January 24, 2006

Must We Be a People of Extremes

There are always people on both sides of the issue. Yes, I will endeavor a trip into the well-travelled blog-world of "The End of The Spear." I tread cautiously, as well. I must say I was caught by surprise at the casting of someone of Chad Allen's caliber, or lack thereof. The 'extremes' in the title refer to the reactions I have seen by Christians. You have the 'militant group' who want to rectify the issue by having Allen kicked off the cast, or something like that. I'm not sure for what they are exactly pushing.

I made a trip into a Crossway book store today to buy a Bible for a friend I am trying to disciple. Sorry, I went for the Holman CSB. (But back to the real issue.) As I went to check out, I saw that above the register there was a "The End of Spear " display, stocked with t-shirts, posters, and the like. Once again, I am not surprised by this, but maybe a little bit dismayed. This scene always creates a rather painful chuckle on my insides. I almost find it funny how some Christians grasp at any and every thing labeled 'Christian' that comes out. Where is our discernment? I am not a militant, but certainly not an eager beaver either when it comes to promoting all this stuff.

I guess my two choices are before me: (1) Side with the militant group and condemn/boycott, or (2) side with the ambitious group and deem this the best thing since Constantine made Christianity the official religion of Rome.

Once again, I find myself in no man's land. I think I will start my own camp. Wait, I thought that was what I was trying to get away from...

January 21, 2006

When in Rome...


You have heard that it was said, "When in Rome, do as the Romans." I am not sure who goofed, but the Vice President of the USA made a major fashion faux pas while visiting President Mubarak of Egypt. "Uhh, excuse me Mr. Vice President...Mr. Vice President, I don't think your shoes go with your suit."

January 14, 2006

CHARITY Stripe (you're not kidding)

Clemson and Duke did battle today, in what turned out to be a solid college basketball game. Duke ended up winning the game by 10 to improve to 16-0. (The last time they went 17-0 was in 1991 - Duke's first college basketball title year) The key stat in the game was free throws, hence the title. Duke shot their normal 80% for the game, going 29-36. Clemson, on the other hand, shot a miserable 6-22 for the game. I'm not a profession analyst, but I don't think you'll beat any elite team with that kind of shooting.

I'm sure i'll have to endure the usual excuses from UNC fans. (this time i'm prepared!!! Yes, I have this shirt.) NO, you are not allowed to say that if Clemson makes 11 more free throws, they win the game. That is not a valid logical argument. You can't be certain all other factors would remain constant. Regardless, it still helps when a team shoots 27% from the free-throw line.

Yes, love was flowing in full force from the charity stripe. But hey, a win is a win, right?!

Jeff Agoos Reincarnated

For those of you who don't know who Jeff Agoos is, he was a mainstay on the US men's team as well as a perennial contributor for several MLS teams. He was on 5 MLS Cup-winning teams, tops among MLS players. I've been watching soccer since 1999, and the memory that sticks out in my mind the most about Agoos is the 'amazing' own goal he scored against (for) Portugal in the 2002 World Cup. In addition to fouling a player in the penalty area, he lost his mark about as often as the whistle blew. OK, enough history. (click here for more...very humorous read)

This week, DC United defender Bobby Boswell was called into the US training camp because of an apparent dearth of defenders present. This is Boswell's first appearance in the US camp. This call-up follows a season in which Boswell scored 3 times. This is generally good for a defender, except for the fact that all three were OWN goals. Yes, Boswell is strikingly similar to Agoos. He has the distinct ability of nearly blowing big games. It would be tragic for Boswell to make it to the US camp. Just to cover my tracks in case he develops into a solid defender, I won't say he should never play for the US team, but just not this World Cup.

The ghost of Jeff Agoos looms large. I hope Germany's stadiums are spook-proof.

