Friday, September 24, 2010

Mother Kirk by Douglas Wilson

Subtitled; "Essays and Forays into Practical Ecclessiology." And Mother Kirk by Douglas Wilson pastor of Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho is just that. Within these pages are many, many useful ideas and help for Church leaders.

With 30+ years of serving as a pastor Wilson sets out to define who the Church is and then spends the rest of the book explaining what She ought to be doing. I particularly enjoyed reading his thoughts about Parish Churches and also the idea of a church having a publishing ministry. A few of his ideas about publishing seems to be a little dated in that he doesn't mention blogs, etc. but the practices he suggests could be easily be put into those contexts as well. Wilson says the modern Church ought to be ashamed at doing so little with publishing when compared with the shear volume of wrtings of the Puritans and what they did with such little technology. There were several times I had to stop reading and say to myself, "Duh! Why are we not doing that?"

A great read for anyone remotely interested in studying the life of the Church! This is the kind of book which needs to be read multiple times because forgetting who we are and what we ought to be doing is more of a moral problem than anything else. The bibliography found in the footnotes throughout is worth the price of the book!

I would encourage anyone who might be interested in reading this book to do so in conjunction with David Wells' The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth-lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World. The former being what we ought to be doing and the latter being what we ought not be doing.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Smoking "Gonja" in the Capital Bathroom

There are the way things are and the way they ought to be. According to our Constitution, this is the way they ought to be:

  • Legislative Branch: Make laws.
  • Executive Branch: Enforce law
  • Judicial Branch: Interpret law using Constitution as the standard.
But something else is happening; we've got the judicial branch making laws, executive branch failing to enforce laws already established, i.e. border control, and congressional aides smoking "gonja" in the bathroom of the capital building. This is troubling. The reason we have experienced such great freedom here in the U.S. is because our founding fathers were wise enough to separate those powers into three different branches. The more we move away from those principles, the less freedom our children will have.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Super Mario Brothers-Pinball Machine

After several weeks, I have finally completed my wife's, cousin's Super Mario Brothers-Pinball Machine. This was no easy task. The painting was fun, but getting an accurate drawing onto the cabinet was incredibly hard! Trust me, I was seeing Mario and his minions in my sleep! In essence, this was like painting five paintings in one: Two bottom sides, two top sides and the front of the cabinet. I basically painted one color at a time, working my way around, and around, and around. I had a jolly good time painting it and it provided me with challenges I solved which will help me in future projects. Usually, I'm focused on smaller pictures and the nature alone of the painting of this machine helped me think in terms of "big."

It was painted in oil, so it will take at least few weeks to dry. My wife wants it out of the family room before Christmas. heh heh!

The Bible and the Qu'ran: Let's Compare

The Bible and the Qu'ran are in essence very different books. The Bible was written over the course of hundreds of years, in different genres (parables, advice, dreams, etc), by a wide variety of authors, (nomads, leaders, scholars, fishermen, etc). Thoughtful Christians do not take every word of the Bible literally but they should believe it absolutely. The Qu'ran was written by one man over the course of his own lifetime and is meant to be taken as literal commands. Whereas the entire Bible is an unfolding of drama of redemptive history and claims to be and is un-contradictory, (there are however mysteries which appear contradictory but are not). The Qu'ran provides an easy way out for it's contradictions (and they are there); very simply, the later, more violent writings supersede the earlier more peaceful writings. Those more gentle and tolerant passages in the Qu'ran were written very early in Mohammad's prophetic career. If you put the Bible and the Qu'ran side by side and read them closely you will find they teach radically different concepts. At the very heart of the Christian Faith is the concept of grace; Jesus gave His life and rose from the grave. That great redemptive act in history was the THE act whereby Jesus established his people. Mohammad built his religion by conquering with the sword. Although that approach may be effective in the short term, the essence of what the Qu'ran teaches is not a message of grace. Peace.

The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway is a short novel about one man's perilous struggle with the natural world. The "old man" fights with a glorious fish as he longs for companionship out on the open water. Written with an eye for detail and passion I could feel my hands burn from the friction of the fishing line. In my mind, I saw the colors of the grand fish change from purple to silver as it met it's fate. The salty sea air drifted from the pages as I read this tale, or maybe that was only because I bought this worn out copy from a used bookstore. The story also confirmed by suspicions that sharks are not our friends! There's a metaphor laying around here in my tackle box, I just need to find it. A great, quick , classic read!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

One Minute Review of Inception

Thomas McKenzie has recently become one of my favorite film reviewers. Here is his review of one of my favorite movies of the summer; Inception.

One Minute Review: Inception from Thomas McKenzie on Vimeo.

The Skin Map: Part 1 of Bright Empires by Stephen Lawhead

Ancient, alternate realities collide in Stephen Lawhead's new tale,The Skin Map (Bright Empires). Filled with intrigue, humor and suspense the first in a series of the Bright Empires trilogy is a combination of Back to the Future, and Sherlocke Holmes, with a bit of Indiana Jones thrown in on the side.

