Sunday, September 30, 2007

Mark it zero. Next frame.


The German women have won the World Cup with a victory over Brazil, 2-0. They held the greatest women's player on the planet to ZERO goals. Talk about a title defense.

Not only did they go undefeated in the tournament, but they also outscored their opponents 21-0. They also held EVERY human they played against on EVERY team to ZERO goals.

Even if you're not a soccer fan, that's pretty impressive, especially with this being the first back-to-back women's World Cup victories, winning in 2003 as well.

They set a record with a 11-0 win over Argentina and Birgit Prinz now holds the record for the most goals scored in World Cup play with 14, topping the previous record of 12 held by American Michelle Ackers.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Don't act like you're not impressed!

There's a greater than zero chance you've not seen any games in Women's World Cup. They're on early in the morning and women's soccer is not quite as popular as the start of football season or the playoff hunt of baseball.

But, you've been missing some good stuff. As I did last year for the men, I find I have to root for the Fatherland and from Day 1 of this tournament I've been hoping for a US vs. Germany Final.

Well, Germany is in and if the US can handle up on Brazil tomorrow morning, Sunday could be a great final. Get your TiVo ready.

Those 2 teams have combined for 3 of the last 4 Women's World Cup championships, but the US women would have their work cut out for them.

How good are these daughters of Deutschland?

I'd have to say, "Sehr gut."

They've outscored the opposition in this tournament by a total of 19-0!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Well, if I was you, I'd do something about it. I would get up and redeem myself in the eyes of my father, my maker, and my coach!

Do sports build character?

I think it's a good to stretch oneself, to branch out into different activities, at least that's what I've been telling myself lately.

I am the coach of Rachel's soccer team of 6 year-old girls, the Purple Pixies.

I've really been enjoying and learning a lot about myself.

Tonight was our first game. We won, 6-1 (our goal against being an "own goal").

Hey, these girls are good. I inherited a good team, so I feel the weight of pressure to keep it going.

Tonight and after each practice I have felt that this is time well invested. I see these girls working together and making friends and essentially building character.

Yet, I've also been wondering about the end result of all this, or the goal(s). Is the goal for these girls to play in the World Cup or the Olympics someday? For them to get athletic scholarships?

For me, I'm happy if they have fun, make some friends, and learn somethings about working together, being resilient, and not quitting. Winning really is just gravy.

But, do sports build character?

If so, what is the point of diminishing returns?

When do they hit their character zenith? Little league? High school? College?

Look to the professionals. They've likely been playing organized sports for the vast majority of their lives. Surely, their character would be off the charts, right? Not so much.

Among professional athletes you'll find drug abusers, wife abusers, DUI-ers, money-grubbers, ego-exalters, bat corkers, steroid users, dog fighters, ear biters, video-taping cheaters, and garden variety criminals.

Where does it go askew?

Anthony Bradley laments and suggests an answer:
"Unfortunately, whatever character-building potential may exist in the world of athletics is often overwhelmed by a profit motive devoid of moral constraints."
I'm not of the opinion that athletes should be role models, but I wonder about transition from kids having fun playing a game developing character to people whose character you clearly would not want your children to emulate.

As Kip would ask, "Why is that?"

Do sports build character?

Anthony Bradley would suggest it's not the sports involvement per se:
"Sports do not build character in young people but virtuous adults do. In one sense youth sport is simply a medium for adult mentoring within the context of challenging situations. Character is bestowed – or not – from one generation to another."
Perhaps that's true. If so, I feel an even greater burden for these girls, not so much to teach them how to score soccer goals and prevent the opponents from doing so, but to teach them godly character ... which is a weightier task by far.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Here's looking at you, kid.

Erasmus* wrote: 'The best hope of a nation lies in the proper education of its youth."

I wonder, is that also true of a church? When you look at the next generation of your church, the kiddos, do you see future deacons and elders and those who will faithfully serve and take the baton?

Or do you see problems that need to be dealt with so the big people can have church?

At what point do they move from being liabilities at church to being viewed as assets?

We're at a point at Providence Church where we've been at it just over a year and some circumstances contribute to this being a good time to re-evaluate our children's programs.

What are we doing? How well are we doing it? Why are we doing it?

In most churches, there seems to be little emphasis on kids in church. But, why?

