Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Questions about our affiliation arose in July 2005 when the UCC's General Synod 25 passed a resolution advocating same gender marriage. Since that time, our church has had several discussion meetings, offered two resolutions to our Kansas-Oklahoma Conference, and thought a lot about our future.
If Synod 25 didn't pass its resolution, I honestly believe we'd never be having this vote.
Several people have said the discussion within our church has been beneficial. But others have been deeply hurt through the process; this I regret.
In the classroom, students first learn the lesson and then the test follows. But life isn't quite as fair, for the test is first and the lessons come afterwards. While hindsight has taught me how I could have done better, my conscience is clear. I've led the church to the best of my ability.
However, as the Apostle Paul writes, "But that doesn't make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me" (1 Corinthians 4:1-5).
May the Lord's judgment be merciful to us all.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
The song is the personal prayer of a believer who, in the midst of trial, chooses to trust in God. What's neat about it is how much the lyrics are saturated in Scripture.
Here are several direct and indirect Bible references in the song, "You Never Let Go":
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:a)
Your perfect love is casting out fear (1 John 4:18)
And even when I’m caught in the middle of the storms of this life (Mark 4:35-41)
I won’t turn back (John 6:66-69)
I know You are near (Psalm 145:18)
And I will fear no evil (Psalm 23:4b)
For my God is with me (Psalm 23:6)
And if my God is with me (Psalm 46--especially verse 11)
Whom then shall I fear? (Psalm 27:1)
Whom then shall I fear?
Oh no, You never let go (Hebrews 13:5-6; Deuternomy 31:6; Joshua 1:1-9)
Through the calm and through the storm (Isaiah 25:4)
Oh no, You never let go (John 10:27-28)
In every high and every low (Ecclesiastes 7:14)
Oh no, You never let go (Psalm 55:22)
Lord, You never let go of me (Matthew 28:20)
And I can see a light (John 8:12) that is coming for the heart that holds on (Psalm 27:14)
A glorious light beyond all compare (Matthew 17:1-5; 1 Timothy 6:16)
And there will be an end to these troubles (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
But until that day comes (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2; 1 Peter 1:13)
We’ll live to know You here on the earth (Philippians 3:10-11)
Yes, I can see a light (2 Corinthians 4:6) that is coming for the heart that holds on (Psalm 97:11; Psalm 57:4-7; 2 Thessalonians 3:5; Hebrews 10:35-38)
And there will be an end to these troubles (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
But until that day comes (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
Still I will praise You, still I will praise You (Psalm 71; Ephesians 5:8)
If the song has one overarching Scripture reference, I'd say its Romans 8:28-39 and especially verses 38-39:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If you're a guitar player and would like the chords and a demo of the song, it's available here.
Listen to the song and meditate on the Scriptures. Enjoy!
Monday, February 26, 2007
That is, if the claims of James Cameron, director of the Hollywood blockbuster "Titanic," are true.
In "The Lost Tomb of Jesus," a Discovery Channel documentary to be shown March 4th, producer Cameron and his director Simcha Jacobovici allege they've found the tomb of Jesus in the outskirts of Jerusalem. Inside are 10 small coffins, known as ossuaries, that contain the names of Jesus and his family members.
The discovery of this particular site isn't exactly new. Israeli archaeologist Amos Kloner found the tomb 27 years ago and reported on its content ten years ago. And what he thinks about Cameron and Jacobovici's claims are pretty clear:
“The claim that the burial site has been found is not based on any proof, and is only an attempt to sell...I refute all their claims and efforts to waken a renewed interest in the findings. With all due respect, they are not archaeologists.”
Meanwhile, Dallas Seminary professor Dr. Darrell Bock says the evidence presented is selective cherry picking. The film includes what's convenient for their thesis, while ignoring what's not.