Book Review & Recommendation: Not Even A Hint

I suspect that many have read this book by Josh Harris. It has a changed title and cover design than it did when it first hit the shelves. It's now called Sex is not the Problem (Lust is). From what I read on his website that the cover was changed because Max Lucado wrote a book with the same basic cover design as Harris used several years prior on Not Even a Hint. (I guess I wouldn't want my writing confused with Lucado's either.)

If you are out of your 20's, you may be tempted to think of Harris as just a teen writer, who is popular because he wrote a dating book. Let me assure you, this guy is solid. This book is, well...frank! He doesn't mince words. He probably is too open and honest to fit in most of the 'solid, fundamentalist' churches where I'm from. That is not a slap on the churches, but rather the type of Christians that seem to exist today.

Harris trumpets the theme that without constant dependence on God's grace, you cannot see victory over any sin. If you are looking to feel good about yourself, don't read this book. (Although, it would be good for you.) Even with a strong focus on God's grace, Harris does not fall into 'let go and let God' mentality. He includes strategic tips incorporating wisdom into the picture.

In the opening chapter Harris quotes Jerry Bridges saying, "Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace" (11). This book was like a road sign that pointed me back to God's grace. We can become so dependent upon a plan or a feel good strategy that we don't depend on His grace. It almost goes without saying that if you aren't wise in areas of temptation, staying away from things that trigger you, you will continue to struggle. But Harris's point is that without God's grace, any 'change' you see is merely temporary moral reform.

Praise be to God for His grace, greater than our sin. (Romans 5:20)

January 5, 2006

Right Target, Wrong Focus (Part 1)

This is definitely a post where I am in water over my head, and I am struggling to stay afloat. Yet I cannot help but make a few observations. It is obvious that the word "worship" is being used an awful lot. You cannot look for 5 seconds in a Christian bookstore without the word getting your attention. Morning service is now called by some "worship." Right now, Worship is familiar to mostly all Christians, especially those in more progressive churches.

What then is my criticism? Good question! I hope I know the answer. It seems that when the word worship it used, people give it attention. They treat anything with the worship label very differently. Now, it does not bother me that people are concerned about worship, or that they deem it important. However, maybe we are worshiping worship and not really worshiping God. Why do I say this? Lately, I get the idea that some people associate worship with an activity that involves a 'worshiped-labeled' item.

Examples:

- Singing a praise and worship song (or a hymn, for that matter) does not necessarily mean that you have worshiped God.

- Raising your hands or crying does not necessarily indicate true worship.

- You may even attend 'worship' and leave having not worshiped God.

I hope these are not alarming. However, it may be good if they are. I would make the assertion that alot of times we attempt 'instant worship.' Here's what I mean:
  • You work all week. By Friday, you are pretty worn out, with good reason. But hey! Saturday is your day, right? It's really the 'only free day of the week.' You go shopping and have friends over that night. You talk till 1 AM, because, hey! it's your day. You go to sleep saturday night almost dreading the fact that Sunday School/ABF starts 'amazingly' early. (even though it's at least an hour later than when most people have to be at work) The alarm rings Sunday morning, and you're exhausted. You scramble to get to church on time, but you walk into church like you are so excited. You sing, pray, listen and leave, and somehow it pleases you that you successfully made it through 'worship.'

I think about it this way: If I had tickets to a big game, I would anticipate it all week. I would think in my mind how awesome it would be. I would make sure all plans were made beforehand, etc. Yet when it's time to meet as a local body of believers in the house of God to truly worship, it almost seems as if Sunday morning catches me by surprise. WHY??? Well, worship is not easy; it's definitely not passive.

***Part 2 will hopefully arrive by the end of the week.***

A Long Read...But Worth It

This article contains much information and is quite lengthy, but Paleoevangelical makes some valid points regarding Traditional Fundy's, 'Questioning Fundy's', and New Evangelicals.

Enjoy!

Click here to read.

January 4, 2006

Highlights from Christmas Break!

This is mainly for the few friends that I have that actually check my site more than once or twice a year. (Note: that was not an official pity party!) Anyway, I just wanted to recap some of the best moments from the past 3 weeks while I have been home from college. These are in no particular order, for those of you who seek to read into absolutely everything!

