Bye Bye

It’s vacation time. Dont’ be surprise if you dont hear from me for a while. we’re headed for Misouri to visit Maria’s family. There is nothing but slow dial up so I may not get online at all. Besides, it’s a good time to do some reading.

To Fathers of Daughters

This has been rattling around in my head for some time. Two fisted blogger Jared (Mysterium Tremendum and Thinklings) has a great post entitled “An Open Letter to Fathers of Sons” inspired by a gut wrenchingly honest post at Emerging Sideways called daddy’s girl – an open letter to fathers of daughters. Although the subject matter is a bit different, they inspired me to put this down on paper, so to speak.
I am a father of three girls, 5, 7 and 9 years old. They are rapidly, far too rapidly, moving toward adulthood and facing the world and all its madness. My biggest goal as a Dad is to prepare them for that eventuality. Get them ready to face anything. Equip them, not with the answers, but with the tools to be able to find the answers.
The purpose of this post, however, is not to address the entire range of what it means to raise a girl. No, it’s to Dad’s and to a specific role that Dad’s need to play that I think many Dad’s don’t see as their business – how their girls dress. Now I’ve probably gotten the Moms’ (and maybe a few daughters) attentions. What does he know about fashion? Trust me, I understand that he knows nothing of fashion. I’ll respectfully ask the Mom’s to be quiet for a minute and let me finish. I’ll have some insight for you later.
I am not asking Dad to become the host of TLC’s ‘What Not To Wear’, but it’s time that Dad’s spoke up about your daughter’s wardrobe. You see, Dad, you know something that Mom can have no knowledge of – how guys think. God in his wisdom had made men and women differently. More that just differences in anatomy, there are fundamental differences in how we think, especially in regards to sex. Guys are aroused in ways that are foreign to women, primarily by sight. Why do you think there are hundreds of ‘girly’ mags and web sites, but only a few devoted to images of guys? (No, I have not done any real research here, only some casual observations.) Why is hubby always trying to steal a glimpse of Mom in the shower or while dressing? Those images do something for guys that they don’t for women.
So, Dad, you know what will be going through the mind of the young men that will see your girl as she goes out dressed like that. You know that the spiritual young man will me counting the flowers on the wall paper and trying his best not to look at her (which she might interpret as a lack of interest, uncaring and insensitive) so that he can ‘take captive every thought’ and avoid the sin of lust. You also know that the unspiritual young man will look at her, all of her, (which she might interpret as interest and care) letting his mind roam free. It’s up to you to communicate that to your daughter and put your foot down on the tight t-shirts, bare midriffs, hip huggers, too short shorts and the like. To her it makes her cute and attractive, absolutely innocent things in her world. To the boys around her, she’s the immediate object of lust, fantasy and desire.
While I applaud and completely agree with Jared’s admonition to Fathers of boys to teach their boys to treat girls with respect and to ‘try to raise your sons not to go around looking for opportunities to satisfy their lustful appetites’, the fact of the matter is that many, many boys will grow up without such instruction and our girls will be surrounded with them. And the fact remains; even boys so trained have a ‘lustful appetite’. What service do we do them by sending our girls out clad to make resisting it more difficult?
I said I’d have something for the Mom’s and here it is: Listen to your man when he says that perhaps Suzie shouldn’t wear that outfit. I suspect that many women poo-poo such input thinking that they know nothing about fashion, that’s a Mom’s business. (And for the same reasons I think that Dads are too hesitant to speak up, but I’ve covered that.) Mom, you need to remember where Dad’s coming from when he does speak up and respect it. You may be tempted to say something like “Well, boys just shouldn’t be that way.” Horse hockey. Not that boys shouldn’t resist temptation, but that part of this is how we’re wired. God has made us to be aroused simply by the sight of you ladies and no finger wagging and admonition to boys is going to change that.
I was once told a story of a minister’s wife who did not heed her husband’s caution about her own dress (perhaps that caution was not strong enough). One day, a man made her a less than pure offer to get together. Shocked, she asked why he would think that the wife of the preacher would be interested in such a thing? His reply was something along the lines of “Well, the way you dress I figured you were looking for something.” She said that that radically changed her view of her wardrobe.
Dads, our role is to prepare these precious little girls to enter the world. One of the biggest things we can do to help them is to give them a little insight into who those boys around them are and what they’re thinking.