Perhaps it's because adults are the givers. Adults have cars and decide where the family will worship. Adults make the decisions regarding church for the family, but priority is often given to things solely dealing with parental happiness and preference.

Yet, children are the most captive audience. They are the most receptive & open audience. As many statistics will affirm, the vast majority of people who claim to be Christians say they became Christians by age 18.

The hardness of their hearts has not hit its zenith yet and they are still willing to listen to silly people like us who tell them things about God.

Thinking the discipleship of children should be a priority in the allocation of resources and time and evangelistic strategies, I wonder what those in the blogosphere look upon favorably regarding the children's programs at their respective churches.

As I don't get to visit other churches, much less get to experience their programs, I ask your help for those non-Providence Church people.

What have you experienced in other churches with regard to children's ministry that you deem effective, or praiseworthy, or otherwise worthy of emulation?

I happen to think we have a responsibility to train up the next generation, not just to be good Americans who stay out of jail, love their spouses, and don't beat their kids. We have a responsibility to turn over the reigns of the church to those we've prepared to far surpass anything we've done in the advancement of the kingdom.

* Erasmus - This Renaissance Humanist was responsible for the first published Greek New Testament (1516), a critical edition called the Textus Receptus (the "received text"). He was also the author of The Praise of Folly, wherein he satirically depicts areas of concern and/or needing reform in the 16th century church. Though he and Luther were greatly at odds over the nature of the will and the manner of reform of the church, Erasmus contributed greatly to the cause of reformation, particularly with these two efforts.

Friday, September 21, 2007

My motto's always been, "When it's right, it's right."

A Reforming Layman has a challenging Civics Quiz (I only scored 50/60), so I thought I'd share another quiz, one where I scored 100%.

I don't know what mammal or Simpsons character I am, but theologically I seem to be Anselm (1033-1109), the scholastic who defined theology as "faith seeking understanding."

What say you about your theological identity?

You scored as Anselm, Anselm is the outstanding theologian of the medieval period. He sees man's primary problem as having failed to render unto God what we owe him, so God becomes man in Christ and gives God what he is due. You should read 'Cur Deus Homo?'



Which theologian are you?

On a personal note, I've always appreciated Anselm's theological contribution with the necessity of the incarnation with regard to atonement. In other words, if God sets forth to redeem from among humanity, a God-man is necessary ... due to the nature of who God is.

Some had said the incarnation was necessary because that was the way God chose, but He could have chosen another way of redemption (e.g., the death of animal). Some were saying that it was only necessary since that was the plan God came up with, but He could have come up with a different plan.

Anselm said (Gunny paraphrase), "No, based on God's character, if there's going to be redemption there has to be satisfaction of His justice. Man should do it, because it's His debt. But He cannot pay it. God could do it, being infinite, but it's not His debt. But in the Christ, in the incarnation, you have one would could do it, fully God and fully man."
For God will not do it, because he has no debt to pay; and man will not do it, because he cannot. Therefore, in order that the God-man may perform this, it is necessary that the same being should perfect God and perfect man, in order to make this atonement. For he cannot and ought not to do it, unless he be very God and very man.
-from Cur Deus Homo? (Why God became Man), II.vii
None therefore can make this satisfaction except God. And none ought to make it except man. . . . If, then, it be necessary that the kingdom of heaven be completed by man's admission, and if man cannot be admitted unless the aforesaid satisfaction for sin be first made, and if God only can, and man only ought to make this satisfaction, then necessarily One must make it who is both God and man"
- Cur Deus Homo?,

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

2. Wherever you are, act like it's the place to be.

We all know that 1 in 5 US Americans can't find the United States on a world map. We also know it's because of all the underprivileged children in South Africa and the Iraq.

But in Texas, we know our geography. Are you familiar with these oddly named towns in the Lone Star State?

Addenda are welcome.

