Archive | February, 2010

Theological Portal to the Web

Not sure if you have had a chance to download it yet, but I have created a theological toolbar that acts as a portal to the web. It has, what I consider to be, the best Bible sites, blogs, podcasts, and resources that have great integrity. It is much better than a random Google search!

It is one of the most popular toolbars that has been built through the Conduit platform. So much so that they want me to do a commercial ad!

Anyway, it is very clean and easy to install. If you don’t like it, uninstall it.

Here is the link: http://reclaimingthemind.ourtoolbar.com/

Have fun and let me know if you have any suggestions.

Oh, and spread the word!

How to Have a “Normal” Relationship with the Lord

I have four children. Katelynn is my oldest. She is eleven. Kylee is my second and she is nine. Will is my third and he is six. Zach is my youngest. He is about to turn three. I have a relationship with all four of my kids. But each relationship is very different.

Katelynn and I have a chemistry that is very unique. Katelynn is the know-it-all in the family. Funny thing is . . . she does know-it-all. Very smart girl. And she knows it. She likes to keep up with things that I am doing. We like to keep up on things together. We connect at a certain intellectual level and I attempt to foster that.

She is manipulative. So much so that I don’t think she knows it. I do.

Kylee is tender. She could care less about logic and information. She just likes to hug. Our best times happen when she gets time alone with “daddy.” About a year ago I started a “daddy kidnapping” thing. Kylee was the first. When she came home from school I was hiding behind bush. I jumped out and grabbed her away from the other kids, threw her in the car, and went went to someplace special. That is her life—thinking about the next time she is going to get kidnapped to be alone with daddy. Not too much talking necessary. Just to be with me is enough.

She gets offended very easily, so I have to be careful. But I also have to toughen her up.

Will is different than both the girls. In some ways he is the typical boy. He likes to do “what boys do together.” He mimics me in a lot of ways. Whatever I do, he does. We talk a lot. Well, he talks a lot. Video games, Star Wars, superheroes, and the like. We have a place where we meet in a fantasy world, both being caught up in the action, imagining ourselves as heroes, victors, and men. Because, as he says, “this is what boys love to do, right dada?”

Will likes to throw fits to get what he wants. Those fits have to be handled immediately or they get out of control.

Zach and I are also developing a relationship. He is so young it is hard to see what shape  this will eventually take, but I expect it to be very unique as Zach is alike and very different from the others.

I cherish all of my children. But even more specifically, I cherish the uniqueness of each one of the relationships. If you were to ask me, “Which one is best?” I could not answer. If you were to say, “Which one do you enjoy more?” again, I would be silent. Why? Because I love them all. I would not trade any of them for another. I dwell on the uniqueness of each one. It is the greatest joy of my life. Yet, all of these relationships are so different, I would not be able to label one as more “normal” than the other. They are all just what they are supposed to be. Continue Reading →

Seven Possible Reasons We Find the Bible Boring

Speaking from a protestant perspective, the Holy Bible is the final authority for faith and practice.  Moreover, it is God’s ultimate communication to us.  However, there are a number of Christians who struggle with reading the Bible.  In fact, you might be one of them and find it difficult to engage with on an in-depth and consistent level.  Now, I confess, I have always enjoyed reading the Bible .  But even in my zeal, I have found dry times.  As I contemplate various reasons for the ennui based on observations of others and many conversations as well as my own life experiences, I think that one or more of these reasons could account for it.

1.  Lack of Understanding: for some, reading the Bible is like the reading comprehension portions on standardized tests, the kind that includes a bunch of technical terms, themes and conclusions that are hard to decipher.  Who wants to read something they don’t understand?  I think the contributing factor to this difficulty is not understanding what the Bible is, how it was put together, the different genres, the progression of God’s revelation, the major themes and the correlation of how all the books fit together.  When people are told to just read the Bible and don’t have an understanding of what they are reading, its like picking up a puzzle piece and trying to make sense of the whole picture.   This is an essential component of the discipleship process yet, I fear that might be missing in a great many churches.   Good Bible study methods are needed for understanding.

