Gospel. Culture. Technology. Music.

Month: July 2008

Prime Example of Poor Project Management and Deployment

(Original): http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id … _article=1
(Archived): http://www.westerfunk.net/archives/tech … %20iPhone/

“Let’s get this software out as fast as possible without setting up the proper infrastructure and implementing a stable design,” seems to be the motto for giant proprietary software vendors like Microsoft, in light of Vista’s implementation upheaval.

But now Apple is the next “bad management” culprit. It appears today as if the iPhone update to version 2.0 is not going so well. In fact, for many, it could possibly be disastrous, much in the same way many I know have lost their purchased iTunes altogether because of some iPod software issue (in the form of a total software reinstall which wipes out all their content, content that wasn’t backed up either, which is a separate issue).

This is one of the reasons I just don’t deal with Apple products in general, particularly iPods, iPhones, etc.: they are too dependent upon a system that is unstable in it’s deployment of new OS software. When it works it works, when it doesn’t it doesn’t, then all your data is gone, and you must reinstall the software from the bottom up.

Now I don’t have a Mac personal computer, so I don’t know about those. From what I’ve heard, they’re great to work with, that’s at least what everyone tells me. However, they are way out of my price range when I can get something with the same processing speed for literally a quarter of the cost.

I would like to add too though that I am not very pleased with how poorly Microsoft has been managing their software deployments either, such as Vista and XP SP3. For companies, these deployments have been disastrous and expensive, costing profit. I’m convinced these companies need to start setting their project deadlines back further instead of quickly just throwing something out there and hoping it works for the sake of a dollar. Maybe consider moving away from a profit-centric business model to a more customer-centric model and profits will inevitably increase as a result?

Instant Gratification as it Relates to Theology

We live in a society where we have almost anything at our disposal in a matter of minutes or seconds: mass amounts of clean water, mass amounts of clean food, transportation, smooth roads (for the most part), climate-controlled buildings, instant information via the internet, instant everything. We want news in bite-size chunks; we want food made in front of us as soon as we show up in the line (Chipotle? which I love by the way) or quickly available at a drive-up window; we want clothes that we like when we like. We don’t want to wait, on anything. We get extremely frustrated in traffic jams. We’re not a patient people. We live in a society where because of technology, we think in terms of convenience as it relates to almost everything.

I am including myself in this culture and not trying to make it seem as if I have successfully distanced myself from it, because I haven’t. By God’s grace, hopefully, I’m on the way. I’m simply diagnosing these things that are good in one sense (the ease of meeting our needs and our wants) and bad in another (what it has done to our character as a culture).

There are ways in which I am petty, short, impatient, frustrated when things don’t go my way when these convenient services or products are either cut off or made more difficult to obtain, either in the short-term or the long-term. I am a sinner in need of grace, grace to work in my heart to make me more like Christ, that these things our culture is absorbed in as behavioral patterns of operation would cease to be active in me. I suppose it will take a life time.

All of that to say that unfortunately it seems this instant gratification culture we are absorbed in has made it’s way into the Evangelical world, and in particular, Biblical thinking and understanding. Because of our instant gratification, pragmatic, practical, “break it down for me” modus operandi, we tend to think of theology in the same manner.

We are not patient when it comes to the difficult things to understand in the Scriptures. We want to get straight to a complete understanding without having to do the work to get there. “Just give it to me straight.” “All we need is Jesus.” “I don’t need to think through what it’s saying, that’s what theologians are for. Just give me the broken down, short version.” Christianity (the Gospel) doesn’t work that way, it just isn’t that simple. Now, in one sense it is simple, being that a child can understand it in its simple message that God saves sinners. Yet in another sense, it is infinitely deep, so deep even angels long to look into these things.

Even further though, many times people don’t even want the broken down version anymore, so they try to bypass theology altogether and skip straight to the “What should we do?” thinking instead of first thinking through the “What has Christ done to reconcile me to God?” as the basis for moving forward to the “What should we do?”

In many of Paul’s writings in particular, he starts with theology before getting to the “What should we do?” portion. Ephesians and Romans are primary examples of this. In Ephesians, chapters one through three are theological primarily. Then chapters four through six are about works and growing in them.

In Romans it’s the same deal. Chapters one through eleven are primarily theological. Then chapters twelve through sixteen are practical, or focused on our works in response to the theology presented in chapters one through eleven. Even then though, Paul is constantly relating works back to the Gospel. One necessarily and logically proceeds from the other and it cannot work in the reverse direction (though of course in works we can see that very theology being played out for sure).

