all sins are (not) equal

been doing some thinking on the “all sins are equal in God’s eyes” mentality. i’ve found that since starting seminary, i’ve been prone to pick a lot more theological nits than before. i think this is both good and bad (which leads me to think about the law of non-contradiction… darn you, christian apologetics.)

anywho… sitting around in Bible studies, a lot of churched people like to say “all sins are equal in God’s eyes” because they also say/know that “we (churchy people) are no better than murderers, hitler, etc.”

i’m gonna try to split some hairs here, because i believe we have a false dichotomy. it’s true that no one is better than anyone else in the sense that no one is righteous (romans 3:10). this means that no one has or can merit their own salvation. ANY sin separates us from God. so yes, all sins have the same effect when it comes to earning us eternal judgment.

but, the phrase “all sins are equal to God” doesn’t seem accurate. in exodus 21-23, God lays out the earthly punishments/consequences for different sins/infractions. not all wrongdoing resulted in capital punishment, but some did.

so, does God see all those sins equally and knows we don’t, so He allowed for gradations of punishment? OR are there actual gradations to sin in God’s eyes EVEN THOUGH the “smallest” of those sins separates us from Him?

thoughts? am i way off? stating the obvious?

i need to come up with a lighthearted survey for you people…

not so fast, my friend

one of the “giant killers” from northern iowa was on the dan patrick show this morning. here’s a summary of the interview from the dan patrick show blog.

Northern Iowa’s Ali Farokhmanesh joined the show to talk about his huge three-pointer to sink Kansas.

Dan asked Farokhmanesh if he thought his late three against Kansas was a good idea. “If that had crossed my mind, I probably wouldn’t have made it,” Farokhmanesh said.

Farokhmanesh said that he was thinking that if he didn’t take the shot, Northern Iowa probably would have turned the ball over. The Panthers had problems with turnovers late in the game.

Farokhmanesh said that his coach wouldn’t have said anything if he had missed, because it’s not his style.

Farokhmanesh said that his nicknames are “Mohammed” and “Stroke.”


sorry dude, “stroke” is taken. pretty sure i had it before you (thanks, bird). btw, i had n. iowa winning their first game, but not their second. HOWEVER, my final two teams are still alive… syracuse and baylor. i actually picked baylor to win the national championship. crazy i know… but how many people thought kansas would be gone after this past weekend?

ch ch ch changes

there is a lot of transition coming for our church. it’s all been announced publicly, so i can finally refer to the de-bagged cat.

here are the transitions in a nutshell: our student pastor (my boss), darren carver, will be taking on the role of pastor of discipleship. our children’s minister, stephanie thames, will be moving to ft. worth as her husband will be pursuing his doctorate in biblical archaeology at southwestern. and yours truly will be transitioning from high school pastor to pastor for college and young singles.

so, lots of moves taking place in the coming months. it’s pretty surreal right now because nothing is changing right away AND this is the only ministry i’ve served in since graduating from college just over 9 years ago. i think i’ve been on this student ministry staff longer than anyone in the history of the church (at least in the last 20 years since i started coming here as a 7th grader.) i don’t say that to brag or in any way take anything away from all the great people that have served on this staff (maybe i shouldn’t have said it all.) they are some of my greatest friends and fellow ministers and always will be. i just think it’s weird to think about. it doesn’t really feel like i’ve been doing this that long.

anyway, just wanted to let you know what’s going on with me and ask that you pray for our church, those transitioning, the families and volunteers that will be affected and for the new team members that will be joining us in the future.

i’m sure i’ll be posting more as the transitions become more “real.”

missed it by THAT much…

so, apparently the wilsonian institute turned 1… last october. time flies when you’re a negligent blogger with a handful of readers! to celebrate, i’ve generated a wordle, showing the 3,000 most commonly used words (excluding the REALLY common ones… maybe… 3,000 is a lot!) from all of my posts from the first to the last.


i don’t know why “like” is the most common word. i feel all valley girl, now.

i do enjoy (almost used the “l” word) that the way i think is pretty well represented, though. and i’m not talking about all the “churchy” stuff (though that is encouraging). i mean the thinking, knowing, reasoning, “anti-emotional” stuff!

anyway, happy belated blogoversary to me!

and now: pondering the significant

i recently heard some staggering sbc stat on the declining number of student baptisms over the last several years. i’d be lying if i tried to quote it. trust me, it’s staggering. baptisms are down across the board, but students (ages 12-17) are WAY down. of course, much is being discussed as to “why?”

