Working on Bloo, talking to atheists, and thinking about Lynyrd Skynyrd

One reason for my absence here recently: I’ve been working on the beta version of Bloo. Just adding some much-needed features and spam controls. Some I will be trying out in this space in the next few days.

I love writing software. It’s one creative outlet I have where I actually have some skill (if I may be so immodest). I’ve got some great alpha-testers too, who took a risk on using a brand-new and not quite ready for prime-time blogging tool.

Among the more active testers are our pregnant friend, Jen, my good bud AJ the excellent Brandywine Books, a pair of missionaries dearly loved by us and, of course, . I have other alpha testers who don’t blog quite so much but who I still really appreciated.

Good stuff. Read these blogs.

The beta of Bloo is coming!

Besides this, I’ve been in a pretty long and involved conversation with an atheist over on Thinklings, along with some other people. It’s been tiring, but illuminating too. It all starts at comment 210 or thereabouts. I don’t think I’ve gotten through to him at all. But we’ve been good and civil and that’s cool.

Finally, some randimosity: I don’t know what you think, or thought, of the band Lynyrd Skynyrd. They were big back in the 1970s, but their success was cut short by a tragic plane crash in 1977:

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s legend is grounded in a plane crash that occurred on October 20, 1977, three days after the release of Street Survivors. A chartered Convair 240 carrying the band between shows from Greenville, South Carolina to LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana crashed near a forest in McComb, Mississippi. A damaged magneto in the right engine resulted in the plane literally running out of fuel. The resulting crash killed singer/songwriter Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist/vocalist Steve Gaines, vocalist Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray. Other band members were injured, some very seriously. Drummer Artimus Pyle crawled out of the plane wreckage with several broken ribs, yet ran nearly a mile to a farmhouse to try to get help. The farmer Johnny Mote, on first seeing the wild-haired blood- and mud-encrusted drummer babbling incoherently, greeted him with a (non-fatal) shotgun blast to his shoulder. Only when Mote realized that this person was connected with the plane crash he had just heard did he call for help. Allen Collins suffered two cracked vertebrae in his neck, and both Collins and Leon Wilkeson nearly had arms amputated as a result of crash injuries. Wilkeson suffered severe internal injuries and a punctured lung and had most of his teeth knocked out. Gary Rossington broke both of his arms and both of his legs in the crash, and took many months to recuperate. Leslie Hawkins sustained a concussion, broke her neck in three places and had severe facial lacerations.

Only pianist Billy Powell was relatively unhurt, but he nearly had his nose torn off and suffered severe facial lacerations.

The thing about the shotgun blast just blows me away (no pun intended). That and the “relatively unhurt, but he nearly had his nose torn off” line about Billy Powell. That’s nuts.

Lynyrd Skynyrd was a band of good ol’ southern boys (who named their band after their old gym teacher), and I like their music. They actually put out anti-drug and anti-gun songs back then, which was pretty unusual (especially the anti-drug ones).

If you’ve never heard the song Freebird, you might take a look at the youtube video below. Freebird is a poignant song, and it ends on one of the best electric guitar arrangements ever. Here they are live in Oakland in 1977.

In Christ Alone

I positively love the song In Christ Alone. We sang it last Sunday in church.

That’s why I was pretty pumped to find this YouTube on Jen’s site

In Christ alone my hope is found

He is my light, my strength, my song

This Cornerstone, this solid ground

Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace

When fears are stilled, when strivings cease

My Comforter, my All in All

Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh

Fullness of God in helpless babe

This gift of love and righteousness

Scorned by the ones He came to save

‘Til on that cross as Jesus died

The wrath of God was satisfied

For every sin on Him was laid

Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay

Light of the world by darkness slain

Then bursting forth in glorious Day

Up from the grave He rose again

And as He stands in victory

Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me

For I am His and He is mine

Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt of life, no fear in death

This is the power of Christ in me

From life’s first cry to final breath

Jesus commands my destiny

No power of hell, no scheme of man

Can ever pluck me from His hand

‘til He returns or calls me home

Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

Stuart Townend and Keith Getty

My hope is in You

O Lord, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
 Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!


