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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Affinity Evangelism Blog

Today I started a new blog for Affinity Evangelism. I'll probably repost many items here on the Land of the Ultra Rev. So far, I think it looks good.

Mind Poison

Silence That Idiot Box and Give Your Kids A Break

Jeff Jacoby writes in a Boston Globe Op-Ed piece, "If television came in a bottle, it would be illegal to sell it to children."  Apparently science and scholarship agree that television watching is bad for your child's physical and emotional health and has a negative impact on their education.  Yet so many of us do it.  We do it for entertainment.  We use it for a babysitter.  We use it for 'education'.  I wonder what would happen to our culture and our families if we just turned TV off.  Nobody gets to the end of their life and says, "I wish I watched more TV."

Sunday, September 27, 2009

An Orthodox Position on the Paranormal

So who has written anything from an evangelical/orthodox position on the paranormal. Had a fascinating discussion with a brilliant guy this weekend that thinks a well reasoned, thought out position could be an apologetic for the hope we have in the resurrection.


The classic evangelical, charismatic position would be that all paramormal activity is the result of the demonic. Has anyone seen any other positions / articles / books on the subject?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Roman Catholic Hospitals and Reiki

Reiki banned from Roman Catholic hospitals as neither science nor medicine - The Boston Globe

This was not a decision made by the hospitals, who apparently saw a measure of results from the practice of reiki. It was a decision of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Wikipedia calls Reiki a 'spiritual practice' and also notes "a systematic review of randomized clinical trials conducted in 2008 did not support the efficacy of Reiki or its recommendation for use in the treatment of any condition."

The article gives the impression that many are unhappy about this decision but it seems the Bishops made a decision consistent with their theology. Those who are RC and arguing for Reiki do not appear to understand their own theology well.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Stunning Loss in SC Courts for Episcopal Church

All Saints Church: Court rules in favor of Pawleys Island congregation The Post and Courier - Charleston SC newspaper

VirtueOnline: Dennis Canon Loses in South Carolina - A. S. Haley

In a landmark decision the courts in SC have sided with Anglicans wanting to leave the Episcopal Church with their property and against the no longer feared Denis Canon. A huge loss for the Episcopal Church in SC. The larger issue will be if it will have any bearing on the many other similar lawsuits all around the nation. This is a significant court decision and it cannot be overstated how big a loss this is for the Episcopal Church.

I think God would be please.

Daily News: Is Catholic-Orthodox Unity in Sight?: NCRegister

I can only imagine God's heart at the sight of seeing these two long time foes, at one time a family, be reunited. I wonder what might be spiritual impact on these bodies and their missional impact on the world.

Wherever there is repentance there is a breeding ground for revival.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Do You Think Jesus...?

Catalyst Church is beginning a great series called Do You Think Jesus...?. Each week there will be video interviews and a message.

The first message will be Oct 4th: Do You Think Jesus Would Hang Out at a Downtown Bar? It seems that Catalyst Church has already answered that one by holding weekly discussions at PJ Dorsey's.

Oct 11: Do You Think Jesus Would Be a Hindu?
Many Ways to God?

A recent Newsweek article revealed many Americans, like Hindus, believe that there are many ways to God, eternal life, and salvation. Catalyst Church wants to hear your thoughts on whether or not Jesus would affirm this idea.

Oct 18: Do You Think Jesus Would Play Mega Millions?
Marketing has made us here in the US.

Feeling the overwhelming lure of consumerism, we seek to gain an awareness of how Jesus would handle the resources that are entrusted to him. Would Jesus gamble? How would Jesus spend an extra buck?

Oct 25: Do You Think Jesus Would Go To Church?
Love Jesus, Hate the Church?

It is current cliche to hear someone say, “I love Jesus but I hate the church.” We recognize that many people have negative experiences of church and Christianity. Yet, how would Jesus respond to the imperfections of the institutional church?

