Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: June 2007

Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Beast's Lair Wins Award

I am thrilled to announce that The Beast's Lair has won the "Thinking Blogger Award." I appreciate Barry from Inn of the Last Home including me in his list of 5 "Thinking Blogs."

According to the "rules" I am supposed to list 5 blogs that make me think. I actually spend more time reading articles and books than I do personal blogs, but here are 5 that I try to frequent almost every day.

1. Burr in the Burgh. This is the blog of Pastor Scott Stigemeyer. The good pastor is currently the director of admissions at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, IN having moved from Pittsburgh, PA where he was pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church. There are multiple reasons why I enjoy his blog. First of all, Pastor Scott's first comment on The Beast's Lair was in reference to my movie review of "Event Horizon." I knew I was dealing with someone of great worth after that moment. His blog has also consistently argued for the proper role of the pulpit, specifically it not simply being about moral teaching. As of late, it appears that his fairly new job at the seminary has taken away from his blogging time, but I still enjoy his outlook on topics, even when we disagree.

2. On The Jericho Road. I was so pleased when my former professor and colleague Dr. Mike Ruffin announced he was entering the world of blogging. I sat under the classroom teaching of Dr. Ruffin during my tenure at Belmont University and then subsequently have served with him at two churches. He is a wise man and respects the pulpit of the church. His blog has been anticipating the 2008 Celebration of the New Baptist Covenant that will take place in Atlanta, GA and he is currently reading through The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and offering commentary.

3. SBC Outpost. This was the blog of Mary Duren, pastor of New Bethany Baptist Church in Buford, GA. The blog was one of the best sources for commentary on SBC life and politics. A new version of SBC Outpost will be launched on July 2nd, apparently merging several different people and viewpoints together.

4. World Mag Blog. This is the blogging section of World Magazine. In particular, I enjoy the articles written by Andree Seu, senior columnist for World Magazine. This is typically a daily stop for me.

5. Al Mohler. The blog of Southern Seminary president Dr. Albert Mohler. Whether you love him or hate him, the guy is brilliant and he has really inspired me to step up my game this last year. His blog is a cultural commentary with a Christian worldview.

There are so many more places that I stop, but those 5 are pretty routine for me and definitely make me think. I wish more of my friends and family were bloggers so I could refer them to you.

If you wish to do your own Thinking Blog Award, and probably only my first two would be able to do this, then here are the rules.

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to five blogs that make you think.

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of this meme.

3. Optional: Proudly display the “Thinking Blogger Award” with a link to the post that you wrote. Here is an alternate silver version if gold doesn’t fit your blog.

Friday, June 29, 2007

KBC All State Youth Choir

The Kentucky Baptist Convention recently held its week long All State Youth Choir performances. The KBC chooses 80 teenagers from across the state of KY to form the All State Choir, and then those teenagers attend a retreat to learn the songs, followed by a "whirlwind tour singing at Kentucky Baptist churches under the direction of a guest conductor." Two of my teenagers from Graefenburg tried out and made the choir this year, which was wonderful. I attended a performance in Lawrenceburg, KY and was sincerely moved to worship. This year, the All State Choir and All State Orchestra combined forces and toured together, making a powerful 1-2 punch of over 120 talented teenagers from across the state.

There was only one problem. From where I was sitting, all 120 teenagers came from only one racial type. Caucasian.

However this plays out, it is problematic. There are two main possibilities. The first possibility is that differing racial types were accounted for at try-outs and somehow out of a field of 120 teenagers, those judging the try-outs did not find a single race other than Caucasian which had the talent to sing and play instruments. That doesn't seem likely. The second possibility, and the one I am most fearful of, is that no races other than Caucasian tried out for the choir. Obviously, the judges are not capable of picking anyone who did not try out. If this second possibility is correct, then we have to take a serious look at the churches that make up the KBC and possibly on up the chain to the SBC and ask ourselves the question, "how serious are we about our pledge to take 'All The Gospel to All The People?'" If no other races were represented at try outs for a state wide choir, then what a sad moment for the KBC.

I have sent a letter to the director of worship for the KBC. When and if I receive a response, I will let you know.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Lowman" returns at VBS.

I just want to say that tonight at VBS the legendary dancemove created by yours truly called "Lowman" was brought out of it's near 17 year hibernation and was unleashed on 80 kids at VBS. Of course, no one had any idea they were witnessing the greatest dance move of all time, but there will be 3 or 4 people who read the Lair who appreciate the awesomeness of this moment.

Honor a Murderer?

