Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday's Porchin' It Video of the Week

Hey folks, sorry I am so late in getting you the video of the week. My blogging had to take a backseat to other responsibilities this week so I haven't been on the porch as much as usual. Don't fret, I'll be back in full effect next week. Here is the video of the week. It is a feel good story in honor of this wonderful time of year known as March Madness. Even if you don't like basketball, I am sure this story will touch your heart.

Questions for Reflection: Wives

Josh posts some probing questions for wives and mothers. This is a great conversation to have.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thoughts on Heaven

Lisa posts on heaven and the glory of God. After reading this, I'm like, "Do I even desire heaven as much as this fleeting world?" If I did, my life would be much different. Thanks for this reminder Lisa. By the way, read more of Lisa's posts at Sure Hope. She has, among other things, insightful and encouraging meditations on suffering.


Thabiti Anyabwile offers two posts on deacons in the local church. In the first post, he offers 6 practical questions that may be helpful when thinking about potential deacons for the church. In the second post, he considers 5 more questions related to how well deacons are able to keep hold of the faith.

These are crucial things to think about especially in light of how many churches choose deacons. First of all, in many churches, the offices of deacon and elder are intertwined or confused. Secondly, the decision as to who should be a deacon in many churches comes down to a popularity contest. One of the football coaches has to be a deacon. Then, we have to have a member of the school board. And don't forget about "person X". He has been a member for 30 years, we can't leave him out. Oh yeah, and "person Y" has never cheated on his wife, he would probably be good. Don't we need an accountant too?

Sadly, the reason this is the case is that many church members are not themselves informed about the qualifications of deacons. The role of deacons should be more than just passing out bulletins, and passing the offering plate. Deacons are to be servants of the church. They should take care of the nitty gritty work so the elders can focus on the ministry of teaching and prayer. I am thankful for Thabiti's two posts on deacons. As a deacon (of community outreach) myself, I am challenged to take my role of service seriously, and to consider how I should live my life as disciple of Christ and a servant of his church.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Complaint Filed Against South Carolina McDonald’s Claiming Clerk Screamed, Ran From Little Person

Complaint Filed Against South Carolina McDonald’s Claiming Clerk Screamed, Ran From Little Person

"The employee had stated to her, 'Imagine if you saw a snake or a spider, how would you respond?' And that employee said she understood that. And I said, 'That's unbelievable. I am a human being,'' Wade said."

Wow, I guess the clerk has never seen Little People, Big World! If the clerk would have seen my first blog post ever, he would have been acclimated. This really is a sad story and I feel bad for the little person. Nevertheless, I wish I could have been there.

And Now John Will Come and Chuck a Discus....

I am going to be following this conversation about art and worship. I find this fascinating to think about. Well, maybe fascinating is too strong of a word. As I try to think through local church matters, this is something that is going to be coming up more and more so while I may not find the subject as fascinating as some, I still think it is important to consider. After you read Greg's post, be sure to follow the conversation in the comment section. Furthermore, let me know what you think about all of this (Rich Clark!)

By the way, if you are interested in issues pertaining to the local church, Church Matters is a blog you need to add to your favorites or Google Reader page.

Is Vicious Combat Between Guys a Good Thing? The New York Times on Mixed Martial-Arts

Owen writes a lengthy, well thought out post on MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). It is important for me to think about why my heart seems to be drawn to the violence that plays out in MMA. Is it because I am a man and men are naturally given to enjoy God given aggression and power? Or, is my heart so full of sin that I enjoy witnessing pain and suffering, violence, and blood? As I think about these things, I find Owen's post a helpful tool to guide my thoughts God ward.

Signs and Wonders, Heresy, and Love for God

Read this short article on false signs and wonders and how love for God can keep Christians from being misled.
Signs and Wonders, Heresy, and Love for God

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Meditate on the Sovereignty of God

Josh Dove, who blogs at All of Life, meditates on the sovereignty of God.

In my own mind, I can identify at least two such convictions that shape and direct my theology and worldview. The first is that the Bible is God’s authoritative and infallible word to us, and the second is that God is absolutely sovereign over all of creation.

