Thursday, April 19, 2007

Things the culture does to us... Could be offensive to some.

Warning! I'm about to put this peekaboo hack to good use with a blog post about some garbage I got to see for free with this new service called "joost". It was offensive stuff, so I'm warning everyone who might read this not to read it in case they might be offended. There's no pictures or anything like that, but I'm going to describe some things in detail as a warning to people not to use Joost.

I recently recieved an invitation to try out this new service from a company named "Joost". It's a Peer to Peer (P2P) client you install on your computer, and video content is delivered to you to be watched when you want to, how you want to.

Now, at first glance, this seems like what a lot of people are looking for in a video on demand service. You can choose the channels you want to watch and delete the ones you don't want to watch. And other than the software itself is still in beta testing and is glitchy, it seemed to work fine.

But the problem I had was not with the software so much (although it tries to set itself up as a server and Zone Alarm blocks that activity), but rather with the content. After installing the software, I watched some rather terrible clips that were basically garbage. As I moved through each video, I began to notice that a number of them were racy videos, and I finally got mad and turned it off when...

A video came on where a scantily clad female was basically giving this guy a lapdance. When I tried to bring up the "Heads Up Display" (or HUD) so I could click past this video, the software ignored me at first. Then when it did come up and I clicked the "skip forward" button, it took quite a few seconds for the video to stop and move on to the next video. Then, when the next video was a "jackass" rip off from japan featuring a guy with a bottle rocket up his ass, I got mad. I shut the thing down and uninstalled it.

I went to Joost's support forum to register my displeasure about the content they offered and the manner in which it was displayed, that I was given little control over what was happening and got an eyefull I didn't want. But one poster to the thread I started said, quote: "

"Um dude, i am sure there are more channels, then the HOT & WET channel, what were u expecting, if you don't wanna watch it, change the channel, or remove the channel altogether, no body is forcing you to watch it.. if you don't like it, don't watch it, but don't use a strip clip which u chose to watch as an excuse"

I told this guy I wasn't trying to view any particular channel, and this was just what was coming up. I don't remember now the order of the clips, but I said in the post that the strip clip was pretty much the first clip that came up, and without my bidding. I didn't ask to watch the clip, and indeed I stopped it as soon as I could.

This is the attitude people give you when you say you don't want to view this kind of garbage. They tell us if we don't want to watch, then don't, but they don't provide any alternatives other than some guy lighting a firecracker in his ass!

Yup, I'm ranting. I'm sure some people I know will see this and say, "Matt, you're messing up your sanctification", but I'm still mad about this. I was invited by Joost to try out their service, and this is what I got.
Don't use Joost, folks.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Dude, you're getting an error... Part 2

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One of the things that's going on right now in modern evangelicalism is it's tendency to try and blend into the culture while maintaining the label "Christian". Put "Christian" in front of anything, just like Apple Computers puts the ubiquitous "i" in front of anything, and you have something that is odd and at odds with what it means to be Christian.

Oh, doesn't all this seem so helpful? I mean, take what is the culture's, slap a Christian label on it and you get... This. You Can't make this stuff up, folks. On the one hand, I can understand what they are trying to do with stuff like this. They want to be able to have their own culture that is free of various corruptions, foul language, smutty ads, borderline unethical ideas, but this is just more false piety in action.

This magazine is sponsored by the likes of Covenant Eyes, a service that monitors your net activity and reports it to your "accountability partner". Alright, first of all, if you're a Christian and you have a computer, the entire secular world is going to assume you've looked at online porn. It's kind of like virginity. You can claim to be a virgin, but who's going to believe you?

"I've never looked at internet porn" a Christian might say, but the secular world can always choose to disbelieve him. If the Christian says, "I have an internet filter installed on my computer", the secular world can say, "see, you have to have a filter to keep your eyes off of porn", or, "well, you can always disable that and look at porn anyway", and it will never end. And, on top of all that, all the avoidance of internet porn in the world will not help you in the least... In fact, it might make you want to look at internet porn even more!

Real solution to this problem? Call God's heavenly IT techs so they can install Jesus! (Oy vey es schmer, did I just type that?)

The magazine itself has an article entitled... I kid you all not... Ephesians 6:10-18 and your computer. Offering us 6-9 biblical tips to securing your computer? Luther had a name for this stuff. He called people like this "schwarmers", busy bees, enthusiasts... people driven by emotions and impulse. It must sound good to the natural man to talk about the full armor of God for your computer. It's an impulsive need to take the culture and make it our own.

It's just silly. Can't even reach the level of heresy because it's just too silly.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Dude, you're getting an error...

