Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Questions, Sola Scriptura, Binding & Loosing, Awe & Wonder, Intellectual Honesty, Mystery, Wrestling, and the Story
Oh this might just be a lengthy one. I began reading (and got about halfway through) Rob Bell's new book, Velvet Elvis. It was interesting that most of what is in the book was layed out in his messages at Mars Hill over the last two years. I know this because I've heard most of them. Side point: what an interesting way to audience test your ideas. I'm sure it wasn't easy, but it would be fun to do if you wanted to float an idea and get good feedback. It works well because the only people who respond are those who care enough to respond and question what the person is saying. Before I go into this, I would like to note that the book is very anecdotal and that many of these different issues are being tied together as Bell attempts to repaint the Faith. [I'm going to attempt to use different colors for quotes and then write comments in normal type]
A Christian doesn't avoid the questions; a Christian embraces them. In fact, to truly pursue the living God, we have to see the need for questions. (21)
* Isn't it often obvious when somebody doesn't have it, because what rules their thought and conversation is tearing down and not life-giving. It seems that the way of Christ brings life and gratitude, hope and joy; even if it also brings pain (which I'm not trying to invalidate by mentioning hope, joy, and gratitude).
This is part of the problem with continually insisting that one of the absolutes of the Christian faith must be a belief that "Scripture Alone" is our guide. It sounds nice, but it is not true. (67)
* Very interesting to point out that even "what the Bible IS" had to be voted upon by a group of Christians. Makes it difficult to take personal and subjective prior suppositions out of the equation when examining scripture.
BINDING & LOOSING
Binding and loosing can only be done if communities are willing to wrestle. The ultimate display of our respect for the sacred words of God is that we are willing to wade in and struggle with the text - the good parts, the hard-to-understand parts, the parts we wish weren't there. (68)
* The reason we wrestle is because we have a responsibility as part of the continuing kingdom of God. What we bind here will be bound in heaven and what we loose here will be loosed in heaven. This is a serious charge for us as believers and followers. Therefore, we have to work at it and think and struggle.
AWE & WONDER
I remember the first time I was truly in awe of God...and I was sixteen at a U2 concert. The Josha Tree tour. When they started the song "Where the Streets Have no Name", I thought I was going to spontaneously combust with joy. This was real. This mattered. Whatever it was, I wanted more. I had never felt that way before. I remember surfing Trestles - the legendary beach between Los Angeles and San Diego - for the first time. I paddled out on a gorgeous day, and as I sat there on my board, a couple hundred feet off shore, surrounded by blue and green and sunlight and quiet, a dolpin jumped in the water next to me. I thought y heart was never going to start beating again. Beauty can be crushing at times, can' t it? (72)
...and later after mentioning a woman dying of AIDS in Rwanda and a woman who kept visiting her, and a good woman dying young, and a two-pound baby who died the day it was born; people there in the thick of it, grappling...
Because it isn't just concerts and surfing and the high points, and it isn't just those beautiful moments in the midst of the everyday and mundane; it is also in the tragic and the gut-wrenching moments when we cannot escape the simple fact that there is way more going on around us than we realize. (75)
*Man can you see yourself back at these points. Amazing view, surfing (for me), great art, anytme a thing is how it should be, just right...These times really should point to God. This reminds me of the debate between the anarchist and one protagonist early in The Man who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton as they discuss what is more amazing, the trains arriving on time or the schedule being messed up. If you haven't read it, you should.
INTELLECTUAL HONESTY & MYSTERY
Do you know anybody who grew up in a religious environment, maybe even a Christian one, and walked away from faith/church/God when they turned 18 and went to college? (Talks about all truth as God's truth and a Christian's ownership of it) But let's say her professors aren't Christians, it is not a "Christian" university, and this young woman hasn't been taught that all things are hers. What if she has been taught that Christianity is the only thing that is true? What if she has been taught that there is no truth outside the Bible? She's now faced with this dilemma: believe the truth she's learning or the Christian faith she was brought up with. Or we could put the dilemma this way: intellectual honesty or Jesus? (80,81)
* Bell would say that your faith will have to be bigger than "the only truth is in the Bible." There can be parts of truth things that aren't fully true. I would say that the right answer to the question posed at the end of the quote is both. It might just mean answering with mystery and "I don't know" a little more often than, "I've got the answer here..."