Need to be cheered up?
Pep , Texas 79353
Smiley , Texas 78159
Paradise , Texas 76073
Rainbow , Texas 76077
Sweet Home , Texas 77987
Comfort , Texas 78013

Love the Sun?
Sun City , Texas 78628
Sunrise , Texas 76661
Sunset, Texas 76270
Sundown, Texas 79372
Sunray , Texas 79086
Sunny Side , Texas 77423

Want something to eat?
Noodle , Texas 79536
Oatmeal , Texas 78605
Turkey , Texas 79261
Trout , Texas 75789
Sugar Land , Texas 7747976567
Rice , Texas 75155

To drink?
Sweetwater, Texas 79556

Why travel to other states?
Detroit , Texas 75436
Colorado City , Texas 79512
Denver City , Texas 79323
Nevada , Texas 75173
Memphis , Texas 79245
Miami , Texas 79059
Boston , Texas 75570
Santa Fe , Texas 77517
Tennessee Colony , Texas 75861
Reno , Texas 75462

Or outside the country?
Athens, Texas 75751
Moscow, Texas 75960
Canadian , Texas 79014
China , Texas 77613
Egypt , Texas 77436
Italy, TX 76651
Turkey , Texas 79261
London , Texas 76854
New London , Texas 75682
Paris , Texas 75460

Washington D.C.?
Whitehouse , Texas 75791

We even have a city named after our planet!
Earth , Texas 79031

And a city named after our State!
Texas City , Texas 77590

Energy , Texas 76452

Blanket , Texas 76432
Winters, Texas 79567

Like to read about History?
Santa Anna, Texas 76878
Goliad, Texas 77963
Alamo, Texas 78516
Gun Barrel City, Texas 75147

Need Office Supplies?
Staples , Texas 78670

Men are from Mars, woman are from
Venus , Texas 76084

You guessed it... it's on the state line...
Texline , Texas 79087

For the kids...
Kermit , Texas 79745
Elmo , Texas 75118
Nemo , Texas 76070
Tarzan , Texas 79783
Winnie , Texas 77665
Sylvester , Texas 79560

Other names you'll like:
Frognot , Texas 75424
Bigfoot , Texas 78005
Hogeye , Texas 75423
Cactus , Texas 79013
Notrees , Texas 79759
Best, Texas 76932
Veribest , Texas 76886
Kickapoo , Texas 75763
Dime Box, Texas 77853
Old Dime Box, Texas 77853
Telephone , Texas 75488
Telegraph , Texas 76883
Whiteface , Texas 79379
Twitty, Texas 79079
Muleshoe, Texas 79347
Cut -N- shoot, Texas 77306
Hoop And Holler, Texas 77369
Ding Dong, Texas
Farewell, Texas

The Anti-Al Gore City
Kilgore , Texas 75662

And, of course, there is a place in Texas that is......
Knott, Texas 79748

For us followers of Jesus types, members of the "body of Christ" ...
Corpus Christi, Texas 78401

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Show me the money!

For the longest time I couldn't understand why my Reformed Baptist friends (e.g., Brian, Jay & Matt) were jumping ship to the PCA.

Oh, I heard excuses like, "I'm covenantal now and this infant baptism thing is not all that silly after all" and "The PCA is more welcoming to my Reformedness than the SBC," but now I know the truth.

They must have adopted the Tidwell family motto: "Show me the money!"

What Pastors Get Paid
(Results from Christianity Today International’s latest nationwide research.)
"Presbyterian senior pastors earned the most in our survey—their average salary plus housing/parsonage was $78,000, while Baptist senior pastors earned next to last--$67,000."

However, unless Brian is taking the stealth approach to moving Tony out of the way, making him an offer he can't refuse so he doesn't have to sleep with the fishes, he might reconsider being a youth pastor in the PCA.
"But virtually the opposite was true for youth pastors. Baptist youth pastors earned near the top--$44,000 in salary plus housing, while Presbyterian youth pastors earned near the bottom--$36,000."

As a side note, the explanation for the discrepancy among youth pastor salaries was interesting:
"Baptist churches value youth ministry more"

I did not know that, but I read it on the Internet, so it must be true.

Friday, September 14, 2007

I'm gonna know for the first time in my life, see, that I weren't just another bum from the neighborhood.

Much of what you get forwarded in email is not worth the time to scroll through. However, this was a pleasant surprise and diversion from the day's drudgery.

The creator has distinguished himself/herself and can be confident that he/she weren't just another bum from the neighborhood.

(Click on the pictures to enlarge.)

It features a balcony, a Narthex, stairs to the balcony,
restrooms, coat rooms, several mosaics, a nave, a baptistery,
an altar, a crucifix, a pulpit and an elaborate pipe organ.

