Observations and Opinions

“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Public Discourse

So, Susan Sarandon recently said this, and just a few weeks ago we had the infamous statement from Hank Williams Jr.

What this shows is how ill-read, and ill-informed both of these folks are. It does seem to be in vogue to pull out the 'Hitler' card nowadays, comparing Bush, Obama, and now the Pope to the infamous murderer. Rather than couch arguments in well thought out sentences and insightful perspectives both the right and left side of our political spectrum resort to the most basic and crude ad hominem attacks.

While these two individuals are but the latest in our society to show a complete lack of ability to think deeply, this is an endemic problem, and is a frightening reflection of the society in which we live.

Everyone is out for themselves, and until that changes (if it ever will), the disintegration of our public discourse will continue -- for it is far easier to simply assassinate the character of the opposition rather than address their concerns.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Starting Up Again?

After talking with my good friend Matt the other evening about blogging, I have decided to pray about and put forth the idea of a new direction for the blog.

I will be the first to admit that I am not the brightest (or even in the top 1000 brightest), Christian blogger(s) out there; nor do I have anything so important to say that someone else has not already addressed it. So, I have allowed my blog to languish - well, those reasons and I have been totally booked out time-wise.

But, after speaking with Matt - I thought that maybe I could work through Puritan books, just doing a type of 'book report' for those who might be interested in reading the Puritans. A reference point, if you will.

Again, there are sites out there that do this well already, but many of them are put up by scholars, and I am a simple country pastor in a small church. My perspective may not be as erudite, but it will be practical.

So, I plan on starting with Thomas Watson's The Godly Man's Picture.

We will see how this goes... Hopefully, I will talk to you soon....

Friday, October 08, 2010

Religious Respect?

This article really got me thinking.

A couple of things come to mind.

First, I remember when Terry Jones threatened to burn the Koran -- as we all know. The outcry was deafening. Every media personality weighted in, and politicians, local and national, both sides of the aisle, (even international), raised a cry demonizing Pastor Jones.

This was a small church, in a middling town, that threatened to burn a religious book - something that is done every day in other countries (although primarily Bibles), and you would have thought that he had planted a dirty bomb!

Now, I disagree with Pastor Jones -- I am not saying what he did, or threatened to do, was correct, but I am attempting to draw a parallel.

Here, in Loveland, Coloerado we have an ART museum putting blasphemous art out for open public view. I don't remember hearing about this on the news, nor did any politician (say, the White House, or any other national politician) come out decrying this so-called 'art'. Why is that?

I would venture to say that it is because of two things:

1) - The religion being blasphemed is Christianity, which we all know is fair game. Christianity is not a protected religion, but any other religion certainly is!

2) - The world, while they loudly proclaim Islam as a 'religion of peace', KNOWS that it is not. They know that violence is an inherent piece of Islam; and they are afraid of it.

While I have friends who are Muslims, and they are not violent - the folks that have the loudest voice and the power within that religion are violent. A sad, but true statement.

Also, notice what the news was: A 66-year-old woman attacked a piece of trash with a crowbar. Not the fact that the so-called art was actually a piece of blasphemous filth, but that this woman attacked the art.

And, finally, my favorite piece of the article: 'Chagoya told the Associated Press he was saddened to see his work desecrated. "My intention has never been to offend anybody," he said.'

Amazing...

So the next time a politician, or a media personality gets on the TV and shouts about how we have to respect religion, keep in mind that they are not referring to religion in general, but to all religions outside of Christianity.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Where I am... (or where AM I?)

It has been 4 months since I last posted here - but simply too busy most times to put something up.

I also find that I am nowhere near as prolific as many others in the blogsphere. Pastoring my church and working a full-time job pretty much consumed my time.

I am working in a new position, and still adjusting to it a bit. But, I wanted to at least post (probably to myself), and simply state that I am still alive...

The church has been doing pretty well - we have grown some, and now have a small choir - which for us is a major step, as we traditionally have had no tradition.. :-)

There has been the usual shake-ups, disagreements, and discussions that accompany any change, especially in the realm of church music. It has been, at various times, frustrating, maddening, rewarding and hurtful.

The choir performed an Easter cantata yesterday and it was amazing! We still have challenges ahead, but we have begun to move in a direction that I think will benefit all involved, even if, at this time, they fail to see the benefit.

We have had our share of loss as well, one of my dear friends passed to the other side last month - he had suffered for quite some time with the ravages of dementia and Parkinson's. I was honored to do his service and the church has gathered around his widow to ensure that she is OK. And I lost another good friend at work from cancer - and have tried to be there for his family...