First in a series of silly errors running around in modern Christianity. First up?

21 Days to a Complaint-Free Life: No complaint bracelets.

The website exclaims (with a picture of Oprah Winfrey) "The complaint bracelet has changed the lives of millions of people by helping them to break their addiction of complaining. Over 1 Million people across the world are wearing these complaint-free bracelets and they have been featured on OPRAH, The Today Show and in People magazine. To get your free no-complaint bracelet and to learn more about them please enter your email address below to continue."

Rev. Will Bowen of Christ Church Unity came up with the idea for this while taking a shower. The bracelet come with a pledge to not complain for 21 days. Everyone who has tried this little evangelical wonder has failed repeatedly in each attempt. If you fail, you have to change the bracelet to the other wrist.

Why is this my first "dude, your getting an error" story? Several things come to mind. One, this is an evangelical pastor trying to teach people that they can actually pull this off without telling people that this in no way will improve their standing before God. Second, if you don't catch yourself complaining, you obviously will have falsly claimed to have made it 21 days. Another thing is, if Jesus were to take this challenge he would fail.

Yup. You read me right. When Jesus cast out the money changers from the temple he said two things. He said, "Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’?" That's a complaint, and then he said, "But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’" That's another. Jesus fails the test. But yet, Jesus was without sin. But if Jesus is complaining, isn't that a sin? No, it isn't folk. In fact, if you pray about something that isn't right in your life and you pray to God to fix it for you, that's complaining.

This is such a silly attempt at false piety it's ridiculous.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Peekaboo hack for blogger...

I just implemented an awesome hack on my blogsite. Don't worry, it has nothing to do with trying to hack people's computers. What it does is allows me to make huge posts, but have after a paragraph or two a "read more" link that opens up the rest of the post. Click read more... to read more!

I found the hack on this website name Hackosphere. It turns out, as long as you make sure you locate the exact places to put the new code and copy and paste, you wont break your template. I've wanted this functionality for a while but bloogle didn't add it to the recent beta upgrade. Now, anyone can have it.

Keep in mind, this particular hack only works for the new blogger. There are hacks for the old blogger. I'm putting a permanant link in my sidebar.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Johnny Hart, dead at 76.

I just read on the associated press that Johnny Hart, creator of B.C., died of a stroke on Saturday at age 76. He was at work at his drawing table and apparently suffered a stroke. He died doing what God called him to do.

At the right I put up a copy of one of his easter sunday comics from a few years back. His simple way of putting things was always refreshing. I know I will miss his wit and humor, and his family will be in my prayers.

Rest in Christ Johnny. Till we meet on God's golden shore.

This week on the Whitehorse Inn

This week, Mike Horton interviews Ben Witherington, author of What Have They Done with Jesus: Beyond Strange Theories & Bad History - Why We Can Trust the Bible. Recent books by Dan Brown (Da Vinci Code), Bart Ehrman (Misquoting Jesus), John Shelby Spong (The Sins of Scripture), as well as the entire issue of the "Jesus Tomb" supposedly have many Christians questioning the particulars of the faith, but the truth is always stranger and more difficult to accept than conspiracy theories and modern day myths.

Click here to listen to this special Easter Program that affirms Jesus is Risen! He is risen indeed!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

All Chrisians wind up Lutheran in the end

In Luther's day, in the Augustinian monestary, when one of the monks was on his death bed, it wasn't uncommon for them to be thinking in terms of what they had done in life and whether they had done enough good works to make the cut in God's eyes. This is when someone would hold a cross or crucifix before the dying man, and then they would finally remember where their salvation lies. In the end, every Christian has only the cross of Christ to look to. Even Roman Catholic Christians, who when their head hits the pillow at night are thanking God that He sent His son to die for their sins.

Today's evangelicals live by an odd paradox. They have such a shallow view of sin and grace that it's a wonder they cling to any faith whatsoever. I'm not trying to cut them down in any way. I believe they are as sincere about their faith as any Christian throughout the ages could be. The paradox is that the things that they believe strengthens their faith actually destroys faith. And that can actually be a good thing!

What am I saying? Consider this for a moment. We are about to embark on the season of Easter, wherein the celebration of Christus Vicktor will be our song and praise. Our faith comes by hearing what God has done for the sake of Christ on our behalf, and our faith is strengthened by hearing it repeated and eating it and drinking it. The wonderous word made flesh in our ears and on our lips. That's something that is unique in Lutheranism, this reveling in the work of our savior for his sake.

