Friday, December 29, 2006


Saddam Hussein was executed. Here are the headlines from the FOX NEWS and CNN webpages. FOX is typically seen as leaning conservative and CNN is usually seen as leaning to the left/liberal side of things.

I just think it's funny how differently the two report the story of Hussein's execution.





Two people I know have died since Christmas - within 48 hours of one another. I don't like death; I don't know anyone who does.

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


I overdid it at the gym yesterday. I think I pulled a muscle somewhere in my shoulder. I'm in pain. I'm sitting on my couch and pretty much can't move... glad I've got a laptop.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Sunday, December 24, 2006



I just got a summons for jury duty as soon as the New Year starts!


A Christmas Story (1983) is positively the best Christmas movie ever. I like Miracle on 34th and It's a Wonderful Life, and of course Christmas Vacation, but this movie is the best. For sure.

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


In one afternoon I finished all my Christmas shopping for family and friends. Most people are getting... books; but it's all good because most of you are book people too.

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.

Heck, yes!

Thursday, December 21, 2006


I woke up today. That's enough. Really, it is.

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


This was my church newsletter aritlce that won't be published :-(

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


The nerd pictured at the left (that's me) is one of Time Magazine's Person of the Year 2006, and so are YOU!

Friday, December 15, 2006


This week is our final installment in the Revelation Bible study I've been teaching this fall. We are discussing the issue of the rapture and the rest of Left Behind eschatology that is popular in modern evangelical circles.

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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.


Search 'rapture' on Youtube, this is what you get. Now whatever your position of said rapture (I'll address this issue in the very near future), does this do any good for the Kingdom of God?


The year is coming to an end. We have much to remember and much to look forward to. I'm preparing a spiffy Year-in-Review here on the Cruz-Control.

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.


So, I'm driving into Austin, TX to buy my Macbook Pro and as I'm entering the city, I notice this haze. At first I assumed it must be rain. But alas, it is not.

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


My Day...

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


(This was from this summer.)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


I'm done with finals. Woot! 12 hours of sleep later... I'm ready for life again.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Physics - Thurs. 12/7 @ 9am
History - Fri. 12/8 @ 9am
World Religions - Fri. 12/8 @ 4:30pm
Music - Mon. 12/11 @ 9am
New Testament Interp: Matthew - Mon. 12/11 @ 2pm
Backpacking - Tues. 12/12 @ 2pm

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Saturday, December 02, 2006


I picked up Resident Aliens today to read it for the ump-teenth time. I had honestly forgotten how good it is. There are certain books that you read that will change your life by the time your finished with them... this is one of them.

CLICK HERE to buy.

Friday, December 01, 2006


Finals begin next week. This is the final week of class; many papers due. 'Til they're over, here's a blanket apology for the sporadic and sometimes insignificant blogging.

We'll talk theology when I'm done.