Saturday, March 31, 2007

Explorer vs. Firefox?

One of my friends told me my blogs look funny when viewed by Firefox. Indeed, they do (especially the Trinitarianism one... pictures are cut off and weirdly arranged). I don't know why this is happening, but will investigate and try to fix as time permits. In the meantime, things still looking groovy (thanks to flickr) on Explorer.

I have a term paper (on Phil 1:21... exploring in its context the philosophical/psychological areas of altruism and egoism... and how the apostle Paul might have answered Hamlet's tortured ponderance: "To be or not to be:..."). Also have a final project coming up. So blogging on main site may be a little light over the next month or so.

Hope you have a great weekend and are finding contentment in Christ come rain or shine!

Sarah

p.s. Don't forget to pick up a copy of Larry Crabb's Inside Out! We'll be blogging as a reader group about our reactions to this book toward the end of April!

p.p.s. We'll be hearing from Dallas Seminary's Dr. Ramesh Richard during our reader blog later this month, as well!



Thursday, March 29, 2007

What Is God's Story in You?




I still remember the time what’s-her-name leaned over and whispered “Sure is a lot of pressure being last” as I rose from my seat to conclude the annual piano recital. I was 12-years-old and had the coveted gets-to-go-at-the-end spot. The whisperer usually went last. Probably she deserved to go last that year, too. She was a zealous student and a fine pianist; I was neither. But for whatever reason, there I was in the spotlight... having just been pinged by a bomb. I was so rattled I got up there under the hot stage lights, tapped out a few notes, then went blank as a corrupted hard drive. Must have been pretty traumatic because I’m still thinking about it. (Hmmm... maybe I do need to go hear MN talk about forgiveness this weekend?) Few weeks later, I had a speech contest. I was in a public school system giving my first "sermon." Got to the part about the Golden Rule and forgot what exactly it was that Jesus said. I still remember the look of mortification on Mrs. Romney’s face as I stood there looking like a stuffed wombat.

All this to say: I have suffered from stage fright for most of my life. My final years in the corporate world were almost untenable as speaking opportunities started coming and wouldn’t go away. Driving home the day I ended my workforce career, I thought, "Well, Woohoo! I’ll never have to speak again as long as I live!

There were a few years of respite. Then came the book. Then came the cancer. Then came the speaking opportunities. I’m thinking Jamey’s church was one of the first events some years ago. Nice group of ladies, but I was just sure I was going to die. God grabbed the wheel that morning and, turns out, I didn’t die. Every time I spoke subsequent to that, I felt I had precedent for speaking and not dying. Mercifully, God continued to show up.

I talked to a small group at DTS yesterday. I only had a few minutes to speak, so I had to be very purposeful with my remarks. I took the heart of a longer presentation I’ve given and whacked it down to core essentials. And what struck me yesterday as I was driving home was how passionate I felt when I was talking. How happy I was to be there, despite some "nerves" leading up to it. Memories of what’s-her-name and the forgotten Golden Rule and the corporate hot seat couldn’t suppress the truth or steal the joy. Because it wasn’t Sarah’s story yesterday. It’s was God’s story in Sarah’s life. Dr. Kreider was there and that’s what he prayed for.

I have a heart-changing suggestion for you today and it is this: Many of you have been asked to “tell your story” or “share your testimony.” I would urge you to take what you have written and re-visit it. Analyze it. What role do you play in your story? What role does God play in your story? Are you the lead actor? Or is God the lead actor?

When I approach my own story from this perspective, things change dramatically. I can try and catch a glimmer of what my obstacles or suffering look like from God’s perspective. Instead of saying, “If only we’d caught the cancer earlier, I would have been spared the radiation and the chemo and the blah, blah, blah,” I can say, “Wow! God got us through all of that. And we're stronger today. And He did amazing things, like… !”

Bottom line: Our human perspective on life's events lacks the dimensions of what God sees and knows. Oftentimes, there is a "silver lining" in our walk through the valleys (though it is sometimes hard to find at the time). There can also be leap-step spiritual growth on the other end of life's struggles... as we seek and lean on God.

Question: What is God’s story in your life?

(Very cool award-winning photo by Luis Montemayor used with permission. See http://www.flickr.com/photos/luismontemayor/336063971/ for more pics.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sonrise Bible Study Update

This was my prayer. That we could gather and be real if not vulnerable as we grow in Christ and share the unpredictable walk of life with others who care. Good group dynamics normally flow (or not) over a period of weeks and months. Our small group went deep very fast. I'm grateful to God and somewhat amazed by what we already have.

