Friday, August 31, 2007

My first post using FireFox.

Well, I've made the leap to the Mozilla Firefox web browser. I'm one of the only people I know who doesn't already use it, so I guess I'll finally see what all the fuss is about. I haven't quite got the hang of this tabbed browsing yet, but it seems pretty cool. Any of you Firefox experts out there, please chime in with any input on some of the different features I need to take advantage of.

I actually downloaded Firefox about 3 years ago, but the experience wasn't a good one. The short story is that my computer crashed hard within an hour of the download. Even though it was my fault (as was the fact that I didn't have anything backed up) I've always connected Firefox with the day that my PC went boom....

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Perhaps the early church didn't get everything right....

Michael Patton over at Parchment and Pen offers a compelling read on the development and evolution of doctrine. I've been reading this blog from Reclaiming the Mind Ministries off and on for some time now...there's some great stuff over there. If you've never been there before, take some time and check out both websites.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Study.....then what?

Sometimes I think we become so analytical that we miss out on some of the simple joys of Christianity. Speaking for myself, there is a tendency to over-analyze nearly everything…every song, every sermon, every passage of Scripture….I get so wrapped up in the minutia that I don’t often take time to simply enjoy my God. I often find myself zealously diving into the depths of a small passage of Scripture – dissecting it, analyzing it, looking at the Greek, reading what the great theologians past and present have to say about it – that I don’t take time to allow the Holy Spirit to write the great truths contained therein upon my heart. This is the great drawback in overdependence on scholarship.

Don’t get me wrong now…we should be as the noble Bereans; search and study the Scriptures daily. I don’t want to give the impression that I think we should wallow around blissfully in the sludge of our own ignorance; however, there needs to be a balance. Quite frankly, I tend to lack balance. All the “headiness” in the world is insufficient if not balanced by the joy that comes with a true and intimate relationship with our Savior. Often over the last several years, I’ve had such a focus on learning that I’ve forgotten to take time to be instructed by the Great Teacher. Following are a few steps I am beginning to take to ensure that I strike that balance I need to have:
  • I will keep my devotion time separated from my study time. This is a big problem with me. When I sit down to have my devotions, it appears that I’m preparing a sermon…commentaries, lexica, study Bibles, and concordance all at the ready. I will strive to turn my “devotion time” into a time of personal worship with a heavy dose of the Psalms playing a significant part.

  • Head knowledge is good; “heart knowledge” is better. I will continue to commit myself to deep studies of the Word, but I will end my study times with a time of introspection, prayer, and commitment. I will ask myself, “How will what I’ve learned today impact my life? How will it change me? How will it better equip me for my part in fulfilling the Great Commission? How will this cause me to better give glory to God?”

  • I will study more with my wife. My wife is tempered with a grace that I am not, and I am always in awe of the sweetness that emanates from her. I’ve come to value her insight and her perspective – she balances me out quite nicely! She has a wisdom about her that I respect greatly. She has a way of helping me to look at and appreciate the little things that I have a tendency to just blow right through.

These small steps are, I think, vital to me striking a better balance in my daily walk. Perhaps it will help me to become more seasoned with grace than I am currently….

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Is it really supposed to be like this?

I’ve said on several occasions here that I love Fundamentalism – or at least the idea of it. As one who is inside the movement (though not an “insider”) I’ve often felt compelled to critique and criticize the movement as a whole. In my most recent post on Fundamentalism I mentioned some of the things that are “strengths” of the movement – I did so to assure folks that I don’t hate the entire movement…I’m just grossly dissatisfied with much of it. In this post I will spell out some of my real quibbles with the movement as a whole. I’ll be taking a different approach to this than I did in the last critical article I wrote.