So many of us have been conditioned to think of our faith as solely an issue of us and God. But faith is a communal experience. A shared journey. I have heard people say their stories are not exciting. I can only imagine how deeply offended God is with comments like this...But the point of our stories and our faith journeys is that they are about something much bigger...All things are yours. Being a Christian is not cutting yourself off from real life; it is entering into it more fully. It is not failing to go deeper; it is going deeper than ever. It is a journey into the heart of how things really are. What is it that makes you feel alive? What is it that makes your soul soar?
Some would call Bell's take warm and fuzzy. Yes and No. I think what he is doing is attempting to present an arena in which to grapple with difficult questions like why do evil men prosper while good men die of cancer, etc... There aren't easy answers to questions like these. Sometimes we just have to say the man of sorrows is enough for now.
In the midst of many criticizing Bell's book and in my opinion reading it with wrong motive and a bad eye (hebrew reference), I would like to take a moment to affirm what he is doing, even if it isn't all just right. He's stepping up and saying, "Could we try this? or what about this?" He's not afraid to be wrong, only to not show up and be part of what God tells us all to. A kingdom that is not neatly tied together into a package which can be grasped and put into a seven step formula to be highly influential and have your best life now and has the need to pronounce the Lord's judgments on places for not supporting intelligent design. Sorry if Covey, Osteen and Robertson don't like it. But I think Bell is bringing hope and life and joy to the kingdom of this world.
Friday, December 23, 2005
I think the most important thing is to fall back on relationship with God, and function from that.
I'm glad all these dudes are questioning the status quo and asking quo vadamus, but how about take a couple of days here, shut down the "What does this mean?" and "What are we to do?", and simply ponder the coming of the Savior. What a gift to the world! A Christ who showed the way, and whose victory set Grace, Truth, Hope, and Love above imperialism, greed, bitterness, and hate.
If I'm not mistaken, I believe this is the Discipline of Celebration. May the Joy of your Salvation be renewed in the final days of Advent, and may The Holy Spirit reign with truth and grace as soon as we forget.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
It's amazing how God gives things back once we let go of our Kung Fu grip on them. It's almost humorous at times.
I encourage you (and myself especially) to release whatever it is you're holding on to, and ask God to fill the void. Of course, you need to be true about it and actually let go of it. Also, it doesn't mean you will get back what you're holding on to. It might just not be what's best for you.
However, if and when God gives it back, your perspective on said thing will likely be different than it was before.
Merry Christmas and I hope you have some blessed time with family in the coming days.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Upon seeing this picture, I laughed pretty hard. But then I began to think about people's self-image and how it relates to our sexed-up, US weekly reading, culture.
It's interesting how so many people (men and women) have such a skewed view of who and what they are as people. I include myself in the list of people that are often guilty of opening up my mouth and letting somebody crap in whatever they like. It has led to gender stereotypes, body-image issues, eating disorders, and all kinds of imbalances in belief and behavior in people's lives.
So essentially, how about we stop letting people sell their crap without calling them out on it. This would of course mean some serious self-policing. Like we stop commenting on how "hot" some girl/guy is because when we do this, it begins to split the value of the person from a whole being to a magazine fantasy. It means a great many things about how we monitor what we take in; be it TV, movies, conversations, and books. It also means valuing people (regardless of sex, race, attractiveness, personality) as creations of God and thus, valuable and precious.
Friday, November 25, 2005
Some days just can't be fathomed. Some days are seemingly normal until you stop to think. Today was such a day. Four generations of family, Numerous grandparents, great aunts and uncles, parents, children, cousins, my theology professor uncle telling me to get a Ph.D., brother, nephew, etc.
While we get to hold on to our individuality, we still must examine where we come from to know who we are. What a heritage of sweet people (even with our shortcomings).
The obvious parallel that can be seen here is the heritage of faith that is possessed by a believer. That is why tradition is respected and examined, not passed idly by as out of date and worthless. It defines.
Enjoy the UF thrashing of FSU tomorrow (I hope).