Theology is for doxology, orthodoxy is for orthopraxy, or to break that down even further, right thinking and believing necessitates right living and doing. You cannot divorce the two and in addition to that, right living always proceeds from right believing (with the heart) and thinking (with the mind), just as wrong doing and living always proceeds from wrong believing and thinking.

In the American Christian culture, we want to skip the difficult thinking and go straight to the pragmatic, practical doing. But it just won’t work or last. We will burn out because our believing and thinking isn’t firmly grounded in the source of power and vast truth that is in Jesus Christ, revealed in the Scriptures. Skipping over proper thinking and believing concerning the Scriptures is, at its heart, legalism, or it will inevitably always give rise to that if it hasn’t yet. Why? Because then the focus of our faith is no longer the glory of what Christ has won for us at Calvary, but is now what we’re doing.

We don’t want to sit down, quietly, and patiently think through what the Word of God says and wait upon the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts and minds that which is true from the Scriptures. This has to do much with our convenience mentality. Or we don’t want to sit down and take the time to work through a theological work someone has put a ton of effort into to help us understand it.

So what do we do in place of this? We take single verses, many times out of their respective context, that are easy to understand and reduce the entire Christian faith to a few summed up statements in the Scriptures. There is so much more to it though than just a few commonly known verses like John 3:16, Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23 and so on. Those are great summation verses, don’t get me wrong, and they should be employed in the service of sharing the Gospel. Why? Because they are God’s word. But they certainly do not express all that is said concerning salvation. And for many of us, we just stop at these verses and proceed no further in understanding all that God has said to us.

That’s why there are chapters and chapters of Scripture speaking directly to these things, even if they are hard to understand at first. We must fight the tendency to conveniently sum up Scripture into these bite-size chunks and dig deep into His Word like a miner digging for gold. As much as we would like the Scriptures to be a few sentences, the fact of the matter is they are not and it is complicated. It takes us a lifetime to work through all that has been said to us. And even then, we couldn’t even begin to exhaust His Word to us.

Theology is careful thinking about what the Bible says to us concerning the truths of God in the Scriptures. It is also relating one passage to other passages. For instance, how do we understand Paul’s statements in Romans 4 and 5 with James’ statements in James 2:14-26? Paul says we are justified by faith alone. But James says we are “justified” by faith and works. Yet we believe Scripture does not contradict itself because it is the inerrant Word of God. So what are we to make of these passages in regard to justification? That is theology. And it is vastly important that we get it right. This is just one example. All of this is important because it shapes how we view Christ and His work on our behalf, which then, depending on our comprehension of it, ultimately works itself out into how we serve Him and others.

So at the same time that we’re pursuing people with works intentionally, that seek to show them the Gospel (ultimately), we need to constantly be diligent in studying the Scriptures and thinking through what others in our present day and in the 2000 year history of the church (that the Lord has graciously blessed us with) have had to say concerning them. You cannot skip over theology as if it can be ignored because it is difficult. No. Wrong thinking and believing about God, man, salvation, and a host of other points of theology will always result in works that dishonor Him, that esteem His value to be worthless.

You will always be doing theology in everything you say, even when you want to skip over it. There is no question about that. Every time someone asks you a question concerning what the Scriptures have said, and you give them a response, you have uttered theology, even if it is a summed up, shortened statement. As R.C. Sproul has said, the question is not whether you have a theology or not, the question is whether you have correct, truthful theology.

Now to be clear, this does not mean you need to study twelve hours a days like Jonathan Edwards or someone like that. Let’s be reasonable. Most of us do not have that kind of time with jobs, school, and the pressures of everyday industrialized, technology-saturated life in a world like ours. But this does mean that we all need to be diligent and persistent, everyday, in actively pursuing the truths of God in the Scriptures.

If we fail to do this, our thinking about God will not be conformed to the Scriptures and we will conceive of God in the way we want to think of Him (which amounts to idolatry according to Romans 1), not how He’s revealed Himself in Scripture. This will ultimately affect how we make decisions on a daily basis, which then ultimately affects all of what we do, practically speaking.

If we were as diligent in pursuing the unlimited spiritual knowledge within the Scriptures (given to us by God Himself!) as we are in pursuing business degrees, law degrees, masters degrees, careers, etc., think about how much we could mine that would be valuable unto eternal life, not just this life that is passing away before our very eyes according to Ecclesiastes.

Monergism.com is a great place to start with all of this. They have topics on possibly every area of theology or question you may have pertaining to our faith.