I despise having to be a Fundamentalist with an asterisk. When in conversations with other believers, Fundamentalists can’t simply say, “I’m a Fundamentalist”. We have to explain what type we are, or rather, what type we are not. For instance, there is the Bob Jones type, the Jack Hyles type, and the SharperIron type just to name a few. I don’t fit comfortably into any of those “types” (although I suppose I’m closest to the latter of the three). I am a Bible believer. My Bible study has led me to embrace the Baptist “religion”. I am also a firm believer in the autonomy of the local church. I am also a separatist (I’ll explain what I mean by that later). These are the primary aspects of my faith that have led me to stay in the IFB movement. The IFB movement is a Baptistic movement of autonomous churches who practice separation in varying degrees. So far, so good….but the problem with any grouping of men is that it gets screwed up – this has certainly happened in IFB-dom. I’m going to focus on a few examples of this through this post, beginning with one of the biggest issues within the IFB movement.

Separation from theological error is commanded in the Scriptures. Separation from doctrinal liberalism is necessary and righteous. Separation from others within the Body of Christ over peripherals is, in my opinion, sinful. One of the biggest problems in IFB-dom is this: we separate over EVERYTHING! Churches who believe in “closed communion” will often separate from churches that don’t. I’ve seen churches separate from other churches over music. I’ve seen churches separate from other churches over Bible versions, dress standards, church government, “alien” baptism, and very minor doctrinal quibbles. I’ve seen churches and individuals separate from other churches and individuals because of association. There are people who will separate from somebody (or some church) for fellowshipping with a church or person who once co-sponsored or otherwise endorsed a Billy Graham crusade. If you think I’m kidding, you need to look no further than John MacArthur and the Grace Community Church. Many in Fundamentalism have drawn battle lines regarding him. Why? Two major things: Lordship Salvation and MacArthur’s fellowship with men like Al Mohler, who is the President of SBTS (the home of Graham’s school of evangelism). Separation from Mohler is a given – simply because of his “close association” with Graham.

When it comes down to it, we can (and have) found “reasons” to separate from nearly everybody. Our practice of separation is highly inconsistent and unbiblical. While one of the great hallmarks of historic Fundamentalism is this thing called separation, we have taken it to an extreme during the last 60 or 70 years. We’ve spent so much energy concocting reasons to separate from anyone who is a little different that we have managed to render ourselves completely irrelevant to the world. That brings me to my second point.

Giving the separation issue a run for its money as the title holder for the biggest problem within the movement today is our lack of relevance in our culture. The term “culturally relevant” is almost a curse word in much of our movement. We’ve managed to take Scripture passages like Romans 12:2 and apply them in such a way that we are not only separate from the world, we are completely uninvolved. While we will generally shrug this off and piously say something like, “Christ said that we shouldn’t marvel that the world hates us”, perhaps we should be marveling that the world has no idea who we are. The main reason Fundamentalist churches grow is because we really like to have babies! As a general rule, we don’t like to reach out to the folks in our community who are truly desperate. How many homeless ministries, addictions ministries, divorce ministries, and public school outreach ministries do you know of within Fundamentalism? How often do you hear of a local Fundamentalist church who responded to the community in time of crisis? I don’t mean opening their doors for shelter, or giving out some food, but absolutely leading the charge?

There was a tragedy here in Kansas earlier this year when a town was completely leveled by a tornado. The following Sunday, the entire community had a sort of “joint worship” time outside. It was to be a time of prayer and praise…a great opportunity for the local IFB church to show Christ to their community. All the churches – along with hundreds of people who weren’t typically in church or were in town helping with the cleanup – gathered…with the exception of the little IFB church. Their little congregation met in their little building down the street from the rest of their community. What a wasted opportunity, and what a pitiful display of Christian love.

Unfortunately, that example is par for the course within our movement. To us, the term cultural relevance conjures up some very negative connotations. We would rather shelter ourselves from our culture than engage it. Somehow, I don’t think the typical IFB church is the church that Christ wants it to be.