Nov 01: Do You Think Jesus Would Vote for a Democrat or a Republican?
Dealing With National Issues

The issues of our nation today are vast and immense. Yet, there is great division and disagreement over how we must solve these national issues. In what or in whom do you think Jesus would place his confidence to deal with the country’s most pressing issues?

Nov 08: Do You Think Jesus Loves Osama Bin Laden?
Are there limits to grace?

Could God really love a man that is responsible for so much pain and countless deaths?

Nov 15: Do You Think Jesus Is Still Alive Today?
The Living Jesus

For two-thousand years, followers of Jesus have made the astonishing claim that, although at one time dead, Jesus is alive. Do you think Jesus is actually living today?

Nov 22: Do You Think Jesus Would Get a Tattoo?
Tattoos tell us who people are.

We are wondering what your thoughts are on whether or not Jesus would tell us who He is with an inscription on His body. If so, what would the tattoo look like? What would it say?

Join the discussion:

Catalyst Church meets at 10:00 am weekly at Nottingham High School and in small groups all around Onondaga County. There is a nursery for babies and toddlers and children's church for youngsters.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Take the Arminian Test

There is a real difference between classical Arminianism and the theological straw man called Arminianism and popularized by other groups.
Survey: Are You an Arminian and Don't Even Know It? | Society of Evangelical Arminians

Professor Roger Olson gives a 600 word essay that apparently some evangelical publication refused to publish.

Above all, I want to make clear that I admire and respect my Calvinist friends and colleagues. We disagree strongly about some points of theology, but I hold them in high esteem for their commitment to the authority of God's Word and their obvious love for Jesus Christ and his church as well as for evangelism.

However, I do not admire or respect John Calvin. I have been told that he should not be held responsible for the burning of the heretic Servetus because, after all, he warned the Spanish doctor and theologian not to come to Geneva and he urged the city council to behead him rather than burn him. And, after all, Calvin was a child of his times and everyone was doing the same. Nevertheless, I still struggle with placing a man complicit in murder on a pedestal. [Incidentally, Calvinist John Piper has stated that the one thing he would like to change about Calvin is the Servetus affair.]

Furthermore, I find Calvin's doctrine of God repulsive. It elevates God's sovereignty over his love, leaving God’s reputation in question. What I mean is that Calvin's all-determining, predestining deity is at best morally ambiguous and at worst morally repugnant.

Much to the chagrin of some contemporary Calvinists, Calvin clearly taught that God foreordained the fall and rendered it certain. (Institutes of the Christian Religion III:XXIII.8)

He also affirmed double predestination (III:XXI.5) and displayed callous disregard for the reprobate, who he admitted God compelled to obedience (disobedience). (I:XVIII.2) Calvin distinguished between two modes of God's will—what later Calvinists have called God's decretive and perceptive wills. (III:XXIV.17) God decrees that the sinner shall sin while at the same time commanding him not to sin and condemning him for doing what he was determined by God to do. To Calvin this all lies in the secret purposes of God into which we should not peer too deeply, but it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of anyone who regards God as, above all, love.

John Wesley commented on the Calvinists' claim that God loves even the reprobate in some way. As one contemporary Calvinist put it, "God loves all people in some ways but only some people in all ways." Wesley said that this is a love such as makes the blood run cold.

Calvin's successor in Geneva, Theodore Beza [mentor to James Arminius], commented that those who find themselves suffering in the flames of hell for eternity can at least take comfort in the fact that they are there for the greater glory of God. To paraphrase Wesley, that is a glory such as sends chills down the spine. God foreordains some of his own creatures, created in his own image, to eternal hell for his own glory? Calvin may not have put it quite that bluntly, but many Calvinists have and it is a necessary extrapolation of the inner logic of consistent Calvinism. (Institutes III:XXII.11)

I have been heavily criticized by some of my Calvinist friends for saying that my biggest problem with Calvinism (by which I mean consistent divine determinism) is that it makes it difficult for me to tell the difference between God and the devil. (I am not saying Calvinists worship the devil!)

