Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Little Help for My Friends

Straitgate gets a new server (yay!) and Does it really have value? (yes!)

Donate! Pray for many to do so...

(and this means sermons should be coming back!)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

GA: A Word About the Action on the Justification Report

Okay, as the Internet is buzzing about our action on the report (and has been before we even officially saw it), and I've received comments and emails wondering about it, I feel compelled to say a little more--for the sake of those who read this, particularly those in my church. I'm hesitant to say much, waiting for our Committee on Christian Ed to put out the final official version of the report with an explanatory preface. But, we've got to give people something to start with. I may keep writing a bit on this later. Polymathis is finding all sorts of interesting things about the word "commend" just by doing Adobe searches through the minutes :)

Anyway, here's a little something written by Guest Blogger Jason Wallace, the pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church, Salt Lake, my seminary mentor and all-around good guy (my first guest blogger, I think). Without further ado, take it away Jason:

The politics of spin never cease to amaze me. Anyone who wants to think the OPC backed away by "not adopting" the justification report is deluded. People need to look up what adoption means in Robert's Rules before offering opinions.

The whole idea of adoption was based on a misunderstanding of the differences between our standing rules and Robert's Rules. The report was never intended for adoption, and it was only suggested when someone tried to make more of that than was intended. I know of no one who wanted to bind themselves to every single word of the report. Adoption would have created more confusion than clarity. We also did not want to open the report up to endless amendments. This is not the Westminster Confession. It has been recommended in the strongest terms. It was also recommended by the General Assembly today to devote an issue of New Horizons to critiquing the New Perspectives and Federal Vision.

The OPC has spoken, but to many of our critics nothing will satisfy them. They have splintered the church with innuendo, and must now pick apart everything we do to justify themselves. They will seize on this and say, "See, they didn't adopt!" On the other hand, some who desire to promote these heresies may choose to believe they are free to do so. If they do, they will be charged and tried in the courts of the church.

GA: Other Stuff

so where's everything else from the last couple of days? Um, dull, confusing, and maddening...just not up for it right now. Dull is probably not the right word--it's very important stuff, but mind-numbing when you're in the middle of it (a judicial appeal, reworking the funding of our Worldwide Outreach, etc.). I'll get to it. We have quite the full day tomorrow, and little time to do it in.

Prayer would be appreciated.

GA: Justification Report

The GA has just voted (with practically no dissent) to request that our committee on Christian Education distribute the Report of the Committee to Study the Doctrine of Justification, commending it for study. This report will be distributed to seminaries, churches, other denominations, and our website with a prefatory statement to the report explaining the context around the origin of the report, what commending a report means and the statement on Justification adopted by the 71st GA.

The study committee was dismissed with thanks "for their arduous labors"

Soli Deo Gloria!

UPDATE: It occurs to me that I only reported on today's action re: the Justification Report. We did take some action on Saturday, and I was just going to hold off and do it all at once. Well, Polymathis covered all the bases in his post, so I'll just point to it (link will open in a new window). I plan on posting some general reflections on the report/the process in day or so.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Dodging Palos Heights Vice

Yesterday I introduce a pastor to Penguin mints...come to think of it, he's the pastor from the other day's little anecdote. Now I should point out, I don't down these things like crazy--I'm normally an Altoids man...but when it comes to attending series of long meetings, I play it safe. During a dull debate the pastor turns around and pantomimes to me popping a mint in his mouth, so I have someone pass them up 2 rows and he pops one and passes them back.

About 30 min. later he passes a dollar bill back to me and pantomimes some I grab a handful for myself and pass the tin up to him (I brought two half-full tins, so not a problematic thing for me--just have to switch to peppermint from cinnamon).

If my first GA ends with me being accused of selling pep pills, my ecclesiastical career is over. Oh well, at least my breath will be fresh...

GA: The Rest of the Weekend

(links in this post open in new windows...I try to do that generally, but normally fail...didn't here)

Well, as you can see from the report on the OPC site, we didn't finish things up with the justification report--I'll hold off on further comments on that 'til we're done. Again, the report shows the details of the elections and money numbers we saw the rest of Saturday.

Yesterday, I had a very pleasant morning worshipping at a local congregation. Good sermon--reformed preaching always sounds better with a Scottish accent (right Lucy?)--after the service the associate general secretary of our Home Missions Committee (and moderator of GA) spoke about Home Missions--quite encouraging, and then we were treated to a very nice church dinner. It's mostly personal preference, but wow...was so nice to see everyone--men, women, children, teens--dressed for church. Ties (mostly with jackets--and I'm including the young), nice dresses, no jeans, no shorts, no sandals. I know that makes me a narrow, mean, curmudgeon. I'm fine with that.

