Friday, February 25, 2005

Let's clear this up...

The other day I added some pics to the bottom left hand side of the blog. I liked them because they all made me think about life. One of them, however, I obviously didn't look at very closely. From what I saw, it was these two people sitting together at a coffee shop - the picture was meant to be kind of hazy, so it was hard to immediately recognize any details. The morning after I'd done this, Rick called me at work and wanted to know why in the world I had added this particular picture. I had no idea what he was getting at. That was about to change.

I got the site up, looked a little closer and...the two people drinking coffee, were two guys, and the two guys were holding hands across the table. Actually, it looked more like they were rubbing each others arms. So, just as a disclaimer, let me state to anyone who might have noticed this picture - coupleofwords does not endorse the homosexual lifestyle. Sorry for the oversight - I will be more careful next time. Promise.
posted by Christie

Thursday, February 24, 2005

To drink, or not to drink?

I know that this post is going to spark much discussion, debate and reflection. I’m no psychic or anything, but I’m fairly certain that we aren’t all going to agree – however, I sincerely desire to see where you guys stand on this issue. This subject has really been a point of deep thought, consideration and study for me during the last year or so. It has challenged me in all areas of my life to study and to consult the Word concerning my beliefs instead of what I was told as a child or what I learned as tradition. At least 10 times in the last few weeks this discussion has come up, with friends, family or on other blogs and so I decided I would break down and address it here and find out the consensus.

My entire life, I was taught that the consumption of any alcohol was sinful. I believed that wholeheartedly and would have willingly taken my belief and a water pistol and stormed Hell. It was never really even an issue that I studied at any depth at all because it was supposedly cut and dry. I accepted that for years – until recently I began to actually investigate what the Bible had to say concerning alcohol. Honestly, I went in looking to prove myself right – I wasn’t at all expecting to have my entire view shaken from its foundation. I kept searching and searching for the verse that prohibited drinking alcohol. When I couldn’t find the verse, I thought surely there must be somewhere that the overarching theme of a passage will show me that alcohol consumption is wrong. Well, as of late, I’m still looking.

One of the arguments I’ve heard against drinking alcohol is that in the New Testament the Gospel writers didn’t know the difference between wine and grape juice. So, places in the text that refers to wine, actually speaks of grape juice. That view falls apart fairly quickly - mainly, because there would be no prohibition against drunkenness if the writers were speaking only of juice. And it’s funny to me because some of the staunchest adherents to this view are supposedly emphatic when it comes to the verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture (as I am)? Doesn’t make much sense. And also, when Jesus performed his first public miracle, he turned water into wine. When we read the comments in John 2 concerning this situation, it is very obvious that Jesus didn’t turn the water into Welch’s.

While studying this it has been made even more clear to me that many of our problems in society stem from the abuse of one of God’s gifts. God has given us the wonderful ability to distinguish between thousands of different flavors and enjoy them – in moderation. Certainly, there are people in society who are abusers of food – and the Bible gives harsh warnings against gluttony – but that doesn’t make food in and of itself wrong. Food is a gift, but we have to exercise balance and not over indulge. Sex, in the confines of marriage is beautiful – but outside of marriage, or with the same sex, or forced upon someone, or with a child, or with an animal is perverted and destructive. But just because it can wreak some serious havoc, doesn’t mean that we should avoid it entirely. It means that we should use it in the manner for which it was intended. To say that no one should ever have sex would be to miss out on a gift of God.

You know where I’m going. I had to realize that concerning this issue, I had allowed my Christian sub-culture to shape me more than I had the Word. I was guilty of following the traditions of men and not the Scripture. Personally, I found total abstinence from alcohol to be one of the numerous Christian taboos that goes beyond Scripture. One of those issues where we think it necessary to be holier than Jesus.

I know that this issue is touchy. It is a non-negotiable that drunkenness is a sin – no wondering, no questions, and no middle ground. The abuse of alcohol – which would include addiction and intoxication - is dangerous and the Bible certainly speaks of that clearly – much like it speaks of the misuse of food, sex, money and the like. Another point that is not up for discussion is that there are times when it’s not okay to partake of alcohol – in the presence of someone who has difficulty with moderation or in the presence of someone who you know has a moral issue with it. Most people I know would have a coronary if they saw me take a sip of anything that even had a hint of fermentation – so I wouldn’t do so in front of them. Also, it is perfectly okay for someone, because of reasons of conscience, to abstain – but I don’t think it’s biblical to take that personal conviction and slap it across the board. As Christians, we have to be careful to not lapse into legalism and compile rule upon rule that goes beyond what is written.

