Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Spirit, Mind, and Depression

I do not trust much to psychology. I am in agreement with those who believe that it has become a sort of 'secular priesthood.' What pastors have done in counseling for hundreds of years has now been usurped by a discipline forged in the furnace of naturalism. I have no doubt that this is true, and I lament with others in the pastoral ministry that pastors, out of fear and intimidation, forsake the counseling ministries and send their sheep to such secular humanists.

Having said that, the old addage still holds true: Even a blind hog will sniff out a nut. Sometimes, through observation and medical research, great strides are made in understanding the human mind. This is where things get more complicated.

Whether you understand the human being as three part (body, soul, and spirit) or two part (body and soul) makes no difference. The fact of the matter is that one affects the other deeply. Pastors are called on to diagnose or discern spiritual maladies, psychiatrist are called on to deal with the biological. When one of these attempts to play the part of the other there are sad consequences.

Many pasotrs today rail at the very idea that something could exist called 'bi-polar disorder' or they teach that chronic depression stems from sin. After all, the "joy of the Lord" is our strength (Neh. 8:11). Naturally, if you are feeling blue, all one should have to do is meditate on the greatness of God in Christ to make oneself more joyful. Sometimes it is that simple. But I am convinced at other times it is not.

Think of it like this: Are you more irritable when you do not sleep well and therefore more prone to anger? When mothers birth children, do you think that 'post partum depression' is a matter of unbalanced hormones or the sign of a spiritually sinful new mother? When the disciples fell asleep in the garden, was it simply because they were lazy and couldn't pray, or could exhaustion have been a factor? When a young boy cannot sit still and listen, could it be that he simply lacks discipline in the home, or is it that he really has a disorder?

A hundred more examples could be given. The difficulty is that sometimes the answer could be one or the other, or perhaps both. In the coming week I am going to explore the issue of medication in treating such problems, and the issue of biological versus spiritual disorders. In the mean time, let me start you thinking on these verses:

"Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' Jesus answered, 'Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.'" (John 9:1-2).

The disciples assumed that physical malady was caused by sin, but Jesus denied such a claim. As we enter into this discussion, let us take caution in deciding that all depression is rooted in sin. Further, remember the the human spirit is not yet so strong that it is unaffected by the body. And if you separate the two into such a distinction as to deny that one is bound up (Trick Word! By 'bound up' I mean so intimately related in this body that it is impossible to harm one without affecting the other) in the other, then I will flatly accuse you of gnosticism.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Man Son is a Bona Fide Cajun

I am finding it extremely difficult to post essays of theological substance lately. The reason for this is directly linked to the fact that my son can now crawl. And he crawls rather quickly, I might add.

The blinking green light on my computer is of particular interest to him. That would be the on/off switch. No matter where I put him down in the house, he winds up back at that blinking light like a moth drawn to a flame. It is as irresistable to him as Gollum's precious.

But that's not what really distracts me. Ethan crawling in stealth mode I can handle. No, it is something much more disgusting than that.

My son will eat anything he can get his chubby hands on. Dead bugs, dog hair, paper clips, jewelry beads, nickels, grape stems, my wife's sundry hair thingies, for some reason these things all get eaten. I think that I know why.

He is from Bayou country, and everyone knows that a Cajun will eat dog bones if you put Tony's Seasoning on it. It must be in the water. This is very distracting to me, not to mention disconcerting. I have an irrational fear of him strangling anyway, so his habit is not helping matters.

I have to go now, my son is eating my MacArthur Study Bible.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

My Son Begins Manhood...

Okay, this may be a little premature considering he's only eight months old, but he 'sort of' got a man initiation tonight. Mom left dad to babysit and all went well...until bedtime. After taking him to change into his pajamas, I realized that nothing was clean. So, I went through and sniffed all his dirty pajamas until I/we found the one that smelled the freshest.

We were proud. It was a true father son moment and a lesson that I hope he treasures throughout college.


My wife has read the latest post, and I have been properly and thoroughly chastised. I have been made to promise (though with crossed fingers) that I will mainly stick to theology. It is to my everlasting shame that I must also report that there were indeed clean sleepers. Further, I must report that the reason I could not find them is due to the fact that I neither know who to look for things nor find them when I do. This is also blamed on my maleness. I can find a deer in a briar patch and a fish under a log, but I cannot find neatly folded baby sleepers hidden by a 2 inch sticky note.

