Monday, July 31, 2006


We all need a god; there's just something inside of us that makes us want to have someone or something guiding us.

Partly, I think this is because gods give us purpose. Having gods gives are lives meaning and definition.

So, have we invented a god? Have Christians invented a god that matches our ideals, our values, our beliefs? It's a claim I've heard often from many Atheists: Christians simply have invented a god because we - as humans - have this desire to have god(s). And it makes sense for the most part. While others cling onto things such as money, popularity, and significant others, Christians have invented a god of their own to fill this gap.

I would never deny that we need a god. I would never deny that YHWH (the Christian - and Jewish God) fills this whole in our lives. However, I'm not so sure that the Christian God is an ideal one in the human mind to fill the gap of a god.

One thing we must remember about gods is that we want them on our terms. With regard to money, we see it as something we deserve (by virtue of our labor or inheritance). These are terms bestowed on this god by us. This is why money is such a popular god - because we feel we can control it, or at least set it's level of power in our lives. And this is also the reason we have so many problems when we make things our gods that depend on others. Making a lover our god is not possible on our terms alone, neither is popularity. We must depend on the terms of others as well in these situations. This is why these gods never work out.

Because our inclination is to desire gods on our terms, the Christian god is not an ideal one. YHWH demands worship from his servants, in good times and bad. Jesus demands us to be merciful and peacemakers. These are not our terms, these are His. And this is why so many of us Christians are not the people He has called us to be - because we are still demanding we make YHWH god on our terms. The Christian God is not a god that ideally fits our values or beliefs either. This is why the Sermon on the Mount is so bizzare; it runs counter to things even our 'good nature' tells us to do. And this is why Jesus was executed. He does not fit our ideals, but instead commands us to conform to His.

But more importantly, just because YHWH can fill the need for a god in our lives, does it make him one of our own inventing? No, I don't believe so. If I were to invent a god, I certainly wouldn't invent someone who demands complete control over my life. Just because we fill our lives with a God (YHWH), it doesn't negate his reality. True, we do have an innate desire to worship something. But that doesn't mean that what we worship must be of our design, although for many people it is.

A god is necessary for us to live as humans. It's natural, it's innate. Our lives would feel incomplete without worship. So, we worship the sand castles we make with our hands. But it is still never enough. Because we can only experience TRUE worship, when we have a TRUE God. And only then do we find that the necessity of a god is a real one, that can actually be filled by a real GOD.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


I'm supposed to be interviewed on air tonight at 89.9Fm in Waco. I'm going to be in the studio at about 8:00pm, I don't know what time the interview will take place, so tune in if you're in the Waco area. I'd mucho appreciate it.

I also wrote and recorded a new song, and yes it's a love song. It'll be on MySpace stortly.

Again the number to the radio station is 254-772-1900. THANKS SO MUCH for all yalls support!


Friday, July 28, 2006


OK, so I just spent the past three days in the wilderness outside of New Brunsfels, TX. We were there to tube and have fun. I chose to do the latter. And not on purpose. The first day, I went swimming in the Guadalupe River and slipped off a rock on bottom, and the rock caught my big toe nail (STOP READING IF YOU'RE SQUIMISH) and bent it backward all the way. It hurts to write this. I promptly bent it back forward in the right direction, and after much grumbling of the word, "curses!!!" put some antiboitic and got on with life with a toe wrapped in gauze.

Our time on the river was made more lively when the girls, who were in the cabin between the two guys' cabins, heard some footsteps and running around outside. We were in our cabin having a shin-dig, and the other guys' cabin was fast asleep. We don't condone or encourage pranks of any kind. So, the girls knew it wasn't the guys. So when they could reach me or Marc (who was in the other cabin), they called 911.

Completely oblivious to the whole situation, I heard a pounding on our door and voice yell, "SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT! OPEN UP!!" Earlier we had heard someone running around outside, and they even knocked on our door twice. But each time, they only knocked once. And I figured if who ever it was really wanted us, they'd knock twice. So, I just ignored it. But this time it was the Sheriff.

I opened the door, and he asked to see whoever was in charge. When I told him I was one of the youth pastors, he told me what happened about the girls calling 911 and them hearing people stomping on their porch. So I got Marc and we check the bus, etc. for vandalism. All was well.