As long as I’m on the subject of “relevance”, I might as well bring up another of my biggest complaints about the movement. To put it frankly, the liturgy employed in the typical IFB Sunday morning church service is horrible. We do everything we can to keep folks from “feeling” anything during the service. In IFB-dom, we absolutely refuse to engage the emotions (unless it’s time for the invitation). We actually insert “breaks” (offering, announcement, etc.) into the service to ensure that nobody is getting too “emotionally involved” in the worship service. We have two great mantra’s regarding music in Fundamentalism: “Music is to prepare the heart for worship”, and “Once the music goes, the entire church goes”. I'll briefly examine the first of these two statements. The second isn't worth a discussion...

Music is to prepare the heart for worship”. I wonder where this concept was developed? We could look at many passages to dispel this myth, but I’ll just cite one: Psalm 95:1-7a,

“Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.” (ESV)

In this passage it appears that singing, praising, thanking, and worshipping are all happening together. We don’t see music as preparing the heart for worship; rather it is an expression of worship. I’ll resist my urge to cite the many passages regarding praising God with all manner of instruments and dance….

My point to all this talk about the liturgy is this - why are we so afraid to engage the mind as well as the emotions in worship and praise to our great God? While the service shouldn’t be denigrated to some emotional orgy, we should strive to provide a place where the people are encouraged to become emotionally involved in the worship service. In IFB-dom, however, we tend to discourage that. There is no applause; there is no clapping; there is no raising of the hands. While there are occasional “amens” and “hallelujahs”, even those are strangely reserved.

I’ve got more to add to this, but it will have to wait. This article is already much longer than I had planned. I’ll close by saying that I hold little hope that the bulk of the movement will experience a reformation. Even the small percentage of IFB churches out there that are more “progressive” still seem to struggle in these areas of engaging the culture and being relevant. I take encouragement from the fact that there are IFB churches out there who seem to be “turning the corner”....slowly but surely. Many of our best and brightest, however, are leaving for Evangelicalism. It's possible that someday I'll feel more comfortable with the label “Conservative Evangelical” than I do with the label “Progressive Fundamentalist”....time will tell.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The blessing of friends

Proverbs 27:9 reads “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart, And the sweetness of one's friend--from counsel of the soul.” (YLT)

There are few greater joys in life than fellowship with good friends. These sweet times are refreshing, rejuvenating, and oftimes, healing. At the end of a good visit with a good friend one cannot help but to reflect on the goodness of our great God.

My wife and I were privileged to have some friends from out of state stop by to see us Wednesday night / Thursday morning. We hadn’t seen this family for more than two years, but the conversation, fellowship, and fun were void of “awkward silences”. For 6 or 7 hours we sat visiting with our friends, pausing long enough to eat. Later, after we had put all of the children to bed (7 of them between us – all under the age of 10) we sat up for several more hours visiting. At the end of the night we went to bed filled with joy, and satisfied that we had God-honoring fellowship with these wonderful servants of the Lord.

When the Lord blesses us with such friendships I think He is giving us a tiny nibble of the joy we will experience in eternity. The sweet fellowship that we can enjoy from time to time with our friends on this earth is nothing when compared to the complete and full joy we will experience when we are once and for all glorified and in the presence of our precious Savior and Friend Who loves us more than any love we have ever known. I praise the Lord that I can echo the words of Paul when I think of many of my friends: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you” (Philippians 1:3 - ESV).

Monday, August 20, 2007

You might be a Calvinist if....

