Monthly Archives: December 2007

The Dropping of Names

It’s the day after Christmas, and I’m in God’s Country (also known as Texas). I don’t think I’ll be able to update the blog as much as I’d hoped to. Despite having the time and the inclination, our MacBook is not working with my in-laws WiFi signal. It “says” it’s connected, but no dice on email or internet. And as a new member of the Apple iCult, I am about as interested in jumping on my in-laws’ bloated PC to surf the interweb as a cage phase Calvinist debate team captain is to represent Arminianism in a hypothetical argument exercise.So there.

I just finished having a nice lunch at a Houston Pappasito’s with Glenn Lucke and his already/not-yet better half, and now I’m snuggled into a nearby Panera, ostensibly to work on the Jesus book. Finally able to check my email — and my blog feeds reader — I see that both Glenn’s Common Grounds and my very own Gospel-Driven Church have been selected for the Internet Monk’s Top Ten Blogs of 2007. Thanks, iMonk!

Hope everyone had a great Christmas.I have to send some Element-related emails now and get back to work on that book Michael is telling you to look out for. I should have a submittable manuscript in a week.

Have a great week, faithful readers. God loves you and so do I.

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Eric Volz Update: Situation Celebratory

After more than a year, finally there is justice for Eric Volz.

Recently you requested personal assistance from our on-line supportcenter. Below is a summary of your request and our response.

Thank you for contacting the State Department.

Subject—————————————————————Eric Volz

Discussion Thread—————————————————————Response (Support Agent) – 12/21/2007 03:09 PMThe Bureau of Public Affairs is in receipt of your message. Please know that all views are welcome and we appreciate the time you took to express your concerns.

Please visit our website at for the Department’s daily briefing regarding the Eric Volz case. Thank you for contacting the U.S. Department of State.

Question Reference #071220-000074————————————————————— Category Level 1: Emergency Information Date Created: 12/20/2007 01:34 PM Last Updated: 12/21/2007 03:09 PM Status: Solved

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Eric Volz Update: Situation Critical

Another update:


We are asking everyone to contact (a phone call would be more immediate, but follow up with an email if you can!) their elected representatives in the next few hours, to ask them to pressure the Nicaraguan government to carry out Eric’s legal release from prison. The reason this is so urgent is that Nicaraguan government offices leave tomorrow for the lengthy holidays… we need the US government to act IMMEDIATELY to compel the Nicaraguan government to honor their own law and release Eric Volz!

Call your representative with the question “What is being done to expedite Eric Volz’s release from Nicaraguan custody?”


READ THIS: Associated Press story

TAKE ACTION: Here’s how to locate your representatives:State Department: or main switchboard: 202-647-4000White House: or main switchboard: 202-456-1414Senators: Click on the above link and locate your two State SenatorsCongresspersons: Click on the above link and locate your Congressional Representatives

Details are changing almost hourly, but here’s what we know as of 10:30am Central, December 20th:

Judge Ivette Toruno, who initially convicted Eric for Doris’ murder, is required to sign his release papers, but she has created various excuses to avoid doing so.

In the meantime, the original prosecutor of Eric’s case (Isolda Ibarra) is attempting to overturn the Appellate Court ruling, and is filing an appeal to the Nicaraguan Supreme Court. She is asking that Eric be held in custody (illegally) until the Supreme Court rules. Typically, Supreme Court cases take years …

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Eric Volz: Breaking News, Hope and Danger

Nicaraguan court overturns American’s conviction:

A Nicaraguan appeals court Monday ruled that an American convicted of killing his former girlfriend should be set free.

Eric Volz, of Nashville, Tennessee, was convicted in 2006 of raping and killing Doris Ivanez Jimenez and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The court Monday reversed that decision, but Volz has not been freed because a judge failed to show up for an afternoon meeting to arrange his release, according to attorney Fabbrith Gomez . . .

Here is the update from the Friends of Eric Volz MySpace:

Here’s what we know.

Today, the Nicaraguan Appellate Court ruled 2-1 in favor of Innocence for Eric Volz and demanded his immediate release. In fulfillment of Nicaraguan law, Judge Ivette Toruno, the convicting judge who is required by law to sign the release papers, arranged for Eric’s attorney to pick-up the release papers at 2pm this afternoon. However, Toruno left the court at 1:30 and will not come back for the rest of the day. It is unclear as to whether or not she will be in the office tomorrow, as well.

Judge Toruno is currently in contempt of court by refusing to make her appointment and sign the release papers. Eric has been freed, but is still being detained illegally, against the orders of the Appellate Court.

Nicaraguan radio broadcasts have been announcing that the people need to take justice into their own hands, since word of the court’s decision. We are more concerned than ever before, for Eric’s safety.

It appears as …

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We Three Links

Hope you had a great weekend.Can I brag on the Element peeps for a second? Our leadership team decided to dedicate 100% of last night’s offering to Blood:Water Mission’s 1000 Wells Project, so we told our folks what they were giving to and why, and when the night was over, Element had given $485 toward relief for AIDS-ravaged Africa. That may not sound like a lot to you, but we’re not a big ministry (yet, God willing), and that breaks down to about $16/person, which is pretty dang good. Keep in mind that $1 buys clean water for a year for an African. So Element’s humble crowd essentially provided clean water for a year for 485 people. I’m so in awe of them. I love getting to do life with these people.