A New Car!

I got a new car! OK, I really didn’t, but based on the short test drive of my old one it feels a little like it. I spent the weekend putting 4 new struts, rear springs, rear strut mount plates, spark plugs and plug wires on the old Escort (1993, 159,000 miles and still going!). I had it about together on Sunday evening and noticed that the front brakes were shot too. So before taking her down off the jack stands, I picked up new pads and hardware and put brakes on the front too. Add it all up, plus he new tires back in January, and I’ve put about $500 into her this year. I’ve got to get an alignment and tie rods tomorrow too, so it’ll be about $700 when I’m done. Not bad considering the estimate I got from the local muffler shop for the struts and rear springs alone was over $800. I figure I saved about $700 between the struts, springs and brakes (not inlcuding the $180 I spent on new tools! 🙂 ).
If all goes acording to plan, it’ll buy me time until the van is paid off in about two and a half years. That also means I should be very close to 200,000 miles on this car. My Dad beat his Dad in putting over 100,000 miles on a car, and I think I’m going to beat him to 200K (about 175K will actually be mine).
Speaking of putting brakes on a car, this is something that anyone with any kind of mechanical ability ought to learn to do. I spent $16 on doing my front brakes for the Escort. Yep, you read that right $16, $10 for pads and $6 for the hardware kit. Sure, I bought the cheap parts (it’s a beater after all), but even buying top notch stuff is real cheap. (I bought the parts to do my Odyessy brakes from Honda and it was still less than $60.) Consider you’d easily spend 10 times what I did to have it done by someone else, it’s a no brainer as far as I’m concerned. You’ll need:

  • Jack stands (about $25 for a pair)
  • A floor jack ($30-$40 for a basic one) You can use the jack that came with your car, but they’re usually not that good.
  • A basic mechanic’s tool set (about $75 and up for Craftsman, cheaper if you buy off brands)
  • A shop manuals made by Haynes or Chiltons for your car. Mine for the Escort was $12 at Autozone. If you want the best, go to the dealer and get the ‘Official’ one which wil set you back about $75 or more. The aftermarket manuals are generally pretty good, though.

Add all that stuff up and you’ll about break even the first time. After that you’ll save a bunch. I figure it this way – I saved at least $140 by putting in 2 hours of dirty labor, so I got paid $75 an hour. That’s more than I make at work!

07/17 – John’s Ministry – Jesus’ Temptation

Matthew 3:1-17, 4:1-11; Mark 1:2-13; Luke 3:1-18, 21-23, 4:1-13; John 1:19-34
Luke 3:3 – How is John’s baptism different? His was for forgiveness and repentance but without a connection to Jesus, it is only temporary at best. It’s truly an ‘act’ as some characterize baptism today. This baptism cannot save us because it is not connected to God’s perfect sacrifice.
Luke 3:4-6 – John came to make Jesus obvious and the way to God easy.
Luke 3:7-14 – At Radical Conruency there was a post about whether our lives need to produce anything or not. John seems to think so.
Luke 3:16 – Another distinction between John’s baptism and ours – the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38)

Questions on Fundamentals II

Part two of my response to VirusDoc’s questions in the comments here. I’ll attempt to tackle questions 1 – 3 because they kind of go together:
1) Why do you feel so strongly that Christianity needs *a* definition instead of *many* definitions? Is there evidence within the life or teachings of Christ for such a demand?
Well, I think that there is one small core set of fundamentals that define Christianity and that there can only be one set. If it has many definitions or sets of core teachings, how can it be one? How can several groups or people claim Christ and follow different fundamental beliefs?
That said, I think there are also many means of living beyond that core. Much like a tree grows up from a common trunk and spreads in many directions so does Christianity. Paul spoke of that when he spoke of our many gifts (1 Cor. 12) and different roles (Eph. 4:11-13) but in each passage he speaks of that diversity in the context of unity. It is not an either/or proposition, there must be both. In that same chapter of Ephesians he also speaks of the importance of unity:

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to one hope when you were called– one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. – Ephesians 4:4-6