Aside from my blog, I've been pretty low key about "marketing" the Monday morning group. I don't want this to be a group of people I think should come. I want it to be a group of people God thinks should come. I'm pulling together topics and faciliating discussion (call me Oprah) but otherwise just trying to stay out of the way as God leads.

We'd be honored to have you join us: www.sonrising.blogspot.com

A small prayer request: I'm speaking at DTS tomorrow at a "thank you" luncheon for donors ... would appreciate a small prayer that the Holy Spirit takes over, bringing glory to God and favorable light to the seminary (and that someone's there to catch me if I faint).

Sarah

Friday, March 23, 2007

Health(ier) Waffles!


Healthier Waffles!

Too overwhelmed to cook from scratch? Try this simple, easy recipe for infusing nutrition into your morning waffles!

Ingredients

Pancake/Waffle Mix (Whole wheat is best, but any kind will do…)
Milled Flax Seed (where you find the flour/baking goods)
Wheat Germ (sometimes where you find oatmeal/pancake mixes)
Liquid Calcium (WalMart carries in vitamin aisle)

How To

Find waffle instructions on back of box.
Instead of using 2 cups of prepared mix, leave room in measuring cup for equal parts flax seed and wheat germ (to equal ¼ cup or more).
Add liquids according to box instructions, and optionally add an additional 1 tablespoon of vanilla-flavored liquid calcium.

Let sit for five minutes to test consistency. If it seems thick, add small amounts of water and stir until it reaches a slightly thinner consistency. Then cook and enjoy!

Syrup Alert: Have you read the ingredients in your syrup? Do you see things like “high fructose corn syrup" on the label? Not good! Convert to pure Maple Syrup… drag your kids along with you… they will get used to the taste… and they’ll be a lot better off with fewer unhealthy ingredients (sugar aside) in those little bodies!

OK. Anybody curious why there’s a picture of an old shoe here instead of a waffle? So glad you asked. I e-mailed a “flickr” photographer for permission to use her most outstanding waffle pic and she said “no” (in the most gracious rejection letter I’ve ever received.)

Here’s why: She said if I show a picture of her waffle with my recipe, it's kind of like false advertising. I’ve been waffling (pardon the pun) over this moral ambiguity ever since. It never occurred to me that you might think the food pictures I run and attribute to “flickr” came out of my kitchen. The truth is, if you saw what comes out of my oven, you’d never ever try my recipes. In fact, you might never come back to my blog. So until I figure out how to forthrightly illustrate my recipes, we’re sticking with old shoes and the like. Yummy, eh?

Question: Anybody mad at me because my blueberry health muffins came out of your oven looking like a remnant from the Civil War?


Photo by cindy47452; see
http://www.flickr.com/photos/cindy47452/120026551/ for restrictions.)

On my I-Pod... Feels Like Heaven by Peter Cetera with Chaka Kahn


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Cat & Dog Theology


A dog says...
"You pet me, you feed me, you shelter me, you love me, you must be God."

A cat says...
"You pet me, you feed me, you shelter me, you love me, I must be God."

Question: Do you think like a dog? Or a cat?

From Cat & Dog Theology by Bob Sjogren & Gerald Robison

(Photo by Qole; see http://www.flickr.com/photos/qole/54934107/ for restrictions.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Trinity & Triangles: Part II


I do not enjoy conflict. I can be "affliative" to a fault. But I'm learning the perils associated with glossing over problems and pretending they don’t exist. I was reminded of this tendency recently when I heard about a man who finally went to see a doctor after a year of denial about the mole on his body that was growing and growing. By the time he made it to the doctor, what had begun as a small growth was a large and festering malignant melanoma. This is a worst-case scenario involving denial and its affects on physical health. But the tendency to run from problems affects emotional health, as well.

We looked at the problem of "triangulation" among friends a couple days ago. Not every relationship is healthy or salvageable and when our conscience dictates that we need to shake off the dust from relations that are harmful to us personally or to our marriages or family, we must be free to do this. But when a redeemable relationship falls apart over a misunderstanding or miscommunication, healthy confrontation done in the spirit of reconciliation (versus triangulation) is in order.