On Monday, June 25th, I posted an honor to the late Chris Benoit on The Beast's Lair. I do that when people I respect pass away. In the subsequent days after my post, the preliminary police report saying that Benoit murdered both his wife and son before taking his own life has been confirmed. Chris Benoit, the man who I honored, is a double-murderer.

Since the confirmed report I have had a couple of people ask me what I thought about keeping my honor on the Lair. Should I take it down? The WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) canceled their Monday Night Raw program and presented a 3 hour tribute to Chris Benoit after the news of his death. This was before the reports of the murder and suicide. After the confirmation of the report, the WWE removed all tributes of Benoit from WWE.com and owner Vince McMahon issued this statement before the Tuesday night wrestling program:

"other than my comments, there will be no mention of Mr. Benoit tonight. On the contrary, tonight's show will be dedicated to everyone who has been affected by this terrible incident."

I do not blame the WWE for their actions. But what about the rest of us? Should the name Chris Benoit from this point forth only be uttered with an inflection of shame? There can be no doubt that whatever legacy he has left has been in some way tarnished. Perhaps more for some than others. We will be asking the question, why? Why would a reported loving father and husband, a man respected above all others in the industry he loved, all of sudden snap and do something so horrific? My friend James Aaron called to tell me the news. If he would have said to me, "Phil, guess which WWE superstar killed his wife and son and then committed suicide?" I would have put the name Chris Benoit at the very bottom of the list. I don't understand his actions and he, of course, has lost much of why I respected him.

Nevertheless, should his last days of complete tragedy and confusion wipe away all the good he did as a wrestler? Even if we want it to, it can't. We can from this day forth frown on the name Chris Benoit and strip him of the respect and pride he used to hold with dignity. We can tear his pictures out of the WWE catalogs and burn his merchandise. We can fast forward his matches on the WWE DVD collection. But we can't erase the fact that he was one of, and arguably the best wrestler in the world. We can't erase the fact that many wrestlers struggling to break into the business are sweating and bleeding at night because of Chris Benoit. We can't erase the fact that he was the World Heavyweight Champion, holding the title high above his head at Wrestlemania 20. And we can't erase the fact that for all those years, day in and day out, he treated people with respect and love.

So, my honor to Chris Benoit remains. Not because of his life choices in the end and certainly not because of the evil, unnecessary tragedy for which he is guilty. But because I would be a hypocrite if I failed to recognize that this was one of a very select few people who made me stand up, lift my hands in the air, and scream at the top of my lungs for the flying head butt and crippler crossface.

I think, finally, the best words to sum up this post on the Lair comes from my very favorite police detective, Lieutenant Columbo. This is what he said to a gathering of ladies in honor of "Abigail Mitchell" who was a world-famous mystery writer and a real life murderer:

"And I'll tell ya something else. . .even with some of the murderers I meet, I even like them too. Sometimes I like them, and even respect them. Not for what they did, certainly not for that. But for that part of them that is intelligent, or funny, or just nice. Because there is niceness in everyone, a little bit anyhow. You can take a cop's word for it."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Beast Honors: Chris Benoit

Chris Benoit, the great wrestling champion, is dead. He, his wife, and his son were found dead in their Atlanta home on Monday. Benoit has been one of the most respected and talented wrestlers in the world for years. Reports are investigating the deaths as a possible double-murder and suicide, which is just difficult to believe. I first saw Benoit wrestle on the now defunct WCW Monday Nitro. This is just terrible news.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


It keeps on ticking (ticking, ticking). . .

I have plenty to discuss, just not enough time to adequately formulate my thoughts. VBS "Game Day Central" is this week at church, which means even less time to write. But, I will try to keep you up to date throughout the week.

Till then!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Confusion from San Antonio

Since a large number of The Beast's Lair readers are not Southern Baptist or simply do not follow SBC happenings, I am going to give a quick summary of what happened last week in San Antonio, TX and then briefly comment.

Every year there is an annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in a different city. SBC churches send interested "messengers" or delegates to the meeting in order to support and vote for their particular issues of interest. The meeting is also an opportunity for wonderful worship, preaching, and fellowship. However, it is usually the business at hand that tends to dominate the post-convention discussion. This year the meeting was in San Antonio, TX and there seems to be one major issue that has people talking, blogging, name calling, and all sorts of crazy things. It concerns a motion about the Baptist Faith & Message.

