17 December 2007

What's Next - Kid's First Bowflex?

Recently at work, I saw a package for Kid's First Treadmill from First Fitness. Here's how it looks once assembled:

Call me crazy, but back in my day, "kid's first treadmill" was the back yard, the playground, the park, or even the inside of the house. What kills me is that the box lists its many advantages, such as: it will help your kids develop muscle conditioning and balance for outdoor sports. So you can pay $110 to help your kid get that muscle conditioning and balance for outdoor sports, or you can, for free, take your kid to the park and play outdoor sports with them. The box also says it helps "promote a lifetime of fitness." Or a lifetime of gym memberships.
Are we that lazy that we make our kids get on a treadmill to get exercise? Here's some ideas that won't cost you much if anything: stop playing so darn much XBox; parents - feed your kids other foods than fried, sugar-filled, and packaged in wrappers; go outside and play with your kids; watch TV less; dust off and ride that bike.

07 December 2007

Not Really What Was Meant By "Leaving Your Mark"

Poor Birdie! :(

I was at Raymond Walters College (a branch of the University of Cincinnati) a couple of weeks ago when I saw something in the window. I thought it was some fake, something an art student had done as a joke. But it was on the outside of the window, so I realized it's probably not a fake. Poor birdie. He (or she) was just flying along one day, saw an "open" window, and went for it, thinking Yes! I'm finally I'm going to get ins--- [SMACK]

05 December 2007

No Linguistic Socialism In Church

I read an interesting article the other day from the Nov. 18 issue of Christian Standard. Paul Williams, who writes the "And So It Goes" column, asked the question, "is keeping it simple always a good idea?" The idea of the article is that in many places and environments, insider language is expected and appropriate. If you don't know it, you will learn it in time.

He writes, "In the world of growing churches we are always encouraged to keep our language seventh-grade generic, the language of the people. Don't speak so you can be understood. Speak so you cannot be misunderstood." And later, "I want to be sensitive to those just beginning the spiritual journey, but there are times I also want to praise God for his omnipotence."

He's onto something here; for a long time, I have bristled at churches that "dumb down" everything for the sake of being relevant and understandable. It seems their M.O. is "small words leads to big numbers." Perhaps that's too harsh, but there is a trend of not using insider language so nobody feels left out or stupid. This trend is ubiquitous in contemporary worship songs. Generally, I don't have a problem with such songs; I often listen to my local Christian station, WAKW. And there are some great songs out there now (by the likes of Matt Redman and Chris Tomlin); they certainly have gotten better since the 90s, showing a renewed passion for worship songs (not just feel-good Christian songs) and songs that don't try to be too dramatic (like the melodramatic Carman) but seek to just tell God how you feel. That said, though, there sure is a lot of fluff out there, too (Trading My Sorrows, I Could Sing of Your Love Forever, and just about anything with "River" in it - thanks Danny for the idea - love it!).

Here's what I offer for your consideration: why don't we use big words, then explain them so people will: a) learn their meaning, and b) benefit from it. We have some great words: propitiation, redemption, repentance, etc. - let's keep using them and explain them to the people. You could have a whole sermon on redemption. And hymns - keep them coming. Explain the words ("here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I've come"?), but keep them coming. Sure, maybe kick out the organ and jazz up the arrangement a bit, but hymns are often very powerful, memorable, and capable aids to worship. But one thing we should not do is become vocabulary socialists: people who "level the playing field" not by raising up those with a poor vocabulary, but by suppressing those with a rich vocabulary. Or as Mr. Williams suggests, "Maybe what we need to do is make a concerted effort to more quickly turn outsiders into insiders."

17 November 2007

Oh, Dear - Oh, Deer! (And Trees)

I saw this the other day...kind of weird. There were two cars stopped on the side of Miami Road, some broken pieces of plastic on the shoulder. And a deer standing there, motionless, watching the whole thing. I guess someone hit the deer (it was holding its leg up) but not enough to do much damage either to the deer or the car. The cops came (the black SUV), and I drove by before I saw the aftermath (which probably will result in some tasty deer jerky for someone).

And I saw this tree at the park where I usually start my running routes. The color is amazing. Thank you, Father, for making your creation more beautiful than it needs to be.

01 November 2007

Shameless Self-promotion

I wrote an opinion article for the Cincinnati Enquirer last week about that middle school in Maine that started giving away birth control pills to girls as young as 11, and that without parental knowledge.

It's essentially the same as my earlier post about it on this blog. You can read about it here. Hopefully, someone will read it and say, "You know, I'm totally pro-choice, but I get what he's saying and I agree." That's the ideal; they will probably actually say, "what do you know? A fundy's preaching yet again!"

Half Marathon Training Check-In

Here's what happened in October:

Not the best month! I was sick off and on for three weeks, so I took a week and a half off (which would have been about 18-20 miles). Also, McDonald's had their Monopoly contest, and I got sucked into it yet again (note my weight).

(Note: last month's numbers are in parentheses)

Weight: 220 (219)

Pounds to target weight: 25 (24)

Miles run this month: 34.2 (56.1)

Miles run this year: 494.0 (459.8)

Days until the Flying Pig Half Marathon: 186 (as of the 1st)

See you next month!

18 October 2007

Today, Free Birth Control; Tomorrow; Free Abortions?

In a recent MSNBC.com article, a Maine middle school will now be giving birth control pills to middle-school students confidentially, that is, without their parents finding out. This is in addition to the condom distribution already happening there. Am I crazy, or does the fact that middle schools are giving birth control pills to girls as young as 11 years old just, as one radio talk show host says, "make blood shoot out of your eyes"?

What's next, adding abortion clinics onto the nurse's office at school? This goes back to an earlier post I made regarding condom distribution in schools. If condom distribution was to help curb disease, what is giving birth control good for? It does nothing to stop STDs. One way to look at this is to see that schools like this are removing excuses for "just being a kid" and are in fact encouraging promiscuity by making it easier to fix any potential problems. If we adopt their line of thinking, we should:
  • distribute bongs, pipes, and Visine at school because "they're gonna smoke weed anyway"
  • or better yet, set up a safe place to deal drugs so they won't have to go to skanky neighborhoods or dangerous meeting places
  • teach students the proper use of a beer bong and distribute aspirin and Alka Seltzer on Mondays to hungover students because "they're gonna drink anyway"
  • host "safe drinking nights" for teens at the school so the kids can "be safe" In fact, why not just cancel Homecoming and Prom and go straight to giving the kids the alcohol and private bedrooms they desire (equipped with condoms and birth control pills, of course) because that's what they're going to do anyway.
  • give away clean hypodermic needles so at least the student junkies won't get AIDS or hepatitis from dirty needles because (you guessed it) "they're gonna shoot up anyway"

As others have also brought up, why not give the kids trans fats (they're gonna eat them anyway), caffeinated soft drinks, and other things the kids want? Oh yeah, BECAUSE IT'S BAD FOR THEM. Also, because THEY'RE ELEVEN!!! They are too young to be trusted with a lot of personal decisions because their brains are still developing and they cannot properly and rationally think through complicated issues like sexuality.

