Wednesday, December 05, 2007


No, I did not just burp or pass gas! Yesterday, while riding the commuter bus home from work, I suddenly realized that I felt quite a bit lighter in my spirit. Funny I hadn't fully realized I was carrying some weight until I noticed it was gone. Thanks Papa! What was that all about anyway?

I knew, of course, that I had been deeply disturbed by the images of Hell, as portrayed by a recent 'Judgement House' event. But I guess I didn't realize that it had become a constant weight on my soul. Wrestling through all that has helped me to realize just how deeply we are effected by Greek philosophy here in the west. As westerners when we hear the words Holy, Just, Righteous we automatically think in legal terms. That paradigm is greco-roman in origin and carries with it the though that God is more of a singular entity, than Trinity. It's an important distinction to make; if God is a singular entity then a legal/moral being would make the most sense. But the Father, Son, and Spirit is Trinity -- a community. That means that the Father, Son, and Spirit are relational at their core, just as we are. Now look at the terms Holy, Just, and Righteous in relational terms instead of legal terms. They take on whole new meanings. Holy - whole, beautiful, perfect community. Just - setting things right, a promise to restore all things. Righteous - relationally right.

Just some thoughts that have helped me to see our true Father a bit better.

This is a bit random, but I just had to post this quote from C. Baxter Kruger talking about the idea the God punishes Jesus for our sin:
There is no forgiveness in that model. God doesn't forgive you, Jesus suffers your punishment. That's not forgiveness is it? It's justice; there's not any forgiveness there. Now, I know that rocks your world -- I hope it does.

Just another reason why I believe the Cross was a cure for our sin, rather than satisfying God's supposed 'need' to punish.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A public thank you to Paul, Wayne, Brad, and Papa

I want to thank these guys, and Papa for 'The Shack', I have read it 3 times to date and it continues to impact me deeply.
Paul, Wayne and Brad have all been voices of Hope in a sea of voices that seem to want to kill the smouldering ember of faith that I have. Just today, I was at lunch thinking about the story of 'Baby Grace'; my emotional blender couldn't quite decide on the anger setting, or the tears setting. She was found not 20 minutes from my home, and lived 45 minutes away when she was alive. I have a 2 year old myself (youngest of 4) so it was particularly difficult for me to understand how someone could do this. I thought "God, If you would have told me, I would have gone a picked her up before all this happened. I would have taken care of her, or Travis and Sundy could have taken care of her." (Travis and Sundy are friends who have tried for years to have a child and are now close to an adoption in January) And the amazing thing is that Papa answered back, which doesn't happen often for me (or should I say I don't hear it that often). He said, "Do you think I will be a good Father to her? Because I saw her, and now she is home with me." I totally lost it; not a pretty thing when you are eating Chick-Fil-A in the middle of a mall food court -- not a pretty sight when you are trying to type it in an email in the middle of a cube farm at work and it makes you all blubbery again either. I don't think I would have heard God say that to me if these guys hadn't given me a touch point that has enabled me to know God as a Papa who is especially fond of his children.

Thank you, and may the outbound ripples continue.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Season of busy-ness

Oy vey! (That's yiddish if you've ever wondered) I have been busy lately. It makes me wish for a simpler time, when you could enjoy the relationships of family and friends.

But for now, we have a few more weeks of being busy ahead of us. My wife is a photographer, and we are heading into the Christmas season. So that means a full schedule for her, and a few evening and weekend appointments, even though she is usually reluctant to do so. To add to the madness, our oldest works at a college books store, but doesn't have his license yet so we shuttle him to and from work two to three days a week. Then my daughter is taking some art classes in the eveing and my 6 year old son is now in Cub Scouts. He is a Tiger Cub, which requires a parent to be present, and since I'm the resident boy scout expert, that falls to me. I really do enjoy it, but I've been finding myself far busier that I had hoped. Oh well, things should ease up come January. Oh wait! My wife and oldest son will be off to Thailand in January leaving me to take care of the other 3 kids. Maybe mid-January.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Did God get a makeover after Malachi?

Wayne and Brad over at The God Journey discuss the challenge of reconciling God's actions in the Old Testament, where God appears to be harsh and vengeful, with his actions in the New Testament, specifically with the gentleness of Jesus. Some people wonder what happened. Is this 2 different Gods? Or is Jesus the nice guy, and God the father is the mean guy (with a personality more in line with the godfather). Or is there something else going on that we need to consider. It is a very interesting discussion and can be heard here.

