Monthly Archives: July 2006

Every Story Has Three Sides

Somewhere I recently read this statement: "Every story has three sides. Yours, mine and the facts." I think about that statement often and generally smile when I do. I am also reminded that this is generally true in ways that are so easily forgotten in human relationships. I see my side very clearly. I know the facts, or at least think I do. So do you. We are at an impasse. It is helpful to remember that we both may well be wrong and the facts, especially when we factor into the equation an all-knowing and all-wise God, can correct us both.

Another truism that helps me in a similar way goes like this: "Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than they love truth." I have had to retract more than one opinion because of blogs and articles I write. One reason this medium has something very positive about it is that it allows each of us to change our mind, especially this writer. When you are sure of yourself remember that the facts may stand against you and you

By |July 31st, 2006|Categories: Personal|

Distrust Kills Friendship

The person who would have real friends must be a friend. Though I have many that I can call friends, at least on one level, I am blest with several true soul-friends that I definitely do not deserve. These friends make my life what it is and give it a richness that fills me with profound blessing.

As I reflected upon this blessing again this morning, praying for these friends, I was reminded of an old aphorism that I believe sums up one essential for having and keeping soul-friends. The aphorism says: “We should be more ashamed to distrust our friends than to be deceived by them.” How very true. Friends will hurt you, even deceive you in rare cases, though almost always unintentionally if they are truly good people. But once you distrust your good friend the relationship is over. I do know this for sure. The one thing a deep relationship of love can not withstand, long term, is distrust.

By |July 30th, 2006|Categories: Personal|

Is Islam a Religion of Peace in the Modern World?

Most international peace keepers agree with the idea of bringing international forces into the south of Lebanon to end Hezbollah’s decade-long reign. What is unresolved is how to accomplish this and when. What is not surprising here, at least to me, is the growing evidence that a groundswell of support for Hezbollah is growing in the Arab world. Originally regional Arab governments criticized Hezbollah for provoking this present conflict but that response is virtually muted after several weeks of intense fighting. Even in the United States voices agianst Israel are also growing louder by the day. It is odd to me that we can justify “defending” America when it is attacked by Islamic terrorists but if Israel defends itself this is seen in the world’s opinion as a militant nation that must stop all such action to defend itself.

As an illiustration of my point Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, one of the country’s most influential religious leaders, described Hezbollah raids on Israel as a "defense of its country and not terrorism." But Hezbollah doesn’t even have a country and

By |July 29th, 2006|Categories: Islam|

The Strange Worldview of John Hagee

The Wall Street Journal had an impressive front page story in today’s edition titled: “Holy War: A Texas Preacher Leads Campaign to Let Israel Fight.” It tells the story of John Hagee, a popular dispensational preacher and best-selling author in San Antonio, Texas, who has become the America’s most outspoken and influential voice for Christian Zionism. Hagee is leading pro-Israel gatherings these days that are putting a great deal of pressure on the White House and other sympathetic congressional leaders to stay out of any peacemaking deals in the Middle East. Hagee believes that Israel has God’s complete support in this conflict and that these present events are likely to lead to Armageddon so we should steer clear of interfering with what God is about to do in Israel in these last days.

I have no quarrel with those Christians who believe ethnic Israel, and even the modern state of Israel, has a major part to play in biblical prophecy, though I disagree with about 98% of what they think the Bibel actually says about these matters. I do have a huge problem

By |July 27th, 2006|Categories: Israel|

Life, Bio-Ethics and Our Present Political Climate

Two bio-ethical issues have recently been debated and decided at the federal level in an attempt to create a culture more favorable to human life. The first was the Senate bill to allow federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. As is widely known President Bush vetoed this bill, his first veto in nearly six years in office. Some rather consistently pro-life senators voted for this particular measure, including majority leader Bill Frist, himself a devoutly pro-life Christian physician. (Senator Frist’s dad was my late father’s personal physician in Nashville and thus our family has held highest regard for the Frist family for many years.) Those who favored this measure argued that embryonic stem-cells provide much potential for curing diseases like Parkinson’s, a disease that my father-in-law suffered from for more than a decade prior to his painful death in late 2004. For this reason I confess that I respond to the emotional arguments that surrounded this bill with some real life experience. At the same time I fear, like other social conservatives, that this bill was, in actuality, an ethical “Trojan horse.” It is

By |July 26th, 2006|Categories: Bio-Medical Ethics|

Why Don't Christians Really Care About Culture

My ACT 3 Weekly this week, “Why Same-Sex Marriage Fails,” addressed the issue of same-sex marriage in our culture and the long-term prospects for preserving one-man and one-woman marriage in the United States. I showed that in the short range the advance toward homosexual marriage is clearly being defeated. Only Massachusetts has left the door open legally and that door may close soon if the voters are allowed to respond. You can read my article at It will be found in the resource link to the ACT 3 Weekly articles for the date of July 24.