This is what happens when "what's true/right for you may not be true/right for me." This is the bastard child of Tolerance and Don't Judge Me.

It used to be that there was this place kids could go to learn about how to live life responsibly, be polite to adults, clean their rooms, and learn about the birds and the bees, a little place called "home." Now, we trust the American school system (which ranks near the bottom of school system effectiveness) to do this for us? [Shiver runs up spine]

I think that people whose Christmas wish lists are headlined by XBoxes and stuff from Berkley Girl should not be allowed to have sex at all, let alone be trusted to "come to their own conclusions" about it.

18 September 2007

The Strange Case of My Local Burger King

Things employees said (very loudly) that I overheard on a recent visit to the Burger King next door to our apartment:
  • "No tickling!"
  • "Ewwww!"
  • "It's burning!!!"

Ahhh, the joys of working fast food.

Say Hello to My Little Friend

Caution: when eating Rolos, check the date, lest this happen to you (on the last one, after I ate nearly the whole thing).This is not the first time something like this has happened. When I was in Albania in July, we were eating some plum-like fruit from a nearby market, and with my third bite I uncovered a still-alive worm in the fruit. I had eaten two of the fruits before this. :(

I have decided to start a file of photos of "things in food that don't belong." So if you would like to contribute, send your photos (nothing staged, but real, nasty discoveries) to

Happy eating!

06 September 2007

Ever Wonder "There's Gotta Be More To Life Than This"?

So I was at the gym today, and the song "I Don't Wanna Be" by Gavin Degraw (the video, actually) started on the gym's many TVs. I like the song, the few years old that it is, but today the words occurred to me in a new way:

I don't want to be anything other than what I've been trying to be lately
All I have to do is think of me and I have peace of mind
I'm tired of looking 'round rooms
Wondering what I've got to do or who I'm supposed to be
I don't want to be anything other than me

The reason I noticed the words is because I paused the song on my Shuffle to watch the video. I was listening to Stacy Orrico's "There's Gotta Be More To Life":

I've got it all but I feel so deprived
I go up, I come down, and I'm emptier inside
Tell me: what is this thing that I feel like I'm missing?
And why can't I let it go?

There's gotta be more to life
than chasin' down every temporary high to satisfy me
'Cause the more that I trip around thinking there must be more to life
Well there's life, but I'm sure there's gotta be more (I'm wanting more)

I've got the time and I'm wasting it slowly
Here in this moment I'm half way out the door
Onto the next thing, I'm searching
For something that's missing
There's gotta be more . . . .

Now, you may not know that Staci Orrico is a Christian, so this song is really her way of inviting people out there who are "tired of looking round rooms wondering what I've got to do or who I'm supposed to be" to search for true meaning in life other than "what I've been trying to be lately."

And since we're using music here to explain some tough issues (funny how music has a power to do that sort of thing better than straight out statements), allow me to explain what I believe is true life and meaning available for each person. This comes from the Newsboys' remake of a classic hymn "In Christ Alone":

No guilt in life, no fear in death -
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry, to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from his hand
'Till he returns or calls me home -
Here in the power of Christ I stand

And why I continue to be a Christian, as expressed in Hillsong's "Made Me Glad":

You have made me glad, and I'll say of the Lord:
You are my shield, my strength, my portion, deliverer,
My shelter, strong tower,
My very present help in time of need

I don't want to be "what I've been trying to be lately" because I screw it up too often. I do want to be what God wants to make of me: gentle, self-controlled, peaceable, strong, gracious, understanding, loving, encouraging, brave, full of hope, not afraid of death, not afraid of life, one who lifts others up, a fantastic husband, brother, son, friend, father (some day!), and slowly becoming all around better than I was at this time last year.

He can make this of you, too. That's the "good news" about Jesus. We don't have to try to get into Heaven on our own efforts; Jesus has done the effort and has paid the penalty we deserve. Paul, one of the writers of the New Testament, says it this way:

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he [or she] is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himselft through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. . . . We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

31 August 2007

Eye of the Tiger, Baby!

All right, I'm committed to running the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon next year. I haven't paid the registration fee yet, but mentally I'm there. It's a 13.1 mile, uphill-for-8-miles course I am currently totally intimidated by. I'm scared for the following reasons:

1. The longest I've ever run so far is 7.5 miles.

2. The longest race I've ever run is 6.2 miles.

3. One guy died last year after this race.

4. I still weigh 219 lbs. (but I used to be 260!), and I would need to get to 200 or under to handle the distance.

However, I'm optimistic for the following reasons:

1. I have 8 months to train, and I have found a training regiment that is only 12 weeks long (assuming I run about 20 miles a week average before starting the regiment).

2. I should be able to lose 20 lbs. in 8 months. It'll be sweet to get out of the "Clydesdale B" category!

3. The guy who died probably didn't train very well.

4. 5570 other people who did the half didn't die.

I will keep you posted on how training is going. I'm sure there will be highs and lows to share.
This is going to be a huge accomplishment for me, considering I've been a runner only one year and two months.

Here's my training update for August:

Current Weight: 219

Pounds to Goal Weight: 24

Miles Run This Month: 63.2

Miles Run This Year: 406.1

Days Until Go Time: 247

That's it for now. I'll keep you posted once a month until the time gets closer (like in March). Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go run. . . .

08 August 2007

A Reductio Regarding Condom Distribution in Schools

Does this really help kids become sexually responsible?

If the proper response to "they're going to do it anyway, so we might as well equip them to do it safely" is condom distribution, then couldn't we also say...

  • "kids are going to binge drink anyway, so we should teach them the proper use of a beer bong and how to call a taxi when drunk."

  • "kids are going to smoke anyway, so we should buy them the cigarettes while warning them against the dangers of smoking."

  • "kids are going to smoke weed anyway, so we distribute water bongs and let them smoke it in the privacy of our home."

See what I mean? It's a total defeatist attitude that communicates to teenagers Here, we don't know what else to do, so we give up and hope you at least don't get a STD or get your girlfriend pregnant. It encourages irresponsibility and gives a green light to promiscuity.

