Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Suing Old Ladies

The Bucs are going to play the Redskins this week and probably end up 0-4. The only consolation is that the Skins are 1-2 and just lost to a previously 0-19 team (combined from last year to this year). Still, may the worst team lose...

The Bucs have made a number of bad management decisions lately (of course this is only my opinion, but it's hard to argue with the product), but at least have stopped short of suing old ladies. Yep,
check this out from the Washington Post. The Redskins are suing their fans! I don't think our owners have sunk this low yet; however, notice I did say the word "yet!"

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Worse than losing

3/16 way into the football season, the Bucs are tied with several other teams for the worst record. Sitting there at the bottom of the barrel are teams like Miami and Tennesse, both of whom won their division and appeared ready to repeat. But there are also teams like Tampa, which basically has no shot of winning more than a few games-and even that number is optimistic. One such team is the Cleveland Browns. Its players not only dislike their coach but have actually begun filing grievances against him with the Union. There have been 1000 dollar fines for not paying for a water bottle at a hotel. Losing is one thing, but not trusting (or being able to trust) your leadership often proves to be a sure sign the losing culture in Cleveland or any organization with a losing culture, will not change any time soon.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A good ending to a bad beginning?

I saw a church marquee near me the other day which read, "A good ending to a bad beginning." Now just how early the Fall (the bad) came about, depending upon your interpretation of Genesis, is somewhat immaterial. Regardless of time-line, there was indeed something good before the bad. In fact, everything was good, including men and women. Immediately after the Fall, sin sure did affect men and women and began to affect all aspects of creation. But we cannot begin the story at the Fall. We need to begin the story-duh-at the beginning: Creation.

Let's begin the story at the beginning now. God created us in His image. Work was good, and so was rest. So was relationship.

Then comes the Fall, but soon after the Fall, God promises redemption through the seed of the woman (Gen 3:15-first promise of Redemption). Ultimately that points us to Jesus who brings His Kingdom to Earth and will complete it (Consummation) when He returns.

Now you may think that this is just theological nit-picking. But I assure you that its not; I'm far too practical to be bothered about beliefs which don't have connection to life. Let me give you a few "for instances" of what happens when you live out this story of redemption minus the whole creation part (the good beginning).

1.) You skip the part that men and women are created in the image of God, and despite the Fall, they can still say true and helpful things in philosophy, politics, psychology, and medicine.

2.) You don't care about the culture or environment being because in the end neither matter. You forget that they once did matter to God (and still do for that matter) in the good beginning.

3.) You begin membership vows to your church with an immediate affirmation of being a sinner without any mention of being made in the image of God (this was a professorial pet peeve, but I think he does have a point).

Sometimes we forget that there was indeed a good beginning, there is a hard but hopeful middle, and will be one heck of an end. All parts of the story are important. Ignoring any part, especially the beginning will lead us to live contrary to the great story and not consistent with it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fasting During Ramadan?

I came across a well written and fascinating article on Christians fasting alongside Muslims during the month long fast of Ramadan. Check it out here. It seems to me that this practice has at its roots a desire for the blurring of a Christian distinction among the major three faiths.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pitbulls and Humans

One way to defend the faith is to do the best you can to provide "evidences" for why we should believe in Christianity. Things like the empty tomb, the rapid spread of Christianity, the reliability of the bible, etc...This is called evidential apologetics, and I do believe it has a place.

But another type of apologetics (defending the faith) is called pre-suppositional apologetics. Basically what you try to do here, is to gently show how the unbeliever already believes to some agree, but simply is suppressing that belief (Romans 1). So one would seek to find ways which the unbeliever's beliefs and actions are inconsistent with what they say the believe, and are more representative of what Christians believe.

One example that I've used before is the fact that all people deem human beings more important than animals. This is because God has made us in His image. At some level, everyone does believe this, though not everyone of course profess this. In fact, folks will certainly say-and rightly so-that if there is no God, then there is no way that you can say a person has worth more than an animal, or mosquito for that matter. Human beings don't have an inherit worth because we all come from the same place.

However, no one really lives this way, because at some level, they don't really believe this. I've often said that if a pit bull and person are each fighting for their lives, guess which one will be shot first? The pit bull, because dogs have less value than people. Most likely, even a PETA member would shoot the dog before it killed the person.

Here's a story where this just happened. Unfortunately the dog wasn't shot earlier, or better yet, the dog wasn't the family pet, so the woman wouldn't be in critical condition with the prospect of losing her arm.

Now does this "prove" anything? No it doesn't necessarily "prove" anything. But it is an indication that folks can't really live out a Darwinistic world-view. Folks in some way do believe human beings are in some way created in the image of God and have inherent worth.Link

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

idols and spray paint

One of the things God has been teaching me lately-the Rays 11 game losing streak has been one of the vehicles-is to care less about the outcome of sporting events. Here's an example of some fans going a bit overboard after a loss, seeking retribution against the very player that cost "them" (as though they were on the team) the game. They've not attained to the level of soccer fans yet (they would have killed the poor lad), but certainly display for us a clear picture of hearts worshiping the wrong god.

