June 29, 2010
I’ve enjoyed some much needed rest this week. Working overtime for the past two weeks, as well as a trip to VA for my sister’s wedding, was quite tiring. This morning I slept in, and when I awoke I supposed it was 8:00 or 8:30. To my surprise it was 10:00. I can’t even remember the last time I slept in that late.
June 28, 2010
The results are in from this year’s farm tour photo contest.
Over 100 photos were submitted.
The photos were submitted under numerous categories
Yet, none of the photos I’ve just shown you won any prizes, or even a ribbon. One photo, however, taken by yours truly, won first place.
I did not expect this one to win anything, but hey, I’m not complaining.
June 27, 2010
6 signs that it’s time to check my priorities as a Christian:
1) When other believers know not to bring up certain (secondary) topics around me–I’ll simply become bull-headed, stop listening, and act like an annoying nuisance.
2) When none of the issues I’m passionate about are secondary issues–at least not to me.
3) When I find myself more often in a contentious debate or a heated discussion with another believer, instead of gently encouraging them or contending at their side in the cause of Christ.
4) When I feel that certain passages of Scripture belong more to me than to you. “I’ve spent more time studying that passage! What right do you have to quote it?”
5) When you hearing me becomes more important than me genuinely listening to you.
6) When I know I’m the most spiritual one in any group, and must make sure everyone knows it (but in a humble way, of course).
June 26, 2010
“[Some] propose that diakonia, translated as ‘service’ in 1 Tim 1:12, combines the preposition dia (through) with the noun konis (dust). Ngewa concludes on this basis that word ‘suggests moving so fast to carry out a duty that one leaves in a cloud of dust’ (p. 26). Yet the standard Greek lexica offer no backing for this understanding of the word. Christian diakonia (service, ministry) in NT usage had nothing to do with ‘dust’ or even hurrying, any more than ‘service’ in English has some relationship to ‘ice.’ Fanciful etymologies should be avoided in all translation work, but most of all when it comes to Scripture.”
-R. Yarbrough, JETS 53:2, p. 419.
June 25, 2010
Did you know that the term “Kung Fu” originally referred to expertise in any skill achieved through hard work and practice, not necessarily with martial arts (click here for definition). So, you could say someone has Kung Fu in cooking, or in calligraphy. Wikepedia states that “someone with ‘bad kung fu’ simply has not put enough time and effort into training.”
How cool. Now we can all say with entire honesty and straight faces that we’re “Kung Fu Masters.” Aren’t we all good at something that took effort and practice to perfect?
June 24, 2010
I was greatly encouraged and challenged yesterday reading through Jonathan Edwards sermon on humility and thought I’d share some of his thoughts.
A truly humble man is sensible of the small extent of his own knowledge, and the great extent of his ignorance, and the small extent of his understanding as compared with the understanding of God. He is sensible of his weakness; how little his strength is, and how little he is able to do. He is sensible of his natural distance from God; of his dependence on him; of the insufficiency of his own power and wisdom.
Humility disposes one to be distrustful of himself, and to depend only on God. The proud man, that has a high opinion of his own wisdom, or strength, or righteousness, is self-confident. But the humble are not disposed to trust in themselves…and delight to cast themselves wholly on Him as their refuge, and righteousness, and strength.
The man that is under the influence of an humble spirit is content with such a situation amongst men as God is pleased to allot to him, and is not greedy of honor, and does not affect to appear uppermost and exalted above his neighbors. He acts on the principle of that say of the prophets (Jer xlv. 5) ‘Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not,” and also of that injunction of the Apostle (Romans xii. 16), “Mind not the high things.”
In talking of the things of religion, he has not the air, either in his speech or behavior, of one that esteems himself one of the best saints in the whole company, but he rather carries himself as if he thought, in the expression of the Apostle (Ephesians iii. 8), that he was “less than the least of all saints.”
A truly humble man is inflexible in nothing but in the cause of his Lord and master, which is the cause of truth and virtue. In this he is inflexible because God and conscience requires it; but in things of lesser moment, and which do not involve his principles as a follower of Christ, and in things that only concern his own private interests, he is apt to yield to others.
Pride makes men to be so uneasy when they are reproved…. Humility, on the contrary, will dispose them not only to tolerate such reproofs, but to esteem them and prize them as marks of kindness and friendship. ‘Let the righteous smite me.’
