base for society. At first glance, that seems like a nonsense position. But in reality, there is one argument he used which does have a degree of merit.

Primarily, he brought up the question of history itself. For Christianity to be a great moral and ethical system, the historical data should prove it. In recent years, the Christian sub-culture has not produced higher levels of ethical purity. See my blog entry from a few weeks ago for documented evidence of this.

Going further back in history, we must compare Christian culture with the alternatives. In Europe of the middle ages, there is much evidence that Christianity was decadent. The history of the Church, especially after it moved to Constantinople, is one of corruption, sexual deviance, divorce, abortion etc. The spread of Christianity to the so-called New World is a story of murder, rape and genocide. Those are not exactly proofs of an ethical system worth copying.

But was Christianity worse or better than other systems of its day? Most decidedly it surpassed other societies it shared the world with. The Muslim system was much more violent, much less accepting of the cultures it conquered. It had less cultural acceptance of women and children and more emphasis on slavery, ceremonial rape, abortion, thievery and incest. The Buddhist systems of Southeast Asia were even more violent and practiced the ritual killing of children. The Mongols were despicably violent and had no codified ethical system. These are the primary cultural system that co-existed with Christianity in the Middle Ages. There were other smaller cultures, but none of them rose to enough prominence where we even know or recognize their belief systems today.

The claim of today’s atheist is that they can figure out a system of ethics not based upon a book of “tribal myths” (as they sarcastically refer to the Bible), but based upon ethical consensus of society at large. They admit that there are inherent weaknesses to this system, but they claim that most of the weaknesses come from the Christian opposition; if we used logic instead of Christian “narrow-mindedness” a much more humane and workable system of ethics could be produced.

In other words, get rid of Christianity and the waiting brain trust of logical atheists will invent a system of ethics that will work.

Promises, promises.

There aren’t a lot of atheists in history that claim to have a system of morality. Men like Nietzche and Freud, famous atheists of German history, claimed that no system of ethics and morals were necessary. You simply do what seems best to you, and for the most part, you will be right. This leads to a utilitarian view of mankind. Whatever is most convenient for society at large becomes the greatest good. Consider these comments by Philosopher Ray Cotton:

The Nazi holocaust began with a subtle shift in attitude that judged the value of people based upon their cost/benefit ratio to the state. First, it started with sterilization and euthanasia of people with severe psychiatric illnesses. Soon all those with chronic illness were being exterminated. Before too long, all patients who had been sick for five years or more, or were medically unable to work and unlikely to recover were transported to killing centers; what started as “mercy killings” in rare cases of extreme mental illness soon expanded to mass extermination on an unprecedented scale. Before long all those who could not work and were medically evaluated as incapable of being rehabilitated were killed…The German medical profession then started using human body parts for medical research, and this led to the grisly “terminal human experiments,” in which live people were used in medical experiments.

It was the doctors of the German Third Reich that pushed for more and more people to be sent into concentration camps. They believed that their “experiments” on real live bodies would advance science so much faster than working on animal models and cadavers. What they succeeded in advancing was the level of horror we feel about mankind. An ethical system without a moral consensus is bankrupt from the start.

Winston Churchill recognized that Democracy was the worst of all possible political systems, but the only one that had any chance of working. The same thing could be said about Christianity. Because it recognizes that mankind is fallen and will never be completely redeemed in this world, Christianity is not taken aback that its systems are not yet perfect. But it may be the only ethical system with any hope upon which to build a decent society.


A Coward Stays Put in New Orleans

October 7, 2005

I am one of those Brennan Manning appreciators, one who sees in him a man who has lived out what he believes on so many levels. I was not aware that he lives in New Orleans, since he rarely mentions the city in writings or speaking engagements.