And finally, if any teenage men should be reading this site, especially college aged men, I neither condone nor encourage such barbaric behavior as sniffing laundry to determine its cleanliness. I have been told that blue jeans may be worn twice if the first wear was brief. This rule is nullified if you were fishing in them, even if only for a little while and you caught no fish. Again, I apologize to anyone who may have been duped into wearing filthy clothes to work this morning, and I beseech you all to intercede on behalf of my son so he will not turn into the brute that I have become (despite the best efforts of my mother.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Pastoral Challenge

I can vividly remember being forced to memorize Shakespeare when I was a reprobate in High School. I know it is hard to believe, but not everyone actually enjoys Shakespeare, and some who say they do really don't understand Shakespeare anyway. We had to memorize a certain section of Macbeth, and I hated it. I hated it for the same reason that every other senior hated it. For one, none of us had the ambition to be a sissified actor. For another, we saw clearly that this had absolutely zero relevance in our redneck lives. I guess we should have been memorizing NASCAR stats.

Well, I was an ignorant high school student then. I thought culture meant wearing a Rebel flag doo-rag and listening to Hank Williams Jr. But, I was wrong. I simply did not see the importance of Shakespeare, or really of English class at all.

This is very similar to the difficulty of pastoring in our modern, easy-believe age. In the "Just Give Me Jesus" Church, people are irked when you mention things like "theology" and "doctrine." To go into deeper things is boring, and really it seems like a waste of time to the average evangelical.

I must confess, and my church members will attest to this, that words like "sanctification," "justification," "imputation," and "hypo-static union" make me dance with delight. In fact, if you are around me for more than twenty minutes and I haven't brought up predestination, election, justification, or the believer's guaranteed inheritance in Jesus Christ, then I'm having an off day. I will bust out a three syllable theological word on you in a heartbeat, and then force you to understand it. I love it with a glee that rivals my old high school English teacher's in forcing Shakespeare on us idiotic high school students.

The challenge for the Pastor is not to merely define theological terminology. The challenge for us is to make you understand why imputation is something to jump up and dance about. The challenge is for me to teach you the seriousness of not confusing justification and sanctification. The challenge is for me to show Christians why it is important for them to understand why it is important to understand that God chose you first and not vice versa. And, it is to make it clear why election is the driving hope of missions, not the deterrent it is often accused of.

Oh how I pray to God that I could demonstrate the mother load of joy that is hidden in that little word "propitiation!" I wish I could knock people's socks off with the ecstasy of 2 Corinthians 5:20-22! And I wish that I could convey what a cesspool of filth Open Theism is. Oh the loves and rages of the theologian! May God give all good pastors the eloquence to match their passions!

*Note to Mrs. Vassar, beloved High School English Teacher* Sorry I was a blockhead in High School. I would also point out that I have left several prepositions dangling at the end of sentences in this post. I know it's wrong, but I find it to be more readable. Correction of this sort, as our beloved Churchill said, "is the sort of nonsense up with which I will not put." I kindly ask for you to overlook such ugly grammatical error.

Monday, July 25, 2005

More on the Brazilian Adventure

While I have my adventure to Brazil on my mind, let me fill you in on another experience there that had a lasting impression on me. What reminded me of this was the quote in the earlier post where my friend told me that we were "fundamentalists." Actually, that was the second time I was called that in Brazil, and the first time is was not a very fun experience.

I had gone with my friend to the local Brazilian Baptist seminary in Goiania, Brazil. There, I had the opportunity of meeting and talking with the seminary President. Since my friend was with me, the conversation was mainly in Portugese, even though both men spoke English very well.

I remember walking through the Seminary as the President showed us the facilities. They were nothing like what I was used to at Southeastern. In a word, the accomodations were humble. I also remember the President commenting on how poor most of the students were who came here. It was a financial burden on most of them to pay for these classes. I remember being moved by the sacrifices that many were making to be here, and I recalled how many small church pastors I had already met in Brazil who would love to have the opportunity to come.

The tour ended with us going into the President's office. I had a serious headache. I rarely get headaches, in fact, I believe that is the worst one I've ever had. I think that my brain's frantic attempt to digest all of the Portugese being spoken was about to overload it. That little mouse in my head can only run so fast on that wheel.

One thing that I was excited about was to see the President's library. I am a confessed bookophile, and I wanted to see what selections he had. Most of the books were foreign to me (imagine that!) so I was a little let down. I was also a bit surprised at how few were there, but I dismissed that pretty quickly as we sat down to talk.

As the conversation of the state of the Baptists Churches went on, I drifted in and out of the conversation. I couldn't contribute much, and I didn't understand everything anyway. After a bit of listening to the two men talk, I ventured to ask a question. I had noticed that the conversation had drifted around to theological books, so I asked if any of the major Systematic Theologies had been translated and published in Portugese.

The President told me that they had just recently published Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology into Portugese. I was pleasantly surprised. I had only recently acquired a copy of it myself. At that time, it was still recently new.

