Friday, December 29, 2006
I just think it's funny how differently the two report the story of Hussein's execution.
Today I'm doing a lot better than yesterday. I'm constantly reminded of David Crowder's Book "Everybody Wants to Do to Heaven, But Nobody Wants to Die." He wrote it after the funeral of Kyle Lake, after Kyle died last year. Death is not a sad occasion for Christians; it is a time to celebrate one of our fellow saints making it home first.
Though we still mourn.
Death is confusing. It is perhaps the biggest mystery we can hope to seek answers for. It's bigger than the question of where we came come. But like our creation, we look to the divinity for answers about death.
And we pray for comfort and peace.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Sunday, December 24, 2006
I remember watching this when I was little. And every year, it's still great. I love the 24 hours of this movie on Christmas Day. I usually don't watch it all at one time on Christmas Day. I'll catch the first part of it early in the day, and then the back half in the eveing.
If you've never seen this movie, go get it! It'll jingle your bells! (Sorry for that corny last sentence.)
Saturday, December 23, 2006
I am a natural procrastinator. I put things off and off and off. It actually pretty early for me to have all my shopping done by December 23, usually I still have a significant amount of shopping to do on Christmas Eve (it's usually for mom, it's always hard to find her something).
I did it quickly and swiftly. I did all my shopping at one store; I started on the left side and moved toward the right. Done. For once, before Christmas Eve.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
But then I decided to go into town. I live in China Spring, a suburb if you will, of Waco TX.
The drive is not long. I usually enjoy it. I set the tone of my day with music: today it's Bowling for Soup (Come Back to Texas).
And then I made a fatal mistake: I decided to go to Wal*Mart. Now, I went to this place, which shall hereafter be referred to as Hell, yesterday. But I needed some stuff so I said, What the hay??, I'll just go today, it can't be that bad, it's a Thursday afternoon.
I was wrong.
Hell was full of people; mostly children under the age of 12. Many were screaming and running amok. Now I don't usually go to Hell on a regular basis. I prefer Target instead; but sometimes only Hell has what you really want. So, I compromised; and I instantly regretted it.
There must have been thousands of people (I'm not joking) who went to Hell today. I could not even navigate my shopping cart, which I've found to actually have a pretty sharp turning radius. I was shoved by two unintentioned children, one surly teenager, and someone's grandma. I went to the checkout and even the self-checkout line extended to Timbuktu.
So, I abandoned my efforts and returned home, defeated. I did not buy anything; I just left. I couldn't take it anymore: the madness, the screaming, the swearing - and that was just on my part; the other people in Hell were much worse.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
The Nativity scene is not at all like we picture it. It was not like the romantic scenes that adorn our mantles or the plastic figures than ornament our lawns. It was a dirty, filthy, unsightly event. And when we understand the birth of Jesus as it actually happened, we see a whole new message in the Christmas story.
Picture this... the year is about 5 B.C. Joseph is about 20 years old and Mary is no older than 15 years old. Mary is pregnant when an order is given that a census is to be taken throughout the Roman world for tax purposes. So, Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem.
In the ancient world, there were elaborate rules of hospitality. If you had even a remote connection to someone, you had an obligation to host him in your house during his stay. Bethlehem is the hometown of the line of David. Joseph was part of that family line (that’s why he went to Bethlehem), and he would have had some connections there. So, we can assume that many would have offered their homes to Joseph, provided there was room. But the Bible tells us that there was no room. These houses’ guest rooms were already filled with other travelers. So Mary and Joseph are left with no alternative but to shack up in a stable.
Now, the stable was nothing like we picture it today. Most likely, it was a cave or even a hollowed out piece of rock. So here are Mary and Joseph in a cave. It is early spring in Bethlehem. It’s warm outside. And it’s probably raining from spring storms.
So, Jesus was born in a hot, wet, damp cave. This was the first Christmas. Now, I don’t mean to be overly-graphic or anything, but there must be blood everywhere. Childbirth is not a neat, pretty picture. So, here is Jesus born in a hot, wet, damp, bloody cave.
He is placed in a feeding trough that was probably built into the floor of the cave. This is the nativity scene.
The Bible tells us of shepherds and Magi visiting Jesus. Shepherds were despised by the religious leaders in Jesus’ day. And the Magi were not kings; they were pagan astrologers. They studied the stars for signs and wonders. This is ironic because the Law expressly forbids astrology. It is not the religious leaders or those who are ‘ritually clean’ by the Law that are made aware of Jesus’ birth. Instead, it is to those who seek him and are willing to go that this news is given.
Within two years of Jesus’ life. He and his family were on the run. Herod, the “King of the Jews,” as he called himself, wanted the child dead. Jesus was not greeted into this world as a king; he was hunted. He was not born into a wealthy family; he was born into an average, poor family. And his birth was not a romantic picture; it was the beginning of his suffering. It was the beginning of him taking our dirt and fifth onto himself.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Friday, December 15, 2006
One big part of this picture of the End Times is something called The Rapture. The Rapture is a when Christians will disappear from the earth, taken to heaven with Jesus, while everyone else is left on the earth to suffer a time of great tribulation and suffering, while getting a second chance at God's redemptive plan.
