Thursday, January 26, 2006

A Reminder to the Youth

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever."
-I John 2:15-17

When speaking a year ago to a youth conference regarding guarding against the world's influence, numerous questions arose about how to know whether you should or should not watch a movie, buy a CD, or visit certain internet sites. Christians cannot simply apply stickers to certain movies or music that claim they are "God-approved." However, certain Biblical principles such as the ten that follow can guide us into applying wisdom in making these decisions.

1. If it cannot bring glory to God, it will not bring joy to you. “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:31)
2. If you cannot honor your parents by participating in it, it is forbidden. “Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her rejoice who gave birth to you.” (Proverbs 23:25)
3. If it is not the right thing for you to do, don’t. “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)
4. If it keeps you from obedience to a clear command, it is illegal. “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8)
5. If it will make you stumble, forsake it. “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” (Matthew 5:29)
6. If it will make others stumble, forsake it. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.” (Mark 9:42)
7. If it lacks redemptive qualities, give it up. “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
8. If it is produced by a non-Christian, be careful. “Walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind.” (Ephesians 4:17)
9. If it is produced by a Christian, check it for leaven. “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Matthew 16:11
10. If you can do something better, do it. “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.” (Matthew 22:37)

Remember, young people, you are to live in God's economy, where:
  • honoring a parent is more valuable than honoring a movie star.
  • seeking God is commanded more than seeking leisure.
  • caring how your actions will affects a friend's walk is more important than caring about what you want to do.
  • where dying is living and living is dying.

In other words, don't let love for the things usurp love for the Maker and Ruler of the things.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Media by Us

Almost every newspaper or news magazine likes to tout that they are unbias and objective in their reporting. Yet all of us, when retelling events we have witnessed or researched (which is at the heart of news reporting), shape the account for our readers or listeners by the way we report it. We cannot help doing so, for our hearts and minds, indeed our very being, are involved in the process of writing. We will always have "media bias" because media is done by us. One reason I appreciate World magazine is they honestly admit right up front the perspective they use in reporting the news.

I thought of this recently as I found myself being quoted in a local paper regarding our church's struggle with the library board and what transpired at their last meeting (you can read the article here). In large measure, I appreciate the Kokomo Perspective for bringing this issue to the public's attention as the library's decision will affect not only our congregation but the entire community. I sense the columnist may be somewhat sympathetic to our plight. Where he quotes me, he is using the words I uttered.

However, the columnist's own perspective cannot help but influence his piece. In this particular article he packaged the information in a way that could confuse those reading about what has truly happened. So for the sake of journalistic accuracy, I offer these three clarifications:

1) The subtitle of the article, which is likely from an editor and not the journalist, says "Church pastor asks that his property be removed from consideration" (emphasis mine). Since the church property does not belong to me, I would never refer to it as mine and did not at the meeting. I merely represented the church, to whom the building belongs. Statements like this can make it look like this is an issue between the board and an individual.

2) The article states that "York said if the library decides to build on the church's ground, it would be 'very unsettling.'” That statement is too obvious to make, as of course we would already be unsettled if we were without a building. What I actually remember saying is that the way the library board has handled this situation thus far has already been "very unsettling" from our perspective. I had already made that statement in a letter written to the library board prior to the meeting and reiterated it that evening.

3) Later on a paragraph reads "York had earlier declined to be interviewed, and said he did not want to add to the library's controversy. But he made his plea in the board's open meeting." Perhaps I'm misreading this, but the way it is worded sounds like the reporter thinks I am being hypocritical by declining to be interviewed but then going public in an "open meeting." Please note the following:

  • This reporter should remember our earlier phone conversation. When he himself requested an interview in early December, I asked to defer getting together until after the elders had spoken to representatives of the board directly on December 7. I thought he might contact me after that time to see what had transpired, but he never did. After the meeting on December 19, I was introduced to the reporter by a board member but he never asked me any questions about what has happened. Why did he write it like he did above?
  • My point in even raising the issue that I had declined an interview before meeting with the library is not that I am above or against doing so. Rather, I am trying to stress in this situation that the righteous way to handle conflict between neighbors is to go directly to them. Our frustration is that we were never approached about these plans before they were made public, and then the initial contacts by library representatives had threatening overtones. Neighbors are to approach one another directly and honestly.
  • Finally, what other option did our church have but to state our concern at their open meeting? The board deals with the expansion issue primarily in executive session, and I obviously was not invited. The elders of the church believed that it was important that the board hear from us face-to-face and not just in letter form.

