February 12, 2006

CONTEXT, People! Context!

Hat tip to Aaron over at Aaron's Corner for this one. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it.

At the very top of the web site for St. James United Church of Christ in Limerick, PA is a Scripture quotation. Luke 4:7 -- "If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours." Sounds like a great promise to claim, doesn't it?

But there's a problem, and it involves taking verses out of their Scriptural context. more...

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February 11, 2006

A Question

When I started this blog, my career plans included teaching. Ultimately, I was going to teach at the university or seminary level. I was headed for lay ministry.

So God has altered my immediate plans. I've been preaching at a small Southern Baptist church nearby and they are considering me for pastor. And the more I do it, the more I realize that God is calling me in that direction.

Of course, if I become a pastor, this wouldn't really be the view from a pew, would it? And A View from the Pastor's Study is already taken (by a very good blog, by the way -- you should read it). But I like the name, and I've even used it for my podcast. To change the name would mean an entire rebranding of my Internet pressence.

So what do YOU say? Keep it, change it, or some other idea I haven't even thought of yet?

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Well, DUH!!




You Should Get a PhD in Liberal Arts (like political science, literature, or philosophy)



You're a great thinker and a true philosopher.

You'd make a talented professor or writer.

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US Olympic Team Podcasts ... Sorta

I was thrilled to see that the US Olympic Team has a podcast site. I got there, fired up iTunes, and was ready to add the feed to my already growing collection of Olympic podcasting goodness.

But there's no feed address. The US Olympic Team must have read the same misinformation that Forbes magazine did, because all that they have on the site are a bunch of .m3u files -- MP3 playlists. You can't even download the thing to your iPod, much less subscribe to a feed and have the content automatically downloaded for you. All it is is an audio diary, with no way to listen if you aren't connected to the internet. Disappointing.

But there are a bunch of Olympic podcasts out there. You can see a list at the Podcasting News site.

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Kanye West: More Idiocy

So we've seen the Rolling Stone cover. Now Kanye West is shooting his mouth off again.

Cocky rap star KANYE WEST is calling for a revised edition of THE BIBLE, because he thinks he should be a character in it.

The JESUS WALKS hitmaker, who picked up three Grammy Awards last night, feels sure he'd be "a griot" (West African storyteller) in a modern Bible.

He says, "I bring up historical subjects in a way that makes kids want to learn about them. I'm an inspirational speaker.

"I changed the sound of music more than one time... For all those reasons, I'd be a part of the Bible. I'm definitely in the history books already."

(from here)

Not even going to go there, Kanye. Anyone who thinks it's OK to appropriate the image of Christ to sell records (and before you comment, read what I've said about Jesus Junk elsewhere on this blog) doesn't get it. Maybe he should actually read the Bible (especially Matthew 21:12-13), rather than plotting how to get added to it.

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February 10, 2006

When "the Man" Gets it Wrong

Found this article on Podcasting at forbes.com, and read with anticipation. I love getting a more mainstream take on podcasting and podcasters.

Unfortunately, Forbes didn't do it's homework. At all. more...

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Contemplating Web Comics

This will not be a deep theological post. I will not be engaged in gripping social satire, or commenting on the latest example of cultural stupidity.

I will be talking about webcomics.

Those readers who have been around since before the move to mu.nu will remember that I had linked to several webcomics that I read regularly. I have no clue if anyone actually ever started reading one because they followed the link, but they were there.

One of the really fun things about reading webcomics is to see how the artist's style and skill develop as they draw. Read the first comic of any run, then read the newest, and you'll notice a difference.

Sluggy Freelance, for example. First comic, most recent comic. And the storytelling has changed there, too. Pete has gone from a gag-a-strip to huge story arcs. Jury's still out on if that's a good thing or not.

My newest find is a comic called Questionable Content. And there's a HUGE difference in artwork between the first comic and today's. (I read the archives of that one last weekend). I don't know most of the bands that are mentioned, but that doesn't always matter (and sometimes I can figure out the in-joke without really knowing a lot about the band). And I always end up feeling "in" when I do recognize a band that is mentioned.

I like independent music, and I like the "independent artist" feel of webcomics. Maybe I need to put those links back in one of the sidebars once I get the new template finished.... Let me know what you think.

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February 07, 2006

Study of Mark: Mark 8:27-31

And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" And they told him, "John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets." And he asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Christ." And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him. And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.
(Mark 8:27-31 ESV)
more...

