• Front Page Leadership

    LCC Weekly :: September 16, 2012

    This past weekend was a real answer to prayer. For me, the biggest thing was that all last week, I was out of commission with some kind of respiratory sickness. It was like a cold, but I was really, really tired. I spent most of Tuesday through Thursday sleeping, and during it all, I had next to no voice. After whispering all week long, I eventually went to the doctor on Friday, got dosed up with some antibiotics, and started feeling better. Nevertheless, the mere fact that I was able to speak on Sunday and have anything worthwhile to say was a real answer to prayer! Continue reading

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  • Front Page Leadership

    LCC Weekly :: September 4, 2012

    For the past few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about how to be a better leader, how to do a better job of organizing and inspiring people around a common vision with healthy relationships, and one conclusion kept coming back to me. I need to do a better job of communicating what is truly important to those who are truly important.

    That’s why I’m starting this weekly post. It is my intention to write a summary of the goings on at LCC each week that will primarily be aimed at the leaders and volunteers of our church, but you can listen in to the conversation too. Continue reading

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  • Geekery

    HOW TO: Create Custom Versions of TextWrangler or other Mac Applications

    I maintain two separate workflows. On the one hand, I do a lot of writing, and I like to work in plain text for the most part. As a result TextWrangler is my favorite Mac text editor for that. I have it configured to be all black background, no margins, light color text, etc. It’s perfect for distraction free writing.

    I also do web programming and Text Wrangler is the best free text editor for that too. However, when I do web programming, I want syntax coloring, tab indicators, the open file sidebar, and other settings as well.

    Ideally, I want to have two copies of TextWrangler with completely different preference files, different icons, etc. I want to create a custom version of my favorite text editor.

    With about 20 minutes of Internet searching and 10 more minutes of tweaking, I was able to get 90% of my holy grail customized!

    Here’s how to do it yourself with TextWrangler, and I think the principles should apply for creating customized versions of other apps as well.

    1. Copy TextWrangler to a new location (I put it on my desktop at first)
    2. Rename the app file to whatever you want. I chose “DarkRoom” as an homage to WriteRoom.
    3. Right click on the app icon and choose “show package contents”
    4. Double-click on the “Contents” folder
    5. Open up Info.plist using your original TextWrangler App or any other text editor.
    6. Replace all instances of “com.barebones” with “com.custom.barebones” (this changes where OS X stores the preference files on your computer)
    7. OPTIONAL: replace instances of “textwrangler” with your customized name. There is one instance in the original file of “com.barebones.textwrangler” that after step 6 will be called “com.custom.barebones.textwrangler” You can freely change that to anything you want. For mine, I changed the word textwrangler to darkroom.

    FINAL OPTIONAL TWEAKS: Replace instances of “TextWrangler” with your customized name. There are hundreds of instances of TextWrangler and changing the wrong ones might break your app, however there are a few ones you can change safely without breaking things. To determine which you can change, read the field. Key string pairs look like this:

    <key>CFBundleTypeName</key>
    <string>TextWrangler text document</string>
    

    You can safely change any string in the following keys:

    • CFBundleTypeName
    • CFBundleName
    • NSMenuItem
    • NSPortName

    ADVANCED TWEAKS: You can also change the icons for the app by going into the “Resources” directory and replacing any one of the icons with a different icon so long as you keep the file name of the icon the same.

    When you are done, you’ll be able to have two completely different instances of your app running at the same time with different preference settings and you can associate different file types with different apps.

    Here’s a screenshot:

    For those who want it, here is my entire plist file.

    Info.plist

    When you open your edited app, it will behave like a completely new installation of TextWrangler and it will use separate preferences files…

    HOWEVER: Your customized app and the original TextWrangler app will use the same recent document list. That means if you have one of them set to “reopen last document” it will open the document that is currently open in the other editor. It’s a bit annoying, but I haven’t found a way to solve that problem yet.

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  • Front Page Leadership Tough Questions

    Is Modern Worship too Simplistic?

    Earlier this week, a discussion among the worship band members at my church pointed to this article where Bill Blankschaen describes his frustration with worship songs sung in churches on Sunday mornings and tells us “Why I’ve stopped singing in your church.”

    As of this writing right now, he has 241 comments, and he only wrote it three days ago (July 15). Clearly, he has struck a nerve—a nerve deep enough to get my worship band talking about it, and a nerve deep enough to make me blog about it.

