You Might Live In Wisconsin If...

If you have ever refused to buy something because it's "too spendy", you might live in Wisconsin.

If your local Dairy Queen is closed from November through March, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you have worn shorts and a parka at the same time, you might live in Wisconsin.

If your town has an equal number of bars and churches, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you have had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong number, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you know how to say Oconomowoc, Waukesha, Menomonie & Manitowoc, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you think that ketchup is a little too spicy, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you have either a pet or a child named "Brett," and know how to pronounce "Favre" correctly, you might live in Wisconsin.


Focus on the Family

When Jesus focused on the family here is some of what he had to say.

Luke 12
51Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.
52From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three.
53They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."

Mark 3
31Then Jesus' mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him.
32A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, "Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you."

33"Who are my mother and my brothers?" he asked.
34Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers!
35Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother."

Matthew 19
29And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother[f] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

Luke 14
26"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.


Thanksgiving in Phoenix

Zipped out to phoenix to see Joey’s great aunt…had a good time…saw my cousin and his fiancĂ© as well…that was cool…Phoenix is a nice city, very new…and the drive wasn’t bad for a six hour haul.


A Non-Sensical Question

Tony said:

About then, another guy spoke up: "OK, then why don't you just put the argument to rest and make a definitive statement about what Emergent believes about absolute truth."

I replied, "Emergent doesn't have a position on absolute truth, or on anything for that matter. Do you show up at a dinner party with your neighbors and ask, 'What's this dinner party's position on absolute truth?' No, you don't, because it's a non-sensical question."

So true.


Saddleback Critiques

So I visited Saddleback Church this past Sunday. It was part of an assignment for which we have to visit a church and ask two questions based simply on our observance of one service, what does this community understand the word “church” to mean, and what does it understand the word “gospel” to mean?

There are no shortage of critiques of the “seeker sensitive mega-church” model. They are generally along the lines of wattering down the gospel, being too individualistic, not being critical enough of the corporate jargon it is swalling, and on the whole being a fairly singular model. (i.e. white, suburban, middleclass)

I think many of these are valid, but I’m starting to tire of all the complaining I hear. (some other time we will have to talk about the difference between a “critique” and a “complaint” if there is one)

If my favorite model (this month), the house church, was sweeping the nation, no doubt there would be no shortage of critiques of that, probably along the lines of also being too individualistic, possibly cultic, power abuses, no accountability, etc...

So in response to the critiques of the mega church model I’m starting to ask questions like:

Would a missional community with high church sympathies look a lot like saddleback?


How would a church in Orange County that is "true to it’s zip code" be different than Saddleback?

Got some thoughts? Go ahead and leave a comment.


The Context of the Law

My Pentateuch proff made some good points in class yesterday.

He asked, “What do we do with the mosaic law, particularly the parts we find shameful, for instance laws regulating the treatment of slaves, or the prefrences given to men?”

The “right” answer is along these lines. Divide it up into three categories, ceremonial, civil and moral, with only the latter applying to us today. The problem, (as it so often is) is in the application. For starters we often write off huge sections of the Bible without giving them a second thought, and when it comes to deciding what parts are moral, we pick and choose.

Instead, Butler suggested, we should try and find the point behind the civil or ceremonial law, asking, “what is the contemporary equivalent?”

In other words, it’s all about, that’s right, my favorite word, drum roll please…

…contextualization, du da!

Of course this is fraught with problems too, people being what they are, we are apt to contextualize the meaning right out of a passage. There are certainly times when the meaning is all too clear, but we just don’t want to hear it.

That said, take a new look at Leviticus, and ask the question, what is the contemporary analogy, or at the very least the principle behind the rule.

Here are a fiew just for fun.

Lev 4
13 If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD's commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter, they are guilty.

Lev 7
22 The LORD said to Moses, 23 Say to the Israelites: 'Do not eat any of the fat of cattle, sheep or goats.

Lev 19
9 When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.

33 When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. 34 The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.


My Redemer died...for what?

Some thoughts on the question I asked last week.

"If Jesus came to redeem the world, why isn't the world more redeemed?"

First a recap of the responses I got, they basically fell into two categories, the “God is sovereign” crowd, and the “we have free will” crowd, both of which have there own way of accounting for this very serious question. I think that answers on both sides were true to their perspective, and of course one must be more right than the other (or maybe they're both wrong ; ) However this is not a debate I am in the mood for today.

I think the question above, is really about an entirely different subject. The question by itself has a technically correct answer, but the question rarely stands by itself, rather it is asked by real, hurting, people that can’t imagine a good God allowing the reality that is their circumstances.

If when talking with an actual person in search of an answer, we reply with a “O’ it could be so much worse”, or a “God didn’t cause it, he only allowed it” we are not doing ourselves, our God, or our hearer any favors. Are these answers correct, sure, do they suffice, NO!

My non-answer, leans on the Roman Catholic perspective which is much more conscious of our suffering Savior.

Our God DIED! God’s don’t die, yet ours did…

As protestants we tend to say, “Jesus died and ROSE AGAIN!”, but we do so at the expense of the DIED part.

What this means is that Jesus, better than anyone else, can identify with our suffering. Regardless of what the “right” answer is, to the “why?” question, we have a hope that words can not express, and a God who understands grief that words can not express. Which is important because it is often unspeakable grief, or identification there with, that provides the motivation for the question.

So if asked “…why isn’t the world more redeemed” point people toward the cross, and not just the empty cross, but the one with a tortured Christ as well, a Christ that understands that we too suffer, sometimes unspeakably.

Maybe then the questioner will be able to hear the “right” answer.

C.S. Lewis - An Evangelical?

My friend and community mate, Greg, makes some great points in regard to a recent Christianity Today article about C.S. Lewis. Read it here.

