Thursday, August 09, 2007

THIS BLOG IS MOVING!!!!!!















TO

WWW.CRUZCONTROLBLOG.COM

Please change your links.

NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!

New Seminary Subject: Homemaking

Thursday, August 09, 2007

By ROSE FRENCH, Associated Press Writer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. —

The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary offers coursework in Greek and Hebrew, in archaeology, in the philosophy of religion and _ starting this fall _ in how to cook and sew.

One of the nation's largest Southern Baptist seminaries, the school is introducing a new, women-only academic program in homemaking _ a 23-hour concentration that counts toward a bachelor of arts degree in humanities. The program is aimed at helping establish what Southwestern's president calls biblical family and gender roles.

Coursework will include seven hours of nutrition and meal preparation, seven hours of textile design and "clothing construction," three hours of general homemaking, three hours on "the value of a child," and three hours on the "biblical model for the home and family."

Seminary officials say the main focus of the courses is on hospitality in the home _ teaching women interior design as well as how to sew and cook. Women also study children's spiritual, physical and emotional development.

Yet the program is raising eyebrows among some Southern Baptists, who say a degree concentration in how to be a Christian housewife is not useful, and a waste of seminary resources.

Seminary President Paige Patterson, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, which has its executive committee headquarters in Nashville, said wives of seminary students asked for the homemaking courses. The program was approved by seminary trustees.

"We are moving against the tide in order to establish family and gender roles as described in God's word for the home and the family," Patterson said at the denomination's annual meeting in June. "If we do not do something to salvage the future of the home, both our denomination and our nation will be destroyed."

Terri Stovall, dean of women's programs at Southwestern, which has its main campus in Fort Worth, Texas, said the purpose of the program is to strengthen families.

"Whether a woman works outside or strictly in the home, her first priority is her family and home," she said. "We just really want to step up and provide some of these skills."

Stovall said the homemaking degree is one of 10 women's programs at the seminary and is "only targeted to women whose heart and calling is the home."

A description of the homemaking program on the seminary's Web site says it "endeavors to prepare women to model the characteristics of the godly woman as outlined in Scripture.

"This is accomplished through instruction in homemaking skills, developing insights into home and family while continuing to equip women to understand and engage the culture of today."

The Rev. Benjamin Cole, pastor of Parkview Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, and a frequent Southern Baptist critic, wrote about the homemaking program on his blog.

"At first it was almost incredible to me," Cole said. "I thought this is not happening. It's quite superfluous to the mission of theological education in Southern Baptist life. It's insulting I would say to many young women training in vital ministry roles.

"It's yet another example of the ridiculous and silly degree to which some Southern Baptists, Southwestern in particular, are trying to return to what they perceive to be biblical gender roles."

Patterson took a leading role in the 1980s in a successful campaign to oust moderates from leadership posts in the Southern Baptist Convention. While he was president of the convention from 1998 to 2000, Southern Baptists issued a statement that women should not be pastors and that wives should "graciously submit" to their husbands.

In 2003, when Patterson left his post as president of North Carolina's Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary to serve as Southwestern's president, he was asked whether women would teach in the seminary's theology school under his leadership.

"The New Testament is crystal clear that pastors are to be men," he said.

In March, a former Southwestern professor filed a federal lawsuit against the school and Patterson, alleging she was fired from her tenure-track position because she was a woman.

Professor Sheri Klouda was hired in 2002 and was the only woman to teach at the school of theology. But last spring, school officials informed Klouda that her contract was terminated because she was "a mistake that the trustees needed to fix," the lawsuit states.

Patterson's wife, Dorothy Patterson, is the only woman faculty member now teaching in Southwestern's theology school.

David Key, director of Baptist studies at Emory University's Candler School of Theology, said part of the reason why the seminary may be introducing the new homemaking program is in reaction to the Klouda lawsuit.

"Women continue to make more inroads into traditional male bastions, which could be provoking Patterson to do this," Key said. Patterson is "trying to draw the line in the sand of where women need to be."

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., also offers programs for women, including a 13-hour certificate of ministry studies. Required courses cover child-rearing, "God's plan for marriage," and managing a budget.

Key said neither seminary will allow women to be pastors, but notes that Southern hasn't "articulated homemaking like Patterson."

"Southern at least appears to realize the realities of modern day life _ that often times husbands and wives must both work outside the home to support the family," Key said.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

IMMORTAL, INVISIBLE GOD

CLICK HERE FOR A FREE DOWNLOAD OF THIS WORSHIP SONG

Immortal, you are not like a man
That you change your mind
Or change your plan.
Invisible, our human eyes can't see
The depths of your majesty.

You're the God of forever and ever amen.
The alpha, Omega, Beginning and End.
We sing Hallelujah, we worship in awe.
Immortal, Invisible God

Immortal, you are not bound by death.
You're the living God, my very breath.
Invisible, you are not bound by space.
But your glory is filling this place.
Your glory is filling this place.

Immortal, yet you once died for me.
To pay my debt, to set me free
Invisible, you will not always be
Cause You're coming to reign as our King.
And the saints will fall down at Your feet.


Words & Music by Laura Story, and Ed Cash
(C) 2007 Laura Story Elvington/Brentwood Benson

For more of Laura's music CLICK HERE.

Monday, August 06, 2007

TODAY'S PRAYER

I KNOW YOU'VE GOT A PLAN (Jeremiah 29:11)
Demo Recording



Can You hear my prayer
Resonate to You?
Above the crowd of many
How can You hear the few?

The lonely voice of one
Still my prayer goes up to You
I'm beggin' You to answer
I'm beggin' You to move
I know You've got a plan
I know You've got a plan
I know You've got a plan in this
Won't You take me by the hand
And lead me down the path
That leads to Your will for me
Can You hear my cry,
As I call out to You?
Can You hear my voice?
O God, I'm so confused

Is it time to just give up,
Turn around and leave?
Or do You have a bigger plan,
Larger than I see?

Words & Music by Jonathan Cruz.
(C) 2007 CowHouse Music, LLC.

*Note: correct lyrics are written above and may not coincide with the demo recording.

MY FAVORITE HYMN RINGS TRUE TODAY

Before the throne of God above,
I have a strong, a perfect plea,
A great High Priest whose name is "Love,"
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart;
I know that while in heav'n He stands
no tongue can bid me thence depart.
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair,
and tells me of the guilt within,
upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died,
my sinful soul is counted free;
For God, the Just, is satisfied
to look on him and pardon me.
to look on him and pardon me.

Behold him there! the risen Lamb,
my perfect, spotless Righteousness,
the great unchangeable I AM,
the King of glory and of grace!
One with Himself I cannot die,
My soul is purchased by His blood;
My life is hid with Christ on high,
with Christ, my Savior and my God
with Christ, my Savior and my God
Words and Music by Charitie Lees Bancroft and Vikki Cook

Saturday, August 04, 2007

29

My parents names are David and Hope.

And today, they have been married for 29 years.

They knew each other growing up, but my mom laughed at my dad when she first found out he liked her. They were married shortly thereafter, well not too shorty. My dad had to do some convincing. Shortly after being married, they moved so my dad could begin higher education in Biblical Studies in Dallas, TX. My sister and I were both born in those Dallas years.

We moved back to our hometown of Palacios, TX shortly thereafter because they wanted us to have a good education in a smaller school district. They've lived unselfishly in so many ways, often putting their needs behind those of others they love.

And 29 years later, they are still together. Happy.

29 years later, they still love one another. You don't live with someone for 29 years and not change because of it. They compliment each other perfectly - in thought and in action.

29 years later.

What an amazing example.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TONY!