-Jonathan Edwards, “The Spirit of Charity is an Humble Spirit,” Charity and its Fruits (193, 198, 200, 203, 205, 208).
June 23, 2010
In recent years there has been a growing trend in Christian circles to emphasize manliness. Just read John Eldrige’s testosterone laced Wild at Heart for a sampling. Such masculine themes received special emphasis in many churches this past Sunday for Father’s Day. In this article I will be interacting with one such church’s Father’s Day service, highlighted in a column from Monday’s paper entitled “Making Church a Manly Affair.” According to the article:
ULTIMATE MAN DAY…FATHER’S DAY LIKE IT’S NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE. Crowding the parking lot [of a Raleigh based church] were motorcycles, a sporty GTO, a monster truck, a cigar stand. On the TV monitor in the lobby were game highlights from the NBA championship series. And inside the auditorium, where the service was taking place, there were screaming electric guitars, then a clip from ‘The Last Samurai,’ then an abbreviated sermon from the pastor.
Such efforts were made because the number of men attending church has been steadily declining. Willing to do “whatever it takes,” this church grilled “500 chicken wings, 100 turkey legs, and countless hot dogs–the culinary bait.” Reacting to the modern trend which downplays “the tougher side of Christ,” this church reminds men that “Jesus could be a warrior.” Other churches are reaching out to men by offering morning breakfasts, fire pits, and cigar smoking.
How did the visiting men react to the efforts to reach them this past Sunday? One responded, “It felt good when I walked in–and the music was fantastic” (emphasis added).
At first glance, such efforts seem harmless and even intriguing. After all, what’s so bad about trying to get men back in church? But one must pause and ask why churches are concerned about reaching them? Is the focus on simply raising church attendance? Is the church merely trying to prove that men belong too, or that church can be fun?
At a practical level, how are these churches going to sustain this manliness? What will these men think who come back next Sunday and find the food gone, the music tame, and the monster trucks vanished?
And beyond these surface issues, these trends at reaching men are extremely alarming. I fear churches striving for this type of manliness are portraying a grossly warped view of manhood. Nowhere in Scripture does manhood consist in macho cars, athletics, or food. These are priorities of the world. What, then, is the church’s point in commending these on father’s day? Are they trying to make a statement to the world: “We value these things too!” Or perhaps the church is saying “Come here to enjoy these things.”
What a shallow message! If Christianity consists of basketball highlights, screaming music, and gory movies, why bring people to church? Wouldn’t people be better off going to the concert hall, the arena, and the theater for these? What’s worse, the church is simply taking its cues from the world, letting the secular culture shape its values and even its definition of manhood. How effective and influential is a church that merely echoes the priorities of its pagan culture? No more effective, but just as annoying, as a little brother mimicking the every move of his cooler, bigger brother.
I fear these churches have terribly distorted the Bible’s definition of manhood. Two of the greatest examples of men in the OT were Moses and David. Moses is commemorated as the most humble man who had ever lived, and David as a man after God’s heart–referring not to his warrior nature or bloody battles (which kept him from constructing God’s temple), but to his radical obedience and devotion to God.
When the NT speaks of manly men, those who emulate the traits which should mark every male believer, it commends traits such as faithful devotion to one’s wife, hospitality, teachability, lack of dependence to any substance, a good leader of one’s house, one free from the love of money (1 Tim 3:2-7).
Jesus, who displayed perfect manhood, classified himself as gentle and humble. Nowhere did he emphasize his own or God’s warrior-like traits. Rather, as believers are conformed to his image, to the very likeness of God, they live righteously, lovingly, and separately (Eph 4:24). Furthermore, Jesus came on a donkey, not a stallion. I suppose if there had been cars back then, he would have ridden a battery powered scooter, not a porsche!
The story of Jesus driving out the tax collectors is not included in scripture to encourage men to exert their testosterone. If I’m not mistaken, the story shows that Jesus wasn’t afraid to confront sin–a lesson which applies just as much to women as to men. On the other hand, NT themes such as love, gentleness, grace, and peace are just as much for the men as women.
The seeker friendly model for church growth (or male friendly model) misses the point. Church is not intended to be a place for the lost to come and “feel good.” Can you imagine the church in Acts strategizing over how to get the men back in church! If they had used current fadish masculine techniques they may have said:
Let’s bring in the coolest Roman chariots, let’s have reenactments from the colloseum, let’s have high-bred stallions on hitching posts outside the building, let’s give away free baklava.