Without the first, I would not be a Christian. Without the second, I would not be happy.

Sometimes, amidst the busyness of life and the concerns of the world, it is helpful to stop and meditate on the God who ordains all things. Thank you for helping me to do that today Josh!

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Helpful Post On Battling Sexual Sin

Check out this post on battling sexual sin. Pay attention to the 16 lessons that can be learned from David and Bathsheba. Very helpful.
Battling Sexual Sin

Excellent! Dr. Moore on Rev. Wright and Liberation Theology

Read Dr. Moore's commentary on Rev. Wright and Liberation Theology. In this commentary, Dr. Moore examines the issue and offers helpful insight into what Liberation Theology is. Furthermore, some of the people he says preach liberation theology might surprise you.

The Henry Institute: Commentary:

"There is a liberation theology of the Left, of the kind of politicized movement we see right now in the newspapers and on our television screens. There is also a liberation theology of the Right, one represented by prosperity gospels and grinning consumer Christianity. Both are at heart Mammon worship. The liberation theology of the Left often wants a Barrabas, to fight off the oppressors as though our ultimate problem were the reign of Rome and not the reign of death. The liberation theology of the Right wants a golden calf, to represent religion and to remind us of all the economic security we had in Egypt. Both want a Caesar or a Pharaoh, not a Messiah."

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Whole Sermon

"Confusing God and Government"

Thabiti Anyabwile, who blogs at Pure Church, posts a link to the whole Jeremiah Wright "God Damn America" sermon. He lists some very helpful questions to think about when listening to the sermon. In fact, his questions are most helpful when listening to any sermon.

1. What passage of Scripture is the preacher considering?

2. What are the major points of the sermon?

3. Do the major points/content of the sermon grow out of the text itself? Are the preacher's points the same points made by the text?

4. Does the preacher adequately situate the text and the sermon in the context of the chapter, book, and Bible?

5. How does the preacher illustrate his points? Are the illustrations helpful?

6. What are the preacher's main applications? Are the applications clearly related to the main point of the passage? How would you evaluate the usefulness of the applications?

7. Does the preacher make the gospel clear and urge his hearers to respond to the gospel?

8. What improvements might you recommend?

Thabiti has been VERY fair in his thoughts on Rev. Wright and I have found his posts on the subject helpful as I think through all the hoopla. Check out his blog and be sure to have a spirit of humility when thinking and talking about Rev. Wright and Barack Obama.

Note: To all of my friends at Southern and in L'ville who wonder why I link to blogs that most of you read all the time, not everyone who reads Porchin' It is from here and many of my friends have never heard of these blogs. Gracias.

A Question for the Saturday Before Resurrection Day

Did Jesus Spend Saturday in Hell?

Friday, March 21, 2008

My First Live Blog

Sometimes I hear that term, live blogging. Usually it is associated with conferences and things like that. Today, I want to live blog from the Old Louisville Coffee Shop. I guess in doing this, I am confirming to the world (and my wife) that I am not studying like I should be. Anyway, this student driver from the Kentucky School of Driving just pulled up and tried to parallel park. She hit the car in front of her and knocked the bumper off into the street.

Clearly embarrassed, the driving instructor came into the coffee shop asking for the owner of the green Chevy Blazer. Since the driver couldn't be found, he had to call the police and now an officer is outside filling out a report. The student driver has her head in her hands and is obviously mortified. I wonder if she is worried about failing this part of her driving test. I wish I could go talk to her and let her know that sometimes these things have to happen for the sake of having a good story to tell people.

I am reminded of an embarrassing incident I had on my last day of drivers education. My instructor was my high school's athletic directer and the father of my good friend Jake. On the first day of drivers ed, I asked Coach Adair if I could peel out. I said, "Let's see what this Crown Victoria can do!" Of course, he said no and we went on our way. On the whole, my drivers ed experience was awesome. Almost every Saturday morning, we drove to different towns to get breakfast at McDoanlds (Muleshoe did not have a McDonalds yet). I guess Coach liked hash browns.