"How can it encourage irresponsibility when it seems to do the opposite?" you may wonder. Condom distribution encourages irresponsibility because it encourages indulging one's sexual desires outside of the proper context of marriage.

"Now you're just a religious nutjob, with all that 'sex is for marriage' junk." I saw you coming, you worthless ad hominem. And I refer you to the following statistics regarding premarital sex.

Am I therefore saying "take all the condoms away, teach abstinence only, and cross our fingers?" Not necessarily. Kids are kids; therefore, they are stupid. We probably do need some measures to minimize stupidity-induced damage, but both the condom distribution method and the abstinence-only method fail in one substantial way: they treat behavior, not the heart and the will. They address the symptoms, but not the root cause of the problem.

Parents, youth ministers, churches - this is where you come in. Please model sexual propriety and please talk about sexuality with your kids. Christians in particular have a huge obligation to do this. Most importantly for them, provide every opportunity for your children to deepen their faith and enjoy meaningful learning, worship, and fellowship with other Christian youth.

02 August 2007

Shaman Wart Fungi, or Fun With Anagrams

I found this site where you can type in any name or phrase and it will automatically be rearranged into as many anagrams as the English language allows. Most of the results don't make any sense, but some are fabulous.

For example, here are some results from my name:
A Karma Nudge
Anagram Duke
Raga Dank Emu
Garden Auk Ma
Dank Argue Am
Damn Rage Auk
A Mad Era Gunk

And Heidi's name:

Adieu Gherkin
Eureka Hiding
Hankie Guider
Haiku Reigned
Egad Hike Ruin
Idea Hiker Gun
Adieu Her King
A Nude Hike Rig

Have Another Think comes out as:

Heaven Torah Think
Tavern Hath Honkie (my favorite)
Aha Never Think Hot
Heaven Hath Irk Not

Don't forget to check out the very funny and interesting Anagram Hall of Fame.

24 July 2007

"Aggravated Murder" or "Abortion"? Depends on the Woman's Location

Recently in Cincinnati, a young man was charged with aggravated murder and felonious assault for beating his ex-girlfriend with the intent to kill her unborn baby. You can read the full article here. Apart from the horrific nature of the crime and the trauma being experienced by the young woman, this raises some interesting discussion regarding abortion.

The authorities have rightly charged Price with murder, just as the California courts were right to charge Scott Peterson with two counts of murder for killing his pregnant wife. I know that there are differences between these cases and abortion: Anderson (the mother) did not want to end her pregnancy, and she was in her eighth month of pregnancy, in which cases abortions can be performed only if the mother's life or some significant bodily function of the mother is threatened by continuation of the pregnancy.

According to Ohio law, a physician cannot abort an unborn human (their term) after 23 weeks unless "the physician determines, in good faith and in the exercise of reasonable medical judgment, that the unborn human is not viable," which means that after determining gestational age, lung development, etc., the physician can decide whether or not he/she can go ahead with the abortion (I wonder how often physicians, especially at abortion clinics, refuse to abort at this point). So if a physician thought that Anderson's life or some significant bodily function (whatever that means) were threatened by this pregnancy, he could have performed a legal abortion, assuming for argument's sake that she wanted an abortion.

[[It should be pointed out that some of the greatest minds ever born were prematurely delivered or were "high risk" pregnancies: Johannes Kepler (born 1571, 2 months early); Isaac Newton (born 1642, born at three pounds); French philosopher Voltaire (born 1694, was not expected to live one hour, but lived 84 years); Winston Churchill (born 1874, at least 4 weeks early); Pablo Picasso (born 1881, thought to be stillborn); Franklin Delano Roosevelt (born 1882, nearly killed by the chloroform given to his mother). You can read about them here.

What frightens me is that if these people's mothers lived in America in the 20th-21st centuries, many of their children would have been deemed "not viable." How many great minds and heroes have been killed before they even had a chance to live! Nearly 49 million abortions (officially) have occurred since Roe v. Wade in 1973; could there have been another Newton? Churchill? Picasso?]]

My two thoughts are these: what determines viability, anyway? 20 years ago, technology could not help an extremely premature newborn survive the way it can now; the UK charity Bliss reports that about 80% of newborns weighing less than 2.2 lbs survive, compared to a 20% survival rate 20 years ago. So an unborn baby weighing 2.2 lbs could be aborted 20 years ago, but not today? What about 20 years from now? Scientists are already creating artificial wombs that can develop fetuses completely outside of a human body. This proves that viability is a bad guideline for determining who lives and who dies.

Second thought: using similar terminology, the case in point looks like this: the young woman's fetus was aborted. What if she wanted her boyfriend to beat her abdomen until her baby died? Then there would have been consent. The only difference would be (please forgive me for the detached tone here) that an amateur, not a professional, performed the abortion, and the location was a bus stop, not a Planned Parenthood office.

This has been a long post about an emotionally-charged topic. I know some of you disagree with me, possibly intensely. That's okay; I understand that we all don't come from the same worldview. That's why you can leave comments. I only ask that you attack my arguments, not my worth as a human, my faith (which, by the way, is intentionally absent in this argument - you can be pro-life apart from being an evangelical Christian), or the fact that I am a man and "don't understand." Any violent or ad hominem arguments will be deleted.

15 July 2007

Today's Miscellaneous Thoughts

Thing #1 Today was a good day at church. It is the first Sunday since returning from a mission trip to Albania (which was a profound trip, by the way), so I was anxious to be there. The sermon (remember, preaching is good, preaching is good) was about the parable of the Good Samaritan. Most of you know that story well, and even if you don't, you know what a "good Samaritan" is. Actually, if someone called your good deed an act of a "Samaritan," and you understood the historical relationship between Jews and Samaritans, then you might not be so humbled by their "compliment." To be a Samaritan in Jesus' day was not a good thing. The Jews perceived them similarly to how we today might perceive, let's say, a homeless, hillbilly half breed from the other side of the tracks (my apologies if you live on the other side of the tracks). The point of Jesus' story was that the person who got it right, the one who cared for the needs of the beaten and robbed man, was the hillbilly half breed, not the priest/minister/pastor, and not the pious, perpetually-volunteering churchgoer.

One strong point Andy, the preacher at my church, made was that our society is becoming more like the priest and the Levite: not that we don't care, but that our lives are so busy that the needs of our neighbors become invisible. We're so busy in our compartmentalized lives that we probably don't know our neighbors' names, let alone their concerns and needs. This is a problem for America, not just for Christians.