Then in the evening there was a joint communion service with the six OPC congregations in the area and the commissioners--don't know the number of people there, but pretty sure I've never been in a congregation that large. Great service (tho' the organ was a touch too loud) and a fantastic sermon by Pastor Bill Shishko: Biblical High Churchmanship. I highly recommend listening to it. In fact, for those readers of this blog who happen to be members of my church, while I cannot compel you to listen to it, consider yourself strongly urged by one of those who keeps watch over your soul to do so. Urged not only to listen, but to pray about it, meditate upon it, and consider how it applies to our congregation--and then get back to me (and the rest of the session) with how we might apply what was said.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


I just said 6/24! Obviously, no offense is meant to my friends/readers who are of the the Framework, Day Age, etc. perspectives.


GA: Day 4 (part 1)

As I start this we're about 15 minutes or so into the day (am typing this while taking notes on and listening to the presentation), the Committee on Justification is presenting its report. Obviously, this is the hot topic this year, it's the thing the GA will be judged by. No one is going to evaluate this GA by whether or not we're going to agree on a new Directory for Public Worship (we won't)--it's been 20 years already, what's another? Nor will we be evaluated by whether or not we end up with a mechanism to respond to Hurricane Katrina-type natural disaster (we're working on it). No, we will be judged--and the judging has already started by people who couldn't bother to wait for the GA to act before denouncing the OPC (both on the pro and con sides of the controversies).

This is going to be a long and eventful day, I trust. If you're reading this during the day on 6/24, please pray for God's guidance on the Assembly.

UPDATE: coming back from lunch, at this point it does look like there's a good deal of support for the Committee's report. 8-)

GA: Day 3

Perhaps the best way to start this is with a story about a Presbytery meeting I attended a few years ago. A friend of mine came with me, a former PCA Ruling Elder, he was then an OPC licentiate. I don't remember exactly what was being discussed, but I believe it was something like the time of adjournment for the next meeting (6 months away)--and we spent what could've been 15-20 minutes (probably only 10, just seemed like 30) on the issue. My friend leans over to me, huge smile on his face, cackling, "This is soooo OPC."

So today, we have long, meandering, technical debates over what reports we should/should not include in the minutes; how an action that it seemed most people wanted should be given to a committee to take care of; whether or not something that a significant number wanted to go to another committee could be given to a committee in the first place (and that's before we got to wondering if people wanted it to go anywhere at all). I could just see my friend busting a gut and how typically OP it was.

That's not to suggest that everything was the level of beating-your-head-against-a-wall like that. Heard some great reports of what's going on in Foreign Missions--including some moving and poignant discussions of a Missionary that died in the field this year. Home Missions was equally encouraging--the number of non-English language works starting in the US was great to hear in such a supposedly homogenous denomination (tho' politically troubling, I must admit). A lot of what I heard today made me glad to be here, just so I could hear it, be challenged by it, and praise the Lord for it. God is doing some good things through the OPC, and if He sustains her by His grace, they shall continue.

Had other stuff I wanted to say, but it's 1:20 local time here, and in 7 hrs and change we start discussing this little report on justification that you might have heard about. Need to get some shut-eye before that.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Can I go home now?

So I'm taking things easy last night IM'ing with my wife and another GA commissioner (yeah, kinda sad, instead of the usual hundreds of miles separating us, we're hundreds of feet away and we're IM'ing). Wife hasn't had much conversation with anyone over 7, so we're joking around, etc. And that's when I do something dumb.

I say something PG, yet something really only appropriate to say to your wife. And then I look to the top of the window, and YIPE! That's not my wife's window!! I have the strongest desire to just vanish. Change denominations effectively immediately. Think about praying for a power spike that will kill all electronic communications/hard drives/etc. in a 10 mile radius. The pastor smiles at me, reminds me we're OPC, not PCUSA, and drops it (at least temporarily, he'll likely bring it up again from time to time to keep me in line). Then I close his window. Not going to repeat that.

My wife is laughing. I've given a man a good deal of ammunition to use against me. And I feel like I'm back in high school, going through one of those humiliating moments that scar your psyche for life. [sigh]

Thursday, June 22, 2006

GA: Day 2

Well, the OPC's running report is here and Pastor Polymathis reported a bit on today, too. Keep an eye on both of sure they'll be more informative.

Today was the day for the Advisory Committees to get their work done. Didn't take too long for mine, had the afternoon and evening to kill. Mostly sat in my room enjoying the AC, reading, doing some sermon prep, re-reading the Justification Report. Relaxing, but dull. Tomorrow should be more eventful :)

btw, this is post 805 here. That's a whole lotta nonsense...hopefully a little good stuff, too.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

GA: Day 1

Wow. To say that it's muggy here is an understatement. Give me South Carolina in August any day over this oppression. At least the dorms and the chapel are air conditioned :)

Got off to a late problems w/the plane just before take off. Thankfully I had a painfully long layover in Denver, so leaving almost an hour late didn't disrupt anything.

