Canton Peace Day - This Sunday 1-7 PM

Canton Peace Day 2010 from Derek Urey on Vimeo.

On this memorial day weekend, the folks at LoveCanton and Kingdom House would like to invite you to celebrate the fact that Canton has the lowest crime rate we've had in a decade. We will also mourn the loss of the 11 people killed in homicides and the 3000 child abuse cases last year. We need to celebrate progress, love those who are hurting, and stop sitting on the sidelines watching these news articles like they're some sort of entertainment.

Join us this Sunday, May 30th, 2010 at Nimisilla Park for a day of live music, dance, painting, basketball, food and fantasticness. Everything from rap to folk, break dancing to ballet. A huge family style pot luck.


Glenn Beck is a False Prophet

I’ve written before about the problem I see with Evangelicals listening to and following the political vision of Glenn Beck. Glenn Beck has increasingly conflated his political views with his religious views. This causes me alarm for two reasons:

First, as someone who describes himself as an expert historian on the United States, Beck’s credibility should be questioned because he has chosen to be a Mormon, a religion that is demonstrably false historically. If he has so easily “drank the Kool-Aid” (his own words for his acceptance of the Mormon religion! -watch the video in the above link) concerning this false religion even when the historical facts are stacked against it, why should we accept his other conclusions on American history?

The second alarm is this: Increasingly, Beck is positioning himself as a cross between political commentator and religious prophet. On his FOX NEWS television show and especially on his radio program, Beck speaks as an evangelist – preaching against the evil darkness that is engulfing America that God has called him and his followers to battle. He sees himself as a modern-day prophet from God and that he is called to lead America out of this present darkness.

Beck has been promoting a new book that will be called “The Plan,” in which Beck says he will “provide specific policies, principles and, most importantly, action steps that each of us can take to play a role in" the "Refounding" of America. Beck will “unveil” The Plan “at the feet of Abraham Lincoln on the National Mall” on August 28, 2010 (the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on those same steps).

I have no qualms with anybody seeking to create peaceful political movements based on their ideological convictions. This is what makes America great.

What I have concern about is this: Beck seems convinced to be on a mission from God. And he is telling his audience that if they are not with him and “The Plan,” then they are in danger of being against God and his Prophet.

Listen to this clip from April 20th Glenn Beck Program (Premiere Radio Networks):

Let me call it as I see it: Glenn Beck is a false prophet.

He is telling people that he and his Mormon friend and co-host Pat Grey are "feeling" something – a feeling that is coming from God. (Later in the clip, Beck says that he and Pat went home to pray and to open their Bibles. We must remember that the "Bible" that Glenn Beck and Pat Grey consults is the Book of Mormon).

Beck says to Pat, “'The problem is that God is giving a plan, I think, to me, that is not really a plan.' And I stopped myself because I didn’t want to utter those things out loud, if that’s not exactly right, and it’s not.”

"It’s not" what? At first I thought Beck was saying that it’s not a plan from God, but then he kept talking about it -- “The problem is that I think the plan that the Lord would have us follow is hard for people to understand.” So, The Plan is indeed from "The Lord," and it is indeed being revealed to Glenn Beck. So what he must be saying that "it's not" right that he thinks that The Plan is "not really a plan" (whatever that means!).

But even as Beck is making no sense in that statement, he still believes that he is the Prophet from God that will reveal God’s "Plan" to us! But he is working from an inner "feeling," and he believes that The Plan will be hard to understand. And so he asks his listeners, “I beg of you to help me get this message out, and I beg of you to pray for clarity on my part."

What is "The Plan?" We don't know the details yet, but Beck does say that "The Plan that He would have me articulate, I think, to you, is ‘Get behind me.’ And I don’t mean me, I mean Him. ‘Get behind Me. Stand behind Me.’”

For evangelicals who want to be involved in the political process, I think it is time to jettison Glenn Beck. He believes that his political views are directly from God. He is claiming to be a prophet. This is something that evangelicals must not stand with; and in fact, it is something that we must publicly stand against. We saw evidence of Beck's false gospel when he recently told his audience to leave their churches if they believed their churches taught “Social Justice.”

And now,
Beck has crossed the line. He is presenting himself as a prophet from God.

He has the audacity to tell his audience to “Get on your knees! Turn to Him!” (What “Him” is Beck talking about? The false god of the Mormon faith?) and that this god is giving him “The Plan” and that the message of The Plan is "Get behind me.”

That phrase that Beck chose, I think, is telling: “Get behind me!”

