Friday, June 29, 2007

Bible Translations

Last month, while in Michigan, I scored a loose-leaf Bible from my Dad. He said that he wasn't using it anymore. It was a New American Standard Translation. I thought it would be OK, because I've referenced the NASB more than a handful of times during my studies. I wanted this loose-leaf Bible to be my new "main study Bible". Like my father, I have a number of Bibles of varying translations and formats that each serve different purposes. I also rely heavily on the internet for cross-referencing translations, commentaries, etc. I wanted a loose-leaf Bible so that I could more easily combine studying the "old fashioned way" with studying via the computer. I.E. I could print out my study notes and simply insert them into the three ring binder.

Alas, I couldn't stand the NASB. I think the copyright was 1971. Apparently, they were still in love with the King James Version along with its many outdated "thees" and "thous" and "whatnot's."

When my father passed, I raided his Bible/book collection. (I'll actually probably take his entire library consisting of a couple hundred books as well as three complete commentary sets, the next time I drive to Michigan.) I was surprised to find a couple different Bibles that were New Living Translation (my favorite and the easiest to understand). I hit the jackpot with the Note maker's Bible - New Living Translation. Extra wide margins all around the scripture. I am really enjoying it. It should hold me over until I can find a New Living Translation Loose leaf Bible, because I am done with the NASB Loose-leaf.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Flamingo Road Church

Church Field Trip #1

My wife and I left our church family recently. We've since compiled a list of churches that we'd like to visit - some for educational purposes, and some just "for the fun of it."

Not too many churches offer a Saturday night service, so this offering made Flamingo Road Church, their Cooper City Campus, our first field trip. We went to the Saturday, 5 pm service. If I had to guess, there were probably 700 people at the service.

First impression - we arrived 20 minutes early and there were already cars parked out on the grass in front of the building. I love this. The leadership of the church clearly parked out there to free up spaces in the actual parking lot. That is the attitude I like to see, and it was a great first impression.

We received two "standard greetings" - one at the front door, as well as one at the entrance to the auditorium.

The music/worship rocked. The drummer looked like Hurley from "Lost", and he was really rocking out - kudos. During the four song set, there was one song that included a sole dancer center stage for interpretive dance. While not criticizing the act of bringing art into the church (which I definitely support), I'll keep my man-card by stating that interpretive dance is not my cup of tea. But hey, to each his own.

In the middle of the worship set, the campus pastor came out to talk about financial giving. He gave a short testimony about his own personal journey in giving financially to the church. The upside - they were asking for $300,000 to go towards the food for the poor program at their Hallandale Beach campus. (They feed over 400 people a week at that campus, awesome.) The downside - the campus pastor mentioned the "Money Back Guarantee" - You give financially to God and God will bless you, both spiritually and financially. If He doesn't, you can ask the church to give you your money back. I'm sorry if you think that this is a good illustration or policy for the church to promote, I don't.

The service and the building were a high-tech sensory overload. Flat screen t.v.'s everywhere, laptop computers, Starbucks coffee, bistro tables, a bevy of merchandise - t-shirts, Cd's, car magnets, stickers, etc. The children's ministry, what I was able to see as a non-parent, was off the chain. Seriously. It looked like something straight out of Disney World - high-tech check-in stations with multiple assistants to help with the check-in. I couldn't imagine it being more professional.

The video intro for the sermon was way cool - gritty and edgy. They were at the end of a ten week series, about confession. Great idea. Great website. Pastor Troy is an excellent communicator, hip and relevant. Well, maybe too hip at least for my taste. He was sporting the "half-tuck" on his shirt as well as "fancy flops" (flip flops that are made of leather. still flip flops as far as I'm concerned.) Troy began his sermon by informally sitting at a small table and frequently returned to sit in his chair throughout the sermon. I like the informal feel this gives the sermon, despite it being an obvious gimmick. I'm all for gimmicks as long as they serve a purpose and aren't overused.

Troy's presentation of the Gospel was complete and well delivered. This, to me, is the most important factor in a "church service". He gave an invitation for baptism in a convicting manner that tied in to his sermon illustration on the enslavement of addiction. He gave each of us a palm-sized rock that illustrated those things which we are enslaved to. He then encouraged us to accompany him to the beach the following day to release our rocks into the ocean, especially those seeking to be baptized. In speaking about addiction, he stated that too often, people focus directly on the topics of drugs and alcohol, while ignoring such topics as pornography. Our friends at would call this the "Elephant in the Pew."

I'm not necessarily opposed to "consumer Christianity" but neither am I drawn to it. As I said, the most important factor to me, is whether the Gospel is presented completely, clearly, and with conviction. And it was.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Leaving a Legacy

My father passed away last week, at the age of 52. My mom went for a bike ride on Saturday morning, only to return and find him gone - lying in the driveway. He had a massive heart attack.