A few quick facts:

How long to build it? It was about a year and a half of planning,
building and photographing.

How many pieces of LEGO to build it? more than 75,000

How big is it? About 7 feet by 5 1/2 feet by 30 inches
(2.2 m x 1.7 m x .76 m )

How many LEGO people does it seat? 1,372

How many windows? 3,976

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I don’t have time to sculpt my guns.

He's not Doug E. Fresh, I'm not Slick Rick, and you're not the Get Fresh Crew, but it's still 6 minutes.

We may not have time to sculpt our guns, but we have time to share the good news of Jesus Christ.

Watch (or listen) as John Piper shares the Gospel in 6 Minutes.

(Or download the video or audio)

Or read the transcript:

What's the Gospel?

What’s the gospel? I’ll put it in a sentence.

The Gospel is the news that Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, died for our sins and rose again, eternally triumphant over all his enemies, so that there is now no condemnation for those who believe, but only everlasting joy.

That’s the gospel.

You Can't Outgrow the Gospel

You never, never, never outgrow your need for it. Don’t ever think of the gospel as, “That’s the way you get saved, and then you get strong by leaving it and doing something else.”

No! We are strengthened by God through the gospel every day, till the day we drop.

You never outgrow the need to preach to yourself the gospel.

How the Gospel Strengthens

Here’s an illustration, and I use it not because it’s any big deal to speak from my life, but because it’s what I walked through and where I most pointedly in the last year experienced the power of the gospel to make me strong. (Many of you are walking through things much heavier than prostate cancer—much heavier.)

Do you remember the verses that I shared with you back in February that were almighty for me? It was that moment right after the doctor says, “I think we need to do a biopsy,” when this stab of fear comes. It didn’t last long, mercifully.

And then came—what? 1Thessalonians 5:9-10. It’s just as pure gospel as you can get.

God has not destined you for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,who died for you so that whether you wake or sleep you will live with him.

Settled. Peace like a river.

The Gospel Is Perfect for Your Needs

That’s just gospel—perfectly timed, perfectly applied, perfectly suited to my need. That’s why the Bible is so thick—because there are so many different needs that you have. And there are suitable places where the gospel is unfolded for you, so that if you immerse yourself in the whole book, always with an eye for what Christ has wrought for you and purchased for you in this thick, glorious history of God’s interaction with people, he will give you what you need.

Therefore, everything in me says, and I hope to say until the day I die, “Now, to him who is able to strengthen me, according to Paul’s gospel, to him—to that God—be glory forever and ever.”

God came into history in Jesus Christ; he died in order to destroy the power of hell and death and Satan and sin; and he did it through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

A Plea to Believe

I know that there are people reading this who are not trusting Jesus Christ, and therefore can only expect condemnation. So I’m just going to plead with you here at the end, lay down that rebellion. Lay it down. And simply embrace the gospel that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Righteous One, died for your sins. He was raised on the third day, triumphant over all his enemies. He reigns until he puts all of his enemies under his feet. Forgiveness of sins and a right standing with God comes freely through him alone, by faith alone.

I plead with you, don’t try to be strong in your own strength; it will not be there when you need it. Only one strength will be there—the strength that God gives according to the gospel.

Don’t put it off.

[This text is an edited transcript of the audio. It is excerpted from the sermon, “God Strengthens Us by the Gospel.”]

© Desiring God

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Brothers don't shake hands; brothers gotta hug!

Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary speaks to the issue of hugging in church. He's been rethinking his views.

Initially he was dead set against it, as is seen in his intentional tardiness to avoid a greeter's hug:
I decided one weekend to check out a service at a local charismatic congregation. As our two families entered the sanctuary a person standing at the door greeted each person with “Good morning. Welcome. May I give you a hug?” I was at the rear of our party, and when I observed this I whispered to my wife, “Save me a seat,” and I turned around and waited in the parking lot until the service started.

Many churches have greeters at the door to ... well, uh ... greet people. I wonder, is hugging encouraged or discouraged? Is it left up to the individual, intentionally or unintentionally?

Personally, I'm not much of a hugger and I never have been. In junior high I saw it as a ploy whereby boys got to squeeze the pretty girls.