Thing #2 I was reading the July 22 issue of Christian Standard today at McDonald's (I took it from the church; Cincy's conservative, but not that conservative) because the title intrigued me: "Preaching: Like Everything Else, It's Changing!" The writer of the cover story, Chuck Sackett, is someone I respect a lot, so the article carried more weight for me (plus I knew I'd agree with his concerns about modern preaching). After expressing concerns about the long-term effects of using video and other media in sermons ("Might it be possible that too much video puts the mind to sleep and then the challenge arises to 'wake it up again' with 'mere' words?"), he asks this brilliant question: "Have preachers given up on words? Or have they merely lost the ability to use the right ones?"

Sure, compared to many other countries, most Americans have more of a "sprint" attention span than a "marathon" attention span. I think part of the reason is that we just don't try hard enough to engage people with wordsmithing. Yes, this blog is guilty of posting rough drafts and often ill-thought-out sentences. Lynne Truss wouldn't always be proud of me. But I try. I must try, because as a teacher (though presently without a classroom), I am a mechanic of the mind, and words are my tools. Our lives revolve around words. A person cannot "change their mind" without words. Without words, there is no persuasion, understanding of experience, conversion, debriefing, mutual understanding, apology, story, organization, or progress. So we might as well use words shrewdly.

14 July 2007

New Name, Same Stuff

As is obvious by now, "Preaching to the Choir" is now "Have Another Think." I always get irritated at bands that constantly change their names, especially when they are relatively new and growing in popularity (Tried By Fire, anyone?). But I'm not worried about people hating me for changing the title here, because 1) It's just a blog, people, and 2) No one reads it, anyway (except for a few sympathetic souls out there, God bless you!).

Here's why I changed the title: Where I'm at in life, "preaching" means something different to me than to someone who does not go to (or enjoy) church. To me, it's a good thing: the proclamation of what God has to say to mankind (at least as understood by the preacher!). To many others, though, it conveys an arrogant or belligerent, guilt-trippy diatribe forced upon generally nice people by some sweaty, overweight, red-faced guy who pronounces "Jesus" with three syllables: Jeeeeezusssss-ah! Gawd-ah sayeth unto thee, "Jeeeezussss-ah...is a-comin' back, so git right with the Lawrd-ah!" That's not me.

I like "Have Another Think" because it is more descriptive of the intent of this blog: to get people thinking and talking about various issues regarding religion (mainly Christianity), philosophy, culture, ethics and morality. Too often, we accept or reject things based on whether we "like" them or not, not by whether they are true or good. I want to challenge us to pause and think about the things we do and say as Americans and (for some of us) as American Christians. We say and do a lot of things; do we ever wonder why?

So I'll be serving up thoughts for a while. Think up; no designated driver needed!

(PS - thanks to Kerri for the helpful comment on "Considering a Blog Name Change." Welcome aboard!)

22 June 2007

Running and Life

What running has taught me about life (in no particular order):
  1. You don't run a personal best every time; sometimes you feel like crap and have to take three walk breaks in five miles.
  2. What you eat definitely affects how you run. Indian food the night before a 5-miler is not a good idea.
  3. You'd be amazed how much farther you can go on when someone looks at you menacingly and taunts you from across the street.
  4. A lot of good music helps me cope with the difficult days.
  5. No matter how good you think you are, some little 10-year-old (or 80-year-old) will always beat you at your next race.
  6. It's so much easier to run a long race when people are cheering for you along the way.
  7. It's easier to stick with training if you've already paid registration fees for a future race.
  8. Some races are about speed; some races are about endurance. Knowing which is which is priceless.
  9. Sometimes, the best time to run is in the rain.
  10. If one part of your body (namely, the foot) is off, the whole body pays for it the next day.

That's all I've got for now; feel free to add your lessons in your comments.

19 June 2007

My Favorite King of the Hill Episode (Part Two)

If you haven't read Part One, read that first.

There are several things I like about this episode:

  1. That the show would even deal with Christianity, and that in a positive light.

  2. They rightly point out that different Christians worship in different ways.

  3. There are a ton of great lines from this episode (e.g., Pastor K: "Don't you think Jesus is on this half pipe?" Hank: "I'm sure he's a lot of places he doesn't want to be.")

  4. It raises questions for both edgy and traditional Christians to consider.

  5. It's hilarious.

What I want to discuss, however, is Hank's whole problem with what I'm calling Edgy Christianity (EC). EC takes on a lot of forms: hard rock, rap, and other intense forms of music; tattoos and piercings with a Christian message to them; Christian clothing (like Bobby's "Satan Sucks" T-shirt, or the once-popular "Hell, No!" shirts), offensive bumper stickers, and other related stuff. Hank's statement reveals his feelings: "Can't you see? You're not making Christianity better; you're just making rock-'n-roll worse."

Is that true? Is Christian rap good for Christianity, or is it bad for rap? When does becoming "all things to all people" turn into "making rock-'n-roll worse"? Is it true that "Body Piercing Saved My Life" as one T-shirt says? Yes, it's true that nails pierced Jesus, but is that the same as today's body piercing? Obviously not; what we have here is a classic case of equivocation, using the same word (or phrase) in two different ways to argue one point. All fallacies aside, why do we feel that we need to make Christianity cool? Is it cool? Is Jesus really our "homeboy"? What happened to Jesus being the "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" before whom "every knee will bow . . . and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord"?

My fear is that relevance has trumped reverance. Don't get me wrong; I want the gospel to be understandable to everyone. But why be relevant? What does "relevant" mean? Relevant to whom? If we don't ask and answer these questions, we are simply using relevance as a justification to toy around with the eternal truths of God. Is faith a product to sell? Is planting the seeds of the gospel a matter of proper marketing? Are we asking youth (THE main target of EC) to deny themselves, take up their crosses and follow Christ, or are we asking them to think that Jesus is cool and would be worth making a friend on their MySpace?

Maybe I'm (too) cynical. But I can't help but be reminded of what Simone Weil said about relevance: "To always be relevant, you have to say things which are eternal."

For the youth out there to whom we're trying to be relevant (btw: do we really think that we can keep up with all the changing trends of kids these days, always adjusting the message to be right on top of things? Ha!), we must communicate Christ in such a way as to prevent, five years from now, Jesus ending up in the box of trends which were cool at the time but are now rather embarrassing.

Becoming a Christian means your whole life is changed, not just your vocabulary. It means that you are transformed by the renewing of your mind, not that you transform your music collection to Christian music you don't mind. It's about putting on Christ and becoming a new creation, not putting Christ on a T-shirt or putting a fish on your car. Yes, you vocabulary should change; your music should be evaluated; your clothing might change. The question is: why?