Now I am of the opinion that the Bible is meant to be understood and can be understood by all (although not all will accept the message).  The Bible is a divine book, in that it is inspired by God, but it is also written by human authors who were using normal means of communication.  Therefore, reading each book according to its literary genre and particular place in God’s overall program is important.

Remedy: If this describes you, get a hold of some instructive material that will aid understanding how the Bible is put together.  Some basic resources that I have found useful for this task is,

  • How to Study the Bible for Yourself, by Tim Lahaye
  • Living by the Book, by Howard Hendricks
  • What the Bible is All About, by Henrietta Mears

2.  Lack of Relevance: if the reason we find the Bible boring is that it just doesn’t seem to applicable to our lives, we will get bored.  Especially, when reading Numbers!  This will happen if we are approaching the Bible to find solutions to our problems and will only be interested if what can solve the problems we face.  However, while the Bible was written for us, it was not written to us.  The Bible is God’s revelation and provides a description of his plan for history.  Understanding his plan should give a great deal of meaning to understand his heart and how we fit into that plan.

Remedy: if this is you, start approaching the Bible to learn about God and his overall program for history.  Always ask with each reading how what you are reading is relevant to his program rather than our personal program.

3.  Too Impatient: We live in a micro-wave culture.  We want understanding and we want it now.  While I do contend that understanding what the Bible is communicating is possible, studying takes time.  Understanding how each part fits together takes time.  It involves a consistent and diligent effort.  The use of study tools, like commentaries, can seem like it slows the process down but are valuable for the understanding process. In the end, it is about understanding and I am of the opinion that the more we understand, the greater our interest will be to learn more. Continue Reading →

A Question for Egalitarians . . .

No, not a biblical one. No, not a theological one. This is a very practical question of application. I want to see how your belief plays out in real life.

Here is my question(s):

  • Is there any way for us to train boys to be “men”?
  • Is there any way for us to train up girls to be “women”?

If so, what does that look like for each?

  • What does it uniquely look like to be a “man”?
  • What does it uniquely look like to be a “woman”?

Or, alternatively, you might suggest that we take a gender neutral stance on child rearing since there are no defining characteristic for each?

I know that there is some diversity out there and I don’t want to be accused of any reducio or slippery slope here. I am honestly interested in seeing the patterns and the spectrum of belief here. Continue Reading →

What Complementarianism is Really all About

The most common understanding of both Complementarianism and Egalitarianism goes something like this:

Complementarians: Do not let women be pastors over men.

Egalitarians: Do let women be pastors over men.

or…

Complementarians: The husband is the leader of the family.

Egalitarians: The husband and wife co-lead the family, with no priority.

or…

Complementarians: Wives submit to your husbands.

Egalitarians: Husbands and wives are to practice mutual submission.

While I think that these are characteristics of both groups, they are not foundational characteristics that define each group. In other words, I don’t think that they are helpful in defining what it means to be a complementarian or egalitarian and they serve to cause a great deal of misunderstanding that leads to emotional bias that is very difficult to overcome once set.

In fact, I am going to say something very radical here and then explain. Here it goes:

It is possible to be a complementarian and believe that a women can serve in the position of head pastor over men.

Did you get that? Reread it. Reread it again…

Complementarianism is not first defined by it view of the roles of men and women in the church, family, or society.

Here is what Complementarianism is:

Complementarianism is the belief that men and women have God given differences that are essential to their person. Men and women are ontologically (in their essential nature) equal, but often, functionally, take subordinate roles (like the Trinity). These differences complete or “complement” each other. Due to these differences, there will be some things that women are predisposed and purposed to do more than men. As well, there will be some things that men are predisposed and purposed to do more than women. Therefore, there are ideal roles for both men and women that should be celebrated, exemplified, typified, and promoted in the church, family, and society. To deny these differences is to deny the design of God and thwart his purpose.

