• The Met
  • The Art Renewal Center
  • William Bouguereau

  • My Favorite Art
  • Jeune Fille se Defendant Contre L'amour
    by William Bouguereau

  • Le_ravissement de Psyche
    by William Bouguereau

  • Flagellation de Notre Seigneur Jésus Christ
    by William Bouguereau
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Location: Liverpool, NY

"In my house, I'm a big deal. That's all that matters."


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Sunday, March 27, 2005

12 Reasons To Go To Church

Apparently church is good for you.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

An act of works?

Is receiving a gift an act of works salvation? Does it depend on you?
What about in John 3 where Jesus talks about rejecting Him?

In RC Sproul's article, he does what I've seen others do, which is to equate "believing" as an act of works. Sproul tells the story of a conversation (quoted below) where he argues him into admitting that he is a Christian because he chose to become one as opposed to his friend who is not.

For Sproul, this is works righteousness (and Pelagianism) -- his friend believes "chose" to be a Christian, therefore, he is trusting in his own work for salvation.

I wonder if choosing is the right word. In the case of Sproul's friend, he said, "OK! I'll say it. I'm a Christian because I did the right thing, I made the right response, and my friend didn't."

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." (ESV)

Jesus uses a different word. Jesus uses the word believe. Is belief and choosing or "making a right response" the same thing? Something just doesn't ring consistent about that argument. There is something about belief that we don't choose to do

Is Jesus advocating for works righteousness when he says that whoever believes in him should have eternal life? Did we earn eternal life by believing?

In my story, the message of Christ was put in front of me, it appeared as truth. The truth was readily obvious. And for me it was compelling. When I understood it I just knew it was true. I don't feel I chose it. I did make a public profession of faith, going forward for an altar call and praying to receive Christ, but the belief was before that. I suppose I could have denied or avoided or rejected it. But truth is a funny thing. When it's there transparent in front of you, it's very difficult to deny and walk away from.

I don't feel I earned my salvation. It was the free gift of God to me.


I had a discussion with some folks in Grand Rapids, Michigan, recently. I was speaking on sola gratia, and one fellow was upset.

He said, "Are you trying to tell me that in the final analysis it's God who either does or doesn't sovereignly regenerate a heart?"

And I said, "Yes;" and he was very upset about that. I said, "Let me ask you this: are you a Christian?"

He said, "Yes."

I said, "Do you have friends who aren't Christians?"

He said, "Well, of course."

I said, "Why are you a Christian and your friends aren't? Is it because you're more righteous than they are?" He wasn't stupid. He wasn't going to say, "Of course it's because I'm more righteous. I did the right thing and my friend didn't." He knew where I was going with that question.

And he said, "Oh, no, no, no."

I said, "Tell me why. Is it because you are smarter than your friend?"

And he said, "No."

But he would not agree that the final, decisive issue was the grace of God. He wouldn't come to that. And after we discussed this for fifteen minutes, he said, "OK! I'll say it. I'm a Christian because I did the right thing, I made the right response, and my friend didn't."

What was this person trusting in for his salvation? Not in his works in general, but in the one work that he performed. And he was a Protestant, an evangelical.


Every now and then I hear a direct quote of or an allusion to Scripture in the Eucharistic liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer. My favorite one is the word precious in the post-communion prayer.

1 Peter 1:18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the PRECIOUS blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

The Prayer after Communion from the BCP:

Almighty and everliving God,
we thank you for feeding us with the spiritual food
of the most PRECIOUS Body and Blood
of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ;
and for assuring us in these holy mysteries
that we are living members of the Body of your Son,
and heirs of your eternal kingdom.
And now, Father, send us out
to do the work you have given us to do,
to love and serve you
as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord.
To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Free iPod -- um, not really

I really do want someone to give me a free iPod, but I want one that doesn't cost anything. I got about half way through one of these scams one day ... didn't quite finish ... and I received a tsunami of spam. Thus the reason I have six email accounts.

The Pelagian Captivity of the Church - by R.C. Sproul

Ever been called a Pelagian? Well, you may have been called that right now by RC Sproul. This article is well written and worth giving serious thought, even if you are not in the Reformed camp.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Holy Week

One of the great things about being in a sacramental church, where the Eucharist is the high point of the service and not the word, is Holy Week. Our church is not big. Last week's attendance for 3 services was about 240 and that was much more than normal.