As you can see - right now, I have nothing of import to say, nor any keen observations to share - this is just sort of an update to level-set. I could speak on the politics of our country, or the politics of church life - or even throw out something pithy about Tiger Woods, but I really don't have any keen observations on these things. My head and heart are in a different place and I will ponder and pray about what I may post on next.

I am currently doing a series on evangelism, specifically towards the Muslim community, and also a series on Creationism and its various positions (i.e. Young Earth, Old Earth, Evolution). maybe I will post some of my thoughts on these - we'll see...

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Worship Music

Yes, it has been about six weeks since I posted. A lot has happened -- got caught in a RIF at work, and been very busy at the church. However, I read a short book on worship music while I was away...

The book turned out to be a bust in my opinion. Even though it had the endorsement of a man I truly respect, J. Ligon Duncan III, IMHO, this book was not very compelling.

Before I go much further, I want to say that I agree, by and large, with many of the arguments in the book; i.e. that CCM is inappropriate for worship, and that many (if not most), CCM/modern worship songs are insipid and totally narcissistic. Where I feel that the author went afoul of a solid argument is when he began with the mantra that 'drums' are somehow part of the devil's music.

Now, he did not say that in those words, but he intimates it heavily throughout. And the old boogie man of the 'backbeat' somehow conjuring up Satan in the church is simply not true.

His argument for using classical music is that it is so far removed from anything evil that it is safe to be used in the church - although, in it's day, this music too was frowned upon by many within the church.

This is written from a Western man's view of music - drums and music of the type that he disparages, are used in other parts of the world where people have always used drums as part of their heritage. they also do not have organs, pianos and the other western instruments.

As I said earlier, I agree that CCM has no place in the worship life of the church, and I am a staunch believer in hymns, and even Psalter singing, however the arguments put forth by Mr. Lucarini just don't hold water from a musical standpoint. I would have enjoyed a much more theological argumentation, as opposed to the almost 'mystical' perspective that a certain beat and instrumentation is inherently evil.

Sadly, as I work through the changes in our worship style; attempting to jettison some of the inherited CCM and replace it with more solid modern hymns and Psalter singing, these types of books are really useless. I am going to pick up Michael Horton's A Better Way. This was recommended by a pastor that I truly respect.

I have also found Hughes Oliphant Old's books to be quite useful -- his Worship book is fantastic, as is his Leading in Prayer workbook.

Books such as Dan Lucarini's simply provide no useful theological argumentation - but instead, rely on the same arguments that the CCM folks use to introduce the drivel that they call worship music. I think there is a better way, and I believe that we can use arguments that transcend the 'drums are bad' mentality.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Are You Plugged In?

So, the final question that I posed on a long ago post was: where do non-denominational churches find fellowship and support?

There are many groups that provide fellowship and accountability, but when you are just starting out, or you are a small church that does not fit the 'denominational' mold, it can be challenging to find support and fellowship. (Make no mistake, 'non-denominational' is much like a denomination)

I will tell you, from personal experience, that you must have this support; it is vital to the life of the pastor and his family that he have someone he can turn to for fellowship, prayer, emotional and spiritual support, and friendship.

I struggled early on in my ministry because I did not have this support structure, and I just wanted to post a few thoughts here about it:

1. Seek out a local pastoral fellowship, or alliance. Most all towns have one, and many times they are not well advertised. YOU must make the effort to find a group, and get plugged in. The group may not fit you exactly, and there may be some within the group who disagree with you on some points of ministry, but this is a good place to learn tolerance as well as the ability to articulate your faith and the reasons why you take a position that you have.

2. Do some web work, find a group that shares your perspective in ministry and join it. Some of these may just be an on-line community, but it is still a good outlet for support. And again, be prepared for discussion! Don't shy away from, or be adversarial to honest, open debate! You will grow tremendously as you learn to disagree in a godly manner.

3. Attend a pastor's conference. Even if you attend alone, the good ones will not leave you alone. You will meet people from all over the country/world, who will become confidant's and counselors.

4. Finally, do not allow your pride to tell you that you can do it on your own. I found my greatest challenge to be maintaining a perspective when I had no outlet or access to other pastors. My fellow elder at our church is fantastic, and I could never do it without him, but we both need the interaction that comes with engaging fellow ministers in discussion, debate, and counsel.

If you are at a small-church and have not done any of the above, I highly recommend that you get plugged in and maintain ties with fellow pastors. It will greatly ease your burden!

May God bless your work!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Are we just nuts?

How can you tell when a society has jumped the proverbial shark when it comes to insanity?

Well, when you juxtapose this story with this one

Now, anybody with at least four brain cells functioning, please tell me which of these two is a more real and present danger?