14 June 2007

My Favorite King of the Hill Episode (Part One)

King of the Hill is one of my favorite TV shows. The Hill family, living in Arlen, Texas, go through many interesting life situations in this animated comedy. The usual story line goes like this:
  1. The first scene is Hank, Bill, Dale, and Boomhauer standing out in the alley drinking Alamo beer and saying, "Yup."
  2. The theme for the episode is usually introduced in their opening conversation (which does go beyond "Yup.").
  3. Most of the problems revolve around Bobby, Hank and Peggy's teenage son. He usually gets involved with a new hobby or group of friends who are quite different from him, and he begins taking on the new group's characteristics/language/behavior, causing conflict at home, especially with Hank.
  4. Bobby's involvement eventually leads to a situation from which Hank must rescue Bobby, with or without Bobby's desire for rescuing.
  5. Hank and Bobby reconcile, and everything returns to how it was before the whole mess got started.

My favorite episode is "Reborn to be Wild." Bobby is found rockin' out to heavy metal music, angering Hank. Taking Bobby to the church, Hank is referred to a youth group who would be glad to take in Bobby. Hank takes Bobby to a community center where they meet.

[Pause here for some of the dialogue from the episode:

Bobby: "Dad, this is totally not cool."

Hank: "You know what's not cool, Bobby? Hell."]

Bobby meets the group, which turns out to be a bunch of Christian skaters led by Pastor K, a skater himself with Christian tattoos and long hair.

[Bobby (after seeing Pastor K do a stunt): "THAT was AWESOME!"

Pastor K: "Thanks, but not as awesome as Jesus!"]

Bobby's hooked. And it shows. At dinner, Bobby, to Hank's delight, offers to pray. But what comes out does not delight Hank at all: "I wanna give a shout out to the man that makes it all happen. Props be to you for this most bountiful meal that sits before us. OK, check it: God, you got skills. You represent in these vegetables and in this napkin and in the dirt that grows the grain that makes the bread sticks that are on this table, yes, yes. [Hank tells him to wrap it up] Thanks, J-man. Peace."

Soon Pastor K invites Bobby to be on stage with him during his performance at MessiahFest, a Christian praise-a-palooza. Bobby gets an earring, which in turn gets him grounded. He sneaks out and goes to MessiahFest. Hank goes to the Fest and finds Bobby making a fool of himself on stage, shrieking out Psalm 23 to heavy metal music. Hank yanks Bobby off the stage and there is a final confrontation between Hank and Pastor K, which includes this classic line from Hank:

"Can't you see? You're not making Christianity better; you're just making rock-'n-roll worse."

The episode ends with Hank taking an angry Bobby home and showing him a box in the garage. In the box is all the things Bobby thought were cool and had since abandoned: a virtual pet, a Furby, a "Bean Bag Buddy" (obvious reference to Beanie Babies), and a photo of Bobby in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume. Bobby can't believe he thought those things were cool.

Then comes the moral of the story, from Hank: "I just don't want to see, you know. . . the Lord end up in this box."

In my next entry, I want to explain why this is my favorite episode, as well as the lessons evangelicals can catch from it.

31 May 2007

Ecclesiodicy, The Justification of Church

[Mood: contemplative and a little crusty]

I've been thinking about theodicy lately. If that term is new to you, don't worry: it's a fancy term meaning "the justification of God," but it's used in philosophical and theological writings to describe an entire discussion which boils down to this: If God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving, then why is there evil and suffering in the world? Is it because God cannot stop it, or is it because he will not stop it? A theodicy, therefore, argues how God can be what Christians say he is and yet allow evil and suffering. I will not go into all that now; if you are interested, I would refer you here.

Philip Yancey, in his excellent book Where is God When it Hurts?, was asked to boil down the meaning of that book to one sentence. His answer: "Where is the Church when it hurts?" This is a brilliant point; if the church is the body of Christ, the primary agency through which God interacts with the world, and evil exists, then perhaps the question could be altered a bit: If the church is empowered by God (as defined above - all powerful etc.), then why is there superfluous evil and suffering in the world? Is it because the church can not stop it or because it will not stop it? Maybe we should back the question up more: does the church even want to stop it?

You are probably crying out, "False choice!" And I would agree with you; the church does want to stop the evil and suffering in this world. The problem is that, unlike God, the church cannot be everywhere at once in the same way. And, unlike God, the church does not have unlimited physical and financial resources.

But still, why aren't churches always the first responders to disaster? Why doesn't the church do more to help in places like Darfur? Or is the church really helping and also going unnoticed by the media? How much does the church have to do before skeptics will say, "Ahh, now the church cares"? It seems that no matter what the church does, it will never be enough.

Let's bring it home: when someone in your church or surrounding community suffers or experiences evil, where is your church? Do they help? Take up offerings and donations? Turn the other way? Add them to the prayer list?

Where is the church when it hurts?

Overcome "Evel" With Good

Christianity Today reports that Robert "Evel" Knievel believes in Jesus and has accepted him as Lord and Savior. On Palm Sunday (April 1st), Knievel stood before the faithful at the Crystal Cathedral (think: The Hour of Power TV show on Sundays) and gave his testimony about how, at Bike Week in Daytona, "the power of God in Jesus just grabbed me" and he became a Christian. In the CT article, there is a photo of Knievel standing with Robert Schuller at the pulpit of the Cathedral.

Choir (that is, my fellow Christians), I would like to offer two divergent thoughts on stories like this. First, I am reminded of the apostle Paul's thoughts in 1 Timothy 1:13-16: "Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life." Though a long quote, I'm sure Evel would heartily identify with Paul's words. There is hope for the worst of sinners. No one is too evil to come to Christ. Anyone who thinks they're not "good enough" to be saved has fallen for a lie of the devil. Jesus Christ died for every single person on earth for all of history, including you. He has unlimited patience and mercy for you, if you will just surrender to him.

Second thought: I'm not sure what to do with celebrity conversions. We've had many of them (Gary Busey, Anne Rice, Deion Sanders, Jane Fonda, Charlie Sheen et.al.), but as you can see from just the very small sampling here, most of them do not "take" to Christianity, or if they do, they are poor role models for other Christians. The problem is this: they are human beings, which means they still have struggles and temptations, even after conversion (see 1 Cor. 5:9-10, Gal. 5:16-17). That and they are in the spotlight nearly 24/7 (well, maybe not all of them). So when they crash, they crash hard, and everyone looks and says, "I knew it; some difference Christianity makes, huh?"