I asked Coach Adair every time we met if I could peel out. Finally, he got so annoyed that he said, "OK, if you don't ask again, on the last day, we will go to the civic center parking lot (lots of loose gravel) and you can peel out." Glory!

The last day came and I made sure that he remembered. After we dropped the other students off, we drove to the Civic Center. The moment had arrived. He asked if I was ready, and I asked if HE was ready. He told me to go for it and boy did I. I hit the gas and the tires started spinning. It was awesome! It was awesome until the full cup of coffee he had sitting on the dash board flew off and landed in his lap, staining his white shirt and his bike brand coaching shorts. We both started screaming, kind of like when Gale and Evelle realized they left Nathan Jr. behind in the movie Raising Arizona. Not one of my finer moments.

In case you are wondering, I ended up passing driver's education with flying colors (and coffee) and went on to have many driving adventures in "The Stallion," an '86 Buick Century that was my first ride. I just hope the girl outside talking to the police officer and looking at a bumper on the street passes drivers ed. Sacrifice for the sake of the story young lady, sacrifice for the story.

Friday's Porchin' It Video of the Week

Since Monday was St. Patrick's Day, my video this week is about a Leprechaun in Mobile, Alabama. Most of you have probably already seen this, but it is worth a second viewing, or if you are like me, a hundredth.

Don't forget the remix!

Full Disclosure: This is NOT my favorite video because I am making fun of the fine citizens of Mobile and their award winning news programing. I guarantee that if I was in Mobile and heard about this story, I would have also been standing right in the middle of that crowed looking for that

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Dangers of Television

Rich Clark, the co-founder of Christ and Pop Culture started blogging when blogging wasn't cool. It seems that every time we get together, we end up talking about movies, TV, music, and all things pop culture. I am encouraged by Rich in these areas because he is a thinking Christian and challenges me to be the same. We may not always agree on film (He hates Nacho Libre!), but I have found that discussing pop culture with someone who is thoughtful and insightful can be a lot of fun. At any rate, check out Rich's article on The Dangers of Television.

Great Perspective on the BLT Issue

Thabiti Interviewed on Black Liberation Theology

It's easy to see how the thing most needed — the gospel of the Lord Jesus
Christ — is neglected, and in neglecting the gospel other important but
secondary needs also go unmet, or are temporarily met in the most superficial
and impermanent ways. If you lose the gospel, you lose everything. But if you
have the gospel, even if everything else seems to be going to hell in a hand
basket, you still gain everything. As Jesus says, "What does it profit a man to
gain the whole world and lose his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for
his soul?" I fear that many have sanded off the sharp points of the Lord's
questions by assuming that gaining the world in an economic or political sense
is the same as keeping your soul. And it's that basic confusion that ends up
making the church irrelevant spiritually and temporally.

Black Liberation Theology

Associating with Apostasy: Obama's Troubling Relationship with Black Theology
(HT: Tim Challies)
Again, click on the above link to read everything I would like to say but don't have the skills to. I really enjoyed Obama's speech on Tuesday. I found his message to be inspiring and challenging. The worst parts parts of his speech were the parts where he started mentioning faith and Scripture. I just had an uneasy feeling listening to him talk about the "Christians in the lions den" and how that and similar stories are about hope and freedom.

When Obama talks about his faith, it seems that he is talking about something different than what Scripture teaches. He has been influenced for over 20 years by black liberation theology which is not the gospel. I don't think that a person has to be a Christian to be President of the United States, but often times bad theology is worse than no theology. I am interested to see how Obama's embrace of black liberation theology affects his popularity. One does not have to be a Christian to look at Trinity United Church of Christ's 10-point Vision and know that something is wrong.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Honoring A Soldier

Today is the five year anniversary of the current war in Iraq. To date, almost 4,000 soldiers have lost their lives fighting in the war on terrorism in Iraq. Regardless of one's personal view on the validity of the war, one thing we can all agree on is that we should support and honor the troops who are putting their lives on the line to keep our country safe.

