Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Gnostic Empire Struck!

Sunday night I read NT Wright's "Judas and the Gospel of Jesus." It started me off with a belly laugh in the preface, and ended with me jumping up at one in the morning saying amen to my cat (who I'm sure thought I was nuts). Here's what he said that has me so geeked:

Of course, those who propogate today's left-wing neo-Gnosticism will say that they are implacably opposed, among other things, to the kind of "classic Christianity" represented by today's American right, including those responsible for current U.S. foreign policy. But here is the rub. The American religious right, though it has indeed got its finger on some elements of classic Christianity, is itself heavily compromised down very similar lines to what we might call the American religious left. The type of Christianity which has become popular in the last two centuries on both sides of the Atlantic, in fact, has steadily eroded its grip on the great New Testament and early Christian themes such as resurrection, and has embraced not only an individualism where what most truly matters is "my" soul, its state and its salvation, but also a future hope which is worryingly similar to that of Gnosticism. "Going to heaven when you die"--or, indeed, escaping death and going to heaven by means of a "rapture" instead--is the name of the game for millions of such Christians. And when you tell people, as I often do, that the New Testament isn't very interested in "going to heaven," but far more with a new bodily life at some future stage later on, and with the anticipation of the future bodily life in holiness and justice in the present, they look at you strangely, as if you were trying to inculcate a new heresy. "Conservative" post-Enlightenment Western Christianity and "liberal" post-Enlightenment Western Christianity begin to look as if they are simply the right and left wings of the same essentially wrongheaded movement.

N.T. Wright, Judas and the Gospel of Jesus, pp. 141-142.

He hits the nail on the head with what he writes here! He reiterates what Meic Pearse says in "Why the Rest hates the West" and what James Kurth says in his "Protestant Deformation" piece. I hope the Lord gives these men, and others like them, a megaphone to speak this truth to the worldwide Christian church, and maybe even the American church. After all, miracles still happen!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Meteor shower

Tonight is a meteor shower. In ancient times, meteor showers portended major changes in empires. Kings were being born. Empires were falling. Last night I read part of the Iraq Study Group report. On the micro level it has a lot of accurate details, yet it's underlying assumptions leave it ultimately unable to adequately deal with the reality on the ground, either in Iraq, or here in America. Tonight I listened to last Sunday's sermon by Rob Bell of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, just up the road a bit. He's doing a series called "peacemakers". Last Sunday he talked about the war in Iraq, but also about the larger issues of 'terror' and such. He presented a lot of facts and figures about demographics, especially about 'us' in America and the rest of the world. It's amazing how much we 'consume'. America is dying of consumption. A new king is born. An empire is fallen. Our king calls us to follow him. But his way is the way of the cross. Will we/I follow him? Can a victor be found in a bloodied, bruised, broken body? Do I dare trust that power? Do I dare not? I should go out and watch the stars fall to the earth.

Friday, November 3, 2006

A prayer of perspective

If we complain of any lack in our Christian liberties here in America because of some action by a judge or some governmental agency, let us remind ourselves that we as Christians, because of who we are in Christ, have a liberty that can never be taken away by anyone else, no matter what threatenings may be brought our way.
We must remember that the starving prisoner who will die in only hours in a pitch black cell possesses more liberty and is a freer man than the middle class Christian who complains bitterly over some perceived injustice, however slight, done against him.
Let us pray for a greater freedom that no external circumstance can affect. And if need be, let us pray that God would mercifully strip us of all that hinders our perceiving Him.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

We submit to Caesar to acknowledge the supreme Lordship of Jesus

All our earthly allegiances are not only warranted and limited by the supreme authority of God, but are also shaped by that authority. In other words, even the duty we properly render to Caesar is rendered differently because Caesar is not absolute. We render obedience to Caesar where we can, not because he is Lord, but because our Lord Jesus bids us to. In other words, all our obedience to Caesar dethrones Caesar by expressing the Lordship of Jesus. We view all our serving of Caesar as serving his owner and Lord, Jesus. There is, therefore, no whiff of worship toward Caesar. He is stripped of his claim to divinity in the very act of submitting to his laws. Even our submission is therefore seditious toward rulers with pretensions of deity.