I'm sure this has been done elsewhere all likelihood, it's been done better as well. Nevertheless, what follows is a partial list of things that might be indicators that you're a tad too wrapped up in being a Calvinist:
  • Supralapsarianism is a word that you try to work into at least 5 conversations every day.
  • You think they were too easy on Servetus.
  • If Macanudo were to come out with a CHS brand cigar, you wouldn’t hesitate to introduce a new vice into your life.
  • Every time a synergist mockingly says, “Well, I guess I was just predestined to believe in the complete free-will of man”, you’re head nearly explodes.
  • You consider Geneva to be the Holy Land.
  • You once took a trip through all of Europe, yet the only pictures you took were of the Metropolitan Tabernacle and the burial places Luther and Spurgeon.
  • You consider Charles Finney to be the single most sinister figure in American history.
  • If someone were to write a book entitled, “The Axis of Evil: Pelagius, Arminius, and Finney”, you would spare no expense in order to obtain an advance copy.
  • You’ve got 8 sons and all of them are named after different famous Calvinists throughout history.
  • All 8 of your sons are named “John”.
  • When your daughter was born you and your wife had the biggest argument of your marriage. For some reason she just wouldn’t go for the name “Augustina”.
  • Last Thanksgiving your brother began telling a story about his daughter’s salvation. He got the following words out: “During the invitation I went up with little Abby and led her in the “sinner’s prayer”, and….” At that point you punched your brother right in the mouth. You later said that you had blacked out after hearing the words “invitation” and “sinner’s prayer” so closely together.
  • You know that July 10, 2009 marks John Calvin’s 500th birthday. Even though you don’t know your kids birthdates, you know this.
  • You once claimed that “John MacArthur could beat the tar out of Jerry Fallwell, Billy Graham, and Rick Warren with one hand tied behind his back”. You weren’t trying to be funny….
  • You don’t consider this list to be even remotely humorous.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A laugh for the day...

Not so long ago I came across a blog named Big Orange Truck. Back in the middle of June he posted something that really made me laugh - I've gone back and read it a couple of times since then, but I thought I'd take the time to link to it here for those of you who don't already read this terrific blog. By the way, his is one blog that I would recommend you read regularly. So with that, here are the 18 Signs that You’re a Fundamentalist Preacher That Might Need to Study More for Your Sermons. The sobering part is that I've had the misfortune of witnessing many of these in person during my life...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

"Then I met Jesus..."

The first 20 verses of Mark 5 provide us with what is perhaps the most vivid image of salvation in all of Scripture – the story of the demoniac of the Gadarenes. I’m certain that all my readers (all 4 of us) are quite familiar with the story, but I would like to point out a few things from this wonderful account of a wicked man who met Christ one afternoon.

First, notice the end of the previous chapter. In verse 35 Christ says to His disciples, “Let us go across to the other side”. His meeting with the demoniac that lived there seems to be Christ’s only reason for crossing that day. What a wonderful display of the special love that Christ has for those that the Father has given Him. He went out of His way to meet this man where he was. I don’t want this post to turn into a C/A argument, but this is the most vivid example in Scripture of the fact that man left alone can in no way turn his own heart to God.

When Christ gets out of the boat in the second verse of chapter 5, we are met with a vivid illustration of just how wicked, uncontrolled, dangerous, and ugly man in his sin really is. Look at the first 5 verses of the chapter:

5:1 They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. 2 And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. 3 He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, 4 for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.” (Mark 4:1-5 –ESV)

What a hopeless situation and what a helpless man. He was such a mess that nobody wanted anything to do with him…nobody, that is, but Christ. He lived in the tombs and, truly, this man belonged there as he too was as a dead man. When others tried to control him, they utterly failed to do so. The man knew no law. He had no standards; he had no “moral compass”; he had no self-respect.

After Christ meets the man we see the miraculous healing, but more interesting (at least to me) is the man’s response to Christ. Look at verses 14 – 20:

14 The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 16 And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. 17 And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began toproclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.” (Mark 4:14-20 – ESV)

As a result of Christ’s intervention in this man’s life, his behavior, his affections, and his demeanor changed…IMMEDIATELY! No longer was he a madman running around naked, screaming and cutting himself. He was quietly sitting with Jesus – clothed and in his right mind. So much had his affections changed that he wanted to go with Jesus when He left. Christ, however, had another mission for this man, and without objection the man who no man could tame before obeyed Christ when He spoke.

I suppose that a point could be made that this man was changed from the inside out. The methodologies of the people who knew him had proven to be ineffective. They had attempted to change his behavior with force, but Christ changed his behavior with love. There’s an obvious parallel here to the faulty methodologies of “hyper-fundamentalism”, but I won’t address that today.

