Archive for the ‘rant’ Category

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World Vision Revisited – Bad Decisions and hypocrisy

March 31, 2014

I have placed myself in a difficult spot with this essay.

Which is okay. I don’t write, preach and teach in order to address the easy issues or the pleasant situations. I write to bring about change and to prevent good things from being eroded.

But there are times I find an issue where I cannot determine a side I am completely comfortable with. World Vision has forced me into one of those corners and I may end up painting myself even further in.

A synopsis: World Vision announced last week they were going to allow people who were in gay marriages to be hired by their organization. They rationalized this decision based on geography and internal goals. First, geography: Since Washington State has declared gay marriage legal—and they are based in Washington—they felt they should comply with Washington law. This is not valid, since religious institutions aren’t required to hire anyone who cannot comply with their beliefs.

Second: Internal goals. They are attempting through this decision to be more inclusive of both their conservative and liberal Christian supporters. As hard as it is for most evangelicals to accept, at least half of Christianity is more liberal and many of these people accept gay marriage as a legitimate form of marital expression. Many of them also support World Vision.

Being more conservative on this issue, I do not agree. But I recognize that World Vision has supporters who are from both liberal and conservative camps. They want to be inclusive.

That was a big mistake. On polarizing issues like gay marriage, one cannot please all the people. The only way to do that is to be silent and let people assume which side you fall on. But more and more, Christian organizations are being asked by both sides of the gay marriage issue to pick a side. So World Vision thought they could craft a position statement that appealed to both groups. They stated:

“Changing the employee conduct policy to allow someone in a same-sex marriage who is a professed believer in Jesus Christ to work for us makes our policy more consistent with our practice on other divisive issues,” he said. “It also allows us to treat all of our employees the same way: abstinence outside of marriage, and fidelity within marriage.”

“It’s easy to read a lot more into this decision than is really there,” he said. “This is not an endorsement of same-sex marriage. We have decided we are not going to get into that debate. Nor is this a rejection of traditional marriage, which we affirm and support.”

With this statement, World Vision wants both liberals and conservatives to support them. But since this is a reversal of their long-held policy against hiring gay Christians, there is no way for them to claim neutrality on this issue.

They should not have been surprised at the uproar this decision caused. Liberals, of course, were excited that this endorsed the position they already had. But conservatives viewed this as a slap in the face of their stand against gay marriage. It is understandable that conservative evangelicals were upset by this move. Since gay marriage is the most noticeable moral issue that most evangelicals agree upon, this has become the poster-child for the holiness movement. For a professing Evangelical organization to pull away from the “pack” like this, it feels like they have sold out their supporters.

Then, two days later, they reversed their decision. In a letter of apology, World Vision president, Richard Stearn stated:

The last couple of days have been painful,” president Richard Stearns told reporters this evening. “We feel pain and a broken heart for the confusion we caused for many friends who saw this policy change as a strong reversal of World Vision’s commitment to biblical authority, which it was not intended to be.”

“Rather than creating more unity [among Christians], we created more division, and that was not the intent,” said Stearns. “Our board acknowledged that the policy change we made was a mistake … and we believe that [World Vision supporters] helped us to see that with more clarity … and we’re asking you to forgive us for that mistake.”

Wow! Let me count the mistakes they made.

  1. They erroneously thought they could engage the gay marriage issue by taking a middle ground stance. There is very little middle ground on a polarizing issue like this one, and they certainly didn’t find it.
  2. They put the lives of children at risk, callously ignoring a possibility that outraged supporters would withdraw support for children because of their decision. More about this in a moment.
  3. When people began to cancel their support for World Vision’s children, a number of people who support gay marriage offered to “adopt” those children. This number was smaller than the number who pulled away, so World Vision panicked.
  4. In their panic, they reversed their original decision. I suspect they did this to cut their already substantial financial losses.
  5. By reversing their decision, they have now alienated both sides of this issue, and both sides now feel they cannot trust World Vision.

As I reflect on it, I realize that at this point, no one should trust World Vision. They have shown little respect for their own children by putting them in harm’s way.

Suffice to say that I have never been a supporter of World Vision. I don’t like that they refused to participate in a study done to determine the effectiveness of feeding programs around the world. World Vision refused. So did Samaritan’s Purse. Only Compassion International was willing to put their reputation on the line to let their results become an open study. Therefore, that is the organization I support when I sponsor children and their food needs.