A little more background. The SBC is not a creedal institution. In other words, there is not a single creed or statement that completely defines who we are as Southern Baptists, and we have tried to prevent any statement of belief from having the same authority as Scripture. However, the SBC does have statements of belief which are revisable and reversible in light of Scripture. These statements are called the Baptist Faith & Message. The latest revision of the BF&M occurred in the year 2000. Now, before we get to the concern at this years annual meeting, there is a little confusion in the BF&M itself. In the preamble written to the 2000 BF&M, the committee wrote these words:

"That we do not regard them as complete statements of our faith, having any quality of finality or infallibility. As in the past so in the future, Baptists should hold themselves free to revise their statements of faith as may seem to them wise and expedient at any time."

That seems to go right along with what I have already written, but then later in the preamble, the committee says this:

"Baptist churches, associations, and general bodies have adopted confessions of faith as a witness to the world, and as instruments of doctrinal accountability. We are not embarrassed to state before the world that these are doctrines we hold precious and as essentialto the Baptist tradition of faith and practice."
(emphasis mine)
So, already in the preamble there seems to be a sort of contradiction. On the one hand, the statements are not complete or final, and on the other they are essential to Baptist faith.

With that in mind, on to San Antonio. This motion was raised concerning the BF&M:

"I move this Convention adopts the statement of the Executive Committee … found in the 2007 Book of Reports … which reads: ‘The Baptist Faith and Message is neither a creed nor a complete statement of our faith nor final or infallible. Nevertheless we further acknowledge that it is the only consensus statement of doctrinal beliefs approved by the Southern Baptist Convention and as such is sufficient in its current form to guide trustees in their establishment of policies and practices of entities of the Convention."

The motion passed in what the AP called a "victory for moderate Baptists." For many SBC leaders, the motion seemed to be a method by which the convention could limit the theological and doctrinal restrictions that any board of trustee or SBC leader could place upon any SBC employee apart from what is in the BF&M. The passing of the motion sent immediate shockwaves through the convention and many of the SBC leaders were alarmed by the vote, while others were rejoicing. Dr. Mohler gave his "Southern Seminary report" the following day and instead of giving the usual seminary report of numbers and figures, he went into a sermon on why this motion was detrimental to the education of the next generation of pastors being taught at Southern and the other 5 SBC seminaries.

The primary reason for the disturbance is not what the BF&M says, but what it doesn't say. The statement does not address the increasingly debated issues such as "private prayer languages," "moderate drinking," or being "slain in the Spirit." So, if you are talking to Dr. Mohler, the BF&M is a great statement of guidance, but does not go far enough in clearly establishing what seminary professors believe before they are hired. But if you are talking to other leaders in the convention, such as Wade Burleson, then this is a great step for the SBC to stop nit-picking on issues that are not doctrinally essential. The aftermath of the vote and annual meeting has elicited some fascinating blogs about exactly how the motion was raised and ultimately won. This quote from "Baptist Blogger" Ben Cole is rather lengthy, but worth the read to see just how involved this whole process was.

"Late Monday afternoon, Wade Burleson and I discussed the reality that the motion could suffer defeat if either of us made or spoke to the motion. Wade approached Rick Garner, whom we had both come to know, and Rick agreed to make the motion.

On Monday evening, Wade and I hosted over 40 people in our suite for a time of briefing about the motion. I explained the parliamentary rule, fielded questions, and highlighted the times in the convention schedule when these messengers would need to be prepared at a microphone. I anticipated the arguments that could be used against the motion, and together we all formed a series of responses to diffuse the certain objections of Patterson, Mohler, Land, Yarnell, York, Kelley and their students.

Right out of the shoots Tuesday morning, Rick Garner made his way to microphone number nine and read the motion into the minutes. Late Tuesday afternoon, I met with Boyd Luter, Rick Garner, and a few others to craft the three-minute speech that Rick would have to give when the motion made it to the floor. Just before going into the Tuesday evening session, Rick and I went over his final draft of the speech — I think I offered one phrase and two words — behind an escalator and then went into the convention hall.

On the front row behind microphone number nine, Wade Burleson, Dwight McKissic, and I sat to watch the debate flesh out. Rick spoke clearly and calmly, then the fireworks started to go off. Back and forth for a few minutes, messengers spoke in favor and opposition to the motion. There were four moments that I knew the motion would pass, and only one that I thought it would fail.

First, when the microphone lit up and a young woman spoke against the motion, but for reasons that actually helped our cause. Rather than speaking against the main motion to affirm the BFM2000, she actually stated that she supported the old 1963 statement. Similarly, a man got to a microphone to speak about soul competency and the priesthood of the believer. He may as well have denied the virgin birth in front of that crowd.