Basically, in order to accept the claims of "The Lost Tomb," you need to believe that Jesus did not rise, but remained dead, his family got possession of his body, they hid his body for a year, they hid this information from everyone, and then after a year or so of human decay, the family took Jesus' leftover bones, put them into a little coffin ossuary, labeled the ossuary with Jesus' name, and buried them outside of Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Jesus' followers claimed he's physically resurrected and Jesus' opponents are unable to produce a body.
At today's press conference, Cameron said:
"This is the beginnings of an ongoing investigation. If things come to light that erode this investigation, then so be it."
Like the Titanic, Cameron's claims about Jesus will sink on its maiden voyage.
UPDATE: Brent Bozell unloads on the Discovery Channel.
UPDATE 2: Ben Witherington III: "Make no bones about it, they have not found Jesus' tomb."
Friday, February 23, 2007
When Steve Perry laments “They say that the road ain’t no place to start a family,” then “to you,” that could mean:
(1) It’s hard to be a parent when you are traveling all the time, or
(2) The life of a musician is tough, or
(3) A matress would be softer…
So writes Tony Rose, who reflects on the important differences of reading lyrics and reading Scripture. If you're interested in how words get interpreted, this is an interesting article. Check it out.
Meanwhile, today I got to talking about music with a store clerk. He asked, "That guy who sings in Aerosmith--wasn't he once in the Bee Gees?"
Uggh...don't think so.
And still on topic of music, have you heard how ITunes caught a classical pianist in a Milli Vanilli style scandal?
* Gosh, that's such an antique term now--for those of you who are younger, that's a store that sells recorded music.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
When Mrs. Ted first suggested we participate, I hesitated.
Another night out of the house. We've taken this class before. I'm a pastor. Aren't I supposed to be an expert?
But my wife persisted in a kind way and I in turn relented.
So last week we show up with six other families for the first class. The parents are upstairs in their class. The kids are downstairs with own instructors.
Our teacher Barb Claassen asked everyone in the room why they joined the class and what they hoped to get out of it. Some want new ideas for handling their kids. Others are looking for encouragement. But one man, when he described what he wanted out of the class, revealed the hidden advantage of attending a parenting class:
"I get to sit here for two hours in peace and quiet."I think I'm gonna like this class after all.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
What's interesting about this star is it's classified as a nova--an exploding star. Think of it as nature's fireworks: Now you see it and now you don't. An observed nova of Scorpii's brightness happens only every few years. Astronomers estimate that novas occur about 40 times a year in our Milky Way.
When first discovered by two Japanese astronomers on Sunday, February 4th, the star's brightness was classified as 9th magnitude. Twelve days later on Friday, February 16th, it's brightness peaked at 3.9.
From my position in Little River, KS (38.4 N and 98.01 W), at about 6:20am (CST), I couldn't see it with the naked eye, but with a pair of cheap binoculars, it was easy to view.
It appeared slightly brighter than its neighboring three stars pictured in the illustration seen above.
By no means am I an amateur astronomer. Unlike "amateurs" in other fields, non-professional astronomers make significant contributions on a regular basis. I'm definitely a novice. I know a few constellations, but not much more.
But living in the big open skies of Kansas, star gazing is great entertainment.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
And thanks to my sister-in-law, I had the privilege of watching K-State battle Kansas last night at Bramlage Colesieum in Manhattan.
Huggins mentioned the date with the goal of seeing K-State break its 24 game home losing streak to Kansas. But that wasn't meant to be this year as KU prevailed in a tough defensive battle, 71-62.
Huggins was ill before the game and probably more sick afterwards.
But for me, just being there was a lot of fun!
Monday, February 19, 2007
"On the farm I got a chicken out of the pen, chopped its head off, and then the chicken started running around with its head off. Then, I plucked the feathers, and cooked it up."Running around with its head off? Immediately my junior high mind could picture the scene mother was describing. It seemed so absurb it was hilarious. Never did I realize how much my mom was capable of sparking my imagination. After that story, I had a newfound respect for her.
The other day I got to thinking that too many times I live like a headless chicken. Though I claim to be a Christian, too often I live in my own strength, disconnected from God's Holy Spirit.
Running around like a headless chicken.