There was a moment in Jesus’ ministry when one of his disciples said something really stupid, something contrary to God’s will. What did Jesus say to Peter? “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”


I took the time to type out what he said below, so we do not miss what Glenn Beck is saying here:

…Yesterday, when I walked out of the studio, I looked at Pat and I almost said to Pat, I said, “I can feel it coming.” He said, “I know.” He said, “It’s just that, they are just, they are just strong in power and focus.” And I said, “It’s just, it’s darkness! I can just feel it coming.” And I, I started to say, I said, “The problem is, is that,” and I stopped. Because I don’t want to utter something like this without really thinking it through, but what I was about to say is, “The problem is that God is giving a plan, I think, to me, that is not really a plan.” And I stopped myself because I didn’t want to utter those things out loud, if that’s not exactly right, and it’s not. That time of reflection took me about thirty seconds as Pat stood there, going, “(inaudible) did he forget we were having a conversation?”

And I said, “The problem is that I think the plan that the Lord would have us follow is hard for people to understand. But I’m telling you, here’s what I feel with everything in me, and I... If you’ve listened to this program – oh, are they going to use this against me – if you’ve listened to this for a long time, you know who I am. And you know that many of things I’ve done and said that have put me in, you know, harm’s way one way or another, they always start at the same place, they always start at my gut or my heart, and then I figure it out as we go along. All the stuff that I feel has been important on the show has been things that I felt and didn’t understand.

I say, because of my track record with you who have been here for a long time. Because of my track record with you, I beg of you to help me get this message out, and I beg of you to pray for clarity on my part. The Plan that He would have me articulate, I think, to you, is “Get behind me.” And I don’t mean me, I mean Him. “Get behind Me. Stand behind Me.” I truly believe I have done years now of reading the Founders, their diaries, their letters, the Pilgrims, their diaries, their letters. I’ve read the first-hand letters; I’ve held them in my hand. The exchanges between the Founders, I’ve held their actual letters in my hand. I have seen it with my own eyes. And I will tell you that God was instrumental and they knew it! They knew they had very little to do with it! They just stood where they were supposed to stand! And they said the things that they were supposed to say as He directed! Some of them lost their way, some of them got it wrong, they got back and forth…they were human. But that’s what He’s asking us to do…is to stand – peacefully, quietly, with anger, quiet with anger, loudly with truth.

Faith is the answer. Get on your knees! Don’t let it take a September 11th. Please, get on your knees – I don’t care what church you go to, no church at all, I don’t care! Turn to Him!


Neo-Calvinism and Neo-Puritanism: Strengths of Each

Ray Pennings, Senior Fellow and Director of Research at Cardus (a Neo-Calvinist Think Tank in Canada), offers these insights on the strengths of Neo-Calvinism and Neo-Puritanism. He desires that the two streams of Calvinism can dialogue and learn from each other.

See the video here:

Neo-Calvinism and Neo-Puritanism from Puritan Reformed on Vimeo.

NOTE: Since this video was produced, the article from Pennings has been published online.
You can read it here:
"Can we hope for a neocalvinist-neopuritan dialogue?"

Summary of what Pennings said in the video:

The Strengths of Neo-Calvinism

1. A Robust Theology of Creation (“The Creation Order” or “Cultural Mandate”)

Not just focused on the physical creation that God made (the lakes, the rivers, the mountains, etc.,) but the fact that everything within Creation (science, technology, etc.,) were there already in Genesis 1. When God declared that the Creation was “very good” that that all was envisioned. Our task, therefore, as human beings, is to cultivate that.

2. Sin’s destructive force on the Creation (“Antithesis”)

Sin goes through the human heart and affects the structures of society as well. Thorns and thistles begin to grow, not just in the plant world, but in every aspect of our existence.

3. The diversity of institutions in society (“Sphere Sovereignty”)

4. Christians can and should work together with non-Christians for the common good (“Common Grace”)

Unbelievers have valuable insights, abilities, and contributions to society because God grants his grace to them. We can learn from their insights and cooperate with people of all stripes in various ways. This provides a framework, in a multicultural society, for working together.

The Strengths of Neo-Puritanism

1. The emphasis of the Church and her offices

Whereas Neo-Calvinists often see the essence of the church as "the invisible church" and talk a lot about “the priesthood of all believers,” Neo-Puritans emphasize corporate worship as the central means to animating the spiritual life. Neo-Puritans emphasize biblical teaching and the regular practice of the sacraments (communion and baptism).

