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Chastity: The Apologetic We Forgot April 8, 2013

Posted by clintcarter in Church, God.
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Have you ever considered that chastity is a significant witness for the truth of the Gospel?

Chastity is a little used word.  It means to be pure in action and intention regarding sexual behavior.  Not just abstaining from sexually immoral acts, but doing so for the right reasons.  Chastity is not just behavior modification, but desire modification.

I’ve been reading Justin Martyr’s Apologies written around A.D. 160.  Justin wrote this book to the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius as a defense of Christian faith and practice; denying the false accusations against Christians and reasoning how Christians make model citizens for any society.

One chapter in particular caught my attention (Chapter 15 What Christ himself taught).  Justin leads with Christian chastity as a defense of the validity of the Christian faith.  Here’s what he says:

“And many both men and women, who have been Christ’s disciples from childhood, remain pure at the age of sixty or seventy years; and I boast that I could produce such from every race of men.  For what shall I say, too, of the countless multitude of those who have reformed intemperate habits, and learned these things?”

Justin was calling the emperor to look at the sexual immorality prevalent in his culture, with no human exempt from these urges/actions and compare it to what was happening among believers with their reformed, chaste habits and decades of purity (which was just as unheard of in his day as it is in ours).

Chastity among believers is a strong apologetic for the world.  For modern believers chastity extends to faithfulness in marriage – including mental and emotional faithfulness.  For single believers – not pursuing lustful thoughts, rejecting any sexual activity, and staying away from even the appearance of evil (sleeping over).

Chastity was a hallmark of the early church.  It was something that the surrounding culture recognized as a distinguishing mark.  It set them apart.  However, it wasn’t something that the church demanded of the culture.  Justin was not forcing Christian morals upon the society around him.

As the church today we’ve got it backwards.  We try to force chastity upon our society while not maintaining it ourselves.  Adultery, fornication, pornography and pre-marital sex are rampant among the church today.  Our chastity does not distinguish us and so it does not present a strong, significant witness for the truth of the Gospel.

Now as a man, I know the impossibility of leading a chaste life in my own strength.  None of us can meet these standards by our own will power.  Even our best attempts will leave us defeated or self-righteous.  But we have a Savior who not only forgives us for our failures but who provides inspiration and empowerment to turn from these temptations.  Jesus’ work has renewed our minds and given us a new nature created according to God’s image in purity. (Ephesians 4:17-24)  Church, may our chastity be compelling evidence of God’s mercy.

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Do I Know You? March 19, 2013

Posted by clintcarter in Friends, Life.
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I despise the phrase “How are you doing?”  Perhaps despise is a bit of an exaggeration.  I really don’t mind if other people ask me that question.  I recognize that for some people this phrase is their standard greeting – I don’t begrudge them that.  But when it comes out of my own mouth, I always wince – because I know what it implies.  It implies that I don’t really know you well enough to know how you’re doing or what’s going on in your life.

I feel that if I really know someone, I shouldn’t ever need to ask them that question.  Let me illustrate.

I don’t ever ask Carey or my kids “How are you doing?”  Why?  Because I know what’s going on in their lives so I’m going to ask specific questions like “How was your lunch with so and so today?” or “What happened during your presentation at school?” or “What did your friend say when you asked them about coming over next weekend?”  I’m going to ask informed questions and then deduce “how they are doing” from their feedback.

I think this spills over into praying for one another.  If I have to ask “How can I pray for you?” either I haven’t been paying attention or we’re not talking about what’s truly important.

2 of My Favorite Things February 25, 2013

Posted by clintcarter in Beets.
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2 things are coming to town this week.  Not sure how they will play out, but I’m excited about both.

1) A blizzard!  I love blizzards.  1 foot of snow.  That’s what I’m hoping for.

2) Chick Fil A Opening!  A new Chick Fil A is opening a few miles west of our house.  You know what that means.  Carey and I are hoping to be apart of the first 100 and get free CFA for a year.  I’m liking our chances due to the blizzard and cold.  We’re going to bundle up with everything we own that’s warm and huddle in a tent for 24 hours.  This will be my 4th opening.  Never done one in the snow though.

Les Miserables best recordings February 12, 2013

Posted by clintcarter in Music.
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This is a follow up to my last post.  My sister asked me which recording of Les Miserables I prefer.  Well, specifically she asked if any of them lived up to my high musical standards.  To answer your question Mindy, none of them are perfect.  I don’t have a favorite recording of Les Miserables – although I probably listen to the Original Broadway Cast Recording (1987) most often.

Instead of an overall favorite recording, I have favorite character performances from those who play each role.  Below are the ones I enjoy most with the song that’s the highlight of their performance for me.

