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

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Making An Argument

When constructing and defending an argument on any given topic it is usually helpful to remember one key word: consistency. We all struggle with it and I suppose at the very heart of all of our beliefs and feelings lies some inconsistansies, but let me share with you a conversation I had a few weeks ago, pointing out what I hope are some obvious argumentative problems.

I engaged in a conversation with a person, whose name I will call David, concerning the historical importance and continued greatness of Hulk Hogan. (yes the wrestler.) Here is how the conversation developed. . .

Philip: I saw Hulk Hogan wrestle at Wrestlemania 18, it changed my life.
David: Hulk Hogan is the greatest loser to ever wrestle. He sucks.

Okay, so far we have a position being made. Obviously, David doesn't like Hulk Hogan and I am fine with that. But I wanted to know why. So. . .

Philip: Why would you say he is the greatest loser in wrestling?
David: He just is. He never puts anyone over, especially at Wrestlemania events.

(To "put someone over" is wrestling jargon for "letting someone win to make them look good. This is typically done by an established, popular wrestler with a lesser experienced wrestler to help them climb in the business.)

Philip: What are you talking about? He put the Ultimate Warrior over at Wrestlemania 6 and The Rock over at Wrestlemania 18.
David: Yeah, but the Ultimate Warrior isn't any good either. That doesn't even count.

Ok, here is problem #1. David's point was that Hogan didn't let other guys win, a statement which is made all the time about Hogan that is not true. I disagreed and pointed out a couple of examples at Wrestlemania events alone. Then, instead of staying with his original point, he simply says that the Ultimate Warrior isn't good. That doesn't make any sense. Not only does it not follow his own argument, but it fails to properly answer the fact that Hogan lost to The Rock at WM 18. So, apparently it only "counts" if Hogan puts someone over who David respects.

Philip: What about The Undertaker? He has never lost a match at any Wrestlemania event, he is like 14-0.
David: Yeah, but I like the Undertaker.
Philip: But by your original logic, Hogan is a "loser" because he didn't put people over enough but you like Undertaker, even though he has never put anyone over at Wrestlemania.
David: Yes because Undertaker is different. He doesn't suck like Hogan. Hogan is the worst.

Problem #2. Stupidity. Some of you might be thinking that this entire conversation is stupid, which is fine, but David does not allow his "formula" for what makes a wrestler "suck" to filter through all wrestlers. After he made this comment, it was clear that something else was going on here, so I asked one more question.

Philip: Wow, you are really anti-Hogan, how long have you been this way?
David: Since I talked to my brother who showed me the light.
Philip: Do you think maybe your brother might be biased and not looking at the facts?
David: No, Hogan is terrible.

So there you have it. This guys opinion is based primarily on his respect for his brother and he then simply adopted his brother's opinion and instead of saying, "I hate Hogan because my brother does," he tries to actually make arguments that clearly do not work.

I think there are legitimate reasons to not like Hulk Hogan and I respect people who don't bleed yellow and red, but those reasons are certainly not because Hogan refuses to lose. David is absolutely in his right to not like Hulk Hogan, many people don't. But he needs to to understand a little better why he doesn't like Hogan.

This is yet another reason why personal Bible study is so important. What we get from the Sunday morning pulpit is extremely important, but Christians do not seem to care if they are making consistent, good arguments when the time comes to discuss their faith. Not good.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Holiday World

Andi and I had the best time yesterday. We are taking a few days off and instead of a long distance trip, we decided to enjoy time close to home. Yesterday we drove a hour away to a park called Holiday World. I had heard of the park through the Discovery Channel because two of their roller coasters (they only have 3) are consistently ranked in the top 10 wooden coasters in the world: The Raven and The Voyage. Neither of us had been to the park before, so we were excited to just be alone together and were ready to experience the park for the first time.

Andi is a big water park junkie. I am not near as fond of water parks as she is, but they are still fun. Holiday World has a water park, Splashin' Safari, that is included in the admission price. Let me pause here and say how incredibly reasonable the prices at this park are. The admission is only $37 for both parks, and the have unlimited FREE soft drinks, Pepsi products. And they are GOOD. Better than most fast food restaurants. Plus, the meals are cheap. Andi and I both ate a sizable lunch for only $11.

Anyway, we hit the water park first and wasted no time going straight for the slides. All but one of the slides we rode were "dual" slides, meaning we could both ride at the same time. We managed to work our way around the water park, hitting two "lazy rivers" and 7 slides. The best slides of the day were the last ones we rode, completely enclosed slides that were short, but lots of fun.