I indicated that I had just bought a copy for myself, and that I looked forward to reading it when I got back to the States. The President frowned. He told me that he had already looked through it, but he did not like it at all. He looked at me and said sort of off-handedly, "He has trouble with his Christology."

I was devastated. Everything that I had read from Grudem was excellent. A Christological error! How terrible! That's the king of heresies. Disappointed, I asked him what Grudem had written. The President of the seminary answered, "Grudem believes that Jesus Christ is fully God."

I blinked. Honestly, I cannot remember if he said that in Portugese or English. I know that my face must have betrayed my confusion. So he continued, "Grudem overlooks the fact that when Jesus emptied himself, as is taught in Philippians chapter two, that he ceased to be fully God. He cannot be fully God and man at the same time."

I was absolutely stunned. I cannot remember that President's name to save my life. I cannot even remember the name of the school. But I remember that conversation.

At that moment, many things occured to me. Of all the books I had seen, not one of them was a commentary. He had more collections of Karl Rahner than any Baptist ought to have, except maybe James White. His shelves were lined with philosophy books.

Then, I thought of those students. These were men who sacrificed time and money to be at this school. They were hungry to study the Word of God. At least, the few I had met had been. And their President was teaching them that it was an error to teach that Jesus Christ is Incarnate God.

I am, in general, an aimiable fellow. But his comments sent me into the closest thing to outright rage I have ever known. I am not proud of this. I think it had something to do with the terrible headache and culture shock and bewilderment. That's when I told him something to the extent of it being arch-heresy for him to say what he said, and that I couldn't believe what I was hearing. That's when he resorted to name calling. He said it in Portugese, of that much I am certain. It was the first time anyone had ever called me such a thing to my face in my life. He laughed and said, "You are a fundamentalist."

He outed me. I turned and left his office, leaving my friend to sit in a very awkward situation. He was wiser than me, and not nearly so hot headed. I was fuming, and I would have sold my shorts for a Tylenol.

In truth, I can't say for certain if that encounter was as bad as I remember. I do know that the substance of the conversation is accurate. It still pains me to this day to think that such heresy could be espoused from the highest level of a Baptist Seminary.

So, in case you were wondering, I am a wide-eyed, raving, foaming at the mouth fundamentalist. At least I am if you catch me with a splitting headache. Without the headache, I don't foam as much. Be careful around me with your heresies, I might bite you.

Friday, July 22, 2005

What's an Evangelical?

I hesitate to link Pyromaniac's blog again, but I really have to. He's blogspotted me twice already, and I'm afraid if he sees me quoting him again he'll think I'm a blogstalker. Here's the link. The reason I'm writing this post is because he is seriously burning down the evangelical movement. I thought I'd give you my two cents here as well.

Phil thinks the evangelical movement is dead. I believe that what he means by that is the term "evangelical" is no longer useful. It has gotten so broad that almost everyone can claim that they are within the "evangelical" fold. I think he's right about that.

The reason I agree with him, oddly enough, was because of a mission trip that I took to Brazil. I was there for three months, and I might add that I was the only American there. I stayed with a Brazilian family and worked with Brazilian Baptists. I spent months preparing by learning Portuguese via flashcards and regular meals with a Brazilian couple. (Don't get me started about the wonders of Brazilian food!) When I got there, I could at least conversate a bit and avoid being shortchanged at the gas station.

Of all the memorable things that happened on that trip, one is particularly applicable to this discussion. I did a good bit of street witnessing and such things in Brazil. (Even though I often told people that they had "sinners" in their hearts instead of "sin". Lord have mercy. I tried though.) In such encounters, people would often smile and nod and say, "Eu sou evangelico." Which means, "I'm an evangelical." At first, I was happy because I thought that this meant that they were fairly similar to me in faith. I was wrong.

As my stammering Portuguese would allow, I began to investigate these folks as to where they went to Church. Surprisingly, I'm naive you see, many of them went to no church at all. And many who did went to charismatic Churches that made some of our American pentecostals look tame. Creflo "Show me the Money" Dollar had nothing on these folks.

Confused, I asked the Baptist Brazilian friend I was staying with what an "evangelico" is. He shrugged and told me that alot of people mean that since they aren't Catholic, then they're evangelicals. Then, I asked him if we were evangelicals. He said, "No, we're fundamentalists." Suddenly, I had a headache and culture shock. I went straight to bed and had a nightmare that I was forced to wear a pilgrim hat and the belt around it was buckled so tight that I thought my head would explode.

Now I'm home in the good ole USA, and I still don't know what an evangelical is. Apparently, Clark Pinnock's one. But I certainly don't want to be what he is. I don't think I can be a fundamentalist though, I'm not mean enough. I am definitely Reformed, except that I am not an infant baptizer.