Valjean – Original Broadway Cast Recording.  “Bring Him Home” Nobody beats Colm Wilkinson. Nobody.  He’s like the Chuck Norris of musicals.

Fantine – 10th Anniversary Concert Cast – “I Dreamed a Dream”

Javert – Les Miserables Live. The 2010 Cast.  The last minute of “Stars” is phenomenal.

Cosette – 10th Anniversary Concert Cast “Heart Full of Love”

Marius – 10th Anniversary Concert.  I know that Marius is supposed to be young, but I prefer a more mature voice especially for the emotion of “Empty Chairs.”

Revolutionaries – Original Broadway Cast Recording. “Red and Black”

Eponine – 10th Anniversary Concert Cast. Best rendition of “On My Own” ever.

Les Miserables – the movie that tried to be a musical February 6, 2013

Posted by clintcarter in Movies, Music.
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You might think from the title that I’m hating on the movie, but you would only be partly right.  I enjoyed it thoroughly.  I’m glad I saw it.  I recommend it highly.  However it wasn’t what it could have been.

There are 2 schools of thought regarding musical productions with most people leaning toward one or the other.  One school says that the music is paramount.  You only give a role to a person who has the musical chops to pull it off.  If they can act, it’s a plus – but they’ve got to have the voice.

The other school believes that the drama is what carries the production.  The characters must be believable, therefore you need someone who can transform into that character and take the audience on the journey with them.  If they can sing on pitch and have a decent range, they’ll work out great.

Both schools agree that the best solution is to find an individual who can nail both aspects.  But such individuals are few and far between so we end up settling for something on either side of optimal.

If I was a proponent of the drama school, Les Mis the movie would have achieved greatness in my eyes.  The characters in the main roles are all phenomenal actors in their own right and were even transcendent at moments (I’m looking at you Anne).

However, I don’t belong to the drama club.  I’m a card carrying member of Musicians Will Rule the World.  And so I was inevitably disappointed by the overall quality of the voices.  Going back and listening to the soundtrack without the aid of visual distraction only amplifies my opinion.

Overall Hugh did an acceptable job in his singing.  Although I wanted to stand up and curse when he started singing “Bring Him Home.”  That’s my favorite song in the whole production.  Couldn’t some vocal coach have taught Hugh how to use his falsetto?  He completely butchered the piece.  It was painful to be a part of that.

Russell Crowe. Do I really even need to go here?  Let’s suffice it to say that you are an actor extraordinaire Mr. Crowe, but I would not have allowed you to sing at my wedding.  Javert is one of my favorite characters from the musical.  When we saw Les Mis in October at the Civic Center with Andrew Varela playing the character, I was blown away by his voice.  When he sang “Stars”, his voice filled the whole hall and there was a moment of silent awe before the audience burst into applause.  Russell’s musical performance was so bad that I almost forgot that magical moment.  They should have used a voice-over for his songs.

Marius and Cosette’s voices were nice when they sang in ensembles, but by themselves their vibrato was too distracting.  Amanda Seyfried’s vibrato was out of control – sounding like a bleating goat.  Eddie Redmayne has a decent voice but the way he moved his jaw to create vibrato made me want to reach up onto the screen and hold his head still.  I had to stare at the background during “Empty Chairs” to enjoy the song.

Samantha Barks, Anne Hathaway, and Aaron Tveit all turned in excellent musical performances.  I was especially pleased with the song “Red and Black”.

Musically I was underwhelmed.  Visually I thought the work was excellent.  The scenes they added enhanced the story and I wasn’t bothered by the parts they left out.  If you’re looking for a good movie and you don’t mind singing, you’ve found one.  If you’re looking for musical excellence, I’d recommend watching one of the anniversary concerts of Les Miserables on Netflix.

Vagal Response Strikes Again January 21, 2013

Posted by clintcarter in Life.
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One day I’ll compile a book of all these episodes.  As of right now, I only have three of them so it wouldn’t be a very long book.  I’ve had a lot of close calls (particularly when I’ve visited people in the hospital or during the birth of my children) but so far just 3 times when I passed out.

Last night we went to see the musical Jekyll and Hyde at the Civic Center.  Not unusual, as we go see lots of musicals.  I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this one.  I’ve read the book (which is a great read) but didn’t really see how it would be all that entertaining as a musical.  It’s dark and tragic – not generally the thing you imagine people dancing around the stage singing to.