While many Biblical texts can be forced to yield such an interpretation, this scheme is nowhere in the Bible. The biggest passage used to support a rapture position is 1 Thess. 4:13-18.
13Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore encourage each other with these words.
This passage can sound a lot like a 'secret' rapture passage, until we give consideration to the context with which it's placed.
- Historical Context- Paul is making a comparison to a King returning to or visiting a city in his jurisdiction. According to Roman custom, when a king/emperor/high official went to a city, before he would arrive, the city gates were to be opened and all the important people in the city would leave the city to greet the official on his approaching of the city. Then, they would escort him back to the city as their King. This was the proper greeting of a King. This is what we expect to see when Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. If this did not occur, the official had every right to have the city destroyed by his army. Jesus was not greeted in the manner appropriate for a king on Palm Sunday, so what does he do? He goes off into a discourse on judgment on Jerusalem; this is done in a series of parables in Matthew. Paul uses this, we will be 'caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air' phrase because it is an allusion to the greeting of a King returning to his kingdom. Jesus was not properly greeted his first time, but this time he will be. Since Jesus went up into the air (cf. Acts 1), that is where is will return from. We will leave and meet him and escort him back to the earth, as is customary - He is our King. That is Paul's point in this passage.
- Literary Context - Paul is addressing the issue of the Second Coming of Jesus. The next chapter (5) is about this as well. Paul is not addressing one issue (a rapture) in this passage and another issue (a glorious appearing) in the next. Paul is talking about one thing. This is the Day of Judgment. There is no one left after a rapture to continue their daily lives. When Jesus returns, not only will Christians welcome him as their King, but the judgment of the Lord will be upon the earth.
The biggest sales pitch for a so-called rapture is that Christians will escape this time of tribulation and suffering that will precede the End. But this is nowhere in the Bible. Even if we look to Revelation, it is Christians who do suffer a time of tribulation, which they must endure and remain faithful in order to share in the Kingdom of Heaven. John's context in Revelation is the Roman empire. Christians suffer at the hands of Rome, if they do not participate in emperor worship. This is the time of tribulation that comes before the end, as John sees it.
Now this idea of suffering before the End is popular is apocalyptic writings (including Revelation and Daniel). Daniel saw this time of suffering as the reign and oppression of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. John saw it was the reign of Caesars Nero and Domition. There is not cause to not believe that the end will be preceded by a time of tribulation. We just must reconsider what they suffering consists of. One this is certain, if involved the people of God being persecuted (political and/or social) for their continued faithfulness to God.
This kind of theology that portrays a 'rapture ' is called Dispensationalism. Dispensationalism is a way of reading the Bible that splits history up into 7 dispensations (how God works with people). Depending of when one is living one must continually readjust the dates and dispensations in order to fit history. In order to divde history this way, you have to divide the Bible into chunks that don't give any consideration to how and when the Bible was written. All apocalyptic writings in the Bible, then, are read as one big passage that gives a blueprint for the future. Once again, there is no respect given to text context of the passages, historical or literary.
This way of reading the Bible (Dispensationalism) has never been accepted doctrine by the church - protestant or catholic. It is fairly new, a product of the 19th Century. Biblical scholars who have studied these texts and their contexts have never approved of this way of reading the Bible or understanding the End. Pick up any serious commentary or book on Revelation and you won't find Left Behind theology. In fact many commentaries are not written to combat the ignorance perpetuated by the Left Behind series. Dispensationalism just doesn't take into consideration the historical or literary contexts of the Bible's books or the Bible as a whole.
But with the New Year come new resolutions, and new promises we make to ourselves. Most are eventually broken, if not by the end of week 1 then by the end of week 2.
Most of these resolutions we make are aimed at making ourselves better. There are 1 million plus ways that I could improve myself. But this year, I'm accomplished one of them.
I've changed how I treat my body. Now I've never been the type to put in massive quantities of liquor or anything but I did often put other crap in my body - mainly in the form of food, delicious food I might add. I did not exercise either. I didn't treat myself well.
That has changed. And I feel great. I make an effort to workout. I make an effort to eat healthy, if not healthier than normal. Very little fried stuff. I've gotten in considerably better shape, I can run, hike, and climb and feel great with doing it. And in the process, I've dropped quite a bit of weight (55 pounds), 5 pant sizes, and 2 shirt sizes. I don't think I'm as tall as I was either.