When a celebrity converts, perhaps there should be silence about it, even from the celebrity. Then they can simply live a changed life (which means they go to church, secure several Christian friends who can be trusted to hold them accountable, study the Bible, etc.) and wait for others to notice. There needs to be a maturing before we parade them in front of conventions and evangelistic crusades and men's retreats.

So World, please don't measure the truthfulness of Christianity or the Bible based on the behavior of celebrity Christians.

And Choir, please pray for all new believers in your church, as well as the celebrities who convert, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.

23 April 2007

Blargument, Third and Final Round

Anonymous is not pleased.

You can read the comment at the end of my last post. This is the last post I will make regarding this topic. Rather than commenting on the content of Anonymous' comments, I simply want to comment on the importance of presuppositions, those assumptions about the world we all bring to our understanding of anything, especially the Bible and theology. Presuppositions are difficult to avoid, and sometimes they are not bad. They are bad if they do not allow a person to view a subject any other way than thier presuppositions allow.

Anonymous belongs to a church that believes (I hope I'm being accurate here) that there is only one God, Jesus. There is no Father and no Holy Spirit, at least not as separate persons of the Godhead. They are all manifestations of Jesus. All of the Old Testament names for God are names for Jesus. The OT says there is one God, one Lord. The NT says Jesus is God. Therefore, they claim, every Scripture that mentions "God" refers to Jesus and Jesus alone. These are their presuppositions. They will claim that they are inferences or direct teachings straight from Scripture, not the teachings of men.

The problem is, that's what everyone says about their beliefs.

I claim that God is one God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each of whom is rightly called God, but none of whom fully expresses God. They are eternally coequal, coexistent, and are the perfect expression of fellowship, community, and truth. I, too, do not base these assertions on traditions, but on Scripture. Hence, the problem between Anonymous and me: our presuppositions are contradictory, yet we both base them on Scripture.

The problem deepens: if we both accept the law of noncontradiction (that something cannot be and not be at the same time in the same way), then one of us is wrong. Anonymous will say that I am wrong, and I say that Anonymous is wrong. I believe Anonymous' presuppositions are faulty and not based on Scripture but on a creative interpretation of Scripture that is not warranted by the text itself. So many verses mention the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as separate, yet all are called God, and there is only one God. This is somewhat paradoxical, and many have labored to describe it. Welcome to orthodoxy.

Anonymous and I have too many disagreeing presuppositions ever to come to agreement. The end of it, though, being as this is my blog and if you don't like it, start your own blog, is this: I'm right, my understanding is more orthodox and historical than yours, and you are not honestly dealing with the wealth of (especially NT) texts that explicitly list (sometimes in the same verse!) all three persons.

That's my blog, and I'm sticking to it.:)

22 April 2007

Blargument, Round 2

It seems I struck a nerve with Anonymous, who replied to "Should have seen this coming...":

I think it was very petty of you to pick on my grammer. Did it make you feel more intelligent? Was your sarcasm about my bravery meant to be funny? Do you believe that the Bible does not contradict itself? If so you have to consider all the verses from old and new testaments, that refer to Jehovah and Jesus. What about Colossians 2:9 "The fullness of the Godhead is ALL IN HIM" Jesus. Jesus was fully God and Fully man. Jesus is revealed name of God prophesied about in the Old Testament. Father is not a name. Son is not a name. Holy Spirit is not a name. Jesus is the only name in heaven where by we must be saved. To view a visual that puts the scriptures into prospective visit http://www.lighthouseapostolic.com/onegodxl.bmp . God Bless you! [name removed by AG] P.S. The only reason I was identified as anonymous is that I do not have a google/blogger account.

Anonymous, you are right to be anonymous; I shouldn't have questioned your bravery. Having
said that...

In reply, let me start by saying I'm sorry you have bad grammAr. It did not make me feel more intelligent; it disappointed me. Our country is one where the education standards are mixed, and priority is certainly not given to grammar. When I see bad grammar, I fix it. By submitting a comment, you submit it to criticism, just like when I post a blog, I submit it to the public to read or criticize.

I do believe the Bible does not contradict itself. On Colossians 2:9, it is better translated as "because in him dwells all the fullness of the deity bodily. . .", at least that is a more literal translation of the Greek. Jesus is not the revealed name of God; Yahweh is (Ex. 3:14), or "I AM WHO I AM" if you prefer ("Joshua" is A name of God, just like "Jehovah-Jireh" and many others, and we both agree that they all describe the one God). And if "Father" and "Holy Spirit" are not names, how do you explain Matthew 28:19? And you did not answer my questions from my last reply.

Also, I have a couple of questions regarding your monotheism:
  1. When Jesus was on earth, was Heaven empty?
  2. When Jesus is with us now (as you state on your website) and not the Holy Spirit (as a separate person of the one God), then who is in Heaven now?
  3. Did Jesus ascend and then descend?
  4. When Jesus breathed on his disciples and said, "receive the Holy Spirit," why was Jesus still there, if they are indeed the same person?
  5. When Jesus was on the cross, did he pray "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" to himself? If not, then to whom?
  6. Who, according to Ephesians 1:17-23, raised Jesus from the dead?
  7. To whom did Jesus pray in John 17?
  8. In John 17:11, why did Jesus say, "that they may be one, even as WE are"? (PS. the "we" is in the Greek).
  9. If Jesus and the Father are the same, then why did Peter say that God performed miracles through Jesus (Acts 2:22)?
  10. If the three are in fact Jesus only, then how do you explain verses like Acts 2:33; Acts 10:38 (God anointed him [Jesus] with the Holy Spirit); and many others I need not name here?

Many more questions can be asked at this point; many verses could be brought up as well. I just don't see how you can claim that there is no Holy Spirit or Father as distinct from the Son. Colossians proves Jesus is God; it does not prove that Jesus is the Father and the Holy Spirit.

I may have taken a sarcastic tone which comes off as being irritated. You're right; I should not be personally offensive; if I insulted you as a person, I ask for your forgiveness. However, your ideas are another matter. I am irritated at your teaching, which goes against centuries of established orthodoxy, an orthodoxy which extends all the way back to the writing of the New Testament itself. You may certainly reply again, but I can tell you that this is probably going to be a vigorous debate. And being as this is a blog and not a forum, I can choose when the discussion ends. I am happy to continue hearing your side, but I guarantee that I will remain unmoved. I stand with the New Testament, not a church founded in 1952.


21 April 2007

Should have seen this coming...

My first blargument! Sweet.

