Tuesday, October 31, 2006


People don't like to be vulnerable. We don't like to show others our weaknesses - we don't air our dirty laundry, as it were, for all to see. We wear masks. We like wearing masks.

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


(HT: T4J)


God doesn't understand our feelings just because he made us. He understands them because he felt them himself.

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.

Neat, huh?



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.

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


WARNING: the story I'm about to relay is really creepy. The only reason I think it happened was so that I might add a final installment to this blog series. Now, let me explain... I'm an awkard, short, musician with long hair. The story you're about to hear has never had to me before, until the other day.

I had finished my workout (mostly running) at the Y, when I went to the mall to an Auntie Anne's Pretzel. They're so good, I get the original flavor with... sorry, I digress. I was walking out of the mall, when I saw a group of three or four girls walking towards the mall in the parking lot.

Now, it's a general rule for me not to look at girls as I pass them (I'll explain in a later post), so as usual, I turned my head the other way they started to walk past me. Then, the girls began making sexual comments and obscene noises. I glanced behind me to see who they were talking to, and then I realize it... they were talking to me.


This didn't flatter me; it creeped me out. This was disgusting. I ran. Yes, that's right. I halled it to my car and out of the parking lot, not even acknowledging that I had even noticed them (except for running, of course). This was weird, honestly.

Now, like I said, girls don't usually hit on short weird guys with long hair, much less anything blatantly sexual. But I guess there's a first time for everything. I've blogged about how men should treat women, but there's a way that women should treat men.

Men deserve respect - not to be treated as an automoton that desires to give and receive sex. Men are more than their bodies. This is something you'd expect a woman to say... but it goes for men as well. I expect to be treated with dignity and respect, not as a guy who wants sex with anyone, etc. I treat women with dignity and respect; I expect the same in return. I'm worth more than this kind of treatment. It's wrong.

No one has the right to make those kind of comments, etc. - man or woman. These are not the kinds of relationships that God intends for the two genders to have with one another. God wants people to know each other, as people. Sex is for marriage.

I have something special for my future wife - it belongs to her and her alone. If any girl looks at me otherwise, it is my (and every man's) duty to flee from anything that works to destroy God's ultimate plan.

Treat me with respect. Know me for who I am. Down degrade yourself or me by what you think is appropriate or alright... 'cause it's not!

Also in this series:

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I'm teaching this Bible study on the Book of Revelation on Sundays to anyone in the church who wants to come. We just began actually reading through Revelation; the first several weeks we covered apocalyptic literature, symbols, etc. This week we read through the Seven Letters (Ch.2-3) to the churches. And then it happened...

Someone asked about John's distinction between Hell and Hades. I was not planning on getting into any of this until the end of our study, when we have the creation of Heaven and Hell. But since it was brought up, I ran with it. Now, I've discussed all of this on the Cruz-Control before so I expect most of you've heard of this before... at least here on the blog.

But most of the people in the room had never heard about The Interim State (that is, the time between now and the final resurrection of the dead). According to the Apostolic Tradition, when we die, we will go either to Paradise or Hades. After the resurrection, at the time of the End, we (Christians) wil be given our new resurrection bodies and enter into Heaven, which will be created at that time. Likewise is the case with Hell. The modern notion that we go either to Heaven or Hell immediately wheen we die stems from a Papal Bull in 1336. And Protestants have kinda kept it in our theology.

But it doesn't agree with Apostolic Tradition of personal eschatology. So, I explained all of this, and more. The thing about it is, it'll put a burr under your saddle if you haven't heard anything of the sort before. But it is important to understand John's eschatology if we're to understand Revelation.

I was actually surprised; this was all received rather well. After several questions and such, I think that we all could agree on accepting this Interim State as Biblical doctrine.

The only thing is... teaching such "radical" doctrines has always been made me uneasy, even if they're Biblical. But I feel obligated to teach all these doctrines if that is my job and my calling. Just pray that I don't get myself excommunicated in the process.


So, I was at our local Mardel (it's basically a "Wal*Mart for Jesus") and I came across this puppet of what is presumably Satan. It was next to the plush Noah and the squeaky Whale from the Jonah story.