In the podcast Brad spends quite a bit of time on the unorthodox view that Nephilim were the reason for the flood, and the mass genocide that God commanded when Israel entered the promised land. I enjoy listening to Brad, and I certainly don't think that this unorthodox view is Heretical in any way, but I wish they would have spent more time on other possible explanations. I don't think it really is necessary to dig that deep to find an adequate explanation. I do think that you do really need to look at each of these events in the context of the larger story of the Bible. The overarching story of the Bible is one of God pursuing and rescuing humanity and if you keep that in mind, you can concluded that there were good reasons for these actions, even if we don't fully understand them. There are two things that I notice in particular. First the most extreme actions appear very early on in human history -- perhaps during critical junctures in history, where the plan to rescue humanity could have been derailed if such extreme measures were not taken. And the second observation is these actions in reality were rare, and not as common place as one might think. Sometimes we miss that point because there are no dates affixed to each of these events in the Bible.

So is Brad right? I don't know, but I do not think that God is up in heaven playing 'whack a sinner', constantly whacking those who step out of line. I think that he is reluctant to take such actions, and only does so when there is no other way.

Monday, October 08, 2007

soft gnostics and semi pelagians

I was blog surfing yesterday and came across a post where someone said the 90% of Americans were soft gnostics and semi-pelagians. I'm sure this was the bloggers personal opinion, but it got me wondering. What was he seeing that caused him to make the statement. First I think that in context he was really talking about 90% of American Christians.

So, if there was a 'Gnosticism for Dummies' it would say something along the lines of, "Material things are bad, spiritual things are good". There is a lot more to gnosticism, of course, but I think this will due for now. Maybe the blogger I read was looking at Evangelicalisms focus on 'saving souls'. Certainly in evangelicalism there appears to be a lack of concern for things like social justice, or the environment (it's all going to burn after all). Could this be considered soft gnosticism?

As for semi-pelagianism the definition can be found here. I also have a friend who took one of those 'what is your theological worldview' quizes and he registered as semi-pelagian. At the end of the quiz's results it said 'If you left God out of your beliefs, nothing would change'. Kind of harsh, but many of his posts do border on something like - 'if we don't get busy, nobody will get saved'.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


I took a couple of days off last weekend, and went camping with a friend of mine as part of celebrating my 39th birthday. There were supposed to be four of us guys going but two of them backed out at the last moment. I was determined to go, even if I had to go alone, because it had been 4 years since I had gone camping. As soon as we got there, I thought to my self, "why don't I do this more often"? The campsite was absolutely picturesque; nestled among the trees and located on the shorline of a small lake. I really enjoy sitting among the trees, looking at nothing in particular, and just decompressing. It was a wonderful time of chatting around a campfire, reading, hiking, swimming, and enjoying the beauty of the outdoors.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Message of the arrows

Over the past 2 years, I've had probably a half-dozen instances where I woke up in the middle of the night with this fear that God didn't exist, or if he did, he certainly could care less about me. The very first time it happened was during a particularly difficult time and it was a borderline panic attack as a jumble of thoughts bounced around my head. "Maybe God doesn't exist", "You are all alone, no one can help you.", "When you die all this will be meaningless, you wont even know that you ever existed, dieing now or in 30 years won't make any difference".

None of the episodes that followed were nearly as severe as that one and I believe a major reason for that is due to God revealing to me that my life lived in him is not to be lived out Religiously, but Relationally -- even the phrase 'relationship with Christ' that I often used (religiously) has taken on a new meaning. Still I have had a couple of recurrences. Even though they are pretty minor these days, I've started wondering what that is all about. I've prayed about it, and I've asked a couple of trusted friends what they thought, and all of them have helped me to think about what is going on. Even though the details of what my friends have suggested have been different, a general consensus is that God is working out something deep within me and I'm beginning to think that the issue is something that happened in my childhood. Something unresolved that has been buried in my subconscious for quite some time and has kept me from trusting Father.