John Piper, page 330, from Demand #44, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's as an act of rendering to God what is God's, from What Jesus Demands from the World

Sunday, July 30, 2006

My Enemies Are Men Like Me by Derek Webb

My Enemies Are Men Like Me

(vs. 1)
i have come to give you life
and to show you how to live it
i have come to make things right
to heal their ears and show you how to forgive them

because i would rather die
i would rather die
i would rather die
than to take your life

how can i kill the ones i’m supposed to love
my enemies are men like me
i will protest the sword if it’s not wielded well
my enemies are men like me

(vs. 2)
peace by way of war is like purity by way of fornication
it’s like telling someone murder is wrong
and then showing them by way of execution



when justice is bought and sold just like weapons of war
the ones who always pay are the poorest of the poor


What is a War Crime?

Does the percentage of women and children define what constitutes a war crime? How many times can civilians be the primary target before we finally acknowledge that civilians really are the target? This sequence of events bears an eerie resemblance to what began WWI. Each side decides it has to act either preemptively or to excalate the violence in response to some perceived threat. We are all becoming blind. Can we, as Americans, claim no blood on our hands when we overnight hundreds of bombs to the Israeli's, even lying to intersecting countries about our cargo? Will we be shocked to learn that we are culpable? Too many questions. Not enough answers.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Well tomorrow turned into three days later!

So much for my keeping a daily journal of my CBA experiences! It's amazing how busy it is here. By the time the vening roles around, all you want to do is turn in for the night, which is what I've done. So, sorry for not living up to the promise of providing daily updates of my "wild" times at CBA. These three days (M-T-W) of special sessions, wandering the floor visiting various ministries and publishers, hearing amazing musical acts, and establishing contacts, has been a whirlwind to say the least! I actually kept notes the first two days, but then realized that I should just enjoy the experience of meeting and greeting and learning what I can while I'm here. While I am obviously pleased at meeting several authors and musicians that I've enjoyed for some time, I've gotten the most enjoyment by meeting those artists/writers that are new to me. On Monday at lunch, they had a new artsit luncheon, in which several young, up and coming artists were spotlighted. The coolest thing was sitting next to the rhythm guitarist of a relatively new band called "DecembeRadio." Man was this guy nice! And it turns out he grew up only a few miles form where my mom was born and raised. He even told me about Gassaway, West Virginia before I brought it up! Nobody's ever heard of that town except my family! But he played there and told me a great story of how a near tornado ripped the tarp off of a trailer they were playing on and his guitar's next got snapped. But the townspeople took up an offering and more than paid back the cost his guitar! Cool hunh? Later, the next day, he made it a point to tap me on the shoulder on the floor of the convention center to say hi, even though I hadn't seen him. Very cool. I told him, next time he and his band were in town, that they HAD to stop by Baker. I also suggested that they play at Hope, since their music rocked (think Christian version of Lynnyrd Skynnerd). Last night we all went to an outdoor concert nearby in town featuring Bebo Norman (much better this time), I think the acoustics of the inside venue were not very friendly to anything electric. Once he, and the others, were outside, they sounded great. I was especially excited to hear Jars of Clay, since I've liked them from the beginning. They didn't dissapoint! They played several hymns at the end of their set, but boy was it not your old hymns of yesteryear! These great hymns were revamped and on fire! Everyone was on their feet (me included) for their last several songs. I was toast by the end of the evening, but it was a good toast.