Lord, empower your chicken servant today.
Friday, February 16, 2007
Metzger, an authority on Greek manuscripts of the Bible and emeritus professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, died February 13th in Princeton, New Jersey. He was 93.
I don't remember what was discussed as much as how Dr. Metzger carried himself. When a few friends challenged him on his view of inerrancy (he believed the Scriptures were infallible, but not inerrant), his words were always gracious and kind.
Later in the week I had him sign my copy of his book, The New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration. It's a fascinating book that tells the history and characteristics of the many ancient manuscripts that together give us the New Testament. The style of his signature was a reflection of his life's work--careful and precise.
Dr. Metzger was an incredible Bible scholar and a true Christian gentlemen who demonstrated how to love God with all your mind.
UPDATE: Ben Witherington's tribute illustrates Metzger's brillance and charity.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Tony Long of Wired News has a blistering criticism of what he saw recently at The American International Toy Fair in Manhattan. Apparently, most of what the $22 billion industry will soon be hoisting upon little Johnny and Suzy is a bunch of high tech gadgets that require little imagination:
And let's not use the flimsy argument that children must be prepared for the coming world that they'll inhabit. There's plenty of time for disillusionment to set in later, plenty of time to learn how to text-message or use a computer. It's important for small children, especially, to enjoy the wonder of life for as long as possible, and that means letting things unfold simply and naturally, at a leisurely pace.I couldn't agree more. My kids watch TV and play computer-- and they'd do it all day too if they could. But it's the simple toys that spark a child's imagination. Growing up, I was entertained by Lincoln Logs, baseball cards, and a bike. With my kids, hours go by with dolls, doll houses, paints, crayons, games, Superman costumes, Veggie Tale characters, and books.
It also means allowing children to develop their own imaginations, a process that is not enhanced by inundating them with a bunch of tech crap. Toys, simple and unadorned, feed the imagination. "Toys" that hit you between the eyes with a two-by-four and command you to follow a series of prompts do not. To put it another way: It's the kid who's supposed to be using her imagination, not the toy.
Toys play a crucial role in a person's development, as the poet William Blake declares:
"The child's toys and the old man's reasons are the fruits of the two seasons."
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
According to StatCounter, you're one of 10 visitors who drops by daily and one of 1,200 visitors who've happened upon this site at one time or another.
Let me offer a sincere "thank you" for spending some of your leisure time here.
My goal in the beginning was to write something interesting each weekday, Monday-Friday. 260 entries over the past year indicates that...well, at least something got written.
Some of my favorite posts:
- My friend's last day in Iraq
- A picture I took of hawk at sunset
- Analysis of why the Puerto Rico Conference left the United Church of Christ
Your life is a story. Live it well. Live it to the glory of God.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
"OK, you've got my attention."
Now you don't have to be born with it.
"Hmmm, it was my mother-in-law that gave me this cologne at Christmas. Was she trying to tell me something?"
This provocative, stimulating blend of rare spices and herbs
"I guess the 'rare' part explains why it's available at Wal-Mart."
was created by man for the sole purpose of attracting a woman. At will.
"And this stuff isn't kept behind the store counter, under lock and key?"
Splash it on. The more you use, the better.
"Kind of like honey, huh? If a little is good, more is a much, much better."
Because it is truly sex appeal (and man can never have too much).
"When the Board of Directors laughed, the marketing department knew they're script was a hit."
Sex appeal by Jovan. For the first time in the history of the world...We bottled it.
"Oh you silly mad scientists! Fooling with the world's equilibrium. Shame on you!"
Monday, February 12, 2007
Rode a bike? Encountered Jesus in a personal way? Kissed your spouse the first time?
Do you have the same zeal now as you did in the beginning?
