Saturday, November 25, 2006

Two True Stories

We took the little buddy down to Tennessee for Thanksgiving to attend a family reunion for my wife’s family. Her father and mother are both in heaven now, but there was almost one hundred other aunts, uncles, and cousins there (with a great many missing). My wife’s father was one of eleven children that survived to adulthood (six did not). Which reminds me that they don’t make families like they used to.

[Bathroom story coming up] Anyway, I played golf with a couple of family members. Just before starting our round, I went to use the men’s room, and glanced through the open stall door. I saw a magazine on the floor. Guess the title: Southern Living. I am not making this up. The men’s room at the golf course had a Southern Living magazine for reading material. In all the golf I have played in my life, I have seen a lot of bathrooms in club houses. Never once have I seen a Southern Living in one of them.

(I am a southerner, so don’t think I am mocking southerners. I think my accent came back some while I was there. I have a day to get rid of it before I preach tomorrow.)

Second true story. We were driving home last night, just coming into Louisville from the south on I-65. I saw a big billboard off to the left. It read (I am not making this up either): Charlie’s Tattoos – Done While You Wait.

I wondered why you would need to advertise that. Are there people who actually think you can get a tattoo done without waiting? ("I want to drop my arm off for a tatt. I want one with a heart and the letters M-O-M in it. Can you have it done in an hour so I can pick it up on my way to dinner?")

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Happiest Man in College Football

The happiest man in college football has to be John Cooper. Why is he happy? Because LLLLLLoyd Car has managed to take his place as someone who can win everything but "The Big One." John Cooper was 2-10-1 against Michigan in thirteen years of coaching at OSU, including three times while OSU was ranked in the top 10, with two losses coming when they were second-ranked. It ultimately cost him his job. Now, Carr has returned the favor, losing six of the last seven "Big Ones" since Jim Tressel took over at OSU. In that time, OSU has a national championship, with a chance for two.

Many fans of NCAA football are clamoring for a playoff to determine the national championship, rather than the bowl system. Now, some of those same fans are clamoring for a rematch between OSU and UofM. But why? This was a tournament. The loser goes home and the winner plays for the whole enchilada. Why should Michigan get another chance to beat OSU? They had their chance and they lost. (And would probably lose again, making Carr the only Michigan coach to lose to OSU twice in one year.) You can't have it both ways. If you want a tournament playoff system, then you accept "one loss and you're out." You can't ask for a rematch. You lost. Go home. And get ready to lose your bowl game. Because that's what you have done for the last two years, and five of the last ten.

Some UofM critics have been grumbling that Carr cannot win big games because of his too conservative offense. Of course, if you tell Michigan they will score 39 points at OSU, they would probably like their chances. The downside is that they gave up 42. On Saturday, they got beat by a better team. Dare I say "clearly better."

Speaking of clearly better, it would be a stretch to say that Joey Harrington is "clearly better" than anyone. But here's the stat of the week: Joey Harrington has won more games this season than the Lions. Yes, you heard me right. The much hated Harrington, driven out of Detroit, has more wins the Lions do.

The difference? Harrington has played six games, and the Lions have played ten. Since Dante Culpepper went down with an injury in Miami, Harrington has started six games, and won the last three in a row.

Does anyone really think that Joey Harrington would have less than two wins as a Lion's quarterback? Jon Kitna is no better than Harrington was, and people had to know that when he came here. What was Kitna's qualification for the Detroit starting quarterback position? He had only one: He wasn't Joey.

Which leads me to this: Detroit Lions fans are ridiculous. They clamored for Joey to be gone, and they got it. They sit in armchairs and recliners with beers in their hand and complain. They complain about draft picks, play calls, offensive schemes, dropped passes, hurried throws. If I had a dime for everytime I heard some couch potato call in on the radio about Harrington's "happy feet," I would have ... well ... a lot of money. This is coming from guys who have no understanding of the game besides what they have picked up from the NFL's biggest buffoon ... John Madden.

Face it, whiners. If you knew as much as you think you know about football, you would be coaching somewhere on Sundays. But you are at home, watching the Lion's lose week after week. Have you no life?

The Lion's have a ton of problems. In fact, the best solution may be disbanding the team. There is plenty of blame to go around. Matt Millen is a frequent target, as are the Fords who own the team. But the biggest problem may be the fans who get down on their team before the season starts and never let up. Can you blame anyone for not wanting to play here?

The Lion's are a bad team. They lost to the Cardinals, who barely qualify as a team. The Cardinals are probably not even the best team in Arizona, and maybe not the best team in Glendale.

On the upside, the Lion's managed to stay in the running for the number one draft pick. Maybe they can pick an outside linebacker from some Division II school. Or perhaps they can trade their pick for Joey Harrington.

Would it really be worse?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Clearing the Mental Desk

On the election ... Pardon my commenting a week after the fact, but let's face it: the Republicans got what they deserved. When you pander to the "Religious Right" and then run up high debts, participate in corruption of all kinds, and then do nothing substantive to protect life, why should you get re-elected? You are no different than the Democrats in many ways. You did exactly what they would have done regarding abortion. You probably ran up a higher debt than they would have run up. And you got caught being corrupt. (Democrats are probably corrupt too, but apparently are better at hiding it ... so far.) You stopped being conservative long ago, unless you thought conservative had something to do with retaining power in Congree. So go figure out who you want to be ...