How To De-Triangulate

For All:

1. See it for what it is. Look for unhealthy “structure” in your relationship with others. Draw a triangle on a piece of paper with sides for “victim,” “savior,” or “persecutor?” Which one are you? Pray for resolution!

Help for "Victim"

1. Are you “clinging” to someone? Perhaps it’s time to cut the strings and shift your reliance to Christ. In doing so, you will free not only yourself but those around you.

2. Are you venting to “Suzy” about “Paula?” Ask the question: “Would I be saying these things if Paula were here?” If you wouldn’t, you shouldn’t be telling Suzy!

3. If you find yourself complaining about “Paula” to “Suzy,” you should carefully deconstruct the conversation to get a better sense of what it is about Paula that’s really bothering you. Go deep. (“She’s always late!” can be boiled down further to “When she doesn’t show up on time, it’s as if I’m not as important to her as whatever else she has going on. She doesn’t seem to respect me or my time.”)

4. Then go to Paula in love. Tell her you want to fix what’s broken. Avoid accusatory language that will fan the flames (Say: “It’s my sense that when I have something important to share with you that your mind is somewhere else.” Don’t say: “You are so insensitive! You never listen to what I’m saying! I can’t stand that about you!”)

Help for "Savior"

1. Are you letting “Suzy” vent about “Paula” behind her back? Recognize that you are an unhealthy side to the triangle and you need to opt out! Tell Suzy you love her, but she needs to take her case directly to Paula. By all means, recommend counseling if you sense reconciliation between Suzy and Paula is important but unlikely to occur naturally. Contact Focus on the Family (1-800-Afamily) for a free list of Christian counselors in your area.

Help for "Persecutor"

1. Do you sense that you dominate someone? Are you in control and always dispensing advice or calling the shots? Is there a lack of equality or give and take in your relationship? Have you invaded space and over-stepped boundaries? Or have you encouraged unhealthy reliance by allowing someone to “cling” to you? Is what you say and do in your best interest or hers?

2. Scrutinize your words and actions. If you determine that you’ve offended someone by crashing through boundaries (or allowing someone to “cling”), trying to exert control, or failing to be considerate about her needs, let her know you now see the problem. Apologize and determinedly try and right what’s wrong. Stop talking and start listening. Determine whether it’s space she needs or, in fact, more of you in a caring, genuine and selfless manner. Think first in terms of her needs versus your own and let your actions be guided accordingly. Always point the one who “clings” to Christ--not you--as the ultimate redeemer.

Help for All:

1. Depending upon the importance of the relationship, a mediator can be brought into the dialogue (e.g., Christian counselor). This is a healthy role for a third-party “savior.” Relationship counseling isn’t just for marriages. Other family relations and even friendships can be saved in the counseling setting.

2. True friends go the distance for one another. But sometimes we need to ask ourselves: “Am I a high-maintenance friend?” If so, consider steps you might take to move into the “low-maintenance” realm. What is a “low-maintenance” friend? These are friends who don’t hold periods of distance or separation against you. People with whom you can pick-up after some lapse of time right where you left off. People who are forgiving of phone calls that aren’t returned immediately or “thank-you” notes that come late or other types of expectations that build up feelings of “pressure” or “guilt.” A low-maintenance friend doesn’t need the constant reassurance that you’re still friends by superficial reinforcements. She trusts in the strength of the friendship and is happy that you both have a life and other interests outside of your relationship.

3. Guard the tongue. Our mouths can get us into trouble. Gossip is an easy, breezy little sport for most of us. We slip in and out of it with the greatest of ease. But careless words can create indelible scars. Beware of “discussing” close friends with one another. It’s helpful to get into the habit of asking yourself the question: “Would I be saying this if Mary was standing right here?

4. Don’t take it personally! If your friends are slow to respond on occasion or off on a life adventure, don’t regard this as a threat to your relationship. View it as a good opportunity for the other person and look forward to reconvening at a later date to talk about it! Those of you who have children know how important it is to occasionally have a babysitter for a break from the kids. Even spouses occasionally need to go off and do their own thing. In the context of friendships, healthy space is similarly important. It can rejuvenate a friendship that’s feeling under “pressure” or “crowded.”

