Archive for September, 2011

Truth From Various Sources

Posted: September 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

For the past two days my 9-year old daughter had to stay home from school because of pink eye.  Just to make sure it was pink eye I took her to the doctor yesterday morning (it was).  On the way we listened to U93 on the radio (she likes the top 40s and I like my daughter…plus it reminds me of my own childhood listening to U93 – but back then it was great hits from the 80s!).

U93 had some woman on the show who was answering questions from callers.  Before they repeated who she was I listened to two different calls.  The first was from a teenage girl who wanted to have a baby.  And right there on U93 this woman, very graciously, but very firmly, laid into the girl about acting in the best interest of a baby.  She told her that she needed to get married to have a baby.  She quoted that 80% of babies are now born out of wedlock and how that was not a good thing.  She talked about children needing parents who were stable, had a good job, were mature, etc.  She even told her to stop being selfish and to but the needs of a child above her own!

I thought, “Wow!  She is shooting it straight right here on U93!!!”

Then the next caller:  she was 17 years old and was a Scorpion (what that has to do with anything I have no idea) and she thought she had discovered her “soulmate” who was also a Scorpion (jackpot!).  Then the woman started in again.  Kind and gracious, but firm – “Honey, you are still very young.  You are only 17.  You are going to change your mind many times.  Do not get too intimate with this young man.  You need to…”  Again.  I thought, “Wow!  Right here on U93.”

Then the DJ’s finally said, “Well, we want to thank Barbara the Gray Witch Psychic for coming in this morning and taking questions from our callers…”


And then I had several thoughts and emotions:

1.  Why in the world does U93 have a witch psychic on the radio?!!!?

2.  Am I OK with a witch psychic speaking on a radio station that I let my 9 year old girl listen to at times (brain processing whether I’m going to allow it anymore)?

3.  If a Pastor or Christian was on U93 answering callers questions they would probably be so tip-toe wishy washy in answering the questions trying to come off so tolerant and compassionate that they would ultimately never say what Barbara the Gray Witch Psychic says.

4.  If a Pastor would say the exact same thing as the Gray Witch Psychic would society respond to them the same as they do the psychic?  Is their a different standard or filter between the two?  If a Pastor says it, “OH there he goes!!  The Christian bigot!!”  If the psychic says it, “A wise woman with good advice!”

5.  I agreed with everything the psychic said to the callers.  Interesting.

Retirement Day and My Dad

Posted: September 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

This is my dad.  Today is his last day of working for the Internal Revenue Service.  He has had a long and good career.  And it comes to an end today.

I can only imagine it is a bittersweet day.  Sweet in that a whole new exciting chapter opens up with a bunch of possibilities (and now time).  Bitter in that it has been a long career.  I can’t imagine what it must feel like to one day be in the continuation of schedules, habits, rhythms, relationships, and then…done.  Over.  I would imagine that would feel sad.

It’s important to me that my kids think well of me (don’t worry, I’m not obsessed by the thought).  I want them to think that their dad works hard, has a good ethic, provides well for them, and takes care of them and their mother.  I want them to think I’m honorable and that I have executed well the responsibilities God has given me to take care of my family.

And in that regard, I want to say, as the first-born son of Chuck Barrington, I think well of him.  He works hard.  He has a great work ethic.  He is the most honest man I know.  He has always provided for me, my sister, and my mother, and has always been generous.  He is honorable and has always executed faithfully the responsibilities God has given him.  I’m proud of him.  And I love him.  And I pray that my children will one day see me like I see him.

So – to my dad – congratulations on a successful career and your retirement.  May God give you peace, joy, long-life, and a new season of unbelievable opportunities.  Love, your son.

P.S.  To my sister – don’t wish you had a blog now?  Score one for me!! 🙂

Is Lady Gaga Schooling the Church?

Posted: September 29, 2011 in Church, Culture

Richard Beck is an author, blogger, and professor of psychology at Abilene Christian University.  He posted a blog today about the Gospel According to Lady Gaga.  I thought it was brilliant and convicting.

