Archive for May 9th, 2007

The revamped Slice of Laodicea truly is an improvement over the former manifestation.

The main purpose of this blog is to watch the watch dogs.  We analyze the analyzers.  And when it comes to the regular objects of analysis we’re usually pretty critical – and for good reason.  We are quick to point out their misuses of Scripture, their ignoring of context, their use of partial quotes to skew the intended meaning, as well as their redefining words to suit their own agenda…  given all this it is only fair we applaud the good as well.

It’s not a biblical issue, or a significant change of heart that I can see, but the new Slice of Laodicea allows responses.  And from my experience so far, they are not filtering them to just those that agree.  I think this is good, it is an improvement, and it should be lauded.

So, to Ingrid in particular I would like to say “Thank you.”  Thank you for allowing me and the others, to respond, to clarify, to converse.  I hope this improvement is a lasting phenomenon.

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Dsc_0246_2 Like most dads, I’m obsessed with my kids. It amazes me how much they’ve changed my life. So about a year ago I bought Kenny Chesney’s song, There Goes My Life. It’s a country crooner and it touches me every time I listen to it.  There is another song on that CD though that talks about change. The lyrics go in part like this:

His old man was a rebel yeller, bad boy to the bone, and say can’t trust a color feller, he
judge em by the tone of their skin. He was raised to think like his dad narrow mind full of
hate on the road to no where fast till the grace of god got in the way then he saw the light n
hit he’s knees n cried and said a prayer, rose up a brand new man n left the old one right
there

[Chorus:]
Here’s to the strong, thanks to the brave don’t give up hope some people change
against all odds, against the grain love finds a way, some people change.

You can read all the words here. Now, the thing is that song is powerful. It talks about the power that is people changing. The great thing is that idea is not new with Mr. Chesney. In fact we read these powerful words in I Corinthians 6:

8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. 9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

That is the essence of the Gospel; God changes people. I mean look at the first story of conflict we see in the Bible. God says to Cain:

6 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.

Did you catch it? Cain, if you do what is right, you will be accepted. In other words, Cain Change! The rest of the Bible is about God changing people. He uses a man who’s very name mean  “dishonest”, he uses a harlot, He changes a murderer into someone who is responsible for an entire nation. He changes a scaredy cat into a man of courage. Most importantly He changes hurt and shattered people into redeemed people. He buys them from the despair that is their life. And this is what he offers you. Whatever the situation is in your life, God can change it.  He offers you the same opportunity He offered those people in Corinth. He will change your life, He will take it and wash it clean.  You don’t have to be in addiction, you don’t have to be depressed, you don’t have to be a gossip, you don’ t have to be someone who causes strife, you don’t have to be anything that is destroying your life. God will wash you. The greatest evidence for the world that there is a God is a body of Christ Followers who can say, “I used to be that, but by God’s grace I am now this.” In a world that is bCrosslowing itself up trying to feel something, how powerful is that message?
Whoever you are, wherever you’re at God can change you.  The message of the Bible is not a list of rules or a platform to learn enough to say, “I’m right, and you’re on your way to Hell because you disagree with me.” The message of the Bible is a story about a Holy God inviting you to Trust Him. Thank God for that. I know I’m a different man because of His grace.

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Watchdawggies Don't Do RockDEFINITION:

ca·nard (k-närd)

NOUN:

An unfounded or false, deliberately misleading story.

While this word might be used to describe most ‘miss-ives’ on AM and many stories on CR&N and Slice, Ingrid has chosen it to describe a canard of her own – that musical style is not a neutral element, when applied to worship.  In Ingrid’s world, there are styles of music which the Lord approves and styles He does not.  Fortunately, for the rest of us, we live in God’s world, and not Ingrid’s.

On neutrality in music, I think it is safe to say the music used for a stripper show would not be acceptable as worship to God. (Ingrid 4:42-43)

There was a story a couple of years ago (which my Google search hasn’t found yet), where a stripper who posed as a “nun” would play classical pipe-organ music while she performed private shows.  Does this mean that classical pipe-organ music, as a style, would not honor God – or, would it imply that the stripper was using something of God (music) for an ungodly end (sexual enticement)?

Music itself has a message and an attitude. (II Opinions 3:13)

Without words, how is it that music has a message?  Without words, how is it that music has an ‘attitude’?  Western music, as we know it, with meter and 12-tone scales, is only a few hundred years old.  Yet we know, from multiple Biblical accounts, that it existed thousands of years ago, with both percussion, woodwind, brass and stringed instrumentation.  From historical recreation, it is fairly certain that we would find ancient music to be atonal and somewhat offensive to our modern ears.

Yet, we learn from scripture that it is what comes from the mouth that reveals what is in the heart.  It is the words of music which give it message.  It is the words of the music which give it attitude.

Haughtiness/arrogance, sensuality (think dirty sax), hard driving rock and death metal that speaks of hatred and wrath, the rebellion of rap, none of this speaks of holiness, majesty, honor and love for our monarch, Jesus Christ. (II Opinions 3:14-20)

Notice that here, Ingrid blurs the lines between style and lyrical content via the verb “speaks”.  It is not a style that ’speaks’, but words.  What makes a saxophone “dirty” or “clean”?  What makes a guitar chord wrathful?  What makes rap rebellious?  Words give meaning.