5. Most importantly, abide in Christ!

Back to Trinity

The model of Trinity gives us a glimpse at a perfect relationship defined by a pure form of love. Look no further than the loving engagement of Father, Son and Spirit in the ministry of Christ. As fallen human beings, we are a far cry from this state of perfection. Yet it serves as our model. There’s a selflessness and pure devotion that characterizes Trinity. Three volitions enveloped and wedded in love.

Questions to ponder: Am I acting in love? What are my motivations in this relationship? Do I have her best interest at heart? Or am I mostly concerned about my own?

(Triangle pic by atconc; see http://www.flickr.com/photos/atc/107159589/ for restrictions.)

On My I-Pod... Higher by Creed

Monday, March 19, 2007

Women's Bible Study in Grapevine!



UPDATE: First meeting recap and next week's topic at: www.sonrising.blogspot.com

Looking for an early morning women’s Bible study group in the Grapevine area? Join me at Cowamongas! (next to "Pump It Up"/behind Main Event at 860 Mustang Blvd.) from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. on Monday, March 26.

(Beautiful pic by Thomas Glass used with permission. See http://flickr.com/photos/tomgreenville/378783124/ for more of Tom's photography.)

Blaring on my I-Pod... If Everyone Cared by Nickelback

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Trinity & Triangles


Theologians use the Greek word perichoresis (perry-chor-eesis) to express the paradoxical existence of three divine Persons existing within one another. The term literally means rotation or envelopment. Perichoresis suggests a kind of mutual indwelling or intra-penetration that takes the form of an indescribable intimacy. It’s how the Father, Son and Holy Spirit engage in unique fellowship. While there’s much mystery around intra-Trinitarian relations, Scripture affirms that love is, perhaps, the tie that binds. An indescribable form of agape love.

While love of divine scope and magnitude is wildly beyond us, it does serve as our ultimate model. When we ask the question: “What would Jesus do?” we are seeking to understand and echo the example of Christ. So what if we chased after a higher form of Trinitarian love in our dealings with others?

Our Faulty Triangle

Satan must love the caricatures of the goofy goateed creature in a red cape with a pitchfork and the stereotypical B-movie images that give him a creepy, bump-in-the-night persona. Because when we’re looking for something silly or ghoulish, he can do what he does best right before our eyes. Satan is patient and cunning. Just like in the Garden, he continues to cleverly take a truth and twist it. As it relates to love amongst family and friends, we can aspire to the selfless love the Scripture describes in Trinity. Unfortunately, sometimes we go the other direction into the domain of something called “triangulation.”

Triangulation in the realm of psychology describes dysfunctional relations involving three persons. The term is a corrupted view of a theological framework in which you have a “victim,” “savior,” and “persecutor.” Triangulation was first used to describe unhealthy family alliances where sister “Sally” might slip into the role of always running to brother “Robby” to rescue her from sister “Mary.” Or “Mom” might lean on daughter “Jill” to vent about “Dad” behind his back. Rather than dealing directly with the perceived “persecutor,” those who triangulate slip behind people’s backs because they are fearful of honest dialogue that could lead to open conflict.

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Triangulation isn’t just a family affair. It can also be a ruinous tendency amongst friends when the roles of “victim,” “savior,” and “persecutor” play out. Triangulation leads to gossip and very often degenerates into a Machiavellian-like character assassination that attempts a shift and upset of alliances.

In any relationship, there are periods of stagnancy or disagreement and conflict. Even best of friends occasionally fall out. But what happens in the aftermath of the conflict will determine whether or not the rupture in the relationship can heal. Too often, there is “triangulation” amongst friends that short circuits the process of resolution and healing. “Paula” does something to annoy me. Rather than directly telling “Paula” what’s bothering me, I run to “Suzy” and complain about “Paula.” If “Suzy” doesn’t lovingly send me straight to “Paula” to resolve the matter directly, we have just successfully triangulated. And at this point, all sides of the triangle are at risk of relational breakage that just might be beyond repair.

Coming Next Week: Deconstructing the Triangle

Have You Heard It? More mainstream medical research findings released last week that suggest a link for some between excessive red meat consumption and both breast and colon cancers.

(Photo by Mark Lawrence used by permission only. See more of Mark's incredible artwork at http://www.flickr.com/photos/marketseq/.)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Embracing the Mystery



It’s one of the paradoxes of studying theology, I suppose. Seems like the more you learn, the more you realize how little you know! God has graciously given us in the Bible all that we need to know with respect to our understanding of Him and how we are to respond and act in faith. But I’ve found myself at times yearning for a better grasp of areas that seem vague and mysterious.