This is another day-late posting. But Happy Birthday to Tony!!!

Sorry I didn't get to make your shin-dig today - I know your mom was going to be there!!!! (hahaha)!!!!

Happy birthday, my friend.

Friday, August 03, 2007

WORSHIP SERVICE AS A VERB

Do you engage in worship service?

The question is not do you attend a worship service (noun)? But rather, do you engage in worship through service?

In the First Testament, the idea of ministering to the LORD is of much importance. We worship and serve YHVH. We just give to him ourselves, all of ourselves. And just let him take that in.

We minister to the LORD.

This is an act of service. Our worship is an act of service to God.

So, do we engage in worship service. Do we serve God in our worship?

Or do we sing songs during a 'service' time because that's what we're supposed to do? Is worship service something you attend or something you do?

Is your worship service a verb?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

OK, NOW I'M P.O.'d



Rapture Ready: The Unauthorized Christians United for Israel Tour from huffpost and Vimeo

In the video above, we find people claiming to be Christians yet ignoring the teachings of Christ. Forgetting the fact that we are called to be peacemakers. A pre-emptive strike (in this case against Iran) is perhaps on of the most un-Christian ideas of all. Even throughout the Church's history, the only real alternative to pacifism is a just war theory - which seeks peace first and never allows for the 'morality' of a pre-emptive strike.

The anti-Christ doctrine espoused here also cannot be found in the Church's history.

Why must some Christians abandon the teachings of their God in order to justify other teachings (or what they believe to be teachings) of their scriptures?

Why??!!!

BAD THEOLOGY, BAD MARKETING, OR BOTH?






























































Certain parts of modern Christianity are a turn off, even to Christians. The way that modern Christianity is marketed is one of them. Christianity is not projected to the world as a radical commitment to a man who claimed to be God.

Instead, the faith is portrayed as an easy-out. It is marketed to the world as a life-choice, not a life-abandoning faith. The faith is reduced to a Heaven/Hell choice, as if Jesus came and suffered death so we can be happy when we die. But this is not the Biblical gospel. The good news (gospel) is the arrival of the Kingdom of Heaven - now, not later. We are called into a relationship with God, not to flock to a person who guarantees our place in Heaven. This is the true message of the New Testament, and can only be manipulated to say otherwise.

The testament of Christ's death is one of passion, suffering. It's not easy, for Christ or for us. Discipleship is a commitment of life - at any and all costs. It is not casual. In fact, the New Testament preaches against casual Christianity in Revelation 3, in John's letter to Laodicea. Following Christ is not a part time job; it is not a religion to enhance our lives. Christianity is a call to abandon our lives, our hopes, our ambitions, and seek first the Kingdom of God. It is a call to hunger and thirst for righteousness, to show mercy, and to seek peace. At any and all costs.

The Early Church often faced persecution from rulers and polities, which sifted and reduced the faith to only the faithful. Christians in America have forgotten that faithfulness is more important part of the faith called for in the New Testament.

Jesus, himself, turned away those who refused to be wholly committed to him (Luke 14:26-27). Why does the Church not do the same today?

It would save people who call themselves Christians from diluting the faith to an over-simplistic get-out-of-Hell-free card - who in the process, completely change the message of the New Testament for the sake of filling churches and increasing the percentage of people in America who call themselves Christians.

I find the shirts above offensive. I not only take offense to their appeal to American pop culture to market Christianity. But moreover, I find offense in what they portray the Christian faith to be. In the first picture, Jesus' death is portrayed rather comedically; the second portrays Christianity as an easy way of life; while the last reduces Christianity to a simple choice of residence in a life after death.

What would Jesus think?

Monday, July 30, 2007

FROM THE ROAD #1


Here is a video blog from the road this weekend after a concert I played in San Antonio, TX. It is from me and my best friend/road manager Allen.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

NWLC: DAY 4

You are God of forever and ever, amen
The Alpha, Omega
Beginning and end
We sing Hallelujah
We worship in awe
Immortal, invisible God

This song, as yet untitled, was written by Laura Story, who pastored part of tonight's worship, and Ed Cash. This top picture is Laura leading worship tonight (Thursday). She wrote Indescribable, which was made popular by Chris Tomlin.

One of the things that I loved about this conference was that the people who led the services, were not the 'rock stars' who made the songs famous. Instead they are the people who wrote the songs for use with their congregations. They don't have record deals, they don't want to be famous rock stars. They are simply worship pastors at heart. And these were the men and women who pastored our worship this week. It has been wonderful.

This afternoon Francis Chan preached; he's a pastor in Simi Valley, California. He asked some serious questions. Like, if we love our neighbors as much as ourselves, why don't we spend as much money on them as we do ourselves? If we really believe Jesus is starving (cf. Matthew 25), then why aren't we doing anything right now to feed him?

So convicting. So true. It reminded me that we can actually make a different - and that we are not asked to, we are commanded to.

I've learned so much about worship this week - about who God is, and who I am. I am a different person, because I had an encounter with the Holy.

God is great and He will be praised by all creation. He doesn't and won't beg for our worship. He doesn't need us to worship Him. He doesn't need us to make His name great or known. That will happen anyways. He will be worshiped regardless.

Instead, it is us who should be begging to worship.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

NWLC: DAY 3

Today (Wednesday) was another day of worship - true worship. I went to a seminar this morning on burnout. Shaun "Puffy" Groves taught it. I got a nifty picture of me and Groves - will post later. He raised some serious issues about how we treat ourselves and our bodies - and how it all contributes to our health, physical and spiritual. Sometimes we need to be reminded of such things. Thanks, Shaun.

Dr. Marva Dawn preached this afternoon. She kicked some serious _____. No joke. She preached on authentic worship. And how we must be authentic to who God is in our worship. We must lament the state of the world, we must act on our prayers, such as "Thy kingdom come..." In other words, we must act on that and do everything we can to bring about God's kingdom. It was a very convicting sermon. We must feed the hungry and understand our worship as a part of our place in a larger picture of God's creation - all of which calls our to praise His name.

Matt Maher pastored this afternoon's worship. He wrote Your Grace is Enough, among many other songs. He's a worship pastor in Arizona. Big Daddy Weave pastored this evening's worship. God really spoke to me. And I'm dealing with some serious stuff.

It's amazing what we can hear from God when we finally shut up long enough to listen.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

NWLC: DAY 2

Let the worshippers arise.

Phillips, Craig, and Dean pastored most of tonight's worship service. They closed with 'Let the Worshippers Arise." It was gorgeous. The vocals from the congregation (all worship leaders) was phenomenal. People harmonizing - perfectly - off the fly. Simply gorgeous.

Ana Laura also sang. I GOT AN AUTOGRAPH!! WOOT! WOOT!!

Today's conference was amazing. I went to a seminar this morning on arranging music for a volunteer worship teams (i.e., not paid professional musicians). Mark Townsend talked about how to best accomplish a good sound. Having a quality worship team beats having a quantity of people on stage with instruments. Music should add to and enhance the worship experience, not be a distraction. We, as communities, should offer our best - musically and otherwise, for worship. We owe it to our king.

This afternoon, I attended a class on songwriting taught by Paul Baloche (writer of Above All, Hosanna, Open the Eyes of My Heart, and Your Name - to name of few). (That's a picture of Paul teaching today at the top of this post). It was amazing. Paul is a great guy with a hilarious sense of humor; he's very personable. It was a lot of fun. He talked about writing worship songs by not trying to write 'hits,' but instead, by simply singing our prayers to God.

