Archive for May, 2010

yesterday the ny times ran an article the economic impact of the “great recession” on african americans in our beloved city of memphis. they write, 

Not so long ago, Memphis, a city where a majority of the residents are black, was a symbol of a South where racial history no longer tightly constrained the choices of a rising black working and middle class. Now this city epitomizes something more grim: How rising unemployment and growing foreclosures in the recession have combined to destroy black wealth and income and erase two decades of slow progress.

The median income of black homeowners in Memphis rose steadily until five or six years ago. Now it has receded to a level below that of 1990 — and roughly half that of white Memphis homeowners, according to an analysis conducted by Queens College Sociology Department for The New York Times.

Black middle-class neighborhoods are hollowed out, with prices plummeting and homes standing vacant in places like Orange Mound, White Haven and Cordova. As job losses mount — black unemployment here, mirroring national trends, has risen to 16.9 percent from 9 percent two years ago; it stands at 5.3 percent for whites — many blacks speak of draining savings and retirement accounts in an effort to hold onto their homes. The overall local foreclosure rate is roughly twice the national average.

you can read the rest of the article here and we would love to here your thoughts below in the comment box.

more mercy…


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Filed under “sin” not because tats are sinful, but because this illustrates the potent impact of sin on all human faculties…

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In Prince Caspian, the young prince and the Old Narnians wind up in trouble, and they decide to use the magic horn. Trumpkin the dwarf is pretty vocal in insisting that blowing a magic horn is a worthless course of action.

But after the decision is made, even against his recommendation, Trumpkin goes all in and does what is necessary, even volunteering to travel to meet whatever help might arrive from the horn.

“But I thought you didn’t believe in the Horn, Trumpkin,” said Caspian.

“No more I do, your Majesty. But what’s that got to do with it? I might as well die on a wild goose chase as die here. You are my King. I know the difference between giving advice and taking orders. You’ve had my advice, and now it’s the time for orders.”

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“The gospel is neither irreligion nor religion, but something entirely different altogether.”

This slogan is most commonly associated with Tim Keller, who uses it incisively with nuance and care.

As Keller uses it, the gospel is not religion as construed all over the world (i.e., if I’m good enough, God will accept me).  Neither is the gospel irreligion, the path usually chartered by those who reject religion (i.e., do whatever you want).  The slogan, when used in this way, is really helpful.

But I have also heard it used in such a way as to make Christianity, not “the gospel,” the thing that is neither religion nor irreligion.  Fusing the gospel and Christianity in this way makes for a mess, for the gospel is not the whole of Christianity.  At worst this sloganeering encourages believers to leave off the demands that are implications of the gospel.  At best it gives the impression that Christianity is less concerned about character and conduct than other religions.

“Religion” is something of a dirty word today.  It’s often rejected in favor of the more nebulous term (and less demanding concept), “spirituality.”  Religion is old-fashioned, boring, and constraining; spirituality is new, exploratory, fresh, “outside the lines” and “outside the box.”

But Christians are emphatically called to be religious by Scripture (James 1:26-27).  For years before the early believers’ were called “Christians” and believers in “Christianity,” they were part of a Jewish sect called “The Way” (Acts 9:2, 19:23, 24:14; = “road,” “path,” or “journey”).  The word “way” implies both Jesus’ work as “the way” and the way of life the disciples took up as they followed him as Lord.

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 these guys in blue cleaning the beaches are great but they are not getting to the root of the issue. my friend Bill just had me in stitches going on and on about how aquaman is missing his time to shine as he is probably the only one who can get to the root of stopping the spill sooner than later. where are you when we need you, aquaman? i mean, the month and a half of ideas to stop up the leak recently culminating in, “maybe putting mud in it will work” (something they thought would sound official if they called it “top kill”) have failed us. we need aquaman. where is he? below is jimmy kimmel’s theory. what are yours?

have a great long weekend!

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If a person says

“Here is a new bit of the manuscript that I found; it is the central passage of that symphony, or the central chapter of that novel.  The text is incomplete without it.  I have got the missing passage which is really the centre of the whole work.”   The only thing you could do would be to put this new piece of the manuscript in that central position, and then see how it reacted on the whole of the rest of the work.  If it constantly brought out new meanings for the whole of the rest of the work, if it made you notice things in the rest of the work which you had not noticed before, then I think you would decide that it was authentic.

C. S. Lewis, “The Grand Miracle”

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memphis is a city that has a lot to boast of, be excited about, and strive for. for these reasons i think we should look for any way we can to celebrate our home town and encourage folks to engage the city in beneficial ways. i am not sure tnt’s new “drama” is going to do that. the promo looks like they make a mockery of our city. i mean, jason lee as a leading police officer? really? sure, the national attention brought to memphis will give us more of a household name but it i am not sure it will be the best case scenario. the good news is that, from the promo, it doesn’t look like the show will run for very long. tell me what you think-

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Beale ends The Temple and the Church’s Mission with this observation and charge:  the presence of Christ is manifested in “our words and lives.”  “[T]he boundaries of the [new creation] temple, the church, will grow until the whole earth is encompassed with and manifests the presence of God.  Through us God will fulfill his promise in Habakkuk 2:14, ‘For the earth will be filled/With the knowledge of the LORD,/as the waters cover the sea.’ . . . . [O]ur task as the covenant community, the church is to be God’s temple, so filled with his glorious presence that we expand and fill the earth with that presence until God finally accomplishes the goal completely at the end of time!”[1]

Beale is picking up the theme of Temple expansion from Ezekiel and Revelation and applying it to us, marvelling at it means that (in Christ, by indwelling Spirit) we are now the Temple and the vehicles through which God extends his fullness and glory over the earth.