Paul’s comparison of the church to the body in 1 Cor. 12 is a great example of diversity from unity. We all recognize a hand or foot as human, a part of the body. However, if a man came to you and had the hand of a baboon or a hoof of a donkey, you’d immediately recognize something was wrong. It was a hand and foot, but not a human hand and foot. I think the same can be said for Christianity. It ought to be recognizable when something is similar but doesn’t belong.
As far as the teachings of Jesus, yes I think there are several:
John 4:16 – No one gets to God except through Jesus.
Matthew 7:13-14 – The narrow road implies a precise definition.
John 17:11, 20-21 – Jesus prays that we may be a united as He and God are. Can you imagine them disagreeing on fundamentals (or anything for that matter)?
Other parts of scripture, some outlined above, teach of the importance of unity. 1 Cor. 1:10 even says that we should ‘be perfectly united in mind and thought.’ Unity is a big deal in the NT.
2) Do you think it is possible that the diversity within Christianity is something God intended?
Absolutely. See 1 Cor. 12 again.
3) In your opinion, where does diversity become disunity (not doctrinally, but practically speaking)?
I’m not sure about that one. I think that this is one of the reasons that defining the core is so important. After all, if everything is fundamental, then nothing truly is. The question then becomes is the disagreement or diversity a violation of any of the core of the faith? If so then I think the line has been crossed.
I think that identifying disunity or divisiveness is something we must approach with caution. It’s far too easy to become the dividing force ourselves by pointing our fingers at others and calling them divisive. Suddenly it is we who are drawing lines in the sand and saying who’s in or out based on our own whims not on scripture. I think that’s why keeping this core value set small and clearly defined is important as well. If we’re to draw lines in the sand, we must do everything we can to draw them only where God would and nowhere else.

Questions on Fundamentals I

VirusDoc asks some good questions in the comments of my previous post. Rather than answering them there, I felt that they were worthy of their own post(s). Because I can’t seem to write short posts, I’ll answer them over the next few postings. I’ll start with #4:
Why do _you_ feel such a deep need for Christian unity?
Because I’ve experienced it, or at least something very much like it. As I explained earlier, my church once took some pretty radical stands on some things over the years. One of those things was unity. Our churches were united and codependent in a powerful way. This sprung out of several things, the prominent position of discipling for one and the belief in ‘one true church’ for another. Both of those ideas took some rather unfortunate turns over the years and as a result the foundations of what we called ‘unity’ were shaken. Discipling turned from love into authority and control and the idea of ‘one true church’ morphed into ‘we’re the one true church.’ But the unity that we had between churches was amazing.
As an example, in 1991 I was a Senior at the University of Cincinnati and about to go to NYC on my last quarter of co-op employment. I was going to need an apartment in Manhattan for 3 months. I simply called the church office for the NYC Church of Christ and told them I was coming and asked if there was anyone I could stay with. They hooked me up with a household where one of the brothers was leaving for the same 3 months to go work on the beginnings of the Big Dig project in Boston. His 4 roommates took me in as if I was someone they’d known for years. Not only that, but because this guy would have had to pay his full share of the 2 bedroom apartment’s rent (his share was $450 if I remember right), he volunteered to let me stay there for the same rent I was paying in Cinci – $150 a month – and he picked up the rest. That was for an Upper East Side apartment (83rd and Lexington).
This is how we operated, period. We were a family and it was expected that you’d act that way. This was not an isolated incident. I experienced this kind of open hospitality regularly from different congregations and people. We’d go to conferences in other cities and the members of those congregations would put us up for the weekend, having never met us before. Not on the hide a bed, no they’d take the hide a bed and we’d get their bed.
Isn’t this the ideal of Christian unity that many today blow off as unobtainable? This reminds me of what I see in the NT (Acts 2:44-45):

All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.

This is how God’s church looked in the beginning, and I think it’s how it should look today.