Don't worry, I'm not going to go into the theologcial significance of a plush Noah or a squeaky Whale, but it did get me thinking about Satan. I come from a traditional Protestant background - so for you charismatics out there reading this, it's going to be no news to you. But Satan is real. Demons are real. And Satan uses people to do his work, just as God uses people to do his work.

Baptists tend to downplay the deceptive nature of Satan - or for that matter, the nature of Satan altogether. We portray him as an ugly red creature with horns and a pitchfork. But if he was made by God like everything else, he was made beautiful. And this allows him to more easily deceive us. Satan does not deceive us by ugly, he deceives us by attraction. Satan's deception is in the "pretty" girl (for guys) in front of you at the gym, he is in the words you shout at the guy who cut you off in traffic, he is in the desire to always be right. This is Satan - things that make us think we'll feel good if we...

This is Satan.

He is not the awkward-looking puppet with horns, but the temptations that work to draw us away from God's plan. I don't believe that Satan can directly attack the actual work that God does in people, so he has to attack around it. He works from the outside-in to disrupt the work of God. He does this often through temptations - things to entice us away from God's plan. Recognizing this is the first step in combatting it. We must understand that God's plan is truly and wholly fulfilled by the faithful. And while none of us are faithfull all the time, we should strive for such actions. We should pray for discernment to see these temptations of Satan like a road flare - and then work to avoid them by changing our understanding of Satan as a red plush puppet with two horns.

Monday, October 23, 2006


YES!!! Gas prices have fallen from this to under $2.00/gal. For those of you Wacoans reading, this is at the H-E-B on Wooded Acres and Bosque... maybe you'll save a buck or 30!

Friday, October 20, 2006


"Jonathan!! My foot's stuck in this bucket!!!"

Yes. It was another memorable evening with the future leaders of the free world. It was Kids' Night Out.

I always take part in this ritual every month. And tonight it was definately fun and interesting.

We had a six year old who put his foot into a bucket and then he couldn't get it off - pictured above. Pretty funny, I thought.

Then I had to investigate the sighting of a scorpion on the top of the jungle gym - pictured right. It was "big and scary," I was told. I didn't see anything, but none of the kids would play on it again.

Then there was the 'Ketsup Chair Fiasco'. I had a nifty picture of it on my phone, but I accidently deleted it. Goo. We made the mistake of making such a condiment available to the kids. It landed all over a fabric chair. Suffice it to say, much scrubbing was required on my part.

It was kind of funny. We had one kid that was "Mr. Ladies' Man," well actually, "Mr. Ladies' Boy." He was 10. And girls chased him to and fro around the playground. We could tell they like him because they hit him and threw rocks at him. And as we all know: abuse is the universal sign of affection on playgrounds across America.

But I started thinking. If kids are naturally inclined to disobey when we tell them things like, "Share the tricycles with each other." Then maybe we are telling them the wrong thing. We should tell them not to share. Then maybe they'll disobey us and it'll all be good. We should put up signs like these ones (pictured here) that they have at the CiCi's Pizza buffet that tell us not to share with each other. Yes, that's it! Eureka!! I'm going to call CiCi's this week to see where they got their signs from.


Tonight: Kids' Night Out at the ekklesia. Basically they come, we play games, talk about Jesus, and wire them with candy so they can go home and torture their parents. It's a lot of fun!

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Today I had a good conversation with my professor/mentor Dr. Charles Talbert. Our text for today's class was Matthew 24. Matthew 24 talks about the End of the Age and it has some strong apocalyptic imagery.

See, there were common notions of what would take place before the End. Some of these things are anti-Christ figures and a time of tribulation or suffering. John, Matthew, Mark, Luke, Paul, and even Daniel to an extent follows this theology. But they applied these to the people of their own day. Daniel saw the one who opposes God as Antiochus IV Epiphanes. John saw anti-Christ as Nero. Jesus tells his disciples that the time of tribulation was about to begin.

I chatted with Dr. Talbert today about the theologcial implications of all this. We both came to the same conclusion: that before the End of the Age, people will experience yet another a time of suffering and those who oppose Christ. I saw Adolf Hitler as anti-Christ, and there are more to come. And still yet, a time of suffering. There will be more wars and rumors of wars.