Today, I would like to publicly honor one such soldier. His name is Russell Byers, and he is my younger brother. Russell spent a year and 3 months fighting in Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division. He had been married for 6 months when he shipped out and he was only able to see his wife for a couple of weeks during his deployment when he was on leave.

Russell had to make crucial life and death decisions each day. He survived on very little sleep and faced hardships that I can not imagine. During most of his time there, he had a critically important job and many soldiers lives depended on the decisions he made. I can not imagine the pressure that he was under.

Nevertheless, the Lord protected him and he arrived home safely last October. February 29th was his last day in the Army and now he is reunited with his wife living in Ft. Worth, Texas. I am really proud of Russ and his accomplishments in the the Army. Russell was awarded with the Army Commendation Medal for his superior service in Iraq. He was mentioned by Congressman Randy Neugebauer in the Congressional Record and I would like to share some of what was said with you.

“At this time, I would like to recognize one of my distinguished constituents, Specialist Russell W. Byers, who has recently been honored with The Army Commendation Medal from the Department of the Army.“

Specialist Russell W. Byers is attached to the Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion of the 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment. He was awarded this citation by the Secretary of the Army for ‘Meritorious service during combat operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.’ The award further commends Specialist Byers, stating ‘Your Tactical and technical proficiency, hard work and mission dedication have greatly contributed to the overall mission success of the task force. Your actions reflect great credit upon you, Task Force Panther and the United States Army.’

“This is Specialist Byers’ first commendation, and was presented to him after a one year tour in Iraq. Duties he performed to receive this high honor include being an expert on the Command Post of the Future (CPOF) computer system, where he gathered, analyzed and developed vital intelligence for the Task Force. In addition, he gathered intelligence from HUMINT, prepared summarized reports and organized data, maintaining a complex database that captured all the significant enemy activity within the Task Force’s combat zone."

“In the recommendation letter for this medal, Specialist Byers’ superior officer wrote, ‘SPC Byers’ ability to multi-task and present information in a clear and consistent manner is of the highest military standards. He is extremely diligent and competent in accomplishing all assigned tasks with little or no supervision, while producing dynamic results. SPC Byers leads the way with a ‘can do’ attitude and an outstanding drive to go the distance, even when it requires him to go above and beyond his assigned scope of duties and responsibilities. He is well ahead of his peers in military bearing and fortitude."

“I am well aware that there are thousands upon thousands of soldiers, airmen, Marines and sailors that earn prestigious citations such as this, but I am excited that a proud son from West Texas is among them."

“Congratulations Specialist Russell W. Byers; you have served your country with distinction. I would like to express my gratitude on behalf of a grateful nation, and especially your neighbors in the 19th Congressional District. We all sleep well every night, knowing dedicated people like you are defending all we hold dear.”

I realize that I included quite a bit of text but I feel that it is especially important to honor our servicemen who risk their lives to protect our country. Russ, I may be older, AND TALLER!!!, but you are the one who deserves to be looked up to. Thank you for your service Russ, I love you.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Artless Christianity

Artless Christianity:

"Good art, in short, is excluded from the Christian domain if it depicts depravity, while terrible art is included so long as it is explicitly Christian and purges itself of realism।"
(HT: Christ and Pop Culture)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday's Porchin' It Video of the Week

One of the things I am going to try to do here at Porchin' It is share some of my favorite videos with you. Maybe I will call this feature "Fun Friday" or something. Although, as you will see in future videos, sometimes it is only fun for the person watching (grape stomp lady...coming soon). Man, with grape stomp lady it isn't really even fun for me, but it just has to be seen.

Alright, alright, since today is the inaugural "Fun Friday" I am going to give you two videos. The first one is Chewbacca Man (I love taser videos) and since I have already mentioned it, I'll throw in grape stomp lady for free. Actually, as I think about grape stomp lady, I might need to change the title of this feature to Friday's Porchin' It Video of the Week. When you see grape stomp lady, you will know why. Nothing fun there. Be sure and keep the sound up on all videos that I post. Without further adieu, I give you Chewbacca Man.


