When the Mob Comes

Don't join mobsWhat Is a Mob?

What is a mob? How would you define it?

My Mac’s dictionary describes it as…

a large crowd of people, especially one that is disorderly and intent on causing trouble or violence: a mob of protesters.

You can see that it technically can just be “a large crowd of people”…but I think we’ve all been within large crowds that we wouldn’t call a mob. For instance, when I saw The Police at Fenway Park, it was a large crowd, but it wasn’t a mob. Ditto for all the Red Sox games I saw there. 🙂

“Mob” generally has a negative connotation, doesn’t it? Even if we drop “especially one that is disorderly and intent on causing trouble or violence,” “mob” denotes a group of people intent on a purpose.

Beyond watching a concert or baseball game. 🙂 [Read more…]

Who Would You Kill?

Who would you kill?Thou Shalt Not Kill

We are going to jump right into Scripture today, starting with Exodus 20:13. Although I normally use the English Standard Version, I’m going to quote from the King James Version since its translation is the way I learned this commandment:

13 Thou shalt not kill.

Pretty straight forward, right?

What shouldn’t you do?

Kill.

Now, having said that, the English Standard Version probably gives a better idea of what the commandment means with its:

13 “You shall not murder (Exodus 20:13)

Again, pretty straight forward, right?

What shouldn’t you do?

Murder.

Everybody agree?

Boy, I sure hope so! 🙂

The Trolley Problem

Given we all concur we shouldn’t murder each other, our neighbors, or anyone else…let me share a situation in a Ted Talk video a wonderful listener and friend, Evette, sent my way on Facebook. It was called the Trolley Problem1, and it goes like this:

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How Do You Treat Your Friends?

Three friends standing togetherI have a lot of concern about Christians who, in my opinion, treat others in an un-Christlike manner when calling for accountability or discernment. If they get taken to task on social media, I am less than empathetic. If anything, I enjoy them being zapped.

Then…

I developed friendships with a few of them. When those few get attacked I now want to step up and defend them (and have). What does that say about me?

That I still have a lot of opportunity for growth. Lord, please have me care as much about my opponents as I do my friends.

Gazing into the Face of the Tone Police

Looking for an image on iClipart (a service I highly recommend) for a different article, I ran into one which, sadly, does aptly portray how some who claim to be officers in the Tone Police behave:

Angry policeman pointingIf I have ever acted that way (or even come off that way), I apologize.

However, just like the un-Christlike tone of some watch-tweeters and watch-bloggers does not invalidate the legitimate concerns they bring up, the (too often) hypocrisy of the Tone Police does not change the validity of what we bring up.

So says the @TonePoliceCapt 🙂

Better Watch Out…Here Come the Tone Police!

Tone Police 'speak the truth in love' badge #2Traditores is proud to announce the formation of the Tone Police!

The Tone Police are Christians who encourage those who “speak the truth in love” to emulate the Tone Police Commissioner, Jesus Christ, while doing so.

You can read more about…and join…the new force at TonePolice.org.

P.S. Although its “work” is serious, we officers of the Tone Police don’t take ourselves too seriously. Book ’em , Danno! 🙂

My Advice for #the15

#the15 logo

For Christians, the Christmas season is truly a time for meditation about (and thankfulness for) the Incarnation…and ultimately…the Cross. This year, however, Christmas week was also the occasion for the formation of a new “we’re not gonna take it anymore” group, #the15. (The name is based on the Twitter hashtag it is leveraging.) Who are #the15? These three links will give you a decent idea:

Although there is far more history leading to #the15’s formation (so you should review the articles above…especially the first one), the combination of LifeWay stores carrying heresy and one of its employees, Ed Stetzer, insultingly blowing off a concern some had about John Piper mentioning the Pope in a tweet seems to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. If you take time to review “Who are #the15?,” you’ll see JD Hall (a Montana minister) summarize the answer to “Who are #the15?” with: [Read more…]

The Shocking Truth About the Christian God

Man with megaphoneHe exists.