So, to sum up the first part of this essay, World Vision blew it big time. Someone ought to lose their job over this. I personally will not support the efforts of World Vision in the future. Are we clear on this point?

Now for the deeper issue. Is it morally defensible to cancel your avowed support of a child because you no longer support the organization? I do not think the Scriptures allow for such action, and I even go as far as to say this type of action is hypocritical.

I will say that not everyone who cancels their sponsorship is a hypocrite. Some people are just ignorant of what they’re doing. But if you read my rationale here and agree that it is not biblical to do so—and then do it anyway—that would be hypocritical behavior. So let me take three biblical principles and show how they apply directly to this situation.

In Mark 7, Jesus and the Pharisees are fighting it out over Jewish ceremonial law. At one point, Jesus begins a rant about their religious hypocrisy. In verses 8-13, he states:

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 11 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— 12 then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

Jesus addresses the issue of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe traditions. In this case, the command of God is for children to honor their father and mother. This includes helping them financially. But the Jewish leaders taught that if they would rather give the money to the temple instead of parents, they could declare the gift as Corban. Corban was a designated temple gift that superseded other gifts. In verse 13, Jesus reminds them that this tradition of the Temple actually nullifies what God has commanded.

God saw the child/parent relationship as a covenant. This is also true of a husband/wife relationship. If someone in a covenant relationship promises to act a particular way, and then acts differently, they are violating that covenant. This is a serious sin. The enemy of our souls loves to defeat people who break covenants.

When you agree to sponsor a child, you are agreeing to do that as long as they are a child. This is similar to any agreement between a child and a foster parent. Adopted parents, foster parents, stand-in parents, sponsoring parents–all of these parenting types fit into the covenant role with a child. If you cancel that sponsorship, you are reneging on the agreement you have with that child. Therefore, your actions are little different from the person who took money intended for parents and gave it to the temple instead.

Actually, I can imagine why some people would opt for Corban instead of parents. What if dad is an alcoholic? What if mom uses drugs? What if they both are violent? Does this mean we no longer have to help them out? I don’t think the Bible allows for an “out” clause in the covenant for those circumstances.

I fully understand why people are angry at World Vision. However, your original covenant is not with the organization, but with the child. I would recommend people continue to support their children and then let World Vision know you will not be supporting any other children and certainly won’t be helping with World Vision’s other projects. That would keep intact both your desire to distance yourself from World Vision and your commitment to the child.

Remember, Jesus also told us never to cause a child to stumble. When you support a child in a developing country, your gift allows that child to eat instead of die due to starvation. It also helps that child’s family. In addition, when several children are sponsored in one village, the entire village receives some of the funds. So when you drop support for a child, you are harming the child, its family and the village.

If you break your promise to that child–especially when the child knows you are a Christian–you are doing damage to that child’s view of Christ and Christians.

Jesus had these harsh words in Matthew 18:6 for those who do such things:

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Finally, I can see someone who is still unconvinced. They may rationalize “I don’t think my promise to a child is the same as a covenant.” They may also say “I don’t think the teaching on offending children applies in this situation.” Hopefully then, you are a better Bible scholar than I, for I think both principles apply perfectly.

However, if you still aren’t convinced, let me give the final biblical reason why you shouldn’t end your support of these children. If you do, you’re breaking your promise.

The Bible has a word for a promise we make to another person. It is called “a vow”.

Here’s a few things the Bible says about vows:

Numbers 30:2  When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.

Ecclesiastes 5:5:  It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it.

Matthew 5:33:  “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’

You do serious damage to your soul when you break a vow. If you make a vow, you are not let out of the vow because the person involved has problems or does things you don’t like. In this case, just because World Vision is not the organization you thought it was is not a reason to end your sponsorship of a child.

You have made a covenant with that child.

You are to set an example for that child.

And you have made a vow to that child.

If those reasons are not enough, then you should talk to the Holy Spirit about this.

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Things Charismatic/Pentecostal/Renewal Preachers Do

February 25, 2014

This begins with true confession time. Hi; my name is Mike, and I’m a charismatic (“Hi Mike”). That is, I believe in the existence of and proper practice of the supernatural gifts of the Spirit. I speak in tongues occasionally. I have prophesied. I get down with Jesus, I have danced, laughed and laid prostrate in the Spirit, and I know what it is like to be preaching one sermon and have to stop to preach a totally different one.