Lady Host: "Oh no, oh dear"
Man Host: "Oh boy, I think she's actually hurt there."
Lady Host: "No, I think she is."
Man Host: "Yeah, she's hurt"
Lady Host: "Youch"
Man Host: "She took a hard fall off there, boy"
Lady Host: "Ok"
Man Host: "Boy"
Man Host: "Gosh, I hope she's OK."
Lady Host: "OK"
Lady Host: "We're gonna make sure she is."
Man Host: "We'll try to check on her and get back to you as soon as we can."
Lady Host: "We'll be back right after this."
Lady Host: "Gee"
Riley: "WOW!"

And, because I love you...Grape Lady's Son (The actual title of this video).

Obama, Bad Company Corrupts Good Character My Friend

Another article on Rev. Wright Jr., Obama's pastor. The more I read about this guy, the more disgusted I am and weary of anyone who would be advised by this person regarding spiritual matters.

Here is an abc news story about Obama's church and his now retired pastor. The reason I am bringing this up again is because there might be a few people who read this blog who are uninformed about Obama's views. While Obama may disagree with his pastor on some of his most radical views, he still considers Rev. Wright a key spiritual advisor.

If bad company corrupts good character, Obama might want to head somewhere else to be spiritually advised. I wonder if the people fainting at Obama's rallies like little girls at a Jonas Brothers concert know that he is being advised by someone who gave Louis Farrakhan a lifetime achievement award and who damns America?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Barack Obama's Controversial Pastor Puts Church In Hot Water

Watch this video of Obama's pastor that comes from this story about his "endorsement" of Obama from the pulpit. You can also visit the website of the church that Obama has been a member of for I believe over 20 years. The first time I saw the website, I was somewhat disturbed. There are more references to Africa and blackness than the gospel. In the video link above, Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. describes Jesus as a poor black man. Really? This guy is Obama's spiritual mentor?

On a different note, regarding Africa's influence on the church, I was encouraged in my Church History class to learn that many of the most influential church fathers were African. I wonder what the KKK thinks about that.

I think that it is awesome that God has raised up men from many nations and cultures to teach and guide the church. That is the beauty of God. From the beginning, God had a plan to draw people from all languages, tribes, nations, and peoples to worship him forever. Maybe Rev. Jeremiah should follow the example of the many African church fathers who came before him and preach Christocentric sermons, not Afrocentric ones. Maybe all of us should strive to see the church become more Christocentric and not bent towards favoritism of one people over another.

Aspiring Pastors and the Pursuit of a Ph.D

Brad Thayer, an elder at Third Avenue Baptist Church, interviews Aaron Menikoff, another elder at Third about his Ph.D work and how that relates to his future goal of pastoral ministry. These are two godly men and this conversation is especially relevant to men considering Ph.D studies, but also for anyone called to the pastorate.

Second Virginity and the Desire for Purity

Keith Goad, an elder at Third Avenue Baptist Church, writes on purity and how Christians can deal with past sins of sexual immorality.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Josh Vincent on Youth Ministry

Josh Vincent, who blogs at Visions from the Vincents, has a great post on youth ministry. Josh has thought out the relationship between youth ministry and the local church and shares some of those thoughts on his blog. Among the excellent points, are 8 things youth ministry (YM) and youth pastors (YP) should avoid.

1. The YM is not a para-church organization working alongside or with the local church.

2. The YM is not separate from the congregation like a second church that shares a building. Although as many youth as will come are welcome, a youth cannot be a members of the YM without being a member of the church.

3. The YM should not practice ordinances apart from the rest of the Church.

4. The YM should not ordinarily grow in a manner disproportionate to the church congregation. This is not to say that you want to stunt spiritual or numerical growth, but it is to say that this shouldn't be the goal of youth ministry.

5. The YM should not be an environment all together different from the church collectively. The YM shouldn't see itself as a place where they can do all the things the older, boring adults will not allow them to do such as play the music they prefer. Though they may play different music and sing different songs, it shouldn't be viewed as though relevance is equivalent to value before God.

6. The YM should not meet separately from the church during regularly scheduled meetings (i.e. Sunday morning, Sunday night, etc.)