Now, if you are a Christian you already believed that, so it’s not so shocking, eh?

If you aren’t a Christian, you don’t believe it anyway.

In either case, don’t you feel the article’s title makes this post bait-and-switch? You were promised something amazing and got quite the opposite. You have every reason to be annoyed.

Clickbait. [Read more…]

Getting from Point A to Point B

Winding road signThis is cross-posted on qm101.co blog…but I think it is applicable in a Christian context too…

I’ve used this analogy at home and at work to encourage people to keep their “eye on the prize.”

You want to get from point A to point B.

You should be able to go in a straight line. You have every right to be frustrated because you cannot go directly from point A to point B. It may be unfair that a straight line from point A to point B is being blocked.

The list could go on, but it all doesn’t matter, because…

Ultimately, you want to go fro point A to point B.

So, zigzag if you have to.

In Defense of Braxton (I.E. What I Think About Ergun Caner)

July 29, 2014 update: WordPress notified me that my site had a large increase in traffic today. Checking the stats, it was this post specifically. Not too much later I read on Twitter the likely reason: Braxton Caner is reported to have committed suicide. My heart aches. Pray for Jill and Egun Caner, their family and church, and his friends. May The Lord comfort them all during this tragic time.

August 11, 2014 update: JD Hall (accused of being culpable) has spoken publicly about the tragedy: http://www.sermonaudio.com/playpopup.asp?SID=81114049210 (please be sure to listen before judging him).

Although it wasn’t overwhelming, last night I generated a bit of traffic on my Twitter timeline with this tweet:

@braxtoncaner89 Kudos to you for standing up for your dad. @erguncaner

Braxton is Ergun Caner’s 15 year-old son. Ergun Caner is infamous in some evangelical circles because, at a minimum, he embellished his life story at time when 9/11 made an exciting Muslim-to-Christian conversion story appealing (and, arguably, profitable).

More than one person on Twitter took my tweet as either endorsing the father’s behavior or approving the son’s (assumed) defense of his dad’s actions. However…

@MosesModel My tweet to Ergun’s son was supporting a boy standing up for his dad, not weighing in on Ergun himself. Does that make sense?

Now, what caused me to speak up in the first place was reading that some adults on Twitter were going after Braxton (UPDATE: this link no longer works). In a nation where the government and the media treat fathers, at best, as unneeded and, at worst, as buffoons or evil (or evil buffoons), I wanted to commend a boy for standing up for his dad.

And I did. 🙂

But, in fairness to some of those who reacted, I hesitated before I sent the original tweet because I knew it could come off as supporting Ergun Caner. Considering I’ve now stepped into the controversy about Ergun, I figured it was time to elaborate on what I think about him.

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Learning to Fly

A father helping his son learn to ride a bicycle

Training Wheels

For Augie’s birthday this past August we purchased a new bicycle for him. His old one was getting a bit small, and a bike is always a great gift in my book. After having no luck at Dick’s Sporting Goods, Augie found one at Target he liked—I suspect the neon-like green on it was a factor. Into the bed of the truck it went…well, after we paid for it, of course. 🙂

Now, I knew we were taking a chance. The bicycle was the right size, but Augie had not actually learned to ride one yet…and there were no training wheels on this model. My hope was that if I took him to the paved play area at the elementary school (right next to our apartment complex) he’d learn quickly (and with minimal spills).

Let’s just say that it soon became clear that my hope wasn’t going be fulfilled. It’s not Augie’s fault; I hadn’t taken him out enough previously on his old bicycle. We had to switch back to his smaller bike with training wheels.

I’m sharing this with you because when I was, unsuccessfully, trying to get Augie to ride his new bicycle I noticed several reasons he did not succeed:

  • First, he didn’t even sense a need to balance.
  • Second, he plain just didn’t have the coordination.
  • And third, he didn’t focus (for instance, he would look over at other kids playing when he should have been looking at where he was going).