I say all of that to say this: all of what I will say next applies to my tribe. This is an insider’s view, not a sniper’s shot from on top of the hill.

Unfortunately, I have come to my upper limit on being able to listen to podcasts by Pentecostals, Charismatics, Third Wavers, Renewal speakers and Holy Ghost Here-We-Go Anointed individuals.

It is not the content per se. It is not the ministry time at the end (well, maybe a little bit of that, but we’ll let that slide). It is the gimmicks that the preachers use in our circles that have got to stop. Guys and gals of the Holy Spirit persuasion: don’t you know they’re making fun of us, and not for the good reasons?

For the sake of bringing this whole shabang back to sanity, I propose we call for a permanent moratorium on some of the things charismatic preachers do. I have done three of these and I repent in dust and ashes. And no, I’m not admitting which three I have used. My friends know.

So, here are the most egregious practices of our tribe:

1. Simon Says.  This is where the preacher likes the point they’re making and tells the audience to “Say ____________”. Then the whole group repeats whatever the key phrase is. Let’s say the sermon is on Jesus raising Lazarus and the preacher wants to get across the point that Lazarus smelled bad after three days of putrification. The preacher might order the congregation, “Say, ‘smell bad‘” and then “Say, ‘Lazarus come out‘”.  And then it’s “Say ‘Take those stinky clothes off'” … and on and on. Some teachers do it so much that it is a constant litany of Simon Says repeat-after-me’s that you end up losing the point of the preacher. I suppose that Aimee Semple McPherson probably started this and since she was anointed, it became the acceptable way of hammering home the point. But to me, after 50 of these in a message, I actually get belligerent and say to myself, “I’m not saying that”. And then I have to deal with a spirit of rebellion.

2. FYI Moments.  If you listen to any charismatic preachers lately, you’ve heard this one. It all starts with the preacher saying “How many know…” and then it divulges some charismatic buzz concept that is making the conference rounds. As in “how many know the enemy only has a short time left” or “how many know that these are the Days of Elijah” etc. The problem here is that anyone who doesn’t know this meme feels like an idiot and most people will just agree even if this is a new teaching to them. Who wants to feel left out? In addition, I suspect a lot of teachers do this to let the congregation know that they are part of the latest instruction and listening to the Spirit. Let your congregation off the hook. They don’t need to get hooked on novel theories that will not be spoken of ever again. Fortunately, no one asks any more “How many know there’s a Jezebel spirit around these days?”

3. This Just In From Holy Spirit. You know the big gimmick that Fox News and CNN practice several times an hour. They know that everyone has been watching for a couple of hours and they need to make it interesting. So they pop up the words “Special News Alert“. It isn’t just the news. Preachers are now doing it all the time. They’ll be in a teaching message and they have to stop and tell us that Holy Spirit has just moved them to say something important. What I struggle with is not that Holy Spirit breaks in on their message or that they share it. But do they have to announce what they’re doing? Just do it. I can’t imagine Jesus stopping on his way to heal the Centurion’s son and then looking at the crowd and saying, “Wait, Holy Spirit just showed me someone may have touched me. And oh yeah….power just went out from me. How many know that power goes out from you sometime? Say “power goes out” people.” No, Jesus just turned around and said “Who touched me?” The mechanics behind his ministry in the Spirit stayed with him.

4. Hit Like on My Good Point. This next habit has been around for a long, long time. I can tell you as a conference speaker and preacher that we are some of the most insecure people on the planet. And small wonder: We are constantly putting out ideas for others to critique and comment upon. That would reduce a macho man to jello. The problem comes in when the preacher is fishing for “likes”. It sounds like, “can I have an amen at that point?” and then goes on from there. The preacher who always needs the crowd to agree with them lives in the same camp with the Facebook person who checks every ten minutes to see how many likes his latest observation has scored. Preachers even have their own particular phrases designed to garner these likes. “Can I have a witness?” “Am I alone in here?”, “Is anyone with me?”, “Amen all by myself?” etc. ad nauseum. You know, most of the prophets preached with an expectation that stones could start flying at any moment. The crowd in that day was saying “I’ll give you an amen brother…right between the eyes.” Man up and stop asking every twenty seconds for affirmation. It’s a little weak.