2. The emphasis on piety or a “public theology”

Neo-Puritans emphasize a way of understanding biblically how to live amongst our neighbors, rooted in orthodox doctrine rather than seeking ecumenical compromise.

Related Links here at Vanguard Church:

For a more in-depth description of Neo-Calvinism, click here:
Neocalvinism: What is it? Is it different from the Calvinism of Albert Mohler? Yes it is.

For how we need to understand the differences of Neo-Calvinism and Neo-Puritanism, click here:
Which is the new Calvinism? “Neo-Puritanism” or “Neo-Calvinism?”


"Only In Cleveland."

Here's the best commentary I've read on the heartache of being a Cleveland sports fan in light of the Cavaliers' loss to the Celtics:

Cleveland fans keep looking for world titles, find only worlds of hurt
By Dennis Manoloff, The Plain Dealer
May 15, 2010

Only In Cleveland.

Only In Cleveland can a team finish with the best record in back-to-back regular seasons, and have the MVP on its roster, and not even make the finals of its sport.

How else to explain what happened to the Cavaliers the past two seasons?

2008-09: Best record in the league, coach of the year, MVP, swept through first two rounds, out in the conference finals.

2009-10: Best record in the league, MVP, wiped out in the conference semifinals.

This is not the norm in the National Basketball Association.

People who are not from Cleveland cannot possibly understand, they should not even try to understand, the cold truth:

Major professional sports teams in Cleveland, at least since 1964, cannot win it all.

It is convenient and therapeutic to talk of jinxes or hexes or curses. It also is inaccurate. There are no ghosts in play.

Just worlds of hurt.

Here is a sampling of the hundreds of posts on cleveland.com since the Cavs bowed out Thursday night:

"You witnessed consistency in Cleveland professional sports." – dulynoted

"Good morning heartache. . . . You're like an old friend coming to see me again." – ProtestClevelandSports

"Cleveland will win a championship eventually. Maybe not in our lifetimes, but eventually." — matt2korn

Some — mostly those sneering from the outside — maintain that Cleveland fans have created a toxic environment for their teams by constantly bemoaning their fate. That the culture of losing and woe-is-me mentality feed off each other. That Cleveland fans would not know what to do with themselves if one of the major pro teams ever won the whole thing again.

To which those under the manhole covers say: "Try us. Please. Let us experience what not knowing what to do with yourself feels like."

What, exactly, do the vultures expect? Are Cleveland fans supposed to pretend their teams are champions?

Fans do not play the games. They react to those who do. Ownerships, front offices, coaches and players here the past 46 years continue to back their faithful into a dark, damp corner.

It is bad enough that Cleveland pro teams regularly lose much more than they win. But the real disappointment comes when one of them seemingly gets a good look at a title, only to have it evaporate.

"The hard part is having hope, and the second you have hope, it's taken from you," said native Clevelander Tom Ray, who moved to New York City last year. "There's a sad inevitability to it."

That is where many Cleveland fans are today. They realize the Cavaliers' failures the past two seasons will be bundled and ranked among the biggest flameouts in the history of Cleveland pro sports.

After each of the playoff exits the past two years, instant revisionists claimed the Cavaliers were a flawed team, that the regular season doesn't really mean much. Easy to say after the team is eliminated. Bottom line: The Cavaliers were the No. 1 seed in the entire pool for two straight seasons, which means they were a favorite to win it all.

Only In Cleveland can a team hold home-court advantage throughout the playoffs and lose two of three home games in the second round, as happened this season against Boston. Only In Cleveland can a team acquire a top 50 player in NBA history, Shaquille O'Neal, in a supposed fleecing — and have the fleeced team, the Phoenix Suns, go deeper in the postseason.

We all know about The Shot, The Fumble, The Drive, Red Right 88, Jose Mesa. The Indians of 1996 and 2007 don't have nicknames, but they flopped with the money on the line.

Now this. Of the numerous suggestions for nicknames posted online, "Le Brown Out," from kmandingo and perhaps others, will suffice for the time being.

"Le Brown Out" represents a considerably bigger gag than that belonging to the 1988-89 Cavaliers vanquished by The Shot. It is much, much bigger than that belonging to the truly flawed 1987 Browns that lost in The Fumble. It safely trumps the 1980 Browns squashed by Red Right 88, a team that walked a tightrope all season.