This past week, however, I looked at mystery from a different angle. For the first time, really, I felt a sense of gratitude for what it is that we don’t know.

Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

Exodus 33: 21-23

We learn in Exodus that there is mystery in the visage of God. He has lovingly shielded Moses from a view of His face, because we are told that seeing the face of God would be fatal. (vs. 20)

So inside this mystery—how the spirit of God might manifest physically—we learn that Moses has been safeguarded. There’s protection in that mystery.

How about the mystery of how angels and demons interact… and how they might engage with us in ways we cannot see or know? We are told very little in the Bible about the exact nature of spiritual warfare in the heavenly realms. My professor, Dr. Ronald B. Allen, has said that he believes this remains mysterious because “we might not get out of bed in the morning” if we knew what was really going on around us.

Is this, perhaps, another mystery that protects us?

How about the mysterious inspired authorship of certain Psalms? I was re-reading Psalm 91 this past week and was reflecting on a comment Dr. Allen made about certain Psalms that lack attribution. How a rendering of some psalms without certain specifics, particularly those that comfort us in times of trouble, could be God’s way of gifting us with a message that readily transcends ancient context, allowing us to more easily apply the truth to our own lives.

I noticed for the first time this week that Psalm 91 is not attributed. We don’t know who wrote it. We don’t know the specific circumstances or situation. We can’t form in our minds a clear picture of a scenario involving known ancients. But we can close our eyes and very easily make this incredibly comforting Psalm "our own" as we cross the faulty bridges of life. Knowing that “… he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways….”

Psalm 91 was a principal source of comfort to me during the cancer journey. I encountered it several times during the most difficult trials. It stirred my soul and gave me hope. This week, I had one more reason to be thankful for this Psalm; I could thank God for its mystery.

I have to wonder, with respect to God’s economy, if sometimes less really is more.

(Photo by inkswamp; see http://flickr.com/photos/inkswamp/ for restrictions.)
On my I-pod... Jesus Take the Wheel by Carrie Underwood

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Rock & Roll, etc... Movies & Ratings



It's been an insightful walk across contemporary entertainment and Christianity with theologians Dr. Glenn Kreider and John Adair. Our series concludes today. I want to thank our awesome contributors for their investment of time and thought in both the interview and follow-up comments. Thanks so much to all who joined the dialogue, as well!

Sarah:

When my son was in first grade, he came home from school one day and told us about the "dark and scary" video his teacher showed the class. It was The Nutcracker! Todd and I had a good laugh... then questioned whether or not we were wise to shelter our children to that degree. On the flip side, if you turn on the Disney Channel, you'll get an eye full of little girls in lipstick dancing suggestively to some pretty mature songs. I've heard people say Christian parents should shelter their kids from secular media as long as they can. I know other people believe in serving up reality early on. Any thoughts on this?

Dr. Kreider:

Parents need to make decisions like this all the time. I believe we need discernment and wisdom to make such decisions and to teach our children wisdom and discernment. Complete isolation and protection is impossible. Total immersion in everything “out there” is dangerous and deadly. Some children can “handle the truth” at an earlier age than others.

Sarah:

Is it OK for Christians to go to R-rated movies?

Dr. Kreider:

The rating is not the sole issue. Some Christians can do so in faith and others cannot. Some people have a conscientious objection to watching films with a particular rating. Follow your conscience.

John:

That’s right. It depends on their conscience. Romans 14-15 seem to indicate a great deal of freedom on a variety of issues. Interestingly, Paul seems to indicate that whatever we decide should be kept to ourselves (14:22). This isn’t about broadcasting to the world seeing R movies or not. Rather, we should examine our consciences on these issues and quietly, humbly go on our way.

Further, I’m not sure R-ratings are what we as Christians want to be making our determinations by anyway. There isn’t anything biblical about the divide between R vs. PG-13. Have you seen some of the recent PG-13 movies out there? Ratings are set when a bunch of (anonymous) people get together in a room and decide based on certain guidelines; guidelines, I might add, that are ever changing. Bringing a work of art into dialogue with the Philippians 4:8 guideline (as I noted in an earlier post) seems a much better direction to head.

Sarah:

Say I have a friend named "Sally" who is a brand new Christian. Do I steer Sally away from the secular music/film scene and encourage her to explore Christian entertainment? Why or why not?