5. Lucky Lexicon. I am all for a teacher doing good background work. Get into the Greek, Hebrew, the lexicon, the bible dictionary and so on. That’s not this problem. I am pained lately at the preponderance of charismatic preachers who are discovering the original languages and when they find an unusual option for the interpretation, grab a hold of it. If your interpretation can’t be found in any of the translations, you are not ‘probably wrong’ you are ‘most definitely wrong’. This mistake is made because there is a mad dash these days to be an original voice in the wilderness. That is just not possible: There are too many teachers around to be the only one saying anything.

6. Where Was I?  Any teacher doing most of the above is going to run into this problem. They’ve taken so many side-excursions to play Simon Says and FYI and “This Just In” that they can’t remember the point they were trying to make. Believe me teachers, if you can’t remember where you are, the congregation got lost a long time ago. There is no virtue in starting in one direction and having no idea where you went only to have you arrive at a strange conclusion. Call it the “leading of the Holy Spirit” all you want, it is just bad teaching. And the only ones who will remember it are the ones who “fake it until they make it”, ashamed they don’t recall all your finer points.

7. Ritalin Aids. Let’s assume in this information age that the average person gets distracted so often we have a national crisis of ADHD. None of us can pay attention for that long. This may explain why so many charismatic leaders are constantly telling us that the good part is coming. “You’re going to love this” they promise. “Listen carefully, this is where it gets good” they predict. “You don’t want to fall asleep and miss this” they warn. Recently, I heard a guy everyone is calling today’s Prophet preach on 1 Corinthians 12. It is a difficult passage and one needs care in going through it. I actually thought he did a decent job of teaching, but then I had to stop listening. I counted 27 times where he told the listener about something coming that was critical. I finally just lost all credible ability to keep focusing. If everything is important, then nothing is.

That’s the danger of all of these. They pollute and dilute the truth of God. Nothing is worth doing if that is the result.

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Adultery and Patriarchy

November 12, 2013

Here’s what this article is not about. It is not slamming the Christian Patriarchy movement per se – or Complementarianism. Both belief systems teach that males in a family are in charge, and in order for females (wives) to find their true place in God, they must submit to their husbands in all things. According to a few Patriarchy teachers, this can even include  violence, lying, harsh words and adultery. If the husband is doing any of those things, then it is ultimately the wife’s fault or she has to somehow take responsibility to fix their relationship. This extreme position is taught by many teachers, but Michael and Debi Pearl  are the best known advocates of this instruction. In their teaching, if a husband has an affair, at some level the wife was not doing her duty properly.

But I am not primarily writing about the wrongness of those movements. I don’t agree with them, but let’s just leave it at that.

Nor is this article about the dangers of adultery. A lot of people commit adultery and that does not necessarily negate their belief system. We all fail and many of us fail spectacularly. Anyone who claims they do not fail is faking it, and those who do not fail spectacularly are either lying or hiding their problems really well. Adultery is a problem because we all want to feel good, and when marriages have problems, an affair can seem to soothe the hurts for awhile. Or the boredom. Or the resentment.

But this article is not about that. Adultery causes many problems and let’s just leave it at that.

Doug Phillips has admitted this past week to having a long-term affair. If you don’t know him, he’s one of the prime teachers and leaders of the Christian Patriarchy movement, President of Vision Forum, which along with Gospel Coalition seems to represent the most conservative wing of the conservative marriage movement.

He has many extreme teachings including that President Obama is allied with the Antichrist (because of the emergence and legality of homosexual marriage), that every family should keep having kids until the woman’s uterus is worn-out and won’t work any more, that godly parents will ONLY homeschool their kids, that a wife must never disagree with her husband, must submit to all his commands and whims, must teach their daughters how to serve a future husband and this same wife must provide a safe and sacred place where all sexual needs of her husband are fulfilled – even if her needs are not.

It is an extreme position. Doug Phillips also puts himself forward as the example of what a Christian husband should be.