People look at what's going on in N. Korea and around the world. Does it mean that the end is near? I don't know. We can never know. But we can be sure that people make war against one another and always will - until the day our Lord comes back. So we can still expect more anti-Christ figures and a time of tribulation, as Christians anxiously await the return of our Lord.


Mark Schultz has done it again (X 10). His new album Broken & Beautiful is, in my meager opinion, his best yet. It is well worth the current price. He's such a beastly songwriter.

So go and buy his new album today! - and some tissues, you'll need them.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


The numbers are in... and they're not good. Anorexia numbers have been rising for guys for years and they have how reached levels equal to those of women. That's right: there are now just as many men as there are women who suffer from anorexia. Why? The conductors of this study noted that men are now listening to the same messages from society that women have been listening to.

This is quite disturbing - what we teach is beauty. Even as Christians, we often try to convey a concept of inner-beauty, but we display something quite different. We ourselves spend much time doing things like fixing our hair, donning nice clothes, and surrendering to feelings of lust. Because this is what we model, those who learn from us (i.e., young men and women) never have any real concept of true beauty. See, the thing is true beauty is not just inner-beauty. True beauty is when inner-beauty is so prevelent, becomes outer-beauty. This is the beauty from God. But when we don't recognize this true beauty, we become vulnerable to the lies that this world gives us about beauty. We begin to think that outer-beauty is true beauty, and we completely ingore the world of real beauty that God intends for us to see.

Unfortunately, because we Christians are so bad at modelling this, we (and those we teach) only understand true beauty when we (they) catch a glimpse of it in our lives. And when we do glimpse real beauty, it is so much more beautiful than anything we've ever seen before. So catch a glimpse of true beauty this week, and you'll learn something about God.

I thought this was an interesting clip about what the world considers beautiful or rather how it distorts it. (HT: RS)


It's amazing what you'll learn by spending time with large groups of people going about their daily routines. Football games are a weekly event this time of year, and in Texas it functions largely as a religion. I'm a youth pastor; youth are my specialization, if you will. And youth reflect largely what has been instilled in them by their friends and parents.

At the football game this weekend, a boy and a girl came and sat down on the bench front of me. They sat next to her mother, I think. They were holding hands, so my guess is they're a boyfriend/girfriend duo. But he continued to get more physical the longer they sat next to each other. The boy, no more than 16 years old, never moved his hands off her body. When he wasn't holding her hand, his hand moved to other parts of her body. And she didn't seem to mind it; she looked like the was enjoying it as much as he was. And her mom didn't care either.

First, this was just uncomfortable for me. This is not the sort of thing that you want the world to see, or that the world wants to see.

I don't want to see that! Go get a room. was my first thought. But then I, again, began to get angry. He was treating her disrepectfully, and she and her mother didn't care. She probably thinks that he just cares about her and that he is just showing her affection. And it is a good thing. But SHE IS WRONG! He is simply fulfilling a sexual fantasy playing out in his mind (I know this - I was 16 once). And she's letting him use her for that purpose.

The temptation was overwhelming for me. I wanted to say to him:

"Excuse me, but are you married to her??!! Yea, I didn't think so. So, get your hands off of her and stop touching her that way! Your have no right to touch her like a husband unless you put a ring on her finger and say, 'I do.' Unless you do that, you are just using, disrespecting and degrading her! And, you are hurting her by making her think that you actually care about her!!!

"And what about your future wife? How do you think she would feel to know that you were touching other girl to get your sexual kicks!!"

But I didn't say all that. I wish I had though. Women are treasures from God, and should be treated like it. Men have no right to use women; this is not what God intended and it's not right! As Christian men, we should teach younger (and older) men the way God wants us to treat women. We should model this example, understanding how precious the family is and how sacred marriage (present or future) is.

I didn't say anything, and honestly I regret it. But even if I had, I don't think it would have been the right way to handle the situation. I just don't know what is a good way to stand up for God's creation in this situation. I was angry, and I still am, but if I had acted out of this anger, I have a feeling I would have done more damage than good for the name of God if I had gotten in his face like I wanted to. So how do we Christian men handle this? How do we stand up for the dignity and respect for women?

