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The website The Holy Observer has articles of Christian satire, and one in particular caught my attention. I’ll include most of the article below, and I encourage you to check out the site if you’re interested

HOUSTON – The employment of James Kim as youth pastor at Mt. Olive Baptist church here has resulted in some disappointment among church members, but not for the usual pastoral dissatisfaction reasons.

“When I saw that we had hired him, I was so excited,” said church treasurer Lilly Rudd. “I thought we could finally start an outreach to the Chinese and Filipino populations of Houston, but when he opened his mouth I noticed there was no accent at all – even his l’s and r’s were all pronounced right. That’s when I had to ask him if he even spoke Chinese at all. I was completely speechless when he told me he’d never even been outside the US.”

“We had a lot of good candidates for the job,” Eisen said. “It was a really close race between some really good guys, and the slightest considerations ended up making the difference. While we may not have discussed it directly with him, the committee talked a lot about how great it would be to start some karate outreach programs with the youth group and how it would be cool to do some Kabuki drama skits on Sundays. Now, it looks like none of that is gonna happen. Needless to say, we were quite disappointed.”

Kim seems unfazed by the nonplussed nature of his new employers.

“We’re talking about starting a basketball ministry to reach out to some of the poorer youth in the African American neighborhoods,” he said. “Then we were talking about some kind of Halo 3 party to draw the kids in, but we’ll have to talk about that, because I’m not very good at video games.”

As far as satiating the hunger of church leaders for some eastern flavor from their youth leader, Kim says that there are a few things that may stand him in better stead over time.

“I’ve had acupuncture a couple of times, and I really liked it,” he said. “Oh, plus, I took some violin lessons as a kid, and I’m a really bad driver, so I think I’ll be OK.”

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One of the unfortunate consequences of the promotion of contextualization is the de-emphasis of our responsibility to help others to understand new concepts.  As a professor explains humorously, we aren’t going to preach to Eskimos about the “Seal” of God who takes away the sins of the world, but about the “Lamb” and then proceed to teach them what a lamb is, and why it is significant and how it plays a part in the OT.  Here is the intro to Piper’s latest “Taste and See“:

As we think seriously about contextualizing the message of the Bible, let’s remember that we must also labor to bring about, in the minds of our listeners, conceptual categories that may be missing from their mental framework. If we only use the thought structures they already have, some crucial biblical truths will remain unintelligible, no matter how much contextualizing we do. This work of concept creation is harder than contextualization, but just as important.

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Why Still Single?

In the course of a wonderful conversation tonight, I began to wonder why it is that some people are single, at any age.  There are reasons that they may give: still a student, establishing career, etc.  Then there are the reasons that most others offer for them: too picky, haven’t met the right one, etc.  But I’m starting to wonder if the reasons (at least for men) fall under a more personal sort: character, spiritual maturity, pride, etc.

Now, of course when dealing with the topic of relationships the standard rebuttal is to point to the exceptions, or the poor examples, and simply conclude that there are no generalities that are useful to be made.  But of course I disagree, and while it definitely will not be spot-on for everyone, I’m going to consider this for a future post.  Namely, I want to collect the commonly given explanations for singleness.  They may come from books or conversations or any other source.  And I want to view them in some way biblically.  It would be interesting to do a thematic study of Proverbs which relate, or perhaps build off of one of the common passages on marriage.

Stay tuned.  And let me know if you have any suggestions or comments.

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Sin Cities

Al Mohler blogs about a recent Forbes magazine article offering the top ten cities representing each of the seven deadly sins.  The results, for your amusement and conversation fodder:

Here are the sins and the top cities in each sinful category:

Most Lustful: Denver ranked first, joined by San Antonio, Portland, Seattle, salt Lake City, Boise, Washington, DC, Cincinnati, Columbus, Baltimore and Buffalo/Rochester. The research firm of AC Nielson used sales figures for contraceptives and sex items in ranking the list.

Most Jealous: Memphis tops the list, followed by Charlotte, San Antonio, Seattle, Providence, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Columbus, Oklahoma City, Chicago. The rankings were linked to crime rates for personal property.

Most Obese [Gluttony]:  Memphis, Birmingham, San Antonio, Riverside/San Bernardino, Detroit, Jacksonville, Nashville, Oklahoma City, Kansas City, San Diego.  Health statistics drove this listing.

Most Avaricious [Greed]:  San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Boston, New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, Washington, Miami.  The rankings on this sin were determined by looking at the concentration of great wealth.

Most Murderous [Wrath]:  The crime statistics are clear — the most murderous city is Detroit, followed by Baltimore, New Orleans, Newark, St. Louis, Oakland, Washington DC, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and Buffalo.

Most Slothful [Sedentary]:  Memphis tops this list as well, followed by New Orleans, Las Vegas, Detroit, Birmingham, Louisville, San Antonio, Jacksonville, Nashville, and Miami.