Short evening session tonight, elected a new moderator, adopted the docket, etc. Pretty routine stuff. Hope to have something more to say tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Baby don't you wanna go...

Six and three is nine
Nine and nine is eighteen
Look there brother baby and see what I've seen
Baby don't you wanna go
Back to that same old place
Sweet home Chicago
Tomorrow a.m. I will be hurtling east through the skies in a big metal tube at hundreds of miles per hour...hoping that a couple of men will be able to hit their target (just not too hard). (oh well, have Michael Connelly's Trunk Music to keep me company...if we go down, I'll at least be content).

Their target will be Chicago--in case they lyric didn't tip you off--am headed to the OPC's 73rd General Assembly. My guess is that the OPC's home page will have the daily reports up soon, and I'll probably have some up here as well.

Hate leaving home...really I do. I am such the Hobbit at heart. Will be a freakishly long week away from my family. But at least the meetings should be interesting to watch :) (meetings interesting? oy, I am such the geek)
Oh come on
Baby don't you wanna go
Come on
Baby don't you wanna go
Back to that same old place
Sweet home Chicago

(and yes, I'm really singing along with Jake and Elwood as I type this)

When Parodies can't keep up...

I recently talked about Kilpatrick's A Field Guide to Evangelicals and Their Habitat--a nice satirical look at Evangelicalism.

This morning I was reminded of a story from the Sacred Sandwich that I quoted and linked to a couple of months ago, "Jobless Rate for Christian Satirists Skyrockets as Churches Become Parodies on Their Own." Which shows how likely it is that Kilpatrick's book won't get (or need) a sequel.

What reminded me of the second story? This. (Parental Discretion Advised. This page is recommended for mature audiences only. It contains horrible theology and questionable products.)

Monday, June 19, 2006

couple of quick links

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Summer Reading: Skin Tight by Carl Hiaasen

There's just no way that I could read this during the school year--but that's not a slam, I just couldn't justify the time. But it's summer, and my brain is mushy. So I grabbed a couple of books just to read--not to think about, mull over, swim in (like Gibson's foray out of SF)--just to read. I'd been wanting to try Hiaasen for awhile, and Skin Tight was the earliest work by him at the library, so figured I'd give it a try.

Glad I did--this was a fun read...dialogue was fairly snappy, some authentically comic situations, characters weren't brilliantly drawn, but well enough. I can see why Dave Barry's novels are (favorably) compared to his, and that's a compliment. Probably a better way to spend a couple of hours than most of the fare at the movies this summer--but with as much lasting quality. Thumbs up.

...speaking of mushy brains: another book I checked out from the library should be arriving by the end of the week from I was reminded of once I came home. How stupid can I be? Kletois and Norris are kindly uninvited to answer that one in the comments :)

Monday, June 12, 2006

A Big "Thank Yew" to TNT

I know, I know many* of you were hoping you'd get a rest from TV posts 'til September (or beyond)...sorry! TNT's series, The Closer returned this evening with a commercial-free season premier, and I have something to watch again! I don't mind commercials so much--good time to refresh beverages, etc.--but the uninterrupted show helped the urgency of Brenda Leigh Johnson's search for a cop killer. The mystery was decent--the culprit was easy to figure out, but the motive eluded me longer than it should have--but, as with most detective series (print or television), the mystery isn't the important part. It's about the characters. And The Closer shines there.

Brenda's junk-food addiction may have been a cheap way to create a character (think I read Lee Goldberg saying something like that last year), but I think it's become a nice way to display her neurotic-core--her efforts to kick the habit this year should prove entertaining. Kyra Sedgwick's portrayal of the Deputy Chief is really charming and disarming. Can't help but love her--sure, her social skills can make Adrian Monk seem like a people-person--but she makes up for it by getting the job done. Her method of drawing the truth out of people, particularly the final questioning of the suspects (often without them realizing they're being questioned) are always more interesting than the mysteries themselves.

But Brenda's not the only character that draws you in...Detectives Provenza and Flynn are just fun. The background members of her squad: Lt. Tau, Det. Sanchez and Det. Daniels--are really well-played, and while not central add a lot to each scene they're in. J.K. Simmons' Asst. Police Chief Will Pope is possibly my favorite. His role in the stories are incidental at best, but I'm not sure I'd bother watching the show if he wasn't around anymore--perhaps the pending-divorce will give him some more screen time (but I'm so not looking forward to the love triangle they're setting up to go along with that).

It's not the destination, it's the journey--and the people you travel with. And on both of those marks, The Closer more than gets the job done.

