Red Beef & Strong Beer

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Posted 10/22/13 at 9:13 AM | Grayson Pope

Gay Marriage Isn't That Big of a Deal

OK, so maybe I baited you a little with that headline. It's just because I think this conversation is an important one.

There's a deep sense running through our culture that gay marriage is not that big of a deal, so who cares if gay people can get married in New Jersey or another state? If it doesn't affect me, then why worry about it?

And believe me, I get this. I used to think this very same way. It's easy to be cynical about the whole thing when most marriages end in divorce anyways.

But it is a big deal. In fact, it's a huge deal.

And there are a couple reasons why.

Definition of marriage

The first reason is that the very notion of redefining marriage is an affront to God. Marriage is an institution which was established shortly after creation by God himself. We see as much in Genesis 2.

Since He established it, it means he defined it. It wasn't something Adam and Eve dreamt up because they thought it would make for a more stable society.

It was much deeper than that. It was spiritual.

And just like we can't redefine the church, we can't redefine marriage. FULL POST

Posted 11/27/12 at 6:39 AM | Grayson Pope

Does the Absence of Cults Mean Something?

Warner Bros. Films (Eyes Wide Shut 1999)

Interesting thoughts on cults and their cultural significance from Philp Jenkins at Real Clear Religion recently:

The absence of cult activity and gross superstition in American life is really starting to worry me, and that's not a joke.

...But assume for the sake of argument that such surveys genuinely do reflect a secular shift, and the United States really is moving to become more similar to Canada, or the nations of Western Europe. If that were the case, then one of the first symptoms we would expect would be a general reduction of interest in spiritual or religious matters across large sections of society.

...In other words, the first symptom we might expect of genuine American secularization would be the disappearance of cults, and a precipitous decline in activism and enthusiasm on the spiritual fringe, which is exactly what has taken place over the past two decades. If that linkage is genuine, then the odds of a national religious recovery or revival like that of the 1970s would be vastly diminished. Perhaps secularization really is looming. FULL POST

Posted 11/20/12 at 11:08 AM | Grayson Pope

10 Ways to Understand the Significance of Now

We live in a day pregnant with historical significance. Surely, we are not the first to have lived through such times.

Nick-K (Nikos Koutoulas) via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Just as surely, though, many of us live as if this is not the case. We carry on lives which proclaim there is nothing beyond today and the trip to the store. Lives spent only understanding the now; clueless to their specific situation in light of what has come before them.

I am guilty as much as the next man. We all are or have been at some point.

To avoid this pitfall, here is a list of

10 ways to understand the significance of now:

  1. Think beyond culture. Compare current mindsets to those that came before you.
  2. Read books or blogs which give you a sense of history and how today fits into that mix.
  3. Read all of Paul’s missionary journeys in the New Testament and focus on the urgency with which he operates.
  4. Pray for understanding of the signs of our times.
  5. Stay current with large cultural studies, like the one a few months ago charting the rise of those with no current religious affiliation, or the “nones.”
  6. Reflect on how many of your beliefs and views reflect your immediate culture, and how many of them would stand the test of time.
  7. Start measuring things in your life against the Bible, not your own comfort level.
  8. Go see movies like Lincoln when they come out. Then go read the books they came from.
  9. Step back and take notice that you are most likely not the first person to go through what you are going through. Somewhere, some time, before you, someone has trudged along the same path.
  10. Think about the fact that you, as a parent, are to be the protector of your family from culture. In light of this, you better start learning what it is they need protecting from.

What did I miss? Would you add anything to the list? FULL POST

Posted 11/15/12 at 12:32 PM | Grayson Pope

The One Word We Overlook in the Great Commission

The Great Commission is one of those sets of verses so often repeated it often falls on deaf ears. This has certainly been the case with me before.

Once something becomes overly familiar we can often replace the words with our own feelings or attachments. Of course, this is a dangerous thing to do. Because in doing so, we miss the originally intended meaning.

While rereading the book of Matthew recently, I was trying to avoid falling into just this trap. It proved well worth it.

Upon reading the Great Commission, I noticed a singular word which had never “popped out” at me before. The word?


Here is the Commission so you can see this in context:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matt. 28: 19-20 FULL POST

Posted 11/13/12 at 11:04 AM | Grayson Pope

The Two Things Needed to Address Significant Times

Humans, in general, are not prone to reflection of their current situation. Without intentionally carving out the time and place for thought, little weight is often given to the current situation.

This is dubious in itself, but perhaps more perplexing is that even in the face of great danger, men can carry on without deep thought.

In the months before declaring independence from Britain, then General George Washington reflected on his predicament of being outmanned and essentially unarmed with the British Army within a sight glass’ view,

The reflection upon my situation and that of this army produces many an uneasy hour when all around me are wrapped in sleep. Few people know the predicament we are in.