What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

Look at the callender in the upper right corner and you’ll see that it’s been a bit sparse around here lately. Frankly, a big part of me didn’t want to sit down and write this tonight. Partly out of obligation to the 2-3 readers I have* and partly because I felt like it would do me some good to sit and write, I sort of forced my self to log on. Maybe it’s just the pace of my life lately (see here), I don’t know, but I’ve lost my fire for blogging. No, this isn’t a notice that I’m giving it up, it’s just been hard to get motivated about it. I really can’t say why, but I just don’t feel like it.
Well, I guess if I were honest, I can say something about why. Over the past few weeks I’ve been writing sporadically about fundamentals of Christianity. I threw a gauntlet down of sorts in the begining that Christians ought to be able to agree on the basics of Christianity and that we ought to stop fighting over trivial matters. While I still think that this is a great ideal, I guess I’m not so sure I want to write any more about it. Frankly, I figure that I will offend somebody or spark some angry debate and I don’t want to do that – or more accurately, I don’t want to feel the wrath of those offended. I want to write more on the subject, but the thought of doing so is a bit oppressive.
Jesus took stand on things. He stood up and said this is right and that is wrong, unequivocably. He was not afraid to step on toes, even to the point of calling those who defined ‘religion’ in His day, basically, evil. My friend Douglas Jacoby recently posted some interesting observations (writen in 1991) about the nature of God’s prophets throughout history. Namely, they are almost always in a small minority (frequently alone) and are almost always persecuted and opposed by a majority of religious leaders. He offers several examples from scripture, go check it out.
Being in the minority is not fun, especially if it’s a persecuted minority. If one examines the scriptures honestly, you start to see why they killed Jesus. He stood up and told the people, the leaders, that they were wrong and in fact were far fom God. To stand up for God can be a lonely position. I don’t want to be isolated and persecuted for speaking up for God, so I guess that’s why I’ve hesitated to post my thoughts on specific fundamentals.
I recognize that this all sounds a bit arrogant. Who am I to assume that I speak for God? Certainly, just because history shows that God’s prophets were in the minority does not mean that every minority view is from God. I would say, however, if everyone in the religous world agrees with you, better watch out. So when I think about posting my take on Christian fundamentals, I know that if it is to be close to God’s it will be uncomfortable to many. I will not find much agreement.
The ‘Christian’ population in the US is very large and on some level quite homogeneous. There’s a certain agreement on not challenging each other on what we believe about fundamental things. Sort of a “Don’t ask don’t tell” environment. We’re all ‘Christian’ so it’s all good. Frankly, that turns my stomach. Jesus wasn’t afraid to tell people that they were flat wrong, and even the brothers in the first century corrected each other on fundamentals in doctrine (Acts 18:24-26, Acts 19:1-5, Galatians 2:11-14). We ought to trust our Bibles and our God to lead us and take a stand on His plan.
But even as I type this I know that my version of God’s plan and anothers will be different. And I know that it’s easier and more comfortable to discuss less important matters than to resolve our differences on fundamentals. But as I look around at ‘Christianity’, I see some great hearted people with some amazing thoughts and insights on God, but I know that we are on different pages on fundamentals and it tears at my heart. What they define as Christianity and what I difine it as are differnet things. I long for a united church. I long to be able to say “I’m a Christian” and to have people know precisely what that means. Is it too much to ask?
I guess at some point I’ve got to take my stand and throw out there what I believe. It is a bit silly, isn’t it, to get worked up about exposing my heart when this little corner of the net is clearly not that well traveled anyway. Oh well.

Continue reading “What Have I Gotten Myself Into?”