7. The YP is not a substitute for the Pastor(s) of the church; he is a fully acknowledged pastor (this is an ideal or goal but perhaps not always possible).

8. The YP is not ordinarily a substitute for the spiritual role of the parents of the youth. Some spiritual orphans do need this though."

I suggest you read the whole post, which can be done here.
Josh has a great passion for seeing God glorified in the local church so read his blog often.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Owen Likes "Once" And I Do Too

Owen is a friend who blogs at Consumed. He is a gifted writer who offers new insight into a variety of topics almost everyday. I commend his blog to you. He recently blogged on the movie "Once." Laurel and I really liked this movie and Owen said everything I would like to say about it, only much better. Therefore, I think you should read this post.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Buddhist Miracles

I read this story about a Chinese man who who was buried in a construction accident. He claims that Buddhist meditation saved his life. The doctors who examined him said that it was a miracle that he lived through the ordeal.

This brings up up an interesting issue related to evangelism. One of the most common methods of personal evangelism is sharing one's testimony. It is often thought that a person's testimony is something powerful that cannot be refuted because it is impossible to argue against someone's experience; something real that has happened to him or her. People love to tell how God changed their life and as they share, their hope is that the listener will also want his life to be changed and come to understand that it is only God who can do it. When I was church planting in Asia, we were taught that the first thing we needed to teach a new believer was how to share their testimony.

I do believe that sharing my testimony can be a powerful tool in evangelism. God has done an amazing work in my life and my conversion was a powerful, life changing experience. Nevertheless, my testimony is not authoritative. Muslims, Buddhists, Hindu's, Atheists, and people from all other religions also have testimonies about how their lives have been changed by their belief.

Once, I was sharing the gospel with my tutor in Asia and she told me about how Buddha healed her grandmother of a sickness. Again, just last month I was talking to another Buddhist who shared his testimony with me about how Buddhism made him a better person. Some of the apologetics and evangelism methods we use won't have much effect when the person we are speaking to can claim the same things for their religion.

What is unique to Christianity is the gospel. No other religion has a holy and just God who is also loving and personal. No other religion has a Savior who is both God and man wholly at the same time. No other religion has a crucified Lord who was resurrected from the dead. No other religion has a God who himself atones for the sins of his people.

Other religions do have conversions, martyrs, miracles, paths to paradise and ideas of morality. But no other religion has a triune God who died for sinners. The gospel is unique to Christianity and when we are sharing our faith, we should make the gospel central, not experience.

The gospel is true whether I believe it or not. The gospel is true whether I have experienced it or not. When we are sharing our testimony, we MUST make the gospel the priority and use our experience as a means to direct the conversation in that direction. The Chinese man in the news story claims that in some way Buddhism helped save his earthly life. What he really needs to know is how Jesus can give him ETERNAL life!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Weird guy, little person, and trippin' on acid lady..Is everything really under control?

Well, after promising myself for a year that I would start a blog, here it is. Instead of a lengthy introduction, I want to jump right in.

This video was sent to me by Sam, a hunter who drives a big Ford truck and carries a large knife 16 hours a day (assuming he sleeps 8). Sam wears a Remington cap and wanted a deer stand for Christmas. Sam also loves 80's music and when he recently bought an iPod, the first music he uploaded was the "Rocky" soundtrack (for working out of course) and lots of 80's music.

I laughed really hard when I found out about Sam's love of 80's music because guys like him typically listen to Toby Keith and Brad Paisley (I want to check you for ticks). Sam was so amused by my reaction, he decided to send me a video that fully represents the aforementioned decade. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to share it with you, my new readers...all two of you. Watch the whole thing and send me a comment if it made you laugh. Too bad they don't make videos like this anymore!

If this made you laugh, be sure to Porch It with me every once in a while. Sure, Rilo's Porch is a place where you can laugh, but I am also going to post on other more serious topics as well as try to connect you with other blog posts I find interesting. Nothing new here, but if you are interested in keeping up with me, this is a good place to start. I'm also on Facebook now.