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Always hesitant to use "post-modern" in any setting, I should probably pen "contemporary, but that just sounds stupid. So what is the cry you may ask; and I say it is a cry for belonging and peace.
Some people fall into laziness and despair. Others go the opposite way into the land of achievement driven by insecurities.
"Today we need to hear again that God alone is worthy of our worship and obedience. The idolatry of affluence is rampant. Our greed for more dictates so many of our decisions. Notice how the fourth commandment of the Sabbath rest srikes at the heart of this everlasting itch to get ahead. We find it so very hard to rest when, by working, we can gt the jump on everyone else. There is no greater need today than the freedom to lay down the heavy burden of getting ahead (p. 21)."
The beauty of simplicity is that by letting go little by little and being filled with the spirit, one begins to cease their frenetic pace, let go of the hold others' opinions have on them and are set free (sometimes painfully slowly) from the lust for power and wealth that mainly corrupts and destroys. Foster writes beautifully how simplicity grabs a person:
"It slips in unawares. A new sense of wonder, concentration, even profundity steals our personality. We change our lifestyle, even taking up the ministry of poverty when it is clearly right and good, out of inner promptings, knowing that when the call is made the power is given. The tailor-made fit is perfect. Simplicity is a grace (pp. 8,9)."
Simplicity brings out a desire for Justice, love and respect for all people. In a phrase, it begins to transform a person from what they have become back to the person they were created to be. But it is most certainly not easy. Blessings.
[All quotes are from Foster's Freedom of Simplicity]
Thanks be to God, the author and perfecter of our faith.
If you examine the picture, you will determine that this is in fact a sunrise, and a sunrise at Sebastian inlet is an amazing time of communing with God. In addition, Sebastian has great surfing waves.
Florida takes a lot of crap about being Heaven's Waiting Room and "not part of the true south", blah blah blah...The issue is of course that many people will give you this, "The pilgrims founded the new world and thanked God after over half of their number died in the first year..." This is all well and good, but some Spaniards made it to the coast of Florida long before the Pilgrims got here, and they could at least steer a boat correctly. I just wonder why we don't give Ponce a little more credit. Dude had it right all along.
He got to Florida and said, no mas chaqueta! God has obviously smiled on this place. I can go run 6 miles at night in November (62 degrees, but he probably was thinking celsius). Anyhow, good to be home, My nephew is sweet, and Florida is still a good place.
Oh and if I've offended your Upper East Coast or Midwest sensibilities with this: Get over it and think about where you'd like to vacation in January; that's right, some place warm. Oh and don't take yourself so seriously, it's just weather and you have no control over it.
Also, next time we'll be running over some points from Richard Foster's Freedom of Simplicity. Oh and I need some more thoughts on the Fear/salvation thing. Engage your mind!
And don't forget to thank God for what you have (and of course the awesomeness of the State of Florida). Happy Thanksgiving
Sunday, November 20, 2005
I've heard people speak honestly about what brought them to God, and sometimes they admit (as would I) that a fear of hell played a small/large part in their salvation. This is an interesting quandry. I can say that I've avoided doing things that seem tempting to me because I fear the negative consequences.
I know and agree that we are to have a fear of God, and that this is more than a healthy respect. However, knowing the Creator as I now do leads me to question the motivations of fear. Are we not called not to have a spirit of fear but of power of love and of a sound mind? I know that's a bit of proof-texting (sorry), but the point is still valid. If we love Him because He first loved us...interesting.
This could of course very quickly become a semantic discussion, so let's try to avoid that. But what brings someone to Christ? What brought Jesus to be a sacrifice. He overcame fear with love, but he is by far the scariest person to read in all the Bible. He just lays it out on the table and essentially says "Deal with it." He says to Pharisees, "How can you escape being sentenced to Hell?" (matt. 23:33) Christ certainly wasn't afraid to talk about it.
I guess it becomes a two-part question here: First, is it wrong for fear to drive the decision? If not, one part question, if yes, then is some form of pragmatism/utilitarianism okay? Does the end justify the means?
Love your thoughts...
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
A quick disclaimer: this will be one of the few posts where I write largely about myself. If you don't like it, read someone else's blog.