Now he has had an affair. Let me try and help  you understand some of the implications of this. First, I consider Doug Phillips to be something of an outlier, in that the majority of Evangelical Christians do not hold to his extreme views. Second, just because he has had an affair does not mean his views are wrong. I believe the Bible shows that his views are wrong. But there are Egalitarians (i.e. those who believe husbands and wives are equal partners) who have had affairs, cheated on their taxes and watch soap operas. I am not bringing up Phillips’ affair because it disqualifies him.

I am introducing this subject because it points out an endemic problem with this approach to marriage and sexual sin.

The view that says the husband is the Patriarch of the family arises out of ancient agrarian societies where this approach was necessary and practical. In ancient times, any woman not attached to a family unit led by a powerful and protective man was in danger. Women who did not marry a man who could protect her often were beaten, raped and would ultimately starve. Women had no education, no opportunities, and faced constant dangers during an epoch when the strongest dominated the weakest. This is why polygamy was allowed. It gave protection to many women at the same time.

In those days, a man had very little contact with anyone outside of his family. He was accountable to very few people except his immediate family and a few friends. He met very few single women, and the ones he did meet were often brought in as third or fourth wives.

But in today’s culture, men and women contact each other daily. And strong men can no longer marry all the women they meet. If his wife is not strong, aggressive and able to hold her husband accountable for his actions, adultery is much easier to do. Unless the husband agrees to never talk to another woman (and how is that even possible in our day and age), the only two things which will hold his sinful tendencies in check are an equally strong wife and an even stronger relationship with the Holy Spirit.

But the Complementarian movement does not teach that women should be strong and equal partners. It teaches that women should be subservient and never disagree or ask their husbands to account for their actions. It does not surprise me that Doug Phillips had a long-term affair before he admitted his problem. Since he had no one at home to call him on his crap, he was able to hide his problems over a long period of time. His wife was ordered never to question him or disagree with his actions.

What bothers me even more is that Phillips’ wife will ultimately be called upon to take responsibility for fixing their marriage. All Phillips has to do, according to his teaching, is admit the affair, apologize and move on. His wife now has to try harder to please him, hoping to fend off future affairs.

If you believe that the marriage culture of the Old Testament is God’s plan for your marriage, consider that it no longer fits well with our urban modern society. Even though affairs happen in Egalitarian families, they are treated much differently afterward. This failure by Doug Phillips should serve as a warning that Christian Patriarchy is not as ideal or biblical as it purports to be.

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Ecstasy: The Real “Brave New World”

September 10, 2013

SomaA recent article in The Daily Beast chronicles the latest attitudes toward the drug MDMA, also known as Ecstasy. From what author Abby Haglage reports, it is not only teens at raves that are using it. It is actually the same group, but now they have matured into their early 30s. They see it as the safest alternative to pot, alcohol or amphetamines.

One of the women interviewed for the article is Sarah, a 26-year old who has a Master’s Degree in Public health. Here is her assessment of the first time she used MDMA:

She says she uses Molly (Molly is the nickname for Ecstasy) regularly. Thirty minutes after taking it for her first time (while working in England at the age of 22) Sarah was happier than she’d ever been. “Don’t you just wish it could stay like this forever?” she told her friends, something they still laugh about today. Now, working as a public health professional, she says it’s not uncommon to hear her colleagues talk about doing the same thing

It is this idea of Sarah’s that she would want this feeling to stay with her forever that perked my ears. I mentioned this to several friends and they couldn’t see the significance of it.

It may be time for all colleges (and maybe high schools) to require that certain classics of the modern era be required reading. I am pretty sure that Brave New World is still on most reading lists for high school, but because none of my friends caught the reference in this article, I felt it was time to shed some light.

Brave New World is set in the distant future, at a time where humanity is controlled from birth to death. Everyone, at conception, is divided into five groups. The Alpha and Beta groups rule the world and the other groups are the drudges. In order to help the drudges cope with their existence, they are given a free drug called Soma. It has very few side effects and causes the person who takes it to feel content, passive and happy. Any time a person feels discomfort, they immediately take Soma, something they have been mentally conditioned to do since they are born.

The prevailing attitude toward Soma is that it is safe and is the essential ingredient that keeps the world running smoothly. At one point in the story, several people decide not to take Soma when they feel discomfort and realize in the end that they are left with no way to cope with fear, pain, loss and grief. Most of them quickly go back to Soma and then can’t remember why they ever wanted to live without it. At one point, one of the main characters, Lenina, is challenged to lay off the Soma. Here is her answer: “I wish I could feel this way forever.”

