Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Letting God be God in Light of Sandy Hook

                Originally I was going to stay silent on the blogosphere concerning the tragedy in Connecticut.  The last thing I thought we needed was a bunch of pastors and wannabe theologians (like myself) theoretically waxing on why God would allow such a tragedy to happen.  As the days progressed though explanations began to surface that to me seemed contradictory, unbiblical, and even cruel.

Friday, November 30, 2012

gravity always wins: Radiohead and Christianity Part III

Ecclesiastes 1:15  15 What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted.”

                These words penned by Qoheleth of Ecclesiastes are some of the most penetrating in the entire cannon of the Bible.  In one sentence the great teacher poignantly expresses what we all know: something is wrong that we can’t quite fix.  Thousands of years later the Apostle Paul expanded on Qoheleth’s observations by plainly stating just what is crooked and lacking. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

"gravity always wins:" Radiohead and Christianity Part II

View Part I here.
                Outside of Christ we are all under the law.  Whether we wish to acknowledge it or not, this is a universal fact of existence.
  Now, when I say law, I’m not speaking of any particular laws found in the Bible, but rather any form of outward standard that plays the voice of accusation in our lives.  Sure, the laws found in the Bible are included in this, but the fact of us being under the law is something we all know deep down (Romans 2:14-16).  Paul Zahl is insightful here:
The principle of the divine demand for perfection upon the human being is reflected concretely in the countless and external demands that human beings device for themselves.  In practice, the requirement of perfect submission to the commandments of God is exactly the same as the requirement of perfect submission to the innumerable drives for perfection that drive everyday people’s crippled and crippling lives.  The commandment of God that we should honor our mother and father is no different in impact, for example, than the commandment of fashion that a woman be beautiful or the commandment of culture that a man be boldly decisive and at the same time utterly tender.[i]  
Simply put, the world is full of laws.  We can see this in every facet of life.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

"gravity always wins": Radiohead and Christianity Part I

                I really like Radiohead.  They’re not my favorite, but they never fail to move me.  The first reason is because their music is from another planet.  From the aggressive guitar work and multi-instrumental genius of Jonny Greenwood, to the rhythmic bass of his brother Colin, to the subtle brilliance of Ed O’Brien’s guitar creativity, to the drum machine precision of Phil Selway, and the utter id like artistry of Thom Yorke; Radiohead is second to none when it comes to stretching the musical horizons of rock.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Afterthought: "Pulpit Freedom Sunday"

To last week's Colbert inspired post on Pulpit Freedom Sunday I'd like to add this bombshell of a quote from Kierkegaard:
"What Christianity needs is not the suffocating protection of the state; no, it needs fresh air, it needs persecution, and it needs God's protection.  The state only works disaster, it wards off persecution and thus is not the medium through which God's protection can be conducted.  Above all, save Christianity from the state.  By its protection it smothers it to death."

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Colbert on "Pulpit Freedom Sunday"

I thought Colbert had some interesting insights last night into the intersection of politics and religion.  This is true particularly in his interview (see second clip).

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Keller, "Center Church"

"Though we may have an area or ministry that we tend to focus on, the gospel is what brings unity to all we do.  Every form of ministry is empowered by the gospel, based on the gospel, and is the result of the gospel...

When the preaching of the gospel is either confused or separated from the other endeavors of the church, preaching becomes mere exhortation (to get with the church's program or a biblical standard of ethics) or informational instruction (to inculcate the church's values and beliefs).  When the proper connection between the gospel and any aspect of ministry is severed, both are shortchanged"

-Timothy Keller "Center Church" pg. 36, 37

Thoughts on the "Parody Of Our Modern Church Service" Video

Yesterday I came across a rather hilarious video that parodies the "Seeker Sensitive" or "Willow Creek" formula of Church.  Here it is:

Besides making me bust a gut laughing, this video also got me thinking.  How do you avoid this trap in your typical modern worship service?  Can you seek to speak to a culture in its own language without looking like this?  If so, how do you do it?  Have you ever actually seen it work?

I ask these questions as one who firmly believes the local church should worship in a way that engages its surrounding culture.  To argue that in one particular time and space worship was right, as those who argue for going back to a organ/hymn based worship do, is a misnomer.  This mindset often tends to be both ethnocentric and idolatrous of a particular time, style, and culture (Although I do agree that the words were much better in those hymns).  This said, we're back at square one.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Reblog: What’s so uncool about cool churches?