Here is what Egalitarianism is:

The belief that God has created men and women equal in all things. Men and women are ontologically and functionally equal. The way the sexes function in the church, society, and the family is determined by individual giftedness, not role distinctions according to the sexes. Therefore, each person should be judged individually when being placed in a particular position. We should exemplify this reality by overcoming the stereotypical placement that has traditionally been a part of societies in human history, thereby giving freedom to individuals to follow the path that God has uniquely created them for, whatever that may be. In doing so, we should no longer educate or indoctrinate according to any of the former stereotypes, including those of basic masculinity and femininity. Continue Reading →

The Ten Commandments in Reverse

1. You shall not have any other God’s before me.

1. Reverse: You shall place ultimate trust in only me to provide you with all that you need. You shall look toward me as the source of all things. You shall understand that there are no other ultimate sources for life’s necessities. You shall recognize that banks don’t provide security. You shall realize that I am the true source for happiness. You shall look first to me when you are in need of companionship.

2. You shall not create any graven image.

2. Reverse: You shall recognize that I am beyond any limitations that you might attempt to place on me. You shall know that I am in control, not you. You shall not attempt to manipulate me to accomplish your will. You shall know that I am sovereign and I do what I will on heaven, earth, and in your life.

3. You shall not take the Lord’s name in vain.

3. Reverse: You shall respect and protect my reputation and only speak the truth about me. You shall represent me only in a way that is in accordance with what I have revealed.

4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.

4. Reverse: You shall not forget about me because of the business of your work and ambitions. You shall not prioritize your time with me below that of other pleasures and efforts. You shall take a break to refresh and renew your life at least once a week.

5. Honor you father and mother.

5. Reverse: You shall not fail to respect your father and mother by living your life in such a way that will bring them ultimate shame. You shall not speak to them or treat them in a way that is irreverent of their authority and influence which God has given them. Continue Reading →

Why Women Cannot Be Head Pastors

I don’t know of many more controversial issues in the church than issues regarding women in ministry. It is not controversial whether or not women can do ministry or be effective in ministry, but whether or not they can teach and preside in positions of authority over men. The most controversial issue aspect of this issue, of course, is whether or not women can hold the position of head pastor or elder in a local church.

There are two primary positions in this debate; those who believe that women can teach men and hold positions of authority over men in the church and those that do not. Those that do, normally go by the name “Egalitarians.” Those that do not, go by the name “Complementarians.” I am a complementarian but I understand and appreciate the egalitarian position. In fact, the church I serve at most often is an egalitarian church. (However, I don’t want you to think that my complementarianism is not important to me. There is much more to complementarianism than whether or not a woman can preach!)

There are a lot of passages of Scripture which contribute to the debate, but one stands out more than all the others. 1 Tim. 2:11-15:

“A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.”

I don’t want to debate whether or not this passage teaches either position. I am simply going to assume the complementarian position and attempt to deal with the sting of “I don’t allow a woman to teach.” It does have quite a bit of sting.

I like to make the Scripture pragmatically understandable. In other words, I want to not only understand what it says, but to rationally understand why it says what it says. Why does God give this instruction or that? What practical rationale might be behind the instruction of God? I know that we cannot always find it and our obligation to obey transcends our understanding but, in my experience, more often than not, our understanding of the command can accompany our obedience so that we are not so blind.

“I do not allow a woman to teach.” We think of this as coming from God. God says, “I do not allow a woman to teach.” Teaching is something that requires _________ therefore, women are not qualified. You fill in the blank:

1. Intelligence

2. Wisdom

3. Love

4. Concern

5. Rational

6. Persuasiveness

While I think the sting of this passage assumes that Paul is speaking about one of these, I don’t choose any of them. I think Paul (and God) has something different in mind.

The other night, at 3am there was a sound in our living room. Kristie woke up, but I did not. She was looking out there and saw the lights go on. She got scared.

Pop quiz: What did she do next?

a. Got a bat and quietly tip toed out there to see who it was.

b. Got a gun and peeked around the corner.

c. Woke me up and had me go out there.

Those of you who choose “c” are both right and wise. You are right because that is what happened. (It was my 2 year old Zach who decided it was time to get up.) You are wise because that is what normally happens and is typically, for those of you who have a man in the house, the best move. Why? Because men are better equipped to deal with these sort of situations. There is an aggression that men have, both physical and mental, that is more able to handle situations that might become combative. That is the way we are made.

Now, let me give my short and sweet answer as to why Paul did not allow women to teach: Continue Reading →