The irony of all of this is that I was recently irked that I couldn't get a straight answer from the "emergent" church on what the emergent church is. I don't even know what an evangelical is anymore. I hope that Phil's series on this helps me figure all this stuff out. I think I'm getting culture shock again.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Magic in Harry Potter

I had a discussion over dinner with a friend of mine about Harry Potter. He and his wife allow their children to read the Harry Potter books and to watch the movies. They are wonderful Christian people, therefore I will not name them here in public lest they be shunned by their respective Church community. While we were talking about the book, I sort of had a novel idea about the magic in Harry Potter and why I find it to be non-evil or occultish.

The major objection that Christians have over Harry Potter is the witchcraft. That is an understandable reaction. After all, witchcraft is banned in the Bible. However, the witchcraft of the Bible and the witchcraft practiced in Harry Potter are not synonymous. That's a good thing.

In the Bible, witchcraft works because it is powered by false gods or demons. You have to pay tribute to them and worship them to gain the magic that they offer. Such is true of all forms of witchcraft. The powers are granted by a 'deity' other than the one true God. Therefore practicing witchcraft in this sense is a heinous form of idolatry and false god worship.

In Harry Potter, the magic is not granted by a god at all. The magic is an innate gift. It is comparable to Spider Man's gifts. He can shoot webs, detect danger, climb walls, and has unbelievable dexterity. All of this because he was bitten by a radioactive spider. Now, I do not know a single parent who is afraid that their children to join the "Cult of the Radioactive Spider". Of course, there is that new upstart sect called "Cult of the Genetically Altered Spider" that the movies have spawned. These are dark days indeed for the purist.

My point is that Harry and his friends have these powers because they were born with them. Just as I can jump unnaturally higher than my friends, Harry can work magic.Again, the source of Harry's powers is not insidiously evil. Further, none of the children I know are running around letting spider's bite them in the hopes that they can have Spiderman's powers. Kids, for the most part, have more sense than that.

The problem, in the end, is one of language. If Harry Potter were practicing the sort of magic practiced in the Bible, then there might be a problem. However, his magic is as harmless as Spidey's webs. So, to my friend, hang in there. I, for one, do not think you a rank heretic for your letting your children read Harry Potter. It's that other stuff we talked about that makes me wonder. *wink*

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

More Harry Potter Stuff

I can't believe my eyes. Jerram Barrs of the Francis Schaeffer Institute actually agrees with me about Harry Potter. You can (and probably should) read his much more scholarly and profound insight here. It's an excellent article.

A Pastor and His Blog

I have a strange conflict every time I start to write a blog post. It is a tension, really. Most people do not have this problem, and I am glad for them. The 'problem' is that I am not only a blogger, but I am also a pastor. Further, a few folks from my church actually read this blog!

Therein lies the dilemma. If I have faithful church members who also read the blog, then they will probably know me better from blogworld than in person. That is, I cannot do a tremendous amount of personal interaction with everyone on Sundays and Wednesdays. Plus, I carry a burden on Sundays that I do not feel as keenly the other six days a week. On that day, I stand and preach from the Sacred Text. Paul wrote to Timothy, "Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you" (1 Tim. 4:16). The Church depends on Biblical doctrine for salvation, and I am the one who preaches to our Church.

It's comparable to practicing for a big game, or for a piano recital. You can practice all you wish, but come the day of the "real thing", you will inevitably feel the tension. If this is true when we do things that will be soon forgotten, how much more should one feel it with things eternal?

Needless to say, I act differently on Sunday for good reason. So, my friends who read this blog will think I have a split personality or something if they meet me at Church. Actually, I believe that I am closer to who I should be on Sunday than I am on Monday. Maybe I will write more on that later.

There is also another factor. I do not feel the freedom to explore all my thoughts on this forum. Indeed, I am convinced that I should not. I often think somewhat experimentally. I think on difficult doctrines, policies, Scriptures, and other things spiritual. I view them from every angle I can imagine, and I go over them in Scripture. This is a difficult process, and I sometimes end up in a different place than I think I will in the beginning. I do not feel comfortable charting this progression and disgression for all to see. Not because I fear someone finding out I'm wrong, but because I do not want to lead others into error. It is the same tension I feel on Sunday, and it is good. I must exercise caution.

I write knowing that I will be held to a stricter standard in the judgment (James 3:1). There is no aspect of my life that is not under the eye of my Master. Thankfully, He is exceedingly merciful. It is my prayer that as I struggle through this sojourn on planet earth, the Holy Spirit will guide me into wisdom. I ask that my thoughts and meanderings on this blog will only be edifying to you who read. I know that many of you do not know me, but I am concerned with the influence I could have on you because I am a pastor, however miniscule it may be.