Let me know what you guys think…

posted by Rick and Christie

Random thought...

anyone out there interested in reading Mark Driscoll's book, The Radical Reformission, a chapter per week and then working our way through the questions at the end of each chapter?

if so, let me know... I'll be glad to facilitate a blog.

posted by Rick and Christie

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Traveling back in time...

Everything now is vintage. Vintage clothing, vintage boutiques where you can get vintage furniture and vintage jewlery. Stores like Urban Outfitters and Anthoropologie are thriving on re-inventing decades past. Is it that we are intrigued by vestiges of days gone by? Do we find comfort in relics of a different time? I don't really know when the phenomenon began. Even though I was in middle school or younger when the Seattle grunge rock scene emerged - some of this movement was visible there. A group of depressed indie-rockers expressed the sentiments of many who were frustrated with society. Michael Bolton and his mullet was replaced with darker music brought to us by Nirvana, Soundgarden, Soul Asylum and others. The music articulated desire, need and the search for deeper meaning. I wonder if the whole vintage movement doesn't fit into the same family. In our churches, much of the last 10 years has been filled with feel-good, seeker-sensitive psychology that doesn't offend, doesn't call for repentance, doesn't really do anything. I don't know what I think about the emerging church movement - mainly because so much of its theology is toilet water - but I do see a return to the archaic, to vintage Christianity that is free from pretension. That, I love. When I was first introduced to the Acts29 church planting ministry, my first thought was - "what does Acts 29 say?" Of course, it almost immediately hit me - we are Acts 29. That is a beautiful picture to me. And of course we can't reinvent the early church - but there was something so simple and touching about the faith of those believers. They possessed something I don't have. There was something so amazing about the Reformers, hundreds of years later, that is missing from my life. Their resolve and commitment to God and His Word seems to be almost absent anymore. I don't know what the answer is. But I know that high-tech, overproduced Christianity isn't appealing to the masses. What was offered to society in the New Testament however, is. What a strange paradox. Whether this whole vintage movement is just a fad or what, I don't know. But at least in my life, I hope what is old, will become new again.

posted by Rick and Christie

Monday, February 21, 2005

Blue Like Jazz

Tonight I am going to start reading Blue Like Jazz, by Don Miller. I have heard countless positive remarks concerning the work - so I decided I should probably check it out myself. Campus Crusade thought the book so influential that they purchased a copy for every college freshman on the campuses where they minister! Wow! I bet that made Don Miller a happy man. From what I've heard, the book centers around much of the authors experience with the institutional church and his search for deeper meaning in life. Should be an interesting read...

posted by Rick and Christie

Guilt Trip

Rick is gone this week to the Pastor's Conference at FBC Jacksonville. I stayed at home to work and to begin getting our house packed up because we're moving. Just across town though...more info on that later. Neither of us are much on high church ideology, but this is the first staff trip with our new pastor, and so for that Rick has been very excited. And he ate at Ruth's Chris last night, so the boy can't complain! I tried to make him feel bad, but it didn't work. Maybe after tonight (he will be dining at Morton's Steakhouse) he will have pity on his poor wife. I think I should eat something from a can, then he'll feel sorry for me. Maybe I'll try Chef Boyardee...

posted by Rick and Christie

Thursday, February 17, 2005

What is this, like season 25?

The new season of Survivor begins tonight - on CBS 8 pm/et. It's set in Palau - somewhere out in the South Pacific. I'm sure it's a beautiful island paradise where beautiful women and muscle bound guys (except for a few of the old folks that are bound to show up, and probably a stereotypical geek) will run around sweating and half naked waiting to stab the next unsuspecting victim in the back. Last seasons show was very disappointing - this one promises to be better. We'll see.

posted by Rick and Christie

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Open mouth --> Insert foot

I'm really pretty sheltered. Naive at times. Occassionaly, I'll hear a comment, that I know is supposed to be dirty, but I don't exactly understand. I then have to get Rick to explain for me. However, there are times that I say things, completely innocently, but it's taken the wrong way and I don't even realize it until it's too late. Like yesterday. I was having a conversation with Rick, our pastor and another fella - we were talking about lunch - seems safe, doesn't it? Think again. I said something that I meant one way - and although they knew what I meant - it sounded as if I meant something else that was totally embarassing. I don't think the one guy got it, but our pastor's eyes immediately grew as big as saucers and it was obvious that he was having a difficult time containing his laughter. I quickly excused myself from the conversation and hid - hoping that the comment would somehow be forgotten by my pastor. That it would be removed from his mind, as far as the east is from the west. Unfortunately, it wasn't - and I'll never live it down. But, for the next month, he said he wouldn't even be able to look me in the eye, so I'm off the hook for a while at least.

posted by Rick and Christie

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Since you asked...