Today's evangelical goes down a different path. They will say prayers that sound not too different from what we would, and worship in a way that, at first glance, roughly resembles Christian worship. But as soon as this easter day is over, they will turn to the law again for advice on how to live a virtuous Christian life and recieve blessings in return.
We Lutherans teach of three uses of the law. The use, being a curb, is there to reign in unrightousness in the world and applies everyone, believer and non believer alike. The second use applies to only Christians, and is the mirror that reveals to us our sins and drives us to dispair of our situation. The third use is the advisory use, that tells us what a Christian life should look like, and this third use is what modern evangelicals are predominately concerned with. They take third use and take it such and extreme that it becomes a heavy burden, which then becomes second use that reveals to them how much they fall short of God's demands. The law of God is always the law of God, no matter what use we may make of it. We might try to use the law to get a blessing or even to try to prove how worthy we are, but the Holy Spirit will use it however HE sees fit. The person who tries to live by the law will die by the law, and that death will come because of second use of the law, or the law driving us to Christ.

In Galatians, 3:24, St. Paul makes a reference to a cultural practice in the greek word, paidagogos. That word refers to a person who was hired by the father of a son to follow the son around and whack him with a stick any time he stepped out of line. Each time the kid did something his father deemed against the rules, the paidagogos whacked him. Pretty mean, eh? So also the law whacks us, till eventually we turn to Christ for relief.

So third use, advisory use, of the law turns easily to second use, driving the one who strives to be justified under the law of his own strength to flee to Christ. The faith we may have in the works done in the flesh is destroyed by the accusation of the law, and faith in Christ is built up by the repentence and turning away from the socalled "virtues of the flesh". Just as the monks in Luther's time were driven by the law's accusations to believe that they hadn't lived up to the standards of God, so also do the sincere evangelicals find they are accused by their own attempts to follow the advise of the law. And just as the Monks in Luther's time were reminded by the Cross of Christ where their only hope lies, so also is the sincere evangelical reminded by the Cross of the hope, no, the only hope, which is Christ alone.

It's good that their faith in their works is destroyed. It's good that their faith in Christ is renewed. In the end, every Christian winds up a Lutheran.

Friday, April 06, 2007

This is a test... Podcast link.

It's taken a bit of trial and error to find a host for my churches podcasts that's reliable, but I think I've found one. Switchpod actually offers 200 megs of hosting for free with real urls for each file.

Click here to listen to the podcast and tell me if it worked and what the quality was like.

This file is a larger higher quality version of the above file.

Good Friday: A litany on Christ's Passion.

O crucified Jesus, Son of the Father, concieved by the Holy Spirit, Born of the Virgin Mary, eternal Word of God,

we worship you.

O crucified Jesus, holy temple of God, dwelling place of the Most High, gate of heaven, burning flame of love,

we worship you.

O crucified Jesus, ruler of every heart, in you are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, in you dwells all the fullness of the Godhead,

we worship you.

Jesus, lamb of God,

have mercy on us,

Jesus, bearer of our sins,

have mercy on us,

Jesus, redeemer of the world,

grant us peace.

Almight God, look with mercy on your family for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed and to be given over to the hands of sinners and to suffer death on the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, now and forever.

Grace Before the Cross: Lazarus

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Lazarus(John 11:1-44)

There’s so much going through my mind right now. What is death? What is Life? Who can know how to answer these questions? O Jesus, you should know. You called me out from the grave. Now, we’ll have to prepare a grave for you.

Who am I? I am Lazarus of… Bethany. Yes, I’m the same Lazarus, the onethat that man up on that cross raised from the dead. Why is he up there if he can raisepeople from the dead? That’s a good question. The reason he’s up there… Is because of me. About two weeks ago when I was still back in Bethany, I started to feel sick. It wasn’t like an ordinary sickness, like the kind that makes you feel run down but isn’t so bad that you can’t keep working and doing your normal daily routine. No, this was different. When this illness struck, I couldn’t even get out of bed. My sisters, Martha and Mary, hadn’t seen me like this since I was child and were afraid that I wouldn’t survive, so they sent word to Jesus of Nazareth – That man up there on that cross – because many people had witnessed him do great miracles. They thought surely if he came he could heal my sickness. And I believed he could too.

But Jesus was delayed. I’m not sure why, but it’s probably because there weren’tmany placed left where he could travel in the open. In fact, a good number of the people in and around Bethany in Judea wanted him dead, and had tried to stone him! What I remember most about lying in the bed waiting for Jesus to come and my fever was growing and I slipped in and out of consciousness, was wondering if he would get here in time. We were friends. I knew that he cared about me and although at the time I didn’t know how much he cared, I thought that surely he wouldn’t just let me die. I remember hearing some people cry, my sisters most likely, and some other people from the village. I remember a breath where it felt as though a huge weight were laid upon my chest. Each breath came harder and harder, and my eyes were so heavy I couldn’t keep them open.