But when I went back to the cabin, the guys I was staying with asked what happened. When I told them, they became frightened. So three teen-aged guys slept in one twin sized bed that night. And the night was only allowed to be off about 2 hours that night.

It was quite fun. I just bathed. YAY!!! Now that I'm back to civilization, I'm going to go eat something fried.

Monday, July 24, 2006


That's what the soccer mom in front of me payed for a video game for the 11ish-year-old kid at her side. She slid her credit card through the slot, signed the pad, and went on with the rest of her life.

I have nothing against soccer moms (who drive SUV's and have 2.5 kids). But I do have something against a culture that is so consumer oriented that it takes more than a day's pay (@ minimum wage) to buy a game that will be played for the next two weeks, until a new one comes out.

Now, I don't know the people in front of me, and this description may not apply to them, but it applied to me a few years ago. As Christians, where are our resources devoted?

At Compassion International (see add on my sidebar), it costs $32.00/mo. to pay for the education and training of a child in a third-world country. Yes, this is cheaper than a new video game.

But see, Christians in America been taught to believe that what we work for is our own, and the money we make is ours to do with what we please. But there is a problem with this. Since we are not our own, the fruits of our labor are not either.

What if every member of the Church in America stopped buying video games, television sets, movie tickets, DVD's, and (yes, I'll say it) CD's for a month? Not as a boycott, but to dedicate those monies to the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Imagine how the world would change.

Just think about it.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Call in with comments (to the same phone number) afterwards, it'll ensure future airplay. Thanks so much for all yalls support.



When I think of the disciples I most relate to, for some reason, I usually think of Judas. I think Judas has been labelled as some kind of Satan-possessed traitor who sold Jesus out because he (Judas) was evil. In reality, I think Judas was human.

And I think Jesus recognized this.

Let's go back to John 13. Here, we have Jesus washing the feet of disciples. He washed every one of his disciples' feet, and Judas was among them (cf. John 13.10-11).

So, why did Jesus wash Judas feet? Footwashing was a sign of humility. In a Jewish home, not even the Jewish slaves were allowed to wash feet. The task was so degrading, it was left to the gentile slaves. Jesus took a humiliating poston a himself to serve others.

Jesus humbled himself to even the one who would betray him, the one who would chicken out at the last moment and serve his own interests.

If Jesus humbled himself to Judas to wash his feet, we should do the same. We should humble ourselves to serve even those who hurt us, because that's what Jesus did in John 13.

As I said earlier, sometimes I relate best to Judas because it seems to me that I although I mess it up eveytime, Jesus still takes a servant approach towards me and offers me undeserved forgiveness.

So, be a servant to those who betray you and turn their backs on you. Jesus did it for Judas, and he did it for you.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


OK, so I got a call yesterday from the local radio station whose network (or whatever) is going to play my music. It'll be on Saturday sometime between 7-10pm; exact time I don't know yet.

But anyways, they actually called me to see about me performing a concert thingy. OK, I mean I had people tell me that I'd probably do concerts and stuff, but this is something I really did not expect. I generally don't like playing in front of audiences. I mean ensemble stuff was good, but I had 50-200 other people playing with me at the same time. I could burry my sound in that of the rest. But anyways, I'm excited ( I've worked my way up to this), but still scared.

Besides scared of performances, I'm a little worried that my music will once again take priority over my reason: God. This happenned to a large degree earlier in my life. It was when I realized this, that I completely gave my music over to God. If He wanted to do something with it, then it was He who was going to make it happen. And then a few years latter, this.

So, what I do is God's and God's alone. It I ever BEGIN to forget that, someone please remind me!!!!!

Anyways, the music will be on 89.9FM KBDE radio, part of American Family Radio network, on Saturday night. Song request line is (254) 772-1900.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006



This picture is of an American flag, a Texas flag, and a Christian flag - and not in that order. As resident aliens, this is how I see we should line up our priorities: God before all else.


I am a baptist (small 'b'), with anabaptist tendencies. The foundations of many of my beliefs are from what I call, Resident Alien Theology.

This theology holds that as resident aliens in a foreign land (this world), Christians' relationships with Christ are still foremost and our actions are guided by HIS commands alone, the demands of this world notwithstanding.