We first encounter young Londoner, Kip, who meets his great-grandfather Cosimo, (gotta love that name!), who instructs him in the way of traveling across "ley lines," which enable a person to not only leap spontaneously from one place to another but also lets one to travel through time, (and you thought Stone Henge had something to do with ancient paganism, heh..!) So, early on the characters are split not only across geographical boundaries but chronologically as well. A very important ancient map is sought which was originally tattooed on the back of a man; a "skin map," hence the title. That map is full of interestingly important symbols which help plot a course across the Aeons.

Lawhead has written a twisty-turney plot, sprinkled with laugh-out-loud dialogue. The Skin Map had me engrossed from beginning to end with it's story of the first kaffeehaus known to mankind . Warning; this first of a trilogy ends in somewhat of a cliffhanger. I only regret I didn't wait until the entire thing was written before starting it. Now, I've got to wait until September of 2011 before The Bone House is released! Big-time of a bummer but I am delighted nonetheless to be able to get to read a really good book and now, I have something to look forward too next year!

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

My 7-year old daughter and I were glued to Lemony Snicket's The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1) from beginning to end. Her friend from across the street even stopped in and caught the last chapter as I read aloud. This neighbor girl will hardly sit still for anything but was riveted to her seat as we approached the climax of the story. I confess to being as curious as to what was going to happen to the Baudelaire children as they were!

The story follows three wealthy orphans who are forced to live with a distant relative after their parents die in a fire. There are several delightful twists of plot throughout. Count Olaf is a deliciously dastardly fellow. It was written with a classy style and I particularly enjoyed the way Snicket approaches children. Tolkien once said, "Never mind about the young! I am not interested in the 'child' as such, modern or otherwise, and certainly have no intention of meeting him/her half way, or a quarter of the way. It is a mistaken thing to do anyway, either useless (when applied to the stupid) or pernicious (when inflicted on the gifted)." Snicket must have taken Tolkien's wise advice, because the book doesn't talk down to children at all but speaks to them on a even keel. We're looking forward to the next one with much anticipation--"anticipation" here meaning, "waiting with much eagerness."

Covenant Children and Church Discipline

THE promises made in the Old Testament concerning the new covenant with regards to children of believers are plentiful. For example:

“And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children's offspring,” says the Lord, “from this time forth and forevermore.”-Isaiah 59:21

A verse like this is entirely consistent with passages in the New Testament:, i.e. Peter's sermon on Pentecost in Acts 2, Lydia's household being baptized, and Philippian jailer's household being baptized.

It's very important we understand the Bible as it was written within an historical context where people understood the concept of federal/covenant headship as it relates to head of households. An example of this kind of error happening would be someone in our day reading the passage about Abraham being called out from Ur in the book of Genesis and assume it was just he and Sarah who made that long journey. Not so. We're told Abraham brought along an entourage of over 300! They were all, in one sense (objectively) a part of Abraham's family of which he was the head, (so much for an ethically pure bloodline of Hebrews!). So, all the men, including the servants, would have been circumcised.

Just as there are two ways to be a part of Israel, (Rom. 9:6) there are two ways to be a "Christian," i.e. outward/visible member of a local church, and inwardly/invisibly regenerated by the Holy Spirit. In a perfect world we would know who all the regenerate are. Sadly, we do not. Jesus told us there are tares amongst the wheat. The church, generally speaking is a wheat field, not a tare field. Therefore, we ought to treat those within the church, including the children the Lord gives us as if they are wheat. This is why church discipline is so very important.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Creeds, Cults, and the Bible

Did you know the Table of Contents in your Bible is a creed? Where do you think our Bible came from? It didn't fall out of the sky! It was given to us within an historic context, written over thousands of years. Douglas Wilson has said, "Before we come to the Word of God in Genesis 1:1, we come to the word of the church in the table of contents." In other words, what Wilson means is you won't find anywhere in the Bible itself where it says, "These 66 books are the ones we need to use." The table of contents is a creed (or a statement of belief) because we, as Christians are trusting somewhere along the line that somebody with some kind of authority, recognized those 66 books as the inspired Word of God..and got it right. Keith Mathison has a great book on this; The Shape of Sola Scriptura

Interestingly enough, the Bible must be read, and it must be interpreted. If the final appeal to authority is to the mind of the individual, we've got a serious problem. This is where cults come from; i.e. Jehovah's Witnesses (Arians) and Mormons (Gnostics). Those cults hold to ancient heresies which have already been dealt with in the church. Why do these "newer" cults advocate the same doctrine taught by ancient heretics? Because somewhere along the line, their leaders encouraged their followers to abandon the historic creeds and confessions of the faith.