Someone (bravely calling him/herself Anonymous) had this to say about "Christian Songs That Annoy Me (Part 1)":

Mark is absolutely, correct, the bible calls Jesus the everlasting Father. Jesus is God manifested in the flesh. or in other words Jesus is the father manifested in the flesh. The fullness(all) of the God Head is all in Him(Jesus). Jesus is not in the God head, the God head is all in Him. This is all verified in the bible, if you need me to provide you with the scripture I will be glad to.
April 20, 2007 6:27 PM

May I mention a few things:
  1. Grammar: poor grammar, though technically not taking away from the content of your argument, does make you sound a little, well, uneducated. "bible" should be capitalized. There should not be a comma between "absolutely" and "correct." After "correct" a new sentence should begin. The "or in other words . . . ." is a fragment (and the first word is not capitalized). You need a space between a word and parentheses. "scripture" in the last sentence should be plural (unless you have only one verse to offer).
  2. Your reference to Isaiah 9:6 ("For to us a child is born . . . . And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" does not prove that Jesus is the Father incarnate. Isaiah 22:20-21 and Job 29:16 are examples of "father" used in a figurative way. If Jesus is the Father, why does he make dozens of statements that clearly show that the Father is someone else (Matt. 11:26; 18:35; 26:39-42, 53; 28:18-20; Mark 14:36; Luke 23:34; John 3:35; 5:17; 6:57; 8:54; 11:41; 14:28 et. al.)? To whom was Jesus talking on the cross? To whom did he pray?
  3. "Jesus is God manifested in the flesh" is NOT the same as "Jesus is the Father manifested in the flesh." You're saying it this way: Jesus is God. The Father is God. Therefore, Jesus is the Father. That's like saying the following: My cat is a mammal. My dog is a mammal. Therefore, my cat is my dog. This is the fallacy of the undistributed middle term.

I need not say more. Provide your Scriptures if you want to; you cannot deny that Jesus (and Paul and everyone else who wrote the NT) separted the Father, Son and Spirit.

19 April 2007

My All-time least favorite choruses, chosen for various reasons:

- Stupid or shallow lyrics

Mercy is Falling ("Hey-O and I receive your mercy...and I will dance forevermore" - I think I just threw up a little in my mouth - "La la la la la la la la la la. La la la la la la la - la la" - yeah, I just puked big time.)

The Happy Song

- Forced awkwardness for the less jumpy among us (you know, those of us who wouldn't raise our hands even if we were being mugged). In other words, the "please don't make me jump, dance, raise my hands, or otherwise move" songs.

Your Everlasting Love ("Oh the wonder of your everlasting love is higher than the WOO-WOO-WOO, W-W-W-WOO" while jumping side to side. Thanks, Jeff Moody)

Father Abraham (OK, it's a youth group song, but I still hated it; it reminded me of a Christian Hokey-Pokey - "Father Abraham...and that's what it's all about!")

Romans 16:19 (did anyone else hate doing the 180-degree jump after "underneath your feet"? I always just looked at the group now facing me until they turned around, thinking, "hurry up and get this song over with!" Even worse was the "rap" of the chorus.)

I'm Trading My Sorrows (this may only be familiar to you OCC folks. Right hand up in the air, now sing: "yes, Lord! Yes, Lord! Yes, Yes, Lord!")

We Will Dance ("Lift up your hands and clap out of sync. . . ." until the chorus, when everyone gives up) Did anyone else think this would have been a good bar song? Imagine sitting fifteen people across, arms around each other and beers swaying back and forth to "and WE will DANCE on the STREETS that are GOLDEN...."

These songs are why I never went to Jr. High Get-a-Way
(why is "get-a-way" hyphenated, anyway?)
- Oversung into oblivion
One Name Under Heaven Whereby We Must Be Saved
Better is One Day
How Great is Our God (unfortunate; this was at one time my favorite praise song)
I Can Only Imagine (unfortunate; this was at one time my favorite song)

Tell me some of yours!

Christian Songs that Annoy Me (Part 2)

Today, I present another song that just annoys me: Todd Agnew's "My Jesus":

Which Jesus do you follow? Which Jesus do you serve?
If Ephesians says to imitate Christ, why do you look so much like the
[A little presumptuous, don't you think?]

'Cause my Jesus bled and died; he spent his time with thieves and
He loved the poor and accosted the arrogant, so which one do you want to
[IOW, my Jesus can beat up your Jesus! Are "poor" and "arrogant" the only two choices here?]

[Furthermore, are you saying that you want to bleed and die for your sins? You can't be "like Jesus" in that way. The compassion, the social action, yes. The substitutionary atonement, resurrection, ascension, and high priestly intercession in heaven? No.]

Blessed are the poor in spirit, or do we pray to blessed with with the
wealth of this land?
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness
Or do we ache for another taste of this world of shifting sands

My Jesus bled and died for my sins; He spent His time with thieves and
sluts and liars.
He loved the poor and accosted the rich, So which one do you want to

[Again, are my only choices "poor" and "rich"? Or is he asking, "which one (thieves, sluts, or liars) do you want to be?"]

Who is this that You follow, This picture of the American dream?
If Jesus was here would you walk right by on the other side, Or fall down
and worship at His holy feet? holy

Pretty, blue eyes and curly brown hair and a clear complexion,-
is how you see Him as He dies for Your sins
But the Word says He was battered and scarred - or did you miss that
Sometimes I doubt we'd recognize Him
[I actually like this part - the Jesus portrait in every small church in America makes him look like a gentle hippie from California, not a 1st-Century Jew]

My Jesus bled and died He spent His time with thieves and the least of
He loved the poor and accosted the comfortable, So which one do you want to

'Cause My Jesus would never be accepted in my church!
The blood and dirt on His feet might stain the carpet
[Hold it right there, Todd. If someone walked into a church dirty and bloody, I'd probably want to get him to a hospital, not the front pew! Also, MY Jesus is RISEN - he bleeds no more!]

[I know, I know - the point is that people sometimes care more about the carpet than reaching the lost etc., which is valid. But to suggest that making any decisions about facilities is a direct affront to Jesus is a stretch.]

But He reaches for the hurting and despises the proud
And,I think He'd prefer Beale St. to the stained glass crowd
[Perhaps, but is stained glass therefore sinful? Come on...]