    Continue reading

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  • Front Page Leadership My Spiritual Life Tough Questions

    Reflections on Sin

    Some Context

    This past week, a number of stories came out in my local newspaper reporting on and analyzing the arrest of a local pastor. He has been accused of placing and monitoring video equipment in the female bathrooms at the church. If you haven’t read the articles, don’t worry about not knowing the details. I’m not going to address the specifics of that story, but it has burdened my heart so much that I feel a need to reflect here in my semi-public space what these moral failures reveal about God, humanity, and the state of the church. Continue reading

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  • Front Page Tough Questions

    Harmony Not Unison

    I have just finished my sermon series on gender issues in the Bible and how to understand the biblical teaching on the topic. If you want to hear the entire series, you can click here:

    http://lafayettecc.org/news/gatherings/080-born-this-way/

    Now, I promised you that I would write some articles here regarding some of the most controversial passages in the Bible regarding gender, and as a matter of fact, I have addressed a good number of them in my four sermons on the topic, but in the process, I have not had the time to write up the articles I wanted to write. Continue reading

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  • Front Page Tough Questions

    Boys and Girls Part 1

    This past Sunday, I started a series of messages at Lafayette Community Church entitled “Born this Way” in which I intend to investigate the number of different Bible passages on gender issues.

    The biggest problem for me was that for most of the week, I was wrestling with how to tackle the message. You see, there are a lot of controversial passages in the Bible when it comes to gender issues, and I always want to teach the Bible in a compelling, motivational way, and I am always cautious to teach in such a way that the contentious emotions can be defused. So I struggled with the message.

    I actually had two different angles I could have gone with the message. One angle was to tackle the emotions by sharing personal stories in light of Genesis 1-3 and illustrating the beauty of our gender differences. The other angle was to survey the major passages in the Bible to get a comprehensive overview of its teaching. Continue reading

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  • Front Page

    He Came

    1. Jesus came as Prophet to bring the Word of God to us.
    2. Jesus came as Priest to represent us to the Father.
    3. Jesus came as SON to bring us into God’s family
    4. Jesus came as Savior to take away our sin.
    5. Jesus came as King to receive our submission.

    • to have 1-4 without 5 is pointless mercy
    • to have 5 without 1-4 is Islamic legalism
    • to have them all together is the beautiful harmony of grace
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  • Front Page Tough Questions

    The Church: Can you be a Christian without going to church?

    This post is part of a series investigating the most important items of Christian doctrine. View all posts by clicking here or the DOGMA tag above.

    This past Sunday, I ended our service by taking some live questions from the congregation, but I wasn’t able to address all the questions live. Therefore I’m tackling some of them through this blog.

    Does this mean that you cannot be a Christian unless you go to church?

    The simple answer is that you can be a Christian without going to church if you define “Christian” Continue reading

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  • Front Page Tough Questions

    The Church: Why Sundays?

    This post is part of a series investigating the most important items of Christian doctrine. View all posts by clicking here or the DOGMA tag above.

    This past Sunday, I ended our service by taking some live questions from the congregation, but I wasn’t able to address all the questions live. Therefore I’m tackling some of them through this blog.

    If the church is the community of believers who are to be continually gathering and working to build the kingdom, why do we meet on Sunday mornings the way we do? How does this fit and/or conflict with the picture of the church in Acts?

    Continue reading

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  • Front Page My Beliefs

    The Father: God’s will and human freedom

    This post is part of a series investigating the most important items of Christian doctrine. View all posts by clicking here or the DOGMA tag above.

    At the end of our service last Sunday, I took some live questions from the congregation. An interesting pattern revealed itself. Here are all the questions that came in:

    • How do you mix all knowing, all powerful, and free will? Do we mess up his plan? Or does he choose not to know what we are doing so as not to compromise our free will?
    • Can you expand the reality of God’s power & righteousness as it applies to being in or “outside” of God’s will?
    • If the Bible doesn’t discuss a particular issue, is the answer always “It’s God’s Will”?
    • If God knows the future, why did He create us if He knew we would fall?

    Each question came from a different person, but nearly every question addressed the issue of how God’s will relates to human free will. Continue reading

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  • Front Page My Beliefs

    DOGMA: Understanding the Father

    This post is part of a series investigating the most important items of Christian doctrine. View all posts by clicking here or the DOGMA tag above.

    On Sunday, we addressed the third statement from the Lafayette Community Church Statement of Faith, but before we can look at it, we need to consider the relationship between human language and the reality of God.

    The Limits of Our Language

    What thoughts come to mind when you think of God? What images come to you? Is he some old man sitting on a throne? Do you imagine him in the ways of Greek mythology, like Zeus holding a lightning bolt and standing on a mountain? Do you imagine him as a highly exalted human being?

    The problem is that none of those images are valid. None of those images work. None of those images are allowed. They are all idols. In the burning bush, God used no mental images to describe himself. The fire was a portal for his voice, but his self description was simply “I AM.” In the march from Egypt to Israel, God confirmed his presence before the people as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. In the days of wandering, God confirmed his presence by the golden box called the Ark filled with the ten commandments. And near the top of the list at number two was the command against having any idols, any objects of worship that were visible and tangible.