"Dear friends, I urge you as aliens and strangers in this world to abstain from sinful desires which war against your souls." - 1 Peter 2:11

Paul tells the Church at Philipi that his citizenship is in Heaven, as opposed to the Roman Empire (a citizenship that carried clout in Rome).

But because we belong to God and God alone, we have a different calling from a world who does not know Jesus. We are to follow the commands of Christ alone, because we have nothing here on this earth to hold onto (cf. Matthew 5:3). Jesus said himself, that his kingdom is not of this world. So why are we so worried about the stuff in this world, instead of the souls in it?

As a resident alien, my actions are guided by Christ, not by what a temporary world throws at me (I'm still working on this one actually). I do not see war and peace in a political manner, but rather as a spiritual one and an eternal one.

War does not in anyway help a situation. If you win in, I helps you. If you loose it, it helps the other guy. But it has never helped a situation. Wars only lead to more wars, and more deaths.

Because of this, there is no political purpose of a temporary world that I can see that would justify a Christian taking another person's life. When we weigh what is eternal (souls) and what is not (politics), how can we even begin to justfy what I see as breaking a command of Christ? However, I also make a big distinction on the call of Christians and the ideals of a secular nation-state. I understand the need for a nation to protect itself. I understand that war maybe the only alternative for a nation to ensure its survival. But we are not called to ensure the survival of a secular nation state. We are called be Christ followers, at any and all cost. I understand a nation's need to strike back at terrorists, per se, but I cannot justify a CHRISTIAN doing so. Christians serve God, who calls us to peace. Our calling from God takes precedence, over a calling from a nation we are only making our temporary home. We are resident aliens after all.

Christians should NEVER advocate for war. Whether you are a pacifist, or you see war as a last resort, Christians should never be the ones pulling for people to go to war. Christians in America are confusing Americanism with Christianity. We pursue wealth and prosperity, while trying to follow a man called Jesus who says "if you want to follow me, give everything you have to the poor and come." And it just doesn't work. We pursue money, popularity, ideals like freedom, and YAHWEH. And it doesn't work. That's the problem John is addressing in Revelation. The churches of the Roman Empire are assimilating into the pagan culture, because it's just too hard to make it by being faithful to Christ alone.

I am obligated to obey the commands of my Lord, and when they include turning the other cheek and offering mercy, I must do that - despite how bad or hard this temporary world makes it. I must turn my left cheek if I'm hit on the right one, end of story. I can not judge any situation or war differently from another (for political or Just War reasons), I am called to make peace and offer mercy. (period) This is what I'm commanded to do.

I also make a big distinction between dying for and killing for. I would die to protect those I love, but I would not kill to do so. I am called to nonviolence, and that's all I can do.

So, basically put, Resident Alien Theology holds that because I do not belong to this world, but rather to Jesus, I am supposed to follow ONLY him. Therefore, his commands take priority. I cannot judge or weigh them (for practicality, etc.) against a world I cannot claim. They simply are, and so must I be.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Finished recording at 4:30am this morning. This is the song slated for radio airplay.

Click HERE to listen. And spread the word about the Invisible Children.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


Christians calling for nonviolence among each other, and encouraging nonviolence among others has become practically nonexistent in the United States. Christians in America have been the first to encourage defense over pacifism, and because of that more wars have broken out.

I realize, as I have said before, that countries have the right to defend themselves. I just believe that Christians' callings are those of peace. Yet, it is Conservative-Christians here in America that have advocated to Israel's defense of herself via attacking Beruit. My Republican upbringing notwithstanding, I do not see how Israel's actions have worked to solve this problem or bring peace

Lebanon is equally at fault, if not moreso because it was Lebanon's Hezbola that started this incident. But that does not justify or excuse the actions of Israel as methods that will bring about peace. In fact, the Peace Process has been declared dead.

So, why are Christians in a "go-bomb-'em" attitude about this situation? I can't think of a reason that coincides with the Bible in any way, shape, or form. But I have an idea: many Conservative-Christians believe that Israel is God's people and land. And therefore, anything Israel does has this kind of divine stamp of approval on it. (Even if Israel is making the situation worse by its response). It's funny, when we're in school and we get in a fight, usually the one who HIT BACK gets into more trouble than the one who threw the first blow. Why? Because it wasn't a fight until the second party joined in. Much is the same with the current situation in the Middle East. Yes, it was bad, but was made worse when it became a fight, when a second party joined in.