  • I drove a 2005 Corvette. It was my first time driving a machine like this.
  • Christmas was on Sunday for the first time in quite a while. It was great to worship the Lord corporately on Christmas day.
  • I went to a Duke basketball game at Cameron Indoor, quite possibly the most prestigious of all college basketball locales. A great friend of mine was too generous and kind in giving me those tickets. By the way, that day, January 2nd, was my birthday. (See "Durham Bound" for more details)
  • The Lord was gracious to allow me to strengthen my relationship with Him. An award-winning essay would not even be close to being sufficient to describe the unbelievable greatness of God's grace on display in my life. I cannot wait till I can worship Him.
  • It was also great to spend time with family, friends, as well as a girl in whom I have much interest!
  • This one is maybe the most surprising, not counting the Duke tickets. I worked with a Landscape/Lawn-Maintenance company for one week while at home. I was paired with an extremely nice Mexican man for the whole week. Having taken 2 years of spanish in high school, I was somewhat equipped for the challenge. He spoke about as much English (ingles) as I spoke Spanish. (espanol) Not only was I able to sharpen my Spanish repertoir, but I also had several opportunities to share the Gospel with him. He is 'modified' Roman Catholic. I am praying that he will accept Christ if he is not a Christian. I will see him one more time, and that may be it.
This was a great Christmas Break. I just wanted to share with others the greatness of God displayed in my life. I hope you will do the same!

January 2, 2006

Durham Bound!!!

If I were not a Christian, I would call this luck. However, since I believe in God and that He is sovereign and good, I call this a blessing from Him. It has been a lifelong dream of mine to watch Duke play in Cameron Indoor Stadium. (For those who don't know, that's men's college basketball) There is some irony that builds this story to its present moment. As I already mentioned, I have been a lifelong fan of the Blue Devils. (By the way, I have no moral qualms about liking a team called the Blue Devils...however, I do have a problem with placing anything-including sports-ahead of Christ -- just for the record!) Having always been a fan, I naturally wanted to see them play in the storied Cameron Indoor Stadium (capacity: 9,314). The tickets are incredibly difficult to get, because the students occupy approximately half of the seats. To make a long story short, this pair of tickets I got from a friend today makes the fourth set I have gotten. However, I was not able to go the previous three times because of unavoidable conflicts.

So today will mark the first time I have set foot in the building to watch, in person, the team that I've watched on TV so many times. Oh, and by the way, today is my 20th birthday. So, I guess this is quite a present. I seriously thank the Lord for providing these tickets. I honestly believe He gives us things to enjoy that are fleeting so we will not forget His goodness, but also that He is our supreme satisfaction.

DURHAM OR BUST!!!

Straight from the Flyleaf

I hope in the coming months to post some good lyrics on my blog. This is the first entry, but hopefully there will be many more to come. I hope that these will be edifying, but also useful in private worship of the Lord. Many times, after spending time in the Word, meditation on a song rich in theology and meaning can be helpful. This song written by Shane Barnard captures the struggle we as Christians fight our whole spiritual life. I've often heard, if a Christian does not struggle with sin, either he's not saved, or he has chosen not to fight (and we won't begin to discuss the problems there). I hope these lyrics will be a help.

"It haunts me so This gloomy weight
That comes and goes Without a trace
A thousand times my flesh embrace
A thousand more but if for grace

To see the Lord, the promise land
Where in sins pearly gates look bland
And what was once a pearl now sand
That blows away in light of Him

When battle lines become unclear
And the waging war is all I hear
Sustain me with Your voice
And the choice to walk in truth

That I might see this day
This waging war might go away
And be no more

That I might see His face
And hear Him say
"Son, welcome home
The war is over"


***Disclaimer: By posting these lyrics, I am taking full responsibility for their content, but I do not necessarily approve or condemn the genre of the music set to these words.***