shutting down arguments

Online discussion is very predictable. There’s a meme out there about how such discussions go and the odds that Hitler will be mentioned as the discussion lengthens (It’s even made it into the Oxford English Dictionary, apparently).

In Christian discussion boards odds are that as soon as someone is losing an argument, one of two strategems will come up:

  1. Have you spoken to X about this? (The Matthew 18 card)
  2. You can’t judge motives

What is the purpose of these strategems?

To shut you up, that’s what. It does get a little tiresome, but I encourage you to either take no notice of those who attempt to use them, or push back against them.

This does not mean that I advocate impolitic speech, or uncharitable communication. However, I think that we must insist that topics be discussed on their merits and refuse to be drawn into a side-tracking rabbit trail by allowing these tactics put us on the defensive.

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an interesting point

Alex Guggenheim raises an interesting point at his blog, here. A video has been circulating around the internet where Joel Osteen’s wife Victoria exhorts Christians to be ‘happy’ because when you are happy, God is happy.

But it’s not just Victoria Osteen who thinks this way.

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Needs vs. Desires

Paul Tripp has a good article on this subject here. We need far less than we think. It is dangerous to think otherwise. Tripp explains why.

not quite ready for prime time?

Check this out from Lenovo.com (click on the image for the link)

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Lenovo, who makes an excellent computer, by the way (more than one!), announced a new app today. But notice the “More text explaining this here” on the page. I thought this was hilarious in a geeky sort of way.

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new blog

An old-timey friend of mine, Monty McCoy, has joined the blogosphere at leadinghorsestowater.net. I love the title, reminds me of a favorite quote from Murphy’s Law and Other Reasons Things Go Wrong, “You can lead a horse to water, but if you can get him to float on his back, you’ve got something!” I can’t remember who said that originally, but I think it is particularly applicable to most leadership situations.

Monty and I used to team teach a Sunday school class in our church’s bus ministry. With him, I used to visit some of the poorer sections of our town where most of our children came from. These homes were so broken, it was hard to see how they could be helped – only the grace of God could make a difference.

We had some professions of faith in our class – it was first grade. I don’t know how serious these little ones were, but I know that little children can make serious spiritual decisions. Regardless, I think the ministry to little ones (and all ages in that community) was a worthwhile effort. It was costly, eventually our church gave up that ministry (after I had moved away). It certainly isn’t the “in thing” among Christians these days, but what could be more important than teaching the Bible and the life changing message of the gospel to anyone who will listen?

Well, Monty and I reconnected last year after spending about thirty years incommunicado (hurrah for the internet!). Monty is a godly servant in a local church somewhere in Iowa (he really lives out in the sticks, a real country gentleman). I appreciate his faithfulness and ministry a great deal and recommend his blog to you. Hope you enjoy it.

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more on invitations

As a follow-up to my earlier post, I’d like to comment on what I think are appropriate uses of the invitation.

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on invitations

If you’ve been in the conservative evangelical/fundamentalist world for any length of time, you’ve experienced a variety of invitations in the services you have attended. In some services, the preacher seems to connect with heaven and send a message direct from God to your sinful heart and you bow in confession and respond as the preacher calls for repentance at the end of the service. Some services in particular speak directly to the heart of the lost and are used by God to bring about numerous conversions in response. On other occasions, the preacher may not have seemed so connected with the divine, yet an invitation is given anyhow – and a response ensues, often in large numbers, but it somehow seems to lack the intense spirituality of those other occasions. It seems… routine… manufactured… indefinite… inconclusive… and rarely produces change that lasts.

What is the difference? [Read more...]

a very special guy

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This is our dear friend Al, receiving a knighthood from the Republic of France for his role on the beaches of Normandy, June 6, 1944. He has been invited to a special ceremony there this year (all expenses paid), but at 92, he doesn’t want to chance it. He said to me today, “I made it off those beaches alive once, I’m not sure I can do it again!”

More importantly, Al testifies that he is depending on the work of Jesus Christ to save his soul from sin. He regularly attends our services with his wife and brings one of our other ladies along with them as well. Yes, he is still driving and is as sharp as a tack. He is actually kind of hard to keep up with, but he is a real blessing to us.

theology of the heart

A few years ago I sat in on a seminary class with one of my sons. The professor was one who taught me back in my days in grad school, Dr. Robert Bell. In this lecture he made a comment that I have often thought about since. He was discussing two opposing theological systems. Then he said something to this effect: “Most people have a theology of the head and a theology of the heart.”

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awkward!

I don’t know if my American friends can see this video, its an interview by a Canadian TV personality, George Stroumboulopoulos. I can’t stand George and I’m not a huge fan of the Prince, but I was a good deal put off by the beginning of the interview.

The way it appeared to me, Strombo, as they are sitting down, unexpectedly sticks out his hand to the Prince, expecting to shake hands. Prince Charles appears not to notice at first, then, to spare George embarrassment, reaches out and shakes his hand.

It might be just me, but I seem to recall that you just don’t do that… If you meet a royal and they initiate a handshake, it’s all good. But we commoners keep our hands to ourselves otherwise. At least … that’s the way I think it is supposed to be done.

I am sure on-air interviews aren’t easy, for interviewee or interviewer. But wouldn’t George have been briefed on protocol before he sat down with the Prince? Or is he just completely clueless? (I tend to think the latter.)