But sorry, back to Israel. Conservative Christians still see Israel as God's chosen people, which has been the current line of theology since the mid-20th Century. It has been popularized by end-times fiction and dispensational theology, which holds that God as two plans: one for Christians and one for Israel (but not necessarily in that order).

So, if Israel is God's chosen people, then what they do must have the stamp or approval of God.

I do not agree with this. Christians are the new chosen people of God (according to my Bible). And we are called to be people of peace - people who work to make peace, not just love it.

The appropriate Christian stance is to work to end violence and bring about peace, not encourage people to go to war, bombing and killing each other. This is how a dark world thinks is the way to peace. God has a different one, and it was displayed when Jesus when to the cross.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


OK, so I'm trying to get everything in and recording for my radio debut thingy coming up here soon. I'm playing with loops and stuff in the music.

The song I'm cutting right now is called "Why" - it's about the Invisible Children in Uganda, trying to get the word out on what's going on there. Click HERE and be sure to tell people about what's going on and encourage them to get involved. Word of mouth is one of our most powerful tools.

I'll be on AFR in the evenings within a few weeks, I'm guessing - so call in to your local station and request the song - not for me, but to help get out the word on the Invisible Children. Let's be loud AGAIN.

But this whole recording thing is really a pain. You have to record with this "ticker" in your ear - a metronome that's steadier and more predictable than the new Superman movie.

But it's all good. The picture above was actually my Halloween costume; I didn't get my monk robe in on time so I wore this (don't ask).

I'll keep yall posted on exactly when we'll get airplay.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006


OK, so I've been asked by the comittee selecting the preachers for the next several Sundays, until the Interim Pastor arrives, to begin writing a sermon. So, I've read through several passages, and one that continues to nag me is Isaiah 58:9b-14.

The Book of Isaiah can be broken up into three parts, according to the time of their writing. First Isaiah (Ch. 1-39) was written during the Assyrian control of Israel, Second Isaiah (Ch. 40-55) was written during the Babylonian control of Israel, and Third Isaiah (Ch. 56-66) was written during the Persian control of Israel. (I believe that) The Book of Isaiah, as we know it, was compiled from writings out of these three periods during the Persian reign (ca. 525-515BCE).

The Persians were encouraging the Israelites to rebuild the temple and resume temple worship, because whatever revenues were brought into the temple under Persian law, belonged to the emperor. The upper classes and the social elite were strongly encouraged to support the rebuilding of the temple.

The author of Isaiah complied the Book to show that God is against the rebuilding of the temple. Because it is not out of glory for the LORD that these actions are being undertaken, but rather out of selfishness. The Israelite elite were treated well by Cyrus and the Persians, and their supporting of the rebuilding would further assure this continued treatment.

God is saying that rebuilding the temple out of desire of the Persians for the monies incurred, not only is wrong, but it also oppresses the underclasses of the Israelites, who must pay the temple tax to worship.

So, why do we build our temple? Is it a place truly devoted to God? Or is it so that we can have plenty of money in the bank? Are we part of a temple that oppresses people, because we are building a temple for monetary reasons, as opposed to a temple that truly worships God? If we are in this for power, control, or to horde money, then we are no different from the Israelites of the Persian era. And God does NOT want our temple built any further!!!!

I can't help but read this passage and think that this is what I need to preach on.

This is by no means the whole sermon, just the thought-lines of one.

Your thoughts...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


While I think there's some prejudice on the part of the Ninjas against Pirates that influences this movie review - I still think it's hilarious.

Monday, July 10, 2006


We preach about Jesus. I have taught that Jesus was a man who lived, who was God, who payed with his life to forgive our sins, who came back to life because he loved us.

I was wrong. And now I realize I must now preach it correctly.

Jesus is a man who lives, who is God, who pays with his life to forgive our sins, who comes to life because he is alive, and he is just as real and alive today as he was 2000 years ago.

I must preach and live in the present tense, because Jesus does.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


I learned something this week: God's Word is living and can impact spirits in a mighty, awesome way.

The Holy Bible really is the Word of God, and it is powerful because it is endowed by God.