 Surely a man goes about as a shadow!
Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;
man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!

And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in you.

Psalm 39:4-7 (ESV)

So, how do you treat your pastor?

How do you treat your pastor? I have pastor friends that are hurting, deeply. They are being wounded by the people that they selflessly serve. I don't understand.

So, how do you treat your pastor? How do I treat mine?

I admit that I usually take the pastors in my church for granted. Shame on me.

The fact of the matter is that, of course, most people in our churches are good people, and they treat their pastor(s) just fine. But the church has both wheat and weeds in it, just like Jesus told us. It is often hard for us, with our undiscerning eyes, to tell the difference between them. And sometimes we miss the vicious attacks right before our eyes because, frankly, we just can't believe anyone would act that way.

I think the biggest sin most of us commit is a sin of omission. When those who shepherd us come under attack by people who are motivated by hatred, desire for "power" (which often amounts, pathetically, to just being a big fish in an ever-shrinking pond), and the perverse thrills of gossip and slander, we often just sit by, waiting for it to "all blow over".

But things don't "blow over". They blow up if they aren't taken care of.

Pastors are imperfect, sinful people, just like you and me. And they need discipline and even correction and rebuke as much as anyone else does. But if you knew the pressures that many of them are under, and the pressures that their wives and kids are under . . . It is crushing. They need us to hold them up, to pray for them, to lift their weary arms.

They need us to treat them how we would like to be treated if the tables were turned.

I was reading this passage a day or two ago, and it's very appropriate:

The wicked watches for the righteous
and seeks to put him to death.
The Lord will not abandon him to his power
or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.

Wait for the Lord and keep his way,
and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

I have seen a wicked, ruthless man,
spreading himself like a green laurel tree.
But he passed away, and behold, he was no more;
though I sought him, he could not be found.

Mark the blameless and behold the upright,
for there is a future for the man of peace.
But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
the future of the wicked shall be cut off.

The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

– Psalm 37:32-40 (ESV)

Oh yeah.

So, how do you treat your pastor? How do I? I believe in the end God will take care of things, and justice will flow like a river. But in the meantime may he empower us to become springs of blessing for those who lead us. May we be a source of blessing, not cursing, to those over us.

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.

– 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 (ESV)


But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

– Hebrews 5:14 (ESV)

Recently I've been thinking a lot about maturity. From my perspective, maturity is not much valued in our culture. It is synonymous with "no fun", and when one thinks of maturity, the vision that presents itself is of a buttoned-down and proper dullness. We live in a culture that celebrates youth, celebrates success (however gained), and celebrates excess. Our televisions are rife with images of men behaving like boys and women fulfilling those boy's every fantasy. There are a lot fewer images of people who demonstrate maturity. You see, maturity lacks "spice".

But the image of maturity found in the Bible is anything but dull. The word translated "mature" in Hebrews 5:14 is the greek word Teleios, which signifies full development, completion. Teleios means readiness; something that is fully prepared to accomplish its purpose.

WarriorGod's desire for you and I is that we be mature. And this is not a boring state. A person who is mature in God's eyes is someone who is battle-hardened; they are a useful weapon in God's hands, someone who has their powers of discernment honed through long training in the Word and who is thus able to distinguish good from evil. In my view, people who are mature in this way are rare. I certainly don't count myself among them (just follow me around on any given day and you'll know what I mean), but I hope to continue training and honing my God-given powers of discernment. So that I can be fully mature, complete for the task God has set before me, having the ability to digest and put into practice the solid, hearty food of God's Word, which is the sustenance that every warrior needs for the battle.

Maturity was certainly a calling Paul took seriously, both for himself and those he was charged with. As he writes in Colossians. "Him [Jesus] we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me." – Colossians 1:28-29.