As a side note, I must say Greg, I'm suprised to find you reading Christianity Today. ; )


McLaren at Fuller

On Tuesday I attended a lecture given by Bryan McLaren. Here are a few of his points in no particular order.

Many are rightly against various dangerous risks in postmodernism.
What about modernity? What are the dangers there?
If we are going to complain that postmodernism has terrible side affects, will the church offer an alternative, or will it continue to protect excessive confidence.

This modernity vs postmodernity debate is the tale side of the coin.
Instead lets talk about colonialism and post-colonialism.
How have the things that led to colonialism infiltrated our own churches?

We often package the “West” with the Christian faith.
People of the 2/3 world are trying to figure out how to un-bundle JC from the “West”.
The “gospel” of the west is entirely too thin.

We can say unequivocally that the world is changing, period! Epistemology and postmodern debates are the past; they are a “Western” debate that has nothing to do with where we are emerging to. They can only be useful if they help us move into the present.

My reaction: cautious acceptance. I have no doubt that the way the world and people see themselves has already changed and will continue to do so. What to do about it is the big question. In one sense I have the answer, “be missional”, don’t just do stuff, stuff at times called missions or evangelism, stuff divorced from our regular lives, but rather be something, be missional, be the church, be who Christ created you to be.

Now…what does that look like? I have no idea…ok I have some ideas, but I wouldn’t call them facts, and I certainly wouldn’t prescribe them for your use, what “being” looks like is something you and your community in conjunction with the Holy Spirit will have to decide, and not just once, but maybe everyday.

ok...not really everyday ; )


Homosexual Politics

Another post direct from ethics class. We are discussing homosexuality, and the professor is asking for suvility, saying that good people disagree, and that is comes down to hermenutics, which at a certain level is correct, but it goes so much deeper than this. On both sides the battle lines are drawn, and long ago we became enemies. If I am a homosexual, I am not going to put up with you denegrating who I am, and it is not simply a hermenutical dispute.

My response: Call it what it is, we're enemies...

...but love your enemies!

I.e. not Jesus busting out the whip, but Jesus becoming human for our sake, dying for our sake, reconciling us to himself.

What would it look like for us to stand firm in our commitments, yet truly love our enemies?


My Redemer lives...for what?

I would love to get some feedback on this next question.

"If Jesus came to reedem the world, why isn't the world more redeemed?"

It is a question that Jews in light of the Holocaust, and others questioning the Messiahship of Jesus, have been asking for centuries.

Got a thought...an answer...or maybe a followup question?

Go ahead and leave a comment, lets get some dialog going on this one. I'll share my own thoughts in a future post.


Kid Engages in "Higher Criticism" ; )

Nine year old Joey was asked by his mother what he had
learned at Sunday school.

"Well, Mom, our teacher told us how God sent Moses behind
enemy lines on a rescue mission to lead the Israelites out of

When he got to the Red Sea, he had his engineers build a
pontoon bridge and all the people walked across safely.

"Then he used his walkie - talkie to radio headquarters for
reinforcements. They sent bombers to blow up the bridge and
all the Israelites were saved."

"Now, Joey, is that really what your teacher taught you?"
his mother asked.

"Well, no, Mom. But if I told it the way the teacher did,
you'd never believe it!"


Ethics in Teaching and Learning

Not surprisingly there is such a thing as teaching ethics, or theology, or whatever, ethically, much of which has to do with presenting the arguments of your adversaries fairly. It is on this point that I believe churches fail too often. In many instances we don’t even present the other side, and when we do, it is often a caricature, a paper tiger to be knocked over. I'm not saying one needs to be exaustive, and there are clearly situations in which this would be ridiculous, but at the end of the day, we often don't treat our adversaries fairly.

I think the reason this happens is not entirely malicious, rather it has a lot to do with people not knowing or understanding what one’s opponent believes, which raises questions about how or why we come to believe, whatever we believe.

Think about it, why do you believe?

Ok, so you read A Case for Christ, did you read A Case for Muhammad? (not a real book)

You’re a Calvinist, as is your mother and the pastor of the church she took you to your entire life; have you read any other perspective?

What are we afraid of?

If a given belief is correct, it will stand up under the most withering examination.



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Pentateuch Mid-Term

Want to know what type of questions appear on a graduate level Biblical studies test? Here are a few.

Essay Questions
Gerhard von Rad has pointed out that the episodes of Genesis 1-11 are linked by the themes of the spread of human sin and the recurring response of God’s grace. Discuss this scheme, and show how it links the Primeval History of Gen 1-11 with the Patriarchal narratives of Gen 12-50.

In Gen. 12:1-3, Abraham is called to take up a promise. Show how the rest of the Abraham and Sarah stories are organized around the themes of this promise. In what ways can the promise of these verses be traced beyond Abraham to the rest of the Old Testament?

As a result of the archeological discoveries of the 19th-20th centuries, modern interpreters of the opening chapters of Genesis have been confronted with a wealth of comparative material from the ancient Near East. Discuss the ways in which these extra-Biblical parallels may illumine our studies of the opening chapters of Genesis, citing some specific examples from the accounts of Creation or the Flood. Be as specific as possible in alluding to details, both of the ancient Near Eastern texts (naming the texts, the characters, the situations, etc.) and of the Biblical accounts to which you are comparing them.

Identify each of the following with a word, phrase, or brief sentence:
--the occupation of Abel and of Cain
--the third son of Adam and Eve, “instead of Abel”
--Lamech, husband of Adah and Zillah
--he “walked with God; and he was not, for God took him”
--the three sons of Noah
--the son of Noah from whom Abraham was descended
--pillar of salt
--Moab and Ben-ammi
--Abimelech, king of Gerar
--the land of Moriah
--the land of Nod
--Jacob's father-in-law