I wish that every God-centered blogger would take this to heart. People actually read this stuff that we write, and blogs have fantastic potential to be helpful or hurtful. So, to all you bloggers be wise, and think before you speak....errr...write. When in doubt, refer to 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Caving to the Craving

I gave in. I couldn't stand it anymore. I got myself one of those "hit counters". I had to know how many people were looking at my blog. They may as well call it a "flesh counter", because I am certain with every hit my pride will be more stoked. Or else, maybe I'll be deeply depressed because I threw a party and no one came.
I blame Lynn. I think she made the comment about "how fun they were" and I instantly caved. Thanks Lynn. You may as well have said, "Aw c'mon! Everybody else is doing it!" Alas, I am no better than my forerunners.

I am full of vanity and pride. The evidence of this is that I have already obsessively and compulsively clicked my counter a half a dozen times and it has only been on my site for three minutes. *sigh* If you're reading this, know that I am already aware that you have visited. If you listen, I believe that you can probably hear me in the background. Hear that? *click* *click* *click* What have I done?

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Phil Johnson Blogspotted Me!

Let me start by telling you who Phil Johnson is. Actually, you can go here to get the total scoop on him. Suffice to say, he is the Executive Director of Grace to You Ministries. That's the ministry of John MacArthur. Mr. Johnson also edits many of the books that John MacArthur writes.

On a ministry level, this ministry has affected how I fundamentally do ministry. On the personal level, I owe a debt of gratitude that I can never repay. I praise God for Grace to You.

Here's how I was so profoundly affected. I used to be a Pizza Man. I delivered for Domino's Pizza faithfully for around three years to help cover the bills for Seminary. Every single day while I would drive around like a maniac delivering my delicacies to people, I would be listening to John MacArthur preach on the radio. I cannot count the number of times I had to hurredly wipe off tears in order to ring a doorbell. Further, I cannot tell you how much an idiot I looked like making a mad dash back to my vehicle in order to miss less instruction. The customers must have thought I was one gung-ho pizza man!

I listened to Grace to You for hours on end. I decided one very important thing with the help of that ministry, I was going to preach books straight through and not skip a thing. I had no previous example of this type of preaching. Now, I cannot imagine doing it another way.

Besides all that listening to the radio, I bought commentaries and books by John MacArthur. Rarely do I preach without consulting one of his works. Few others have had so much influence on my life.

All this to say thanks to Phil Johnson and Grace to You ministries. You can check out his stuff everyday at Pyromaniac. I certainly do. And if you look at the most recent blogspotting post, you'll see my name there. Unbelievable.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

A Wizard Invades!

Alright, I know all about the anti-Harry Potter things that are said in the evangelical world. I know that he practices wizardry and that he goes to a school that teaches witchcraft. I know that he rides a broom with great skill and daring. I also know that he drinks magical potions.

In fact, I know pretty much everything about Harry Potter. For, dare I say it, I have read the books! To further my heresies, I even watched all the movies multiple times. Something is wrong with me as a pastor, I know. I could pretend that I read the books in order to root out the plethora of false teachings and dangers in the series, but I confess I read them out of pure enjoyment.

I know that my mentor, John Calvin, whose Institutes I am reading this very day, would probably come and smite me for looking at such literature. Dear Jonathan Edwards, whose "The End for Which God Created the World" I am still working through, would probably be dismayed at how I am going to be spending my leisure for the next for days. I need help.

The new book should be arriving at my house via Owl Post Saturday. I can't wait. It is shameless escapism I know, but I am drawn to the battle between overwhelming evil and the underdog of good. I like it that little Harry Potter constantly thwarts the evil designs of the evil Lord Voldemort. I'd like to think that I am having similar success in my occupation against my incidious adversary.

You see, Harry Potter and I have a few things in common. For one thing, we are both "chosen ones". That is, we are set apart from the rest of the world. Am I being arrogant here? I don't think so. The Bible is clear that I am a unique creation. Not only that, but my heavenly Father, before the world began, set me apart for a special purpose. He elected me for good works that no one else will do. He fashioned me to be a pastor in the bayous of Louisiana. Here, I encourage devotion to Christ, expose the machinations of the Evil One, and I wrestle against the prinicipalities of evil with my closest friends. All I lack is a scar on my forehead. However, I have a seal upon my heart that makes me invincible.

I also have many of the struggles that Potter and crew experience. First, I have sometimes thought that my friends were the enemy. (Who didn't think the sour Snape was an evil villian.) Yet, it has often turned out that those who seem most dour have rescued me from grave peril. Conversly, it has often been the harmless, comedic type who have slandered and destroyed the faithful of God. Especially those who are supposed to be "the defense against the dark arts" teachers.