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February 06, 2006

Viva la Differance!!

I've been musing about the turmoil over the now-infamous cartoons in Europe, trying to decide how best to put my own sentiments, and now I've found that someone else has done it for me. Tip o' the hat to Tim Challies. Tim offers a quote from Paul Marten:

Our God is sovereign and will meet out a perfect justice in the great and final judgement. He doesn't need me to burn your house down just because you blaspheme Him. In fact, He calls on me to warn you of your sin and (wonder of all wonders) to urge you to embrace the One you have mocked and disgraced as your own Saviour from sin and its punishment.

And that is the bottom line. Christians get upset when our faith is mocked and ridiculed (and ponder the irony of the tolerant ones who mock it). Christians will protest to the powers that be. We will boycot. But save in the isolated examples of a few whack-jobs that decided to demonstrate their pro-life sentiments by killing someone, we don't kill people over it. Haven't since the Inquisition (and before you start on THAT -- my forefathers were killed in those, too. My spiritual heritage includes a lot of Lollard blood.). We follow closely the words of the apostle Paul in Romans
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
(Romans 12:14-21 ESV)

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February 04, 2006

The Priesthood of the Believer: The 'P' in Baptist

Part three in a continuing series on Baptist distinctives. Part 1 is on Biblical Authority, and Part 2 is on the Autonomous Local Church

One thing that sets Protestants in general apart from Catholics is the idea that each believer is a priest in his own right, and can approach God directly through prayer with no intermediary. Unfortunately, many Protestants who believe this in theory don't believe it in practice.

How often do we rely on ministers to pray for us, as if their prayers get answered first? How many televangelists have made fortunes from people buying prayer cloths that somehow give them "special access" to God? How many of us believe that the pastor has some form of special revelation from God because he is the pastor? How often do we neglect personal ministry because we think that's the pastor's job?

John to the seven churches that are in Asia:Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
(Revelation 1:4-6 ESV)
Christ has made us all priests, according to this passage. Peter writes that we are "... a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." (1 Peter 2:9 ESV)

What does that mean? The priests offered sacrifices to God in the temple -- they were the only ones who could do that. This function of the priest is no longer needed, though, as the greatest sacrifice of all has been made for us. The atoning sacrifice has already been made for us by Christ.

Priests were also set apart for service. Paul makes it clear in his letter to the church at Ephasus that we are all called to service: "And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, "(Ephesians 4:11-12 ESV). The work of the ministry is the job of every believer -- not just a priestly class.

The priesthood of all believers places a huge responsibility on the shoulders of all believers -- we are all responsible for the ministry of the Gospel. If you know of a ministry that your own local church needs, the question shouldn't be "Why isn't anyone doing that?" but "How can I help start that?" If we all had that attitude, Christian churches would be far more effective in ministering to their communities.

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February 02, 2006

I Call It ... The Last Temptation of Christ Syndrome

So we're all flying high because 'The Book of Daniel' was cancelled. Never mind it was cancelled because it was a bad show, and not because Christians complained about it -- we'll take it as a victory, mainly because nobody cares enough to disagree with us.

Now, 'Will and Grace' is trying to get the evangelical "Stamp of Evilness" affixed to their latest effort:

Britney Spears will guest star on an episode of "Will & Grace," NBC announced Tuesday.

The pop star will appear as a Christian conservative sidekick to Sean Hayes' character, Jack, who hosts his own talk show, on the April 13 episode, the network said.

Jack's fictional network, Out TV, is bought by a Christian TV network, leading to Spears contributing a cooking segment called "Cruci-fixin's."

I'm used to the GOP pandering to Christians. I'm not used to Hollywood doing it.

Don't get me wrong -- I don't think the folks at 'Will and Grace' like us at all. (Don't really care what they think about me, but that's another post.) And they're hoping that we'll hate them now more than ever, and will demand boycotts and everything, so that maybe someone will say "Hey -- those evangelicals don't like that show very much. Must be pretty good! Think I'll tune in."

We need to get a clue. There is no such thing as bad publicity to a TV show. All they care about is that we spell the name right, and link to the web site. The less attention we pay to the idiots in Hollywood who want a reaction from us, the better off everyone will be.

After all, it was our complaining that led them to even think about airing 'The Book of Daniel' to begin with.

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