*I say "many" mostly out of irony, I know there are only 3 readers of this thing....

...another reason to eat how I want and not how I "should"

from Reuters:

A 440 pound German man discovered that being overweight can be good for your health -- if you get run over by a car.

German police said the extra body mass prevented the 30-year-old man from suffering potentially fatal injuries when a Volkswagen Polo drove over him after he braked suddenly on his bicycle at a crossroads and fell off in front of the car.

"It certainly helped him in this case," said Sven-Marco Claus, a spokesman for police in the western town of Gifhorn on Monday. "Someone smaller would probably not have been so lucky."

(H/T: Clyde Bauman: The Man Behind Mylo)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Ow Ow Ow Ow

Was trying to get a paper jam out of the copier this morning at church and tweaked my back (suddenly I have a great deal of understanding for Mariano's problem in KC a couple weeks ago) is getting progressively worse--can't use any of my back at the moment, or even pull or push with my arms.

Silly me forgot to do some calisthenics before attempting to photocopy bulletins.

"...I hope I die before I get old..."

Update: Almost 24 hrs after the humiliating blow dealt by Ricoh, I'm at 85%. Heat, Rest, and Mercy. Quickest turn around from a back injury yet (and it's been a few years since I've had one). Which underlines the small-ness of the tweak. And makes me feel even dumber than I did yesterday :)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

He took a duck in the face at two hundred and fifty knots

Restarting William Gibson's Pattern Recognition. Idoru was...okay. And All Tomorrow's Parties didn't quite click for me, so I didn't do the standard bolt for & Noble when the hardcover came out.

I should have.

I bought the paper back sometime last year, and it sat patiently waiting for me until January. It took less than a page to know that this was his best in a long time--Gaiman says it's his best since he rewrote all the rules in Neuromancer, he might be right. And it took two chapters to convince me that I wanted to live in this book for awhile. But responsibilities loomed larger, so I set it aside.

Felt the liberty to pick it back up this week, and crawled into bed with it twice, fully intent on not sleeping much. But I ended up closing my eyes before turning to page one. Didn't have enough energy to step into the world inhabited by Cayce Pollard and her allergy to fashion.

On impulse, I sat down with it this afternoon, and slipped through three chapters. I should've taken the time to get up and change my playlist--Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisely, BNL and Matchbox 20 don't work well with the intensity and pace of Gibson--but I was enjoying myself too much. Was tempted to send the kids to bed and lock the doors for another 324 pages. But they'd have complained and whined a lot and my wife has a key. So no point in that.

I'm hooked. Probably from this point

She knows, now, absolutely, hearing the white noise that is London, that Damien's theory of jet lag is correct: that her mortal soul is leagues behind her, being reeled in on some ghostly umbilical down the vanished wake of the plane that brought her here, hundreds of thousands of feet above the Atlantic. Souls can't move that quickly, and are left behind, and must be awaited, upon arrival, like lost luggage.
Tho' that just clinched the effect of this:
Five hours' New York jet lag and Cayce Pollard wakes in Camden Town to the dire and ever-circling wolves of disrupted circadian rhythm.
Best first line since
The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.
I'm a self-professed TV addict, but when you have someone who can use words and ideas like Gibson can, you know that flickering and flashing images (or even fixed images of a graphic novel, etc.) can't compete. No picture is worth a thousand of Gibson's words. The pleasure that you can experience--and re-experience and remember and long for from words tower above the high that can be gotten from anything else. I suspect that's what prompted Nora when she told Harry to "talk hard."

No real point to this...but if you're wondering why I seem extra content over the next couple of days, well, now you know. This is where I am.

Monday, June 05, 2006

In the Spirit of Rob Gordon

All in all, am not a fan of Peter Gabriel. However, "In Your Eyes" is simply one of the finest pop songs ever written. This has to be the definitive version of it:

Only thing that could've improved it was the presence of Lloyd Dobler on stage.

Somewhere, Lane Meyer is plotting a way to kill himself after hearing the song--possibly by hiring Martin Q. Blank.

(H/T: Micah for giving me the link, and SpideyGeek for getting me thinking about it today)

Neither snow nor rain not heat nor gloom of night...

...would be an issue if you never left your house. And with one of these, I just might be tempted to do just that.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Lord's Day Meditation

The special end of the covenant of grace is, the praise of the glory of his grace, Eph. i.6. and the revelation of his unsearchable and manifold wisdom: which divine perfections shine forth with lustre in the gift of a mediator, by whom the sinner is admitted to complete salvation, without any dishonour to the holiness, justice and truth of God. There is also a demonstration of the all-sufficiency of God, by which not only man, but even a sinner, which is more surprising, may be restored to union and communion with God.
--Herman Witsius