My good friend Rick at The Mind of Rick is breaking out of a "mind rut" to rediscover and reevaluate what we do at church and why--all from the perspective of an enthusiastic beginner. What got him started was reading excerpts of Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath. One of his favorite quotes from the book:
"This is the Curse of Knowledge: Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was like not to know it. Our knowledge has "cursed" us. And it becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others, because we can't readily re-create our listeners' state of mind."When it comes to reading the Bible, sometimes our previous knowledge can keep us from discovering new truths. Which is why I'm enjoying reading entries from David Plotz's "Blogging the Bible" at Slate.com.
Plotz started his project in September of 2006, after hearing an unfamiliar story from Genesis 34:
Like many lax but well-educated Jews (and Christians), I have long assumed I knew what was in the Bible—more or less. I read parts of the Torah as a child in Hebrew school, then attended a rigorous Christian high school where I had to study the Old and New Testaments...Plotz embarked on his journey freedly admitting he isn't a "scholar." And rather than trying to find every imaginable problem or so-called contradiction, Plotz says:
So, the (Genesis 34) tale of Dinah unsettled me, to say the least. If this story was strutting cheerfully through the back half of Genesis, what else had I forgotten or never learned? I decided I would, for the first time as an adult, read the Bible. And I would blog about it as I went along.
My goal is pretty simple. I want to find out what happens when an ignorant person actually reads the book on which his religion is based...I love Judaism; I love (most of) the lessons it has taught me about how to live in the world; and yet I realized I am fundamentally ignorant about its foundation, its essential document. So, what will happen if I approach my Bible empty, unmediated by teachers or rabbis or parents? What will delight and horrify me? How will the Bible relate to the religion I practice, and the lessons I thought I learned in synagogue and Hebrew School?As of this moment, Plotz is blogging his way through Ezekiel (when was the last time you read through that book? Note to self: "When was the last time I read that book?").
Check out Plotz's complete log of entries here.
His entries are funny and insightful--and display a fresh encounter with God's Word.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Yet, God's Politics' Diana Butler Bass steps back from the ruckus and dares to make an important, though hardly considered, observation:
On most days, it probably would not have occurred to me to think about Anna Nicole’s death theologically. However, as it happened, (the day of Smith's death) was not “most days” in the Bass household. February 8 marks the anniversary of my daughter’s baptism. Nine years ago, we stood at the altar of Calvary Episcopal Church in Memphis, Tennessee, and claimed the promises of grace for our newborn, bathing Emma in the water of God. After the service, dozens of friends came to our house for a party and showered her with small gifts to remember her baptism. Every February 8 since, we have held a “baptism birthday” party for Emma. We light the baptism candle and read the baptism liturgy together...Read Bass' entire article here.
As the television blared every detail of Anna Nicole’s life and death, titillating viewers with lurid tales of her paramours and drug use, I could only think of those baptism vows. A woman dies. A mother leaves behind a child. She was not a joke; she was a wounded sister in the human family. Yet even in death, she is offered little respect for her innate dignity, her humanity.
Friday, February 09, 2007
We all know that's not true, but somewhere there's hats and T-Shirts claiming that fact.
When Peyton Manning and the Colts put on championship hats just moments after their victory, you know that Reebok, the NFL's official gear manufacturer, didn't happen to make a lucky guess about the winner. Instead, they printed gear for both teams.
So what happens to the gear of the losing team?
The New York Times answers the question we've always wondered:
They (were) shipped Monday morning to a warehouse in Sewickley, Pa., near Pittsburgh, where they will become property of World Vision, a relief organization that will package the clothing in wooden boxes and send it to a developing nation, usually in Africa.In turn, Michael Duduit writes:
This way, the N.F.L. can help one of its charities and avoid traumatizing one of its teams.
“Where these items go, the people don’t have electricity or running water,” said Jeff Fields, a corporate relations officer for World Vision.
“They wouldn’t know who won the Super Bowl. They wouldn’t even know about football.”
Instead of just destroying 288 perfectly good -- if inaccurate -- shirts and caps, they get them into the hands of people for whom they will have real value.Just goes to show that even losers can find redemption (somewhere).