People ask me quite often what I did to, "lose weight." Besides being creeped out by such questions, I did nothing to "lose weight." I just decided to treat my body better and get in shape and be healthy, and it was just a biproduct, never the intention. But because I decided to be healthy, I changed my diet; I did not 'go on a diet.' I live differently, knowing that my body is a temple and I deserve to treat it like it belongs to God... 'cause it dones.
Now, 2 pictures. I'm hesitant to post these. But I look different. I'm treating myself better and you should too. I've worked on this one this year, I'll see what else I can fix about me for next year - there's a long enough list, I'm sure.
Me back in June.
Me last week.
Encircling the city of Austin is this smog haze that blocks out the sun. When you get to the suburbs, everything's great the sun shines and the skies are blue, but over the city there is nothing but this gray air that blankets the town and literally blocks the sun out. This is a picture of it.
I just don't know how people can live like that. Not being able to see the sun in the day. Today, especially, the sun was absolutely beautiful. It was almost like a Twilight Zone episode or something... no sun.
I just got me thinking. Now yes I have long hair, I drink green tea, and I use Mac computers. So, many would automatically assume - hippie. So, I'll play into this stereo-type for a moment. I just think that we've done an overtly awful job at treasuring the environment. Yes, I'm a hypocrite, I drive an SUV. But it's not really auto-emisions that bother me. It bothers me when we take God's creation for granted, when we just assume that the beauty that God created will always be there for us. When we don't take the time to walk along the beach or sit on the porch and stare at the stars. We are not concerned about the earth, because we do not notice it. So, try to notice it. It's quite pretty.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
7:30am - hit alarm clock
7:42am - hit alarm clock
7:44am - stumble into the shower
8:30am - go to office, print directions to Apple Store in Austin, TX
8:45am - gas up, buy green tea for the road
9:00am - begin the trek to Austin
10:45am - arrive in Austin
11:30am - go to Apple Store, check card won't work, 'discuss' the situation with Wells Fargo.
11:42am - check card works
11:46am - walk out of Apple Store with a new Macbook Pro - I'm smiling on the inside, and out.
12:00pm - Christian Chicken (Chic-fil-a) at the food court in Barton Creek mall.
12:15pm - begin looking for Guitar Center to buy notation software
12:38pm - lost and frustrated, I curse the freeway design engineer
12:55pm - find Guitar Center and buy notation software - Finale PrintMusic 2007.
1:15pm - head back to Waco, TX
2:45pm - arrive back in Waco, TX.
fun day... but one thing I noticed... the sun doesn't shine in Austin... I'll explain soon
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Saturday, December 02, 2006
CLICK HERE to buy.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Your letter said that you were leaving
But you didn't know how long
I have never stopped believing
That one day you would return
And though waiting is the hardest
Part of everything I do
I do confess it's getting better
Knowing I will be with you
I won't worry about tomorrow
For it brings me one more day
Closer than I was to you
Now the question isn't "will you"
What I want to know is "when"
If it's one day or a million
I will wait for you 'til then...
("It's Alright" recorded by Third Day.)
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Uncle Stephen helped me write my first song, I was 6. It was about monkeys, I think.
This weekend brought back a lot of memories from my childhood. I don't know why. I felt emotionally drained for about four days, I don't know why. Usually when this happens melodies dance through my head many times to the point of annoyance, along with the poets and poltergeists of days past.
I remember when I got my second guitar. I had long outgrown my first one. I was about ten. Uncle Stephen came over late one night. He told me had a present for me. He walked in the door with a big black plastic bag in his hand. It was a shiny new guitar. He had saved up for it. We played together and wrote songs (He did most of the writing). I couldn't sleep that night, I played my guitar for hours, knowing that in the morning I would be at school and would get to enjoy my new toy. It was at this time that I started playing regularly because I wanted to.
I remember coming home sick in the middle of a Disciple Now my 8th grade year. I wrote my first song on my own that night, but I played it for no one.
This weekend, I started flirting with new melodies. My head spun with the orchestrations of my mood. A symphony in my head raged on as I slept, guiding my dreams. I got out ink and paper and began to pen a symphony.
I remember our family traveling across Texas because my dad was asked to preach for some revival service or whatever. I remember coming home after 10+ hours on the road. I remember the smell of my room. I remember coming home from school on a fall afternoon. Mom had the windows open throughout the whole house; she was frying shrimp for dinner.
I remember being in love in high school - thinking somehow that would be my life. I remember being thankful that it didn't turn out to be my life after all. I remember my freshman year, when I asked out a girl for the first time in college. I remember how I felt when she said no.
I remember playing a new piece for my music composition professor and him telling me it sucked. I remember re-writing it and playing for him again and him telling me it was the best thing he'd heard from a beginning composition student.
Melodies are not something I usually work to compose. Melodies are the soundtrack to my life, heard in the deep recesses on my mind. They are my emotions, my thoughts.
So, tonight I'm flirting again, just to see how far my mind can take me.
Friday, November 24, 2006
On the agenda later, decorating for Christmas - should be fun.