Oh, but wait a minute, none of that would have worked because the church gave away their possessions to the poor, met in homes, and lived missional lives. So, rather than any such cheap gimmicks, Scripture tells us repeatedly that “THE LORD added daily to their number” (Acts 2:47). Paul later spoke of his manner of proclamation, saying “We have renounced secret and shameful ways, we use no deception” (2 Cor 4:2).
No, the focus was never on gimmicks and numbers. Rather, God’s church is promised “I will build the church.” So, if a church is struggling over growth, one might rightly ask it is God’s church, for God’s church is guaranteed. The NT continually emphasizes that God is the one who causes growth, and that believers need only to walk in obedience to Him. It was Paul who said, “God was causing the growth” (1 Cor 3:6) and “Christ…causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Eph 4:15-16).
Furthermore, one might rightly ask if the church was ever intended to be a place for the lost to come. If it was, it was not supposed to be comfortable, but rather extremely convicting: “But if all prophesy and an unbeliever enters, he is convicted and judged by all, and the secrets of his heart are laid bare, and he falls on his face and praises God, saying, ‘God is surely among you!” (1 Cor 14:24-25).
The modern American church is struggling for relevance and is in a quandary over the disappearance of men. There’s a whole movement based in large part on pop psychology and secular masculinity–wearing the deceitful guise of “Christian.” As we struggle over a definition and solution for Christian masculinity, let’s look to Scripture for our answers. And let us also take these words to heart, “What is highly esteemed among men is detestable in God’s sight” (Luke 16:15).
June 22, 2010
“We’re all working for the government now.”
-Bill Bridwell, real estate agent employed by Golden Touch Realty in Arizona
As part of the government bailout, the decision was made in ’08 to seize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a choice that so far has cost tax payers $ 145.9 billion–a number still growing as foreclosures increase. “The Congressional Budget Office has predicted that the final bill could reach $389 billion,” according to the article.
$389 billion is an enormous figure. That is over 1/3 of a trillion dollars. Let’s take a moment and remember just how big a billion dollars is, and let’s do that by comparing those figures with a few wealthy individuals and businesses.
Before his scandal, Woods was the wealthiest athlete in the world. He made hundreds of millions, and finally became the first and only billionaire athlete. Unfortunately, his billion is evaporated with the scandal. With all the money athletes bring in, a billion is still virtually unattainable for them
Until recently, the James Bond movies were Hollywood’s most lucrative movie franchise, bringing in a total of $5 billion. That figure was recently eclipsed by the Harry Potter movies, which have made $5.4 billion.
One of the world’s top 3 oil giants, BP just agreed with congress on a relief fund for the oil crisis–the nations worst ecological disaster EVER. The amount BP will pay? $20 billion.
The amount American tax payers will likely have paid the Mays and Macs in total bailout, a giant figure dwarfing the numbers of Tiger Woods, Hollywood movie series, and BP relief. Or, put another way, you and I and every American–all men, women, and children–every living and breathing individual in the country, paid $1,346.02 in ’08 just to Freddie and Fannie.
Why am I writing about all these numbers? Personally, I think they’re a reminder that we must look to God alone, not to money or Government or any other man-made crutch, for our help and security. If your hope is in the American system of government, I’m afraid to say that one day your mighty government, the same one that’s been bailing out so many, may one day need bailing out itself.
June 22, 2010
I was struck today reading in Deuteronomy 9 where Moses said,
I lay prostrate before the Lord those forty days and forty nights because the Lord had said he would destroy you. I prayed to the Lord and said, ‘O Sovereign Lord, do not destroy your people, your own inheritance that you redeemed by your great power…” (Deut 9: 25-26 NIV).
Moses prayed forty days and forty nights for that obstinate people, talk about concern! Does my prayer life at all reflect that type of concern? I’m reminded of the words of John Piper, who said that in order to spend an hour in prayer for the lost, you must first have an hour’s worth of concern.
June 22, 2010
“People on vacation are averse to dying.”
-David Baldacci, The Camel Club
Do I consider my life one long vacation, or do I live by the words of Paul who said, “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there” (Phil 3:19-20 NIV).