Did the Perspective article contain honest mistakes or pokes at me? Regardless, just remember whether you read a newspaper article or this blog, a perspective or bias is already present. For media, by its very nature, is by us.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Now You Know Why

Last post (see below) I explained how I suffer from Celiaism. I know how annoying people can be who insist on telling you about every ache and pain of their condition, but bear with me as I offer an anecdote from yesterday that will help you sympathize with me better.

Yesterday in our church service I had the privilege of baptizing a big bear of a man named Greg. As he testified to before the congregation, Greg was formerly a bouncer who loved to fight and was afraid of nothing, until God brought the fear of the Lord upon him and led him to where he heard the gospel. As I was about to apply the water to this man who must weigh 300 pounds or more, my wife said to Celia, "Look, Daddy is about to baptize Greg." Celia, obviously thinking of the many babies she had seen baptized, looked up at her mom and asked, "How is Daddy going to hold him?"

I'll try to refrain from now on saying anything more about my condition, but then again remember I can't help it. It's my Celiaism kicking in.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


I thought I would use this blog site to announce that recently I have been diagnosed with a condition known as "Celiaism." Perhaps I should have called each of you personally to break the news more gently, but then again if you have observed me lately you already knew. Celiaism is a disorder that takes an otherwise sane, healthy man in his early 40's and renders him googly-eyed, weak-kneed and unable to say "no" without severe stuttering. They tell me it's a genetic issue caused by being the father of an adorable, precocious, attention-grabbing three year-old girl who (ironically come to think of it) is named Celia. They also tell me remission can occur over time but usually only lasts until grandchildren arrive, where "Celiaism Relapse" is probable.

Anyway, as hard as I have tried to overcome my Celiaism, I struggle and fail. I pledged that I would treat all of my six children the same as I raised them, and I know they were all just as cute at this age. Yet there's something about being over 40 and living in the same house with this chattering doll with curls that just makes it impossible to fight. So please don't laugh at me when you observe me sneaking into the church kitchen trying not to be seen by her mother and then giving her another "lem-o-lade in a big girl's cup" (that's just how she says it). Remember, I cannot help it. For consider some of the other symptoms of my Celiaism.

Blabbering speech - I go around saying such things as "hip-po-PO-MA-ta-mus," "cheer-chos", "pot-chick" and "purple-E" to describe the African water animal, common breakfast cereal, stuff you put on your chapped lips and her toothbrush (so named for teaching her to say "eee" in order to brush her teeth). I have developed almost a strange dialect, putting the ending "ey" on way too many words. I say such things as "birdey," "doggey," "huggey," "kissey," "lappey," "nappey," and "sockey," when one syllable would be just fine.

Uncontrollable fixation patterns - I wave and blow kisses at my front door EVERY time I drive away because she's standing there, which has caused more than one neighbor to wonder about me. EVERY time we brush teeth I play "Dentist Chair," where she gets on my lap as I sit on the floor and my nose button is pushed, automatically causing my legs to draw up behind her so she can recline while we brush. When done, she pushes the nose button and the legs proceed to dump her sideways. EVERY time I play "Go Fish" I cheat so she can win. EVERY Sunday I struggle whether to raise my hands while singing, not because of some deep charismatic urge but what do you do when that golden-haired beauty is standing on the back of the pew in her mother's arms smiling and waving at you?

Infantile behavior reversions- I play with dolls. I ask grown men if they need to go potty. I crawl around on the floor acting like a horse (my favorite part is bucking). Today I'm wearing a little kitty, giraffe and lion stickers on my dress shirt pocket so "we can match," for she has the same ones. I get under the blankets on her bed and hide because I imagine dinosaurs are coming. I enjoy watching Madeline and Goofy cartoons.

Is there any hope for me? The bad news is that my wife says it's incurable (actually, she says I'm impossible but I know what she means). The good news is that I have found many others suffer from Celiasm as well, though it is often called by other names. And, fortunately for me, the Lord has helped me to adapt to my situation so well I cannot remember life any other way.