One more point to make here and then I’m done for now….I find it to be an important fact that Christ went to this man who most of us would avoid. It’s strange to me that many of us choose to ignore those who are the most in need of Christ in our society. During my life I’ve not seen many Fundamentalist churches reaching out to the worst elements of society. How many outreach programs have you seen that are geared towards the addicts? How about the homeless? The criminals? The juvenile delinquent? I don’t know about you, but it’s a difficult thing for me to read this passage without the Holy Spirit confronting me with my “comfortable Christianity”.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Two Calvinisms....

An interesting trend in Fundamentalism today – at least in young Fundamentalism – is the leaning towards Calvinism. I’m not complaining about this, nor am I opposed to it given the fact that I tend to lean towards Calvinism myself. However, I think that there are two “types” of Calvinism or, at the least, two reasons behind it…. One is the genuine article, whereas the other is shallow and will ultimately give way to something else. These two types of Calvinism are what I refer to as reactionary Calvinism and convinced Calvinism. I’ll explain what I mean by those terms beginning with the latter.

Convinced Calvinism is the Calvinism of men like Charles Spurgeon who penned these words in his article, A Defense of Calvinism: “We [Calvinists] can run a golden line up to Jesus Christ Himself, through a holy succession of mighty fathers, who all held these glorious truths; and we can ask concerning them, 'Where will you find holier and better men in the world?' No doctrine is so calculated to preserve a man from sin as the doctrine of the grace of God.” Convinced Calvinism is that place at which men arrive after careful study of the truths of God’s Word. Convinced Calvinism is not merely a matter of identity, but one of deep conviction. It’s the real deal. I won't spend any more time on this one, because we all likely understand it.

Reactionary Calvinism is the Calvinism that, I fear, has taken hold of the hearts of many young men. It comes not from careful study, but from a “buying in” (I don't mean that to sound derogatory) of a seemingly logical response to some poor teaching regarding salvation. When I first began to embrace Calvinism, it was quite reactionary. I began reading what intelligent writers were saying in regards to this doctrine that I had grown up holding in such contempt. I had grown up despising Calvinism for reasons that I still do not fully understand. I had been taught that Calvinism was a doctrine that had been berthed in hell and that it was responsible for sending thousands and thousands of poor, hapless souls there. I never questioned these things until 5 or 6 years ago in the midst of my “awakening”. As I began studying the Scriptures to determine what I believed and why, I came to realize that, as I was studying some of the great theologs of days gone by, Calvinism wasn’t quite as sinister as I had always been led to believe. My first reaction was to boldly profess that I was a Calvinist! The logic appealed to me on an intellectual level and it appeared to be much more scholarly than the Arminianism that had been such a part of my childhood. So I claimed it as my own with no true understanding of it. It was nothing more than a reaction to the faulty teaching I had endured for many years of my life. For a short time I even trumpeted Calvinism loudly and often – it become my “pet subject” if you will. One character trait that most reactionary Calvinists have is that it’s really all they seem to talk about.

Quite frankly, I find myself somewhat suspicious of the Calvinism that has become so "faddish" amongst the younger ranks in Fundamentalism today. Many of us seem to place a bit more weight in what John Piper, John MacArthur, and Charles Spurgeon have to say about something than is safe. Don't get me wrong, I've benefited much from the writings of these three men, but their writings are no closer to inspired than mine are.....well maybe their's is a bit closer.... Before I chase that rabbit trail too far, let me bring this little article to a close.

I have no problem with a man claiming to be a Calvinist. For that matter, I have no problem with a man claiming to be Arminian (insofar that said man doesn't cross over into the heresy that is inherent with full-blown Arminianism). What I do have a problem with is when this particular identity becomes the "end all". I've been part of too many conversations where a self-proclaimed Calvinist will arrogantly declare that his opponent (a non-Calvinist) is ignorant, deceived, and quite possibly a heretic. Unfortunately, in many of these conversations I've witnessed, the arguments being offered are nothing more than "Google Theology"...that is to say, the participant(s) in the arguments have no more grounding in truth than the last thing they happened to read.