And later, finish watching whatever season in on of 24.
This brings me to an interesting observation. Jack Bauer, the coolest man (next to Chuck Norris, that is) carries a man bag.
Now it's necessary for a couterterrism agent to carry such a contraption for all his gadgets and all, and just look what it has done for the fashion statement.
Jack Bauer has now made it cool to carry said man bag. Any normal guy can now image their firing at an enemy target when they carry this bag. (pictured here).
Now, in Mr. Bauer's defense, a man bag is different from a man purse. A man purse is what I found on ebay when I was looking for a laptop carry case. A man purse has sequence and sparkly stuff. Mr. Bauer's man bag is a solemn color. It is not a man purse, it is a man bag.
So, the man bag has made its statement in the fashion world - and in the hearts of all men who secretly desire to be the man that Jack Bauer is - or Chuck Norris.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
I have to honestly say that I have the most fun living. I love my life. I don't have a lot of stuff - which many Americans seems to consider a necessity for a happy life. But I have the best life.
I know the most amazing people in the world, who support me and love me. I have been given a chance to breathe, ponder, wonder, and love. I've been given a chance to really live. And life means so much.
When Jesus died for me, he proved to me how much I'm worth. He saw me as worth his own life - God saw me this way. Wow. My life is worth something. I am worth something to God.
And I am thankful.
It has been my experience that most ladies seem to think that stuffing a chicken inside of a duck, inside of a turkey is something to be frowned upon. Most ladies (that I've talked to) think it's disgusting. Not so with men. We think it is genius.
I'll tell you what, why don't we compro- mise. You don't want us frying our meat for thanks- giving, so if you'll at least consent to trying a tur-duc-hen, we give up on begging you to let us fry it.
I've kept my word, I'm not frying anything this year. And this fryer is still at the grocery store.
So, how does that sound?
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
It's the new Macbook Pro. Breathe in. Breathe out. (Mac people understand.)
I can't decide if I should just go for it. I went into this looking for a Powerbook G4 on ebay. I figure I can still get one about a year or so old with the original warranty still entact. I need a solid (mac) laptop for grad school. I'd preferably like to get one before the end of this year. So, I figure that a semi-used Powerbook would be an excellent buy. Sounds like a plan, right?
But then I spotted this laptop. It's much faster than the Powerbook. It's got an Intel chip and Rosetta to run the Mac stuff like usual. There is no noticeable difference between the Macbook Pro and the PowerPC macs, except they're faster and of course, newer.
Now, usually I'd spring for used if it's such a an expensive buy. I've bought most of my guitars that way. If they're in good condition, you save a ton of money. "New" doesn't really mean anything.
But computers are different. I don't want to get someone's porn or anything.... goo! So, I think I just might buy the new one and be able to use it longer and it'll be... at least clean. Yeah, I think that I'll spring for the new Macbook Pro from Apple.
Are my reasons good? Or am I just enabling my "lust"?
...now if only it wouln't make me $2,000 poorer.
I don't know if this is a wrestler or a gunner or what, but this toy is definately on the ugly side of things.
Now, I have nothing against ugly toys personally, after all they can't help it that they are ugly. But I just don't know why toy companies would put themselves, the children, or the toys through this whole process.
The companies have to the lose money, the kids get the mess scared out of them, and the toys' self esteem suffers heavily. Oh, well.
If you happen to see any scare toys out there this season, please don't buy them and scare the children, instead take a picture and e-mail them to me. I'll post them here on the Cruz-Control.
And we'll see who can find the creepiest toy this season.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Anyways, we were waiting for our dinner for about an hour, so I got a children's coloring thing and starting playing.
The coloring page they had was of a circus. This was the trapeze artist. Something peculiar about this picture?
Monday, November 20, 2006
Saturday, November 18, 2006
My favorite thriller movie is Hide & Seek, so I'm a Dakota Fanning fan. She plays the perfect creepy girl... "Come out, come out wherever you are..." AAHHHH! - still creeps me out!
Anyways, I think I accidentaly called this girl Dakota a few times throughout the evening. I just thought it was funny; it's like Dakota Fanning is at our Kids' Night Out! Sweet!
Friday, November 17, 2006
Alright, so at this hour I'm in the mood for some confessions. So, I'll get the ball rolling. My weirdest dreams are
- My teeth are falling out - this may be from the horror stories Mr. Toothbrush used to tell us at school when I was in the 3rd grade, I don't know. But in this dream, my front teeth become loose and fall out (or come out with very little effort). Weird, huh?
- I forget my pants - yes, I walk out the door to go wherever, and I've forgotten to put on pants. According to an Online Dream Interpretion site I found via Google (reliable, huh?), I have unfounded fears of being vulernable and caught off guard. Yeah, that makes absolutely no sense at all.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
I know a lot people from WHBC read this blog, so did anyone see me with it at church last night? It seems I have a vague memory of the last time I used it, but then that memory fades away like a dream after you wake up.