Here are some snippets from a recent post over at http://thegospelside.wordpress.com entitled, "What’s so uncool about cool churches?"

"We look at our youth group now and we feel good. But the youth group of today is the church of tomorrow, and study after study after study suggests that what we are building for the future is empty churches."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Quote from Augustine

"For all the pious, therefore, who lie under this burden of corruptible flesh, and grown in the infirmity of this life of theirs, there is one hope: 'We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins.'"

-St. Augustine "A Treatise Against Two Letters of the Pelagians." AD 420

Monday, September 17, 2012

Another Fantastically Gross (but insightful) Luther Quote.

“I resist the devil, and often it is with a fart that I chase him away.  When he tempts me with silly sins I say, ‘Devil, yesterday I broke wind too.  Have you written that down on your list?’…  Thus, I remind myself of the forgiveness of sin and of Christ…”
-Luther on the Treatment of Melancholy, Despair, Etc.  November 30, 1531 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Seeing Pat Robertson as Christianity's Id

                There are two things we can be sure of in this life: taxes and the ever present threat that Pat Robertson will say something stupid.  This week he’s at it again saying to a disenfranchised husband, “Well, you could become a Muslim and you could beat her…” and “I don’t think we condone wife-beating these days but something has got to be done to make her” (See Video).  When I first saw the video I had my normal Pat Robertson nausea attack, but then something popped into my head this morning: Pat is Christianity’s id.  Let me explain.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Some Thoughts on the "Under God" Controversy.

Since the beginning of democratic national convention I’ve been approached by numerous Christians who are concerned about the “Under God” controversy.  Now on the surface, this seems like a legitimate concern, but it really begs the question: when politicians, both republican and democrat, invoke “God” language are they addressing “God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” or are they invoking a god of their own liking whether that’s prosperity, the free market, security, or some sort of tribal deity that really likes America?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"The Signs of Political Idolatry"

                I came across these “signs of political idolatry” the other day as I was working my way through Timothy Keller’s excellent book “Counterfeit Gods.”  Considering the current political climate, especially amongst Christians, these couldn’t be more relevant (On a side note I dealt with this topic from a different angle during the last presidential election in my post “Politics and Idolatry”). 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

a Different Take on an Old Parable

                Years ago I heard a preacher tell a story that most of you have probably encountered in some form or another.  It goes like this:

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

a Fantastically Gross Martin Luther Quote.

I came across this one while working my way through Luther's "Table Talk."

"I am fed up with the world, and it with me. I am like a ripe stool, and the world is like a gigantic anus, and so we’re about to let go of each other." 
I'm so proud to be a Lutheran!

For more fun with Luther check out the "Lutheran Insulter"

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Our Webs of Dysfunction

                I’ve been seeing my counselor a bit more lately.  The addition of a second child combined with the pressures of life has really thrown me for a loop.  One way this imbalance rears its ugly head is in my anger.  Not making excuses, but I come from a long line of bad tempers on both sides of my family.  Because of this, anger is usually one of the first signs that my life is off kilter.  On a side note, when I say anger I don’t mean the emotion per say, rather I’m speaking of the almost unquenchable desire to hit inanimate objects (usually a wall).  So needless to say a trip to the counselor was needed.
                One of the surprising things that came from a session was that people who have anxiety disorders (the reason I see a counselor in the first place) tend to have trouble with anger as well.  The two are interrelated.  I left that appointment oddly encouraged by the fact that so many of my problems are interrelated.  In opening up my web of dysfunction I at least could understand myself a bit better.  Along with this I was given a personal understanding of Luther’s breakthrough insight to the human condition: Simul Iustus et Peccator (Simultaneously just and a sinner at the same time).  In other words, as a result of my extensive web of dysfunction, it’s only because of God’s declaration of Christ’s righteousness upon me that I have any chance in life.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

shawn-thoughts relaunch

I am excited to say that things have finally cleared up enough in my life that I may be able to start blogging again.  I say "may be able" because the reality of parenting a 3 month old and 3 year old can be quite daunting and energy draining.  This said, I want to restart the bloggery by re-posting my original first post from September 2008.  In it I discuss my hopes and purpose for this blogger.  Enjoy...