find out what is going on inside my head. i know it is a little scary, but you will be safe. i promise.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

More Christian Greenery

I never thought I would post about environmental issues two posts in a row, but here goes. Ross @ .Ross linked to, and excerpted Michael Patton. That was a good post. Then he linked to another environmental post about Thomas Nelson's "Green Bible". At least that one only had recycled pages. Whatever. HarperOne is about to release its own green Bible (NRSV). It takes it to a whole new level. Its pages are recycled. Its cover is a sustainable cloth (cotton) fabric. The real problem is what is inside. Did you have a red letter Bible? You know the one. The words of Christ are written in red. This is a green letter Bible. The words about the environment are written in green. No, I am not making this up. I don't know if I even could. Brandon O'Brien @ the Leadership Journal blog has written well about this. Here is an excerpt:

Before they make it to Genesis, Green Bible readers encounter an impressive roll of contributors, each offering a sermon or article on some aspect of creation care: “Reading the Bible through a Green Lens” and “Knowing Our Place on Earth: Learning Environmental Responsibility from the Old Testament” for example. There’s a foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, an introduction by Dr. Matthew Sleeth, poems by Francis of Assisi and Wendell Berry, and articles (mostly reprinted) by Brian McLaren, Barbara Brown Taylor, N. T. Wright, and the late Pope John Paul II, among others.

- - - - - - - - -

The selection of passages aside, I have two concerns with this method of highlighting biblical text. The first is this: the implicit argument in the green lettering is that by sheer bulk of words in green print, the editors prove that creation care is a central concern of the Bible. But what if we tried a different subject—say, violence. A faculty of editors color-codes a Bible so that every passage that references an act of violence is printed in purple ink. Would that, by sheer bulk, prove conclusively that violence is at the center of God’s plan of redemption? Or what about gold-lettering all the instances of sexual perversion? What I mean is this: frequency is not a compelling argument without context.

Do you see value in owning this Bible? What would be the major benefit of this Bible? How about drawbacks? Please comment and let me know what you think about this edition of the Bible.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Environmental Evangelicals?

Earlier today, the Barna Group released an interesting report titled "Evangelicals Go 'Green' with Caution". It takes a look at the Christian (broadly defined as Catholic, mainline Protestant, and non-mainline Protestant) and a separate look at the Evangelical (as defined by Barna) response to and participation with the environmental movement. The report can be found here.

The report shows that "Most Christians are not satisfied to be mere observers of the green movement. Three-quarters of self-identified Christians (78%) agree they would like to see their fellow Christians take a more active role in caring for God’s creation in a way that is both informed and biblical. Among evangelicals, 90% would like Christians to take a more active role in caring for creation, with 67% agreeing strongly." Personally, I agree with this. Christians should take the lead on the issue of caring for the creation that God made us stewards of.

While most Christians agree with each other and with the general population that we should do more to care for the environment, there is disagreement and uncertainty about global warming. Among evangelicals, just 27% firmly believe global warming is even happening. As for me, I am highly doubtful. This is where looking at the issue Biblically comes into play. There are a number of different angle from which to approach this, but I will only address a couple.

I believe in a literal interpretation of the creation account in Genesis. God created everything in six days. I believe the account of the great flood is a true, literal account. That would mean the earth is only six thousand to seven thousand years old. No matter how sophisticated your computer models are, if you do not account for these truths, they will be inaccurate.

I also believe that God is completely sovereign. That means He is in complete control. It has often been said that not only does He own the cattle on a thousand hills, He owns the hills the cattle are on. The Bible talks about the end time. I think this would hold true, regardless of your view of the end times. I do not believe God will allow the earth to be destroyed in such a way that it would circumvent His ultimate plan.

We have started to do some recycling at our home. When the kids asked why, I chose not to give them information about a global warming crisis that I believe does not exist. I gave them an economic reason. This is what I told them. Our trash goes to a landfill here in Smith County. When the landfill is full, the county will have to secure another place to put trash. That will cost money. If we slow down the rate of filling the landfill, we can delay a major government expense. This allows my taxes to remain lower and me to keep more of my money to use as I see fit. Do something good for the environment and your wallet. Start with recycling.