For me, nothing about the Christian worldview is more important than regarding God and the devil as absolute competitors in this universe and its tragic history. God is good and desires the good of every creature. As church father Irenaeus said, "The glory of God is man fully alive." The devil is bad and desires harm for every creature. To view the devil as God's instrument makes a mockery of the entire biblical narrative.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Do You Think Jesus...?

Do You Think Jesus...? is a project by Catalyst Church in Syracuse to talk about what Jesus might do or think or say on current issues. "Do you think Jesus would be a Hindu?" or "... get a tattoo?"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Good-bye Baba

My wife's beloved grandmother, Anna Zaleski Burak, passed away yesterday. Grandma Anna or as my kids affectionately called her, Baba, was a wonderful, loving grandma. Since I first met her 21 years ago she treated me like family. I loved her and will miss her. I have the wonderful privilege of being a pall bearer for her on Saturday. Baba is pictured above between my daughters on the left -- this was taken at the "Blessing of the Baskets" at St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church on Holy Saturday of this year.

Anna Zaleski Burak
Anna Zaleski Burak, 90, of Syracuse, passed away Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at Crouse Hospital. A lifetime resident of Syracuse, she began her career in hairdressing after graduating from Eastwood High School at age 15. Anna served her apprenticeship at Bertha's Beauty Salon in Eastwood where she worked until her marriage in 1944 to Lt. Carl Burak. She practiced hairdressing intermittently through the years until age 75. After retiring, she continued to work part-time at Kathleen & Kompany on James St. She lived at various Air Force bases, including Itami Air Base in Japan following World War II.

Anna was a communicant of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church. She also sang in the Ukrainian and English Liturgy Choirs. She was a former member and past president of the Ladies' Auxiliary. She was a member of the Apostleship of Prayer and Ukrainian National Home. She was also a former member and past president of the USAF Officers’ Wives’ Club at Hancock. She enjoyed vacationing with her family at the Ukrainian National Assn. Estate Soyuzivka. She enjoyed spending time with her family.

Anna’s husband, Carl, died December 15, 1991.

Surviving are her daughters, Patricia (William Prusinowski) Burak of Camillus and Marusia (Rick) Marrapese of Honeoye; sons, David of Santa Monica, CA and William (Michele) of No. Syracuse; sister, Mary Kitt of Rochester; brother, William Zaleski of North Syracuse; 12 grandchildren; 18 great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.

Services will be at 10:45 a.m. Saturday, September 19, 2009 at the Buranich Funeral Home, 5431 W. Genesee St., Camillus and at 11:30 a.m. in St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church where a Divine Liturgy for the Deceased will be celebrated. Relatives and friends may call Friday, September 18, 2009 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the funeral home with the Apostleship of Prayer at 3:45 p.m. and Panakhyda service at 6:30 p.m. Anna will be laid to rest at St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Cemetery.

Contributions may be made to St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church, 207 Tompkins St., Syracuse, NY 13204.

Here are some of Baba's pysanky and babka bread.

Multi-Site Church Myths

I watched many of the videos from The Nines leadership conference the other day. Essentially the event was a bunch of videos played over the course of nine hours that asked a bunch of leaders to give a video answer to the question, "If you could sit down across your desk with some of the best leaders in today's church and what would you say to them?"

Despite the celebrity list of pastors, scholars and leaders lined up for the event, the content was pretty mediocre. I started scanning my Facebook list and looking for people I wanted to hear 9 minutes from.

While the video played there was running commentary in a side box. The only thing I copied related to multi-site church planting myths:

Myth 8 – Inhibits developing gifted teachers. Nope. Can enhance and teaching team.
Myth 7 – Video teaching won’t work. Nope. Embraced much more than you think. Not about medium but message.
Myth 6 – Church Growth engine. Nope. A vehicle for growing churches. Accelerates a growing church.
Myth 5 – Not incarnational or communal. Nope. Brings more local and personal leading to greater incarnational and communal.
Myth 4 – Space solution. Yes and No. Started that way but now an effective strategy for space and more.
Myth 3 – Video driven model. Nope. Only a third of churches are video driven.
Myth 2 – Vehicle for celebrity pastors. Nope. Perhaps a third are mega churches and the rest are not.
Myth 1 – Just a fad. Nope. The new normal – 2000+ churches and growing. Estimate 10% of protestants attend a multi site church.