I hesitate to give details of my childhood because someone might get the idea that my life as a child was all hell all the time, but it wasn't. I do have some wonderful memories of my childhood and of my family. But there was abuse in our home, and there is no way to sugar coat that reality. There is what you could call a defining moment in my memory that I still remember vividly to this day. I'll spare you the details, but after I had received a particularly severe punishment, I was crying out to God. I begged him to take me out of the family that I was in because I couldn't take it anymore. I was desperate, and in pain, and probably in need of medical care. I even gave God an ultimatum, "Please take me out of this family, or I won't believe in you any more." My prayer was met with silence, God didn't take me away to live with another family and, at 11 years old, I learned that I was on my own that day.

I think that if I'm brutally honest with myself, to this day, I don't ask God to do anything difficult out of fear of disappointment. Somewhere deep down, I don't think he would do (fill in the blank) for me. Who am I after all, just one of 6 billion on this planet.

I know that there aren't too many that read this blog, but if you've ever had to deal with anything like this, please drop me a line. Let me know how God worked it out with you. As for me and God, we are going to have a weekend alone soon and, just maybe, like Mack and his encounter at The Shack, I'll come away changed.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Maybe I shouldn't be bothering to post this at all, but it was what was on my mind tonight because I was shown this video earlier this evening and I was honestly confused and conflicted about what they were trying to say with this skit. When it first started, it didn't make any sense to me at all. I didn't know what all the hand waving and puppetry was all about. Then I hated it when it portrayed Jesus as a bystander who was being pushed around by someone (Satan maybe?). But then there is the moment later in the skit where it looks like Jesus takes the girl's place, that was very touching to me. I don't know if the idea of substitution was what they actually intended, but that's how I took it.

Here's a comment off of youtube from an atheist's perspective:

I didn't think this was god related till I started to read comments... probably because I am an atheist and god is not a first thing on my mind... nevertheless, I really enjoyed the video. The performance was strong, acting beautiful and music made it very emotional... Speaking of music, does anybody know who sings this...?

I'm sure that there will be a wide range of opinions on this thing, but I really am interested in hearing what you have to say about it.

Update: If you too were wondering who sang the song, the band's name is LifeHouse.

Monday, September 10, 2007

I'm sick of your Religion, Religion, Religion!

"Why this frenzy of sacrifices?"
God's asking.
"Don't you think I've had my fill of burnt sacrifices,
rams and plump grain-fed calves?
Don't you think I've had my fill
of blood from bulls, lambs, and goats?
When you come before me,
whoever gave you the idea of acting like this,
Running here and there, doing this and that—
all this sheer commotion in the place provided for worship?

"Quit your worship charades.
I can't stand your trivial religious games:
Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings—
meetings, meetings, meetings—I can't stand one more!
Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them!
You've worn me out!
I'm sick of your religion, religion, religion,
while you go right on sinning.
When you put on your next prayer-performance,
I'll be looking the other way.
No matter how long or loud or often you pray,
I'll not be listening.
And do you know why? Because you've been tearing
people to pieces, and your hands are bloody.
Go home and wash up.
Clean up your act.
Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings
so I don't have to look at them any longer.
Say no to wrong.
Learn to do good.
Work for justice.
Help the down-and-out.
Stand up for the homeless.
Go to bat for the defenseless.
Isaiah 1:11-17 (The Message)

I was talking to a friend yesterday who was telling me about a Sunday School debate that he was involved in where some in the class were arguing that God doesn't listen to us when we have unconfessed sin. Isaiah 1:15 was one of the proof text's that they were using to support this position.

Besides the fact that I personally think that it is hazardous to uncritically read the Old Testament without a good understand of the change that brought about by the Cross of Christ, I find it rather humorous that someone would use this particular passage to support such a claim. In context, what is God saying here? It looks to me like the people were in fact doing the confessing thing, and God was saying he's not going to listen to their confessions any more because it was just an insincere ritual. In reality this passage speaks against turning confession into a formula for getting your prayers answered. God doesn't play that game. "Come let us reason..." are the next words in this passage. God wants us to sit down and have a talk, because he knows that if we get to know him, it will begin to change us. Religious activities can't do that.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I need a laptop or something....

Every day that I go to work, I climb aboard a commuter bus that takes me from my suburban community to downtown Houston. I love this because it gives me about 40 minutes each way to read, think, listen to music, or a pod-cast. The only negative to this arrangement is that most of my musings are done on the bus, so I don't get to share those musings with any readers of my blog as often as I had hoped.