Bottom line: men who care about any woman (wife, girlfriend, sister, etc.) should not allow this to happen - we have a stake in this too, if we love and care for the women in our lives. We should teach other men how women should be treated in ways that give them the respect that God gave to them. Christians should take a stand on this issue, not just let "kids be kids." This is not right for women. I'm just not sure what else we can do, outside of teaching and modeling.

any thoughts...


OK, so Friday night I went to a local football game to see some of my students do their band thing. The school played well (and eventually won) and it was all fine and dandy - except for one part of the game. Before the band stepped onto the field to do their half-time show, the school's dance team went on the field and did their dancing.

First the ladies were scantily clad, then they began to dance in ways that are comparable to strippers, then the crowd cheers like crazy, inlcuding the dancers' moms and dads. I've got a huge problem with all of this.

First and foremost, this kind of activity is disrespectful to women in general. To shake one's "altogethers" for the world to see and then to enjoy the attention received is not the way women to act or be treated. These girls are degrading themselves by flaunting said "altogethers" all over the football field. And they don't even see it; they somehow think it's a good thing to be popular and cheered for even at the cost of their dignity. And this is reinforced by their parents. Parents are not discouraging this in any way, in fact they're supporting it. Parents are supporting the exploitation of their daughters, brothers are supporting the exploitation of their sisters, boyfriends are supporting the exploitation of their girlfriends, and future husbands are supporting the exploitation of their future wives. AND IT IS WRONG!!!

All man who cares about a woman, any woman, has an obligation to stand up for treating them with dignity and respect. Women should also do the same and not reinforce this demeaning of young ladies who think that it is alright to be seen as a object instead of the people they are. Moms should not cheer this kind of dancing, but instead should demand people treat their daughters with respect.

It is also the responsibility of the sponsors at the dance teams to see that their girls respect themselves and don't allow them to sacrifice dignity for popularity. As Shari, my friend and a high school cheer sponsor, puts it, "This is a family place, not a place to make a family."

Sorry for the rant, but this just really ticked me off. So see girls degrade themselves to applause and then to see their parents cheer it on, just really made me realize how young ladies are not treated by people the way God intened for them to be treated.

But this was only part of what I realized that night...

Thursday, October 12, 2006


I'm off of school for fall break this weekend. So, I'll be doing some recording. I wrote a song called, "All of Me" this week. If I can get it all tweaked and such, hopefully I'll get it recorded and finished.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


As many of you know, I have trouble even speaking in complete sentences before noon. So this morning, I stumbled into the SLiC (one of the gyms at Baylor) to go to my racketball class.

Anyways, I arrived to class to find that we were leaving for a 'field trip.' So we left the SLiC and got breakfast - and (yippee) the instructor paid! So we sat around and made fun of UT while we ate our kolaches and begals. Human Perforance credits are required to ensure students get some exercise in college... but I like this class just the way it is.

Monday, October 09, 2006


The Southern Baptists are in the middle of a crisis that began nearly 20 years ago. Like other denominations, these people are now sharply divided. The issue: inerrancy. That is, is the Bible without any errors, including historical or scientific? Or is it to be read for its theology with the understanding that people recorded a portrait of the love and grace of God?

Traditional Bible scholars would tend to agree with the second statement. So they were accused of not believing the Bible and driven out of the SBC seminaries. The people on the other side of the fence admit to doing this but say they were saving the SBC from the liberalism of Biblical scholarship.

Here are two articles, both reflect on the same events, but put rather different spins on what happened.



Saturday, October 07, 2006

Friday, October 06, 2006


OK, so we've begun teaching a class on the Book of Revelation to the lay people of our church. It's going well for being the second week. So far the turn out has been much better than expected, and it's supposed to be even better this week.

Over the course of 11 weeks, we will cover the entire book of Revelation. This past week, we touched on the Starting Points of reading the book (genre, date, author, structure, etc.). This week we will cover ancient apocalypses and how they work and are to be read. Then we will cover the Seven Letters to the Churches, and the remainder of the time, we will cover the Seven Visions of the Shift of the Ages.

On the last week, though, might be my greatest challenge. We will cover the various abusive interpretations of Revelation that have become popular in American mainstream evangelicism. We will cover the issues of the rapture, the Great Tribulation, and the Antichrist. I am placing this at the end of our study to establish a scholarly based understand of Revelation first, and then going back to dissect how the traditions came to be regarded as truth.