On another note, I will be speaking on worship this weekend in San Antonio, TX and leading a bit there, so I'm using this week to prepare spiritually for that. I'm excited to finish seeing what God has begun to show me this week.

Monday, July 23, 2007

NWLC: DAY 1

Day 1 at the National Worship Leader Conference began with me getting a parking citation on the University of Texas campus. I've already got enough issues with UT, and now there's a dang longhorn on my parking citation!

Anyways, I finally found Riverbend Church, where the conference is being held. Tonight's worship was incredible. It was led by the folks who write the worship songs we sing, like Paul Baloche. Amazing.

Voices of fellow lead worshippers lifting up the name of God. Amazingly beautiful.

More tomorrow. God will work; I know it. I can't wait to see and to experience Him again tomorrow.

Amen and amen.

WHERE I'LL BE ALL WEEK

I'll post regularly all week, finally. I've got free wi-fi in my hotel. Yay.

Friday, July 20, 2007

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BFF! (oh geez)


This is a day late posting, but Happy Birthday to Allen.

I love you.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

THOUGHTS

I always feel a little dirtier after working at a homeless shelter. Dirtier, because I become painfully aware that I am a part of a corrupt social system that elevates material possessions over life itself. Angrier, because I am an active part of that system.

Today I spent the morning at a local homeless shelter that doesn't have enough food to operate but a few more days. They need donations and need them quickly.

It hits me rather harshly when that I get back in my air conditioned car to drive back to the church, to sit in an air conditioned office, and blog on a computer.

I wish this were not the case for Christianity. I wish that people were not divided in churches according to their socio-economic status in a secular society. I wish that the Nordstrom people would worship equally with homeless people. If this were really the case, I seriously doubt that after a short period of time, neither Nordstrom people nor homeless people would exist anymore. We would be equal. If we ceased to care about ourselves, and began to care for others in the name of Christ, equality would take care of itself. Equality in the Early Church was not a social-political plan to be implemented within the Christian community. Instead, equality was the result of the worship of God, and love for each other.

I'm not picking on Nordstom, as a store. But today at the shelter, someone had donated a paper shopping bag with the Nordstrom logo on it. People are in need of food, and the shelter is in need of bags. So, someone who shops at Nordstrom donated their bag.

But what if?... What if that were all different? We if you and I made a difference - that is, me and every one who reads this blog? What if...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

THOUGHTS ON SIN

The idea of sin is an interesting one. It presupposes there is a god to sin against. And that that god has rules. And that somehow, I have broken those rules - whether I have discovered such rules or not.

The idea of sin is purely a faith concept. I believe these things, therefore I understand the concept. But what of those who don't? Can we expect people to understand what cannot be understood outside the faith?

Or is there something bigger in us, outside of faith that can lead us to the same conclusion: that sin exists, and we are sinners?

Despite these questions, if the Bible is true, we are indeed sinners. Not because we have broken God's "rules," but because we have broken God's Rule (that is, His Kingly Rule). we have usurped his power. We have not only taken over dominion over the earth, but everything, and everyone on the earth. Is that the way it's supposed to be?

We have strayed; we have fallen. But the message of the New Testament takes this idea further still. Not only is the existence of God, and God's Rule, and our sin presupposed, but Jesus is also presupposed (or understood) to have the power and authority to forgive such sin. We have reliance on Christ to forgive us for usurping the power of YHWH, the God most high. This is a giant leap of faith. So many presuppositions. This is what Jesus' accusers could not get past. The religious leaders of Jesus' day could not understand how a person could possibly have the power or authority to forgive sin, taking on the role of God, Ruler of All. This is quite a jump to make, and I can honestly say that I would have probably agreed with them.

Nonetheless, if the Bible is true, then this is so. Jesus did and does have the authority to forgiven the sin we have. Again, 'faith' is really the only word in play here. Neither the forgiveness, nor the sin can be proven. They can only be believed in.

And I have faith... that I am a sinner.

Friday, July 13, 2007

AMAZING SONG FOR SUNDAY



"My Vision"
Shane & Shane
Pages (2007)
Inpop Records

I'M BACK FROM CHURCH CAMP

It was a challenge. A challenge we all needed. Good stuff.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

DAYS PASS TOO QUICKLY

One of the most incredible weeks is passing by all too quickly. I haven't had time for blogging lately. I'll be back soon and fill the world in on my life as of late.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

WHEN THE MUSIC FADES

I hate writer's block. When the music in my head becomes redundant; the same melodies and harmonies over and over. Nothing new. I write music in spurts. I've been told this is not the healthy way to go about writing good music. My music composition professor always used to tell me to write something every day. But I don't usually. Instead something will hit, and in a matter of days I've written 5-6 songs, a symphony or two, and something electronic on the Mac.

Anyways, I'm ready to start writing again. I've been writing all week, and it's great. The music is back.

DO I HAVE TIME TO BUILD AN ARK?


At least they're optimistic.

Monday, June 25, 2007

MID-MORNING FUNNY

This is a real action figure of... the Lunch Lady. She comes with accessories.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

VATICAN ISSUES 10 NEW COMMANDMENTS

The Vatican issued 10 Commandments for drivers today.

An unusual document from the Vatican's office for migrants and itinerant people also warned that cars can be "an occasion of sin" particularly when they are used for dangerous passing or for prostitution.

The "Drivers' Ten Commandments," are:

  1. You shall not kill.

  2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.

  3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.

  4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.

  5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.

  6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.

  7. Support the families of accident victims.

  8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.

  9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.

  10. Feel responsible toward others.
What would you add?

NEW BLOG LINKS ADDED

MEASURE OF A MIKE
SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL

Check these out when you get a chance.

THIS is why Shaun's my hero!



CLICK HERE if you're late to the party.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Monday, June 18, 2007

The New 'Answers in Genesis' New Testament-- Children's Edition

(HT: BW)

Jesus rides into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on the foal of a raptor. People attempt to feed the raptor by laying palm branches on the road as he looks hungry.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

CELEBRITY LOOK-A-LIKES

FATHER'S DAY

My dad is one of the most dedicated men I know. He has worked so hard to support us, growing up. Today I drove down to Temple, TX, where my dad pastors a church and we had dinner.

We talked about what any two 'Reverends' would talk about - bridging the generational gap between teenager and middle-aged adults in Southern Baptist Churches. Sounds like a fun discussion, huh? (jk)...

Many kids want to be just like their dad when they grow up, especially boys. I wonder if my dad ever thought I'd one day be "Reverend Cruz," just like him... I sure didn't.

Anyways, here's to you pops. I love you.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

DID YOUR DAY SUCK TOO?

My day sucked. That about sums it up. But not as bad as these folks, who, over the weekend, were stuck upside down on a roller-coaster

I was late to work this morning. We worship at 8:45am on most days of the week, including today. I got to the church this morning at 9:05am. Here's why...

I got in my car this morning only to realize that my car desperately needed gas. I subsequently realize that I had left my credit card at the church in Waco. Being without any money for gas, I ask my sister to lend me some. She is gracious and obliges.

So I pump some gas and head to the church. But then I got stuck behind a trailer carrying cows going 20 miles under the speed limit, a trailer so big I could not pass it.

I finally make it into Waco and must stop in a line with a bunch of other cars while a tree trimming crew blocked traffic. I am thinking, OK now I'm going to be late.

But then about 3 blocks from the church I look in my rearview mirror and see a police cruiser with its lights on. That right. The police. I turning down my Hillsong CD, which in blasting in my radio and pull over. Long story short... they did not in fact intend to pull me over at all, but someone in front of me. You'd think they'd think that one through before turning on the lights and siren right behind me... just a thought.

