Thursday, August 31, 2006

I wonder when he figured out that something was wrong

Evangelist Dies Trying To Walk on Water: Pastor reportedly told congregation he could repeat miracle of Jesus

It's an actual news story, so I'm assuming it's actually true. Nothing would surprise me at this point.

Note: It's not a matter of having enough faith to do something to make yourself look cool.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pastoral Dominoes

That's twice this week. Two times, count 'em, two. Two separate pastors who have either been accused of or admitted to sexual misconduct -- all in a town of just 10,000 people. One is a
supposedly happily married pastor who is now getting divorced to begin life anew with a new woman. The other is a youth pastor who is being accused of improper conduct with two girls from his youth group.

Sure, this is nothing new. Pastors fall like dominoes every year. I've known pastors who have fallen prey to sexual temptation. And I've heard plenty more stories.

A youth pastor friend of mine in graduate school turned out to be misusing young boys and was sent to prison. I never had the slightest idea until he was arrested.

I've been told stories about all kinds of pastors -- and not just male pastors. One female pastor ran off with another man while her husband was SICK IN THE HOSPITAL!

Of course the pastorate can be viewed as a microcosm of society in general. In other words, there will be all kinds, good and bad, in pastoral positions. But it just stands out more when it is a pastor.

There are all kinds of people waiting for a pastor to slip up. I'm certainly aware of this. I know plenty of them. They see the Jimmy Swaggarts and Jim Bakkers of the world and think all pastors are the same way except they don't get caught. Perhaps it is a wish to
justify one's own sinful behavior or lustful temptations, I don't know. But every time one of those pastoral dominoes fall, another excuse for ignoring Christianity is erected in its place.

Being a pastor, I have a little bit of an insight into the other side of the coin as well. Fortunately for me, I'm ugly enough to repel any female's advance so I don't face the same kind of temptations that some take on. The relationship between pastor and a woman with an unhappy life can be confusing for both parties involved. And pastors, like any red-blooded human being (male or female) face the possibility that their mercy, comfort and understanding will be seen
as an invitation to something more. And it's not easy to resist a good-looking person of the opposite sex who is all but throwing himself (herself) at you.

So what's the answer? Sorry, I don't have one. Well, yeah, prayer is a weapon in the fight. But if a sometimes-happily married pastor wants to run off with the church secretary or organist or backup singer or occasional attender refuses to listen to common sense and accept the strength that God provides, that pastor reaps what he/she sows. But think of the lives that are torn apart in the process. Children... church members... scoffing skeptic.

Pray for your senior pastor and your assistant pastors and your worship pastors, and oh please, pray for your youth pastors. Pray that they won't give up the struggle. Pray that they will stand strong. Pray that God will use their ministry and their life's example.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I'm Not Dead

Just a quick note to point out that I'm really not dead, nor have I given up blogging. It's just been a couple of very busy weeks. I promise more actual content will be appearing in the very near future. But until then, in case you were hoping to take a nap, you might as well put on your Armor of God PJs.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Heat Wave Edition - Christian Carnival CXXXIV

Hello and welcome to Christian Carnival CXXXIV (that's 134 outside of Rome). My old friend, Heat Miser brings you greetings as well! Be nice to him... he's a bit of a hothead, you know.

It's August, and let's be honest -- it's been a sweaty mess throughout much of North America for the past two weeks. I myself have lost well over 600 pounds of water weight since July 4. Fortunately, I replaced the water weight with good old fashioned "fat weight" so I'm prepared for winter hibernation. But I digress...

With so many people still trying to recover from the affects of blazing temperatures and 300 percent humidity readings, I've decided to christen this edition of Christian Carnival, "The Heat Wave Edition". So, grabbing a frosty mug of root beer and a couple of salt tablets, allow me to guide you through this week's broiling hot posts, submitted from fine, sweaty bloggers throughout the blogosphere.

We begin with our modern necessity, the air conditioner. Sure, there are still plenty of people walking around in unconditioned air, but for many of us the old A/C is something we cannot do without when the thermometer shoots above room temperature. In the same way, there are many people who live their lives without Christ, not understanding the advantages of a Christian walk. With that in mind, our air conditioner introduces a section of posts contemplating the One who is our necessity.

