36 Hours

another long weekend of ministry

Saturday morning we were up early to go hear Doug Fields and Bo Bashers talk about youth ministry at an event sponsored by the Church Communication Network. It was great–CCN does these simulcasts from the Bay Area and they want a live studio audience. If you show up, you get in for free! There were probably twenty people in the audience.

It was interesting to see how well Doug worked the audience. He’s a real master at connecting with people. Before the satellite broadcast began he learned most everyone’s name, where the lead youth pastors were sitting, and made small talk with several people. He remembered names and called on people directly during his teaching. I was challenged to get better at that.

Side note: I don’t think Doug really liked me. He didn’t dislike me, either. It was just a weird vibe. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t dressed like a youth pastor; I mean, my shirt had buttons and everything! It might also have been related to the fact that when Paula and I showed up one of the directors asked us to sit in the center of the front row because everyone else was hanging back. His first impression of us walking out was probably that we were some sort of weird groupies: we were dressed up and sitting in the center of the front row. And then we gave him weird responses: he asked all the youth pastors to raise their hands (and we didn’t) and then he asked all the other church staff to raise their hands (we didn’t). I think we confused him.

Still, it was great material.

After that we drove up to Tehama, CA. It’s way north, and pretty remote. We were to speak at the local Assembly of God church Sunday morning, so the pastor put us up in a hotel overnight.

I have to say that Tehama AG has the nicest church building that we’ve been in so far. It’s the oldest AG church structure in America (built back in the 1800s) and it’s the oldest church in Northern California. Simply gorgeous.

After the morning service we drove down to Cupertino to speak at Abundant Life Assembly of God’s missions banquet. That was fun.

Then we came home. It was a long weekend (with over 500 miles on the car), but it was great!

When Good Christians Use Bad Logic

I just ran across an interesting parody of Christian legalism. If you’re not familiar with the phrase, it generally refers to fixating on an arbitrary action as a proof that you’ve forsaken the faith and are on a greased slide to hell.

Anyway, this essay takes the same logic that can be used to justify traditional legalisms and applies it to snowmobiles. That’s right: snowmobiles are the devil’s playthings!

If you were raised in a evangelical church you might find this funny. If you weren’t you’ll probably just find it weird…

Stanford Law Prof Loses Supreme Court Case

in which Congress gets the thumbs up to do whatever they want as regards copyright

Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford law professor, just lost his case in Supreme Court.

He was arguing that the Congress has overstepped its Constitutional authority through its abuse of the copyright system.

As an editorial aside, I’d like to say that I’m pretty disappointed by the defeat. I’m no expert in the law, but ministers are considered to have some expertise when it comes to morality (which ought to undergird the law).

The laws governing copyright in our society are excessive. First and most importantly, we are losing a public domain. Lessig’s (non‐legal) arguments about the hypocrisy of Disney are very compelling–Disney keeps its copyright on Mickey Mouse despite making most of its money off reinventing characters that have passed into the public domain (Beauty & the Beast, Cinderella, Snow White, etc).

But that just deals with the longevity of copyright in America. I also consider that my fair‐use rights are being infringed upon by rigid copyright schemes. To my knowledge, every empirical study has shown that electronic redistribution of products increases sales. You can read more about it.

For the record, I urge everyone to obey the law as it is written and to agitate for change in the meantime.

Lessig will probably never read this, but I think he’s fighting a good fight.

Some Biblical Expressions of Corporate Worship

Last night Back in January 2003 we talked about worship, and I discussed different ways we worship God. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s helpful and so I thought I’d post it here for future reference.

Singing: the book of Psalms, Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16
Music: 1st Chronicles 13:8, Psalm 33:3, Psalm 150
Artistic Creation: Exodus 31:1–11, Exodus 28, Ezekiel 4:1
Clapping: Psalm 47:1, Isaiah 55:12
Words: Psalm 9:1, Psalm 73:28, Psalm 78:4–6
Laughing & Rejoicing: Psalm 9:2, Psalm 126:1–3, Psalm 149:5, Zephaniah 3:14–17
Shouting: Psalm 95:1, Psalm 98:4–6, Psalm 100:1
Silence: Psalm 46:10, Habakkuk 2:20
Standing: 1st Chronicles 23:30, Psalm 24:3–6
Raising Our Hands: Nehemiah 8:6, Psalm 63:3–5, Psalm 134:1–2; 1st Timothy 2:8
Bowing & Kneeling: 2 Chronicles 7:3, Psalm 95:6, Daniel 6:10–11
Lying Prostrate: Deuteronomy 9:18, Revelation 19:4
Leaping: 2nd Samuel 6:16, Luke 6:23, Acts 3:7–8
Dancing: Exodus 15:20–21, Psalm 149:3, Psalm 150:4
Speaking In Tongues: Acts 2:1–11; Acts 10:46; 1st Corinthians 14:26–33

Incidentally, when I saw the massive number of Biblical references in this posting, I decided to finally install Jonathan Fox’s Scripturizer plugin for Moveable Type. Worked like a charm! If you use MT and quote from the Bible, I highly recommend this wonderful tool.