So, I finally make it to the Church... 22 minutes after we were to start.

Rough morning.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY BUSY

I've been very busy as of late. I wake up, go to FBC, Waco and leader worship, do a bit of work there, and then come over to Western Heights and spend the afternoons (and evenings). Then I work out. Then, I go home... and to sleep.

That been pretty much it around here lately. No big revelations or insights. Not for now anyways. But I was also sick last week so my doctor put me on this medicine that made the paranoid for a few days... creepy. So I stopped taking the medicine. Good thing too... I didn't want to end up like that guy on a Beautiful Mind.

Monday, May 28, 2007

JESUS LOVES _______

I remember singing Jesus Loves Me growing up. We are taught at a very early age that Jesus loves us. We learn that we are important to God. But what about others? It seems to me that that is all we are taught: Jesus me. Not necessarily: Jesus loves you.

And the Church in America perpetuates this idea. We are all ready to accept that Jesus loves us, but what about other different than us?

Let us take the issue of homosexuality. Now, I don't like to talk about politics here on this blog (except to make fun of them), and I don't intend to start. I do not see homosexuality as a 'political' issue to be hashed out on Capital hill - especially since people's lives are involved.

But this is my distinction, one that many Christians don't make. I do not believe that it is our place as Christians to impose their moral views on people who doesn't follow Christ. In other words, I do not believe that Christians should work to make our society look more 'Christ-like.' Instead, we should focus on loving people focus on changing hearts, not actions. We should not rely on Sunday School teachers, pastors, or politicians to work to make our society more 'Christ-like,' instead we should love people and demonstrate the love of God in our lives.

I do not see American society as having to answer to the call of Christian morals, because American society is not Christian. Furthermore, I do not see how making people act more 'Christ-like' will further the Kingdom of God. If anything, I believe it pushes others away, as others believe Christians practice intolerance and hate.

Now, back to the issue of homosexuality. Christians should address such an issue from a Biblical perspective, not a politically conservative one. Christ teaches that we love, above all else. We love God and we love people. Nothing else can come in front of this.

What good do Christians do by publicly condemning homosexuality? Do we endear others to our faith? Do we make 'gay' people want to become 'straight'? Do we make more Christians who believe the Word of God condemns some people more than others?

Is this the message God wants the world to hear from the people who claim to represent him?

While the issue of homosexual actions (separate from homosexual orientation) is addressed in the Bible (orientation is not), we cannot stand on a platform that violates love of neighbor at the price of claiming to have God's one and true message of judgment and condemnation.

Who is to say that my sin is worse than your sin than our neighbor's sin... etc. We are all screwed up! Honestly! If you want to say homosexual actions are sinful, a Biblical case can be made. But when Christians take this belief to such a level as to alienate others and spread hatred and intolerance in the name of Christ, then we are not loving our neighbor - the higher command superceding all else.

I know, you're thinking - "well then we are simply not standing our ground on Christian 'morals.' We are compromising and giving into the 'ways of the world.'" But let me ask you... What good are Christian 'morals' when there are no Christians to follow them? Should we not be concerned with the heart, and trust God to transform every one of us from the heart? Why be so concerned with actions? Why make others act like what we believe 'Christ-like' looks like?

Our job as the Church is to be the people of God. That means we love at any and all costs - and we do not compromise this. Christians are more worried about compromising 'morals' than they are about compromising the love of neighbor. That is why Christians are in the morally impotent position we are.

Christians do not have moral authority, not because we don't have enough Republicans in office, but because we compromise our ethic of Loving Others in favor of condemning certain people as sinners. We have become hypocrites, saying we love people - only to condemn them as an 'abomination.' And by doing so, the Church as lost any credibility or clout it ever had on the moral persuasions of American secular society. We need to rethink our positions.

Our focus, as a Church, is to love people like Christ loved us.

That's our job.

Your thoughts?...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

NEW JOB

I have accepted a position as Worship Pastor at First Baptist Church's Recreation Ministry. I will be leading worship, etc. at the Day Camp for the summer and doing much fun stuff with children, teens, and college students. So much fun!

(I'm still working at WHBC as well - so don't like freak out and think I'm resigning or anything on my blog.)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

THE ELITE: YOU & ME

I don't tend to think of myself as elitist. I am a college student who works a part time job for little money. I dine "out" only a couple times a month. I don't have a BMW. I don't have a big TV or house.

It's hard to write this list, because I am rich. It hard to list what I don't have, when I have so much. I have clothes. I put on clean clothes in the morning. I have a shower. I have a comfortable house, air conditioning, and carpet. When I am hungry, I eat. I spend my days in a nice office reading books all day - a "student." I own a computer - an expensive laptop. I have three guitars. I have to run on a special machine (treadmill) to keep me from getting fat. I am rich.

Whether I like it or not, I am in the top percentage of people in the world. I am one of the elite, and if you are reading this, so are you. You are sitting somewhere nice indoors with air condition; if you are outdoors, it is by choice. You are using a computer to spend some FREE time perusing the blogs.

You are the elite. I am writing this.... so am I.

But how can we call ourselves Christians, who love our neighbors who are starving, if we are living like this? It's not like we're divorced from a situation a world away. We directly contribute to the problem by buying stuff. Let me explain...

Look right now to see where your shoes are made? your shirt? your cell phone? your computer? Go ahead. Right now. Look.

I would be surprised to find that - at the most - only 1 of those was made in the United States. Most of the stuff we buy is made in other countries. Companies outsource the "labor costs" to other countries because it is better for their bottom line. Not only do these companies not have to pay workers much, they don't have to pay taxes in many cases either. Environmental laws in the US don't apply overseas either. From the company's point of view, outsourcing is a good idea, NAFTA is a good idea.

But with this line of thinking, people are no longer people, instead they are a resource, just like raw materials. The people working in factories are not more important than the machines they operate. But these people go home everyday to cardboard boxes, starving babies, and dying loved ones... because they do not have enough money to survive. Not because they don't work, but because their work does not pay enough. Without taxes, there are not roads, no education, no healthcare of any kind. Companies don't pay these taxes in other countries, and there are none of these things. Couple that with the fact that the workers are overworked and underpaid, and the poverty problem is no mystery.

CLICK HERE FOR POVERTY STATISTICS.

But we shop at big stores. We buy outsourced goods. You are wearing some now. I promise. You are wearing underwear! Yes, underwear, which are only a convenience, probably made by a starving women in China. And we stand and call ourselves Christians. See, we contribute to the problem. It is not just the companies. It's is us as well.

So, as Christians what do we do with that? Is is possible to stop shopping at the chain stores?... stop buying outsourced goods? What do we do? How can we call ourselves Christians, and claim to show and share the LOVE of Christ, if we are helping to harm our neighbors in one of the worst ways possible? We are contributing to their starvation!

There is a story about Marie Antoinette during the French Revolution. Her subjects were starving, and when she was told what was happening, she responded, "If they don't have any bread, then let them eat cake." While this story is probably not historically accurate, it is reflective of Antoinette's disregard and brush-off of the plight of the poor. And while it may appall us, this same situation is occurring today. And every time we buy stuff, we are essentially telling the starving people to, "eat cake."

I own three guitars - the total value of which can pay the RENT for a FAMILY for MORE THAT 6 MONTHS! I use these guitars to LEAD WORSHIP!!!! WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE???!!!!

I don't really have any answers to these questions I've raised... I really don't know what to make of any of this. What are the ethical guidelines for us Christians to follow? Do we live in our world or become sectarian and live without electricity, cars, etc.? I don't know. Do I sell the guitars and lead worship with different, less expensive guitars... made by different starving people in a different country? What do we do?