I realize that there are problems with the Harry Potter books. But, here's a new flash for you, C.S. Lewis' Narnia had a few disturbing elements as well. I've read them twice! You could find trouble in Tolkien if you want. Trust me, I've even read the Similrillion.

Honestly, what pastor has not wished for a wand with which to vanquish evil? In truth, we have such a weapon. If only we could point the Bible at the enemy and SEE the fireworks! But, I can't see it. So, I imagine it. I imagine that everytime I preach, I am hurling spiritual lightnings against the minions of evil. In my mind's eye I picture the Word of God sending the forces of darkness running for the hills. Evil plots are foiled. Marriages are saved. Souls are purified. Angels rejoice to see their age old nemesis cast down through the words of the prophets formed in the mouth of this simple preacher.

I enjoy good fantasy novels for this very reason. There is world which my eyes cannot see clearly. This gives me categories for what may yet be. When I put on the full armor of God, as Paul admonishes, and when I take up the Sword of the Spirit, I'd like to think that as I advance upon the enemy in such rainment that it is not pure metaphor. I'd like to think that in the spiritual world, we Christians look every bit the soldier that Paul describes. I imagine shining Church arrayed in splendor, swords drawn, and the enemy advancing. Oh yes, the odds are incredible and it seems like we won't win.

But we do. The enemny is struck down to his ruin time after time. He retreats to Mordor to lick his wounds. Or is it Fangorn Forest? I can't remember, but I know that it's some dark, scary place that stinks of rot and smoke. One day, we will even assault the very gates of hell, and they shall not prevail against us. God will crush Satan underneath our feet.

So, next week I will read another installment of Harry Potter. If you want, I'll point out all the flaws to be aware of should you read it. But, for the most part, I will enjoy it immensely. Right after I finish the next section of Calvin's Institutes.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

More War Stuff...

Okay, when I started this blog I had no idea this war we are fighting with terrorism would even come up. But now it has, twice. The reason is because I read a couple of other things that so aggravated me that I had to write something or go about fuming all day. Here, I get to heave out my frustrations upon this unsuspecting blog.

First, you can go and read this at Pyromaniac's blog. Basically, the article talks about the BBC's refusal to use the word "terrorist" to describe, well, terrorists. Instead, they opt for words like "militant" or some other such thing. It's downright depressing.

Then, I read this! I am absolutely stunned that this is even an issue. This amounts to irresponsible, war-undermining speech? I am utterly flabberghasted.

Has anyone who reads this blog ever heard Terrell Owens speak before an NFL game? Now, I am not condoning his speeches by any means, but he talks better trash than this National Guard flyer does. Further, he is talking trash before a football game! Why? To boost the morale of his team and to demoralize the other team. Simple psychology.

I have a friend at home named Kenny Chaffin. This guy can talk better trash than anybody I know. He can make his best friends red with fury. With his mouth alone, he can make someone miss an easy lay up, drop an easy pass, or miss a straight putt from five inches. It's truly unbelievable. I'd hate to see the flyers he'd come up with for the National Guard.

These Islamic Terrorists are killing our countrymen. If you were in their units, they would be killing your friends. Plus, they are blowing up civilians. Women and children even! Yet, we can't post a little "let's kill them all and let God sort them out" propoganda from our own Army Headquarters! Is this insane or what?

Do we have an enemy here? Are they bent on cutting off our heads and liberties, or am I completely fooled? I suppose this is the sort of garbage we should post at Army HQ.

"Let's try and terminate the militants. Now, they're not evil, mind you, and their religion doesn't really teach them to destroy us. They are only misguided. Feel bad for them, but don't say bad stuff about them. They will eventually come around if we treat them nicer."

This just makes me want to slap somebody. I know, I know, that's Un-PC and all that, but that's how I feel. Be nice to me, and give me some time and maybe I'll eventually come around.

Not Guilty!

I just recently read this at evangelical outpost. I clearly saw the temptation to try and go for greatness by linking to bigger blogs so that they will then link to you and make you a bit more famous. I can honestly say that I am not guilty of this. Well, I sort of am now since I just linked to that post, but my motivation was pure.

Anyway, I am innocent not because I haven't thought of this already. The reason I am innocent is because I only figured out how to make links today. Right now, in fact. If you are able to click a link in this post, then I have been successful. I have taken a giant leap in the world of blog by figuring out how to link stuff. Actually, I didn't figure it out. As usual, I owe everything to Waterfall at asortofnotebook. She started me on this blog addiction that consumes so much of my time now, and she is my mentor in all things bloggish. It is only fitting that she should be among the first of my links!