The 1997 Indians were not supposed to get past the Yankees in the first round, let alone the Orioles in the American League Championship Series. Granted, Only In Cleveland can a team have a lead in all seven games of a World Series, including one in the ninth inning of Game 7, and still lose. But a rational analysis of what led to "Jose Mesa" does not allow it to match Le Brown Out where epic flameouts are concerned. At least the 1997 Indians and their closer made it to the World Series.

The Drive and the 2007 Indians are the only two that can rival Le Brown Out for mega-bit-spitting. The 1986 Browns had a Super Bowl appearance in their pocket before preventing themselves from winning and letting John Elway work his magic. The 2007 Tribe held a 3-1 lead in the ALCS with a 19-game winner on the mound at home in Game 5 — and still lost the series. Win the ALCS and you're favored to win the World Series. Not that that would have meant anything, of course.

The Cavaliers of the past two seasons were being fitted for rings in some quarters before the playoffs began. Shaq wanted a ring for The King. That is why the meltdown just witnessed is so jarring.

Only In Cleveland can a team have its back-to-back MVP, LeBron James, perform poorly in pivotal Game 5 of the second round (which turns out to be a blowout home loss), and the back-to-back MVP gets criticized for dogging it. Never mind that he's injured or that his teammates are giving him no help or that the defensive-minded opponent, knowing he has no help, is hounding him all over the court. He's playing poorly, so he must be dogging it.

Dogging it? Surely, these critics jest. They want us to believe LBJ suddenly decided in Game 5 of a tied series to lose interest . . . on his home floor, no less? And we have proof of this where, again?

Regardless of whether there is a shred of truth to it, the mere perception speaks to the magnitude of the Only In Cleveland moment. King James is on the hot seat in a region he owns.

Makes no sense.

Defies logic.

Only In Cleveland.

"We can't wallow in our sorrows and whine about 'only in Cleveland' forever," posted brian 929. "Sports fans everywhere are disappointed every year. Only one team can win a title; 28 or so others go home unfulfilled. That being said . . . it does seem like C-Town is the only place that can't EVER be that one team left standing."


The Best Counter-Terrorism Plan

I was watching Fareed Zakaria's "GPS" show on CNN yesterday, and in his discussion about the Times Square bomb plot with his guest, counter-terrorism expert Richard Clarke, Clarke said something very important and profound (the interview starts at 14:27).

"We are going to have one of these attacks succeed. And I think that what we have to start talking about now, as a nation, is what our reaction is going to do.

Because the last time, 9/11 happened and we panicked. I panicked, everyone did. We overreacted, and in many ways, the things that we did were counterproductive. Other things that we did were wasteful. Some things we did destroyed our own value system.

So we should have this discussion now. If there is another attack and it is successful, what are we going to do, and what are we not going to do this time?"

The best counter-terrorism is to refuse to be terrorized. Yet, our governmental leaders here in the United States feel that they need to whip of fear in the populace in light of terrorist acts. I guess they think this will help them win votes. But this plays right into the terrorist's purposes.

Rather, we need to accept that terrorist plots are a part of our reality, and train our people to act accordingly. As Christians, we must remember that God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (2 Tim 1:7).

The LORD is my light and my salvation —
whom shall I fear?
The L
ORD is the stronghold of my life—
__of whom shall I be afraid?
When evil men advance against me

to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,

they will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,

my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,

even then will I be confident. (Psalm 27:1-3)


Relationships: The Context for Living the Coherent Christian Life

But is it really possible? Sometimes I wonder...

Steve Garber, in his book, The Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief and Behavior (p. 173) wrote,
__“Those who keep on pursuing the vision of a coherent life—one that meaningfully connects the disparate strands of one’s existence—are people who have made the choice to live their lives out among folk who share their vision of the good life.

__“On the other hand, those who seek a self apart from social content and social context, in the end, find themselves disenchanted, disenfranchised, disconnected, disgruntled. This is true to the way the world is: premodern, modern, and postmodern, north, south, east, and west.”

I agree with this statement. It is proven time and time again.

And yet…

It is easier said than done.

In a culture of selfish desires, rugged individualism, the false and insidious gospel of prosperity, and a fear of vulnerability, real social connection with people who share a vision for justice and peace and radical obedience to Christ are hard to come by.

I’ve found it only in small ways. More often than not, I feel disenchanted, disenfranchised, disconnected, and disgruntled. People are just not willing to go that far.

And, truth be told, maybe I am not either.

How can I, along with my wife and kids, become connected with people who share our hearts’ desire to live a coherent Christian life?