To go into all the authors I met this week would take a separate post in itself. But suffice it say that I have been seriously geeked. To paraphrase Roberto Clemente, Crossway has been vedy, vedy good to me! I even met John Piper's son. It's a good thing I was saying nice things about him (not hard to do if you know me)! Last night we had the chance to hear severeal Nelson aurhotrs speak at a heavy hors deurve (I can't spell that stupid word!) get together. Max Lucado led in prayer throughout the night. Now I know why he's so well loved. He truly has a pastor's heart. We were all impressed by his gentle godliness. FOr me, the pleasant surprise of the evening was getting to know authors that I knew "of", but didn't really know. They each shared some apsect of themselves that really brought their humanity. Phil Visscher, of VeggieTale fame, shared quite openly of his rise to success and then subsequent fall, and of what he's doing now. Truly a testament to grace. He even thanks God for his trials, since they led him closer to Christ. Mark Buchanan spoke eloquently of being careful not to be too busy or to "push" when God would have us recline as Lazarus did. His illustration of Lazarus being a witness of Christ's power, simply by reclining (and breathing!) at the table with Christ, spoke deeply to how we can best reveal Christ to those around us. We don't need to push when God says relax. Amen! But most of all, I was impressed by Erwin McManus, who spoke of his emigrating to America from El Salvador during their war in the eighties. Afterward, I spoke with him and admitted that while I knew of him, I didn't know anything about him. But that now I knew much more of who he is, and that that would help me immeasurably in helping my own customers in referring them to his books. I look forward to reading what he's written. Well, as y'all can imagine, I met numerous other folks, and it was all cool and I was in official "geek" mode. But what I found most exciting was meeting some of the vendors who were there (some for the first time themselves!) to share what they could of Christ's work in them. That was cool. I got some info, and am hoping that we might be able to work together in the future. The two that jump out at me are soem young men who market shirts and other clothing accessories, but with a message that I think will really resonate with young people, especially the disaffected. I am really excited about them. Also, there was a couple from Palestine who were selling Rosewood carvings of the holy family and other Christian and Jewish themes; all produced in Bethlehem! Oops, it's almost dinner! So I gotta run. I'll probably write when I'm back in Holland. Peace!

Monday, July 10, 2006

CBA: Day 1

Well, today was our first full day at CBA. We started by crashing the Parable morning worship service, which had Chip Ingram as the speaker/preacher. They also had an Aussie group that I can't recall right now doing the music. At first we couldn't understand a word they were saying, and it wasn't because of the accents. It was just too loud. But thankfully the rest of the music was singable by everyone there and was quite good. Chip spoke on wearing the full armor of God as retailers, since we are much of the Christian world's "gatekeepers." It was actually quite convicting to hear what he had to say. He was very straight forward about the various temptations that can afflict those who work commercially in the Christian world, whether in retail or not. Later we went to a backstage reception hosted by one of our vendors. Ho hum. We had already eaten really good Italian food earlier, so the snacks didn't appeal to us. Although the Australian chocolate/mint iced tea was a little strange. But it tasted OK. Later on we joined some others from G.R. Baker for an early evening concert called Worship Now! How Great is Our God. That had a combination of speakers and performers such as, Jared Anderson, Billy Smiley (founder of White Heart), Scott Wesley Brown, author Philip Yancey speaking on prayer, and Christopher Parkening, an amazing classical guitarist. While Smiley and Brown did a great job teaming up on some traditional hymns (which was a big surprise, considering their backgrounds), Parkening stole this show with a rendition of an Italian (?) composer, who wrote the piece while living in Turkey, and so it had a distinctly Middly Eastern taste and sound. He truly is a master guitarist. Since I had grown up on Andre Segovia, and knew good classical guitar, I wondered if he really was as good as had been said. Well he is, undoubtedly so! You could hear a pin drop while he was playing, he had the crowd mesmerized by his virtuosity.

After a short break, we heard several more artists perform for the balance of the evening. The young new artist Ana Laura hailing from South Texas had a sweet, if somewhat nervous manner that was quite endearing, and her voice was reminicient of an early Jaci Velasquez. Her range was nice and her stage presence was impressive. She's definitely going to grow into her voice quite well at this rate. I look forward to hearing more from her. Leigh Nash also performed and I was very interested to see what she had to offer, since I had seen her years ago when she was still with Sixpence None The Richer when they visited Hope College. She still possesses her naturally quirky demeanor that is almost pixie like. And her voice is as good as ever. Her vocalization is simply hypnotic, and left me transfixed. I can't wait to hear her entire first solo effort when it hits the stores. What I found amazing is that she managed to perform the entire time while on fire engine red stiletto heels. Amazing! Bebo Norman came on at the end, and I had seen him speak earlier in the day at the backstage thing. And so I was eagerly expecting a really good show, but was fairly disappointed. It mainly had to do with the fact that most of what he sang could not be understood, so while the musical aspect was fine, the inability to ascertain the lyrical content was annoying.