Totally Misses the Point of the English/Spanish Debate

For Obama, it’s more important to learn English in order to be bi-lingual than to learn English in order to assimilate into a culture. Try telling that to the citizen’s of Miami where the people now speak a majority Spanish instead of English. Businesses are being forced to close because they don’t speak Spanish and are thus losing business.

For attempting to unify a nation, Obama is doing very little of it. As the issues come out here, the marketing fanfare is taking a back seat and the real Obama is being exposed. He wants to separate himself from all the other politicians, yet he is just like them. Yes, McCain is as well. They are both politicians. But my point is that Obama is attempting to market himself as this middle of the road kind of guy, when he is anything but that. He’ll say whatever it takes to get into office.

So, back to the video … Obama is more embarrassed by us, the American people, who don’t all speak multiple languages, than embarrassed by the tragedy of Miami and their majority use of Spanish instead of English? Or that someone like Barbara Walters considers the leader of Syria to be an honorable man? http://newsbusters.org/blogs/justin-mcc … ntelligent Probably more so than her own President? Typical East Coast, elitist snobbery, coming from both Obama and Walters.

Only in America is this kind of non-sense permitted. And for that, Obama and Walters should be thankful. But instead they’ll just attack the nation where they find refuge from the extremist ideologies that exist in other parts of the world, through bad logic and a corrupted moral compass.

Why We’re Not Emergent – A Review

This was a great read. The back and forth style between a writer for ESPN (Ted Kluck) and a pastor at a church in East Lansing, MI (Kevin DeYoung) has made for an excellent combination of perspectives on the emerging church movement. On the one hand, Kluck is coming at it from a very down-to-earth, journalistic, street level perspective, giving you a cultural view from all kinds of sources and personal interviews. And on the other hand, DeYoung is taking apart the movement from a theological point of view, affirming the things that are positive about it, and denying the things that are Scripturally contradictory.

Instead of just hearing one authors’ perspective and critiques, by having two authors with differing angles, it really gives you a more well-rounded understanding of what it’s all about. It is an easy read and really pulls you in. As D.A. Carson describes the book, it is “breezy.” It’s one of those books where you don’t get bogged down in a section because of its thickness. Points are explained with exceptional clarity and not made theologically overbearing.

By no means do they cover absolutely every single point of view in the movement (to do so would be next to impossible), but they cover the major teachers and forces driving the movement, both theological and cultural. The summed up thesis is that we have a lot to glean from the emerging church and their critiques of evangelicalism and where it’s gone, and yet they, like their liberal forebears 100 years ago, have swung the pendulum too far the other way. In many ways, the movement has the same taste as modernistic theological liberalism, and oddly enough, some of the almost exact quotes. Therefore the answer is not to “reimagine” Christianity under the shadow of postmodern (as the liberals attempted and failed at 100 years ago under the shadow of modernism), but to recapture historically faithful, evangelical (Gospel-centered), Reformational Christianity.

I don’t want to give too much more away because, well, you just need to read it yourself. I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to know more or understand what this whole movement is about, why it’s appealing, what’s positive, but also show us all a better way. Get this book. You will not be let down by the content, nor the style.

The Operating Principle of a Believers’ Life

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:3-11

Every one of us operates in our lives off of some set of principles, presuppositions, and some form of a worldview framework. If you are human, these things are simply unavoidable, inescapable. These principles affect the way we make long-term as well as short-term decisions in every realm of our lives. They come in thousands of different forms, in many variations, and are often very complex and intricate, to the point where sometimes we don’t even know or realize the principle upon which we are making the decisions we do. In addition, most of these principles are culturally informed, and therefore they are just assumed things with how we operate.

For believers though, Christ has broken into our respective cultural context, invaded our lives (in the positive sense obviously) and given us a principle upon which we can now make decisions that glorify Him and produce positive results in our own lives as well as the lives of those we affect with this truth. This is called the Gospel Principle. And this verse in Philippians is a great illustration of exactly this principle that Paul wants to convey to us. “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” But how do we do this? By merely following Christ’s example? Not exactly.

Now I want to make clear that yes, Christ is our example for how we should live and obviously we should model our lives after His way of life. That is a “duh” sort of statement. The Gospel Principle goes further though because it does not simply say “Do this and you shall live.” That is Law. Have we not seen the history of Israel, how miserably a majority of Israelites failed at this? We are all sinners and cannot measure up to the demands of the Law by our own power.