Monday, September 14, 2009

CHURCH PLANTER OPENINGS - Heart of North America (HONA) Network

I'm reposting with corrected HTML for the emails and to generate more interest in AMIA church planting.

Originally posted: 8/20/09

The Anglican Mission in America has created a series of networks in North America that function similarly to dioceses. HONA Network is a regional network with several networks that reach into the states of Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and into Ontario, Canada.

This page: HONA Network -- Church Planting Resources has an extensive list of resources for church planters and a list of church plants looking for pastors:
Fort Wayne, IN Meeting 3rd Saturdays
contact: Rick Leone

Indianapolis, IN Interviewing planters
contact: Doc Loomis

Grand Rapids, MI New group forming now
contact: Allen Kannapell

Covington, KY Launch team forming
contact: Chris Peterson

New Market, ON New group forming now
contact: Fariborz Khandani

Dayton, OH Interviewing planters
contact: Doc Loomis

Cleveland, OH Existing work in conversation Seeking 2 church planters
contact: Doc Loomis

Detroit, MI Seeking 2 church planters
contact: Doc Loomis

SW Lexington, KY Planter selected for '09
contact: Lee McLeod, Catechist
Kansas City, KS
Looking for church planters for 2010 launches
contact: Doc Loomis

Southern Illinois
Looking for two church planters
contact: Doc Loomis

Georgetown, KY Planter selected for '08-09
contact: Kyle Potter, Catechist

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Children are not "hot" or "sexy" - The Community Newspapers Opinion - MLive.com

My friend Eileen Button wrote a great column this week about the marketing directed at our teenagers. From the ads in a teen magazine found in a waiting room Eileen writes:
"The message to our children (yes ... CHILDREN) is this: you are hot. You are sexy. You are beautiful when you find yourself stuck in a sexual pose. You are delicious. You are juicy. This life is all about you."

People, we must stop this.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Attend The Marriage Course at Grace Covenant Church in Clay, NY

Alpha USA : The Marriage Course

Grace Covenant Church continues the Marriage Course. The Marriage Course is for good marriages and those who are struggling. Though it is faith based, you really don't have to have a church background to participate. It's for anybody who wants a strong marriage.

Alyx and I took the course in the fall and really enjoyed it. They asked me what I thought and I said, "I like that it is guy friendly, meaning it's not too touchy feely, you don't have to "share" with people you don't know, they feed you good food and especially because it encourages sex."

The good people at Grace Covenant Church, located at Rt. 31 & Stearns Rd. in Clay, NY have been running the course repeatedly and literally hundreds of people have benefited from it.

Each evening starts with dinner, followed by a video message and then discussion about the video. There isn't any counseling and no one is expected to talk about their personal marital issues; however, there are couples there available to talk and encourage you. There are also is no arm twisting to attend the church, so it doesn't matter if you go to church elsewhere or not at all. It's like a community ed class. (But if you are looking for a church home Grace would be an excellent choice.)

The course is free but you'll pay something for the workbook. There is no childcare provided, but if you want to attend and childcare is an issue call the church and ask for help: Grace Covenant Church, (315) 699-1551, ask for Pastor Bruce Baehr.

Sunday, September 13 is the "Come and See Evening" -- No obligation to attend the whole course. Just come this one night and check it out. If you like it, come back for more, if you don't ... well, ... do something else good for your marriage. The course will run for about 8 Sunday evenings after the "Come and See Evening".