I'll have think about it more... while I'm on vacation. I leave tomorrow.

Ironic, isn't it?...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

ALTERNATIVE SERVICES

I'm writing alternative worship services for the next three weeks.

Here's the Plan:

Week 1: As the Lord Commanded: Lessons from the Book of Numbers

Week 2: Golden Calves & Golden Crosses: The Dangers of Misplacing Our Worship

Week 3: "Let them eat cake": The Responsibility of the Rich for the Poor; we are also watching Maquilapolis


These are from sermons/articles/postings I've written. I am editing them into a form that can be used corporately for the next three Sunday nights.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

DAY AT THE OFFICE

Well, today's my first day in 'the office.' It's good to be back doing ministry as my 'main job' instead of school work and junk.

Anyways, we're making our summer youth calendar; 'twil be much fun.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I'M FINALLY DONE

Finished the semester. Finally.

I think I'll nap now.

I can finally get back to regular blogging.

Monday, April 30, 2007

MY CLOUD OF WITNESSES (HEB. 12:1)

I'm going to use my blog to brag. I can do that. It's my blog.

I want to brag on three people - my closest friends. These guys are all incredible; they give me endless support and love.

Here they are in alphabetical order:
Allen is an astute philosopher and rubix-cube solver extrordinaire. For two guys, we can talk for hours, giving any pair of junior high girls a run for their money. Quite possibly one of the most amazing guys in the world. It's been so great getting to really know you so well this past year, Allen. I love you.


Marc is quite possibly one of the goofiest people I know. Marc & I have known each other for four years now. We work together and discuss our frustrations with the fundamentalist movement in Baptistdom, and our liberal theological persuasions. Marc is always there for me. I love you, bro.

Tony! This the guy that always comments randomly on this blog. We met a few years back when I worked with him at First Baptist Church, Waco. And 'your mom' jokes have never been the same since! Two summers of screaming children at day camp and now I'm a groom's man in your wedding. I love you, bud.

Just some shout-outs to the most amazing guys in the world - from my perspective anyways. Y'all are an amazing group of ministers, who are not afraid to just be honest and curse every once in a while. I absolutely love you guys.

I am truly blessed to be doing life with you.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

LEARNING TO TRUST... AGAIN

I like plans. They easily fit into my idea of the future - mainly because I can control them. But what happens when God calls us to something else?

See, I firmly believe that God has a plan for each of our lives (Jer. 29.11). I believe God plan is best. But we have to be willing to surrender to his plan for our lives. This is not easy. It involves risk - great risk. It's dangerous, from our perspective anyways.

Point is... God's plan doesn't change; but God can change our plans. This is where faith begins to become uncomfortable. We have to rely on God, completely, wholly, and with reckless abandon.

This is scary.

I had a great talk with a friend tonight. She told me a story in a way I'd never heard before from 2 Kings 6:4-7.

4 And [Elisha] went with [his servants].
They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees. 5 As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axhead fell into the water. "Oh, my lord," he cried out, "it was borrowed!"

6 The man of God asked, "Where did it fall?" When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. 7 "Lift it out," he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it.

In this story, God provides the power to Elisha to miraculously make an iron axhead float on the surface of the water. God made iron float on water! This iron axhead was only an iron axhead; God's actions here did not have global ramifications - it was just borrowed and they wanted it back. And because of this, God caused iron to float on water. My friend reminded me tonight that when God is in control, all bets are off. And God can do miracles. Salvation is not the only miracles he works; he also works many we consider insignificant - like making a borrowed iron axhead float on the surface of the water.

I trusted God when I came to Baylor four years ago. I had no idea how I could afford the tuition or anything. But God provided; I still can't tell you how - only that he did. Four years later, he is reminding me to trust him all over again.

And honestly, it's scary.

Monday, April 23, 2007

OUR GOD IS MIGHTY TO SAVE

When are hearts are broken, and we are beaten and battered... it helps just to worship God. It is refreshing to remember why we are here in this world. We love God and we love people. It's that simple. Nothing else matters. Really.

This song is particularly inspiring today.

PLEASE pray for the ministers and the people at Western Heights Baptist Church in Waco.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED

scroll down to see image...










































" PULITZER PRIZE " winning photo taken in 1994 during the Sudan famine.The picture depicts a famine stricken child crawling towards an United Nations food camp, located a kilometer away.The vulture is waiting for the child to die so that it can eat it. This picture shocked the whole world. No one knows what happened to the child, including the photographer Kevin Carter who left the place as soon as the photograph was taken.Three months later he committed suicide due to depression.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A CHURCH OF OPEN DOORS?

Christian's claim to be open to everyone coming into a church. But how far are churches willing to take this idea? There's a great, productive discussion going on over at Dr. Witherington's blog HERE.

DAY O' HOMEWORK

So much homework to do. I've still got to learn the Spanish language.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

VERY BUSY DAY

I've got to learn the entire spanish language by tomorrow to pass a test.

Goo.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I'VE GOT THE PLAGUE

I'm sick with the plague or something close to it. Goo.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Monday, April 09, 2007

CANNIBALISM & THE LAST SUPPER

The Last Supper is one of the most scared stories in Christianity. It is imitated in the Eucharist (Baptists = The Lord's Supper, Other Protestants = Holy Communion).

This tradition is often seen by Christians as an integral part of the faith, a sacrament, or even an obligation. But what exactly are we doing when we take part in this ancient tradition?

This Easter, most Christians had the opportunity to participate in the Eucharist. It occurred to me how odd this really is. There are three traditions regarding the Eucharist within Christianity. Transubstantiation is the idea that at the time of consecration of the elements, they literally become the body and blood of Christ. This doctrine is widely associated with the Roman Catholic Church. Another view of the Eucharist is called consubstantiation; this says that the elements are 'with' the essence of the body and blood of Christ. This perspective is most widely associated with Martin Luther. A third view is symbolism; the elements are simply symbols of the body and blood of Christ. Most Baptists claim this view.

For us to understand the nature of the Eucharist, let us begin by putting ourselves in the mindset of Jesus' disciples. Unlike the now-famous picture of the Last Supper, the historical events of this famous meal were quite routine, for the most part. The Feast of Unleavened Bread immediately followed Passover, but was celebrated at the same time as one event during the years of Jesus' life. It was celebrated only in the most intimate of one's circles. This would have been one's family. Jesus and his closest disciples make up a family. Their relationship is intimate.

They are in the Upper-Room of a two-story house. The house would have been located in the Upper City area of Jerusalem, where the wealthy families lived. (As opposed to the Lower City, downwind of the town's sewage, where the poor families lived in single story abodes). It's April in Jerusalem, and sundown is about 6pm. This is when the meal began.

The head of the family (in this case Jesus) would take the bread and say a blessing over it. In the Jewish tradition, he would say, "This is the bread of affliction we ate when we came out of Egypt." The bread would be broken, not cut, and passed around - remembering the history of Israel and the descendants participation in that history. Then the wine would be passed.

The wine served as a reminder of the blood sacrifice of the Covenant. A covenant was an agreement that went beyond any of today's contractual agreements. It was absolutely obligatory to one who chose to enter into such an arrangement. The Sinai Covenant reflected in the Bible, and what became the most important in the Hebrew tradition, is known as a Suzerainty Covenant, that is an arrangement between a Suzerain (= King) and his vassals. A covenant consisted of five parts: 1) a statement reminding a king's vassals that he has done something extraordinarily gracious for them, 2) a statement of what he expects from them ; stipulations of how they are to relate to him and each other, 3) a list of witnesses, blessings and curses surrounding the covenant, 4) the ratification ceremony, including a sign or symbol consummating the covenant, and 5) formal procedures for violation of the covenant. This pattern is followed in the Sinai Covenant in Exodus.