Basically, as much as he liked riding the birthday bicycle he wasn’t ready to do it on his own, and he needed training wheels.

There is a sermon hidden in there somewhere…

Of course, a preacher doesn’t need even this much to have something to spawn a sermon from. 🙂

I would suggest that Augie’s experience can be analogized to the spiritual…and let’s see how together…

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Yeah, Well, Consider the Source

Complimenting mom

Bad Compliments

What is the worst compliment you've ever gotten?

Does that seem like a strange question? Doesn't it seem like I should be asking, "What is the best compliment you've ever received?"

Well, before I did some quick research on compliments I didn't realize just how many categories of bad compliments there are. For instance, I knew of "damned by faint praise." An example of that would be at the end of this sermon I ask you how I did and all you say is, "I liked your tie." 🙂

Thanks mainly to a site called TV Tropes I learned there were many more types of negative compliments. For example, there is one similar to "damned by faint praise" called "overly narrow superlative." You may have kiddingly used this one yourself…for instance, if you said to your only aunt, "You are my favorite aunt!" TV Tropes' myriad examples included "This Buzzfeed article about UHF: 29 Reasons 'UHF' Is The Greatest Weird Al Movie About A Fake TV Station Ever."1

Just how many movies do you think fit in "Weird All movies about a fake TV station?" 🙂

Or perhaps you've heard of (or provided or received) a backhanded compliment? On Askville by Amazon, these were a few of my favorites:

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Fight the Good Fight

Triumph's Allied Forces (image from Amazon.com)

Canadian Bands

Those of you who made it to church last Sunday know that for my sermons this month I am using secular (that is, non-Christian) songs as fodder for sermons. This week we look to our neighbors up north, Canada, for inspiration.

How many here can name a Canadian band our musical artist?

Other than the group that led to this sermon, the ones that came to mind for me were Rush, April Wine, and William Shatner.

Now, I figure many or most of you have heard of Rush, if only because of their hit Tom Sawyer. As for April Wine, is anyone familiar with their song, "Just Between You and Me"? (Personally, I think "Gypsy Queen" is their best song.)

How about William Shatner? What do you think of his musical work?

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“Not for Me”

Apocalyptic Love

AKA "Slash's Advice for Christian Living"

Messages from Secular Songs

If any of you have spent time on-line looking at (or listening to) my sermons before arriving here in Pleasanton, you'll notice a good number that are based on songs by secular groups. For instance

And although those were the only ones that came to mind as I as writing this sermon, there may be more and I've also worked in plenty of other snippets of secular songs into my sermons. That probably may make some folks cringe, but music has always had special meaning to me…speaking to my heart in ways mere words cannot.

So, although I have not yet figured out which songs to include…even for next week…this month I will do a series of sermons that are based on non-Christian songs that seem to have an important message…or which at least have a memorable verse that we can learn from.

If you have any suggestions, please be sure to let me know after the sermon…I always love an excuse to spend more money buying music. 🙂

Now, what we may learn from a secular song might be that they are very very wrong…but there are also plenty of tunes out there that seem to show a bit of what remains of the image of God in this world's inhabitants.

A wisdom that seems beyond our behaviors.

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Time in a Bottle

Hourglass

Redeeming Time

During Sunday morning’s Bible study we’ve been slowly working our way through Ephesians, and this week we spent some time with these verses:

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:15-17).

The part that stands out most to me is “making the best use of time, because the days are evil.” The original Greek is probably more accurately translated as “redeeming time”–which ends up being a bit more emphatic.

So much comes to mind when I ponder the word “time.” My brain can quickly move from sayings like “a stitch in time saves nine”…

To dreams of time travel (and the paradox that quickly results)…

To songs about time (how many can picture Mick Jagger singing, “Ti…i..i…i…ime is on my side”1?)…

To biblical advice.

As you can imagine, being that this is a sermon, we’ll focus on the latter. ☺

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