None of this lame small evangelical church thinking that chooses between Maundy Thu or Good Fri services. We have a service everyday this week except yesterday. Might only be a handful of people at each service but number of people isn't the important thing. The worship of God IS. They don't make decisions to have the service or not based on how many might be there. It's more about is this a right and good and joyful thing to do that honors God during this holy season. The emphasis is on God, not people. I like it.

Having a service each day this week really does make the week seem special. Sure everyday should be special because we live in the resurrection but this way of worship adds an extra element or idea of devotion. You make personal sacrifice to attend church multiple times this week.

There are morning, noon and evening services depending on the day. I believe today's is at noon, so I need to get out here and over to church.

I think about all the weak-ass bitching and moaning I did when I was a solo pastor and had services on Maundy Thu, a noon and evening Good Fri service and 1 Easter Sunday morning. One year I had a big funeral too. Poor me! These Episcopal, and certainly Roman Catholic priests work circles around me. God bless 'em. Pray for your local priests this week. No wonder they have built into their call time off after Holy Week and Christmas that is not part of their 4-6 weeks vacation.


Hey, does anyone understand this RSS thing? Is it like a ticker at the bottom of your browser window or what?

Marital Aids II

(If you didn't see Marital Aids I, scroll down to March 18.)

I'm still marveling at this whole new culture of Christian marital support organizations. I didn't really know all this was out there. Not your old standard "keep it in the bedroom and keep it tame" advice. Their philosophy seems to be "if it's between a husband and wife only, in a committed monogamous marriage relationship, where the couple is in love and expressing love, no one is getting hurt or devalued - GO WILD! Chains, whips, chips & dip - have it all! Like a Chicago election - go early, go often.

I recently read Kevin Leman's Sheet Music but some of these places are making him look puritanical. And they do their homework too, so they are not promoting anything blatantly unbiblical or at least philosophically unscriptural. And they are saavy about their marketing so that if you were not a married couple, you might not shop there. I like that part.

Sign me up.

Churches Seeking Staff

Need work? 38 Senior Pastor & 45 staff positions available in the US & Canada. I wonder what the # of people seeking call in the Covenant is. Is there any way to get a handle on that number?

North Miami, FL is looking good right now as I am still looking out at snow in the yard. Patches of brown mud & grass are beginning to show and it's supposed to be 35 degrees all week. Maybe the snow will be gone by Easter, although their is some minor snow squalls in the forecast. Lord have mercy. Down at my parents house in Liverpool on Sat, they had a solid blanket of snow over 2 feet deep.

I'll bet that Indianapolis, IN church is a good place to go. Dan Johnson was there previously and that guy is just solid. He's back in AZ now and loving it.

BTW, if you are looking for Lunenberg, MA in Mapquest it doesn't show up. That's because it is Lunenburg, MA. Anyway, it's not close enough to the coast to be appealing, although it is much closer than Watertown.

It's interesting that there are no formal evangelism jobs in the Covenant, which is remarkable considering the high value that we place on evangelism. In terms of church values, we value worship leaders and youth pastors for dedicated positions more evangelism. Certainly as a church culture, we value evangelism and want it to permeate every ministry in our churches.

But what if you have the spiritual gift of evangelism but not shepherding. What if your calling is about teaching evangelism, training personal evangelists, doing evangelistic preaching & personal evangelism, etc. ... what ministry position is there for you in the Covenant. I do know of one very gifted — super gifted — dude, who figured out that he isn't really called to being a senior pastor, but feels called to ministry, particularly in evangelism. He's not serving anywhere at the moment and I think appears a little lost at the moment.

Where do evangelists belong in the Covenant ministry? In some parachurch organization like Lon Allison at the Billy Graham Center or like the guy who works for Steve Wingfield?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

"Dorks are Hot."

This was the t-shirt one of the girls in my youth group was wearing tonight. I don't know why but I thought it was really funny. But I thought it odd that this girl was wearing it.

She's probably 14 and just a beautiful young girl ... really, super nice kid. Tall, thin, cute, friendly, polite ... just a super kid. She's just the type of kid you're glad to be her pastor.

Now I don't see her day-to-day in her school and would have never perceived her in any way, shape or form to be a dork. But from the conversation, she was making a statement, albeit somewhat in jest, about herself.

It's funny how we perceive ourselves in comparison to how others view us. I often find it amazing when I hear a second hand compliment about myself or hear from someone about my own reputation in a positive way. Not that that happens much mind you but every now and then a delusional person speaks up and says something gratuitous about me.