Here are some quality links to get your week started right . . .

Pastors, Preach Christ This Christmas, Not Us!

No Big Thing

The Reign of God and the Parables of Jesus

Yup, just three links (as the title suggests), but they’re all the freshest, highest quality links, having passed inspection and chock-full of spiritual vitamins and minerals.

I plan on taking the rest of the week off from blogging. Vacation starts soon, and I’ll have plenty of time to post then, but this week I really want to work on getting the revision of the Jesus book completed so I can get copies out to my faithful reader-reviewers. I’d like to get it to my agent right after …

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Toward Greater Gospel-Centrism

It’s been a crazy, busy week on the homefront. Apologies for the slack in posting. I also realize I didn’t get an entry in the Formation series on Wednesday, and I may not get back to that until after the holidays. Not that anybody missed it.

Maybe you heard this week about the Missouri Baptist Convention’s decision to de-fund all of its church plants affiliated with the Acts 29 Network. You can read all the thoughts on this move elsewhere (like here or here, for instance), and I won’t blather about it, but I am one who tends to think this was a poor decision.

Evangelicalism needs churches like those in the Acts 29 planting network and in other likeminded evangelical associations, and we need to keep supporting them. Evangelical comes from evangel, after all, which is where we get the good-news word “gospel,” and churches that make Jesus the center of their message and make the gospel the center of their efforts is exactly what will reform the discipleship culture of the American church and push evangelicals back into the embrace of their namesake. Assuming you’re interested in that effort.

I found this great article on the website of one of the de-funded Acts 29 churches in Missouri, The Journey church in St. Louis (who received some criticism in past months for having a guys’ theology roundtable meeting in a bar, which may be connected to the eventual MBC decision to defund Acts 29 …

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The Gospel: d) All of the Above

Both/and. Yes, but.Right, nevertheless.And also.

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

See? The Gospel is the kingdom.

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

See? The Gospel is Jesus.

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

See? The Gospel is God’s grace.

. . . to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

See? God is the Gospel. (Thanks, Piper!)

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

See? The Gospel is the glory of Christ. (Watch out, Witherington!)

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.

See? The Gospel is salvation from sins.

. . . and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

See? The Gospel is peace. (Wait – what?)

And if you’re not just using the word “gospel” the implications and …

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Tuesday is for the Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

You probably put up with singing like this in your church too.

This is SNL’s Maya Rudolph’s brilliant impression of countless indulgent, over-emotive R&B singers butchering the National Anthem. I find this so incredibly hilarious because it taps into one of my biggest pet peeves about modern musical performances. And it’s just stinking funny. I’d put it on my all-time top ten SNL sketches.

Watch it before NBC yanks it off YouTube.

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I really like this Trevin Wax reaction to The Way of the Master’s take on the “emerging church”.

I like it for Trevin’s insistence that reconciliation to each other is important to the proclamation and living out of the gospel. But I also like it for this:

Apparently, talking too much about “the Kingdom” is enough to get you labeled as Emerging now.

I’ve just about had it with the knee-jerk reactions of some of corners of evangelicalism against anything that even smacks of “Emerging.” Including talk about “the kingdom.” I guess this would make Jesus “Emerging”?

The Emerging Church deserves to be critiqued from other sections of evangelicalism. I’ll be the first to admit that.

But come on! We don’t have to choose between a theology of “the kingdom” and a biblical view of the atonement. It’s not just Emergent that talks about God’s Kingdom coming on earth as in heaven… it’s all over the New Testament. It’s in the Lord’s Prayer!

Now, I could rant myself about the fuzzy and frequently fubar theology coming out of the emerging church movement, but I tend to think the label “emerging church,” as a theological category, is so vague and schizophrenic as to be practically useless. So this isn’t a defense of the emerging church.

It’s a plea for Christians to stop with the boogeymen. In this instance, The Way of the Master’s Todd Friel isn’t offering a substantive critique of the emerging church (whatever that is). He’s making an us vs. them argument and casting “those …

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Jesus is Enough (But Take the Prozac If You Need It)

But it must really be Jesus, not some invoking of the idea of Jesus, some platitude involving Jesus’ name, some hollow encouragement via cheap cliche.

What am I talking about?

Brant Hansen offers a vulnerable, provocative post — Is Jesus Enough? — covering his experiences with depression and anxiety and the relief he has received through medication. Read it; it’s important.He concludes:

He’s my “All in All”, and “all I want”, and “all I need”, and “everything I ever wanted”, and in case I should forget, I sing the words frequently. Jesus is all I need.

Except, apparently, for these little pills.

The iMonk is one of the few people talking about stuff like this.

My good friend Bill posts, asking in part:

The question the brother asks is “Is Jesus enough?” The comments thread has been full of grace, and that’s so refreshing. But it got me wondering. Is “Jesus is enough” a Biblical thought?

Wait, don’t go away. Let me explain. I mean, of course we know that Christ is our all-sufficient Savior. But have you ever known anyone who truly needed nothing else but Jesus? In other words, no food, water, clothing, shelter, medicine, etc.

I’m not trying to be hyperbolic here. But when we say “Jesus is enough”, what do we mean? Do we mean that we currently need nothing else? If you say that, do you live that way? Is it wrong to have other needs?

Is Jesus enough?

Short answer: Yes.

One question I’d ask those who’d suggest those on medication for …

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