I mentioned to my wife that I should get a laptop so that I could write my thoughts down, to which she said, 'buy a notepad'. What? Me write? My hand cramps up just writing a check (which is rare these days). Oh, well, maybe I'll have to give her suggestion a try and see how it goes. But a laptop would be pretty cool...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Adventures in learning to drive

My oldest son now has his learners permit, and as dad I'm the one who gets to sit in the passenger seat and attempt to give him pointers as he learns to drive. He has actually been doing very well, but yesterday we had our first close call. We were driving down the road in the right-most lane and a little ways up ahead there was a car stopped in our lane. As we got closer, my son still hadn't started to brake or let even let off the gas. I began to yell 'Stop! Stop! Stop!' at the top of my voice out of sheer terror as the bumper of that car quickly began to close in. As he finally began a much harder than normal brake, all the thoughts of things that could still go wrong filled my head and continued to cause a great amount of fear; 'What if there is a patch of gravel in the road and we end up sliding into that car, or what if the vehicle behind us can't stop in time because we haven't given them much warning.' I have experienced both of these before, so my experience tells me that you can never brake too early, only too late. My son probably saw things differently than I did for 2 reasons. First, being a new driver he probably has the idea that the car will always do exactly what you want it to, so you can 'stop on a dime' if you want. Second he was the one behind the wheel, and being behind the wheel give you more options than the passenger has. As the passenger, I was in sheer terror and I wanted to be anywhere but in that car in those few moments.

At the risk of over spiritualizing this incident, it got me thinking about how we often take people where they don't want to go. We sometimes take them on a ride of sheer terror, and they will do anything you ask if you would just them go. Paul encourages us to give grace to the hearer, but do we? How often have you heard this coming from someone who loves to tell people about hell -- "Jesus preached on hell twice as much as he did about heaven". I've heard countless people tell me that, but now with the age of computers we can now easily dispel that myth. I went to biblegateway and did a search of only the gospels and found the following statistics.

  • Hell appears in the Gospels 11 times, you can get up to 18 times if you include verses about 'outer darkness', and 'fiery furnace'.
  • 'Kingdom of Heaven', 'Kingdom of God', or Kingdom (in reference to the previous) appears in the Gospels 110 times.
  • Heaven appears 135 times.

Apparently Jesus actually talked about God's Kingdom 10 times more often than he talked about hell. Jesus never dismissed the reality of hell, but it obviously wasn't his main method of inviting people into the Kingdom. Now you know the truth of the matter the next time someone tries to tell you that, you can tell them you know better. May we give grace to a world that is already familiar with fear and terror.

Friday, August 03, 2007

A fun quote

"There are some who have no understanding to hear the truth of freedom and insist upon their goodness as means for salvation. These people you must resist, do the very opposite, and offend them boldly lest by their impious views they drag many with them into error. For the sake of liberty of the faith do other things which they regarded as the greatest of sins… use your freedom constantly and consistently in the sight of and despite the tyrants and stubborn so that they may learn that they are impious, that their law and works are of no avail for righteousness, and that they had no right to set them up."

--Martin Luther

Monday, July 16, 2007


This is a quote worth pondering, from Darin Hufford in his book "God's Honest Truth":
Christianity has become the Harley Davidson of
religions. It’s a classic, and it’s the most authentic, however, it
breaks down every hundred miles and needs to be revived. When
we stand on our stages in front of the world and pray for revival,
or proclaim that revival is upon us, we are, in the same sentence,
admitting to the world that our religion keeps dying on us. We
have history books that meticulously analyze every historical
revival that the Church has ever had in an effort to predict when
and where the next one might take place. All the while, we never
stop to think that if our religion keeps dying, something must be
drastically wrong!
The word, “Revival” is not even in the Bible. It was never the
intention of God to have a religion that routinely suffered from
heart failure. Sadly, we have come to expect it. We have become
addicted to the electrical shock that God has to routinely use in
order to bring our religion back to life every hundred years. We
preach to the world that if they come to Jesus Christ they will
have life ever lasting and then we completely discredit everything
we just said by laying down and
dying right in front of them. We
invite our friends to the revival that
our Church is holding and we
wonder why they don’t show up.
Who in the world would want to subscribe to a religion that
cannot maintain its own life? Have you ever heard of any other
religions that routinely need revival? Why is Christianity the only
one? What is it about our religion that causes it to die over and
over? Revival is not the answer!
The answer is actually quite simple. So simple, that to some
people it might even be a disappointment.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Is God interested in Projects or People?