So we get to the part of the story where Dr. Jekyll injects himself with the serum.  Now I’m 5 rows from the back of the balcony.  I can’t see anything disturbing.  But my mind takes off and I start getting more and more uncomfortable as I imagine what’s happening.  I try closing my eyes, thinking of other stuff – nothing is working.  I think about lying down on the floor, but I’m still hoping that I can get through this.  I lean back in my chair…

The next thing I know is I feel like I’m in a dream.  It seems like I should be doing something but I don’t know what.  People are talking.  I’m hearing weird music and singing (Jekyll).  And I realize I’m being carried somewhere but I’m not sure by whom.  It’s kind of a cool feeling – being in the fog, nothing really registering – it was very peaceful.

Then of course I start coming around, people are asking me silly questions like my name and address.  My senses come back slowly in order – first I could hear clearly, then my vision came into focus, then I could speak, then smell, then feel what I was laying on.  I laid out in the hall way til intermission while a paramedic talked with Carey.  They brought a wheel chair to take me down to the car.  I went home, had some orange juice and pizza.  Finished a paper for school (who knows if it’s coherent), then laid on the couch and watched Hannah Montana with Madi and Emma until Carey got back.

The only thing I can tell that is worse for the wear is I got a nice bruise on my shin, probably from bumping into something while I was being carried out.  This is the life of a man with a vagal response.  When I tell people that blood and needles makes me queasy I don’t think they understand that it’s a bit more serious than nausea.

Until next time…

Warm Toes January 15, 2013

Posted by clintcarter in Beets.
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After 3 1/2 years of doing my work in local coffee shops or at a desk in my bedroom, I finally have an office!

This is good news for several reasons:

  • It helps me leave work at work.  Ministry can be life-consuming.  It’s hard to find the line between my job and my life.  Having my office at home was not helpful in this regard.  Having an office away from home has made it easier for me to leave work at work.
  • There are fewer distractions.  Working in public spaces made concentrating a challenge.  Working at home when the kids were around was near impossible.  And working from home when the kids were at school just made me want to “make out” with my wife all the time 🙂 (probably gonna be in trouble if she reads this post).
  • But finally, and probably most importantly, my feet stay warm.  It’s an understatement to say that our 111 year old house is drafty.  Sitting at my desk during the winter months was frigid, even with 2 space heaters going next to me.  There are no drafts in my office.  We have nice carpet so I can walk around in my socks.  It’s very cozy (I tried to think of a more manly word to use than “cozy” but all I could think of was “snug” and I’m not sure that’s a step in the right direction).
  • Oh, and all of the walls are wood paneling.  So all I’m missing now is a big leather chair, some mahogany cabinets and a smoking jacket – and maybe a moose head.Office 1

The Ghosts of Birthdays Past January 8, 2013

Posted by clintcarter in Beets, Friends.
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36 years old.  That’s what I am today.  36 years old.

The number itself doesn’t seem right.  I’m not denying that I’m 36, nor do I feel that 36 is particularly old.

It seems surreal.  Perhaps I just never imagined myself as being 36.

I’ve always enjoyed my birthdays and in recent years birthweeks.  Today in particular I’m taking the day off from counting calories.  There’s a Mexican dinner and banana pudding with my name on it this evening.

But the part of my birthday I always enjoy most is sharing it with friends.  Which is why I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch in the cold today and why I’m looking forward to dinner tonight.  Conversations not calories – although if I can get them both at the same time it’s even better 🙂

 

Let these words sink in… August 13, 2012

Posted by clintcarter in God.
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Our Missional Family was reading Luke 9 together last week.  This morning I got stuck on verse 44.

Let these words sink in: the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.

I got stuck because I honestly don’t think these words have “sunk in” yet.  I’ve been a follower of Jesus for 29 years, yet I still don’t grasp the gravity of His words.  “God betrayed into the hands of men.”  All kinds of alarms should be going off at this statement.  How could this be?  Why is the Superior being given over to the Inferior?  How can someone betray God?  Is He not smart enough?  Is He not strong enough to resist?

This doesn’t even make sense.  It’s like me being betrayed by ladybugs.  It’s nonsense.  There is no way THE GOD could fall unaware into this situation.  Unless… unless He chose to.  Which sets off a whole other slew of alarms and objections.  Why would He allow Himself to be betrayed by His Creation?  Is He bored?  Is He a masochist?  What is He hoping to accomplish?  Why would He submit Himself to betrayal without revealing who He was?

Yet all of this has grown familiar to me.  I’ve grown old and comfortable with the extraordinary.  I’ve stopped asking questions.  I’ve stopped pondering the meaning and implications in deep, soul-shaking ways.  Jesus, forgive me.  Forgive me for belittling Your accomplishment.  Let “these words” sink into my mind/heart this week.

Facial Hair Guide May 24, 2012

Posted by clintcarter in Beets.
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There is a proliferation of facial hair in our culture.  I’m glad somebody finally gave us the key to understanding and navigating these harried times.  The Trustworthiness of Beards