For Paul, maturity was worth the toil and the struggle he went through, with all the energy that God would supply. If you're a redeemed child of God, maturity is your destiny! You and I need to embrace that, and press on toward that goal.

Rich text editor

I'm testing this now here on Out of the Bloo – will be releasing this as well to all my loyal alpha testers soon, after I've kicked the tires a bit.

The part you can't see: I'm composing this post in a Rich Text editor, rather than posting in html. I'm using the new RichTextPostEditor SnapOn that I've created, which is a wrapper to the excellent TinyMCE rich text editor.

The part you can see: You can get a taste of it yourself by commenting on this post (since I've also implemented it in the comments). So, if HTML isn't your bag, you can get those nifty editing features you're used to in your fav word processing software, right here on lil ol' Bloo!

Both the Post Rich Text editor and the Comments Rich Text editor are SnapOns (of course), so I can enable them or disable them at will.

Something else that I've added (this is for Phil at Brandywine Books) is the "More" functionality on posts, so that long posts can be shortened with a "Read the rest of this entry link", like so:

Continue reading

Thirty two theses on church

Jared has written his 30 Theses (Give or Take): A Ramblin’ Rant in Helpful Bullet Point Format. Here are the first eight – but you have to go read them all:

1. Discipleship is designed to be experienced in community. God saves individuals, but He does not save them to an individual faith but to a kingdom life populated with other citizens who share that faith.

2. The Bible designates one vessel to hold this kingdom community, and it is The Church. You might fraternize with other believers in coffee shops, informal communes, online chat rooms or forums, blogs, bars, or the big outdoors, but only biblical churches satisfy the discipleship need for The Church.

3. Honest Christians will differ on what constitutes a “biblical church,” and while disagreement is understandable and okay, beware of any church that says, explicitly or implicitly, “we do it right” or “we do it better” than the church down the street.

4. Ecclesiological one-upmanship (“My church is better than your church”) is a sin.

5. The reason you should not give up on church or The Church is because Jesus did not give up on you. And if He calls the church His Body, giving up on it means giving up on Him.

6. There are no perfect churches, especially if they have people in them.

7. Expecting a church to “fit” you or to always be comfortable or catering to your needs is arrogance and foolishness.

8. You can pick your friends and you can pick your church, but as in all families, you don’t get to pick who’s in The Body. Only God can do that. And when you decide certain people (or certain churches) are not worthy of your presence, ask yourself if you are worthy of God’s. (Hint: You’re not. But he came into your life anyway.)

That, my friends, is good stuff.

Now, what are you waiting for? There are 24 more to go. Get readin’!

Greater love has no one than this . . .

From BlackFive:

Fast forward to the final weeks of that deployment and Mike along with two fellow SEALs were occupying an overwatch position on a rooftop in the Mulab district of Ramadi which is basically the most dangerous neighborhood of the most dangerous city in Iraq. A hidden enemy managed to toss a grenade onto the rooftop near the three SEALs, and Mike without hesitation warned his comrades verbally before placing himself in a position to block the lethal blast of the grenade from killing his teammates. One of the SEALs he saved said that Mike’s countenance was completely calm and he showed no fear only resolve. No short timer’s disease infecting this man, he had only a couple of weeks remaining in the deployment and he did not flinch at the moment of truth.

On the rostrum, all three SEALs whose lives Mike personally saved hobbled up together to thank Michael and his family for their very existence and to show their family’s gratitude for sparing them the grief that Michael’s family is now experiencing. I have never witnessed something as special and inspiring in my entire life-I have never even heard of such a thing happening before. Michael’s sister Sara told of a vision that she had upon hearing the news that her brother had died a hero’s death saving his brothers. She said that she saw a puzzle missing its final piece being completed by an unseen hand and that its visage was that of her brother. His actions, his deeds, his sacrifice were the culmination of a lifetime of preparation to go forth into combat and distinguish himself above and beyond the call of duty.

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.”

John 15:13 (ESV)