I think it will be well worth your time to read.  And then I would love to hear your thoughts and reflections on it.

You can find it here.

I saw this over at Ed Stetzer’s blog.  He got it from  I thought it was very funny.  And also very accurate.

We live in a society that whines and complains about the most trivial things.  We have social mediums in which to publicly broadcast those complaints in a way never seen before.

Enter conversation:  (person one status) “This is the worst day EVER!!!”  (person two comment on status) “What happened?”  (person one’s response to comment on status) “I dropped my cell phone and the protective cover on it broke!!  uggghh!!!!  FML!!!

Sometimes it is good just to get perspective.

Dealing with Hermeneutics

Posted: September 28, 2011 in Culture, Doctrine, faith

There are two great challenges in reading the Bible:  1) exegesis and 2) hermeneutics.

The task of exegesis is to uncover what the text meant to its original hearers (remember…the Bible was written over 2000 years ago to a different time, place, language, and culture).  It may take some work to uncover, but the assumption is that the text cannot mean to us today, something radically different from what it meant to its original readers.  Likewise, the original intent of the author is relevant to us today.

But perhaps the most difficult task of reading the Bible is in the task of hermeneutics.  Hermeneutics is dealing with how to actually interpret and apply the Bible to our current time and place.  And there is a lot of difficulty and at times controversy in that.  For example, 1 Corinthians 11:5-6 clearly (meaning no grey area) states that a woman should have her head covered.  Most faithful Christians no longer practice head coverings for women because we recognize that “head coverings” in the 1st century had significance in a way that it does not today.

Hermeneutics has a lot of challenges with it.  It has to ask questions of Scripture like:  What is concrete, forever, black and white, commands?  What is situationally-specific instructions?  What in the Bible is just coincidentally mentioned?

I think every Christian needs to think through and have an understanding and answer to some of the most relevant hermeneutical issues in our day.  Take for example the issue of homosexuality.  We often quote the Old Testament texts, but there is a rightful issue of hermeneutics.  I want you to hear some of the hermeneutical questions that are thrown out (albeit in a mocking tone…but they are still issues nonetheless) in the midst of the conversation.

The following is a letter sent to Dr. Laura Schlesinger, a radio host and observant orthodox Jew, who brought up Leviticus 18:22 and the issue of homosexuality.  She then received a letter (side note:  The letter was signed, but ultimately proved to be a false name, so its author is unknown) from a listener questioning her use of Leviticus and her hermeneutical methods.

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination… End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is, my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath.Exodus 35:2. clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle- room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan.

I have some answers to this letter.  🙂 But the questions themselves are a great challenge to the reality that we have to interpret the text for today.  And that process is called hermeneutics.  And hermeneutics is often a very difficult task.

We All Begin with Faith Assumptions

Posted: September 27, 2011 in Confession, faith

If you are a Christian, when you read this, how do you feel?  Do you get upset?  Angry?  Defensive? Does it make you anxious?  Does it, even for just a moment, make you question your faith or wonder if what you believe is really as crazy as this description makes it sound?  Can you feel emotions in you rising up?  Interesting how that happens isn’t it?

If you are an Atheist, when you read this, how do you feel?  Do you have the same  intensity of emotions, anxieties, or defensiveness?  Do you immediately want to begin to make a case for the rationality of atheism over-and-against Christianity (or any other religion)?  Can you feel emotions in you rising up?  Interesting how that happens isn’t it?

Everyone is telling the story of reality through assumptions based on faith.  Everyone.  Christian as well as Atheist.  What that means is no one has the upper-hand as if one is based purely in science and the other is based on some mystical voodoo.  Science, when pushed, has to concede that it, too, is based on faith assumptions.

What is important to me is whether or not there is honesty in regards to this reality.  Whether it be from Christians or Atheists, who is willing to admit the variable of faith?  Who is willing to say, “I believe what I do because of these faith assumptions”?  On either side you have voices that want to proclaim that there is no faith about it.  It is “truth” (or “science” or “facts” or “evidences”) and anyone who sees it differently is _________ fill in the blank (e.g., stupid, insane, a fool, ridiculous, etc.).

I believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the one and only Living God who created and sustains all things.  I believe that he came to the earth and inaugurated the Kingdom of God, that he was crucified, that he was buried, and that three days later he was raised from the dead.  And now I believe that he sits at the right hand of God and will one day return to the earth to make all things new.  

I believe this based on some rational evidences and proofs.  But ultimately, I believe this because I have encountered and experienced the resurrected Lord Jesus and have chosen to accept it based on faith.  And now my invitation is for others to stand where I stand; to see what I see; to experience what I experience, and see if this same faith takes hold in their own heart and mind.

RIP Butternut

Posted: September 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

At approximately 6:00 pm (EST) this butternut squash will be executed in my kitchen.

Hanging Out With Nuns

Posted: September 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

Today I’m leaving to spend the next 24+ hours at a Retreat Center.  It is my “quiet place.”  There is a convent on the property so it feels like I don’t ever see anyone with the exception of an occasional nun.  Last night we had a leadership meeting and I asked everyone to state what spiritual discipline they most easily gravitate towards and which spiritual discipline they have the most difficult time with.  My most difficult is silence.  And I don’t mean just not talking.  I mean silence.  Like, no iPod, no TV, no radio, no podcast, no, no iTunes, no internet, no phone, no human beings to talk to.  Just silence.  It takes me a while to get into it, but once I finally rest in the midst of it – it is powerful to me.

Sunday was a big day in that we were doing several new things.  First, we launched a new message series entitled Sucker Punched.  If you missed the message you can catch it here.  And I would highly recommend you watch Joddi Quam’s video story (also found at the same link) about being Sucker Punched.  Very powerful and moving.

At the same time we launched a third Sunday morning service.  So, now we are doing three Sunday morning services – 9:00, 10:30, & 11:55!

Here are some of my thoughts from Sunday:

  • This is exhausting!!  It was my first & predominant thought. But I’ll get used to it.
  • An apology is in order for the 11:55 attenders for the parking lot fiasco, the check-in at Kids Kanyon, and the late start time.  We obviously have some time issues to work out.  If you go over (like…say…10 minutes) from what you planned, it is impossible to begin another service with a ten minute turnaround time.  Sorry everyone.
  • Going to church at 9:00 a.m. sounds good on Tuesday, but when Sunday morning arrives, those who intended to go at 9:00 end up coming to the 11:55 service!!  I love you, but I don’t trust any stated intentions of what service you will be attending! 🙂  Prior to Sunday everyone acted like 11:55 was way too late to have a service.  *snicker*
  • Great to see so many people!
  • Lots of first time guests!
  • The dynamic between a speaker and an audience is powerful for me.  Because of the time requirements, I actually timed my sermon on Saturday and then early Sunday  morning I got in the pulpit and preached out loud to an empty auditorium (I NEVER do that…like EVER).  The sermon was so bad I literally started to panic afterwards begging God to rescue the morning because it was too late to write a new one.
  • Great job to the band for a long morning as they played back-to-back-to-back.
  • Thankful for three solid teams of volunteers all over the building for three services.
  • After my message I invited people to write on slips of paper in the seat pockets about their sucker punched moment, or a next step, or a prayer request.  I’ve read the slips of paper.  I am completely humbled by the stories that were full of such pain and suffering and also God’s grace and mercy.  It shakes the trite out of me to read them and causes me to seriously reflect the nature of my calling and pastoral ministry to pastor people that God is crazy in love with that have been wounded in life so deeply.  Truly honored.
  • My normal routine between services is now gone.  I’m in the process of trying to quickly discover a new one.  And it feels weird.
I’m looking forward to Sunday.  Week two of Sucker Punched.  This one is dealing with sickness.  This one hits closer to home for me.  See you there.  Bring a friend.  9:00, 10:30, and 11:55 am (or so we hope 🙂 )