After we changed, we headed for the main park. I loved the layout of this park. Not only is it incredibly clean, but the "sections" of park are broken down into holidays. So, you are either in Thanksgiving, Christmas, 4th of July, or Halloween. That's right folks, Halloween. And that is where we found "The Raven", the wooded coaster I had heard so much about. Andi and I rode all three coasters, two of which were in "Halloween" and one more, The Voyage, which was in "Thanksgiving." All three were better than average, with The Raven and The Voyage topping the list. You can see my "Beast Paw Ratings" below. Another neat surprise was a dark ride called "Gobbler Getaway." This ride, similar to the Cat in the Hat at IOA, had riders carrying a "Turkey Caller" which was really a "Laser Runner" hand held laser. Targets were set up throughout the dark ride for the rider to shoot at. Your score was calculated in front of you. This ride is really more similar to the Scooby Doo Ride at King's Island than MIB at IOA.

After catching a "History of Diving" performance, oddly located in the Halloween area, we decided to begin wrapping up the day. We stopped by the Christmas fudge shoppe and purchased a couple of goodies before heading out. It was a great day and we will definitely be back!

The Coasters:

The Raven - Great atmosphere. The queue is set up in an old house, similar to a Psycho house, with Halloween music playing. The ride itself is short, but fast and takes place entirely in the woods. Think of a much shorter and more compact Beast from King's Island and you have an idea of The Raven.
The Beast Paw Rating: 3 1/2 out of 4 Paws

The Voyage - Pure Speed. After an impressive first descent, this bad boy just doesn't let up. Reminded me a little of the brutalness of Dollywood's Thunderhead, except longer. Not as much atmospheric feel to this coaster, but no doubt a great ride.
The Beast Paw Rating: 3 out of 4 Paws

The Legend - Any ride that uses the Headless Horsemen as the logo already gets a thumbs up from me. Although better than your average coaster, this didn't have quite the punch as the other two. Still worth the trip.
The Beast Paw Rating: 2 1/2 out of 4 Paws.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sorry For My Absence

I have been away all last week on a mission trip with my teenagers. I meant to get a message up before I left and just didn't get a chance. The Lair will be back in business this coming week.


Saturday, July 14, 2007


People are going to disagree. So are Christians. Difference of opinion is not only a reality of life incapable of being avoided, but it is also a healthy means by which our own beliefs, philosophies, and interpretations are kept in check. The question we ask ourselves, especially as Christians, is how do we disagree? And more to the point of this article, by what manner do we display and publish our varying opinion?

I remember shopping in "Moody Christian Bookstore" in Kingsport, TN one late evening when I was 14 years old. I was with my dad. As I was flipping through the hanger of shirts they had for sale, I came across a shirt that I thought was the most powerful and downright cool shirt I had ever seen. It was a white shirt with a picture of a small newborn baby on the front. Coming down toward the baby was a razor edge knife. The caption on the shirt said "Call abortion what it is: MURDER." The word "murder" was written with dripping blood. On the back of the shirt was a Bible verse, alerting all who see my shirt that I am a Christian who is opposed to abortion. I took the shirt to my dad and asked him to buy it for me. The conversation that ensued in Moody Bible Bookstore is one of many with my dad in which I understood a little more what it meant to be a Christian. He explained that although it was fine to hold strong convictions about an issue such as abortion, sometimes the way we go about displaying those convictions can actually damage the very message we want to convey. It is a lesson I use everyday in my life and ministry. Regardless of my stance on abortion, to try and "convince" others of my view by using tasteless imagery not only weakens my position on the abortion issue, but also damages the reputation of Christians who are honestly and with integrity discussing the issue, trying to make changes.

We didn't buy the shirt.

There is an event coming up in Baptist life that is controversial. I have written a few articles on the event already. It is called the "New Baptist Covenant" and on January 30th, 2008, a meeting in Atlanta, GA will officially kick things off. According to their website, the leaders of the new covenant "affirmed their desire to speak and work together to create an authentic and genuine prophetic Baptist voice in these complex times. They reaffirmed their commitment to traditional Baptist values, including sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and its implications for public and private morality. They specifically committed themselves to their obligation as Christians to promote peace with justice, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, care for the sick and the marginalized, welcome the strangers among us, and promote religious liberty and respect for religious diversity." Luke 4:18-19 is the key text for the meeting.