This is why the quote above set me off. This world now has two great sins it seeks to avoid at any cost: Boredom and discomfort. With drugs we can now eliminate (temporarily) both of these “horrible” conditions. The rampant use of Methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, crank,  ecstasy and even milder drugs like Adderall show a culture that cannot deal with inner relationship problems any more.

It is not much different with people who drink more than they ought, who smoke dope more than they ought…for anyone who takes a substance to give them inner peace.

Jesus says he came to offer a peace “that passes understanding.” The level of contentment we reach with his peace is one that a drug cannot touch.

Soma’s role was to control and hold in abeyance. The role of God’s Holy Spirit is to give us victory over the discomforts of life by facing them square on with God’s truth.

You choose: A brave new world or a True New Life.

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Observing Churches for a Summer

July 29, 2013

For thirteen years, my wife and I have essentially attended the same church (Gateway Fellowship of Sacramento). This makes sense, since we were part of the team that started the church. On vacation, over the years, we have occasionally attended other churches; but on the whole, Gateway is our only experience.

Until this summer.

We’ve been on sabbatical for 11 weeks now, and have attended 7 different churches during that time in both Canada and the United States. I have to say I am extremely disappointed by what I’ve found. Almost every Sunday (with one exception) we came away from the time of worship and a sermon looking disappointingly at each other. Now, I have had seasons in my life when I’ve been hypercritical, but I don’t think I’m in one of them now. Kathy is not that way, and we have been pretty consistent in what we’ve seen. Let me share some random thoughts from my 11 week experience.

1. In only one of the 11 weeks did the preacher present the Bible expositorily. Expository preaching means the teacher uses the Bible verses as the basis for what they present. Only one person did this. Many of them made passing references to the Bible. Two of the speakers told their story the whole time and barely even acknowledged the Bible at all.

2. A lot of money is being spent on lighting and sound systems. If you want to know how I feel about these, look at this blog entry from a couple of years ago. I am not impressed.

3. The churches we visited were either extremely friendly or extremely unfriendly – there was nothing in between. In two of the churches, we went out of our way to meet people no one else was talking to. In both cases, the people were also visitors to those churches. One lady was really upset that we were not from that church: She was hoping there were at least two friendly people there. I am worried for the church if newcomers are treated this way.

4. The “Big Show” approach is not as interesting as most churches think it is. The $200,000 sound system and the drummer who looks like he was recently with a heavy metal band gets old after about 30 seconds. So does the entire service devoted to dramatic readings from a great-grandmother’s pioneer journal (Yes, we actually sat through an hour of readings from the diary of an old Norwegian Minnesotan, done by her great-grandson pastor. It would have been more enjoyable sticking a pencil in my eye).

5. Most churches are stuck in one era of music. One church sings all songs from the 80s. Another is a 90s church. Another is a Millennial church and another the 1800s. Blend it up people. There is good music in every era.

6. No pauses. There is no time given in the services to reflect and to talk to God. It is one fast-paced show until the closing bell. In one church, I had to leave to get some business done and then come back in.

7. God was in all those places. There is no doubt I felt God’s presence everywhere I worshiped. Most of the time, it was despite the fact they did everything to ignore God. Sigh.

One last thing. I am wondering why there was so little Expository preaching this summer. I have four theories…see which one you think it is.

a. They have been mentored to preach in other ways. Since less and less people use the Bible in teaching, there are less mentors to show others how to do this.

b. Preachers think people want more gimmicks. They actually believe we’re tired of studying the Bible. They’re wrong.

c. They are trying to be relevant…this is not as wise an approach as one thinks. The Bible is always relevant if one knows how to glean the Universal truths from it and apply them to everyday life. It’s not that hard. But you have to start with the Bible, not the culture. That’s the backwards way of doing it.

d. They think it makes them sound old-fashioned. I don’t think it does. It makes them sound irrelevant to the real issues of the heart. And most pastors now want everyone to “Like” them (see Facebook et al) and don’t want to rant. They don’t want to sound like this guy for instance.

Have you had similar experiences lately?