Then there was Robin Hadaway, who with his mumbled, incoherent opposition did little to help his cause. In fact, Professor Hershael York has already observed that no “articulate and passionate antagonist” to the motion ever spoke during the debate. I certain hope — with authentic sincerity — that Hadaway’s articulate passion for teaching missions is greater than the inadequate measure noted so appropriately by York concerning Hadaway’s feeble foray into the convention fray. I also hope that Frank Page will regard incoherence alongside unsweetness as disqualifying characteristics for next year’s appointees to the Resolutions Committee.

When the camera switched to a microphone to speak against, I saw Art Rogers standing there. He said, politely, “No, Mr. President. I am speaking for the motion.”

Standing behind Art, and barely visible except for his pompadour of strangely red hair plugs, was Richard Land. Next to him was Hershael York. With these men warming up in the bullpen, I knew we had to have a vote fast. The question was called, and after a near 2/3 majority vote to end debate, Frank Page allowed the messengers to continue. The moment that he was shouted down by Southwestern Seminary professors and students was the lowest, basest few seconds of the annual session.

At one point, the microphone in front of us was empty. Wade ran up and pushed the “for” button. When the number was called, Wade pointed to Dwight and said, “you’re up.” Without fair warning and completely extemporaneous, Dwight moved quickly to the microphone and spoke – the only black pastor to do so from the convention floor this year.

Bob Cleveland spoke, wearing a t-shirt; and Jeremy Green spoke, looking like Fred Rogers. After the vote was over, I spoke with a retired convention executive and asked him what he thought.

“I didn’t recognize anybody at the microphones,” he said.

“That’s a good sign that things are changing,” I responded.

Knowing that Richard Land or Hershael York was next up, I went to a switchbox and pushed “Point of Order.” My question was going to be about whether or not the time had expired, and then I was going to move the question again.

Before I had the chance, Frank Page informed the messengers that the time for debate had expired and asked for a 2/3 vote to extend debate. After a raised vote that looked a clear majority from the back of the room, Page ordered a ballot, and the messengers calmed from what was the most vigorous and tense debate in the last few years."

What is really incredible is that no one really seems to know what it all means. First of all, the motion does not read in a way that says no other statement can be used by trustees in the hiring process, but that is clearly how most involved in the issue are interpreting it. When Frank Page, president of the SBC, was interviewed concerning the controversial vote, he said "in doctrinal parameters I think they need to be very careful in moving past them. We do respect the trustee system and if they do, they do have that right. I simply said I urge them not to go beyond doctrinal parameters. There are multitudes of issues that trustees have to deal with as regarding personnel, regarding issues of all kinds that may not be directly doctrinal at all." So, here is the president of the SBC saying that the trustees still have the power to "move past" the BF&M, just so long as they are "very careful" and he "urges" them to not go beyond doctrinal parameters.

In my opinion, all of this means a big fat zero right now. Nothing is going to change due to this convention vote and within the year it will be forgotten. Southern Seminary will continue to hire Calvinist professors and Southwestern will continue to hire free will guys. What is most incredible about the entire ordeal is how much attention and effort has gone into this one issue, most of which is negative, without much interest in the positive things of the annual convention. For the most part, we tend to bring our own opinions and desires to the table and, based on how the voting goes, conclude that the SBC is a narrow-minded group of fundamentalists who are closing the door on any real chance of doing good or that the SBC is continuing to be the best organization for defending Scripture and preaching the Gospel to the world. And both sides will praise the greener grass, either pointing to the CBF or other Baptist organizations as the real deal, or maintaining that the SBC best identifies who Baptists are and what we are about. For better or for worse, that is the way it will be.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Ichthus, Arkansas, Family Reunions, and VBS

I have all those things going on right now, so I apologize for the lack of posts. I will be away from the Lair until Monday.


Friday, June 08, 2007

How Time Flies

With God's gracious help, I have finished my first year of seminary at SBTS. Andi and I are thrilled to reflect back on the past year and observe the overflowing joy in our lives from our closer walk with God. While I can admit an increased knowledge in the various areas of religious studies, perhaps the most engaging and delightful scenario of our move to Louisville is simply the desire to know more, and more to the point, to be more. There is something heavy about walking onto the SBTS campus. Certainly not a dreadful kind of heaviness, but I have yet to look across the campus during my time here and not feel some kind of responsibility to get to work, to be my best, to properly use the abilities with which I have been blessed. This is a place where giants have roamed. I sometimes hear them talking to me as I walk to class, whispers that both frighten and encourage.