Also, I'm not guilty of counting the number of hits I'm getting at my blog either. I don't have a counter, and I don't know how to get one. After reading the article at EO, I think I'll keep it that way. I measuer success by how many comments I get, which I check obsessively and compulsively all day long.:)

P.S. I was seriously tempted to add a link here to Pyromaniac's site just to see if I'd get blogspotted. But, I decided not to. I don't think that I could take that kind of publicity yet.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Who's Afraid of the Pomo Wolf?

No, no, no not me! The title of this blog post should be sung to the tune of "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf". You may now be asking yourself, "Okay, what's a Pomo Wolf? Is that something they let loose in Yellowstone?" No, Pomo is shorthand for "Postmodern". That is, the postmodernism movement, if it's a movement.

I was first introduced to postmodernism as an undergraduate student at the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!) studying English Literature. Actually, it wasn't really introdcued. It was just sort of excepted. Postmodernism has the reputation as being complete relativism. That is that there is no 'absolute' truth. Please don't comment to me about the fact that the very statement I just made is an absolute truth claim. I figured that out already.

Actually, the postmodernism I'm thinking of basically revolves around Jacques Derrida and his idea of what happens when you read something, like this blog. Are you, right now, really understanding what I'm writing? Or, I am actually able to convey the meaning that I want to convey? Writing and reading and meaning are reduced to a sort of game. You can never be certain that I am meaning what you think I'm meaning. Problem is, even if you write that you understand what I am writing, then I may misunderstand you. Where is the meaning of this text? What is the meaning of meaning! GAAAH!!!

Anyway, it was this sort of madness that led me to Jesus Christ. Thank you, Mr. Derrida. After taking my philosophy and Lit. classes, I realized that if there were no God, then there is no real meaning. Life becomes absurd and necessarily meaningless. At least, it becomes meaningless in any final, absolute sense. That was depressing for me, since I was not certain if there was a God at the time. Postmodern relativism for me was like standing over the brink of an abyss. It was an abyss of meanlessness and vanity and futility. I was, to quote the Bard, "Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." I was "a walking shadow, a poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage and is heard no more." I greatly feared that my life was "a tale told by an idiot." (Thank you, Mrs. Vassar, whereever you are.)

But, thanks be to God, Jesus rescued me from the despair of the abyss. I found in Christ meaning, life, and purpose. And that, my friends, is a glorious thing to find...or to be found by.

I see in the pomo Church, or the 'Emergent Church', some of the marks of my old depression. They find things, especially "institutional" things to be meaningless. Propostional truths are not persuasive to them because their believe in one's ability to make a certain, absolute truth statement has been eroded. They doubt everything except that they are doubting. Truth claims send them into tizzies because if they cannot know something, then certainly someone else cannot know it either. (I used to hate it when someone would say that they knew, without a doubt, that they would go to heaven.)

However, I must say that I have found some positive things in having a pomo mindset. Yes, I still have a pomo mindset, I guess. Can one ever completely escape the influence of one's time? The positive thing about being a product of this generation is that I question things. When I see a truth statement, I know how to look for the assumptions underlying the statement. I know where to go to find the validity of a claim.

When I did not know the truth (though I had heard it, it had not been brought home to me by the Objective Power, that is, God Himself) I was in agony. Now that I know Christ, I have joy unceasing. Now, I can use the experience that God allowed me to have to build the confidence of others in God's absolute truth, and that He did indeed inspire the Bible to be infallible and without error. And that we can trust the Word to guide us "into all truth." What a relief.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

A Few Thoughts on the War on Terror

The recent bombings in London have forced me to think about war again. Being the white, male, Christian Republican that I am, you'd think that I'd be a monstrous war hawk. I suppose in a way that's true, compared to some. After all, I did serve for almost six years in the Army National Guard.

Despite all of that, I have done some serious soul and Bible searching on the subject of war. Honestly, I have waffled as to how a Christian can support a war. It is no cut and dried subject, Scripturally speaking. If you take the Old Testament approach, then we are fighting this war with one hand tied behind our backs. In the OT, Joshua and the Israelites killed everyone in Jericho. Men, women, children, babies, even the pets and farm animals, were slaughtered (Joshua 6:21).

This is tough to chew on. Especially since this destruction was ordained by God Himself. This was not just an overzealous execution by Joshua, this was Divine Judgment. However, I have not received a mandate from God to fight in such a way, and I do not believe that the President claims such a thing either. So, we'll fight a "just war" in a conventional, Geneva convention abiding way. For now, at least.

The reason I say for now is really quite simple, even if it isn't completely Biblical. The image that keeps coming to my mind is me fighting with my little brother when we were young. When he was seven, I could handle him with ease. I never punched him in the face; I never throttled him; honestly, I never even tried to harm him. Mostly, I aggravated him until he was so angry that his eyes would bug out, and then I would simply hold him at bay and laugh.