And the Bears can know that somewhere in the world, they are winners after all.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
We use the term "evangelical" with regard to the centrality of the need for personal, eternal salvation, and holiness found only in Jesus Christ in contrast to the current UCC disregard for issues of personal sin, salvation and eternity. We believe that being evangelical in this sense is essential. The power of the gospel for human transformation is in the fact that "He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification." (Romans 4:25 (NIV))It's an insightful essay of what an ECOT is and is not. Check it out.
We use the term "conservative" with regard to interpreting the Scriptures in contrast to the current UCC trend toward cutting edge and innovative interpretations. We believe it is essential to conserve the message of the Scriptures so that we can "continue in what [we] have learned and have become convinced of" and in order not to dilute Scripture's power to "make [us] wise for salvation". Such conservatism, we believe, actually results in liberating and empowering human souls to serve God all the more.
We use the term "orthodox" with regard to the classic theology that emphasizes the Divine as the God of redemptive atonement in contrast to the current UCC bent toward "progressive" or "personalized" or "contextualized" theologies which emphasize the Divine as the God of liberation with no reference to "judgment" or as the God of radical inclusion with no demands for "holiness". For us, orthodoxy is essential if we are to honor the radical teachings of Jesus himself and his "unorthodox" work on the cross of making sinful people acceptable to God, delivering us from judgment (justification) and making us holy (sanctification).
We use the term "traditional" with regard to the broad consensus of 2000 years of Christian history including the global, multi-cultural and ecumenical Church of today in contrast to the current UCC attempt to create for itself a distinct identity apart from the rest of Christianity, thereby avoiding true ecumenicity.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Mrs. Ted read me this quote from the first lesson. I like the insight it offers into how God works:
God never points out sin for the purpose of instilling hopelessness, guilt, and poor self-esteem. God convicts of sin for two major reasons:
God's whole point in expending His endless energies on humans is to have a people for His name. All that He does is to that end.
- To convict the lost of sin and offer the gift of salvation.
- To convict the saved of sin and offer the gift of restoration.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Normally at the end of the day, I take it off and loop it inside my watch band. That way, it won't easily get lost.
But it vanished anyhow.
I looked in all the usual places: on top of my dresser, the computer table, the bookshelf, the china cabinet. I don't leave it anywhere else.
But it wasn't to be found.
When I had to go out-of-town for a few days, my friend at the airport teasingly said, "If you want to act like an unmarried man away from home, that's not the way you go about it."
After hoping the ring would just "show up" and didn't, I started searching.
Finally, my wife said, "Just go to Wal-Mart and get something to put on your finger."
I shop at Wal-Mart all the time, but for jewelry? No. Call me a snob, but once you have a nice wedding ring, you don't want to replace it with something from the world's discount leader of toasters and toilet cleaner.
My wife's comment prompted a frantic search-and-rescue mission.
Then, PRESTO! I found my ring! It was in-between the driver seat and gear shift box of my car. How it got there, I'll never know. What I do know is that I have my ring back--and on my finger.
After experiencing the relief and joy of finding my ring, I'm appreciating afresh the story told by Jesus in the "lost and found" section of Luke 15:
Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.'Jesus takes this simple, regular occurrence in life and uses it to teach us something about God's heart:
In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.Compared to a human soul, a ring is obviously insignificant. But my ring has sure reminded me how God feels when he gets back one of His own.
Do you know Jesus as Savior? Want to know more? Look here.
Monday, February 05, 2007
Highly paid advertising executives, working in fancy high rise buildings, creating Super Bowl ads that cost $2.6 million for 30 seconds, were outwitted and outclassed by a Doritos ad created by a couple of college students working on a shoestring budget.
That's my quick, after morning take on the Super Bowl ads.
The winning Doritos ad, co-created by college students Dale Backus and Wes Philips (follow their adventures here), likely made Super Bowl history with the:
- Smallest Budget (Total = $12.79)
- Smallest Crew (Cast/Crew = 5 people)
- Shortest Production Time (4 days... including concept development)
- Youngest Crew (age 22 and younger)
In between tending to kids (because the wife was gone), and stuffing my mouth with cheese nachos (which makes my mouth really dry this morning), several spots relied too much on high tech (Fed Ex on moon) or sleaze (Chevrolet guy car wash) to make an impression.