I don't particularly like labels, but sometimes there is just no other way to really get across a meaning without using them. In this case, the New Baptist Covenant has leadership who are typically considered to be "moderate Baptists."

So, people are going to disagree. We know that, and it is ok. But I have recently come across one blog that just simply isn't doing it right. I am not going to link to it here for several reasons, not the least of which centers around the fact that the owner of the blog is not identifying himself. Now, pay attention to this next part, it is very important. . . .

I agree with much of what he is saying. I'm not particularly thrilled about some of the leaders and speakers with whom the New Covenant is unifying. There are issues at stake that New Covenant folks seem to be more "flexible" on than I am comfortable with.

Unfortunately, the image he is painting on the shirt is primarily tasteless. We are back in Moody Bible Bookstore. To advertise his blog, he has been "spamming" other Christian based blogs, most of which support the CBF and New Covenant. The blog is set up in a fashion that comes across as a "National Enquirer" to "expose" the truth of the New Baptist Covenant. He is throwing words around like "Marxist" and singling out religion programs across the area, such as Belmont and Baylor, calling it "sad" what is happening there. His replies to those who have commented comes across as arrogant, such as saying "people who matter are still awake." But the real kicker is that this person just will not identify themself, claiming "good reasons" for not doing so.

Look, maybe they do have a good reason. But that good reason must also keep them from setting up a blog that makes these kinds of assertions. Second, if you really have a passion about getting the word out, do it with respect and integrity so that not only will his message have more appeal, but also for the sake of those who don't agree with New Covenant and are trying to dialogue in respectable ways. This discredits those people, just like "Christian" abortion clinic bombers discredit the voice of those Christians who peacefully and respectably voice their opposition.

I am certainly not suggesting that we should not sometimes make some noise and do what it takes to be heard. But even then, we should never jeopardize our first and foremost obligation to be people of God, people who will refuse to join in the game of malicious behavior to get a point across.

I wish my brother in the faith would take down this current blog and establish another. This second blog should have a profile about who he is and what he does. The very first article should be an introduction to his passion for God and the things of God and then introduce legitimate concern for what is coming up in 2008. He should make a noise, and still leave the shirt on the rack.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Assumption of Equality

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to preach during a student led worship service at Graefenburg. I spoke from 2 Kings 1:1-16. It is a powerful story of King Ahaziah and Elijah. The king sustains some serious injuries and Elijah predicts death. When Ahaziah sends his captain to inquire more on the matter, the captain, presumably following the direct order of the king, commands Elijah to come down from his hill and return to the king. Elijah calls fire from heaven to consume the captain and his men. This scenario is repeated, except interestingly enough, the second time a different captain orders Elijah to come down quickly. He suffers the same consequence.

A majority of my message addressed the tendency of Christians to assume equality, or worse yet, superiority to God. When we approach God, are we doing so in the way a king might command a subordinate? Are we really fully aware of how big, how great, how transcendent our God is? Are we really aware of our nothingness before Him? Isaiah says it like this in chapter 40, "All the people are as nothing before Him" and "It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers." It is with tragic consequences that a believer dare to inquire on the Lord with anything but a humble heart and mind. At the moment we replace humbleness with a distorted sense of expectancy that God will act and deliver in ways that fit our "grasshopper" minds, that becomes a moment of crisis when we will recognize our foolishness or begin our journey to a weakened and ultimately dead faith.

One of the problematic issues for King Ahaziah was his daily routine. The King was used to treating people as inferior. After all, he was the king. It was only natural for the King to approach God the same way. This is another, and perhaps the central reason why Jesus said, "the second commandment is like the first. Love your neighbor as yourself." It is more than just a visionary concept of a world in peace. It is the instilling in ourselves the habit of putting others first, treating others with a humble heart, and thus when we turn to God, our already natural tendency is to do the same. God is, of course, greater than our neighbor, but the attitude of the heart is crucial.

Finally, in the end, King Ahaziah does the right thing. He humbles himself through the captain and pleads with Elijah to come down from the hill. Elijah this time does in fact come down. But something very interesting happens. Elijah still prophecies the king's death. Nothing changed.

Here is where we find ourselves confused. The king would surely have thought that since he did things the "right" way and approached God the way he should have, God would have spared his life. The concept is this: If I do things God's way, things will go my way. I can think of no other philosophy to be more damaging. We can do things God's way and still be broken down. We can do things God's way and still experience heartache, sickness, pain, and death. Yes there are great rewards for living a pleasing life before God, and thankfully He sometimes allows His way to be our way. If my personal faith was grounded on things "working" in the way I think is fair and right, then my personal faith would have been lost long ago. My faith, instead, is placed in a God who knows better than I. A God who cannot tire or whose plans cannot go astray. I love the words of Isaiah 14:27, "For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?"