Even tonight at ¡alive@5!, my neighbor came to visit and heard me preach for the first time. He attends a Roman Catholic Church in Black River and is also part of Toastmasters. He paid me some really nice compliments and suggested I be the "opening act" for Steve Wingfield when he comes in June. He was very serious. He was that impressed.

But I just look at myself as your basic pain-in-the-ass, cantankerous, high maintenance, dysfunctional pastor. More like I should have been wearing the "Dorks are Hot." t-shirt but even that would be a substantial overstatement. Funny how we look at ourselves in comparison to how others view us.

What Would Jesus Say to Scott Peterson?

I went to Willowcreek Community Church some time between 1991-92. Lee Strobel was there at the time and I heard him do his sermon series "What Would Jesus say to ..." I think the first one was Murphy Brown but there were several others and, of course, there was a book to follow. I loved it.

Every now and again I'll do a similar sermon. Last year I did a "What Would Jesus Say to Pete Rose?" ... like, "Don't gamble on eternity."

Today I was moved to preach "What Would Jesus Say to Scott Peterson?" Scott Peterson was convicted of murdering his wife, Laci, and unborn child, Conner. This past week he was sentenced to death.

Here are my incomplete sermon notes. I don't do a manuscript but this is the gist of it:

You have done a horrible thing. I am the author of life, and you have no right to take a life: born or unborn. And you have caused pain and grief beyond measure.
  • I give life and it is not for anyone but me to take away. Murder is sin Scott, and you must repent.
  • But what you have meant for harm, I can use for good. I am a Redeemer. No matter what tragic situation occurs, I can use it for my own glory and good, just as in the death of my son Jesus.
I know what it's like to be in your shoes.
  • The court of public opinion against you calling for your demise.
  • The legal court sentencing you to death. Being on death row. But I've been through death row and lived to tell about it.
The opinion of a human court is not my opinion of you, and don't confuse the two.
  • In our society sentenced to death, means you are no longer a person of worth or value. There is no forgiveness for you. Ultimately, you don't matter anymore. If you value life so little, then we value your life very little. An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. Retributive justice.
  • Despite the horrible things you have done Scott, you matter to me. I love you. So much so, that I gave the life of my Son for you. No one is beyond my love and redemption.
  • If you will confess and repent of your sins, I will forgive you.
You will step into eternity, likely sooner than you expected. You need to choose where you will spend eternity NOW!
  • Don't fear death Scott, fear the judgment that come after you die. You will have no attorney, there will be no preponderance of the evidence. I know what you've done. Everything you have ever done. Ever.
  • Dr. D. James Kennedy: If you died today and were to show up at the gates of Heaven, and God would say, "Why should I let you in?" what would you say?
  • All those nice things that your attorney and the other witnesses said about you, will get you no where here.
Repent and make the rest of your days on this earth meaningful.
  • Don't sit there being a victim of your own creation.
  • Instead of bringing death, be a bearer of light to the inmates, prison guards, judges, attorneys, and anyone else you have contact with.
  • Make every day meaningful and live passionately every moment of every day for Me.
The truth is, all our days on this earth are numbered. We too need to be ready for eternity and need to live passionately for Jesus every moment of every day, whether it is spent in a 5'x9' cell or in our home, or school, ... wherever.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Cavallarios Cucina

Currently my favorite restaurant in Watertown. Pete & Brenda are outstanding chef's and hosts.

St. Joseph's Day Home Page

Today is St. Joseph's Day. As St. Patrick is the patron saint of the Irish, St. Joseph is the patron saint of Italian people.

Lectionary Texts for St. Josephs Day

Today is also my birthday. I'm 38. I'm about 25% Irish and 0% Italian, but you couldn't tell that by my diet.

Every Tribe Entertainment

Awarding winning author, Rick Lindholtz, pointed my attention to this site through his blog.

Can't wait to see the movie.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Marvin Olasky: Curt Schilling, pitcher and Christian

Enjoyed this article thoroughly about Curt Schilling and his faith.

The Evangelical Covenant Church

Growth by 57% in the last decade. Rock on!