Why is it a season for celebration you ask? I mean honestly, the leaves are falling off the trees and the sky is grey. Celebrate What? I'll tell you what my little poop stain: the completion of my masters report. That's right. You better believe it. Just today, I got the ok from my advisor to bind it up and give it to the members of my examination committee. Thus, December 1st will mark the day where I only must complete a final examination in my dynamics of structures class to be finished.
You know, I obviously couldn't see it, but if someone had seen me high-stepping and running down the third floor hall of the engineering building, they likely would have laughed...a lot.
Now to the true cause for celebration: had it not been for a great deal of providence, I would not have been able to complete this task. The project I had been working on was not close enough to completion, and I got to adapt a project I had completed at work this summer and fall. Praise Him!
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
The picture seemingly portrays two things: beauty and peace. It is my contention that the nostalgia portrayed in images like this is the result of a soul created in the image of God. An almost deja vu knowledge of something I haven't seen before awakens a piece of me to life that I feel destined for.
Although I fully agree that the Kingdom is here for those who see it, we must also recognize that this place is not our final home. Or even if this place is, that we currently have separation from our Creator, and this causes us pain and a sense of longing. This is what we groan against in times when everything is fine and anxiety persists in the face of peace.
These are constant reminders to find my life and my being in Christ. Relationships, possessions, drama, hobbies, etc. can not fill the void left by broken relationship in our current state. May we seek ever to remember this and not waste our time and energy trying to run after things which will not satisfy, but will only leave us thirsting for more.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Garbage. The fact is that most people (especially here in the West) are so well off it's disgusting. The only things that truly makes a rich American different than a poor African are the circumstances into which they're born.
The reason why thanks is necessary is to remind oneself of the gifts bestowed. It changes the perspective and rearranges the mind's order concerning what is ultimately more important.
So what are you thankful for? Write it down, tell a friend, write it here. Regardless, be mindful of the blessings you have and give thanks even in difficult circumstances.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
I realize my comments regarding Wilma might be a little coarse, and I would like to apologize if I've offended anyone. I'm just trying not to take myself too seriously. So you shouldn't either.
I was talking with a couple of friends this evening. One question that arose in the conversation revolved around our grip on the transcendence of God in daily life. Why can't we hold on to the truth and live in freedom and peace. Your comments are welcome.
Somebody needs to find a cure for Seasonal Affective Disorder too. This grey sky and cold is rough.
Friday, October 21, 2005
I think any storm named Wilma has got to be carrying some kind of stormally transmitted disease. Like Cloudhorrea or Windylis. This hurricane is a serious ho, and her nasty hasso is not welcome here in FL.
She ruined skydiving today (only 3 jumps) and tomorrow. What a whore!
On top of that minor infraction, we now stack the much grander offense: ruining lives of people in Mexico right now. Again, Streetwalker! That's right Wilma, you filthy female dog. I'm talking to you. Wear it.
Coming Soon: The power of Love...
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Why do we run away and escape to TV, alcohol, unbalanced relationships, etc? Why do we chase after the "almighty" dollar, riches, and possessions of all kinds? It seems that people want peace. A peace that is not satisfied by the trivialities mentioned above. Many people have given up hope and moved into despair. We often don't believe that the world can be changed through us by something more powerful than ourselves. But why? Because we've been disappointed, and people have let us down when we have had great hopes.
Hope and perpetual surrender to Christ are directly related to the peace that we have. An unshakable faith is built by stepping into scary places and waiting on God to come through. When He does, our faith grows. We just don't get to see past the step of faith. We know only that we must be on our knees ready to obey. Our view of the final outcome is affected by our belief/knowledge of the goodness of God. What does he say about hope, peace and obedience?
He says that Christ came that we might have Life, and that we might have it to the full [emphasis mine]. That obedience is more desirable than sacrifice, and that available is a peace that passes all understanding. May we love each other in such a way that others sit up and take notice and have desire for that kind of life. May God renew your hope and desire for things yet to come, and for the Divine in the daily. May you find the time to slow down, turn off the TV, the music and the computer, and let Christ speak to your heart and say "Peace, be still."