That is not to say, though, that all musical styles can be used as worship by all people – to some it would be distracting (or nigh impossible).  Indian music has a completely different tonal scale that I cannot sing and that makes me cringe.  My brothers and sisters in Christ in India use it to worship God, but I doubt I could (without serious immersion in their culture).  Likewise, I doubt they would be able to focus on God and worship of Him to the strains of Handel’s Messiah.  Each church community works with its own body to find what style(s) are acceptable and can be used to lead others into a time of worship.  They don’t need an Ingrid to tell them what’s OK and what’s not, based on her own definition of what brings honor and what does not.

The aforementioned music is about our flesh, all of it. (II Opinions 3:21)

Here, Ingrid has now blurred what worship actually IS.  It is bringing honor and glory to God – aligning our hearts with His.  In each community in worship, it is important that the music used in worship is not a distraction from who it is that we worship.  As such, forcing a universal list of what is acceptable stylistically and what is not completely misses the point of worship, and in many cases, may make use of music in worship impossible.

Further, can you imagine Queen Elizabeth II stepping out of the limo at the White House and being greeted by the sounds of a sleazy saxophone or some rapper with pants falling off, doing his street thing? (Hezekiah 14:28-30)

What do Queen Elizabeth II and the Pope have in common?  They both think the world smells like fresh paint.

God does not want us to be one thing when we are in worship of Him and something else the other 167 hours of the week.  Not only that, but Ingrid’s comment has nothing to do with musical style, but everything to do with the dress and mannerisms of the musicians.  Indeed, those who lead worship, like the music itself, should not serve to distract from the purpose of worship, and should worship in a manner that is in reverence of God (so pants falling off would not really qualify).  But that is, again, apart from style – which is what Ingrid is supposedly addressing.

How dare we throw our filthy cultural music at Him and call it worship?  (Ingrid 1:4)

How dare we throw our filthy opinions of other people’s worship at them and tell them they aren’t worshipping the way WE think they should?  To repeat – it is not the musical style which determines what is acceptable in worship - it is the words, the actions and the hearts behind the words and actions which make this determination.  Let’s not try to make our opinions into God’s opinions.

After a few days of Slice 2.0, I think I’ll go with Russ N’s assessment:

Maybe Slice 2.0’s tag-line should read “Worrying about the externals, so you don’t have to.”

Thanks Russ!

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Watchdaggies neither in the world nor of itIf Rick Warren working with Barak Obama wasn’t “bad” enough, now it seems that Ingrid’s got her knickers in a twist because Angelina Jolie is supporting Global Action for Children, an effort started by Kay Warren.  Apparently, Jolie’s support (in Ingrid’s eyes) is unwelcome, because of her sinful lifestyle.

At the crux of the legalistic outrage from the watchdawggie crowd are (at least) three questions:

1) Should Christians work with non-Christians in relief of human suffering?
2) Should Christians even be involved with missions whose primary visible function is relief of human suffering?
3) Should Christians accept money from sources (Christian and non-Christian) who earned their money via legal, but morally questionable, avenues?

Here is my take on these three questions:

1) Should Christians work with non-Christians in relief of human suffering?

Why not?  If another human being, made in the image of his/her Creator, is compelled by God to do good for others (since no good comes from themselves, but only from God), what do we say about this when we refuse to work with them?  What kind of witnesses are we – with the way we live, which speaks louder than any words we may say – when we only will associate with other Christians?  How do we go make disciples, when we will only associate with other disciples?  When we work beside them – witnessing with our very lives what we believe – we are not only witnessing to those we serve directly, but those we serve with.  While they may serve for their own good or their own conscience, we serve for God, and the difference will be seen.

Ms. Jolie has some incredibly troubling issues in her life – many documented by the media.  Is it not good for her to enter the counsel of a godly woman like Kay Warren, who might witness to her and bring her into the Kingdom.  Or – has Ms. Jolie eternally exempted herself from ever entering the Kingdom?  Or – must she meet some threshold and perform some ‘penance’ before we will accept her work for the Kingdom?  If her involvement in this mission is only to ease her own troubled conscience, it will not satisfy.  If her involvement is a step on the path to her to acceptance of the grace given by God, we should rejoice!  Can we not trust God with this outcome?  Either way, the alleviation of suffering of the children of parents dead, or dying, of AIDS, will be accomplished.

2) Should Christians even be involved with missions whose primary visible function is relief of human suffering?

As Chris P has let us know, “the only cure for AIDS is death”, but I think the Christian response to this specific situation (AIDS in Africa) and others like it needs to involve Jesus philosophy, instead:

Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt 23:39)

Let’s see what Paul might have to say on the subject:

Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. (Corinthians 10:24)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:9-10)

Or, James, the brother of Jesus:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

Or David’s Psalm, remembered by Jesus on the cross, predicting what would happen as a result of Jesus’ suffering:

The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise him— may your hearts live forever! (Psalm 22:26)

Or the proverb writer:

He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. (Proverbs 14:31)

Or Ezekiel:

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. (Ezekiel 16:49)

I think you get the point.