Here's the upside: Maybe we will return to gridlock. Because the only thing worse than doing nothing is doing the wrong thing. After a lot of years of "wrong things," this will give us a chance to do nothing for a while.

But here's the bright side: God is in control. The church is way too tied up in politics, and the hope for the world is not in politics and elections. It is in the pulpit, where Jesus is preached with great power. He cannot be preached as a political power, but as a life-changer. If our hope is in a Republican Congress, we have a very weak savior. It's better to go with Jesus on this one.

On people I don't like ... I went out for a run today, listening to a message, and ended up going way too far. (Note to self: Turn around sooner.) But it gave me lots of time to listen and think. I ended up thinking about people I don't like. Here are some of them. (If you think I am talking about you, I might be ... But read all the way to the end, just to make sure.)

People who take themselves way too seriously ... Lighten up. You are not that important and no one besides you cares that much about you. So learn to laugh.

People who don't have a sense of humor ... See immediately above.

People who act like they know more than they do ... Shut up and let someone else talk for a while. Or just enjoy the silence.

People who pretend to be very serious and use big words but make little or no sense ... You sound like cotton candy (Yes, I said that ... If I have to explain it, then you are one I am talking about.) Get over yourself. Your pontification is boring and stupid, not to mention silly. Stop it.

People who talk too much ... See "People who act like they know more than they do."

People who think everything is important ... It isn't. Learn to think.

People who think nothing is important ... Some things are. Learn to think.

People who can't express themselves clearly ... Shut up and listen to someone who can. Learn from them. And start back slowly.

People who obsess about other people's standards for living ... If you don't like the standards of an institution, church, or individual, then don't go there. But don't whine about them. It makes you look you don't have a life. God didn't die and leave you in charge, and he certainly didn't appoint you the rules guru.

Paranoid people ... No one is actually thinking about you, except to wonder why you think someone should be thinking about you. So get over yourself.

Which brings the question: Do I like myself? Not very often.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Why Would You?

Why would you, given the chance to preach God’s unchanging truth to people desperately in need of it, open your church to politicians to pander for votes? It is an unconscionable dereliction of duty for the pastor of a church to allow his church to become a political whistle stop.

But I suppose when politics is more important than truth (and make no mistake, there is little of the latter in the former), churches will do the unthinkable.

The hope for people is not found in Lansing, or Washington. It is not found in the ballot box. It is found in the Word of God. Until we reclaim the pulpits from poor preaching and good politicians, we will never be a light in the darkness.

This past week, politics and church came together in an ugly way for Ted Haggard. It’s old news by now, and it is hard to imagine his as anything but an “October Surprise,” but it is a horrible blight on the church.

While it would be easy to pontificate about hypocrisy and the like, others have done plenty of that, and I do not want to think about it that much.

Mark Driscoll, love him or hate him (and there are reasons to do both), has written on this topic. It is worth reading. Some have taken issue with some of his comments (and feel free to do so), but grasp the reality of what he says. He concludes,
Indeed, this is a deeply rooted gospel issue. How can we proclaim that our God is a faithful Trinitarian community if we are not faithful to our marriage covenant and family? How can we say that the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in us if we have no holiness in our life? How can we proclaim that we are new creations in Christ if we continually return to lap up the vomit of our old way of life? How can we preach that sin is to be repented of if we fail to model that ongoing repentance? How can we say that God is our highest treasure and greatest joy when we trade Him for sin that defiles our hands and defames His name?

I do not know the guilt or innocence of Haggard. But I do know that this is a sobering reminder to take heed of, lest we fall.
I am reminded of a verse from yesterday's text in 1 Corinthians 10:12: Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

McKnight on Emerging

To define a movement, we must let the movement have the first word. We might, in the end, reconceptualize it – which postmodernists say is inevitable – but we will should at least have the courtesy to let a movement say what it is (Scot McKnight, “What is the Emerging Church?”)
The emerging movement is attracting much attention in modern theology/ecclesiology/evangelicalism/Christianity. (These four are often vastly different.)

For those interested, Scot McKnight has two articles that are worth reading, if you would like to understand some of the genius of the emerging movement. He is one of them, and as he says, they should be allowed to define themselves. Scot does a good, though brief job of explicating some of the major components and concerns of those in the emerging movement.

As you might expect, he does object to Carson’s handling in his book. However, the more I have read about the emerging movement, the more I am in sympathy with McKnight’s critique of Carson at least in McKnight’s major complaint (that Carson painted with too broad a brush). I think Carson missed the boat too often. Though much of what he says is very good, Carson was too narrow in his evaluation.

For some, these articles will prove to be a nightmare, because much of what you have been saying about them will be seen to be false. However, there is plenty of fodder for critique in what McKnight says.

But as always, when we critique someone, we should critique what they actually believe, not what wish they believe or think they believe.

So, if you are interested, these will help you understand what the people in the emerging conversation say they believe.

Fad or Future
What Is The Emerging Church?