not coincidentally, i’m sure, is the fact that about 40% of sbc churches have plateaued in membership while roughly 30% are increasing and the remaining 30% are decreasing. that’s a lot of stagnation and decrease.

i have a few theories on this. please consider the following my very humble opinions and perceptions from my limited experience. i hope they make sense.

i’ve daringly broached the subject before of parents worshiping their kids and may come close to that territory again here. i am not a parent, so i tread lightly.

i think there have been trends in familial life and trends in churches that have compounded the woes of evangelical student ministry but i can’t point to which is the chicken and which is the egg.

parents and students now, more than ever it seems, are so focused on academia, extracurriculars, resumé building and “giving their kids what they never had” that the church and, more importantly, the Church are being neglected.

if soccer or band conflict with Bible study, guess what’s getting nixed. now, hear me… i don’t think merely attending Bible study is of greater value than soccer or band. BUT i think negligent attitudes towards spiritual matters can quickly be inferred if Christian parents aren’t diligent to battle them. parents are right to stress the importance of grades, scholarships, etc. but Christian parents should somehow also show/teach their kids that spiritual matters are far more important. i believe, on the whole, this is not happening. more and more parents are relying on the church to be the main disciplers of their kids, but kids whose parents don’t really value discipleship are not likely to see value in discipleship.

a similarly dangerous attitude that i think has evolved in student ministry over the years is the idea that student ministry simply equals good, clean fun. on this front, parents AND churches are to blame. this is where i won’t venture to guess which is the chicken and which is the egg. over the last 50-60 years, youth groups have become a place where students can have fun, be accepted and stay out of trouble. parents like this. students, generally, like this. but this is not all there is to being the Church. this is moralistic day care.

i’d be interested to see the stat of how many “sweet” youth buildings were built over the last 50 years… how many pool tables, coffee bars and video game stations were installed? (and i serve at a church with a great youth building, so “hello kettle. it’s me, the pot. you’re black.”) line that stat up next to the declining number of baptisms. where has our focus been?

it’s been on entertaining. it’s been on wowing. it’s been on competing with culture and it’s been on attracting. many parents and churches like that and still think that’s what a good student ministry is supposed to do. i’ve seen some fruit from that era, no doubt. but most of the students that were reached from that type of ministry stayed connected to church and ministry because someone invested into them on a deeper, more personal level. (and, of course, the holy spirit caused the growth.)

the oft used adage is, “what you win them with is what you win them to.” until parents and churches get on the same page about what student ministry should really be, i don’t think we’ll see much change in plateaued and declining student ministries. (again, i’m hoping and praying for change in my own ministry, not just pointing fingers.)

this is why students don’t know what real life in Christ is and parents are confused when their “good” kids get in to trouble or completely walk away from church. teaching Biblical values to the lost is only producing well behaved (and often resentful) unbelievers. which i understand is unavoidable as nearly EVERY crowd has unregenerate people in it. BUT if we skip the cross altogether and jump to discipleship, we’ve erred, not the crowd. you want kids to have manners, firm handshakes and impressive credentials, send them to boy/girl scouts. you want to teach them that apart from Christ, they are nothing, preach the cross to them in your homes AND in your youth buildings. i realize that many students don’t have believing parents to set that example. but that’s another reason we can’t “afford” to have Christian parents who don’t value the cross acting as surrogates for these students.

as i’ve said before, we need to stop trying to reach/look past the cross for greater fulfillment. and we certainly don’t need to stop short of it (as is often the case). we need to cling to it, kneel at it and proclaim it.

i hope to be a parent some day, even though the thought of it scares the mess out of me. so, parents, please don’t take offense. i can’t pretend to know what that role is like. i hope i haven’t spoken out of place. i’m just offering my observations and theories… in an adamant manner ; )

(as a current student minister (and former youth), though, i think i can speak somewhat credibly concerning what i’ve seen in student ministry over the past 20 years!)

pondering the insignificant

ok, readers with opinions. it’s time, again, for you to share.

i’m contemplating upgrading my phone to a blackberry or similar pda type device. i read a rumor that iphones MIGHT be coming to other carriers, but also heard that it would never happen.

i’m also considering joining the twitter revolution.

please tell me why or why not to do these things. and i’m not looking for compliments here like, “you would be a great tweeter.” i’m already aware of that ; ) ha! but seriously, lay some logic and reason on me. pros/cons, etc. i’m interested in your arguments. feel free to use personal experiences/reasons to support your case.

and if you like this survey, maybe i’ll write a big long one for you to fill out!