My dad had never had any serious health concerns, so we were all a bit unprepared for his departure. My wife and I flew up to Michigan as soon as we heard the news.

We spent Sunday and Monday making the necessary arrangements. Tuesday was the wake and Wednesday, the funeral service. It is the most time that I've spent with my two brothers in at least ten years. In a way, it was an enjoyable week spent with my family - considering the circumstances. It was like we had a big family/friends reunion, but no one invited my dad.

At the wake, I got to speak to over a dozen of my dad's co-workers. He worked at a Ford/Mazda assembly plant for 20 years, so these men spent more time with my dad than just about anyone. They spoke of his devotion to reading the Bible during his breaks, and two of them even told me that he had introduced them to Jesus.

At the funeral service, a handful of people spoke about my dad's competitive spirit, his devotion to Jesus, his love of his three granddaughters, his commitment to his church, and his fondness for reading and golf.

My uncle Greg hired a bagpipe player (at my father's request) to play both during the service at the church and again at the cemetery for the burial. There were also servicemen on hand at the cemetery to play "Taps" on the trumpet and to remove the American Flag from the casket as my father was a veteran. Despite the obvious bias that it was my own father's funeral - I have to say that it was easily the most beautiful funeral I have ever attended. I can only hope that I deserve such an occasion upon my own death.

At the funeral, I spoke of my father's legacy, both earthly and spiritual. Pastor Steven Sparks spoke of my father meeting so many people as he arrived in heaven, and I spoke of all of the people that my father was going to greet as they arrived later as a part of his spiritual legacy.

Throughout the proceedings, the gospel was clearly given to all who were willing to hear it. It was made clear to all that my family would gladly give up my father's life in exchange for one person who was willing to devote their own life to following Jesus.

My mom has been a rock throughout this ordeal. She is a shining example of the hope that we have in Jesus. My friend referred to it as my family's "deep religious convictions", but I prefer to call it the "hope we have in Jesus."

I love you dad. Thank you for letting Jesus be a part of our family from the very beginning. I'm going to miss you, and I can't wait to see you again. Don't worry, we'll all pitch in and take care of mom. She'll be fine. I'm going to keep preaching Jesus, dad. And I'm going to try to live healthier too from here on out. Sorry I didn't make more time for you. And sorry I wasn't more competitive. I'm really proud of you Dad, and your devotion to Jesus. Your character really shined this week as a testimony of a life devoted to God and building God's Kingdom. I promise that I will stay true to Jesus for the rest of my life....

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Gospel

Friday, June 15, 2007

Church by the Pool

My wife works at a church called, Church by the Glades. In a play on words, she has since referred to the rare instances of "staying home from church" as going to the Church by the Pool. It's odd for us (attending church regularly) to think that the majority of those around us spend their weekends by the pool, reading the paper, fishing, golfing, and taking their kids to little league soccer and baseball. It's antithetical to think that those who don't go to church every Sunday morning might actually get more "rest" than those who do.

I've recently visited this mythical Church by the Pool, and I must admit, along with my wife, that it is quite restful. We had 99 Jams playing throughout (they play Contemporary Gospel every Sunday until 2 pm), we studied the book of Amos together, we opened and closed in prayer, and if we had chosen - we could have had our choice of preachers to watch online (Mark Driscoll, Tony Evans, Rick Mckinley, Craig Groeschel). A local church, Flamingo Road Church, actually streams their entire service live to their "internet campus."

Now to some, this whole line of thought is downright blasphemous, and I must clarify that the Church by the Pool is not a place to seek permanent membership, but rather a place to simply visit when one sees the need for the occasion. Our former pastor, David Hughes, referred to those permanent members as "Lone Ranger Christians."

Some people need to attend church more than others; let me explain. For some, Sunday morning church is the only time that they open their Bible. For some, Sunday morning church is the only time they pray to God. For some, Sunday morning church is the only time they listen to God. For some, Sunday morning church is the only time they meet with other Christians. Sad, but true.

For some, visiting the Church by the Pool would be forsaking all of those spiritual elements that they were only receiving once a week in the first place - not a good combination at all. Not so for my wife and I. We are solid in our faith. Our relationship with God is tight. We have daily fellowship with other Christians, we are daily in His Word, and also in Prayer.

I would warn you to be sure that the Church by the Pool doesn't entice you into lackadaisical permanent membership. That said, let me encourage you, if you can handle it, to pop in and visit the Church by the Pool every now and then. You could even bring a friend.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Gospel according to Tony Soprano

Just read "The Gospel according to Tony Soprano" by Chris Seay. It was a quick easy read. It's nice to know that another "man of the cloth" shares my penchant for mafioso violence at its finest. I've been conflicted about my love for this show for 7 years now (since I became a Christ-follower), and I am glad to know that it is coming to an end.