Monte Wilson, a good friend in Atlanta, wrote several personal comments to me about my article that I think are worth sharing. He picked up on my comments about Jewish commentators understanding cultural issues much better than Christians. He concludes that they actually care about culture while evangelical Christians only care about culture if the issue is (1) prayer in the schools; (2) abortion; (3) Internet porn; or (4) Gay lifestyles/marriage. “But,” he adds, “to say that they [i.e., the

By |July 25th, 2006|Categories: Culture|

Humility and Proper Confidence in One's Ministry

I never cease to be amazed at how particular conservative schools, and some conservative role models, teach young pastors a type of certitude that lacks basic Christian humility. One could chalk this up to a faulty epistemology, which I believe to be the case, but it is actually much worse than getting your epistemology right. As an example, just this week I listened to a group of seminary students give their testimonies about what their school meant to them and what it had taught them during their time there. Several of the students made a point of saying that they hated this idea or that movement. One passionately declared his hope that every graduate of this seminary would be known for, “his hatred for liberalism, regardless of whether it came from the New Perspective or from the old liberalism.” After listening to this kind of rant for about an hour I grew increasingly sad as I listened to these very confident young men. Thankfully some were more gracious than others but there was a general contempt for the views of any others that they

An Ethnic Church Becoming Missional the Hard Way

Lakeside Church of Chicago is an unusual church in many ways, but in other ways it represents the multi-generational history of a number of evangelical congregations across America. Born in 1943 as a Japanese-American church, Lakeside was originally the vision of Moody Church in Chicago. Harry Ironside, the pastor of Moody Church at that time, and other Moody Church leaders had a vision for ministry to displaced and harassed Japanese Americans during the Second World War. The stories early Lakeside members can tell of those difficult days during the War are beyond imagination to most of us who know nothing of the suffering and pain such parents and loved ones endured. That a famous Chicago church had such a vision for people in Chicago is commendable and stands to this day as clear evidence of what a missional commitment can look like that reaches beyond politics. Such a vision is always called for in every era of social change, including the present.

But Lakeside Church, like many similar congregations in large cities across America, has had to grow far beyond its early

By |July 23rd, 2006|Categories: Missional Church|

Catholic and Pentecostal Dialogue

Father Juan Usma Gómez, an official of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, recently wrote a most helpful report titled, “Catholics and Pentecostals: A Historical Overview.” It offers some extremely interesting insights into how two very different Christian traditions can and do approach issues related to the ministry of the Holy Spirit. 

Gomez recounts the events that led up to the 1905 Azusa Street revival by writing:

The first religious service took place on April 14, 1906. The story says that it was actually in Azusa Street that a large number of the faithful experienced the "personal Pentecost," in other words, that spiritual experience generally recognized as the beginning of Pentecostalism, which was later to be called "Baptism in the Holy Spirit."

Reactions to this event were varied and conflicting. Those who received the "anointing" spoke of it as the sovereign touch of God, whereas leaders of the Protestant and Evangelical Communities kept their distance, fearing that such an experience could not have solid spiritual and doctrinal foundations.

Gomez gives then devotes particular emphasis to the question of

By |July 21st, 2006|Categories: Roman Catholicism|

The Star Power of Personality

Marketing is king in America. There is no question about it. Everything from politics to religion is powerfully marketed and almost everyone who promotes anything understands this reality. I am not an exception to this reality I assure you. I think it is important to recognize that marketing is not inherently evil. But it is always a tricky component in promoting any person or event and it does impact and corrupt virtue in certain cases.

I saw evidence of the power of marketing in the sports page of today’s Chicago Tribune (July 20). When it comes to endorsement powering today’s marketplace the Tribune reported that race car drive Danica Patrick is at the top right now. The Davie-Brown Index (DBI) determines celebrity influence on consumer buying behavior in the U.S. The DBI uses an interesting six-point scale to evaluate seven key attributes: appeal, notice, trendsetter, influence, trust, endorsement and aspiration. Danica rates higher than all other NASCAR drivers on the DBI Index. She even tops Michael Jordan’s numbers. Her ratings also exceed those of other star female athletes at the present time.

By |July 20th, 2006|Categories: Culture|

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