FREE On-Line Leadership Conference Tomorrow

Leadership Network presents "THE NINES"

Imagine nearly every Christian leader you can think of giving you nine minutes on 09/09/09 beginning at 9 am CST lasting for nine hours answering the question, "If
you had nine minutes to talk one-on-one with thousands of church leaders, what is the one thing that you would tell them?"

It's free.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Ready To Print Church Services


This great little site is full of ready to print church services for all seasons of the church year, weekly Eucharist in various formats, baptisms, weddings, etc. -- all pre-formatted for printing in booklet forms. It is especially useful for chaplains, retreat use or small groups. So many places use video projection for liturgical needs but these could be very useful when that is not available.

I found this prayer there:
For those who are unemployed

God of mercy and grace,
we commend to you
those who suffer through unemployment,
who would work but find no work to do,
whose gifts and energies seem not to be needed.
Support and strengthen them and their families.
May no bitterness of mind
blot out your love from their lives,
and may no hopelessness of heart
quench their spirits
or threaten their relationships.
In your love and by your mercy,
help those in authority to provide for them
the means of livelihood
that they may be set free from anxiety and fear
and be enabled to work in security and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Praying For Sex

Never mind pillow talk, couples told by Roman Catholic church to PRAY before sex | Mail Online

With the number of "Oh God"'s uttered during sexual relations on TV and in the movies I thought there was already a lot prayer involved with sex. ;) .... sorry, I couldn't resist.

Notice that the article says, "The 64-page book has been published by the London-based Catholic Truth Society. The group has close links to the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales." I'm not sure if that is an official organization of the church so I'm not sure we can say that the Roman Catholic Church is advocating prayer before sex.

Nonetheless, despite it's awkwardness, I love that the church believes sexual relations between a husband and wife to be a sacred, blessed act -- something that can be prayed for and not something to be ignored in our spiritual lives.

Prayer book

Here is the full text of the prayer:
Father, send your Holy Spirit into our hearts. Place within us love that truly gives, tenderness that truly unites, self-offering that tells the truth and does not deceive, forgiveness that truly receives, loving physical union that welcomes. Open our hearts to you, to each other and to the goodness of your will. Cover our poverty in the richness of your mercy and forgiveness. Clothe us in our true dignity and take to yourself our shared aspirations, for your glory, for ever and ever. Mary, our Mother, intercede for us. Amen.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Jack Deere Quote

I was listening to an MP3 of Jack Deere speaking in Australia and heard this:

"... most of us ... if we were really honest, feel like God is waiting for us to change. And that like we are right now, He can't enjoy us. Really, like we are right now, he's basically irritated with us. And the reason He's tolerating us right now is because it's an open question whether or not we're going to change. And change means that we have to start doing things better than we are right now. ...

Here's the problem with that view: It's one of the biggest Satanic traps going on in the church, it's one of the most successful Satanic traps going on in the church. Is there anybody in here who prays enough, who reads the Bible enough, who witnesses enough, who is kind enough, who is thankful enough ... anybody in here like that?

None of us do them well enough right now and the here's the bad news, we never will. At the end of his life, one the most godly people to ever walk the face of the earth, the Apostle Paul, says, 'I haven't made it yet.' In Philippians 3 he said, 'I haven't attained it yet but I keep striving, I keep heading on that upward call but I'm not there yet.'

See God can enjoy us just like we are now in our weakness and immaturity, our inconsistancy. He can enjoy us just like we are right now, weak and immature children. You say, "How is that possible?" Because that's the only kind of children He has. Remember how some of you who are parents could enjoy your 2 year old, 3, 4, 5 year old child ... weak, inconsistent, immature child? Remember how you could enjoy them? That's how the Lord feels about us."

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

NIV Being Revised Again

Top-selling Bible in North America to be revised - syracuse.com

I love translation scholarship and all the issues involved in translating the Bible from it's original languages into an accurate, readible language. BUT what's more important: can we get people reading, studying, sharing and interacting with any of the good translations we already have or new ones. That's what churches need to focus on.