The only unfortunate aspect to this book was the fact that it was written almost 5 years ago, half-way through the Sopranos Saga. He should do a rewrite now that the series has ended.

I will say that the Sopranos was my first foray into Mafia fiction. I've since immersed myself in the Godfather Trilogy, Goodfellas, Gangs of New York - (my favorite), Casino, etc. Much as Seay comments in this book, I'm not exactly sure what it is that draws me to this genre as I'm not Italian, a criminal, or even an alpha-male. Maybe this is just simple escapism for me, although I don't believe that it is that simple. For the record, my wife also loves The Sopranos.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

theological worldview test

What's your theological worldview?

You scored as a Emerging/Postmodern

You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.

Emerging/Postmodern 64%
Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan 57%
Reformed Evangelical 54%
Fundamentalist 50%
Charismatic 43%

Theological Worldview Test:

Try it out for yourself, and let me know how you scored.

I will note that I was not overtly inclined toward any one of these categories as can be seen by the percentages ranging between 43% and 64%. I would characterize myself as emerging/charismatic/fundamentalist/reformed. That would be the truly postmodern characterization, right?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

They like Jesus, but not the Church

Soon enough, you'll notice that i read a lot.

Recently, i read "They like Jesus, but not the church" by Dan Kimball. The title pretty much speaks for itself. Here are the six observations he found as he asked people about church:

1.the church is an organized religion with a political agenda

2.the church is judgemental and negative

3.the church is dominated by males and oppresses females

4.the church is homophobic

5.the church arrogantly claims all other religions are wrong

6.the church is full of fundamentalists

Now compare those observations with the answers that Rick Warren got when he asked people about church 20 years ago: is boring, especially the sermons. the messages don't relate to my life members are unfriendly to visitors.

3.the church is more interested in my money than in me

4.we worry about the quality of the church's child care

at this point, i don't really care to give my opinion on the matter. it's not a cop-out, i'd just rather let those observations sink in. suffice to say that "They like Jesus, but not the church" was a good, quick read. And one that i'll probably reread a couple times.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Podcast Junkie

I listen to podcasts while I'm working. This works out to about 40 hours of podcasts a week. Here are my favorites, in order of favoritism:

Relevant Magazine - 20-something humor at its finest. These guys are great!

This American Life on NPR - Odd stories of American Culture and Life

XXX Church (#1 Christian Porn Site) - tackling the hard subjects no one wants to talk about

Car Talk on NPR - not so much about cars, as it is about humor

Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church - my favorite preacher. Hands down, no contest

Rick McKinley at Imago Dei Church - i'm sure he's not a stoner, but, boy, does he sound like one

Acts 29 Church Planting Network - practical, realistic, non-motivational

Resurgence - a consortium of orthodox emerging ministers (an oxymoron, I know)

Rob Bell at Mars Hill Bible Church - they say "don't knock it, until you've tried it." well, i'm trying it....

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Christian Culture Survival Guide

I thought this book was going to be one of those small, short funny parody books. It was not funny. Rather, I should clarify that this book should have been funny, but it was so filled with truths about the "christian culture" that it was more sad and depressing than humorous. It was a quick easy read.

"The Christian Culture Survival Guide" was written by Matthew Turner, noticeably his first book, as he makes some freshman writing errors, coming off more as a stand-up comedian rather than an author. That is not a criticism, but just a simple observation. His writing style was not a hindrance, it just wasn't quite what I expected.

My favorite part of the book:

"If you have not received Jesus as your Savior, please turn to page 24. Ah, just kidding. This isn't one of those books."

That is the type of humor you can expect throughout the read.

I am a fan of Relevant Magazine (their podcast has me doubled over in laughter every single week), and I try to support their publishing efforts. Their books are generally inexpensive, so I'm usually game for whatever they have to offer.

Friday, June 1, 2007


Inertia is defined by Sir Isaac Newton's First Law of Motion, which states:
Every body perseveres in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight ahead, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by forces impressed.

According to Isaac Asimov: "This tendency for motion (or for rest) to maintain itself steadily unless made to do otherwise by some interfering force can be viewed as a kind of "laziness," a kind of unwillingness to make a change."

This is the story of our lives. How easy it is to stay where we are at.

We're in a relationship that is going nowhere and is all but over. But do we end it? No, that would be too difficult. Instead, we try to find "some interfering force", like another relationship, to end it for us and also give us something to move on to. So many people "cheat" simply as a way out.

We're in a job that is soul-draining and doesn't even pay the bills. But do we end it? No, we let inertia run our lives until an outside force causes us to make a change.

How absurd that you might jump ship without a lifeboat. How absurd that you might quit your job without already having one to replace it. How absurd that you might end a relationship by simply walking away quietly, peaceably.

We are ruled by inertia.

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