(I noticed they were much more jazzed to hug the pretty girls. In fact, the lesser ladies were more likely to get the "let's just be friends" side hug.)

In college I learned that girls were pretty naive to such things as males with less than stellar motives.

I remember asking guys in my Bible study, "Are you hugging for your benefit or the benefit of the huggee?" In other words, are you hugging to make the other person feel better or to make yourself feel better?

In general, I don't hug females who are not related to me in some way. This hasn't always been an easy path to navigate, especially in England where we had some family friends who were not only avid huggers, but kissers as well!

Perhaps I'm overly concerned about being perceived as some goon who wants to get his paws on another man's wife or daughter. But I don't want to risk it. Besides, if I need a hug, I can get one at home.

The other exception I'm open to is hugging ladies the age of my grandmother. As I mature, this becomes a smaller pool, but I feel pretty safe here, and I think they do as well.

With the perception of men as predators, there's a real caution I would issue to those in ministry. In particular, I would suggest that men should never "initiate" the hug.

I understand that ladies can be overly "touchy" and some may have ulterior motives and that there may be a double-standard at play here, but history and perception are reality in this arena.

Do you encourage hugging in your church? If so, do you establish hugging etiquette?

Visitors will wonder about the hugging culture at your church. For example, one lady shares her experience.
A few Sundays ago we visited a church and I saw someone that I sort of know, which means that I miraculously remembered his first name. As he walked toward me I panicked. Was he a hugger or a shaker? I couldn’t remember. He drew closer and closer. Hugger or shaker, which was it? A sweat broke out on my brow. He must have been thinking the same thing because we approached each other like two sumo wrestlers taking to the mat. We ended up doing an elaborate hug-shake that resembled some sort square dance. Very weird and very awkward.

Should churches have a hugging ministry?

Or is your greeter the dirty old man that the ladies have learned how to avoid by using a side door? (Don't laugh, I have heard some stories along those lines!)

Is your church instead perceived as "cold" because there's not enough hugging?

Does a prohibition against hugging in the work place led to a "hostile" work environment? Or is that just a good way to avoid sexual harassment issues?

Have you become an advocate of the "side hug" to minimize physical contact? Is hugging too intimate for strangers? Ladies, are you proactive by extending a hand for a shake, so that you indicate boundaries?

What's your theology and practice of hugging? Does your church have any discernible climate when it comes to hugging, etc.?

P.S. Don't even get me started on the "holy kiss" discussion. I'm at a loss as to what that is.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

As I suspected, he was a coward and a weakling, and also wore more cologne than any man should wear.

Today marks the 6th anniversary of that day of infamy, one whereby we all remember where we were and what we were doing when heard/saw the news.

I must say that after 6 years I'm disappointed we still haven't tracked down Osama, a coward and a weakling.

His recent video whereby he tried to suggest we convert to Islam really chapped my hide. He will apparently present another where he shares the last will & testament of one of the terrorists responsible for murder on 9/11.

It seems to me that part of not forgetting is also remembering, remembering that this war is not over and that the enemy still lurks. That enemy is multi-faceted, for on the one hand we have the terrorists and advancing Islam with its national threats, but more importantly we have the powers of darkness that govern those which seek to dishonor our Christ.

Though there is overlap, those enemies are fought differently (e.g. Eph 6:10-18) and neither should be forgot.

(P.S. Read about the three 9/11s you should know according to John Piper.)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Fish are friends, not food.

*The following is a rehash & expansion of an article that will appear in the Murphy Messenger this week.*

Parenting … it’s always an adventure, isn’t it?

The newest development in our household is that my oldest two daughters now have little aquariums. They were so excited to come home and get them set up with the little rocks and the treasure chest and the fake plants. Then came the fish.

We’ve had dogs. We’ve had cats. Hamsters were requested, but fish I was not expecting.

I think pets are good for kids; they facilitate learning. If you have a dog in the backyard, they’ve learned that in life you don’t have to step in it to know that it smells.

Dogs taught our kids the responsibility of ensuring there was always something to eat & drink—just like God always provides for His own.

From cats they learned that affections are not always returned or appreciated, just as we often shun time with our Heavenly Father.

But what about fish? What can they learn from fish? I found out.

“One of my fish ate pepper!”