For a covenant to be consummated, the ratification ceremony (Part 4 listed above) must be performed. This consisted of two parts 1) a verbal agreement to the covenant, and 2) the act of blood being shed; this took the form of animal sacrifice in the Sinai Covenant (Exod 24:5-8). This is the reason for the sign of circumcision in the Covenant of Abraham, and many other blood sacrifices in the ancient world. Since the Feast of Unleavened Bread remembers the Sinai Covenant, we shall keep out focus there. The wine at the meal Jesus celebrated with his closest friends was an allusion to the covenant between Israel and God after he delivered them out of Egypt, the land of slavery and bondage. The elements of the Passover meal (bread and wine) serve as a reminder of Sinai and the history of the Jewish people.

It is important to note that Passover tradition did not understand the cup of wine to be blood, but a reminder of the Covenant, as Jewish law and custom forbid any drinking of blood, especially human blood. In fact, the idea of consuming blood is repugnant and revolting in the Jewish mind. This will play a major part in understanding what Jesus does at the Last Supper.

Jesus takes the bread and blesses it, only he says that the bread is his body. He changes the meaning of the bread, from what the Israelites ate coming out of Egypt to his body. Besides this making little sense to Jesus' disciples, it would also be seen as completely repulsive. In fact, when (and if) they finally understood this as a reinterpretation of an ancient tradition and an entirely new covenant (Jesus was the new covenant), any such revelation or understanding would still have been greatly overshadowed by the revolting idea of Jesus saying to eat his body.

Then Jesus takes the cup, calls it his blood, and tells them to drink it!! In retrospect, the Christian tradition has understood Jesus was prophetically announcing what must take place, however this would not have been Jesus' disciples reaction. It was weird, awkward, and gross.

Church traditions aside, the Eucharist is not a pretty picture. Jesus is not saying that his is literally his blood. The greek word written in Mark can also mean, "represent." And literally drinking blood and eating human flesh would defile anyone. Any pious Jew would have never considered it; also social customs would have made the idea inconceivable. But this is why Jesus statements are so appalling. The idea of consuming flesh and drinking blood is so revolting and unthinkable, even a 'symbolic' meaning would still have been taboo. While Jesus is still not telling them to literally do this, even his metaphor is shocking and unorthodox.

Why would one drink and eat human flesh? Cannibalism is taboo in the modern civilized world. It is only practiced among the most uncivilized and inhuman of people. But Christians, within all traditions, still practice the Eucharist without understanding the implications of Jesus words. The Catholic tradition holds them to be literal. As a Jew, this is not what Jesus meant by his words at the Last Supper. A symbolic interpretation would seem to be the most historically accurate understanding of Jesus' meaning here.

But even within the context of symbolism, such a statement is still odd at best. A metaphor only makes sense if we have a literal, physical aspect from which to relate it. In other words, the metaphor makes no sense without the cannibalistic overtones it contains, and our preconceptions of such overtones. So, while Jesus did not mean for us to understand his words literally, he definitely intended for such images to be conjured up. Therefore, the disciples rightly were repulsed by Jesus' words.

This shock value would seem to fit Jesus' attitude at the meal. He is trying to get the point across that he will die and that it is necessary. His death is a new covenant. He is reinterpreting an old tradition in a new way. Jesus' blood provides the ratification ceremony. It is now his blood and body that must be remembered and honored, not the Sinai covenant. These are some reason why he uses such metaphors at the dinner. He doesn't say what he says in spite of it's shock value, but because of it. He is changing the nature of the tradition.

The images of cannibalism are clearly there. The idea of ingesting anything means that it becomes a part of the person eating. The New Covenant, Jesus, is now to be a part of us, and we are to be reminded of the New Covenant constantly. These repulsive cannibalistic overtones are to be understood and not ignored. They mean we are to make the sacrifice of Jesus' part of us - while still keeping in the back of our minds, how really odd this whole thing is. By participating the Eucharist (eat my body, drink my blood), we are participating in the New Covenant.

It's just so ironic that Christian's recite, "This is my body..." without any idea of what Jesus words actually meant to those who heard them.

Next time you partake of the Eucharist, put yourself in the mind of Jesus' disciples and image how you would have reacted. And then bring that mindset to your prayers and consecration of the elements... and discover what Jesus actually meant at the Last Supper.

Friday, April 06, 2007

TRUE LOVE

Love is complicated. I'm working through some stuff to prep for a book on the idea of Christian Love with a buddy of mine.

But love is no easy concept to grasp. If the love Christians have for one another is supposed to be reflective of the love God has for us, then, my friends, we are doing a very poor job.

We have acted with our society's understanding of love. Love is simply an emotion; and love - through often referred to as unconditional - is fleeting.

But God's love is different. True love is different. It is about sacrifice. It is about the beloved, not the lover.

If you want to see a movie about love, don't watch The Notebook, watch the Passion of the Christ.

The idea of the suffering servant is prominent in Hebrew Prophetic literature. But few saw the Messiah of God as the prophet who suffers as well. The Messiah was supposed to be a kingly figure who would overthrow the oppressors of the Israelites and set up a kingdom on this earth that will be in complete accordance with the will of YHWH.

But this was not to be so. Instead the Messiah preached a different kingdom - one that required love. And since love is sacrifice, it meant pain on his part - because love is not about the lover but the beloved.

A hot afternoon in the Near East was a day that would change the course of humanity forever. So many went about their daily business without the slightest inclination of the significance the day would hold. Because the Messiah understood true love, and acted on it. The Messiah embraced his call.

Should we not do the same?

CONFERENCE

I'm at a Baptist Conference this weekend. It was last minute... but still much fun. I'm staying in a cheap (really cheap) hotel. It's quite gross, actually.

The hotel has no internet whatsoever. Sad day. I've finally found some WiFi at a Fudrucker's. Yay for burgers and laptops!

I was asked to lead the sermon/talk things for a church from Ft. Worth, I don't know how exactly that happened, but it did. So, I'm talking on discipleship. We talked about the role of the rabbi last night, tonight I'll talk on the character of discipleship!

I've met many interesting people, and discussed theology with some great folks.

And I've garnered some new blog readers... so thanks folks.

More to come... my food is here...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

TEMPUS FUGIT

Time flies. And it has already been weeks since spring break. It is Easter break now. And I'm off of class. I'll post some theological ramblings soon. But again I know that the break shall pass all too quickly.

Oh, well.

Monday, April 02, 2007

SORRY PEOPLE

I haven't had internet access at home for a while. Now, it's back on. So, I'll be back to blogging.

Monday, March 26, 2007

ONE WEEK AGO: PART I

I was on the floor weeping like a child, the taste of garlic haunting my mouth.

That was one week ago today.

Since then, God led to through a time of prayer and searching - shaping my heart into something I could never be.

One week ago today, I came home after a haphazard day. I stumbled from class to class as if the world and everything in it was a dream. The dream was one of those that held the sense of nightmare, only for no definable reason. My stomach was churning in knots, this gut-wrenching pit settled in my abdomen.

I had not eaten all day, and really had to desire to, but I ate some garlic -seasoned fish anyways hoping I'd feel better. It didn't work. I became sick. The world continued to turn in surreal way, the dream more real than ever. My heart was pounding. It had been pounding all day; I could feel it literally vibrating my entire body.