This is exactly where the Gospel principle for believers comes in though. We look not at “What would Jesus do?” for our motivation (though I have absolutely no problem with anyone wearing a WWJD bracelet as a reminder to pursue Christ for our strength and power), but rather we go further with the Gospel and ask “What has Jesus done?” “What would Jesus do?” as great as it is of a reminder, in itself, does not give us any power to do what Paul commands, which is, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit.” It is Law. There is no power in the Law to give us life. The Law is good (Romans 7) but it gives no life, and instead produces only death in us, because we are sinners and fail its demands.

Only the Gospel gives life. And by asking ourselves everyday, “What has Jesus done,” instead of “What would Jesus do?” we are reorienting ourselves with the power of what was accomplished at Calvary on our behalf to enable us to carry our the very thing Paul is commanding of us. Then and only then, by coming before Christ and looking to His work in His life, death, and resurrection can we do what is commanded in the Law. Apart from Him we can literally do nothing that is pleasing to Him. We are utterly reliant upon Him.

This is what Paul lays out for us. He does not give commands without it being under the power and principle of the life-giving Gospel of Christ, that He submitted Himself humbly to the cross, to bear our burden and free His people from hell. Paul’s commands and the Gospel itself are always interconnected in what he says in the Scriptures. Watch what he does.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Yes, Jesus is an example, and this passage itself is a great picture of how that is so. But the passage is more than an example. If it’s merely an example, we’re back to the Law again. The Gospel though is that Jesus perfectly fulfilled the Law out of love for us and frees us now (giving us the power through Him) to carry out its demands. Paul relates doing “nothing from rivalry or conceit,” with the principle of Christ emptying Himself on our behalf.

It is this finished work upon which we can come and find power in Him to perform that which is impossible for us to perform out of ourselves and our sinful nature. In fact, outside of this work is simply moralistic working and toiling that is in fact sin, according to Romans 14:23. There is no power in us and what we bring to God through our self-righteous, self-generated works. Paul is very careful to show that when he commands something it is always related to this Gospel Principle, because he knows no one will be able to accomplish what he commands outside of the power available in what Christ has accomplished for us.

So as believers, though we have many competing principles telling us how we should make decisions coming from our surrounding worldly culture, we have this principle, the Gospel Principle, that we can keep coming back to every moment of every day because the Gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. As Tim Keller says, the Gospel is not only the way we’re saved at conversion, but it is also the way we’re changed progressively into the likeness of Christ. The Gospel is not merely the A-B-C’s of the Christian life, but the A-Z of the whole thing. Paul never leaves the Gospel behind when talking about how we should live in response to it, because it’s only through its power that we can do perform it.

This passage and others show that to be an inescapable fact. We love because He first loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins, our wrath-bearer and our life-giver. Praise the Lord Jesus Christ for His matchless work to deliver us from hell and give us power and life in the here and now to do what is pleasing in His sight! May we daily return to Him and this Gospel Principle to base all our decisions upon.

“Have this mind [doing nothing from rivalry or conceit] among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus [the Gospel Principle], who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Come to Christ and remind yourself of the power of what was definitively accomplished at Calvary for you, in order to live a life pleasing to Him. There is no power or hope without Him and His work. There is power only in the blood of Christ. Bow before your Lord and Savior who has completed His work for you, who sits at the right hand of the Father now, and let Him satisfy the deepest core of your being by His Spirit and allow Him to give you life through His death and resurrection. It is our only hope for doing anything that glorifies Him and brings Him honor.

Haven’t Been Blogging as Much Lately

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I haven’t been doing as many posts. Part of this has to do with a sort of writers block. I feel as if I’ve exhausted many of the things I normally talk about. So I’m taking a step back and reassessing why it is I’m doing this to start with. Another part has been the demands of work recently. I’ve started working on our Sharepoint environments more and this has drained me to a great degree. And still yet, sometimes, I just don’t know what to say. I guess that would fall into the writers block category still. My brother has been in town, back from fighting in Iraq, so I’ve been spending time with him as well.

There are several pet topics that I like to write on, as you may have noticed. But I don’t know what else I can say about those things other than reiterating the same ideas, maybe with new thoughts, but more innovating instead of inventing (so to speak, not that I have anything original to say really, just repeating ideas I’ve heard mostly).

So I’m trying to reassess what other areas of theology (in particular) I should move into talking about. But that requires taking a step back and thinking through some things before lobbing ideas out there. Anyway, all that to say, I have kind of been taking a sabbatical from writing as much because I feel a little burned out I guess. I’ve also been reading more which takes away from writing time. So I’ll be back, I just don’t know what direction I want to take this site now.

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