My puzzled look prompted the teary-eyed Sarah to say, “One of my fish ate my other fish.” Oh … I see.

(Apparently, Pepper is a fish, not a seasoning)

This was on the heels of a call I received on the way home. I needed to pick up a fish net. One of Rachel’s fishes had died and needed to be sent to a watery grave.

My daughters are 8 and 6 and they weren’t happy that death had reared its ugly head in their aquariums. But having fish has taught them that death is part of life and that life is fleeting.

The reality of death is harsh, especially when death overtakes a loved one. Our kids have not experienced the death of a family member, though we dealt with the loss of one of Sarah's best friends earlier in the year.

Death, even of fish, is a reminder of just how fleeting life is.
What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
-James 4:14, ESV
If you’ve had kids you know how easy it is to blink and miss so much. You have babies that yesterday learned to walk and now are in school. Tomorrow they’ll want to marry someone unworthy of them.

Our beloved friends and family are worth far more than fish. You can’t just spend another few dollars and replace them.

It's cliche perhaps, but God brings people in our lives for a season and then they are gone. Appreciate them as gifts from God (James 1:17; Ps 127:3; Prov 19:14) and allocate your time accordingly.

Prioritize the people in your life, especially if you have young children. One day they're pestering you to tell you about their toy or show you their newest trick and then the next they're going to be wanting to play with friends or talking to them on the phone.

One day you're their great source of wisdom and then the next you're gonna be out of touch with reality and a moron of the highest order.

I thank God for my kiddos and hope to minimize the regret of not enjoying and appreciating their younger years. It's never too late to try to renew the relationships, but I hope we all have minimal catch-up to pursue.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?

10 years ago today was the funeral service for Diana, formerly the princess of England and wife of the crown prince.

I've lived 3 years of my life in England, so I'm not totally ignorant of the monarchy and the role it plays in the life of the people, but I never quite understood the sainthood afforded Diana, particularly in her later years.

Jeffrey Weiss posted what I was thinking then ... and now: Ten years after Diana, I still agree with me
Consider her as a role model: not for my niece, thank you.
Adultery, self-mutilation, bulimia. Not to mention a learned
ability to get down and dirty with her unpleasant ex-husband and
his allies in the use of the media as a weapon of revenge.

Yes, she seems to have been a doting mother. But I hope that our
world is not so fallen to make that an amazing achievement.

I'm not so much suggesting she deserves/deserved bashing, belittling and carrying on, but even after 10 years I find it odd she is so revered.

Weiss draws a parallel to John F. Kennedy, but I'm probably the bad Ag for not quite understanding the greatness there either.

Coming from a corrupt family, having a reputation for gross infidelity, and having ties to the murder of Marilyn Monroe, I'm not seeing the "saintworthiness." Was he that accomplished as a president?

I'm not a hater just because I disagree with his socialistic tendencies and I know there have been many politicians who were corrupt, and I'm suggesting we not dote on them either, regardless of party affiliation.

I think much of the tragedy with both Diana & JFK centers around perceived potential that was not realized, as Weiss alludes.
I'm not suggesting that Diana couldn't have accomplished great things had she lived. The resumes of most 36-year-olds offer more evidence of potential than achievement.

Suppose Kennedy finishes his term & office and doesn't even get re-elected in '64? Remember, he barely won in '60 over Nixon and his presidency wasn't exactly smooth (e.g., Bay of Pigs fiasco). Suppose he's a "one-hit wonder" with regard to the presidency and goes on to obscurity? Is his legacy founded upon celebrity and perceived great potential that was brutally cut short?

I just wonder if such tragic deaths are not the cause of many being regarded as heroes or role models, etc.

I don't even know if Diana saw herself as a role model or wanted to be such. I'm confident she was not seeking fame to the point of her tragic death. She was not the princess when she died; she had moved on in her life to another man.

The media was pursuing her and I'll never quite understand the obsession, but I think it simultaneously led to her death and perpetuity.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Did he fire six shots or only five?

Sometimes the most profound thing you can say would be in the form of a question.

A person who crafted some great questions was Dr. D. James Kennedy, who has passed away.
The Rev. D. James Kennedy, a pioneering Christian broadcaster and megachurch pastor whose fiercely conservative worldview helped fuel the rise of the religious right in American politics, died Wednesday. He was 76.

