Mark Driscoll, as usual, telling it like it is, recently posted on his Facebook page “So what story do you have about the most effeminate anatomically male worship leader you’ve ever personally witnessed?” He did this as the result of a conversation he had with a non-Christian, blue collar man who asked him if the Bible allowed for effeminate worship leaders like the one he currently encountered at church. Actually, Driscoll replied, it doesn’t; David the warrior-king wrote the book of Psalms.

The post set off a storm of criticism which you can read about here and here. Brian McLaren and others take issue with Driscoll’s tone and message, which is why I think it was a good one. Throw a rock into a pack of dogs and the one that barks is the one that got hit. Shouldn’t all the people promoting effeminate worship leaders get their hackles up when they are made fun of?

One blogger called Driscoll a “bully”, a truly odd accusation. He didn’t name any particular leaders or encourage people to go smack the most effeminate worship leader they knew. He simply asked for stories. God writes comedy in the contemporary church, and you’re a bully for wanting to hear the jokes? Driscoll wrote a subsequent post describing his comments as flippant. His elders challenged him to say these things in an environment where people can be persuaded. I’m not close enough to the situation to understand all their rationale, and I’m thankful for faithful elders who are willing to call pastors out. But I do doubt whether many of Jesus’ offensive statements could be described as persuasive or made in a context where they could be persuasive. He makes fun of the Pharisees’ robes, prayers, tithes, oaths, devotion, and grooming. Did it get him anywhere? No where but up on that cross.

Not all prophetic speech is meant to be persuasive to all people. Sometimes it’s meant to offend the right people, and to encourage others. None of this excludes the motive of love, but it excludes a sentimental definition of it. We need more of these challenges.

You can put lipstick on a pig…

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, neither high profession nor low profession, neither a fair story nor a broken one, avails anything; but a new creature. If there be a very great alteration visible in a person for a while;  yet if be not abiding, but he afterwards return, in a stated manner, to his former habits; it appears to be no change of nature; for nature is an abiding thing. A swine may be washed, but the swinish nature remains; a dove may be defiled, but its cleanly nature remains.”

–Jonathan Edwards, from On Religious Affections

Poverty with AC & Xbox

The Heritage Foundation has put out a helpful report describing poverty in the United States. The gist is that very few of the 30 million people classified by the Census Bureau as poor really are according to common definitions referring to a lack of food and shelter. Addressing rather than perpetuating poverty anywhere requires great wisdom. When Helping Hurts is a great place to start gathering it.

the Promised Spirit for your children & the world

From a recent sermon by Toby Sumpter:

“Believe the Promise of God for your children and the world. We’ve reviewed them today. You’ve heard them before, but you are called to believe them. Your children belong to God. He has claimed them in baptism, and the promise of the Spirit is for them. But it’s striking that Peter connects the Promise of the Spirit to three distinct entities: you, your children, and the world. This is not accidental or coincidental. While leaving room for different gifts and different personalities, it is nevertheless the case that the Promise of the Spirit is for all three: you, your children, the world. This means that they are connected. And our faith in the promise of the Spirit cannot be disconnected from the mission of the Spirit. If the mission of the Spirit is to save you, your children, and this world, then reception of that Spirit, receiving that Promise in faith means believing with equal certainty in that mission. You cannot receive the Promise without receiving the Mission. And you cannot carry out the Mission without the Promise. It is the Spirit that is driving this story forward. It is the Spirit that is determined to conform you into the image of Christ. It is the Spirit that is determined to conform your children to that same image, and it is the Spirit that is determined to remake this whole world and conform every family on the face of this planet to the image of the Son. God’s mission in your life is to see this mission carried out in your children and in your neighbors and all who are afar off. That’s what the Promise of the Spirit is for; that’s what the Promise of the Spirit is up to. That is the Mission, and the Promise is for the carrying out of that Mission.”

Porn for Women

From an excellent article by Betsy Hart at the Gospel Coalition:

“That’s where the pornography comes in. Just as sexual pornography twists an understanding for men about real women’s bodies and sexual appetites, so romantic pornography twists the perception for women about real men and how they “ought” to behave toward women, which tends to amount to, well, behaving like a woman. I have a dear friend who once didn’t like a fellow I was dating. Among other shortcomings, he didn’t arrange spa treatments for me, she explained. Seriously. No more chick flicks for that girl.

The notion that the ideal fellow is sensitive and devoted to his woman didn’t start with Nora Ephron or even Jane Austin, of course. Our true husband, Christ himself, “wept.” And Scripture is clear that the ultimate bridegroom jealously pursues his bride, the church. In fact romantic pornography has a ring of truth to it, which is one reason it is powerful. A man in love with a woman is stubborn in his pursuit. Hence I’ve passed down to my children the maxim my mother shared with me: “Girls don’t want a boy they have to call themselves.”

But both kinds of pornography go wrong by portraying genders as unidimensional. And the unidimension of men in romantic porn gets magnified because our mainstream culture has a “man bad, woman good” view that opposes traditionally male qualities (unless they turn up in women, but that’s another column). In a symptom of what’s going on in the culture at large, “rom coms” and many television sitcoms denigrate such traits such as aggression, competitiveness, a certain amount of stoicism, and even the desire to protect and care for a woman.”

