Thursday, August 20, 2009


It is actually the case that rock star Alice Cooper is a confessing Christian. Indeed, Elke and I ran into him at an R.C. Sproul conference in San Diego about 18 years ago. Here is an interesting article that I simply post with no comment:
Alice Cooper, of “School’s Out for Summer” and “I’m 18” fame, was told that his show can’t go on in Finland.

Cooper and his band were booked to perform at Tampere Areena Oy, an arena in Tampere, Finland Dec. 11.

However, the owners of the arena cancelled the event when the supposedly dark nature of Cooper’s “Theatre of Death” show came to light.

Harri Wiherkoski, managing director of the arena said that "artists who express suspicious values from Christianity's point of view cannot be allowed to perform at the venue."

He also told reporters that his venue doesn’t “arrange concerts where Satanism or non-god-worshipping occurs."

Concert promoter Kalle Keskinen, said “We never imagined that a rock veteran who has performed in Finland in four separate decades without any problems and who has spoken in public of his own religious convictions would not be allowed to perform at Tampere Areena in 2009."
Keskinen said the concert will probably be moved to nearby Espoo, however this is contingent on Alice Cooper’s approval, he said.

Cooper, who is a practicing Christian, told Cross Rhythms magazine last year that he reconciles his stage persona with his personal faith without problem.

“As a Christian, I don't declare myself as a 'Christian rock star.' I'm a rock performer who's a Christian. Alice Cooper is the guy who wants to entertain the audience - it happens that he's a Christian. Alice (the character I play on stage) began life as a villain and he remains one. There's a villain and a hero in every Shakespeare play," he said.
" Alice is no more dangerous than a villain in a cartoon or a Disney film. We have fun with him. He snarls and wears make up. He's punished for his crime and he comes back on the stage in white top and tails. We put on a good show. I've always put limits on Alice because I believe there's a certain amount of Alice that's a gentleman. He'd slit your throat, but he'd never swear at you. And there's always a punchline; he may kill you, but he'll slip on a banana peel. I get right-wing Christians down on me and I always ask them the question: 'If I was doing Macbeth, would it be OK?' And they always say that's Shakespeare so of course. I say that's about four times more violent than anything I do on stage."

The Tornado, the Lutherans, and Homosexuality-By John Piper

This is from John Piper's blog today:

August 20, 2009

I saw the fast-moving, misshapen, unusually-wide funnel over downtown Minneapolis from Seven Corners. I said to Kevin Dau, “That looks serious.” It was. Serious in more ways than one. A friend who drove down to see the damage wrote,
On a day when no severe weather was predicted or expected...a tornado forms, baffling the weather experts—most saying they’ve never seen anything like it. It happens right in the city. The city: Minneapolis.
The tornado happens on a Wednesday...during the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America's national convention in the Minneapolis Convention Center. The convention is using Central Lutheran across the street as its church. The church has set up tents around it’s building for this purpose.

According to the ELCA’s printed convention schedule, at 2 PM on Wednesday, August 19, the 5th session of the convention was to begin. The main item of the session: “Consideration: Proposed Social Statement on Human Sexuality.” The issue is whether practicing homosexuality is a behavior that should disqualify a person from the pastoral ministry. The eyewitness of the damage continues:
This curious tornado touches down just south of downtown and follows 35W straight towards the city center. It crosses I94. It is now downtown. The time: 2PM. The first buildings on the downtown side of I94 are the Minneapolis Convention Center and Central Lutheran. The tornado severely damages the convention center roof, shreds the tents, breaks off the steeple of Central Lutheran, splits what’s left of the steeple in two...and then lifts.
Let me venture an interpretation of this Providence with some biblical warrant.

1. The unrepentant practice of homosexual behavior (like other sins) will exclude a person from the kingdom of God.
The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
2. The church has always embraced those who forsake sexual sin but who still struggle with homosexual desires, rejoicing with them that all our fallen, sinful, disordered lives (all of us, no exceptions) are forgiven if we turn to Christ in faith.
Such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11)
3. Therefore, official church pronouncements that condone the very sins that keep people out of the kingdom of God, are evil. They dishonor God, contradict Scripture, and implicitly promote damnation where salvation is freely offered.