While you may not know his name or of his accomplishments (e.g., longevity pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (PCA), founder of Knox Seminary, radio & TV broadcasts, and author), you're likely are familiar with his contribution to evangelism.

From Dr. Kennedy's "Evangelism Explosion" training program we got the following "diagnostic questions":

1. Have you come to the point in your spiritual life where you know for certain that if you were to die today you would go to heaven or is that something you would say you're still working on? (The question seeks to gauge the level of assurance on the part of the individual. I've also varied the question to ask something to the effect of, "If you died tonight, how sure are you that you would go to heaven? 100%? Less?")

2. If you stood before God and He asked you, "Why should I let you into my heaven?" what would you tell Him?
(The question seeks to gauge in what, or whom, the individual has confidence with regard to his/her eternal soul. Trusting in anything other than the person & work of the Lord Jesus Christ is, of course, problematic.)

These questions (or slight variations thereof) have been used by countless many in an effort to help an unconverted person understand his/her plight under the wrath of a holy God and the only means of satisfaction of that wrath in the person and work of Christ.

The questions aren't foolproof in determining the status of a person's soul, for one could know and give the right answers and still be unconverted.

Yet, they are good diagnostic questions and Evangelism Explosion is not a bad way to go with regard to evangelism training.

Thanks be to God for one such as Dr. Kennedy. I look forward to meeting him on the other side.

From the man himself:
“Now, I know that someday I am going to come to what some people will say is the end of this life. They will probably put me in a box and roll me right down here in front of the church, and some people will gather around, and a few people will cry. But I have told them not to do that because I don’t want them to cry. I want them to begin the service with the Doxology and end with the Hallelujah chorus, because I am not going to be there, and I am not going to be dead. I will be more alive than I have ever been in my life, and I will be looking down upon you poor people who are still in the land of dying and have not yet joined me in the land of the living. And I will be alive forevermore, in greater health and vitality and joy than ever, ever, I or anyone has known before.”

A few tributes:

Al Mohler
My indebtedness to Dr. Kennedy is very personal. I was a young Southern Baptist who as a teenager had serious questions about the big issues of the Christian faith. Dr. Kennedy's ministry at Coral Ridge addressed those big questions. He was unafraid to take on the intellectual challenges of the faith. He was kind to a Baptist teenager, introducing me to Francis Schaeffer and dignifying my questions. He clearly enjoyed talking theology and he was the first person I had ever met who demonstrated this joy. He was kind. I was hooked. In no small way my own calling as a theologian can be traced to Dr. Kennedy's influence. I was inspired by his intellectual engagement and motivated by his vision of excellence for God's glory.

Tony Felich
I was becoming a Calvinist in college and became aware of the Presbyterian Church in America as one of the denominations I would fit with. I distinctly remember someone telling me D. James Kennedy was a PCA minister. While at Moody Bible Institute, I went to the library and found several articles in magazines by Kennedy and a book called "What if Christ had Never Been Born". He was my introduction to the PCA.

Stan Guthrie
All who knew him, however, talked most not about his views on abortion or school prayer but about his integrity and warm pastor's heart.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

What I object to is that you automatically treat me like an inferior!

Last Sunday's sermon at Providence Church was on Luke 17:7-10.
7"Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come at once and recline at table'? 8Will he not rather say to him, 'Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink'? 9Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'" (ESV)

In the sermon I dealt at great length with the issue of pride, because I think that's our primary obstacle to realizing our full potential as unworthy servants doing our duty.