Anyways, I'll quit bantering; if anyone remembers (mainly youth people) me having it last night, remind me please. Til then don't anyone bother calling me, I'll probably still be looking frantically.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
"Shut up!!" I reply in my Napoleon Dynamite voice. "You're always flippin' complaining! Gosh!"
"What you're gonna cry about it?!" [my authoritarian voice] "Cry me a river!"
"I'll cry your MOM a flippin' river!" [my Napoleon Dynamite voice]
This was my morning practicing my racquetball serves - alone. Yes, I easily amuse myself.
The first podcast from the Cruz-Control is coming soon. Dealing with life, music, and the New Testament.
Since June, this site has received over 4,000 hits. People are visiting, some are staying. So, we'll try this podcast thing, if only to experiment. If it goes well, we'll see about doing another one.
The moment I saw this book, I knew I'd have to read (and re-read) it.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Across from the Baylor campus where many "Christians" went to school, people passed by him on both sides, stopping only to stare. Those who did give him "spare change" did so only when other people were watching.
Then, my friend leaned over and gave him some money, not because he wanted to look compassionate in front of other people, but because it's what Jesus would have done.
HERE I STAND
A blind man staggers
His sight left him long ago
Searching for someone
To let him know he's not alone
But in the darkness
He's crying for a helping hand
But since I'm not him
I just stare at him where I stand
So here I stand with the crowd
Toss you a coin to show you how
Much it seems that I care
For superficial gain
When I could care less if you run and hide
Show your face or stay behind me
Walk away forever and say goodbye
There she sits now
In a corner all alone
I don't approach her
'Cause reputation's set in stone
Would it matter
If someone else were in her place
I still wouldn't risk my
Reputation being disgraced
So here I stand with the crowd
Give you a smile to show you how
Much it seems that I care
For superficial gain
When I could care less if you run and hide
Show your face or stay behind me
Walk away forever and say goodbye
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN to a live version I played for my music compostion class.
This stuff is awesome. I don't really know where you can buy it locally or if there are any chains that sell it consistently. I have only found one place in the Waco area that stocks this - the shop in the parking garage across from Hankamer at Baylor (You Wacoans will know what that means). Wow. So good. It's a green tea with lemon grass, spearmint, lemon and other herbs. Excellentlly yummy. I've been on this health kick as of late, so it's good for you too.
I knew he had a purpose for me going camping, as opposed to worship pastoring this weekend. I asked him to reveal it to me. He did.
Jose (my tent-mate) and I went sleep early, about 7:00pm while the rest of the guys chased the girls (literally and figuratively). I woke up from about 11:00pm-2:00pm. I stepped out of the tent, went down to the lake/stream thing and spent some time with God. I then went back to my tent - it was cold- and prayed some more - mainly for clairty of God's will.
I have the habit of asking "Now, are you sure, God? Are you really, really sure?" He repeatedly told me Yes. So, I will go what God has spoken to me heart. I will be like Jesus and seek after Him first through it all.
It was kind of like Moses coming down off the mountain. God wanted to speak to me this weekend, and getting me away was the only way to shut me up long enough to get through. And it was great. Because, when we commune with God, we never walk away the same.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Here is a neat backpacking picture. But it's not of me, it's a stock photo. And I won't be in the Arctic like this guy. I'll be in the hot Texas plains.
Pray for my survival - not phyical (it's all good in that area) but emotional. I'm sleeping in a tent next to people I don't know.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Since I've moved I haven't really had time to set it back up. (And I'm still paying every month for the service.) Hence, I have now missed Lost for the past several weeks and the Office as well. Goo.
In two weeks, I should finally have a free afternoon. I now have a satellite, so I'll have to re-program the whole thing.
So, no quality TV until then... darn.
FILED UNDER: Things I write to put off doing any real work
Cult of Mac had this post a while back. I thought it was quite amusing. Anyone who owns a mac would understand this “Mac Lust.”
“I want one of the new MacBook Pros. I have a couple of computers at work; a year-old Dell here at home; a perfectly good ThinkPad. I do not need another computer. But I want one. I have never used a Mac. Don’t look forward to having to learn a new operating system or move back and forth between Mac and PC.
I want a Mac because they are cool. And all the cool kids have them. They are sexy. There is no logic or reason at work here. This is happening in the lizard part of my brain. I’ve thought about sneaking over to St. Louis to the Apple store and putting my hands on one of the new MacBooks. But that’s like saying I’ll just lie down on the bed next to the super-model, but we won’t “do anything.” If I walk in that store, I’ll walk out $2,500 poorer. So I’m holding on. Like a junkie trying to survive the shakes and chills and maybe in the morning I won’t want that fix.”