Most Vain [Pride]:  “Pride is supposed to be a deadly sin. When it comes to their looks, however, fewer Americans are seeing it that way,” say the reporters, who used plastic surgery as the marker for this sin.  Perhaps surprisingly, Salt Lake City ranked first, followed by San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose, Miami, Louisville, Nashville, Virginia Beach, New York, and Los Angeles.

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Thoughts on Discipline

I’ve been listening to the podcast for Crossroads while cleaning my room and exercising these days, and how fitting that the message for today was on discipline.  It sparked some thoughts, many of which are not new, but something that I clearly need to understand better since I haven’t yet incorporated them permanently into my life:

Discipline is won a little at a time.  Sometimes we set goals too high for us, or look to the very end instead of taking it a step at a time.  This could pertain to workouts, or perhaps assignment, or even relationships.  Sometimes we’re so excited to start something, but then our enthusiasm peters out over time as it appears that we aren’t making much headway or gaining ground.  Perhaps more motivating, then, is its converse…

Discipline is lost a little at a time.   Oh how this resonates with me!  It has been months since I’ve regularly exercised, and it is so difficult to start again.  I think I remember when I stopped, and it wasn’t all at once.  It just became less and less frequent until finally it ended, and as one of those rules in physics goes, it is hard to start moving once completely stopped.  Bodies at rest tend to stay at rest?  With discipline, sometimes we don’t press on to get ahead, but also so that we don’t fall behind.

Discipline is difficult.  When it comes to sports, there is no doubt that this is true.  I remember in high school staying late in order to practice basketball and volleyball, and how not only did I need to be physically fit, but our team needed to function together as well.  We didn’t just sweat a little, but we toiled and pushed ourselves until we were exhausted.  Why isn’t our spiritual discipline like this?  Do we not take it seriously enough, or fail to consider the purpose and benefit of it all?

Discipline gets easier.  Maybe you don’t want to do your homework.  If we only do whatever we feel like doing, we certainly will never touch certain things.  I bet I still wouldn’t be eating vegetables, playing or enjoying musical instruments, or reading at all.  Well, maybe I would be reading.  The point is, sometimes we develop a taste for things after we discipline ourselves to do it, and other times we don’t come to enjoy it anymore, but we appreciate the end for which we do it and it gets easier.

We need to be disciplined.  I don’t think I’ve ever completely kept a New Years resolution.  I wonder if I know anybody who has.  I think we can all relate to the desire of wanting to wake up early and do our devotions, or wanting to start sleeping on time, or perhaps snacking less, spending less money, and on and on.  We can’t be counted on to complete or succeed at these things, but we sure can be counted on to fail.  It is almost a given that we will at some point be inconsistent.  I forgot where exactly all of this is heading, except that the only One I know of that models discipline and whom we can count on in Christ, and that is where our discipline must begin.

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Over at the Parchment and Pen Blog, Michael Patton has an excellent post on his experiences visiting a few churches.  It is well worth the read, and illustrates a few things that I’ve been trying to communicate to my Sunday School class about the proper interpretation of Scripture, and also provides thoughts on church priorities.  Excerpt:

Then comes the sermon. The message itself was good and helpful, but better suited for a Zig Ziggler seminar on self-motivation. He used Mark 7:33 to teach that Christ wants to deal with us each individually and wants our words to be for edification because what we think, we are.

How did he get this you ask? Well, let me show you.

Mark 7:33 Jesus took him aside from the crowd, by himself, and put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva.

“Jesus took him aside”=Jesus wants to deal with us each individually.

“Jesus spit”=Jesus had to form the saliva in his mouth before He spit, therefore, we are to let Him form our words.

“[He] put His fingers into his ears…He touched his tongue…and his ears were opened and his speech impediment was removed” (v. 35)=sometimes we don’t hear people rightly because we already have the wrong words in our mouth. Therefore, we have to have the right words in our mouth.

Well, at least the principles are true generally, even if it has nothing whatsoever to do with the text. God does want us to listen to others and he does want us to think about what we say. As well, I believe that there is an individualistic way in which God wants to relate to us.

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The Thirsty Theologian just put up a new post tonight on the topic of Christians and socialism which is very interesting.  For what he says and how he defines socialism, I think he is right on.  Here is the conclusion:

Now, I just know there is someone reading this and nodding, “You tell ’em, man!” Thanks for your support. But now is the time to look into your own heart and ask if you’re really practicing Christian charity. How many Susie Singlemoms[8] do you know who are living on public assistance because their churches — and you — have more exciting ways to spend the money God has trusted to you? That new car or plasma screen[9] — did you neglect one of “the least of these”[10] within your sphere of influence to acquire it? Are you decrying the increasing socialism in America (or where ever you may be) while living like a socialist by passively letting government do your job? You also need to put your money where your mouth is.
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