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Pat Rob’s best Driscoll Imitation

May 17, 2013

outrageousThere are many different ways to become well-known in this world. But for a preacher, the number of acceptable means to get your name in the public eye is smaller than with other people.

Or at least, it should be.

But there is a growing coterie of preachers/bible teachers/”evangelists” who have chosen a tried-and-true formula for notoriety. The number who do this is always small and always annoying to true followers of Christ.

The formula looks like this:

1. Make outrageous statements based on marginal Christian beliefs that owe more to popular opinion than the Bible.

2. Make even more outrageous statements to back up the first ones.

3. When cornered by the press, claim  you were taken out of context, or that the current culture of morality can’t accept the truth, or even that you meant something completely different.

A century ago, Aimee  Semple McPherson did this. Oral Roberts also practiced the same approach. Mark Driscoll is well on his way to eclipsing both of them for bombasticity.

But we should not forget Pat Robertson, whose 700 Club gave him ample visibility to make unwise statements. Just the other day he made another of his monumental blunders. You can read about it here:

In the program, Robertson is responding to a letter from a woman whose husband has had an affair. Here’s a short excerpt from the article:

Robertson responded to a woman identified as Ivy during Wednesday’s episode of “The 700 Club.” Ivy wrote, “We have gone to counseling, but I just can’t seem to forgive, nor can I trust. How do you let go of the anger? How do you trust again?

Robertson’s co-host began to answer the letter when the one-time Republican presidential hopeful interjected with the “secret” to getting past the cheating.

“Stop talking about the cheating. He cheated on you. Well, he’s a man. O.K.,” Robertson said.

Robertson, in true misogynistic fashion lays covert blame on the wife. He tells her, ““Males have a tendency to wander a little bit, and what you want to do it make the home so wonderful that he doesn’t want to wander.”

So Pat R. is essentially saying, “This is just the way men are”, and “if you don’t make the home a perfect place to come to, you can expect him to act this way.” Implicitely, this makes it her fault.

He has unleashed a firestorm of criticism and just gives those who are leaving churches another justification for doing so.

This debacle underscores the dangers of having any Christian superstar preachers and teachers. It is better to be taught by those who aren’t looking for the spotlight and who count the ability to communicate with gentleness, love and Truth as more important than the motto “I don’t care what you say about me, just spell my name right.”

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20 Signs You Have OLD Geek Cred

May 16, 2013

Because you need to know there is a world of difference between the geek cred of the baby boomers and that of today’s generations, here is a list that shows you were there before the Internet exploded.

  1. You Grokked before you could flirt. In fact, you still grok and can’t flirt
  2. You punched cards to compile a computer program
  3. You could make pictures using just x’s and o’s on a Telex printout
  4. You can identify the difference between the sound a 2400 baud and a 14400 baud modem made.
  5. You still own a 2400 baud modem somewhere in a closet
  6. You completed a Rubik’s Cube without taking it apart or reading a book on how to do it
  7. Some of your fingerprints are missing due to excessive amounts of airplane glue on the fingers during airplane construction all-nighters.
  8. You’ve read LOTR more than 10 times before anyone had seen any of the movies.
  9. You were in love with one of the following sci-fi heroines: Galadriel, Mennolly, Eowyn, Kahlan Amnell or Meg Murry.

10. You have used both an abacus and a slide rule

11. You can play and win at Go, Pente, Chess, and Axis and Allies.

12. You know what a Heathkit is and have put one together and found out they were missing some of the parts. Extra bonus credit if you had the missing parts lying around from other kits. Ultimate bonus if you made the extra parts.

13. You played Pong and thought it was the beginning of the Revolution. You were right.

14. You knew Radio Shack when it was Tandy and had more leather goods than electronic. You bought both.

15. Your first computer had less than 16K of motherboard memory.

16. You know that a 1K segment of memory does not have 1,000 bytes but rather 1024. And you know why.

17. You can count in hexadecimal.

18. You wanted to be a Tarnsman and enter Gor through some secret door. Alternatively, you wanted all the girls from Gor to enter your world through some secret door. Heck, you wanted any secret door.

19. Your parents would get nervous when you entered the room with a screwdriver in your hands. Bonus points if they instantly protected the television set.

20. You can recite the mnemonic for remembering the order of colors in any resistor. (e.g Bright Boys Rave Over Young Girls But Veto Getting Wed)

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