Marital Aids

Here are some unique Christian resources that offer marital support:

The Marriage Bed

The Sexual Wholeness


Intimate Issues

The Smalley Relationship Center

Westwood Ministries

Thursday, March 17, 2005


Daddy: Oklahoma St; Wake Forest; N Carolina & Syracuse. Wake Forest v. Syracuse. Syracuse wins!
Win-Loss: 6-3

Katelyn: Illinois; Washington; Conneticut & Kentucky. Illinois v. Conneticut. Illinois wins!
Win-Loss: 8-1

Carter: Oklahoma St; Washington; N Carolina & Syracuse. Washington v. Syracuse. Syracuse wins!
Win-Loss: 8-1

Benjamin: Nevada; Washington; New Mexico & Syracuse. Nevada v. Syracuse. Syracuse wins!
Win-Loss: 7-2

Mommy: Texas; Wake Forest; N Carolina; & Duke. Texas v. Duke. Duke wins!
Win-Loss: 7-2

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Special Bulletin by Rick Joyner, Mike Bickle, and Jack Deere

I mentioned Paul Cain recently and the "rumors" surrounding him. It appears they are true according to this bulletin. How sad.

Monday, March 14, 2005


11Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

Have you done any exposing deeds of darkness recently? Who do we expose them to? When and where? Seems like that could be like gossip. And what about when the deeds of darkness are "the things" mentioned in v.12 that we are not to mention. I have lots of questions for this verse. Much to ponder and pray about.

New Wine

Well, my last few wine adventures were good ones. As a practice I try not to buy the same one twice; however, most recently I bought another bottle of Rosso by Francis Ford Coppola. Simply outstanding!

Before that I bought the wine made by the guys who give their proceeds to a cancer foundation in honor of their dead mother. That would have been a good purchase regardless of taste but I really like that one too. Big Tattoo Red. 2001.

Then I had bought a housewarming gift for a friend, who was gracious enough to invite me in and share it. It was recommended by my "Manhattan Connection", who also scores me imported espresso: Moka di Oro. Verdiccio - an Italian white . Another outstanding choice.

Which bring us to today's purchase, that I will sample later this evening. Pinot Noir by Prahova Valley. 1999. A product of Dealul Mare region of Romania. $5.99. Just my luck! As I look a little more closely at the label here, it has a nude woman on it. Now don't go postal, it's not some porno thing. It's just a very small sticker logo with a with a pencil drawing of an outline of a nude women and what I am assuming are Romania words. Nice splash page on their web site but no nude women there.

Here goes the ADD thing kicking into high gear ... the nude women reminds me some of my favorite nude women on the internet ... on to the next post ....

ARC International - The Art Renewal Center

Yes, on to nude women ....

WARNING: This page takes forever to load, but I promise you it is worth the wait. But make sure you have some time on your hands because the beauty will captivate you.

I'm essentially an uncultured buffoon. I don't know French classical art from Art Greco. But let me tell you a story ...

One day I was doing a Google image search, looking for images to use in a Good Friday multimedia presentations. I stumbled across some remarkable pictures that led me to The Art Renewal Center. Within minutes, I had found my new form of crack, enthralling eye candy — it was just plain beauty that drew me in and never let go.

The whole work up here about nude women was really just to get you riled up. Certainly some of the paintings are nudes, but there are thousands of exquisite pieces of artwork for your FREE enjoyment. Honestly, I couldn't get enough.

William Bouguereau, a 19th century French artist, has become my favorite. If the name doesn't mean anything to you, that's OK. One look at his work and you'll immediately recognize it as familiar. My beloved wife bought me a book about Bouguereau, his life and art, for Christmas last year. It is one of my most prized books, and my kids enjoy learning about art with me.

For me, surfing through these beautiful paintings was a spiritual experience. Enjoy!

William Bouguereau

This is the image that first introduced me to William Bouguereau.

Jeune Fille Se Defendant Contre Lamour. My very favorite.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Dry Hill Ski Area

Carter and I went tubing today at Dry Hill with his Royal Ranger troop. We had a blast. Carter turns 7 tomorrow and his little brother Nicky turns 1. I love being a dad. And I encourage all of you other dads of boys to check out an AG church with a Royal Rangers program. Carter loves it and I am so impressed with his spiritual growth.

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Critter Country (Bonsai Kittens)

Urban Legends Reference Pages are a great thing. I was momentarily revolted by the Bonsai Kitten spam but have gladly discovered it to be UL. Possibly some nice Photoshop work there.

mozdev.org - mycroft: listallplugins

I dig Firefox and all the additional search plugins. And very kewl — just click and their installed. I just installed the ESV, NLT and NIV. Nice.


For those of you less educated and cultured, left wondering what is a mitre as referenced in my last post, click here.