In the sermon I shared some good quotations along the way. For example ...
"In place of true humility we learn certain words or phrases that we believe make us sound humble: ‘Oh, really, it was nothing’ or ‘Anyone could have done it.’ We cast our eyes down and shrug our shoulders or maybe even blush. Of course, we don’t really mean it—inside we’re congratulating ourselves for how humble we look and feel. We want that reputation but don’t know how to get to the reality. Like children playing dress-up in their parents’ clothes, we’re only acting humble; none of it really fits us."
-Joshua Harris
"Being critical and/judgmental of others is not a spiritual gift, but a mark of pride. Dealing graciously with others is a sign of diminished pride, especially those who offend you."
-Gunny Hartman
"And if I’m arrogant, I need to remember God doesn’t sympathize with me in that arrogance; He is opposed to the proud."
-C. J. Maheny
"We even get offended when people act as if they see us better than we see ourselves."
-Paul David Tripp
"... boasting and self-pity as two forms of pride. Boasting is the response of pride to success. Self-pity is the response of pride to suffering. Boasting says, 'I deserve admiration because I have achieved so much.' Self-pity says, 'I deserve admiration because I have sacrificed so much.' Boasting is the voice of pride in the heart of the strong. Self-pity is the voice of pride in the heart of the weak. Boasting sounds self-sufficient. Self-pity sounds self-sacrificing. The reason self-pity does not look like pride is that it appears to be needy. But the need arises from a wounded ego, and the desire is not really for others to see them as helpless but as heroes. The need that self-pity feels does not come from a sense of unworthiness but from a sense of unrecognized worthiness. It is the response of unapplauded pride."
-John Piper
"Obedience doesn't mean you want to; it just means you do."
-Gunny Hartman
"Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to be saying to us, “I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.” Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size."
-John Stott

I also gave some characteristics of a godly servant:
This week Joe Thorn shared some offspring of pride from a Richard Mayo sermon, adding his own musings to each of the progeny. He notes that pride gives birth to:
  1. Covetousness - because you believe you deserve something more than others.
  2. Ungodly ambition - because you believe that you are most qualified, and the idea of someone else being preferred over you is an insult to your perceived worth.
  3. Boasting - because everyone should know who you are and what you have accomplished.
  4. Contention - because in picking fights you feel a sense of superiority over those who may (or may not) be in error.
  5. Unthankfulness - because you deserve everything you get!
  6. Selfishness - because others do not!
  7. Self-deceit - because it’s easier to believe you are something, when in fact you are nothing.
  8. A judgmental attitude - because you believe the errors of others are much more serious than your own.
  9. Gossip - because you look so much better when telling others how awful someone else is. Mayo said that the proud “endeavor to build their own praise upon the ruins of others’ reputation.”
  10. Complaining - because God should have consulted you before orchestrating the events of your day/life.
  11. Hypocrisy - because you must hide the truth, your own failures, in order to avoid shame and accumulate praise.

And yesterday I came across 5 Symptoms Of A Proud Heart:
  1. You get defensive at the first sign of criticism or correction. Proverbs 13:1 says, "A wise son hears his father's instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke." A humble man eagerly receives rebuke, correction, and criticism. I on the other hand, am quick to be defensive. What about you? When you receive correction from others at work, or at church, or in the family, how do you respond?

  2. You are quick to speak and slow to listen. Proverbs 18:2 says, "A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion." I'm often not interested in others or what others have to say, but only in voicing my own opinion. The humble person on the other hand, is slow to speak and eager to hear the input and wisdom of others. When you're with other people, are you quick to voice your own opinion, or are you eager to hear the opinions of others?

  3. You're convinced that you're always right. Proverbs 12:15 says, "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice." I'm very proud, which in turn causes me to be certain that I'm right in all situations, at all times. The humble person is keenly aware of their blind spots, and aware that they could be wrong. When a debate arises, are you convinced that your way is the right way?

  4. You're quick to criticize and slow to encourage. I'm aware of people's deficiencies and unaware of God's grace at work in people's lives. The result? Much criticism and little encouragement. The humble person however can identify with Paul when he said, "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost." (1 Tim 1:15) Are you more aware of people's faults or the grace of God at work in their life?

  5. You become overwhelmed when life gets chaotic. When life gets chaotic and I'm loaded down with responsibilities, I can be easily overwhelmed. Why? Because I'm self-sufficient. In my pride, I rely on my own strength to carry out my plans. However, when things get chaotic, I get anxious. The humble person depends on God to carry out and execute plans, and thus experiences God's peace.

Most of us really don't want to be humble or strive for humility. Instead, we only want to appear humble and be thought of as humble by others.

Our pride gets in the way of our service to God and/or others, because such activity is unworthy of us. If we do serve, our pride resents the experience if we're not given sufficient praise. Plus, those people are deemed unworthy of our service, so we automatically treat others as inferior.
"At every stage of our Christian development and in every sphere of our Christian discipleship, pride is the greatest enemy and humility our greatest friend."
-John Stott

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