Do you agree or disagree that Christians should do more to protect the environment? What do you do? Do you have practical suggestions for the rest of us? Please share in the comments.

Grace & Peace,


Sunday, September 21, 2008

On Facebook

I have a facebook page. Or account. Or profile. The truth is, I don't know what I have or what I am supposed to do with it. I know I have access to facebook and it has information about me. I signed up because the church I am privileged to serve has a facebook whatever. Now we are friends. How exactly are you friends with a church? Never mind.

I have several friends on facebook. I don't know what I am supposed to do. We can't hang out or go to the movies or go out to eat, but they are my friends, I think. Apparently, facebook has simplified friendship to simply a request and acceptance of friendship. If only real life were as simple as that.
Real friendship requires a level of intimacy and sacrifice that facebook (or any of the social networking sites) can possibly offer. Friendship on facebook reminds me of the old George Strait song, "Check Yes or No." (See the video here.) It is not as simple as checking accept or reject on a friend request. You invest in real friends and genuine relationships.

On a lighter note, she who must be obeyed has been on facebook for a while now. When I noticed she was spending quite a bit of time there, I found this video and sent it to her. If you are her facebook friend, you have likely already seen it. If not, enjoy.

Are you on facebook? What do you do there? Any suggestions for me? I don't know what I am doing and feel lost every time I log on. Leave a comment (and some help). Thanks.

Grace & Peace

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What Do I Do With My Ray Boltz CD's?

In case you haven't heard, 1990's award winning Christian music star Ray Boltz has publicly identified himself as a homosexual. Click here for more information. He is perhaps best known for his evangelism and missions oriented hit song, "Thank You". This was a big hit the first time I was in college (but that is another post for another day). Check out this video of that song:

He wrote, recorded, and released a number of songs that have been an example and encouragement for Christians around the world. These songs were clearly designed to bring glory to the God he was apparently trying to serve. Does this revelation negate the value of these songs over the past twenty years? That is a difficult question to answer. The reality is that most of the current generation probably does not know who Ray Boltz is. They have quite possibly never heard much of his music. This is also the generation that is least likely to find his sexual orientation problematic. On the flipside (note the musical reference), I suspect a great many individuals who were influenced by his music will be slow to hear this news.

Is there a place for his music now? I think so. Clearly, his homosexual lifestyle, along with the divorce from his wife, is sin. At this time, he has chosen not to see this as sin. He sees it as the way God created him. If he should choose to acknowledge his sin and seek forgiveness, he should be reconciled to the church and accepted as any brother who returns. We have seen this many times in the Christian music industry. Several years ago, Michael English admitted to an affair he was involved in with another singer who was also married. After some time, English repented and went through a time of restoration. Some acknowledge their sin and some do not. I pray Ray Boltz does.

By the way, I do not have any of his CD's. When he was first popular, I was still buying cassettes. All my tapes are long gone. I sure don't miss those days.

Do you remember other Ray Boltz songs? What is your favorite? Which of his songs have had an impact on you life or spiritual journey? Tell us about it!

Grace & Peace


Monday, September 15, 2008

Ike, Overused Phrases, and Not Really News

My goal is to post at least every other day. My last post was on Friday and today is Monday. As you can see, I did not meet my goal. But it was a busy weekend. Unless you live in a cave, you are probably aware that there was a hurricane. Hurricane Ike. You could rename Galveston Tina. Some of you will get that. It was not a particularly powerful storm. It was only a category 2. But it was big. Bigger than Texas big. That is how I spent my weekend. It was windy and rainy, but it was not really bad here in Tyler. I have a brother and sister-in-law in Alvin who had some damage to their home. Due to their jobs, they were unable to evacuate. I am not even a little bit jealous of them.

During preparations for the storm, I watched a fair amount of the local news for the weather reports. There are always grossly overused expressions in the news media, but during hurricane Ike, there was one that truly got on my nerves. If Mark Scirto told us one more time to "hunker down", I thought I would have to punch him right through the television. Everybody I talked to was hunkered down. Everybody encouraged me to hunker down. My family hunkered down. I was so tired of hearing about hunkering down, I refused to hunker. I was willing to batton down the hatches, hole up in my home, seek shelter, or any of a number of options. But I was sick of being hunkered down. That has to be the most overused phrase of this storm.

