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

Friday, November 30, 2007

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Spirituality Group

I have been asked to lead a spirituality group at a psychiatric hospital two days a week. Yesterday was my first session. There are going to be many challenges to this kind of setting, some of which I will discuss in future blogs as I experience more group sessions.

Approaching the task and my first session yesterday, I was interested to see how the one stipulation I was given for the group session would play out. (Frankly, the hospital has no idea what they want or are looking for, they just know a spirituality group is important and they had one rule). That one rule was that I could not teach from a "denominational standpoint." I had to just lead the group from a "Christian perspective." I was more concerned about that stipulation than the few people I discussed the matter with, although I certainly understood the need for that rule. It is one thing, and an important thing, to help bring people around to an understanding of needing God in their life. It is quite another to move into any depth without crossing too far into interpretation from this group standpoint.

My concerns hit me straight between the eyes for as I began the session, I quickly discovered that I had with me a Jew, a Catholic, and a young lady who asked me this question: "Do I have to be baptized to be saved?" I was not so concerned with the Jewish presence because I was given the liberty to be Christian in my approach, plus he was very humble and willing to listen. However, both the Catholic and the young lady with the question of baptism were very vocal, in good ways, and were wanting to press deeper into the conversation of genuine salvation. I have three views before me now: 1)Works/Righteousness. 2)Believer's Baptism. 3)Necessity of baptism for salvation. That makes for a tough place when I can't really express my convictions on that issue based on the stipulation that I would be going too far into one set of beliefs. There is a reason I am a baptist. I am convinced that much of the baptist faith and doctrine is Scripturally sound. Do baptists have it all right? No. Do I have it all right? No. (And woe to you who think that your denomination or personal theology is perfect). Nevertheless, we move forward and teach based on our best understanding and interpretation of Scripture.

The flip side of this coin finds me thrilled to be in this situation. Reading blogs of a spiritual nature across the net, and I read a good deal of them, has brought to my attention the all-to-common tendency of Christian thinkers to fight over the details. We are proud of our position and find enjoyment in proving everyone else wrong, at times with a aura of arrogance. As I have said many times on the Lair, I think denominations are important and serve a healthy purpose, but not because they set us up for endless, bitter disagreement. Surely we should work on finding areas of agreement on which we can be unified for the cause of Christ rather than only labor for our position of transubstantiation, consubstantiation, sacramental union, or symbolic nature of the Lord's Supper. That is an important subject and we should write about it and have convictions about it, but not to the point of failing to find the common ground we have as brothers and sisters in Christ.

So, that is my challenge for the next good while. I am striving to not compromise my beliefs on matters of doctrine and Scripture, while at the same time work to find common ground where my brothers and sisters in the hospital can know and experience the love and power of Christ. May God be with us all.

Monday, November 26, 2007

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there. Have a blessed day.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Is Christian Dissent Healthy?

Wade Burleson, an Oklahoma pastor and influential voice in the SBC, has recently posted an article supporting the need for more Christian dissent, resistance, and critical judgment. What are we to make of such a seemingly strange suggestion?

Burleson has recently been censured by the International Mission Board (IMB) for his public opinion on ways the IMB has missed the mark. I do not know much about Burleson save what I have read from his blog. He has, it seems to me, been a gentlemen in his difference of opinion, but has nevertheless been critical of various policies and ideologies within the IMB. There is, of course, much to the board's decision that we don't know, but at its simplest level, if Burleson is not on board with the IMB, regardless of how kind he is with his dissension, he should not be a trustee.

What I think makes me uncomfortable about Burleson's notion of more dissent among laypeople, churches, organizations, etc, is that it seems the ultimate goal stops with dissension for Burleson. A quote he uses from Charles Marsh says this, "We are failing to raise up a generation of Christian critics at a time when dissent should be a vital part of confessing Jesus Christ as Lord." That, for me, is troubling. I believe from a Scriptural standpoint that we must view unity of believers as our ultimate goal in this matter. Now, that is not to say that dissension and difference of opinion, so far as they are used correctly, might not aid in the bringing about of unity. But we should not be satisfied if our congregation is just always disagreeing, never taking steps forward to unity as believers. We will never reach full unity, but that should be our forward march.