When the name "Southern Seminary" comes up in conversation, the response is always interesting to watch. This is a place of controversy. Even within my own close association of friends and colleagues, there are some who breathed a sigh of relief at my decision to attend SBTS, while others raised an eyebrow of wonder. Both parties have their reasons, and I would add, genuinely had my best interest in mind. At the end of this year, I think both parties would be happy to know that I have never before been more certain of my situation and God's providential working in my family's life. The fact is, once you step inside the doors of the SBTS classrooms, the controversy fades into reverence, and the SBTS professors could never be accused of speaking lightly the Word of God. Each professor I have had thus far has challenged and modeled for me in various ways the complete superiority of God and His Word. Yes, they have their views, most of which are Reformed, but those views, for which the controversy continues, always rests comfortably behind their own admission of the possibility of human error and not the possible fallibility of Scripture.

For those of you who are interested, I have provided a link to a PDF file of a Greek Syntax Exegesis paper I wrote on 1 Corinthians 1:1-7. This can at least give you a taste for some of the work I am engaged in during the weeks at Southern. (note: for some reason the Greek font did not properly convert in the PDF file, so when you see those weird letters, that is supposed to be Greek letters. This shouldn't be too big of a deal because most of you can't read Greek anyway!)

1 Corinthians 1:1-7 Exegesis

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The California Tour Video

Click the link below to watch the latest theme park adventure from The Beast and Rex. Fair warning, most of the humor is extremely dry. I recommend at least 5 complete viewings in order to catch all of our brilliance.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Record Setting Lottie Moon Offering - What About You?

The Lottie Moon Offering is the annual SBC Christmas offering used for international missions. In the 118 year history of the offering, this year marks the largest collection ever received at over 150 million dollars. With more than 5,100 missionaries around the world, this kind of offering will have a great impact on not only the ability to sustain our current missionaries, but also provide the means to send more into the field. That means more people coming into contact with the message of Jesus Christ. This is great news.

There is greater news still. According to Thom Rainer, over 17 million people will accept Christ if presented with the Gospel. In his book "The Unchurched Next Door," Rainer develops a type of ranking scale for unbelievers. A "U1" is someone who is very close to following Christ, while a "U5" is completely repulsed by anything spiritual. Rainer develops a theme of "walking across the room" where statistically speaking, the odds are very good that a "U1" is standing nearby, simply waiting to hear the good news they need. While the local SBC member should give a hearty "amen" to the report of the Lottie Moon Offering, our hands are far from being washed of evangelical responsibility. I point the finger at myself. How many restaurant servers, family members, church visitors, and apartment managers have I been in repeated contact with and failed to mention Christ? I serve at a church that is highly motivated to give during the Lottie Moon Offering, the amounts are incredible, but what is the motivation for our motivation? For a higher number than last year or for people to know Christ? If it is indeed the latter, is there a parallel passion for the local "unchurched next door?"

I applaud the SBC for our giving. Will we give and pour not only our wallets into offerings but also our lives into people? The two could be certainly be a powerful combination.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Movie Quote Triva

For some reason this just sounded fun to me. See how many you can correctly answer from some of my favorite movie quotes. Most of these are not too obscure to prevent this from being a boring exercise. Out to the side I have put a "difficulty rating" as to how tough I think the quote is. 1 is easy, 5 is most difficult

1. "My name is Hendry William French"
"That's a good name too." (3)

2. "Read the T.V. Guide, you don't need a T.V." (2)

3. "We all have our own El Guapo to deal with. In our case, he's a big ugly guy who wants to kill us." (1)

4. "You go, we go." (2)

5. "You're only saying never cause no one ever has." (1)

6. "When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth." (3)

7. "Touch me again and I'll kill ya." (3)

8. "I grew up. Why don't you?" (4)

9. "I want to see more of you around the lab"
"Fine, I'll gain weight." (3)

10. "Who loves you and who do you love?" (4)

Friday, June 01, 2007

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Universal Studios Florida has announced a huge addition to their thrill/amusement park "Islands of Adventure." Arriving in 2009 will be an additional island called "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter." This is great news for IOA for two main reasons:

1. There have been minimal updates to IOA since the park opened in 1999. I still believe IOA is the best themed amusement park in the country, but the park has desperately needed updates. This will be a tremendous boost in the park once again receiving some media attention.

2. Whether or not you like Harry Potter, the themeing possibilities are endless. The picture above is a drawing of what apparently is a proposed layout for the "island." I like the looks of it, and surely there will be a killer new ride or two to accompany the new island.

The Beast's Lair will keep you updated.