When something blocks (in this case a fumble) us from getting what we worship (victory in football), we get angry. Sometimes we spray-paint, sometimes we bottle it up. One way to diagnose our idols is to examine what gets us really angry or depressed, regardless of how we act on it (cussing, spray-painting, harboring grudges, etc....). That anger or depression is often a sign that our life-line to the idol is being blocked.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

They need to hear this message! Should we pray for others?

The other day I in church I heard the word preached and found one small part of the message to be very suitable to a specific individual or two in the congregation. So I offered up a quick prayer to the Holy Spirit. I really desired for the parties to be convicted and return to the stream of living water instead of fetching water from broken and empty wells. Was this a wrong thing to do?

You may have heard it said before, "Don't think THEY need to hear this message, because YOU need to hear it."And that is true, but it is only partly true. It is true because I need to hear the gospel and its applications every week. But again, this is far too simplistic.

For instance, if a pastor is preaching on the importance of being regular in corporate worship (which we'll always preach b/c to be among God, His Word, His people is absolutely necessary-you won't grow if all three aren't in place), and someone who doesn't value coming to church hasn't heard this, then we ought to wish, pray for, and follow up with them. Or there could be someone involved in adultery, stealing, lying, and we should pray briefly for them.

Now here's the danger.

The danger in thinking that someone else needs to hear a message is that you can tend to think ONLY someone else needs to hear it, but that YOU don't need to. Even if I'm not literally unfaithful to my wife, I still commit adultery in my heart with lust, and all sin is described in general as spiritual adultery (Ezek 16:2, Matt 12:39, James 4:4). I should pray for myself when I pray for others.

One way to avoid what Jesus called "plank-eye"-at least I think he probably would have been cool with that terminology-is to see our own sin as of equal or greater value (sounds like a coupon doesn't it?). You may not be living in an adulterous relationship, but you do lust-you need prayer as well. You might be regular in worship, but that very often has nothing to do with Jesus-you need prayer as well.

So I think I was right in briefly praying for a specific conviction for a specific party while the word was being preached, because I also prayed for my own heart at the same time. If I had prayed for conviction for that party and NOT my own sin, then I would be guilty of Plank-eye.

So in summary, I believe it is OK to pray for conviction and for the Word to pierce the heart of those in the congregation, provided you also pray for conviction for yourself in that or another area.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Minor league manager and unselfish love

I would love to blog about a FSU victory over Miami today, but poor time management and a last second drop precludes me from doing so. Nothing redeeming to speak of about that game, nor the Rays who have dropped 6 straight games.

But I did hear a redeeming interview from the Rays Triple A Durham Bulls (minor league) manager Charlie Montoyo on Saturday. Managing a Triple A franchise involves a special kind of touch, since everyone who is playing for you, doesn't really want to be there. Their goal is to play in the big leagues, not one step below it.

Yet you could tell that the manager really wanted these guys to succeed. Success means advancement for one party, and loss for the other. What I mean is that to success means they no longer play for him and help his team go the Triple A play-offs 3 years in a row. Success means his players getting called up to a more glorious situation than being stuck in Durham.

Still, he found joy in their successes, even though their successes would cost him. That's love. He would be losing not only their relationships, but their skills, and they would receive joy and all of the benefits of playing in the big leagues.

That's the kind of love the gospel can produce in us: instead of jealousy, we begin to rejoice with others in their successes, even when it means loss to us. If ultimately one has already showed us love by taking on great cost in order to see our paramount "success/promotion," we can rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15).

This minor league manager can teach us a lot about love.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Big vs. Small church? Not that simple

Recently Barna did a study on small churches vs big churches in regards to how orthodox each side really is. His results revealed mega-church members had more orthodox professions of the faith. However, here's an interesting blog post responding to the Barna study (from the pastor of a healthy small town church which has had huge affects on its community). In my opinion, Barna clearly has biases (house church), and I've heard him say he's really not a huge fan of the church in general. I think they really come out to play here, and this small town Baptist church pastor Chuck Warnock definitely agrees. Of course he posted first about this study, so I guess I'm the one agreeing with him.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Affirming and Critiquing Dawkins

We just finished up a video debate between Richard Dawkins and John Lennox in our community group. I asked everyone to think of at least one positive thing about both the atheist and the Christian. Fortunately we were able to generate a lot of positive things about Dawkins instead of just blowing him off because ultimately we weren't "pulling" for him (though he did have better arguments). It was a helpful exercise for our group to affirm what we could, before critiquing what we couldn't. We all concluded that Lennox probably would have been more affective if he adopted this approach.

Anyhow, click here to see a short video interview of another atheist who seriously critiques Dawkins and the new atheists.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Connar V. Ryan

Last week Amy and Connar spent a week in Virginia with her family. Here's a little snippet of what I missed while staying in Bradenton. Watching this makes me feel, just a little bit, like I was there. Connar dares to take on his cousin Ryan in an age appropriate U.F.C., 2 minute match for the ages. Check it out.