I enjoy debates on this subject. I enjoy reading as learned, gracious, charitable men debate the finer points of soteriology. Many such debates have been extremely profitable in whetting my appetite for a deeper study and understanding of Scripture. I just wish that people would come to a better understanding of things before they begin lobbing bombs at one another.

If you find yourself saying, "I wonder if I should enter this debate" at some website, ask the following questions first:
  1. Is my position defensible with Scripture?
  2. Have I properly studied all sides of the subject at hand?
  3. Am I going to begin one of my defenses with the words, "I don't really understand it, but (insert big, important name here) said_______"?
  4. Will this conversation be profitable to me?
  5. Will this conversation be profitable to the cause of Christ?
Obviously, I am posting this in response to a fiasco of a "debate" on the C/A argument that I just had the misfortune of reading. I won't link to it's really not a very good read......

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Stop picking on me!

Beating up on Fundamentalism has become a rather popular thing to do on the Christian blogosphere these days. We tend to critique and criticize the movement...with an extra emphasis on the criticizing. While self-analysis and honest critiquing are important, I think we sometimes focus on some of the negatives and forget about the many positives. As a matter of fact, we tend to view some of the truly positive aspects of the movement as liabilities. I've been guilty of that myself. What follows is a partial list of the things that I truly love and appreciate about Fundamentalism:

  • Uniformity in Bible version. While Fundamentalism has a substantial amount of KJVO's within the movement, I certainly appreciate the fact that you can go to nearly every IFB church in America and hear preaching and teaching from the KJV or NKJV. In the evangelical realm there is not an overpowering consensus of Bible version. In some evangelical churches you don't even know which version the pastor might preach from from one service to the next. I'm certainly not KJVO, but I do like the KJV and NKJV. The fact that Fundamentalism almost unanimously uses one of these versions is a plus in my book.

  • Conservative dress standards. There are certainly legalists in our ranks who take dress standards to unhealthy places and attempt to "force" their folks to hold as doctrine some preference in this area. However, you are rarely going to walk into an IFB church or church activity and find yourself flabbergasted at the absence of modesty. Do we go overboard at times? Certainly, but I'm grateful that when we err, we tend to err to the right.

  • Formal worship services. Without exception, every IFB church which I've attended treats the church service in a very reverential manner. People remain quiet in the auditorium and don't generally detract from what is going on up front - even during offertories or special music. In most of the "non-IFB" churches I've attended, this has not been the case. I appreciate the fact that in most IFB churches folks tend to "dress up" a bit for church. I think it helps to promote the idea that we need to behave differently in the church service.

  • Quality music. While I have rather, let's say...broad, tastes in music, I appreciate the fact that IFB churches have - almost without fail - extremely conservative music. Some of the evangelical churches I've attended have almost abandoned hymns in favor of choruses. Many no longer use hymnals and many have embraced Praise and Worship music as the music of choice. While many of these forms might have a place, I appreciate the old hymns with their deeper theology. I appreciate not being distracted by an overabundance of (loud) instrumentation. I like being able to hold the music in my hand and sing bass, tenor, harmony, or melody. I really enjoy very conservative music in worship.
  • Heavy emphasis on personal and family devotions. This is something I've always seen emphasized in IFB churches. At times I've seen it overstated, but I appreciate the fact that there is always a heavy emphasis on individuals and families studying the Word of God and going to Him in prayer.

  • Age-segregated ministries. Many churches are abandoning this, but I'm thankful that most IFB churches have not. While this is purely a matter of preference, I appreciate the fact that I can go to IFB churches and have my children in classes where they will be taught on their level.

  • Special observances of the Lord's Supper. I'm grateful that most in IFB-dom have not ritualized the Ordinance of Communion. Most IFB churches with which I'm familiar observe the Lord's Supper quarterly. I'm appreciative of the fact that there is generally a special emphasis put on the Lord's Supper when it is observed. Many churches outside of fundamentalism observe it as often as weekly. I suspect that it has lost it's "specialness" in those instances.