Son of the King

Heard an encouraging message tonight at church. It came from Harlem Salim, the evangelist of the Indonesain International Churches of Christ. He was here in Columbus for our church conference entitled ‘Strong in the Grace”. I must say that I was underwhelmed by the conference, but I think that had more to do with me than the conference itself. Many people were encouraged and inspired by what they heard. So I guess that makes it a success. Right now I am just bogged down by, well, life. There’s been just a bit too much life for my tastes right now.
Work has been, well, without going into details let’s just say pretty stressfull of late. Crazy deadlines & demands, miscommunications, pulled in many directions, lack of support. I’ve also been lobbying for getting help with a project for a friend at work, without much success. That finally got worked out today, thankfully. I’m no good a approaching the boss, or his boss (the owner) let alone both with what amounts to a favor.
My barbershop chorus, the Singing Buckeyes is ramping up for fall contest. We’ve got some pretty amitious songs we’re learning. It’s been a few years since we’ve been on top in our district, and we’re trying to regain lost ground. We’ve got a new director (a little over a year now) and we’re making some great headway. There’s a bunch of pressure to get up to speed, put in extra time practicing, etc. We’ve got an all day coaching session this Saturday that I really need to be at.
The deacons have been going from house to house meeting with the people. It’s been encouraging to get to know people a bit better, but it’s also been pretty exhausting. We’re paired up and the brother I’m with and I have been doing two a week. The group we’re meeting with are all across on the other side of town, so each visit is about 1 hour of drive time there and back. Each meeting itself has taken about 2 hours. Don’t hear me wrong, I’m very glad we’re doing this (I’ve gotten a few free meals!), it’s just that I had know idea how much work it would really be. Not to mention that emotional exhaustion that comes from hearing people’s struggles and concerns. Or hearing that they don’t have concerns when I feel so much concern for my church right now.
The conference itself was a big undertaking for our small church. We’ve had these type of conferneces before, but other (larger) churches sponsored them. This year our minister when out on faith and said that the 120 or so disciples in Columbus would host it. So we did and over 800 were here this past weekend. My role, as children’s ministry deacon was to coordinate children’s ministry for Sunday morning. Let’s just say that it didn’t go as well as I would have liked. The planning, that is, Sunday morning itself went off with out a hitch. Dispite lots of emails and attempts to get information, I did not know up until Sunday AM how many kids I’d have or how many teachers would be there from other churches to help. I came very close to cancelling the children’s ministry all together. For a while I felt a like I was going to loose no matter what I did. In the end, the disciples from other churches came through and we had more than enough teachers. I was even able to let a few go back into the church service.
And to top it all off, my two older daughters go in on Tuesday to get their tonsils out. Two under 10 rcovering from surgery in the same house next week ought to be fun. Mom is coming down to help either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, which will be very good, but it will probably be a little crazy around here. Oh, and did I mention that the middle one broke her arm on Monday?
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that I was a little out of it at church tonight. People were asking me simple questions and you’d think they had asked me to do Dick Chaney’s taxes in my head. I just looked at them dumfounded. Reading this post, it makes a little more sense. (I honestly didn’t figure out how much I was dealing with until I wrote this out tonight!)
So tonight when I heard Harlem speak the following, it was as if a burden had been lifted and everything was OK. It was something like this:

Remember, you’re the son of the King.

That kinda puts everything else in perspective, doesn’t it?

07/07 – Jesus’ Childhood

Matthew 2:1-23, 39-52
Matt. 2:2 – It’s interesting that these men, ‘Magi’, would come looking for Jesus. Where did they learn about him? Where did they learn that it was his star? Certainly not in the scriptures, for they would have then known that they should be looking in Bethlehem, not Jeruselem. (I’m not even sure that the OT predicts that there would be a star.) I suppose the easy answer here is that the spirit made it known to them. For some reason I find that reason not good enough. I want something more concrete, less mystical or miraculous. Why is that? Why is it that I want to make things practical and easily explained? Why can’t I just leave it at face value, God made it known to them. I think this way of thinking spills over into my spiritual life. I want all of my Christianity to be neat and tidy, easily figured out. Do I miss much of what the spirit is trying to tell me? Is it trying to lead but I won’t follow? I want to be led by God’s spirit, to be receptive to it’s proddings. I’m not looking for magical stars here, but I think I’m a little too skeptical.
Matt. 2:3 – Why was all Jeruslem disturbed? What were they afraid of? Political unrest? Potential trouble with Rome? Fear of the unknown? Or maybe just perplexed or confused rather than fearful or worried.
Matt. 2:12 – Warned in a dream, perhaps a clue to how this all was revealed to them.
Matt. 2:16-18 – How can one man have such a selfish and cold heart as to do such a thing. Can you imagine having to carry out his order? The wailing of mothers and the anger of fathers (and probably the reverse as well). I wonder, if I were a Roman soldier, would I have carried out the order? I think of evil men like Hitler, Sadam, bin Laden and others. None of these men could have carried out their massive evil schemes without dozens, even hundreds of others willing to do the dirty work. History does not look at these men in the same light as their evil masters, yet they were the ones actually doing the killing. And even here, no mention of the soldiers doing the killing, just Herod who ordered it. I bet he did not kill one child. How many soldiers refused to carry out the order, I wonder? They did it, so if I were there, would I have gone through with it too?

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