-go to class
-register for new classes
-write a paper on the colonial history of Togo, Africa
-pack for camping trip
-attend an evening lecture of Anti-Catholocism in Victorian England
-get my phone working
-buy food, etc. for this weekend's camping trip
-buy come new clothes (mine don't fit anymore b/c of all the exercising)
-work out b/c i'll be busy all weekend
-oh yeah, eat dinner
blog more later
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
LONDON, Ky. — A southeastern Kentucky woman was bitten by a snake during a church service and later died, a law enforcement officer said.
Linda Long, 48, of London died Sunday at University of Kentucky Medical Center, said Brad Mitchell, a detective with the Laurel County Sheriff's Office.
Long died about four hours after the bite was reported, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
Officials said Long attended East London Holiness Church. Neighbors of the church told the newspaper the church practices serpent handling.
Lt. Ed Sizemore of the Laurel County Sheriff's Office said friends went with Long to a local hospital Sunday afternoon, and she was taken to UK.
"She said she was bitten by a snake at her church," Sizemore said.
Handling reptiles as part of religious services is illegal in Kentucky. Snake handling is a misdemeanor and punishable by a $50 to $100 fine. Police said they had not received reports about snake handling at the church.
Snake handling is based on a passage in the Bible, in the Gospel of Mark, that says a sign of a true believer is the power to "take up serpents" without being harmed.
Church officials could not be reached for comment.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
I did about 90% of the work. So, if your stoned just don't go to class , ok? It's quite frustrating for your lab partner.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Saturday, November 04, 2006
I saw one of the best movies of the year tonight. Allen and I saw The Presitge. I've always been a huge fan of prestidigiations. I've taken up some illusions myself. It was neat to see the story set behind-the-scenes of the magic world in late 1800's England. The twist at the end is incredible. Go see it!
My posting was essentially a defense of the SBC, who deserve some credit for their support for Israel, with respect to the Jewish-Christian relations issue. Whether you think such support is proper or not is another debate, frankly not one I'm willing have on this blog. Too political.
This week’s discussion about Christian evangelism being offensive to others of different faiths brought up some interesting points. It just seemed to me that some assumed we all understood each other’s language and doctrines, when in fact I believe we did not. Words such as ‘gospel’ and ‘salvation’ were used with the assumption that we all had a common understanding of what others were talking about. While I think this may have an element of truth in it, I believe there are major discrepancies between Evangelical beliefs (at least the quasi-commonly held ones) and the Bible’s actual teachings on gospel, salvation, and evangelism. And it is these discrepancies that cause unnecessary friction between Christians and those of other religions.
Most Christians would generally agree that sharing the gospel is a command of Jesus that Christians (= little Christs) are to follow. The principal text for this is what Bible editors have subtitled, “The Great Commission” (Mt. 28:18-20). The command of Jesus to make more Christians is rooted in the idea of panta ta ethne – “all the peoples/Gentiles” (sorry for my crappy Greek transliteration). The Greek word ethne has behind it the idea of ethnicity; in the Matthean context: non-Jewish individuals. This, of course, does not exclude Jews from becoming disciples of Jesus, but rather releases restrictions of the Matthean (Jewish) community that excluded those outside of their ethnic circle (cf. Mt. 7:6, 15:26-27).
What is strangely absent from Matthew’s Great Commission is the ever quoted, “preach the gospel” phrase claimed to be part of this passage (cf. NRSV, which reads, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations”). So, if we are to include this widely held notion as part of a larger Commissional Doctrine, we must first come to an understanding of whether or not it is a Biblical doctrine. If preaching or prophesying is used in the sense of proclaiming a message from God, then it is assuredly Biblical (cf. Mt. 24:14). However, our definition of ‘gospel,’ is quite different from the connotation with which Matthew employs the word. In modern evangelicalism, gospel (= good news) refers to the good news of salvation from an eternal punishment in Hell. This is not, however, the understanding Matthew or his audience perceive the word ‘gospel.’ Then, what is?
Matthew understands the good news of Jesus to be the discipleship he offers. According to Bet Talmud, only the best of the best students of the Scriptures could go on to become disciples of a Rabbi (Bet Midrash – meaning House of Study). Discipleships were coveted positions. And here we have a Rabbi who goes to fishermen and tax collectors (seen as traitors for the Roman Empire), and offers them the opportunity to be disciples. Such an offer would only be made to those whom the Rabbi thought could successfully carry on his yoke (= interpretations). And we have Jesus telling these normal people that they can do what he does. They are not the scholars that the other Rabbis are sorting through to find their disciples; they are average people who want to seek God. Positions of discipleship were not taken lightly by Rabbis or disciples. Discipleship basically meant following your Rabbi around, doing everything he did, and learning to be just like him in every way. In the Mishnah, Yose ben Yoezer says to disciples, “Cover yourself with the dust of [your Rabbi’s] feet.” In other words, follow your Rabbi so closely that the dust of his sandals will be caked all over you. This is the mindset from which Matthew’s audience understands discipleship of a Rabbi. Being a disciple of Rabbi Jesus was a coveted position (cf. Mt.19:18).