Dr. Kreider:

It depends on “Sally” and her experiences and sensitivities and convictions and weaknesses and . . .

John:

Maybe Sally would benefit from some time focused on explicit teaching about the Lord from reliable sources (church teaching, a book recommendation by a friend, etc.) and thus would do well to leave off her normal routine. On the other hand, maybe it wouldn’t matter. Yet, while it would depend on Sally’s conscience, I would tend to think if she moved away from it for a time, one could think of it more as a fast than as a final break from the “secular” world. I think fasting can be helpful in all kinds of venues, and while it is normally thought of in relation to food, I wonder if a few more of us, “mature” believers or not, could use a time where all the noise of life is turned way down.

Sarah:

That’s a wrap! Thank you both so much. Great interview! Before I let you go... one last question. Beginning with Dr. Kreider... inquiring minds want to know... what's on your I-Pod?

Dr. Kreider:


In my regulation rotation...

Anything by U2, especially “Where the Streets Have no Name” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”

Switchfoot, my new favorite is “Awakening,” with the line, “I wanna live like I know what I’m leaving”

Andrew Peterson, especially “The Far Country”

Dixie Chicks, “Not Ready to Make Nice”

The most recent additions to my ipod (albums):

Glen Phillips, “Mr. Lemons”
Borne, “Loss of Signal”
Will Kimbrough, “Americanitis”
REM, “Automatic for the People”
Live, “V”

Sarah:

Pretty eclectic... thanks for sharing! I really enjoyed the integration of relevant music into your lectures at DTS. I still remember a heart-wrenching Johnny Cash song you played once... and how powerfully it reinforced your teaching. You've given us a lot to ponder. I, for one, am taking a much more scrutinous look at lyrics and themes and messages... and growing and learning in ways that are, frankly, surprising. Thanks, Dr. Kreider!

John... this question's for you: top ten films?

John:

1. Decalogue (1988, Kieslowski)*
2. Winter Light (1961, Bergman)
3. Diary of a Country Priest (1950, Bresson)
4. Ikiru (1952, Kurosawa)*
5. Ordet (1954, Dreyer)
6. The Third Man (1949, Reed)*
7. The Night of the Hunter (1955, Laughton)*
8. Late Spring (1949, Ozu)
9. M (1931, Lang)*
10. Notorious (1946, Hitchcock)*

* Indicates those movies my “popular” movie loving wife enjoys. :)

Sarah:

Hmmm... I've seen a grand total of NONE of those... I think I will take your wife's lead and start with the asteriks! Hey, John, thanks so much for all your great insights. Now I'd best let you get back to grading papers!

(By the way... John has a wonderful movie review blog. Check it out at: http://gladsomemorning.wordpress.com/.)

(Photo by Bizzy Girl; see http://flickr.com/photos/bizzygirl/205468771/ for restrictions.)

Monday, March 05, 2007

Rock & Roll, etc... Safety Concerns?



Welcome back to our series on Christianity and entertainment. If you're landing here for the first time, you may want to scroll down several posts to the picture of the CD where this series begins. In today's post, theologians Dr. Glenn Kreider and John Adair address "safety" as it relates to entertainment. Our series concludes on Wednesday with a peek at what's playing on Dr. Kreider's I-Pod and John Adair's DVD player!

Sarah:

I heard someone say: "You better guard what you view with your eyes and put into your minds... or else you'll never get those bad images out." Isn't it safer to just immerse ourselves in Christian media?

Dr. Kreider:

Safer? Yes. Safe? Not likely to be possible. We live in a fallen world. We cannot completely protect ourselves from what is there. That doesn’t mean we ought to slop around in the perversion, make our home in the midst of sinners, hang out with them and spend time where they are, listen to them talk about their lives and struggles, go to their parties and celebrations . . . or maybe we should. (Jesus seemed to do that and was sometimes criticized for doing so.)

My pastor says that if the standard is “safe for the whole family” then we are in trouble, because God is not very safe and neither is much of the Bible.

I believe the case can be made that bad theology coming from Christians is more dangerous than non-Christian perspectives. It is worse to hang out with professing Christians who deny the resurrection than with non-believers who do what non-believers do (1 Cor 15:33). At least that seems to be the implication of this passage.