I did not understand why the world seemed so different, and why I felt so detached yet disturbed by everything. The garlic taste would not leave my mouth; its bitter, potent taste because representative of the feeling I could not shake. I was hurting deeply and I didn't know why.

So, I began praying as I sat, sick on the bathroom floor. I turned to God and left the question completely open-ended for Him to answer - something I've now learned I rarely do. I hit a low point, and I cried to God.

I believe God was getting my attention. I called out to God and He answered. What he told me led me down a path over the next week that changed many beliefs that I once held closely.

to be continued...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

THE DARK SIDE OF HUMANITY

Tonight I saw Zodiac. I had first heard of the Zodiac Killer a few years back when I saw a special on the History channel. Frankly, it captured my attention did then as much as it did again tonight.

The Zodiac, as he called himself, was a serial killer in the 1970s. He was never caught.

The prime suspect died of a heart attack before any charges could be brought against him, and only after being first cleared due to fingerprint and DNA evidence.

The movie was surprisingly accurate, historically. And some parts were honestly creepy - and with good reason.

This sort of thing is unnatural to us, as humans. Without getting into Aquinas' Natural Law axiom and all, I do believe that we humans are innately created with a sense of an ethic. Now this varies, of course, from person to person. But unjustifiable homicide is wrong in the views of most societies. In fact, this so well accepted as a norm that we consider actions to the contrary anti-social. And we jail people for anti-social behavior.

But, I"ll be honest: serial killers interest me, like any other mental disorder. Psychopathology has always fascinated me. The brain is such a complicated device, if it can be called that. And we only notice anything about it when something goes wrong. The brain is so complex that much of what we know about it comes from when it fails to operate as it should. I've taken classes on abnormal psychology in college just for fun. And it is interesting.

Serial killers can obviously classified as exhibiting signs of mental illness. They are cold yet calculating. There are some very unusual characteristics and similarities among serial killers. My question is why?... Is there something genetic? Is it simply the way a person is raised? I don't think the answer is clearly black and white. There's lots of gray.

But no matter the cause, we must all contend with the idea that there is innately a dark side to humanity. It is exhibited in the ability of one person to disregard the value of the life of another. Among the population on this planet, while most of us agree that murder is wrong, there are those who are not only indifferent to that ideal, but desire the opposite.

And that is a reason for chills to crawl up your spine.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

BEASTLY QUOTE

"Here are forty thousand men gathered together on this plain. What are they going to do? See, there are thirty or forty thousand more at a little distance. And these are going to shoot them through the head or body, to stab them, or split their skulls, and send most of their souls into everlasting fire, as fast as they possibly can. Why so? What harm have they done to them? O none at all! They do not so much as know them. But at man, who is King of France, has a quarrel with another man, who is King of England. So these Frenchmen are to kill as many of these Englishmen as they can, to prove the King of France is in the right. Now, what an argument is this! What a method of proof! What an amazing way of deciding controversies!"
-John Wesley

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

PLATO AND CHRISTIANITY

One of my closest friends is into philosophy in all kinds of ways. And he's started getting me into the discipline.

I'm preparing a study looking at the history of the idea of Christian love. It's quite interesting. I don't believe there is such a subject in theology that has been as neglected as love. It is rarely studied - only assumed to be understood.

So, I'm starting with Plato, who lived over 400 years before the development of Christianity. His view dominated the Hellenistic world in which the New Testament comes out.

It's amazing how philosophy so greatly influences religion. I'm starting to read more and Plato and looking at Platonic views in Christianity - they're there and are very obvious when you look for them.

I used to think "why does Plato matter? he has nothing to do with the Bible!" I was completely wrong. Platonic philosophy dominated the Hellenistic world and it is important to understand its thinking if we are to fully grasp what the NT writers were talking about with respect to love, for example.

Monday, March 05, 2007

LEARNING TO QUESTION

I have become seriously interested in Biblical scholarship since my sophomore year of college. I've had the amazing blessing of studying under one of the top New Testament scholars in the country. But what's so great about Biblical scholarship is the inclination to question the scriptures, while still holding them to be authoritative.

Many people are scare of questions - many are scared of the potential answers. I used to be scared of these answers myself, until I was forced to answer the questions, and then I found my faith had changed and had grown - not diminished. A different faith is not a worse faith.

I have a different faith from when I began dipping into the historical-critical research of the Bible. And this is not a bad thing; I believe my faith is strong because of my Biblical research and studies. Still, some writing of historical-critical questions as "liberal."

If understanding the Bible the way its writers intended means that I'm 'liberal,' so be it.

So, I've been researching the concept of "Son of God" in the NT. "Son of God" usually means king. This is no doubt how it is meant in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus is seen as the Messiah (the one who is sent my God to inaugurate his plan on the earth), and the ideal King (son of David = Son of God).

In Matthew's Gospel, Son of God means a king. Kings were thought to have a special channel to God - it's the whole rule by divine right thing. Kings were God's representatives on the earth. This is how Jesus is seen - as Son of God.

Of course this leads to the question of whether or not Jesus, then, was the physical Son of God, as most Christians would contend. This is not a dangerous question; but a serious one. Christians have struggled with this since the dawn of Christianity. Mainstream Christianity has settled on a Trinitarian doctrine that includes an understanding of Jesus as the physical Son of God. But this isn't the meaning of the title Son of God in Matthew.

So, are we taking our understanding of Jesus from scripture? Or are we just believing what we've been told?

Let's look at John's gospel for a further answer. John clearly understands Jesus to be God incarnate. He understands Jesus to be literally God in the flesh. Mainstream Christian understanding of Jesus in the Trinity is consistent with John's view of Jesus.

So, do these two view contradict each other? Not exactly; here's why... Matthew, the "Jewish" gospel, cannot have an understanding of God as procreative because of its blasphemous nature. Blasphemy, after all, was the crime that Jesus was brought to trail on. Matthew, very delicately, handles Jesus' relationship to God as Father. But YHWH incarnate? Matthew doesn't go as far as John because of the potential blasphemous nature of such claims. I believe this is done out of respect for YHWH, not fear of prosecution, however.

The two do not contradict each other; they just have a different understanding of Jesus. Matthew sees Jesus in terms of the ideal King (Son of God). John sees Jesus in terms of God incarnate. Neither is wrong; both are right.

There is a Biblical basis for the traditional Christian belief of Jesus as God incarnate.

But we have also learned that we cannot use "Son of God" in Matthew to defend a belief that Jesus was the literal, physical son of God. To do so would miss the mark of the writer's point.

Learning to question is not a bad thing; it furthers our understanding of scripture and we pick up on what the writers of the Bible originally meant.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

THE WORLD HASN'T ENDED - YET!

I saw a program my TiVo recorded yesterday about the end of the world. The History Channel showed this episode about many different fortune-tellers and 'prohesyers' throughout history who claim that the world will end on December 21 (Winter Solstice) 2012.

Among those are the Mayans who constructed one of the most elaborate calendars in ancient history. The show was very sensational; it wanted to scare its audience. And I must admit I was getting a bit spooked, until they brought in the Bible - and the book of Revelation.

Now, I won't get into the details and my whole beef with their fallacious interpretation of the last book in the Bible, but I will say that all credibility for the show was lost in a moment.

So, this got me thinking... why are we so fascinated with the future?... when, I believe, that we don't want to know it anyway? I've learned some pretty tough lessons the past month or so - about life, love and purpose. And I believe that when we seek to know the future, we confuse the purpose of our life with the actions and events in our lives.

I believe that I live to bring glory to God - through my love for people and my life for Him. This is all the 'future' that I need to know and be aware of - that no matter what happens the purpose of my life does not change.