    Our mental images are just as idolatrous because they put representations of God in our mind that are not actually God as he is. The most important thing to know about God is that he cannot be contained, he cannot be imagined, he cannot be imaged by humans. Our concepts are too small, our brains are too childish, our language is too limited, our knowledge is too elementary.

    Even as we talk about God, we must keep in mind that God is bigger than the words we use. When we say God is love, we mean that he has revealed himself to us with the word “love,” but that his love is more loving than our love.

    By way of disclaimer, then, I just want to say that God is the standard for the attributes we describe. It is not the other way around. We can’t use our words, define our words, put our own concepts into our words, and then apply those labels to God. We can’t say, “Well, to me, love means… and therefore, since God is love, he should act like…” You can’t come to know God by learning more about the attribute. You can’t study fathers to learn about your Heavenly Father. You can’t study lovers to learn of God’s love. You can’t study morals to learn about God’s goodness

    Instead, we need to let God and his reality fill out the definition for the words we use. If God is love, we must let God’s character and actions define for us what love really is.

    Now, we can turn to the statement.

    The Father

    LCC’s Statement of Faith reads thus:

    God the Father is an infinite personal spirit, perfect in holiness, wisdom, power, and love. He concerns Himself mercifully in the affairs of each person, He hears and answers prayer, and He saves from sin and death all who come to Him through Jesus Christ (Deuteronomy 32:4-6, Psalm 139, Matthew 6:6-8, John 3:16-17, John 4:24, Romans 6:23, 1 Corinthians 8:6).

    Implications

    What I find to be most fascinating about all of this is that the statement starts with a God who is an infinite personal spirit, perfect in holiness, and it ends with a God who pays attention to the prayers of individual people.

    In talking about this with our congregation, I walked through the statement point by point, showing supporting verses and providing brief explanation where helpful. Then, at the end I addressed some live questions from the congregation. Those questions were fascinating because they all seemed to revolve around the one big issue of God’s will versus human freedom.

    Answering those questions adequately requires us to fully grasp the meaning of the first sentence of our statement above. Here are a couple bullet points to flesh out the statement:

    • As the only infinite personal spirit, God is boundless with regard to time and space, without physical properties, but able to mentally relate to other intelligent beings.
    • Perfect holiness means that God is completely distinct—other than—everything in Creation. He is above and beyond his creatures. His essence, attributes, and behaviors cannot be fully comprehended by any created being.
    • Perfect wisdom means that God always fully understands all possible courses of action. He perfectly understands the past. He can perfectly predict the future. Therefore, he can perfectly select the best course of action in any circumstance.
    • Perfect power means that God is always able to accomplish what he intends to do. It doesn’t mean that he is able to create logically impossible realities like a circle with four right angles. It does mean that he always gets what he wants. His power extends so great that he is even able to create a world where the independent actions of free beings bring about the end result he desires.
    • Perfect love means that God is first of all in a perfect love relationship with the other members of the Trinity. His very nature allows for and demands a loving mutuality of deference, equality, respect, and affirmation. Love is intrinsic to the nature of God. Therefore, because the Trinity is at work cooperatively to bring about God’s desired plans, the Father deeply loves his plans and the execution of those plans by the Son. Finally, the Father loves the individuals of the world because they are his prime agents working out his plan on planet Earth.

    In the posts to follow, we will be addressing questions regarding the will of God, but to conclude this post, I want to affirm the most personally compelling reality of the nature of God.

    God, the one who is unbounded by time and space, who knows the best thing to do at all times, who is fully capable to bring about his will regardless of circumstances, made you to be who you are at this moment in history. God, who always knows what’s best and always gets his way, made you.

    Take pride that God has chosen you to be part of his plan. Take warning that God expects you to play by his rules. Take comfort that God has done everything possible to empower you to do just that.

    “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. — John 3:16-17

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  • Front Page My Beliefs

    The Bible: What about the apocrypha?

    This post is part of a series investigating the most important items of Christian doctrine. View all posts by clicking here or the DOGMA tag above.

    On Sunday, I was asked about the apocrypha, but I later found out that the answer I gave was partially wrong.

    What I said was that back in the days before Jesus, there were a number of books that were circulated among Jewish people. However, back then, no one considered them to be on the same level as Scripture. In fact, after the prophet Malachi wrote his prophecy it was widely understood that there were no more prophets, and that was 400 years before Jesus. Nevertheless, history still happened during those 400 years and Jewish teachers still speculated on spiritual realities. That’s where the extra books came from. Nevertheless, as I said, the Jews of the time did not consider them to be authoritative or on the same level as the other Scriptures. Continue reading

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