But I am so excited to teach the Book of Revelation. It has a most important message to the Church in America today. When we see past the apocalyptic symbolism, we find that Revelation is written to encourage Christians to not assimilate into an alien culture whose teachings are counter to those of Jesus Christ. I've studied Revelation very extensively over the past two years, now I have a passion for sharing what I learned with others, especially the lay people within the Church.

Please pray for that God speaks in this Bible study this fall...

Thursday, October 05, 2006


I'm trying this new kind of turkey, it's cheaper. Yea, it tastes awful.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


So, I'm driving down Valley Mills Dr. here in Waco going to Charles "The Beast and 1/2 of a Scholar" Talbert's class. For once, I was going to be on time for class (those of you who know me know that I'm late for everything). And then I pull up to a stop light. BANG! I lurched forward.

Crap!, I thought to myself.

I looked back in my rear-view mirror and see a girl driving the car behind me looking around, oblivious to the world.

Are you serious?, I thought.

I turned on my hazard lights and got out of my car. I walk up to her (still sitting in her driver's seat).

"Did you just hit me?" I inquired.

"Yeah, I just bumped you. It's OK though." she replied.

O...K..., I thought.

"I'm in a real big hurry. So if you want my insurance, you can copy it down real quick," she told me.

I was now going to be late to class, because she was in a hurry. But so was I (in a hurry, that is), so I said OK. But then the Sheriff showed up and stopped traffic.

Now this is going to take a while, I thought. See when the cops come, there's all this paperwork and they have to bring ambulance people and stuff for legal reasons, etc. I was already going to be late for class, and this girl was going to be late to whatever fire she was going to.

My car is like a tank. Seriously. You could drive it through a nitroglicerin plant and it wouldn't leave a dent. So there was really no damage to my car, just some of her paint on my bumper. It's all good.

So I got her insurance info and we both told the Sheriff to cancel the call for 'assistance' which would have definately included a citation for her. And I went to class and she went to wherever.

I didn't get mad. There was no reason to. There is rarely a reason to get mad, especially with people - we all screw up, right? Even if the other person doesn't care enough about what they've done, that gives us no right to not be Christians. We are supposed to chose harm, if the alternative is causing harm to others. Just because people don't act like we would like them to (in this case, a bit of remorse), that doesn't excuse us from the calling of Jesus to love our neighbors and to show that love. This world is temporary; my Jeep is temporary. My mission here on earth is not. It's all about priorities.


Do you remember these commericals?? so funny...


Do you remember Barney Fife? He was the goofy, clumbsy Deputy in the Andy Griffith Show. Barney carried a gun, an old revolver. But it was never loaded. Barney was banned from carrying a loaded gun because he kept shooting it off accidently. So he kept one bullet, in his pocket. To put it inside of his gun, he had to get permission from Sheriff Taylor.

I just thought this was hilarious - a deputy sheriff who keeps one bullet in his pocket. So, I thought I'd blog out it.

But I feel like I'm in the "Spiritual Application" mood as of late. So, here goes nothing:

Until recently, the ministers at our church (including myself) have avoided risk taking. We have all had to pull back on the reigns of ministry because something we do might bomb. "We have to be careful what we do," we were told. Unless something was a sure thing, then we had better not chance it. Ministry was essentially the bullet in our pockets. We had to be careful when and were we employed it, and even then, we had very little clout when we did.

But this has recently changed. The source of the "we have to be careful" is no longer with us and now we are jumping at every chance for ministry and community outreach, despite the risks to money and time involved. And it's not just the ministers, but the vast majority of the church. People want to show the love of Jesus to others. And it's very refreshing to see that. We no longer have to get be careful about the bullet in our pockets. We are now encouraged to take risks. We are now told that without great risks, great things can't be accomplished. Also, by taking risks in ministry, we are really showing that we are putting our trust in God and not in ourselves.

So, there you have it: The Andy Griffith Show tied to a spiritual theme. We shouldn't allow ourselves to have a bullet in our pocket for only extreme situations. We should be 'fully loaded.'

Monday, October 02, 2006