He, however, was no Geneva convention fighter. I know for certain that there were times where, if he had the upper hand or the means, he would have probably killed me. He would bite, pinch, punch, kick me in forbidden places, scream, spit, grab a weapon...Anything at all, just to knock me upside my head. Frankly, if justice had been done, he should have nailed me. I was a jerk. Sorry bro.

Here's how this relates to Al-Qaida and crew. When my brother was seven, it was easy for me to abide by the "rules of engagement." However, we once had a confrontation when my brother was nearly grown. He was about eighteen I guess. Guess what, this time, I tossed the rules of engagement out the window. The reason is simple, he had the capability of hurting me bad, and he wasn't going by no rules of engagement. He was looking for some payback folks. Fortunately, neither of us wound up hurting much except our pride. But still, for a minute there it was deadly serious.

We are now facing an enemy who is looking to hurt us. They are looking for payback. The terrorists hate our guts. They are not pulling any punches, and they will use forbidden tactics to hurt us. There will come a time when one of those blows lands hard enough to shake us out of our conventional style of fighting. At least, that is a sure possibility.

Honestly, war has always been horrible. Rarely has anyone been spared. The Allies carpet bombed Berlin so severely that people taking shelter in basements died because the flames sucked the oxygen out of the shelter. Playing by all the rules seems weird in comparison. It seems as foolish as a guy picking a fight in a bar, then proceeding to lay down ground rules for fisticuffs. "No biting, pinching, groin shots or eye gouging, got it?" Yeah, right.

I am not certain how to avoid more bloodshed and horror. But I know this, if the Muslim world does not begin to police these radicals, and if they do not shut up these Satanic clerics who are urging the slaughter of civilians, then when the gloves finally come off, it is going to be even uglier than it already is.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Back from a WhirlWind Tour

I have been visiting family for the past week in Alabama. For one thing, my grandparents (and my new born's great-grandparents) basically threatened my life if I did not visit. Secondly, my parents did the same, only they have the means and the fortitude to carry out such a threat. So, off I went to Alabama to save my own skin and to ensure that my son has a father to grow up with. (Well, at least to the best of my ability.)

I hope that everyone else's week went as well as mine did. Despite the sarcasm, we had a wonderful time this week. However, I have mounds of catching up to do, but I'm itching to write on some new ideas.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Fisher of Men?

Another Sunday Passed...

As I sit in my office this Sunday evening, I have a mix of feelings. Most of them are good. Peace, gratitude, joy, and humility twinged with regret. Sundays are the most anticipated day of the week for me. I am in love with Sundays. Of course, I know that this probably is not true of all pastors, but for me, there is nothing better than this most sacred day.

Actually, Sunday isn't intrinsically any better than Tuesday. It's simply that Sunday is the day that I get to stand before the people of God and teach them from His Word. On Sunday, I am the prophet of God. I stand where heroes once stood. Men who I desperately want to be like in both life and death. Faithful and true men against whom no one may say anything other than 'blameless'.

I work all week, for weeks in advance even, to teach for 30-40 minutes from the Bible. The words I find there are sweet beyond anything I know in this life. Sweeter than the love of my wife, than the laugh of my son, or the closest friendship. I value these words more than my life. Do not mistake me, I love my wife tremendously. If someone were to attempt to harm her, I would gladly fight for her with all the strength I have availible. Slander her, and you will have all of this 175 pound Alabama man that you can handle. Yet, there is a place in my heart for my Savior that my wife cannot fill, and a passion for His Name that even I do not know the depth of. For this passion is not born of the will of man; it is forged in the heart of God.

This is my task on Sunday. To communicate this wonder that I know in Christ Jesus. To this end I pray and study and hope. And when I stand in the pulpit on Sunday, I worship as I speak the precious truths of God. I tremble at His law, and I exult in His grace. I am too ignorant and my speech is too foolish to ever to justice to any given Scripture. And yet I am compelled to try. I try to paint Christ in splendor with the words given me.

At the end of the day, I am thankful for another chance to pour out my heart to the Church and to God. I have the unflagging hope that God will use those words to change lives. I descend the pulpit knowing that I haven't said enough, that I haven't said it well enough, and that I said some thing I shouldn't and didn't say some things I should. But I cannot deny that God has met me there, in that place and at that time. And even if no one ever moves, I always leave stirred and eager for another chance to stand and speak God's Word if He should be so merciful to give me another Sunday.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Speaking of the Value of Children

Sandra Day O'Connor has retired from the Supreme Court, and the pro-abortion people are severely depressed about this news. Check out Justin Taylor's site for some great quotes from organizations like NOW and Planned Parenthood. Things like "state of emergency" and "worst case sceneraio" keep popping up. His blog is linked on my blogroll as "Between Two Worlds". I would link it here, but I'm still learning how!