I don't mean to be controversial. I really don't. Infact there are situations almost every day with friends, familiy and church memebers where I choose to remain silent about issues that I believe are evident in the Bible and that I feel very strongly about. I do this because I know that me spouting off what I believe to be the correct interpretation of the Bible isn't always the most beneficial thing to do. I admit that I struggle with this, because I love to discuss theological issues. Anytime anyone asks me a Biblical question, a twinkle appears in my eye - not because I like to argue or disagree with people, but because I love taking the Word of God and attempting to explain its intricacies. But, I rarely will debate with anyone because too often the end product is not profitable or edifying to anyone involved.

That being said. I'm kind of on a rant today, it didn't really initiate with this issue, but somehow it has surfaced. Boiled up from the cauldron of independent Baptist teaching I was fed as a child, probably. Who knows. Anyway, "KJV only" has been on my mind. The issue is ridiculus to me and is so indicative of the attitude of the present Christian sub-culture. Most who would claim this belief aren't even willing to consider the circumstances in which this version was translated. I'm not saying that it's a bad translation, although I don't prefer it and I think there are better choices - I'm not going to advocate "New American Standard only" either. Strangely enough, I've never heard anyone claim that the King James Version is the only inspired version who wasn't English speaking. Interesting, isn't it? And doesn't it seem rather arrogant to claim that God has only spoken in English. Erhhh.

posted by Rick and Christie

Our comment system...

is on the blink. Not sure what's going on, maybe we can get it straight.

posted by Rick and Christie

Monday, February 14, 2005

Blankety, Blank!

Another interesting story from Mark Driscoll...

Not long before the public launch for Mars Hill began, a man and his wife joined the Bible study group that had already been established. This guy had a doctorate in church planting and befriended Mark and his wife. Immediately Mark's wife thought that the fella was a snake in the grass and was very apprehensive about him holding any leadership position in their fellowship. However, through a turn of events he ended up hanging around for a while and began helping Mark as he got the church off the ground.

A few weeks before the launch date Mark had a dream that he was walking in the foyer of the building to get a Bible and this church planting guy was standing in the doorway. In his dream he was wearing shorts and a hawaiian shirt and told Mark that he was going to take over the church and that had been his intentions from the beginning. Of course, the dream disturbed Mark, and he said that as soon as he woke up God confirmed the dream with several scripture passages.

On their launch date, not long after the dream, Mark's wife remembered that she'd left her Bible in the foyer - so Mark got up to retrieve it. When he did, he found that same man, in the same outfit, and he told Mark the same thing that had happened in the dream.

Without flenching, Mark told the guy, and I quote:

"Get the hell out of my church!"

Strong language, yes - but I think he meant it.

Mark said he didn't share that dream with the church, because they would think he was "charismatic and then people would show up with tambourines, waving banners..."

posted by Rick and Christie


Mark Driscoll turned out to be, quite possibly one of the funniest speakers we have heard in a while. We attended the Mars Hill service last Sunday and then he spoke a few times a day at the conference. The only way the conference could have been better would have been for Mark to teach all the sessions – but I guess we can’t have everything. At any rate, I thought I would list some of his funnier and more shocking statements for you:

In relation to the minister and his hobbies:
“I’ve come to realize, you can’t be a good Christian and a good golfer – there just isn’t enough time”

“If you want to plant a church, you’re not going to have many hobbies. People ask me, ‘Mark, what are your hobbies.’ I tell them: ‘I read my Bible and I have sex with my wife. There, how’s that for hobbies.’”

In reference to the kind of Christ we serve – a Revelation, seated on a throne, warrior Christ, or a really nice guy Christ:
“If the Christ you serve is just a really nice guy – I hate to tell you, but you serve a weak, effeminate, faggoty Christ.”

In regard to young Calvinists:
“I meet these guys – great guys – but they are young and immature in their faith, they discover reformed theology and they think they are ready to take on the world – convert or die. And I’m thinking dude, you ride a bike to church and live in your parent’s house…get dominion over these things first and then we'll talk.”

