Monday, March 30, 2009

The times in which we live

Watch the video link first. It is an amazing presentation about the times in which we live. We do not have the luxury of choosing the times we live in and the challenges they present. But we do have the task to taking a timeless message from God into each new challenge.

We have a lot of work ahead of us.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Breathing again

I just finished my exegetical paper on Philemon. It seems strange to write 4500+ words on a book that has only 355 words in its original Greek language. But that is the joy of seminary.

I love Philemon. It's a fascinating story about a runaway slave, the Apostle Paul, the slave's master and Paul's attempt to get Philemon, the slave master, to take back Onesimus, his slave and cancel the debt. It is applied Christian ethics in a nutshell, and the background of slavery appeals to my love of history. I encourage you to read Philemon when you have time.

Here is my concluding paragraph from the paper:
Paul’s intimate and extraordinary letter to Philemon allows us to glimpse the view of the kingdom of God that Paul held. In this kingdom, we are called to forgive as we are forgiven, and there is no distinction based on gender, class, slave or free. Just as we have been set free from spiritual bondage, Paul is asking Philemon to free Onesimus from his physical bonds, and to do it in the Lord so that the church may benefit. Paul is not making a political statement and attacking the institution of slavery outright. Rather, he is counseling a believer on how to handle a former slave who is now a brother in Christ. And he is implying that the “proper” thing to do is to set Onesimus free so that he can minister to Paul. It is an extraordinary request from an extraordinary man. And we benefit by having it available to us.

If you want to have a little fun with hermeneutics, then go here. (thanks Signe for the tip)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

He's back

Justin Laiply is back with the Evolution of Dance 2 video.

Here is the original if you haven't seen it.

Just click on the links and enjoy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It is a little out of season...

But pretty funny. Just click on the link and enjoy.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

This prayer is often called "St. Patrick's Breastplate" because of those parts of it which seek God's protection.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through the confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the Judgment Day.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of demons,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.


Monday, March 16, 2009

How to tell nothing is going on in your town

When this is what dominates a local government meeting.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

The excitement in our neck of the woods this week

Click on the link to see some of the flooding in Dundee, Monroe, and the surrounding areas. Beginning at the 1:20 mark, my office is just off the screen on the right side of the image. Thankfully our church and my office were spared, but many in the area have flooded basements and sewers that backed up into their homes.

Say a prayer for those folks who have been damaged by this. It's a big mess.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A moving version of Amazing Grace

Click on the player below and enjoy a performance at the Coliseum in Rome.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Some provocative thoughts on North American Christianity

Thanks Roxann for the tip. Click on the links below to Hear Drew Marshall's appearance on a Canadian Christian show. He is spot on in many of his diagnoses of the state of the church, especially as a place where the spiritually struggling can find peace. Cultural Christianity is killing us is a statement we should wrestle with especially during Lent. There is a lot we need to repent from in our churches, and I am part of the problem. Lord forgive us for taking your sacrifice and making it into something that does not reach out the the people that you died for. God help us to see the people as you see them.

Here is part 2 of the interview

You can find Drew's response to the interview here. I encourage you to listen.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The coming evangelical collapse?

I don't buy everything this article says, but I do agree with a couple of his points.

We Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive the secular onslaught. Ironically, the billions of dollars we've spent on youth ministers, Christian music, publishing, and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their own faith except how they feel about it. Our young people have deep beliefs about the culture war, but do not know why they should obey scripture, the essentials of theology, or the experience of spiritual discipline and community. Coming generations of Christians are going to be monumentally ignorant and unprepared for culture-wide pressures.

Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. This will prove to be a very costly mistake. Evangelicals will increasingly be seen as a threat to cultural progress. Public leaders will consider us bad for America, bad for education, bad for children, and bad for society.

The evangelical investment in moral, social, and political issues has depleted our resources and exposed our weaknesses. Being against gay marriage and being rhetorically pro-life will not make up for the fact that massive majorities of Evangelicals can't articulate the Gospel with any coherence. We fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith.

There is a lot of truth in what he says. What are your thoughts?

The problem with American Christianity

This excerpt from this article, encapsulates much of what is wrong with the American church:

However, I remain unconvinced that the right question is, "What's the most important thing you want from your church?" This emphasis on an individual's expectations and preferences reveals a core problem in American Christianity—the unchallenged assumption that people can accurately evaluate their church based on whether or not it meets their needs. How does this prevailing attitude alter the biblical purpose of the Church in the world? We are a culture of Christ-followers who pay far too much attention to whether or not our needs are being satisfied. And we have become a culture of church leaders who spend far too much time orienting our ministries around the ever-changing preferences of our people.

A few years ago I was listening to WMUZ FM in the afternoon. The host of the show was asking for a full hour what people looked for in a new church. I heard the entire hour, and never once did a person talk about what the church was doing in the community, how it was fulfilling the Great Commission, or how it was meeting the needs of the dispossessed. It was all about how it met their needs, entertained their kids etc. It was a full hour of narcissism, and it drove me crazy. Side note - I have not listened to that show since.

The consumerist mentality that is rampant in the American church is horribly destructive. It is what leads people to shop for a church like the pick a television. Does it look good and make me feel good? We roll through pastors because they "aren't meeting my needs." Could it be possible that your needs are contrary to the Kingdom of God? Could it be that your pastor is trying to fulfill the Great Commission, not massage your ego?

I have precious little time for people who continually voice this objection. By and large, the people who aren't having their needs met are treating the church like a lawn service- once a week is good enough. A better metaphor might be that of the gardener, who is out there every day looking for bugs, pulling weeds, training plants, straightening crooked stems, watering, feeding and tending. Not someone who shows up with a bunch of flashy machinery and is done in an hour.

I'll step off my soapbox now.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Only 10?

Read this list and shake your head. It's no wonder our state is in a fiscal crisis. The largest city is governed by the gang that couldn't shoot straight and a collection of folks who just can't seem to stay out of the news, for all the wrong reasons.

Friday, March 06, 2009

And the Band Played On

If you wonder why Detroit is in decline, read this. Remember, Barbara Rose Collins was a member of Congress from Detroit who was voted out of office largely because she didn't show up for the job. In one year, she had the third-worst voting attendance record in Congress.

I guess you do get the government you do elect. God help the City of Detroit.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Political thought for the day

"We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to
public office." --Aesop

Monday, March 02, 2009

There might be a little truth in this

Though I don't harbor delusions of grandeur, I'm sure there are a few out there who do. Enjoy the video clip.