Those of us who work in ministry sometimes struggle with being relevant. (Speaking of overused expressions.) Apparently, it is not only churches that strive to be relevant. With almost all the news – even the national news – devoted to hurricane Ike, it apparently could make for a slow news day in other parts of the country. Check out this headline from the Fort Collins Coloradoan. This is a perfect example of trying too hard.

Do you have any good, or at least interesting, stories from the hurricane this weekend? Share them with me and the three others that might read this.

Grace & Peace,


Friday, September 12, 2008

On Public Service

I was thinking today about pubic service or community service. I am sure part of this was brought on by last night's political forum at Columbia University. The format was very similar to the earlier forum on religion at Saddleback Church with Rick Warren. I did not watch nor listen to all that much of last night's event, but I did hear part of John McCain's interview. He spoke very highly of service to the nation, especially through service in the Armed Forces. This was made even more poignant by the fact that three of the four candidates have children either already or about to be deployed to the Middle East.

Today I had lunch with she who must be obeyed at a local eatery. Sitting across from us was a lady and a young man who I suspect was her son. He was dressed in his camouflage BDU's. I do not know if he was home on leave or about to be deployed or stationed somewhere fairly locally. Any of those are reasonable. As I watched him there, I was moved in a way that totally surprised me. I was genuinely proud of this young man. I am sure I had never laid eyes on him in my life, but I was proud of him.

I have made a point not to stray into politics here. Regardless of your opinion of the current administration or which one you want to replace it, the young men and women who wear the uniform of our Armed Services are to be respected. We, as Americans, should be proud of those who perform this valuable public community service.

As the father of three sons, I thought about the day they are finishing high school and deciding what to do with their lives. I will not push them in any one particular direction, but I want them to know that the defense of your nation and freedom is a noble profession.

May God bless and protect those who bravely protect us.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Too Many Blogs

I get too many blogs fed into my Google reader. There you have it. I admit it. As I migrated my blog back over to its place on blogger, I made a few very minor changes. One was to update my blog roll. Blogger has a nice little feature that will import them right from reader along with the latest post title. When I did that, I realized just how many blogs I feeds I subscribe to. It is truly ridiculous. I don't have time, or really even the desire to read all of that. The problem is that I don't know what I should delete. I guess I'll just leave them all there for now. I don't read everything posted, but I do scan them all for the things that interest me. I do make a point to read the blogs of my friends. Those are my favorites. Some of you that read mine are listed in my blog roll. So I would like to give a little shoutout to my friends who blog. (I could have turned all these into links, but that would be very time-consuming. They are all listed on the left):

  • .Ross (Ross Strader)
  • Missio Dei (Mark Kuykendall)
  • Larry's Thoughts (Larry Reeves)
  • Blessed With Grace (Lisa Morgan)
  • Right Here…Right Now (Lana Howell
  • Our Blessed Family (Liz Reeves)
  • Todd Blog (Todd Wright)
  • Bethel Bible Church Blog

Grace & Peace


Baptism Sunday

This past Sunday at church was our annual baptism and picnic. There were over 600 people at church and we baptized 23! It was a truly great day. We consumed 400 hamburgers and 400 hot dogs, because as our deacon in charge of fun says, "Nothing says baptism like fine beef products!"

We shot a short video of some of the action. This video is also posted on Bethel's new blog. Add it to whichever reader you use. A link can also be found on the left side of this page. Hope you enjoy it. If you were there, let us know what you thought of the day.

Grace & Peace,


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I'm Back!!!

Several months ago, I thought it would be fun not only to blog, but to build a website that would tell you all about my family and what we have going on. I was wrong. It was less fun that I thought it would be. It ended up that I even quit blogging for a while. In other words, the thing that was my focus became just another activity. I got distracted by other things. That is just what happens to us in our Christian walk. If our main purpose is to love God and each other, what happens when we get distracted with other things? Our love for God and others becomes less evident. Don't let this happen to you. Don't let the busyness of life distract you from what is most important. 

 Grace & Peace,