To take this a step further, Jesus was a Jew who grew up in the Galilee. Around this time there were many Messianic movements. Many men claimed to be the anointed one from God, who would set in motion God’s plan (for Israel). Around 6 C.E., one of these Messianic movements was led by a man named Judas of Galilee (not to be confused with Judas Iscariot or any other Judas for that matter). He gained a large following and led them in a revolt against Rome. It was quickly extinguished by the Roman army and 2,000 of Judas’s followers were subsequently crucified. Rome was making a statement. Now, if Jesus was born, as scholars believe, about 5 B.C.E., then he would have been about 11 years old when this occurred. Jesus lived in Nazareth, a town in the Galilee region. This would have been something he would have witnessed or at least heard about. 2,000 followers of a Messianic movement crucified by the Roman military. Puts a new meaning on ‘take up your cross and follow me’ doesn’t it? Jesus had a context in mind when he said this. And his disciples understood this as well. It was one thing to have the coveted place of being a Rabbi’s disciple; it was another when that Rabbi starts claiming to be the Messiah (cf. Mt. 16:16-17). The disciples understood that death was a real possibility for their discipleship. And this was the gospel as they understood it. The good news was discipleship even unto death, because they understood themselves to be a part of a larger Kingdom of Heaven.
Now that we have gained an understanding of ‘gospel’ in the context of Matthew, we can now draw some larger implications. The gospel is not a fire insurance policy against damnation in an eternal Hell. The gospel is the discipleship of Christ. This fits perfectly into the Great Commission from Jesus, “Go therefore and make disciples” (NRSV). He does not say, “Go and save against damnation in Hell,” or anything of the sort. Discipleship is Jesus’s call to everyone (panta ta ethne). This is the gospel.
This has an impact on our understanding of salvation. In Matthew, Salvation has quite a different meaning from our usual understanding of it. Salvation is not saving from the fires and brimstone of a Hell, but rather salvation is participation in the Kingdom of God. Salvation is the path to God, not just the path away from Hell. This distinction is important in that what is now (the Kingdom of God) is more relevant than a time of final judgment. Therefore, discipleship is the core meaning of salvation, not Heaven.
What seems to be offensive to other religions is that Christians are preaching the damnation to Hell of all who do not follow Jesus. But such a doctrine is not what Jesus preached or advocated. He preached and encouraged discipleship. It was only in his pronouncement of the God’s Final Judgment that the issue of punishment is mentioned. This is not what Jesus was talking about in the Great Commission when he said, ‘make disciples.’ He was calling his current disciples to enlist others who willingly follow his message and teachings (cf. 28:20). This is Biblical evangelism – not scaring the Hell out of people (literally) or talking about ‘washing sins away.’ While I believe these are true doctrines, they are not the gospel that Jesus commands his followers to proclaim. Discipleship is the Gospel that Christians are to take to “all nations.”
So, if “preaching the gospel” means proclaiming discipleship in the dust of Jesus, then it fits comfortably into an larger Commissional Doctrine. This is evangelism according to the Bible. Evangelism is not ‘winning people to Heaven;’ it is gaining more disciples of Christ. Evangelism is following the Great Commission the way Jesus intended his followers to. This cannot be done by simply preaching, but rather is most effectively presented by the modeling of this discipleship by Jesus’s current disciples.
So, the answer is Yes, evangelism is a Biblical concept, but what we evangelize is often an erroneous perception of the Gospel that has little Biblical basis.
If our evangelizing is going to be offensive to others, let’s at least make sure we’re Biblical about it. We offer discipleship of Jesus, not a free pass out of Hell. We don’t scream condemnation; instead, we offer love and peace. If we preach the gospel Jesus preached (discipleship), then we avoid many of the issues in approach that other religions often find offensive.
I think I just wrote a sermon. Yikes!
Thursday, November 02, 2006
First off, I am not a Universalist. I believe that Jesus is the only way to God. It's just what I believe. You can call me arrogant if you so desire, and I’m OK with that. But then you are not being as pluralistic as you claim to be, now are you?
I immediately thought of this during today’s discussion. The ABC 20/20 Report portrayed the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) in very negative terms. The clip of the youth pastor turning to the church pastor for an answer seemed to make evangelicals out to be almost stupidly following a their "literal interpretation of the Bible." Now, my background is Biblical scholarship – I do not blindly read the Bible literally. I am not a fundamentalist by anyone’s definition.
Having said all that, the 20/20 Report also, it seems, made the SBC out to be violators of other faiths, especially Jews, because of their proselytizing. While some may have think this position has some merit, I did not think that 20/20 did the SBC justice on the issue of Jewish-Christian relations.