You can also make a mitre at the dinner table tonight with your kids. Click here. While your at it, ordain them into the Episcopal Church. They're taking anybody these days.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Some quotes from my Bishop ...

My Bishop sent out a communique before his travel to Texas for a House of Bishops meeting. He gave a number of random thoughts, critiques, concerns, things for which he was glad, clarifications, etc. etc. etc.

I really like and admire him. He is very pastoral and I feel cared for and supported by him. He loves the church and it's people. He likes fly fishing. He's a decent man. He's not a BS artist. He looks nice in purple and with a mitre & staff.

Yet some of what he says leaves me feeling baffled. Some quotes ...

* I appreciate the work that has been done in producing the Windsor Report as well as the Primates Communiqué. Being a part of the Anglican Communion, while not of the essence, is very important to me and part of my own catholic understanding of the Church. I also believe that it ought to be possible to be a Communion while holding diverse perspectives on certain matters such as human sexuality as the Gospel is received and interpreted in different places in different times.
  • How diverse? Polygamy? Polyamory? Menage trois? What if it's a committed, long term stable menage trois where no one appears to be getting hurt? Is that OK too? These people have rights.
* I continue to believe that the decision of the General Convention of 2003 to give consent to the ordination and consecration of Gene Robinson was not only canonically sound, but also that it was consistent with the Gospel and God's vision of justice as set forth in the Scriptures and as it was lived and taught by Jesus.
  • This is the real motivation for many people behind this movement. Justice. Their reasoning is: homosexuals were born that way; therefore created by God to be that way; therefore we should protect their rights. Justice.
* Although I knew that the vote to affirm Gene Robinson as a bishop would cause some hurt and dissension in the Church, I did not foresee the degree to which it has led to the present crisis in the Communion. For that I am regretful and truly sorry.
  • You have got to be kidding me! Had no idea?!?! Really. The world wide leaders of the Communion made it absolutely clear that the fabric of the communion would be irreparably torn, but you had no idea? Just stop. This is the comment that bothers me the most. I know Skip. He's not a bs'er but he's not dumb either.
* Too much of our theologizing about the ordination of homosexual people is not sufficiently grounded in a theology of baptism. I believe that if we cannot ordain gay people then we cannot baptize gay people either and I am not in any way willing to say that.

* We do need to develop a sound and developed theological explanation for the actions of the 2003 General Convention regarding the consent to the consecration of a homosexual person in a committed relationship to the episcopate. Might I say that the accounts in the Gospel of John of the woman at the well and the healing of the blind man would not be bad places to start?
  • As if there were a sound and well developed theological explanation. Might this have been done ahead of time? Just a thought. Seriously, how could you have gone ahead with this course of action without a well developed theological rationale?
* I am dismayed at the inability of so many to engage in meaningful dialogue without rancor. This includes members of our own Diocese of Central New York. We must do better. In other words, we need to treat each other in ways that our faith would demand and speak with one another in charity and humility even in the midst of deep disagreements. Not to do so is in my mind more hurtful to the Christian enterprise than the disputed actions of General Convention 2003. People with deeply held convictions that seem to be irreconcilable can equally be people of faith and good will.
  • This bothers me too. Again, I know Skip and he is a really decent person. Certainly he is not intentionally malicious. He wants peace and is willing to bend over backwards to get it. Yet some in our Diocese just vilify him and are mean spirited toward him. There's just no reason for it. Certainly they have a right to be angry but there is just no place to treat him badly, especially when he is your Bishop. At least respect the office if not the person.
God help the Episcopal Church.

ZoneCoach - Performance Coaching

Fascinating article in April 2005's Esquire about Jim Fannin. From page 122, "Then he gets me to stand up, close my eyes, think a negative thought (where do I begin?), and drop my chin to my chest. He makes me hold it there, then raise my head until I'm facing the ceiling. I repeat this three times. Strangely I can no longer remember what I was thinking about. 'You rebooted your brain,' he says, 'When you look up, when your chin goes past parallel to the ground, the negative thought is released.' "

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Advertisers: Their skin is available

I'm thinking about doing this. I might be worth something. I stand up in front of people every week and they stare at me. Meet more new people every week.

I can't help but think my employers might not be so happy about it. I hate that. However, that is part of what it means to be part of a body, as in the body of Christ.

But I could use a little extra cash.

Welcome to Samaritan's Purse

More shoe boxes needed for children in SE Asia afftected by the recent tsunami. Have the boxes mailed by April 4.