As a Bible academic, sometimes I tend to forget this. While I do not believe that the Bible is a facsimile written by God in Heaven and send down to us via the USPS, sometimes in this I forget that the Word of God is alive.

I get so caught up in what the author is trying to address, and how the text came to us as we now know it. I realize it is a book written by humans, and that it is a record of peoples' journies with God. But in that I sometimes forget about the unexplainable power of the Holy Bible.

Those of you intrested in Biblical scholarship, it is awesome, but never let it take away from the spiritual power of the scriptures. Because they truly are the LIVING, BREATHING words of God. And they have a specific message for us - that God wants us to hear.


"When we have an encounter God, we never walk away the same."

This past week has been an encounter with God. Tonight was a culmination of being on a mountain top conversing with God.

Moses met God on Mt. Sinai. He communed with God; He intimately knew God. And God gave him a message to take back to his people. God did the same thing with our youth group tonight. We went up to the mountain and communed with God. We had an encounter. And our youth group came back with a message for our church.

Marc brought it home tonight with his sermon (Nice going bro!). We were reminded that we are called to be the People of God, the Church, the Body of Christ - not a social club, not a group of people that fight for power or control, not a group to just fellowship. We are called to worship the God of the universe! And it is a privelage.

Rustin, GREAT JOB! with your comment about God not getting from us what Jesus paid for.

And tonight, our church worshipped, truly worshipped God! And people walked away happy. Because when we truly encounter God, we never walk away the same.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


I have a week's worth of thoughts to unload on you all... so bear with me. I spent the past week at Youth Camp with my students.

And God met us there.

The speaker was James Darby and the praise & worship was led by the Justin Cofield Band. The theme for this week was CAPTIVE - out of the text of Jeremiah 24.

In this text, God affirms that those who are his people are the ones that are going through hard times. And those who are ridiculing those going through hard times are not the people of God, instead they are arrogant.

The idea of CAPTIVE was first applied to this text as the priests and other leaders taken to Babylon after their invasion of Israel in 597BCE. Revelation 13.10 also reflects this sentiment that God's people are often to stuggle through hard times, but these times are trials we will endure. Further, those who endure the trials are the ones God is making stronger.

This idea was novel in contrast to the traditional Hebrew idea of punishment through captivity. But there and in many other prophetic books including Isaiah, captivity is God's way of strengthening, not just correcting.

Those held captive by the Chaldeans (in Jer. 24) were about to endure some of the hardest times imaginable, it would cost the very lives they'd known. But God wasn't through. In about 60 years, these people would be restored to their homes following the Persian overthrow of Babylon.

God is good to his people. He loves us. He captures us. And through our earthly captivity of hardships and trials, if we allow God's love and plan to guide us, we find that it is His love and grace that indeed have captured and captivated us.

God arrested me this week. More to come.

Monday, July 03, 2006


The Cruz-Control has been attacked by spammers. The comments sections for past posts have been invaded by the bodysnatchers, actually by random people trying to get me and others to hit their websites.

So, my current solution, as I can find no other, would be to turn on the Word Verification feature under comments.

In other words, you'd have to type in a few letters in an extra box to post a comment. However, I will only do this if yall will continue to comment on posts. If turning this feature on will jepordize comments being posted, I guess I'll just live with the spam.

However, it would be great to tackle this bug once and for all. So, let me know if you'll stop commenting if you have to go through the trouble of typing in a few extra letters.


Sunday, July 02, 2006


I went to Celebrate Freedom '06 yesterday at the Southfork Ranch in Dallas. There were well over 200, 000 crazy Texan Christians there. It was a blast. I heard great music and we all worshipped God, led by Chris Tomlin.

Here is a picture of me with a giant Chick-fil-a cow at the Chick-fil-a tent. (Enjoy!)

I am grateful for my freedom to worship YHWH, the God all things. I am grateful for freedom to worship in hundreds of thousands without being being stalked like a hunted deer by soldiers or emperors. But I am grateful God, and to God alone. I see myself as a member of the body of Christ in a long history of Christians, whose blood was bartered for politics and fears.

God has blessed me with the opportunity to worship Him. And I am grateful for my circumstances. But I thank God for this blessing. He could just as easily change things; so I thank Him for what He's provided to this Christian in a long line of little-Christs.

Remember to thank God for the freedoms we enjoy, not as Americans - but as Christians.