There also seems to potentially be an ideological thread in Burleson's suggestion. Perhaps in an ideal world, leaders and followers could disagree and dissent and still operate effectively and with purpose. But the IMB and any other major organization must have consistency and unity to successfully accomplish the massive undertakings they perform. The same thing, I would argue, must be said for the pastoral staff of a church. There are a few things that I do not agree with my pastor on, but our people will never hear me disagree with him from the pulpit or anywhere else. They must know we are one as a staff. Likewise, the early church made sure they were all on the same page theologically as they went out. Acts 15 is all about making sure that happened. And when Peter apparently dropped the ball, Paul was not pleased at all. That is not to suggest that dissension and disagreement did not happen in the early church, because clearly it did, but that it was for the purpose of unity.

Finally, if our goal is to raise up dissenting Christians, then we will ultimately fail at the one goal that we should all have in common, that is, winning people for Jesus Christ. Dissenting and focusing on issues that are of lesser importance, and they all are, can only distract from our missiological mandate. This is where those who are "put out" with the SBC really miss the ball. No one, and I mean no one, can argue against the power and effectiveness of the IMB and the NAMB. Even Burleson, who has been on the receiving end of the IMB board of trustees, still admits that the IMB is the single greatest organization for worldwide evangelism. Forget for one second the SBC's policy concerning the innerrancy card, women in ministry, or the guidelines for an IMB missionary and look at the hundreds of people who are devoting their lives to the cause of Christ and to the unreached people groups who are hearing the Gospel for the first time. Are those other issues important? Absolutely and disagreement is fine, but not to the point where we blindly accuse the IMB and NAMB of being evil or unproductive.

So, Burleson is just not with reality if he thinks he can strongly disagree with the IMB and still function as their trustee. I appreciate his candor and his continued support of the purpose of the IMB, but he needs to find places where his philosophies "fit in" and others need to think twice before condemning the IMB because of their decision.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Lions for Lambs

The film made 7 million dollars its opening weekend. I leave that with you.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dollywood - The Blazing Fury in 2008

The Blazing Fury in Dollywood, TN remains my favorite coaster attraction in the world. (well, The Beast at King's Island is probably my favorite). The Blazing Fury is an indoor coaster that was way ahead of its time.

I have just read that Dollywood will be doing some major overhauls to the ride in anticipation of its 30 year anniversay next year. This is both good, and of course, potentially bad. However, I am confident that Dollywood is not stupid enough to change anything major to the ride, since it has been a staple of what makes that park so great for 30 years! They better not change the audio to "Now, now Molly, you be careful, I've got a bad back!" Or, "Kiss!??? Looks like you've been kissing a steam train."

Thursday, November 08, 2007

"Behind The Scenes" of a Judah First Weekend

Barry French, aka "Big Blue Barry" or as I like to call him "Triple Threat" did some behind the scenes video taping at our last Judah First outing. For those who don't know, Barry has been filling in for Chris "the doctor" Rosenstone behind the kit and has been doing a stand-up job.

In this particular video, James Aaron and I have no idea the camera is rolling, so this is the kind of thing you can expect to hear amongst the Judah First crew behind the scenes.

Judah First Reviewed

The Judah First album "Devil's Dice" has received many reviews through the Christian music world, but apparently these guys have a rather loyal following. The band's album sells have tripled since the review went public, which is great news for us! To read the complimentary review, click the link below.


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Beauty and The Beast at the Halloween Party

Friday, November 02, 2007

Judah First in Bristol, TN

A fan emailed these pictures to us performing on the "country" stage in Bristol, TN a few weeks ago. It was an amazing night of rock-n-roll, few things can compare to being on stage with my JF boys. Click the pictures to view the larger image.