Complementarianism as a Mediating Position. Don't let the title scare you. Jeremy at Parableman tackles gender roles and consistency in his offering this week.

Jon at Think asks, what are we to make of Christian praise songs that contain lyrics that are literally false (if not heretical and blasphemous)? Do such literal falsehoods implicate truths or fall under artistic license, or are they simply heresy? The post is entitled, Artistic License vs. Heresy.

At Crossroads: Where Faith and Inquiry Meet, Diane is asking The Seven Questions. She says, "I've identified seven moves within the current evangelical movement that I consider heresies. However, these seven movements are attempting to answer some worthwhile questions that the larger evangelical church is either not answering, or answering well." Read and see what you think.

For those who can't afford air conditioning, there's the lower-cost, lower-enengy-hogging alternative -- the fan. The electric fan is a whirling dervish of moving parts. Three blades in perpetual motion. Until the power goes out. Then throw in the oscillating action and you have movement galore. Of course there is also the paper fan. I remember the hand fans, stuffed into the hymnal rack in every pew at church. There were always two pictures: the obligatory picture of Jesus and the one of the little girl with white gloves praying in front of a stained-glass window. For some reason, there was always a funeral home ad on the other side. But during a hot Sunday service, everyone had one of those paper heat-relievers waving back and forth until wrist muscles were stretched and worn out. Again, it's motion. It reminds me of two people debating with arms flapping and lips flapping even faster. Nothing gets you worked up faster than a good debate. So the fan will lead us into the valley of the shadow of philosophical and political debate.

We'll begin with Leslie Carbone's self-titled blog. Leslie invites us along to read A Vision for America.

Meanwhile at Acme Anvil Co., SteveO has been watching O'Reilly reruns and is taking on the Million Youth March Organizers in his entry.

Is religion The Root of All Evil? At Principled Discovery, Dana begins with Mel Gibson's latest statements and compares them to media statements about Christianity.

Want to learn a little more about political philosophy? JCHFleetguy at Brain Cramps For God is in the midst of that very exercise. Check the post A "Discussion" of Political Philosophy.

Marijuana and hashish in the Old Testament? "Not a chance," says Tyler from Codex: Biblical Studies Blogspot. Then he sets about debunking the whole idea. Interesting read.

Minimum Attention For Minimum Wage is the offering from Father David at Left of Calvary.

Mark, from Kingdom>>> Church>>> Culture, has plenty to say about illegal immigration. One of his posts on the subject, Busting into America, he discusses why they are coming, why their countries don't work, and why illegal immigrants are, in effect, stealing (or attempting to steal) rights and privileges that belong to American citizens.

Now, what if the air conditioner and the fan didn't provide cooling as quickly as you'd like? Ice, ice, baby. It's cold and it meets our desire for instant satisfaction. But more than that, ice cools the liquid it floats in. It affects the world around us. The cuves to the left will lead us to posts dealing with our own efforts of affecting the world around us and the world within us. In short, these posts help describe the Christian walk.

The Doctor is In is always a fun read. This week, Dr. Bob shares his own journey of faith in The Path 1:Genesis.

At Trivium Pursuit, Laurie presents a list of Recommended Sermons.

A reflection on prayer in the night comes from penitens at A Penitant Blogger.

The 23rd Psalm is often called the most beloved in the Psalter. Rev Bill clues us in on a new version -- Psalm 23 (For Work).

Dave, from Career Intensity Blog concludes, "Trust in God and believe in yourself and anything is possible." See if you agree with You Gotta Believe.

Becky, from I thought I'd have it together by now, says that her post, A God-shaped Hole, is about her three-year-old grandson’s accepting Christ and beginning his faith journey and her friend Lisa sharing her journey at a retreat. It got its title because our God, who is faithful, has filled the holes in their hearts.

There are times when no matter how you've cooled yourself off, you still smell like a sweaty mess. A heat wave is usually not a treat for the olfactory. A day of sweating leaves you smelling... well, like you've been sweating all day! It's like sin. The more we wallow around in sin, the smellier we get. With that in mind, pull out the Speed Stick, the Ban, the Secret, and the Arrid Extra Dry, lift your arms and apply a generous helping of posts which speak to our sinful condition.