4. Jesus Christ controls the wind, including all tornados.
Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? (Mark 4:41)
5. When asked about a seemingly random calamity near Jerusalem where 18 people were killed, Jesus answered in general terms—an answer that would cover calamities in Minneapolis, Taiwan, or Baghdad. God’s message is repent, because none of us will otherwise escape God’s judgment.
Jesus: “Those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:4-5)
6. Conclusion: The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great Lutheran heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from distorting the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform left and right wing sinners.

...and, here is a news story on it

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Where the Columbines Grow

Where the snowy peaks gleam in the moonlight,
above the dark forests of pine,
And the wind foaming waters dash onward,
toward lands where the tropic stars shine;
Where the scream of the bold mountain eagle,
responds to the notes of the dove
Is the purple robed West, the land that is best,
the pioneer land that we love.
That's the first verse of "Where the Columbines Grow", the song written by A.J. Flynn and adopted as the official state song of Colorado on May 8, 1915 by act of the Colorado General Assembly.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Against Nature

Too often the Christian life is approached on the basis of the way things seem to work in the natural order. This is not entirely incorrect in that we do in fact live in this world and are subject the laws and maxims of the natural least as far as the perishable aspects of our lives are concerned.

Therefore, if you jump off a high enough building, you will die. No matter how much you believe that you will not get hurt-no matter how much 'faith' you muster up thinking that you will rise above it will die. Because, having faith, walking by faith, and believing, is not about overthrowing the physical order of things. It is not the primary faculty by which we interface with the natural order.

This is not to say that faith does not inform the way we interface with the natural order, nor that it will not actually affect our behavior in relation to the natural order. It is simply a statement that faith is about, and engages us in, the unseen, spiritual realities of life. It concerns our souls much more directly than it does our bodies (although our bodies will often manifest the results of our faith).

This is why "faith healings" and the whole "Faith Movement" is so wrong. It takes the instrument of faith-which God grants for believing upon Jesus Christ for the salvation of our souls-and makes it primarily an instruments for gaining success or longevity for our bodies. This is not only a miss use of a precious gift, it is the denial and downplaying of a glorious future hope...that hope being the resurrection and transformation of our bodies.

Walking by faith is essentially living (in this life and in our bodies now) in light of the realities of our new identity in Jesus Christ and the blessing promised to us "in Him". That against what we might see around us-that the wicked prosper, people live and then die...never to live again, that to gain you must trample over others, etc.-there is another order, another "kingdom" that this present age will give way to. It is living like we are part of that order-because in Christ we are-and thus living "against nature" in the present evil age.

Faith then is our ability-God given-to reach up into the unseen realm and grasp hold of the realities of the coming age. It is the instrument by which we lay hold of Christ-our Savior, Lord, and life. It is that grace which enables us to live "against nature", but while within it. Not "against" it in the sense of hovering instead of walking, claiming instead of working, believing instead of going to a doctor. But "against" it in the sense of-because of our union with Jesus Christ-we have died to sin and no longer can live in it, valuing now God's glory instead of our own well-being, and seeing death as the doorway into closer union with Jesus Christ because once we die, we will then receive the outcome of our faith...the redemption of our bodies.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Pastors and Superheroes

I received this email from a family in our congregation that, because of military, has recently moved away to Missouri:
Just a quick little story. Isaiah has asked multiple times today, "Where's Pastor Reese??" (with a very concerned voice). I tried to explain that we had moved to Missouri and Pastor Reese was still in Colorado. After a bit, I discovered that when he was asking where Pastor Reese was, he was referring to an action figure that he kept misplacing!! So I thought you'd get a kick out of knowing that there's a two year old boy that names his action figures after his pastor. :) I guess that means that in his book you're as good as Superman. :)
That kind of made my year!