March 18, 2008

Now you can be really, really, really sure…

Posted in Humor?, Points of Interest at 7:30 am by Matt Porter

…that you know you’re saved. Because if you don’t remember the exact moment, you probably never were. I especially like the “twinkling of an eye” mode; it’s great for numerophiles like myself. Is that even a word?


March 17, 2008

The Gospel for the Church

Posted in Sin and Grace, The Basics, Theology at 4:49 pm by Matt Porter

ItIsFinished(This is yet another stop along the way to my ideas on gospel presentation.)

Here’s the working definition I’ll be using during the rest of these posts; see my last post for a more detailed approach to it:

gos-pel (n.): God’s plan for the redemption of all creation, especially mankind, accomplished through the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ

Does the Church, the Body of Christ, need the gospel? The answer to this question determines how we shape our ministry to each other and how we view our place in God’s plan. More »

March 14, 2008

What is the gospel?

Posted in The Basics, Theology at 6:47 pm by Matt Porter

CrossPage(This is the next stop along the way to my idea of presenting the gospel. It appears to be more related to the topic; never fear, I’m sure we’ll meander a few different directions before we get “there.”)On our path to deciding how to present the gospel, it’s necessary to settle on just what the gospel is. This is not important merely to determine the content of our presentation; it also affects the context and the method of presentation.

There are several competing views of the gospel, with plenty of shades in between. First, the gospel is frequently seen as the message of justification—Christ died so we might be reconciled to God. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some view the gospel as the message that Christ came to make things right, end poverty and injustice and tyranny, or correct other social ills. In the last couple of decades, the New Perspective on Paul has emphasized the social and cultural context of Paul’s proclamation of the gospel, arguing that Paul’s writings on the gospel were intended to announce Christ as Messiah-King and were a direct challenge to the rising emperor-worship flooding the Roman Empire. More »

March 12, 2008

From the “Finding my name in strange places” dept.

Posted in Humor?, Points of Interest at 12:53 pm by Matt Porter

Apparently I’ve been promoting March as White History Month. Who knew? And here I thought Presidents’ Day was enough for us pigment-impaired folk…

March 11, 2008


Posted in Humor?, Points of Interest at 12:47 pm by Matt Porter

Sometimes we pray things without even thinking about them. (Read the links first.)Two phrases, in particular, stick out for Angela and I:

“Dear God, Thank you for this day…”

We routinely started our prayers off with this, until one absolutely HORRIBLE day last month. We had just left the local Chick-Fil-A with a hastily-grabbed dinner, and neither of us felt like praying. In fact, neither of us could start praying, because we couldn’t get “thank you for this day” to come out of our mouths. I believe we ended up with a tag-team prayer that started with “God, this day really stinks!” More »

March 7, 2008

The Church Formerly Known As Yugoslavia

Posted in Christian culture, The Basics, Theology at 9:25 pm by Matt Porter

Yugoslavia(Yesterday, I promised to take a long, winding route to get to my ideas on presenting the gospel. This is our first stop in that journey.)

Remember the country of Yugoslavia? Located north of the Adriatic Sea, this Communist state contained a surprising variety of cultures for its size. After the implosion of the Soviet Union and the weakening of its own totalitarian system, Yugoslavia became engulfed in civil war. Old cultural hatreds which had been suppressed by the sheer weight of the dictatorship exploded into violence, and they repeatedly split and rejoined into anywhere from five to a dozen separate areas. Despite the interference intervention of the United Nations, the underlying conflicts were not resolved, and each micro-nation retains its inherited dislike of the others. Despite their commonalities from fifty years of Communist oppression and thirty years of the preceding monarchy, each culture apparently wanted nothing to do with the others (unless it was to kill them). The region has even been verbed: “balkanize” means to micro-divide into hostile groups. More »

March 6, 2008

Free Gospel for Everyone!*

Posted in The Basics, Theology at 7:29 pm by Matt Porter

*with a $10 purchase. See store for details.

The gospel is the heart of the Christian faith. (I’m not sure if that more of a definition, or a truism.) Few Christians would outright deny the need to spread the gospel, so how should we communicate this central aspect of our faith? There are dozens? hundreds? of different methods. Despite all their differences and similarities, they can all be viewed with one basic contrast in mind: whether the local church or the individual is primarily responsible for the proclamation of the gospel.

Church-centered methods focus on getting people into a church function, typically so they can respond to some type of invitation. There are several flavors of this approach; fundamentalist churches might emphasize preaching to those who are brought in, while more seeker-oriented churches may emphasize making them feel comfortable and welcome. In both, the individual’s responsibility consists of getting people through the doors so the church can do its job. Churches use anything from casual services and heavily marketed programs to bus ministry and promotional “bring-a-friend” days to accomplish this. More »

March 3, 2008

The most horrible month of the year

Posted in Working through Life at 12:49 pm by Matt Porter

Thus endeth the month formerly known as the second month of the year. Behind such innocuous nomenclature lurk evil, despair, and doom. Well, maybe not doom, since we escaped with our lives and part of our sanity. Dinner with friends on the first of the month, Friday-end-of-the-school-week on the last—those are the bookends on a twenty-nine day excursion through the nether regions of the earth. Next to the entries for Sheol and Hades in our Hebrew/Greek dictionary, I have penciled in 02/2008. But I think you get the point. More »

February 22, 2008

Who needs a music degree?

Posted in Humor?, Points of Interest at 5:14 pm by Matt Porter

…when you can just write great songs through random processes? Scott Adams, creator of the popular Dilbert cartoon, posted a challenge on his blog (nearly a month ago—I seem to be a tad behind the times): contribute up to two lines of lyrics combining random words or ideas. A German band picked up on the post, combining the best of the submitted lyrics and some of their own and setting them to music. A Dilbert fan then took the song and made a music video for it, using pictures collected off the internet. Amazingly enough, the result—”She Amazed Me”—would be indistinguishable from the majority of current popular music if it were played in the background.

Here are the posts with the original recording and the followup music video. It, erm, amazed me. 😛

February 15, 2008

Goodwill and Church Cookies

Posted in Christian culture, Commentary at 8:15 pm by Matt Porter

ChurchCookiesOur church is having a 50’s-themed Valentine’s dinner tomorrow. In a rare attempt at not being party poopers, we stopped by a couple of secondhand stores to see if we could find period-appropriate clothing. Unfortunately, our trip yielded nothing appropriate to wear (apparently people were smaller in that decade). As my wife commented, while we couldn’t dress like the 50’s, we certainly could have redecorated our house like the 50’s. Her statement gave me two questions to think about:

Why do we give away our junk? Why do we feel good about giving it to someone else?

Both of those questions have more to do with the attitude we have toward our stuff than about the actual giving. Two more questions should help clear things up: More »

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