Let me explain…
Dispensationalism to the likes of C.I. Scofield and John Darby, reflected in modernity by Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye’s Left Behind Series, depicts two different plans from God for the world: one for Christians and one for Israel. (There are distinctions to be made between different types of dispensationalism, but for the sake of space and the sanity of us all, I shall refrain from making them here.) Suffice it to say: this theological orientation found a niche in the late nineteenth century in the modernist-fundamentalist controversies, and played a key role in the split of several denominations including the Northern Baptists and the Presbyterians. This resurfaced to a larger extent in the late 20th Century in the SBC. Dispensationalism portrayed itself as the only theological outlook that took the Bible literally, and therefore seriously, and appealed to fundamentalists defending the faith(s) against liberalism.
This theology has continued to dominate many evangelical communities since. Members of these communities are, for other reasons, also heavily involved in the American political scene. Because these Christians see Israel, both as a people and as a state, as being a major component in God’s plan for the world, they support Israel as almost any cost. Because many of these fundamentalist (evangelical, as the term applies) Christians see Israel as God’s chosen people, Christians have an obligation to support Israel because they are still God’s people. Dispensational theology within conservative fundamentalism is directly tied to Christians’ support (esp. political) of Israel and the Jewish people. This is true of the SBC.
In my opinion, this has had a positive effect with respect to Jewish-Christian relations. We have, basically, blanket support for the Jewish people because they are ‘the people of God.’ Whether this ‘blanket support’ is a good or bad thing is another debate. The fact remains that such support has been a very positive thing for the State of Israel. And as a result, the United States continues to provide a role of support for Israel that doesn’t often come from other countries.
This theological orientation does have its drawbacks, however. First, of course, is the ever-present necessity for conversion of the ‘lost.’ This has served to alienate some Jews from Christian support. Secondly, dispensationalists are often working for their own interests, which sometimes do not coincide with those of the Jewish people (in this case, Israel). Many are working to rebuild the Jewish Temple in anticipation for the return of Christ. This is not something that many Jews are happy about.
However, despite these friction makers, the overall result of the dispensational-fundamentalist impact (including the SBC) has been a positive one for relations between Evangelicals and Jews. The 20/20 Report did not address any of these positive relations between the SBC and Jews. If one is to fully examine the current state of relations between Evangelicals and Jews, one must address all aspects of the situation, not simply one aspect of friction between the two faiths.
Sorry so long… I didn’t mean to write a dissertation or anything.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
O, well. I'm not so insecure as to place my joy in whether or not I have better hand-eye corrdination than a blind beaver. And that's alright, such coordination is not required for a prosperous life, I hope.
I must have been in the bathroom or something when God passed out the athletic talent. Since my talent at sports is zich - I do other things. mainly - I run. And I'm getting better at it too - don't ask.
Usually my workout totals 6-7 miles/day - 4-5 days a week. But I can't play racquetball. Geez. Guess I'll get on with life, maybe write a symphony or something... haven't done that in a while.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Getting rid of these masks is a tough thing. But it's necessary. Without vulnerability, we have no reason to change - we have no reason to grow.
We paint pictures of flowers and roses with our words, and our hearts can be battered and bruised. We wear masks.
But this is exactly what leads to our demise as humans and as Christians. We were never meant to walk this road of life alone. But we cannot possibly embrace God's full blessings without being willing to open up and take off our masks. Until we let people in to see who we are good and bad - we cannot be the community under Christ that God envisions.
So, today... it's Halloween, instead of putting on a mask... try taking off one - and I'll do the same.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
God saw it fit to become human himself. He laughed, he cried. Jesus was funny. He told several jokes that we can read in the gospels. He was a funny guy.
Jesus had a mom. He called her "mom" (in Aramaic, of course). He helped his Pop with whatever odd jobs Joseph needed. He had chores.
I'm sure Jesus wanted to go out with friends on the weekends and Mary wouldn't let him. He was human. This is something we tend to lose sight of. Yes, he was fully God, but Jesus was also completely human.
There were foods he liked, and some he didn't. He felt pain, joy, and sorrow. He felt love. He was probably a morning person, but I don't know - he may have liked the night-life better.
Jesus understands us because he lived like we do. We don't have to rely on God to understand our feelings simply based on the fact that he created us (although that is a good reason). But moreover, Jesus knows us and how we react because he was human as well.
OK, so I'm working on the redesign of the church website. Right now it kinda sucks. I'm looking to put in some podcasts with sermonettes, discussion boards, and outlinks to church blogs. Lots of html to write.
But it's got be thinking... our current web page was mainly used for advertising. It lists critial info and directions, that's about all (save the fact that it hasn't been updated in about a year).
But how should churches 'market' themselves? The new web page will have directions and beliefs and stuff listed, but that won't be its main purpose. Should churches even try to market themselves?
We had a billboard once. We don't have it anymore.
Here's my soapbox: I just don't think that advertising, as it were, will not bring people into the church. I think that's something that only Christians can do.