My own contribution to this Carnival is a post I call All Rise, which features the struggle of truly offering God the honor He deserves instead of trying to grasp it and keep it for ourselves.

Andrea Graham offers up The Whipping Boy. It's a discussion of the need to let Jesus, not only be Savior, but also Lord, and it's up at Adam's Blog.

Here's a title which says a lot before you ever click on the link -- The Idolatry of Ministry. Maybe that phrase upsets you. Perhaps it makes you glad that someone else thinks like you. Whatever your position, I urge you to read it at Light Along the Journey.

I'm not sure this is all about sin, but there are people who think it is. At Resistance is futile! Gullyborg gives a response to Christian criticism of a lingerie photograph, from a Christian with different views in Theology 101.

If all else fails, and you're still smelly, sweaty and hot, there's always the cold shower. Just toss everything you have into the shower and turn on the faucet marked "C". And so I'm taking every post that's left and tossing them into a nice refreshing group with no apparent theme.

We'll start with Jack Yoest posting of a letter from a soldier who gave his life for his country in Iraq. The post is simply called, Remembering Staff Sergeant Dan Clay.

A light-hearted battle of words is heating up between David Ker from Lingamish and Rick Mansfield regarding the relative merits of Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica. Here's David's latest foray called A new kind of mind.

I've always told people that yoga is more than just stretching, and it's the "more you have to watch out for. Mick Dobra of the Romans 15:4 Project describes this situation as it began for him with a show on MTV in Yoga - Dangerous Teachings.

At Pseudo-Polymath, Mark wonders about the Reformation's End. Since mainline protestant churches have been undergoing a decades long slide in membership, if they disappear by mid-century ... will the Reformation basically be ended? And what does that mean?

Part-Time Pundit John asks us to consider donating to the Tumaini Foundation, a charity that sends medical and school supplies to rural Tanzania to help AIDS orphans and other children get a good education. The post is simply called Please Donate to the Tumaini Foundation.

Along the same lines, at Matt Jones' Random Acts of Verbiage, the host is extoling another group doing excellent work in helping those the West has seemingly forgotten. Read Uganda's Invisible Children.

That puts the wraps on the 134th edition of the Christian Carnival. My thanks to Dory for keeping this organized (sweating the details), and to all of you who submitted your wares (the sweat of your brow). And thank you as well to all of you who spent time purusing the aisles of the Carnival, trying to bring your body temperature down to a less-than-feverish level. Look for next week's Carnival at a blog near you.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Watch this space!

Coming tomorrow to Attention Span is the latest version of Christian Carnival. It promises to be a scorcher, so make plans to stop by. I'd also encourage you to submit a post before midnight eastern time to so you can be a part of the carnival as an author AND a reader.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Nothing's Different But Everything's Changed

The title is from a song on Paul Simon's latest CD. I hear it at least once a day on my Sirius Satellite Radio. I'm not sure I can determine exactly what Paul means by that line, but I know what it reminds me of.

The comment has often been made after accepting Christ: "But, I don't feel any different." I've heard it myself. It's usually delivered with an air of disappointment. Some people seem to be expecting the earth to move or a choir to sing or at least some sort of feeling of invincibility to overtake them. But that's not part of the deal. The fact is, we still have to deal with the problems we make and those we inherit.

One lady asked me, "If I become a Christian, will my life get better?" My answer didn't really satisfy her. I told her that her situations wouldn't change, but the way she looked at them would. Like the rich young ruler, she walked away shaking her head, for she wanted everything to be different. She wanted her boyfriend to really love her. She wanted her illnesses to go away. She wanted a better job and a better this and a better that. But why bother if nothing will be different?

The thing is, when a person trusts Christ to be not only Lord, but also Savior, nothing is different. Ah, but everything's changed. "Keeping up with the Joneses" isn't what drives us anymore. Stockpiling cash and prizes aren't our lives' focus. We now look to please God rather than men. We understand that this earth is not all there is. We realize just how messed up we really are.

Sure, we still mess up. We don't live up to our world view. But our entire priority system has been knocked on its head. We know what we want to be and how we want to act and we're not satisfied with being like the others who couldn't care less about their Creator until they have an emergency.

You see, nothing's different. But everything's changed.