Me with my lovely wife, Kathy:

Monday, April 28, 2008

They are right, but not alone:

Michael Gerson used the Pope's recent visit to America as an opportunity to comment on what he calls the indispensibility of the Roman Catholic Church.
He gives two main reasons for this conclusion:
  • First: ". . . the [RC] church is the main defender of reason in the modern world. It teaches the possibility that moral truth can be known through reflection and argument. It criticizes what Pope Benedict XVI has called the "dictatorship of relativism" -- a belief "that does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires." "Being an adult," says Benedict, 'means having a faith which does not follow the waves of today's fashions or the latest novelties.'"
  • He also points out that the Roman Catholic Church is a defender of human dignity. Certainly, their record on the sanctity of life for the unborn and the aged bear witness to this.

I am glad that the Roman Catholic Church has helped to point in our world in the direction of sound thinking, and appropriate honoring of the value of life, but Gerson's notion that they are indispensible is not correct.

It is not my intention to debate the differences between Catholic and Evangelical teaching, but simply to point out that they exist and are significant. It will come as no surprise to you for me to tell you that I think I, and those who believe like me--Evangelicals--are right.

While we may lack the visibility of a Papal visit, Evangelicals likewise hold to the truth, we believe in human dignity, and we clearly proclaim the Evangel.

What is essential is not a particular denomination, but the proclamation of the truth of God's word in its fullest and most complete form.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What we have in common:

My friend, Happiness Lodge, is challenging the people of Micronesia (Happiness is Chuukese) to lay aside their ethnic differences and work together to reach the world for Jesus.
There are legitimate divisions in the church. they are legitimate in that those on the right side of the divide cannot just ignore the difference without being unfaithful to God's word. Erwin Lutzer does a good job of covering this concept in his book, Doctrines that Divide. However, we are often divided by that which doesn't matter.
I encourage you to read Happiness's thoughts on his blog,
Below is my comment on his challenge:
Happiness,The question you ask--challenge you issue--is one that goes far beyond Micronesia.In more general terms, I see your question this way:Are we willing to regard our "alikeness" in Christ to be more important than the differences--ethnic, cultural, national, economic--that come between us?I sincerely hope that this is taking place in Micronesia. I don't see it happening nearly enough here in the West. The tribalism of postmodernism, and marketing the church to various groups is tending to divide us. On a recent trip, I not only passed many church buildings where various groups meet--Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodists, etc., but also the "Cowboy Church." Churches are marked by, or known for, the kind of music they use, what translation they read, whether folk were suits or jeans, etc.In New-Testament assemblies there were Jews and Gentiles, slaves and masters, well-educated and illiterate. They regarded that which bound them together to be greater than the forces that divided them, and they "turned the world upside down."

When you read Happiness's blog you can see that he is the kind of young man who will make a difference for the Lord. He is graduating from Pacific Island Bible College in just a few weeks. PIBC is doing more with less than about any institution that I know. I would love to be the vehicle to provide some more funding to this highly significant ministry, and its hard-working frugal staff. If you would like to join me in helping this ministry turn out more grads like Happiness, write me at

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Dilbert & Us:

First panel of a recent Dilbert cartoon:
The pointy-haired boss is looking at us; the other four people are facing away, looking in his direction. The p.h.b. has recently instituted a five-minute huddle, every morning at 10:00. It is supposed to encourage, challenge, and motivate the troops. It is obviously something that p.h.b. recently read about in an article. As is usual in the Dilbert-world, the sarcasm, futility, and cynicism are thick.
“Who has some successes to share at our five-minute daily huddle?” He asks.
The silence is deafening in the second panel. Going back to the first is and looking at the other members of the team explains why. The characters personify:
· Hostility—we can be glad she didn’t speak.
· Cluelessness—“What are we trying to succeed at?”
· A devotion to avoiding all productive labor—“I refuse to answer that; it might lead to someone expecting more of me in the future.”
· And in the title character, an above-it-all knowledge (at least that’s what he thinks), reinforced by experience, leading to the conclusion that none of this will amount to anything anyhow, so “Why try?”
In the final panel, the boss tries to salvage his mini-meeting by asking, “Okay, are there any obstacles?” The mostly clueless one answers for the group, “Everything.”
Dilbert is one of the most popular comic strips in history because Scott Adams connects with real life.
Change the scene just a bit. The gray-haired pastor is standing in front of a group of you. Like the flat people in Dilbert-world, you represent a spectrum of emotions and states-of-mind. “Does anyone have anything to share?” G.h.p. asks, which is, basically, the same question p.h.b. asked his group. Often the rest—silence, followed by the general conclusion spelled, D,E,F,E,A,T—could go utterly unchanged.
I fear that the reason is the same, as well. We are doing nothing of significance, and therefore have nothing worth reporting. Five minutes ought to be way too short, but it is really infinitely too long.
In Dilbert-world it’s funny.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What I'd like to see:

Over the past couple of months I have been writing an article a week in our church bulletin about my vision, hopes, plans, etc. for the Covington Bible Church. It has been my privilege to pastor CBC for almost 35 years. Some of what I have written is local-only in orientation, but I figure most of it would be applicable in other venues. You can read all the articles together here, I would appreciate any comments.

I am also reading the book UnChristian. It is one of the Barna Survey books. As such it has some shortcomings. If a thirty-two year old has been a Christian for twenty years are his observations about what he remembers about what being an outsider was like really worthy much. In spite of the above anomaly, I hope. : ) I have found the book very interesting. So far it seems to dwell within the area of tension that is required if we are to be salt and light. We have to be in contact, but also maintain our distinction. I'll let you know more when I finish.