Washington knew his army was a ragamuffin crew. Their situation was dire, lacking the necessary gunpowder and ammunition to carry out an attack, or, more importantly, hold off an attack by the British if they decided to move.

On the eve of certain death in the most gruesome of fashions, Jesus would ask his disciples to keep watch and pray over him, only to find them sleeping.

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them,“Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” FULL POST

Posted 11/1/12 at 3:27 PM | Grayson Pope

In the Name of Tolerance

Tolerance is probably the most praised virtue of the day. And rightly so. No one wants to be judged by an intolerant person who can’t see past the plank in their own eye.

s_falkow on Flickr (Creative Commons)

Somewhere along the way though, tolerance began including complete intellectual acceptance as part of its definition.

Here’s what I mean. The old definition of tolerance, from, is

a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own.

The new definition of tolerance might go something like this:

a radically permissive and condoning attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own.

These are not small changes.

And they have led to what Pete Wilson noted in a recent sermon, which is that,

Intolerance in the name of tolerance is still intolerance. FULL POST

Posted 10/30/12 at 2:18 PM | Grayson Pope

Your iPhone Doesn't Give Your Life Meaning

We are far too easily pleased...

Those chilling words come courtesy of the one and only Clive Staples Lewis, and they are more applicable now than ever.

The new iPhone 5 is out, along with the iPad Mini, and with them came the unstoppable media train barreling around the world. Before the Apple guys were done announcing it, everyone already knew all there was to know.

CBS via

Believe me, I bought it hook, line and sinker. I’m not even planning on getting one, but I’m always captivated by the magic Apple is able to create time and time again.

I was feverishly sifting through tech sites and blogs when I came across this headline that shifted my mood entirely:

Apple Says New iPhone 5 Feature Gives Life Meaning

Sigh. I knew I would have to address it when I saw it.

Headlines like this are so commonplace we don’t often feel the need to stand up and say anything about it. As Christians, we need to learn to start speaking up for ourselves. Why? Well, as Rick Warren pointed out in a recent sermon, everyone else is. FULL POST

Posted 10/25/12 at 12:03 PM | Grayson Pope

What Are You Willing to be Labelled?

The current state of culture towards Christians, especially those closely aligned with orthodox Christianity, is one of increasing hostility. It can be seen in the public square on issues like gay marriage or abortion. Any time a person makes a legitimate claim to a belief based on Christian principles it seems they automatically lose endorsements, funding and, ultimately, votes.

In a recent episode of the radio show Stand to Reason, Greg Koukl said something very thought provoking on the subject. He said he has noticed this same increase in hostility towards Christians, then spoke of Paul’s willingness to wear the label of “fool” when it came to his belief in the Gospel. The world labeled him a fool for his beliefs, but he was fine to take up that cross and bear it for God.

Then Koukl applied the same idea to gay marriage today. He pointed to the fact that if you say you are against gay marriage, the label you must now wear is “bigot.” It doesn’t matter what is right or wrong, or even justified, anymore. If you say you stand for the biblical view of marriage, you will be labeled a bigot. FULL POST

Posted 10/23/12 at 11:25 AM | Grayson Pope

Suffering from Historical Nearsightedness

We live in increasingly dangerous times. Revolution in the Middle East, economic turmoil here and abroad, and increasing numbers of people with no religious identity, all illustrate the point. One of the scariest trends, however, is far less subtle — historical ignorance.

Our culture knows very little of what came before it, both in popular culture as well as Christian culture. It is the second area, ignorance of Christian history, we will examine.

photo: E r i k m on Flikr (Creative Commons)

Many in the current generation have little to no clue about historically significant moments, sacraments, or figures in Christianity. Among them, Billy Graham has never been heard of, Eucharist is a term which seems foreign, and orthodoxy an idea which smells of outdated religiosity.

I have seen this first hand. I am 25 years old, converted to the Christian faith just over three years ago. The more I learn about my faith, the more I am appalled by the lack of historical knowledge I had. It is no better if I survey the landscape around me, not just for 20-somethings, but those in the their 30’s and 40’s as well. FULL POST

Posted 10/18/12 at 2:19 PM | Grayson Pope

You Can't Google Your Way Into the Kingdom

What constitutes knowledge has changed. Instead of being able to recall as much information as possible, knowledgeable people today are able to locate information quickly. So instead of memorizing dates and locations from history, we learn instead how to Google what we are searching, using the best input to give us the best output.

psd on Flickr (Creative Commons)

It is a fascinating change in the way things work. Of course, as with most changes, this is a result of the tools we have available, namely the Internet. It has forever altered the way we look at information and knowledge. And it is not necessarily all bad.

I think of it like a calculator. Complicated math became accessible to humanity on a massive scale with the calculator, changing the way we interacted. The Internet did the same. It took a massive storehouse of knowledge and made it accessible to a massive audience that may never have known it otherwise. (Although research has shown we are far more interested in using the Internet for social media and entertainment as opposed to learning, but that is a topic for another day.) FULL POST

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