Jesus (John 17) and Paul (1 Cor 5) seem clearly to teach that our job is to be immersed in the lives of people who do not know Jesus, that we should be Jesus to them. It is hard to be accused of being a “friend of sinners” (as Jesus was) if one is not hanging out with sinners. If one hangs out with sinners one sees and hears disturbing things. If we are going to be followers of Jesus, we need to take off the blinders and put on glasses so that we are able to see. Isn’t this dangerous? Of course it is, which is the reason why Jesus prayed for our protection. It is also the reason we are in community. We do not live this life alone, we do not engage in culture alone. We do so as people in community.

John:

I agree. No, it isn’t safer. Christians err. We make mistakes. To take just one issue, divorce, it appears we make at least as many mistakes as our non-Christian counterparts. Thus, simply immersing ourselves in “Christian” media seems to get us no further from fallen humanity, and therefore no further from error and impurity.

Second, whenever I hear the word “safe” invoked as a desire we should have as Christians, I cannot help but wonder where that comes from. I’m afraid I can’t see in Scripture where it says we are to create a “safe” community that isn’t touched by the outside world. Not only does the life of Jesus seem to indicate the opposite (look at who he spent time with – tax collectors and sinners, while being scoffed at by the Pharisees), but the Psalms repeatedly invoke God as our refuge and strong tower. It is to Him that we are to run for safety, not to the little bubbles of our own creation out in the world.

Sarah:

When my son was in first grade, he came home from school one day and told us about the "dark and scary" video he watched. It was The Nutcracker! Todd and I had a good laugh... then questioned whether or not we were wise to shelter our children to this degree. On the flip side, if you turn on the Disney Channel, you'll get an eye full of little girls in lipstick dancing suggestively to some pretty mature songs. I've heard people say Christian parents should shelter their kids from "secular" media as long as they can. I know other people believe in serving up reality early on. Any thoughts on this?

Our series concludes on Wednesday with the answer to this question and more...

(Photo by Magannie; see http://flickr.com/photos/magannie/362035370/ for restrictions.)

Dr. Glenn Kreider is a professor of theology at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) and John Adair is pursuing his doctorate in historical theology.

Heard "Heart of the Matter" by Don Henley on the radio yesterday... interesting message about forgiveness from a "secular" artist...




Saturday, March 03, 2007

Book Club Announcement!

Before you head out of town for Spring Break... pick up Inside Out by Larry Crabb. Then jump on board in early April for a discussion here about what we've learned. I know many people who have read this book and no one seems to walk away feeling neutral about it. It calls for a deep, honest look inward. It can be an emotional read as areas of human weakness are brought to light. For me, it was a bit like a wooden plank upside the head! Its impact on our outlook can be quite significant.

Later this Spring, I'll be launching a series called "Stars & Scars" based upon the teachings of Dr. Ramesh Richard of Dallas Theological Seminary. I'll be sharing with you some simple but incredibly revealing "assessment" tools that can easily be undertaken at home to better understand where you are "strong" and "weak." Inside Out will prepare you for this exercise. So pick it up! Then we'll chat in April!



Amazon.com (www.amazon.com) says...

You don't have to pretend you've got it all together . . . when you don't. You don't have to pretend your best relationship deeply satisfies . . . when it doesn't. You don't have to pretend your struggle with sin is a thing of the past . . . when it isn't.

"Only Christians have the capacity to never pretend," says Larry Crabb. "That's because real change is only possible when you face the realities of your internal life and let God mold you into a person who is free to be honest, courageous, and loving."

If you want a more vital union with God, a richer relationship with others, and a deeper sense of personal wholeness, let Larry Crabb help you look inside yourself. And discover how God works real, liberating change when you live from the inside out.

(Photo from amazon.com)

Friday, March 02, 2007

Olympic Training!



John (in "toga") teaches Tell Petty how to throw a "javelin" during the Greek study unit at Faith Christian School. "Pretty cute," said the respective mothers.

Check back next week as we wrap up a fascinating look at Christianity and entertainment. Two more posts remaining in the series... along with a peek at what's playing on Dr. Kreider's I-Pod and John Adair's DVD player!

Coming in March... a "book club" that kicks off with Larry Crabb's Inside Out... buckle up for a wild ride and plan to share what you learned... and "Ask Greg" on fiance troubles. Stay tuned!

(Awesome photography by Trent Petty.)

Have You Tried It? Birdseye "Steamed Fresh" Frozen Veggies... super easy, nutritious and yummy!