UPDATE: on 12/21/04 I added the Artistic Creation entry (3rd one down) and struck through the comment at the end. Also, I’m not using the Scripturizer plugin right now so the passages probably aren’t hyperlinked.

Ancient Tablet Seems to Corroborate Biblical Narrative

According to the Associated Press, archaelogists have found a very special tablet.

Israeli geologists said Monday they have examined a stone tablet detailing repair plans for the Jewish Temple of King Solomon that, if authenticated, would be a rare piece of physical evidence confirming biblical narrative.

The find whose origin is murky is about the size of a legal pad, with a 15‐line inscription in ancient Hebrew that strongly resembles descriptions in the Bible’s Book of Kings. It could also strengthen Jewish claims to a disputed holy site in Jerusalem’s Old City that is now home to two major mosques.

The sandstone tablet has a 15‐line inscription in ancient Hebrew that resembles descriptions in Kings II, 12:1–6, 11–17, said Israel’s Geological Survey, which examined the artifact. The words refer to King Joash, who ruled the area 2,800 years ago.

In it, the king tells priests to take “holy money … to buy quarry stones and timber and copper and labor to carry out the duty with faith.” If the work is completed well, “the Lord will protect his people with blessing,” reads the last sentence of the inscription.

It’s interesting, but I should note that there seems to be much more confusion over this tablet’s authenticity than over the James ossuary.

The Groves of Academe: When Disrespect is Respectful

Darryl Hart, academic dean at Westminster Theological Seminary, weighs in with a contrarian perspective on Christian academics in an essay titled The Groves of Academe: When Disrespect is Respectful.

Well, contrarian for an evangelical.

He argues that modern universities have no place for Christian scholarship, and appropriately so: If believing scholars could recognize hostility to faith as the academy’s highest form of flattery, in other words, if they could acknowledge the ways in which Christ and culture are legitimately at odds, they might understand why some habits die hard. They might even discover the plausibility of certain anti‐religious prejudices.

Incidentally, this essay is a response to Force of Habit and Special Pleading (both are also quite interesting, and take different perspectives).

Why Americans Don’t Like Evangelical Christians

I just read a very interesting article by The Internet Monk explaining Why Everybody Hates Us.

It’s a thoughtful and well‐written essay. Here’s a representative excerpt:

Here’s my list of why evangelicals are among the most disliked persons in America:

1. Christians endorse a high standard of conduct for others and then largely excuse themselves from a serious pursuit of such a life. Jesus is the most admired person in history, but evangelicals are far more likely to devise ways for Jesus to be like us than for us to be like Jesus.

If it hasn’t struck you lately that you do the very thing you condemn others for doing (Romans 2:1), urge others to do what you don’t do or excuse in yourself what you require in others, then you probably don’t get this article at all.

Our Sneaky God

God brings us together with a Stanford student.

God is sneaky. I’m pretty sure that’s not in the Bible (unless you read a very loose translation), but I’m convinced of the fact. He tells us to be wise as serpents, and He models that for us.

For example, today Paula and I shared at a church in Burlingame, CA called Three Cities Assembly. The San Francisco Forty‐Niners had a playoff game today, so I was expecting the attendance to be a little bit down. Other than that, I wasn’t expecting anything unusual.

God had other plans, though.

After the service, it’s customary for a missionary guest speaker to be available to shake hands and chat with people. I met the head of anthropology for Wycliffe Bible Translators after the service today–that was pretty cool. I also met a guy who used to be in a Chi Alpha group led by some friends of mine in Stockton, CA. That was also pretty cool. It’s not unusual to meet very cool people after the service.

I also met one of my upstairs neighbors, which was pretty surprising (and cool).

The best was yet to come, however.

Towards the end of the goodbyes, I met a young man named Charles who was visiting the church for the first time. Charles is a first‐year Stanford grad student, and even though Burlingame is a good 25 miles away from Stanford he decided to visit the church today because he used to know Pastor Herndon back when they both lived in Las Vegas (Charles was actually in Jay’s youth group).

Charles has been trying to find a church that can accomodate his crazy student schedule: every third or fourth Sunday he won’t be able to go to church. Today he learned about Chi Alpha @ Stanford and he was able to hear me preach.

I guess he liked what he heard, because he’s planning to join us for worship on campus this Tuesday!

How providential of God–to bring us to the same church at the same time and arrange a connection. He’s sneaky I tell you…