When was the last time you read this in a catalog?

I love reading the howies catalog. I can't afford most of their stuff and that's okay with them:

Living without debt means living without black clouds. It means living for today and tomorrow. It means escaping that feeling that you're constantly trying to dig your way out of a hole. (And, if it helps, remember it also means not adding to the squillions-worth of interest that the banks make every day, basically for doing nothing.)

...Naturally, we'd hope you'll keep buying stuff from howies. It puts food on our table, after all. But if you can't afford something now, we'd much rather you waited until you could. We accept cash, cheques, and - yes - even credit cards. But we don't want your tomorrows. We want you to have those.

He is not tame

This post is from the defunct blog "Dying Church"

From Caroline (via):

He is not tame but we have safely tamed Him
He is not safe but we've caged Him in a church
The commands He gave we've turned to wishful thinking
and the life He lived we've iced with sugared, almond paste.

He is not tame but we keep him at arm's distance.
He is not safe but we've made Him one of us.
The journey that he maps, is travelled by our SUV
and His way, diverted by leafy, suburb lanes.

He is not tame and we just have not even noticed.
He is not safe so we've simply turned our heads;
But His call still echoes in our stabled ears
and His way still lies, through a country not our own.

Pure Online

Some sobering statistics on internet pornography:

  • 60% of all web-site visits are sexual in nature (MSNBC /Stanford/Duquesne study, Washington Times Jan. 26, 2000).
  • According to Christianity Today the percentage of pastors who visited a porn site. 57% Never, 21% A few times a year, 9% Once in past year, 7% More than a year ago, and 6% Couple times a month or more.
  • At least 200,000 Internet users are hooked on porn sites, X-rated chat rooms or other sexual materials online (MSNBC/Stanford/Duquesne Study, Associated Press [Online], Feb. 29, 2000).
  • 51% of pastors admit that looking at internet pornography is their biggest temptation. (Christianity Today, December 2002)

It's one of those temptations that is common, and yet there's often a sense of shame in wanting to get help.

A great new resource is available, and is worth looking into as we head into the New Year. It's called Pure Online: 30 Days to Purity:

Found via

Dog update (if anyone cares)

  • Buddy is still here. So far no luck in finding someone who wants a troubled dog.
  • I've learned that Charlene is forgiving and prone to forget offenses after a few days. I've experienced that myself but somehow it's different when the creature receiving the forgiveness is a dog.
  • Evidently, the 15mg dose of Valium was on the low end for Buddy. He can receive up to 55mg. Maybe that will knock him out.
  • We are investigating doghouses in case the solution becomes leaving him outside when we're out. You can do that even in the dead of winter in Canada.
  • I would have gladly shipped Buddy to Saskatoon if only Jordon had asked. Of course they couldn't name him Maggi but maybe John Major or something.

Reviews of Revolution

Ken Miller has written a review of Barna's latest book in Christianity Today. Sam Storms has also written a review (part one and part two), and so has Michael Haykin, a former prof of mine and someone worth listening to:

Here is Evangelicalism throwing the past and its caution to the winds and eloping with the fervently anti-institutional spirit of the age—a nymph with oh so many paramours. Nothing really revolutionary here. Just utter silliness and the giddiness of childish infatuation.

And this quip from Chris Treat:

His exegesis is so thin that the most telling result of Barna’s book may be how much evangelical leaders take his exegesis seriously. If Barna’s weak exegesis can convince evangelical leaders that the Bible is silent about the local church, then evangelicalism has surely reached the pinnacle of Biblical ignorance.

(links via)

These reviews, of course, are harsher than my own.

A couple of responses:

First, these reviews are partially right that anti-instituionalism may be at the heart of the issue, and they're also right that it's possible to overreact against traditional models of the church. Maggi Dawn is right in suggesting it's not always wise to abandon the institution.

That's why the solution to me is an reinvigorated ecclesiology (ecclesiology meaning the theology of church), to borrow a term from David Fitch, rather than abandoning ecclesiology together.

But I think that these reviews may be making an assumption about what church looks like. It is something more than a casual meeting in Starbucks, but it may also be less (more?) than meeting in a building with paid staff with programs - not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just not the only way.

Neil Cole is right in asking the question: "What is church?" The danger, according to Cole, is that we answer this question from experience rather than Scripture.

It's not that people think the Bible is silent on the issue of the local church. It's just that many don't see the institutional church as the embodiment of that teaching. You can be committed to every teaching in the Bible on local churches and still reject the current institutional model of church - a model which never existed in biblical days in any case.

It's my contention that the institutional church is one model, and a valid one, but that there are other models that are in play as well. If Barna is saying anything, I think he's saying that one model no longer fits all. That's only a concern if you think there is only one Scriptural model, and that model requires a building, paid clergy, and Sunday services with a platform and an audience.

Are we saying, for instance, that home churches or what Cole calls organic churches are unscriptural?

My prediction: reinvigorating ecclesiology has to become a front-burner issue, and it's going to become even more important to answer the question, "What is the church?" in the coming years - and to expect that this question might lead us to surprising places.