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Started reading a good book by Thomas Cahill entitled How the Irish Saved Civilization. I'm only in the first chapter, but what's interesting is how he attempts to write a whole book about the inbetween from war to war or era to era. He recognizes that there exist large chasms of space about which seemingly noone writes or records for the history. My question is, what would be said about you were someone to look back and say "But how did they actually live inbetween these monumental events?"
I'm about to go run 6 miles in some 90 degree Florida heat. Oh I love it! There are as many reasons to run as there are days in a year.
Good on ya Mates!
Thursday, October 13, 2005
First off, studying is so stinking boring. Hence the amount of posts today as I weary of stiffness, earthquakes and structural dynamics.
Now is the time to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. Brave the rain and the cold to see beauty like this... These are some pictures from a trip to Red River Gorge last october. Need to get out and do it again.
I better enjoy this feeling good about colder weather thing. It's going to be beach and sunshine pictures the whole winter.
If you get pulled over by the Lexington Police, they give you a ticket to a UK football game. If you get pulled over a second time, they make you go...
You know what's great? A strong cup of coffee early in the AM before all the young bucks get up to go to class on a test day. Nice fall day.
That's right: I'm on campus today at the great instution of the Bluegrass. I'm thinking about mixing it up with some indian food at the Kashmir today.
The photo seen here is of Hurricane Katrina moving in off the coast (taken from Mississippi I believe).
I'm not sure why these pictures are so captivating...Maybe it's the impending doom and power imposed on a quiet countryside. I wish I could understand better how to interact with tragedy in the world, and the correct mindset towards it. It seems that we should have the same mind in us as Christ had; but what exactly is that for a hurricane in the South?
I need to be more like "Rain falling on a mown field" in response to the world's pain than I currently am. May we not forget how our "riches" look in the view of a loving, almighty creator.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
I would even push this idea of renewing one's mind with truth as a help with depression and loneliness. My thoughts were supported by my Ph.D. in Psychology candidate, Ben, who informed me of a technique called "Mindfulness." In this technique, a person is supposed to be aware of how certain behaviors, thought patterns, etc. effect one's mental and physical health.
Many mire themselves in guilt and depression, thinking they are helpless to combat their feelings. There is freedom and truth when one allows their mind to be renewed by the Creator. One clarifier: I don't mean to say that all feelings are untrue, and that they should be seen as fully disingenuous. They have meaning, and they should be examined seriously. However, it is important to examine them with as much objectivity as possible. Otherwise, the check on the feelings is fueled by selfish desire.
More later...But right now, I gotta study!
Monday, October 10, 2005
Some people are artists. Some people are musicians. Some people are great writers. I am none of these things. Dang, how I wish I could do it, but I love doing other stuff that is hopefully just as inspired and can still glorify the one for whom I was made.
Anyhow, here are a few pictures of the fellas horsing around playing a great song called "Alcohol" last night.
Friday, October 07, 2005
Have you ever thought about the Lord's prayer and the depth it has? It's strange, people get used to hearing it and saying it and never think about the awe that should be struck by "...your Kingdom come..." If we think about the Kingdom Christ talks about in the Gospel narratives, we ponder something slightly nebulous.
I was just reading it the other day and it hit me how broad the range of "the kingdom" is.
Especially fun for me today was the girl I work with in my cubicle inquisitively saying, "You go to church?" Ha. I love it! I'm abnormal. you need to take a look at my super sweet nephew Isaac. I'm stoked about seeing my family (especially this little dude) next weekend.
Saturday, April 23, 2005
A few great thoughts from the early chapters:
* The problem is not culture, other people and their morals...The problem is me. I'm self-serving and care more about being entertained than I do about justice. (This was what Miller wrote, but it is certainly also true of myself and most people I know).
* Some of the largest indictments of the church in America are the lack of love for the oppressed and questioning, and its shame about God. I'm going to withhold my opinion here for a while, but man the church needs to start loving people and caring about justice like God does.
More to come later on marriage, celibacy, and memorization of scripture.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
So I also need to apologize in advance and ask your forgiveness for some of my crassness, in addition to my pride. I struggle with it (like everyone), but I have a particularly difficult time with it. Anyhow, I'll get back to some issues later that might be good for discussion.