Seeing Camouflaged Pride

Pride is mother of all sins, Augustine said. But it is also the sneakiest. In short, a sneaky mother. So how do you know if you are proud? Jonathan Edwards clues us in:

“But though spiritual pride be so subtle and secret an iniquity, and commonly appears under a pretext of great humility; yet there are two things by which it may (perhaps universally and surely) be discovered and distinguished.

The first is this; he that is under the prevalence of this distemper, is apt to think highly of his attainments in religion, as comparing himself with others. It is natural for him to fall into that thought of himself, that he is an eminent saint, that he is very high among the sainsts, and has distinguishingly good and great experiences. That is the secret language of his heart, Luke xviii. 11. “God, I thank thee that I am not as other men.” And Isa. lxv. 5. “I am holier than thou.” …

But he whose heart is under the power of Christian humility, is of a contrary disposition. If the Scritpures are at all to be relied on, such an one is apt to think his attainments in religion to be comparatively mean, and to esteem himself low among the saints, and one of the least of saints.  …

Secondly, another infallible sign of spiritual pride, is persons being apt to think highly of their humility. False experiences are commonly attended with a counterfeit humility. And it is the very nature of a counterfeit humility, to be highly conceited of itself. False religious affections have generally a tendency, especially when raised to a great height, to make persons think that their humility is great, and accordingly to take much notice of their great attainments in this repect, and admire them.”

The Religious Affections

When the Tolerant Aren’t

From a great post at Blog & Mablog:

A staple argument of homosex apologetics is that when the Bible condemns the vile behavior of the residents of Sodom, it was addressing the violent side of it — the attempted rape of Lot’s visitors. It does not address at all, so the argument goes, the kind of loving, caring, mutually affirming same sex relationships that we are are talking about today. You have to take context into account, you see, and there have been those who bought this argument. Simple Simon, after all, did go to the fair.

“But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them” (Gen. 19:4-5).

But let us pretend to accept this for a moment, for the sake of argument. Let us pretend that mutually affirming is the way to go, so long as you avoid that kind of violent hate sex that so unfortunately characterized the men who surrounded Lot’s house.

Comes now Bill Maher, who struts like a crow in a gutter, and is considered to be a leading humorist by the other crows. On a recent show, he had on comedian Marc Maron, who said that he thinks about “angrily f**king” Michele Bachman. He said this, not wanting “to be crass.” Oh, good. For a minute there, we were worried. And then, just to cover their stunted little tails, another guest said, to deflect accusations of sexism, that he would like to do the same to Rick Santorum. So fine then. You guys are willing to engage in hate sex, violent rape, against members of both sexes? And this makes it good, how exactly?

Checking Religious Experience

Jonathan Edwards points out the dangers of focusing on religious experience rather than on the one who provides the experience. The first leads to self and a dependence on a certain type o experience, the other to an unwavering faith regardless of a current emotional rush.

And hence it comes to pass, that in their rejoicings and elevations, hypocrites are wont to keep their eye upon themselves; having received what they call spiritual discoveries, their minds are taken up about their own experiences; and not the glory of God, or the beauty of Christ. They keep thinking with themselves, What a good experience is this! What a great discoerey is this! What wonderful things have I met with! And so they put their experiences in the place of Christ, his beauty and fulness. Instead of rejoicing in Christ Jesus, they rejoice in their admirable experiences. Instead of feeding and feasting their soul in viewing the innate, sweet, refreshing amiableness of the things exhibited in the gospel, they view them only ast it were side-ways. The object that fixes their contemplation, is their experience; and they are ever feeding their souls, and feasting a selfish principle, with a view of their discoveries. They take more comfort in their discoveries than in Christ discovered.

–from The Religious Affections

The Kids Hear All the Time

John Younts (Everyday Talk) sledges home  the didactic power of speech:

“How do you talk to your spouse in front your children? Do you make fun him? Do you complain about her? Do you insult each other? Do your children hear you argue incessantly? Are irritation and smoldering anger common in your home? Or do you deal with conflict by just ignoring each other? How do you talk about your spouse to others?

The way you talk to or about your spouse is a model of instruction for your children. Your conversation is a powerful influence, either for good or for bad. Comments to and about your spouse, made in your children’s hearing, tell them about your marriage. If you often speak of marriage as a pain, a risk, a disaster or a trial, you are teaching your children what you think marriage is really like. You are also displaying a view of marriage that is contrary to God’s view” (p. 134).

The Other Day the Music Died

“What music did God reject? The very pslams that He Himself had ordained for worship. This is profound! Pleasing God with music is first and foremost a mattter of the heart. This passage [Amos 5:21-24] ends the debate about which forms of music are good and which are bad. There is no question that the music in question was of good origin. The music came from God. Yet Israel used this wonderful music for her own ends. So, instead of building a closer relationship with God, it became a tool of estrangement from Him.”

–John Younts