Now, some may ask “but when do you start sharing the gospel?”  I would respond “when did you stop?”  Sharing the gospel message without acting out the gospel is only half a gospel, and vice versa.  If you are living out the gospel and you trust Jesus to demonstrate himself through you and God to stir the hearts of those who will choose Him, this opportunity will come.  Sharing the gospel by living it takes a whole lot more guts, perseverence and fortitude than shouting into a bullhorn as the world passes by proclaiming to all that they are going to hell, but never knowing them by name. 

3) Should Christians accept money from sources (Christian and non-Christian) who earned their money via legal, but morally questionable, avenues?

First off, I think that there is plenty of sciptural support to reject money given – both to the church and to serve the poor – when that money was gained via theft/extortion/etc.  That isn’t what we’re talking about here.

I am addressing ‘given money’ as going to one of two places – 1) the local church or 2) a parachurch ministry serving the poor. 

In the case of the local church, I am a supporter of the practice of only asking members of the church to give to it, and to take care that no strings are attached to it – and that it was not gained in a way that could come back to hold the church liable.  For example, I know of a family in a city we used to live in who took out a loan for one purpose and gave it all to their church, and then defaulted on the loan - which then came back in the form of a threatened lawsuit against the church (which returned the money to the lender when it learned of the source).  With a local church, it is also important that the body would not be seen as ‘beholden’ to any external entity, and rejecting direct corporate donations would be appropriate.

What about lottery winnings?  I am not a supporter of legalized gambling for many reasons, but I don’t see that refusing to allow a member of a church to give money received in this manner gives a good witness of Christ (unless it is an outspoken opponent of such, in which case it would be hypocritical to accept the money).  Jesus did not dissuade Zaccheus’ urge to give half of his money to the poor (even with the implication that Zaccheus had cheated people to get it, though some intepretations suggest his response was one of an honest tax collector).

In the case of serving the poor, I think that some of the same concerns exist (like with legal strings attached), but that donations from Christians and non-Christians alike should be accepted.  Corporate donations, as well, seem appropriate for service work, as they are directly funneled into service – as long as there are no strings attached.

In this third question, I think it is important for church leaders and ministry leaders to consider them on a case-by-case basis, to determine if the gift is appropriate.  There are too many factors involved, and too little direct scriptural guidance to create our own ‘hard and fast rules’ – though, perhaps, my reading of the situation and the supporting scripture may be corrected.

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I looks like we made it to the bad boy blogs finally!  We must have really set him off.  Ken Silva addressed our piece entitled “Dine with the Porn Producers!”  Of course he failed to address any real issues brought up.   But hey, you can’t expect to get everything, right?  Here are a few highlights:

The comments section, at least when they aren’t arguing among themselves, is actually quite enlightening as to how far these who have bought into the new liberal theology of the new evangelicalism will bend over backward to excuse blatant sin.

No Ken, it isn’t arguing.  It is called working through the issues.  We do not support a hit and run ministry such as yours at CRN and Apprising.  We allow and encourage the debate to take place so that we can better understand the paradigms in which we live.  And for excusing blatant sin… maybe you failed to read this line from the blog:

“Do I agree with Murdoch or Gordon’s businesses? No.”

Ken Continues

The main hue and cry is: “It must be dealt with privately.” I guess these new evangelicals forgot to inform God because with no further discussion He struck the ill-fated Century One Real Estate team of Ananias and Sapphira dead for their sin. Very publicly did the Lord deal with this sin”

I love how Ken takes one single incident in scripture and applies it to all occasions.  I am pretty sure that Ken is glad that God does not deal publicly with all of his sin.  Otherwise there would be huge fiasco going down at Connecticut River Baptist.  But seriously, to suggest that all sin needs to be addressed publicly and that God is waiting to strike sinners dead is a very sad view point for a pastor / teacher to hold.  I cringe when I imagine Ken standing from his pulpit and publicly addressing the sins of all of his members.

Here are the facts…  Is what Murdoch is doing wrong?  Yes.  If Rick Warren claims to be his pastor, does he need to speak up, Yes.  Do many of us, thousands of miles away need to stick our nosy heads into this?  No.  Like I said before, thousands of pastors around the nation in more traditional churches are letting sin slip by.  If CRN is called to be the sin police for other pastors, then they have a long way to go from one church in Lake Forest.  Ken has no idea about the situation or relationship between Warren and Murdoch.  Hence, he has no say in the matter.  Once again, it seems that Ken’s ministry isn’t keeping him busy enough over there on the east coast… and idol hands are the devils workshop.

Personally I think they are all just upset that the Web article from the UK was removed  :)

P.S. Oh, and watch out.  The article above ours is addressing Steven Curtis Chapman’s involvement with Warren.   Pretty soon the only music safe from the reaches of the satanic emerging/purpose driven/seeker sensitive church of deceit will be classical and hymns.  But I am sure someone will find a way to make those “booty shakin’ music”

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