And I know that He can hear me if I cry out loud
I want to be like my Jesus! I want to be like my Jesus I want to be like my
Not a posterchild for American prosperity, but like my Jesus
You see I'm tired of living for success and popularity [then you might want to reconsider making a living standing in front of crowds, singing, and selling albums with your pictures plastered all over them.]
I want to be like my Jesus but I'm not sure what that means to be like You,
Cause You said to live like You, love like You but then You died for
Can I be like You Jesus? I wanna be like you Jesus I wanna be Like my

Is it me, or is Todd a little arrogant himself here? The whole sarcasm in the middle works against the message of the song, not to mention the fact that this message comes in a form of a song that can be purchased (in two different versions!) on iTunes.

I do appreciate the attempt: the guy feels that the American church is lukewarm and has lost sight of the reason we are here, and to a certain extent, he's right. But if I went to his church, where Jesus would never be accepted, I think I'd be looking for a new church.

But there are so many little things in this song that bug me, like the "stained-glass crowd" comment, as if everyone who worships in a church with stained glass can not possibly be doing anything outside of their church. Maybe that's not what he's saying; but it comes across this way: either you are a social activist Christian or you worship a false Christ.

So much for grace. . . .

18 April 2007

Christian Songs that Annoy Me (Part 1)

Today, I would like to draw your attention to Mr. Mark Schultz, who is otherwise a very talented singer/songwriter. It's just when he's singing heresy that I bristle. Whatever do I mean? I give you "I Am":

I am the maker of the Heavens/I am the bright and morning star

I am the breath of all Creation/Who always was And is to come

I am the One who walked on water/I am the One who calmed the seas

I am the miracles and wonders/So come and see And follow me

You will know

Chorus:I am the fount of living water/The risen Son of man/The healer of the broken/And when you cry I am your savior and redeemer/Who bore the sins of man/The author and perfecter/Beginning and the end/I am

[So far, so good, except that part about "I am the miracles and wonders," but I'm willing to let that go for now.]

I am the spirit deep inside you/I am the word upon your heart [which is what exactly?]

I am the One who even knew you/Before your birth Before you were


Before the Earth (I am)

The universe (I am) [Ahh, Mark, you sound dangerously pantheistic here! I am the universe? Yes, folks, Jesus is the universe - the stars, planets, nebulae - when you see a star blow up, that's Jesus. When a black hole swallows a neutron star, that, my friend, is Jesus. Uhh, what?]

In every heart (I am)

Oh, where you are (I am)

The Lord of love (I am)/The King of Kings (I am)/The Holy lamb (I am)/Above all things

Chorus:Yes, I am almighty God your father/The risen son of man/The healer of the broken. . . . [So is Jesus not separate from the Father? Be careful, Mark; not only are you sounding pantheistic, you are also just about to go all Sabellianistic on us! Ouch - a twofer!]

I'm not saying that Mark Schultz is a heretic. I am saying that CCM artists need to be careful with their words. You can't just say anything that sounds worshipful. Doctrine matters, my friends. If you don't think so, then ask yourself: why did the Heaven's Gate cult commit suicide? Or, why does Kenneth Copeland think Jesus was the first person to be born again?

Ladies and gentlemen, let us listen to the words of our songs! Are there no boundaries as to what lyrics Christian songs may have? What makes Christian music Christian is the words! That's all we've got to distinguish us from mediocre soft rock and country!

Stay tuned for more Christian songs that annoy me. Your suggested songs are welcome.

What do we really want when bad things happen?

When bad things happen, what is it that we really want? We ask God "why?" and get angry when there's no audible answer. What I would like to know is: would it help if you knew exactly why this or that happened? It wouldn't change the past, and it might involve information you'd rather not know (for example, what if the answer to "why did God let my baby die?" were "because he would have grown up to be a mass murderer" for one family and "because I just decided to take him from the earth" for another?).

As is the case in every situation in life, Scripture is helpful here. I'm thinking of Philippians 4:5b-7: "The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." The word translated "transcends" is the same word in Phil. 2:3 as "better than" - "in humility consider others better than yourselves"; it is also translated "surpassing greatness" in Phil. 3:8. So we can render 4:7 as "the peace of God, which is better than understanding, . . ." or "the peace of God, which is surpassingly greater than understanding. . . ."

What's the point of all this? I submit that it is far better to have God's peace and presence than his answers. In times of trouble, I may ask God "why?", but what I'm really saying is "I need your peace and your presence." In other words, when we hurt, we want our Father to hold us, not lecture us.

It is better by far to have the presence of peace than the presence of answers.

09 April 2007

Do you say, "That's so gay"?

Check out this story, then read on.

I would like to know why the kids who asked the Mormon, "do you have 10 moms" were not in trouble. Apparently you can make fun of a person's religion, but not their sexual orientation. Not that I'm saying, "If you allow one, you should allow the other." To the contrary, I am saying, "If you ban one, you should ban the other."

That being said, I have always hated the use of "gay" as a synonym for "stupid" or "boring" or "ridiculous" or whatever other use it has in modern culture. People my age say it, too, which seems 1) weird, and 2) immature.

For all you Christians out there who say "That's so gay", let me ask: are you offended/bothered when someone, out of anger, says, "Jesus Christ!" ? If you are, then that's probably how a homosexual feels when they overhear you saying "that's so gay."

I think this goes deeper than saying something's "gay." It goes to all Christians who think that cussing is acceptable (not the f-word, but just about everything else, especially when they're "just quoting" someone).

I will confess: I have joked once or twice about a donkey I saw in the street in India (it's not just cows there that roam the streets, but dogs, goats, donkeys etc.). Speaking to Heidi, I pointed to it and said, "get your a** off the road!" But even then, that was actually a correct use of an archaic word for donkey.

All right, then.... Here's my top reasons why swearing (and by that I mean cussing/using profanity, including saying something/someone is "gay" in the sense of "stupid") is unnecessary for anyone, especially the Christian:

1. Swearing is for people who cannot adequately express themselves.
2. Swearing limits one's vocabulary.
3. Swearing is a sign of disregard for the English language.
4. Swearing is immature and a sign of weakness.
5. Swearing cheapens the thought process; cuss words are a copout from having to think about what you want to say and how you want to say it.
6. Swearing is inappropriate around children.
7. Swearing in public is disrespectful to others and intolerant.
8. Swearing neither wins the respect of your peers nor impresses your elders.
9. (For Christians) Swearing is unscriptural.
Matthew 12:36-37 – But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.
Ephesians 4:29 – Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Colossians 4:6 – let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
(For Christians) Swearing is, at best, a confusing witness to the watching world, and at worst is a turnoff to the Christian faith ("why be like them if they don't seem that different from me [except on Sundays]?")

There; I feel better.

Let me ask you, then, beloved reader: what do you think?