See full size image

Just as the Temple was God’s throne, the place from which his kingdom rule was marshaled and guided on earth, and just as God intended for humanity to represent and implement his rule in Gen 1-2 (cf. the same plan for Israel and her Davidic King), so now we are the place and the people where God now reigns on earth, and through whom God extends his kingdom.[2]

[1] Temple and the Church’s Mission, 401-2.  I would only add this is only possible through union with Christ, the Temple.

[2] Matt 28:16-20; cf. Richard Pratt, Designed for Dignity: What God Has Made It Possible for You to Be, 2nd ed (Phillipsburg:  P & R, 2000), 7.

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no one has ever accused me of being a scholar. when i was going into my senior year of college (1997) my advisor asked me if i was aware of the fact that i needed a 2.0 to graduate. after my shock wore off  i quickly picked up a p.e. minor consisting of 24 needed hours of p.e. i had remaining to pick up the minor. the effort boosted my average to 2.22 so i could take the handoff at graduation.

from college i waited 8 yrs before going to seminary where i graduated cum-laude, or whatever. i loved studying in seminary and my grades displayed my heart affection for the material and the amazing community and professors i was able to interact with. 

my story after graduation from seminary, headed towards ordination, is waaaay to much to cover here. suffice it to say that i am not where i thought i would be but grateful for where the Lord has put me. Part of where i am is still preparing for ordination tests (4 written and 2 oral). the process has been far more delayed than i would like. 

i am scheduled to take my written exams the week of June 21 and as i am preparing i thought i would take a “church history practice exam” to gage how far i have to go in studying the subject. i have not studied church history cold in months. sure, it has seasoned my studies and preparations but it has not been a main course in far to long. so i just finished the practice test, high on republic coffee , and i got an 11.

yep, an 11 (on a percentage scale, out of 100 percent total). i confused all centuries, councils, confessions, and people possible. i have a long way to go, obviously.

i am left asking myself if it is worth it. i do not have the vault of a memory i need for this right now. i am the guy who had to pick up a p.e. minor to graduate from college. i am discouraged and posting it publicly not because i need encouragement but because i need prayers. and i need to repent. i see the sin of my heart coveting the memory and minds of several of my friends and heros.  my photographic memory has no memory card, or film, in it.

more mercy. i will keep you “posted” on my progress.

ps- my major in college was “history”

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I’m starting a new series tackling slogans used in Christianity.  Some slogans can be very helpful rallying cries; others are a bit more mischievous; others are a mix.

Slogan 1:  “If I am not accused of antinomianism, I’m not preaching the gospel.”  This is one of my least favorite slogans, and I hear it at least several times a year.  (In the first instance, we never measure fidelity by subjective response.)

Just recently Kevin deYoung prescribed this antidote to a radical SBC preacher, David Platt, as he reviewed Platt’s book, RadicalTheir exchange is an interesting blend of concerns well worth reading, as both men have really important points.

At one point deYoung says this:  “I would hope that as David speaks in risky ways in order to challenge us all to shake off nominal Christianity, he would also on occasion speak in such a risky way that he’s charged with antinomianism (Rom. 6:1).”

Really?  Let’s actually look at Romans 6:1 in context.  Not only does it not stick; it’s just a rhetorical question Paul introduces so he can utterly refute it.  Paul gives a great big, fat, “heck no” to the antinomian charge.  His first two words in 6:2, “me genoito” (Greek), are the strongest possible denial in Greek, hard to bring out in English without cussing.

Antinomianism in the sense of a law or command-free life is the exact opposite of what Paul’s religion is about.  The whole point of being united to Christ is that “we might walk in newness of life” (v. 3-4);  “how on earth can you still live in sin?!?” (v.2).  Since death has no rule over Jesus anymore, neither does death have any dominion over you.  So sin shouldn’t reign in believers, either (8-11).  And we must present ourselves as instruments of righteousness as those who were dead but are now, because we are united to the resurrected Christ, alive (12-14).

Is Paul ever charged with antinomianism in the sense that deYoung suggests?  Paul is charged with going law-less when it comes to requirements for Christianity, as circumcision, diet, and calendar.  And he repudiates the idea that we obey to earn or merit our justification.  But he is never charged with slacking off radical requirements for Christian discipleship—imitating Jesus, obedience of at least nine of the ten commandments, etc.  Paul never gets accused of being slack on greed or idolatry or adultery.  Three times in three different letters (for instance), Paul says that sexually immoral people won’t inherit the kingdom.  It’s hard to call that message something that could be confused for antinomianism.

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