Thank God that He has purposed. He knows what is good and how all things will ultimately be used (Romans 8:28). He is worthy of our praise and our adoration. We must not assume equality. We dare not.

KY All-State Choir Part 3

I have been keeping you updated on my conversations with the KBC concerning the 120+ person All State Youth Choir that represented the Southern Baptist Churches across the state of KY. Everyone in the choir was Caucasian.

I received an email from Alan Witham, Church Development Strategist for the South Central Region. Alan thanked me for the email and had some nice things to say about what he has heard concerning my ministry at Graefenburg. Unfortunately, Alan's response to the issue at hand came up rather short. I do not blame him specifically of course, but it seems there is a convention-wide lackadaisical approach to reaching all people and getting them involved in the happenings of our churches.

Alan's first comments simply said "I can't give an answer based on actual reasons given by African American Youth why they have not tried out." Ok, fair enough. If he doesn't know why, he can't very well answer the question. But, why don't we know? Are we asking? Are we curious?

Secondly, Alan made mention that many African American churches are aligned with the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky and have that option to get involved in training and activities.

Lastly, Alan said that "We are attempting to involve more of our African American churches in KBC events." He then cited one example as to how we are attempting to accomplish that feat. "One example is our attempt this year to offer African American Tracts at our Super Saturday Events."

So, to sum up the response, it would go something like this: 1. We don't know why other races, specifically African American teenagers, did not try out. 2. There is the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky. 3. We are handing out tracts to help with this problem.

I sincerely appreciate Alan getting back to me and I know he is answering as truthfully as he can. I certainly don't have a great answer to this. But what a shame to display the great talent God has given our teenagers through a state wide choir and only view a platform filled with white faces.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Beast Reviews: Transformers

I went to a showing of Transformers with a student of mine to pass some time and hang out. What I was expecting was a fun little film with not much to offer except some laughs and cool fight scenes. I was wrong. Transformers is a great movie. The movie moves along a serious tone laying the foundation, with moments of light-hearted humor scattered about. This is not just a funny little film, the Transformers are a force to be reckoned with and director Michael Bay brilliantly portrays the mechanical beings exactly how they should be portrayed. Screen legends Jon Voight and John Turturro bring credibility to the picture. Some of the segments with Turturro got a little cheese-ball for my taste and the Transformers in one scene were kind of silly, but for the most part things worked together nicely.

Movie fans of all ages will love this film. Apart from some language and typical action movie violence, there is not much here to worry about. The special effects are some of the best I have seen. I have not enjoyed a film in the theatre this much in a long time.

The Beast Paw Rating: 3 out of 4 paws.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

KBC All-State Youth Choir Part 2

I recently posted an article about the lack of racial diversity in the KY All-State Youth Choir directed and sponsored by the KBC. I had emailed Tog Goodson, director of music for the KBC, and he called me today to discuss the issue. As I had suspected, Tog informed me that the KBC choir directors were unable to select any race other than Caucasian because no other race attended try-outs. We chatted for a few moments about the issue and I assured him that I understood that a director can only select from the candidates who make themselves available. I appreciated his call.

So, I just emailed the Church Strategist for my region in KY and brought him up to speed on the issue. I am curious to know what a strategist for the KBC thinks about not a single teenager of any race other than white trying out for a state-wide Baptist choir.

I also informed him that I was concerned about the issue close to home as well. I was so pleased to see two black children worshipping in "Hosanna House" (Children's Worship) at our church this past Sunday. Nevertheless, our determination to take the Gospel into places which we are not among our "own" remains a problem for my church and churches across the state, region, country, and world.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Captain America Funeral

I figured the best way to show appreciation for my "Thinking Blogger" award was to write a super-deep, powerhouse article today, so what better topic than comic books and Captain America?

In the issue following Independence Day, Captain America will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. The writers in the Marvel world have made the death of "Cap" a big deal and the most obvious example is the affect the death has had on other Marvel superheros. Wolverine dealt with denial, the Avengers covered anger, and Spider-Man battled depression. This was written in a recent article concerning the death of Cap: "Marvel says you never know what will happen. He may make it back from the dead after all, although (Jeph) Loeb says that question isn't really important right now."

He will be back my friends.