In reference to legalism:"I don't understand why people want to be legalistic - and if you have to be legalistic, at least choose something that matters...decide - hey, I’m going to be legalistic about having sex with my wife - we must have sex every night. I mean, don't say you can't drink, that's just retarded."

...more may follow later.

posted by Rick and Christie

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Okay, Okay...

Seattle is awesome. The conference is amazing. I think we've decided to stay.

We've seen the Cascades. Spent lots of time downtown. Gotten to hear Mark Driscoll all week and will eat dinner tomorrow evening at the top of the Space Needle.

Just suffering for Jesus...

Rick and Christie
posted by Rick and Christie

Friday, February 04, 2005

Procrastination at its finest

I had to get this one out of my system before leaving for Seattle...

Sorry, Chris, this was my only deviation from my tasks in the office - i promise.

Anyway, have you seen the movie Luther?

It was awesome, some say boring - and maybe at parts, but to me the movie was very exciting. It gave me such a great appreciation for the Bible written in the vernacular - something we take for granted, for the sacrifice of those who have gone before, for pure doctrine and for truth. Without such heroes as Martin Luther, our 40 comment blog would have never been possible.

The movie gave me a renewed fervor to study doctrine and church history - and ultimately the Word. It made me angry at those people who say doctrine isn't that important - let's just love Jesus and everyone else - how in the world can we love Jesus if we don't know Him? How can we know Him if we don't study His Word? How can we study His Word and not study doctrine?

It seems to me that we must love and understand pure doctrine, if we are to truly love and understand our Savior.

and now back to packing...
posted by Rick and Christie

3,2,1 Lift Off...

We leave early tomorrow morning for Seattle.

I'm sure we won't be able to stay away from the blog for a whole week - so we'll probably find an internet cafe somewhere and check in.

See you guys...

Rick and Christie
posted by Rick and Christie

You just never know...

what's going on in peoples lives.

Yesterday a lady checked into the hotel where I work - and now that I look back, she did seemed subdued, but I didn't really think anything about it. She went to her room and about an hour or so later came back to the lobby in search of some stationery. That was the last I heard from her.

This morning, housekeeping found her in her room and she was unresponsive. We called 911 and she was immediately taken to the hospital. The paper she asked me for, was what she wrote her suicide note on...

We received an update that she is alive, but not yet stable...very sad.

posted by Rick and Christie

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

A Dangerous Hermeneutic

Lately, it has been stranger than ever to me how I've heard some people explain and rationalize their view of the sovereignty of God. God is sovereign when they want him to be - but other times, when it seems inconvenient, humanity is in control and God only allows certain situations. In the same breath, I heard someone speak of how we are clay in the hands of the potter and then espouse the occurence of something that was not in God's perfect will. So really, what they were saying is that God is sovereignly inconsistent? So, when is it that his sovereignty comes to an end and our will takes over? Is God only in control of situations that we consider good? Is it God who is sustaining the earth by the very word of his power (Heb. 1:3), or do we sometimes sit in the drivers seat?

Much of these ponderings are due, at least in part, to
this sermon by John Piper: "Is God Less Glorious Because He Ordained that Evil be?" Definitely an eye opener. Piper speaks of the same malady of inconsistence and people's incorrect understanding of God's sovereignty:

"Now God is sovereign, and now he is not. Now he is in control, and now he is not. Now he is good and reliable when things are going well, and when they go bad, well, maybe he's not. Now he's the supreme authority of the universe, and now he is in the dock with human prosecutors peppering him with demands that he give an account of himself."

Piper hit the nail on the head. A decision has to be made. Either God is sovereign, or he's not. There's no middle ground. God can't be in control of some situations and not in others. Call it what you may, but that's not sovereignty.

posted by Rick and Christie

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Traveling mercies...

Only 4 days, a 5 hour plane ride, some packing and a double dose of dramamine separate us from Seattle. Of course, rain is predicted for the entire week - but I guess if Microsoft has learned to deal with it, we can too. This time, I will definitely pack at least a couple of outfits to carry on with me. One of the last times we flew I was sure my luggage would be fine, so I checked everything. Mistake. I ended up, not in the Rainy City, but in the Windy City with nothing but an XL United Airlines t-shirt, a tooth brush, toothpaste and some Brute deoderant. I looked like a homeless person. And I smelled like a man, an old man at that. It could have been worse though, at least I had fresh breath.

posted by Rick and Christie