What happened next I can only tell you from what I was told. I died. My family and people from the village cried for me. My sisters prepared my body in the customary way, and laid my body in the family tomb. I’d seen that tomb I don’t know how many times. When you walk past a tomb like that and you can smell the dusty odor, you should be reminded that it’s a tomb in use. It’s the family tomb. But when you’re young you don’t think about how one day you’ll be lying in it.

I know, that’s a good point. I’m standing here alive right now, but I’m telling you I was dead. You should think it’s crazy, it’s only natural. They tell me, though, that when Jesus came to Bethany and they led him to the tomb, he didn’t say anything like what you would expect a great healer to say, or even like someone who knew he was about to raise me from the dead. No, rather… Jesus wept. All the tears from Mary and Martha and the other people had moved him deeply. You would think that he would have winked at them and said, “if you think my other miracles were great, just wait till you see this”, but instead he cried bitterly. It’s as if… He hated death. It’s as if he hated that death was causing such sorrow and pain.

But yet there he is, and he’s dying.

I was in the tomb for four days. We’re taught by the rabbis and the teachers that it takes that long for someone’s spirit to leave after death. I remember, though, as I lay in my bed dying thinking “Jesus will come”. He will. He wont abandon me. I closed my eyes and it felt like I couldn’t breath. I felt the weight of death.

But the next moment, it seemed, I heard a voice shouting, “Lazarus, come out!” My eyes, which had been heavy just before snapped open wide, and what I saw was not the ceiling of the house I had been laying in, but rather stone! And what else, but I realized I was seeing the rocks through a veil that was rapped around my head! I breathed in, and it was as though I had never taken a breath in my life! Fresh air came into my chest and the heaviness was gone. I raised my head and I could see light, and in that light I could see a silhouette of a man, and in an instant I recognized both the man and the voice that had called out my name. It was Jesus! He had come for me! I struggled to roll over and I realized it wasn’t just my head that was wrapped in strips of cloth, but my whole body was wrapped. I caught a whiff of dust, and I realized where I was. I finally rolled over and as my feet touched the ground the strips of cloth hampered me as I tried to stand. The strips gave way somewhat and I began to move towards the light and the voice I had heard. I walked toward that man! Once I came out into the light, I heard Jesus say, “take off the grave clothes and let him go”. I was led aside and sat down on a stone and some people began working quickly but carefully to get the strips of cloth off of me. They started with my head, and they pulled the veil fully off my eyes and I saw Mary with Jesus standing close by. They were both smiling at me. I was alive!

We invited Jesus to come back again soon, and six days before Passover he came. He should never have come, but we were so glad to see him and we were laughing and crying. Mary went to get the gift we had got for him. We had put our money together and bought Jesus a jar of pure nard. We knew that Jesus didn’t have any family that cared about him and we were trying to say to our dear friend that should he pass on, we would provide care for him – Not that we wanted him to die anytime soon. We wanted him to live a long and full life.Jesus understood our intentions and you could tell he was overwhelmed. Mary used some the nard to anoint Jesus’ feet. We did this out of love for him, but O how na├»ve could we be? Judas was there as well. He turned on Jesus and complained that the nard should have been sold to buy food for the poor, but Jesus flat out rebuked him. He said, “the Poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me”.

Then a large crowd of people found out where he was and we were telling them all about what Jesus had done, and many of those same people believed in him. Many of those same people were there when he rode into Jerusalem! And many of those same people also put him up there on that cross. They were crying out, “crucify him!” It’s like they are all dead too, but in a different way. It’s like they are all dead inside.

I was just like that once, too.

Because of all of that, Jesus is up there on that cross. The same man who less than two weeks before was smiling and laughing with us… The same man who called me out from the grave. He’s naked up there. They’ve nailed his hands and his feet. There’s blood everywhere. They stuck a crown of thorns on his head. He’s bleeding from that too. He’s sunburned. I can see he can’t breath. It must be like a heavy weight on him. It’s getting dark too, almost like night and it’s the middle of the day! What can that mean!

Oh Dear God! Speak to him like he spoke to me so that he can rise from the dead too!

the big test

Since someone, somewhere, has seen fit to deprive the world of Issues etc and take a huge bite out of confessional Lutheranism at the same time, I will not take up the mantle of working to see that those who did it answer for their actions.
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