  • Emphasis on evangelism. This certainly isn't something that is only present in Fundamentalism. Like several of the items on this little list, evangelism is something that is emphasized (I'm sure) in many - if not most - churches outside of fundamentalism. However, within IFB-dom, there has always been a special emphasis on this. Many churches have different types of outreach programs - door-to-door, nursing home ministries, sports ministries, bus ministries, etc. - all geared towards reaching the unreached and backslidden. I appreciate that this emphasis in most IFB churches encourages participation by all members.

  • Solid, biblical teaching. While I spent a brief period in my life in the weak, doctrinally shallow, dark underbelly of the movement, I have come to expect good, solid bible teaching when I attend an IFB church. As a general rule, the pastors will boldly proclaim the truth, and they tend to stick with the Scriptures. In many types of churches outside the movement, you get feel-good, non-biblical Olsteen/Hybels-type platitudes. There's a difference between speaking true things and proclaiming the Truth.

I suppose I could continue with this list, but this is a good start. Granted, I've seen all these things abused within the movement. However, I've not seen them abused within the section of the movement with which I've been associated most of my life.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Are they really this stupid?

Note: We'll be getting back to more serious fare at some point in the near future...

I’m often amazed at some of the things people do. They do things that turn out bad and I find myself thinking…."you didn’t see that coming?". Several years ago a guy who worked for me ended up in the hospital with 2nd and 3rd degree burns. I didn’t learn the specifics until he came back to work. When I asked him what happened, he began to explain to me how he was under his pickup doing a little welding on the FULL gas tank…. Yeah.

So, I present to you several “before” pictures….we can only imagine what the “after” picture looks like. It's possible that you've seen these around the internet before, but they merit another look. Enjoy!

First up is a guy who sees photo ops in every situation. Most people would run away from an area crawling with HazMat guys in all their gear…but not this guy. He doesn’t even bother to put on pants!

You know the story I told earlier about a former employee welding on his gas tank? Well at least he had enough sense to set his truck on actual ramps before setting off the small explosion!

Here’s a guy who’s really thinking about safety. Sure he’s using an electric drill in a exposed outlet while standing barefoot on an aluminum ladder in 3 feet of water, but at least he remembered to put on his safety goggles!

I’ve been working in and around warehouses and forklifts for the better part of the last decade…never have I seen anybody do anything like this…

No risk is too great for a well-lit field!

Load straps are extremely overrated….

And finally, this guy takes the word “frugal” to a brand new level!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Oh, for the imagination of a child!

Our 4 year old son has a wonderfully creative imagination. He’s the youngest of our three children and has certainly been “babied” by the other two (although there isn’t a great disparity in their ages). I’ve always enjoyed watching Elijah play. As long as he has a G.I. Joe or two, he will keep himself entertained for hours. His vivid imagination keeps going even while he is sleeping. For instance, this morning before I left for work Elijah came into our bedroom. I guess it was 5:30 or so and he wanted to tell us about what happened to him last night. Apparently, some really big flies wearing red t-shirts were flying all around him in his room. He said that he was throwing toys at them to keep them away. The funny part is that this wasn’t a scary dream to him…he was having a great time throwing the toys at the large t-shirt clad dragonflies! He’s often woke up and told us about who he was talking to, or where he went, or what he was playing during the previous night. Sometimes he is insistent on the fact that these things actually happened…like the time that his brother (with whom he shares a room) was trying to “hurt him”. Apparently, Trey had turned into a “mean monster” during the night and tried to hurt Elijah. It was so vivid that Elijah was scared of Trey for a full day….this made Trey pretty sad, but Elijah got over it by the next day!

Our family watched The Bridge to Terabithia a week or two ago. It’s a terrific story that ends up making even the most calloused person cry a bit. Throughout the movie I found myself wondering what must be going on in Elijah’s head when he is at play… I wonder what world he is entering when he is playing quietly by himself. I would love to glimpse inside his mind every now and again. I bet there would be enough to see in there to keep me entertained for hours!