Now before Bebo came on the end of the music for the night, there was one group that I was also looking forward to, and that was the Tex/Mex/Rock group Salvador. They actually got people on their feet (without having to ask them!) for all of their songs. They were very funny, they played loud, and they had a ball. And it showed. By far, they were the highlight of the evening for me. Next time they're in West Michigan, I'm getting a ticket. They rocked!

Finally, at just before 10pm, we had two new movies previewed for us: Charlotte's Web, starring Dakota Fanning doing a live action role, and many other stars doing CGI voice over roles. It looks like a very sweet rendition of the children's classic, and I believe it's due to release this Christmas. If for no other reason, go see the movie for Dakota Fanning. That girl knows how to act! I've never seen her do anything bad movie wise. Then the other movie that was previewed was the film adaptation of William Wilberforce's life work, which was to abolish the slave trade in the UK back in the late eighteen hundreds. The eight minute clip we saw was brilliant, and it's due to release in February of next year, which will be the bicentennial of his getting the legislation passed that outlawed slavery in the British Empire. Wilberforce has always been a hero of mine. What's wonderful about this film is that it shows that it was Wilberforce's orthodox Christian (quite Calvinistic) faith that motivated him towards his life's work. Afterwards, they asked those in attendance to sign a petition to continue the work he began two centuries ago, since we still have slave trade going on now, involving millions of people, men, women, and children. That was a sobering, but good, way to end a long day.

See ya tomorrow!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Godly Sorrow


Lord, thank you for producing in me a sorrow that leads to repentance. Thank you for giving to me a sorrow that clings to you for comfort. Your enlightening rays convict me of my wickedness, yet do not leave me in my despair. Your word, which reveals the darkness of my heart, also shows clearly the wonders of your love. You bring me down, only showing what is obviously true, in order to lift me up to where you are.

Lord, may I never tire of your convicting word! May you find every crevice of my inmost being and expose it to the light of your new day. Cleanse me of my dross, which is found in every ounce of my being. Lord, you who are too pure to look upon impurity, yet seek out my darkest corners, all to wash them white as snow. May I never lose sight of your blood! Your own blood pays the price of my own sin. Lord, how can I comprehend it? Blessed mystery! You are righteous. Nothing less than full payment would satisfy your holy requirements. Blessed be your mercy and everlasting kindness. How can I possibly comprehend your great love towards us, your enemies? Lord, so many times I have sorrowed as the world, not seeking after your righteous comfort, but looking only inward to my own dark soul. Yet you sought me out, knowing my need better than myself. Your love for yourself is seen best in my highest good. Blessed be your name!

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Crunchy Cons

A Crunchy Con Manifesto

By Rod Dreher

1. We are conservatives who stand outside the conservative mainstream; therefore, we can see things that matter more clearly.

2. Modern conservatism has become too focused on money, power, and the accumulation of stuff, and insufficiently concerned with the content of our individual and social character.

3. Big business deserves as much skepticism as big government.

4. Culture is more important than politics and economics.

5. A conservatism that does not practice restraint, humility, and good stewardship—especially of the natural world—is not fundamentally conservative.

6. Small, Local, Old, and Particular are almost always better than Big, Global, New, and Abstract.

7. Beauty is more important than efficiency.

8. The relentlessness of media-driven pop culture deadens our senses to authentic truth, beauty, and wisdom.

9. We share Russell Kirk’s conviction that “the institution most essential to conserve is the family.”

10. Politics and economics won’t save us; if our culture is to be saved at all, it will be by faithfully living by the Permanent Things, conserving these ancient moral truths in the choices we make in our everyday lives.

Saturday, February 4, 2006

Assorted issues

It's easier to just jump to my other site and then you can post here (you don't have to be signed up to post here).

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


A friend and coworker, Travis, passed away this morning from his battle with cancer. We all knew that it was near, hours or days away. I still don't think I've really processed it. I've kind of gone through today on autopilot. Travis has been an incredible witness of courage, gentleness, selflessness, good humor, and too many other wonderful qualities to mention here. It's amazing how much can happen in such a young life. It's sad of course to know that I'll not see him again this side of eternity. But he spent his last days encouraging others while they were trying to encourage him. That's a hint of the kind of person Travis is. Anyway, I just needed to work some of this out.