Because I know the purpose of my life, there is no need to seek out future events. If I did want to know future events in my life, it would be because I am awaiting them - to then my life could have purpose and meaning. But since I have found that purpose - events do not matter.

Death is only another event in my life - it does not give me purpose, except that, I pray, in some way it will bring glory to God. Therefore, I have no desire to know the time of my death or even the End of Days. They are only events, and should not serve to provide us with a purpose for life.

I CAN BREATHE

I can finally breathe - without the aid of sinus medication.

Therefore, I am now back to blogging.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

ON BEING SAM WALTON

I was Sam Walton today. We had a round on debates in by debate class in which we had to be a person in history. I was Sam Walton - the founder of Wal*Mart.

Now, I figured that I could offer a fairly descent defense of Mr. Walton, being as I'm not a fan of Wal*Mart in the first place and I could anticipate many objections and allegations against my alter ego.

But alas, I come to find out from my debate audience that many people don't like Wal*Mart. In fact many in the university see Mr. Walton as the beginning of the oppression of corporate America. I just find it ironic that everyone still shops there. Now I don't like Wal*Mart either, but not necessarily for these reasons. But I also rarely shop there. Target is much closer to my house, the people are much nicer there, and the store smells better.

But if you have 'moral' objections to Wal*Mart, then you really shouldn't be doing business with them - at least that's how I see it. Just a rant on a Tuesday evening.

Monday, February 26, 2007

BUT SERIOUSLY FOLKS...

Associated Press
JERUSALEM — Filmmakers and researchers on Monday unveiled two ancient stone boxes they said may have once contained the remains of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, but several scholars derided the claims made in a new documentary as unfounded and contradictory to basic Christian beliefs.

"The Lost Tomb of Jesus," produced by Oscar-winning director James Cameron and scheduled to air March 4 on the Discovery Channel, argues that 10 small caskets discovered in 1980 in a Jerusalem suburb may have held the bones of Jesus and his family.

One of the caskets even bears the title, "Judah, son of Jesus," hinting that Jesus may have had a son, according to the film.

"There's a definite sense that you have to pinch yourself," Cameron said Monday at a news conference. In an earlier television interview, he said that statisticians found "in the range of a couple of million to one" in favor of the documentary's conclusions about the caskets, or ossuaries.

Simcha Jacobovici, the Toronto filmmaker who directed the film, said that a name on one of the ossuaries — "Mariamene" — offers evidence that the tomb is that of Jesus and his family. In early Christian texts, "Mariamene" is the name of Mary Magdalene, he said.

The very fact that Jesus had an ossuary would contradict the Christian belief that he was resurrected and ascended to heaven.

Most Christians believe Jesus' body spent three days at the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem's Old City. The burial site identified in Cameron's documentary is in a southern Jerusalem neighborhood nowhere near the church.

In 1996, when the British Broadcasting Corp. aired a short documentary on the same subject, archaeologists challenged the claims. Amos Kloner, the first archaeologist to examine the site, said the idea fails to hold up by archaeological standards but makes for profitable television.

"They just want to get money for it," Kloner said.

Shimon Gibson, one of three archaeologists who first discovered the tomb in 1980, said Monday of the film's claims: "I'm skeptical, but that's the way I am. I'm willing to accept the possibility."

The film's claims, however, have raised the ire of Christian leaders in the Holy Land.

Stephen Pfann, a biblical scholar at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem who was interviewed in the documentary, said the film's hypothesis holds little weight.

"I don't think that Christians are going to buy into this," Pfann said. "But skeptics, in general, would like to see something that pokes holes into the story that so many people hold dear."

"How possible is it?" Pfann said. "On a scale of one through 10 — 10 being completely possible — it's probably a one, maybe a one and a half."

Pfann is even unsure that the name "Jesus" on the caskets was read correctly. He thinks it's more likely the name "Hanun." Ancient Semitic script is notoriously difficult to decipher.

Kloner also said the filmmakers' assertions are false. "The names on the caskets are the most common names found among Jews at the time," he said.

William Dever, an expert on near eastern archaeology and anthropology, who has worked with Israeli archeologists for five decades, said specialists have known about the ossuaries for years.

"The fact that it's been ignored tells you something," said Dever, professor emeritus at the University of Arizona. "It would be amusing if it didn't mislead so many people."

Osnat Goaz, a spokeswoman for the Israeli government agency responsible for archaeology, said the Antiquities Authority agreed to send two ossuaries to New York, but they did not contain human remains. "We agreed to send the ossuaries, but it doesn't mean that we agree with" the filmmakers, she said.

Friday, February 23, 2007

MUCH NEEDED REST

I finished the presentation and paper this morning at about 4am.

Went to class and did all that jazz.

Now, I'm resting this weekend. Going to Dallas with Allen tomorrow - gonna raid the Half-Price Bookstores in an effort to expand our respective libraries. It'll be great to get away from papers and projects.

Sweet.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

STILL MORE WORK

I've got to read a book, write a paper on said book, and prepare a presentation before tomorrow.

Blog something significant later.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

THE STUDENT'S PRAYER

"Lord, please help me to remember what I do not know."

Many tests, projects, and papers this week. Sorry for the slow blogging.

-JC

Monday, February 19, 2007

THE THEOLOGY OF MUSIC

I don't like Christian radio much. Yes, I write and sing "Christian" music and yes, I do get airplay on the radio. And at the risk of sounding like I'm biting the hand that feeds me, I feel this needs to be said. Besides, my music does not pander to radio playlists and therefore, I won't censor my words.

I feel that the theology of much of the music on "Christian" radio has deep problems. (Now I used the term "Christian" radio with its common usage, although I've got issues with the label "Christian" as an adjective). As I drove to the gym tonight, a song came on a popular radio station about Hell. The song was happy and joyful, and a playful reminder of the conditions of Hell. The implied message, from what I understand, is to get people to become Christians by joking about Hell.

Now, I don't believe that Hell is the central message of the gospel, discipleship is. And discipleship is chosen as a vocation, not forced upon anyone through fear or other means. But that isn't really my problem here, that's a debate for another post. My issue is the joking about it, the playful nature of the issue of salvation. The song was a popular one, by a very popular band who've done world tours many times over.

My question is: Why? Why is this the message that Christians are broadcasting over their airwaves. I try to be honest in my music, and I appreciate honesty in the music and artists that I listen to. And I believe it is honesty that the larger world needs and desires, not happy music about serious issues and doctrines.

Maybe I'm just griping. Maybe I'm just complaining. But since I'm not on the sidelines, but instead in the game, playing, I feel that my concerns are valid. The theology and approach behind the music played on Christian radio is not always beneficial to the Kingdom and I think that we should be more aware about what message we are putting out there, and more imporantly why we are putting that message out there.

Friday, February 16, 2007

BATTLE OF THE SEXES: AGE 8

"Isn't that right, Jonathan?" he asked me.

"Is what right?" I inquired.

"That girls to go Jupiter to get more stupider!" he began to chant.

"Girls aren't stupid." I said. "I know plenty of girls who are a whole lot smarter than me."

"Really?!! Who?!!! Name one!!!!" he demanded.

I proceeded to explain about the many women I love and care for, who are all in fact smarter than me. If men are actually supposed to be smarter than women, as many boys are conditioned to think, then why haven't us guys been able to figure yall ladies out. All those times we're in trouble and don't know why.... exactly: men are not smarter than women.

I also explained that, "more stupider," is not grammatically correct, and if one wishes to label someone else as being, "more stupid," then he should at least show intelligence in doing so.

Tonight was Kids Night Out again. And yes, ladies, I stood up for you.

THE SILVER FOX