But he stayed through the storm and the afters, and in an interview with CTI, gives this assessment of his neighbors after the flood:

I stayed through the hurricane because I have no wife, no children, no relatives here, and thought that maybe I could help the small number of people who remained. I sat here from 3 a.m. to 3 p.m. watching the hurricane with awe and wonder at the mind-boggling power of the 95 mile an hour wind. The rain was relentlessly pounding. The following day it was calm. The day after that I walked outside, and I found a lovely neighbor who asked me, “Did you hear the news?” I said no. She said there was a mandatory evacuation of the city because the levees had broken. That gave me a clue to get out of here.
I did see an elderly black woman, somewhere in her 80s, standing on the street corner. I stopped and asked where I could take her. She said, “Please take me to my sister’s house.” I drove her out there and reassured her of how proud I was of her and what a gift it was to be her neighbor.
My neighborhood is about 90 percent black. What I saw was a whole different image of the African American community, which is usually identified with gangs, murders, and drug dealing. The black community was enormously kind, thoughtful, heroic, reaching out to their neighbors. I saw African American fathers with children, having an enormous concern about their welfare. We still have many children unconnected with their parents. They’re flashing on TV the pictures of the children and hoping that they can be identified. I recognized one of them and called the number on the screen to let them know that it’s a child from my apartment complex.
The whole issue of staying … I don’t mean it to sound heroic. Because I’m not, I’m basically a coward. But I thought maybe I could help somebody who stayed through the hurricane.

The rest of the interview is found here.


Supreme Court Can’t Save the Church

October 7, 2005

Harriet Miers, the nominative Supreme Court hopeful (as well as President Bush’s personal lawyer) has to face church problems the same as the rest of us. In an article in the Dallas Morning News, they reveal that she and Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht are members of Valley View Christian Church in Dallas. In fact, Justice Hecht personally introduced Ms. Miers to the Lord when in the 70s she left her Catholic roots to embrace an Evangelical faith. But just because they are high up in the judicial influence of this land does not mean they can prevent problems in their church. According to the Morning News they have trouble in the Valley View church:

But Justice Hecht also said that both he and Ms. Miers have recently left the church, joining about 200 others who are forming another congregation after disputes about staffing, governance and worship style since the arrival last year of Barry McCarty as “preaching minister.”
Ms. Miers attended a Sunday gathering of the disaffected group two weekends ago, said Mr. Key. He left the church staff this summer after more than 30 years and has been preaching to the as-yet-unnamed second congregation.
Ms. Wilson, the Valley View office manager, acknowledged that the split is painful for the church. “We’re in transition,” she said.
She noted that Ms. Miers attended Valley View while visiting a few weeks ago. “She’s still on the membership rolls here,” Ms. Wilson said.
But Justice Hecht, who has resigned as a church elder, maintained that Ms. Miers was joining him in leaving the church.

Apparently, Valley View is experiencing what many churches have gone through: The terrible agony of trying to mix the cultures and tastes of different generations together in their expression of worship and love for God. Not even an aspiree to the highest court in the land can prevent people from expressing their own agendas in church politics. It just brings to the forefront to me that one of the most difficult things in life is to get along as groups of people with common beliefs.

John Bevere wrote a book several years ago called “The Bait of Satan”. In that book, he said that the most prominent thought pattern ruining the lives of Christians is “personal offense”. Personal offense is the reaction we have when someone hurts us, betrays us, ignores us or takes us for granted. That offense takes a life of its own and can drive us away from the very people we are supposed to share community with in love.

One of the most aggressive sub-cultures of contemporary Christianity calls itself the “outchurched”. Many of them have been offended by things they see in church life and have left the Body of Christ in order to feel better. The problem with this is that the Body of Christ is also the Bride of Christ and as such, is loved by Him. To reject an individual group of people because they are not your “cup of tea” is regrettable, but sometimes necessary. But to reject “church” outright is to reject the One Christ loves. That is harsh. We may agree that Christ’s bride is not dressed in white yet, and that she has a lot of cleaning up to do. But that is not a good enough reason to tar and feather her.

I regularly hear an advertisement on radio where one preacher advertises his group by saying “we’re a church for people who don’t like church.” He is obviously appealing to those who feel disenfranchised by the legalistic morons of fundamentalism. But I would love to hear someone advertise their body as for “those who love His church”.

I would go there.

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