After seeing the Snickers ad, they should rename their candy bar: YUCK!
And the idolatrous Budweiser Crab commercial? I can't believe it was USA Today's #1 ad. This joke will certainly get around: "The beach ... crabs ... Budweiser -- sounds like a bad spring break I had during college." Personally, the auctioneer wedding was a lot funnier. Funny too was the Sprint ad "connectile dysfunction."
Test pattern at MSNBC has good reviews of 1st half and 2nd half ads. And USA Today ranks all the ads on their Super Bowl Ad Meter.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
For many people, football is religion. Superstar players are deified, weekly games are strictly observed, and everyone—devoted fan or not—watches the Super Bowl.The CT article has links to other articles about the two coaches.
But for Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith, football has not taken God's place.
The head coaches of the AFC champion Indianapolis Colts and the NFC champion Chicago Bears, who will lead their teams in Super Bowl XLI on Sunday, have a lot in common. As has been well documented, they share the distinction of being the first black head coaches in the Super Bowl. They are close friends, having coached together with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for five years. They are also Christians.
"God is the center of my life," Smith told the media during a Super Bowl press conference earlier this week. "It controls all that I do. I hope I don't have to spend my time telling my players I'm a Christian. I hope they see it in my life every day."
Also, check out this cool site about the two coaches created by Athletes in Action.
Friday, February 02, 2007
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Good theology is like healthy kids--both grow over time, although you can never tell at one particular moment.
It dawned on me that my thinking about heaven and the end of life has "grown up" a bit when I came across Tod Bolinger's It Takes A Church and quote he shares from a Bishop N.T. Wright sermon:
...Religion in the western world has been less and less about the renewal of creation and more and more about escaping from this wicked world and going to a better place, called ‘heaven’ – going there ultimately when we die...But if you turn Christian faith into simply the hope for pie in the sky when you die, and an escapist spirituality in the present, you turn your back on the theme which makes sense of the whole Bible, which bursts upon us in everything that Jesus the Messiah did and said, which is highlighted particularly by his resurrection from the dead...
The God in whom we believe is the creator of the world, and he will one day put this world to rights. That solid belief is the bedrock of all Christian faith. God is not going to abolish the universe of space, time and matter; he is going to renew it, to restore it, to fill it with new joy and purpose and delight...The last book of the Bible ends, not with the company of the saved being taken up into heaven, but with the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven to earth, resulting in God’s new creation, new heavens and new earth, in which everything that has been true, lovely, and of good report will be vindicated, enhanced, set free from all pain and sorrow. God himself, it says, will wipe away all tears from all eyes. One of the great difficulties in preaching the gospel in our days is that everyone assumes that the name of the game is, ultimately, to ‘go to heaven when you die’, as though that were the last act in the drama. The hymn we’re about to sing ends like that, because that’s how most people have thought. But that’s wrong! Heaven is important, but it’s not the end of the world; God will make new heavens and new earth, and give us new bodies to live and work and take delight in his new creation. And the ‘good news’ of the Christian gospel is that this new world, this new creation, has already begun: it began when Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead on Easter morning, having faced and beaten the double enemy, sin and death, that has corrupted and defaced God’s lovely creation.I don't know about you, but when I've changed my mind about something, it wasn't due entirely to one person or one event. When I first heard Bishop Wright contend that earth--not heaven--is the true end God that is working toward, his statement really pricked me. And I put together some other pieces of information I've had for years:
- The Lord Prayer: "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven."
- Isaiah 65 and the majestic promise of a new heavens and a new earth.
- 1 Corinthians 15 and the promise of our resurrection.
- "Peaceable Kingdom" paintings by Edward Hicks.
I can't say when this change took place, but I know my belief is different today than it was in yesteryear.
How have you notice your theology growing?