This week I have been a witness to some ... um, shall we say unloving actions that erupted around disagreements over 'ministry' events. I was sad to see the anger, hurt feelings, and friendships nearly come to an end over these disagreements; I was left wondering why we do this? All this got me thinking about how often this happens, and how we can get so focused on a task that we forget that all we 'do' is really about people.

In Matt 20:1-16, Jesus tell us a parable about a landowner who hires men to work in his vineyard. Some he hires in the morning, some at noon, and some near the end of the day. At the end of the day, he pays them all the same amount and the workers who were hired at the beginning of the day are upset by this. There are many lessons that can be drawn from this story, but one lesson that seems especially clear in this story is that the landowner (God) is more interested in the worker than he is the work. God isn't in need of people to work for him, he has no needs at all. In this story Jesus is trying to get us off of the works orienting mindset, and to start looking at the people around us in relational terms. What he desires is a relationship with people, and he expects us to have the same attitude.

I heard a Guy say that if this was a parable about a cook-out, then we would see things quite differently. We would say to the people who showed up at the end, "I'm so sorry you missed all the fun and fellowship, here have a hamburger and hot dog!" We would eagerly share all that we could with the latecomer, glad that they came at all. Wouldn't that be a wonderful way to live as brothers and sisters in Christ?

I dream of the day when these words of Jesus are fulfilled in us: 'by this all men will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another' (John 13:35)

Friday, June 22, 2007

The most repeated command in the Bible

You might be surprised to learn this, but the most repeated command in the Bible is -- "Fear Not".

While you are thinking about that one, check out this blog entry from the author of the shack.

The Need for Control

Thursday, June 07, 2007

More on 'Knowing'

I happened to be reading a Q&A session where N. T. Wright (a leading New Testament Scholar) was answering some questions from the Wrightsaid email list. In context the questions generally centered around whether Jesus 'knew' he was God. In the answer that he gave he made some interesting statements about Love being the highest form of knowing and I thought it would be worth posting his answer here.

Are you equating 'justified, true belief' with 'propositional knowledge'? If so, I think I want to shift the terms of the debate quite radically. I want to ask, do you hold some kind of hierarchy of knowledge, whereby some kinds of things are the 'real' or 'deep-level' knowledge and others less so? As you may know, I have come to the view, following Lonergan, that love is the highest mode of knowing; and love, notoriously, is difficult to tie down in propositions. That doesn't mean it isn't knowledge, or that it isn't true, or that it isn't justified, or that it isn't real. I think vocational knowledge -- knowing, in prayer, what God is saying about who you are called to be and become and do -- is quite close to love. I think knowing that two plus two equals four, while fully justified and true and real, is ultimately less significant than knowing I love and am loved, and knowing that God really is calling me to do and be certain things. And my frustration with the debate that swirls around this whole topic of 'Jesus' self-knowledge' is that people often seem to talk as though 'did Jesus know he was God' is more like 'knowing two plus two equals four' whereas I think it's much more like love or vocation.

In other words, I guess I have been driven, by my years of immersing myself in the gospels and in their Jewish context, to rethink all sorts of things about knowledge itself. I'm not claiming that the way I currently put it is correct. I just know (in several senses!) that it makes very good historical sense, theological sense (within a very high Christology and full Trinitarianism), and that it does NOT mean in any way a 'weakening' of Jesus' self-knowledge but rather a strengthening of it. I'm grateful for the question but I would urge those who are puzzled by all this, not to give up or back off but stick with the question and consider whether their ideas of knowledge might need to be pulled about a bit. Or, if they don't want to do that, whether they are prepared to argue against the ideas of knowledge I'm finding myself driven to.

Unless we have that debate, what's happening is that some people are putting my rather careful statements onto the Procrustean bed of their own late-western epistemologies -- like trying to play a Beethoven quartet on a guitar...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up

We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God.
1 Cor. 8:1-3

Have you ever left a church service, having listened to a teacher or preacher, deeply troubled; wondering if God really loved you? That happened to me nearly a year ago; I left church that day very depressed by the picture of God that was painted for me. A picture of a God that was not much interested in relationship but 'required obedience' in order to be satisfied. It took me a couple of days to recover from that and I haven't been back since. Since that time, I have pondered on several occasions as to why it bothered me so much? And I think God has been working that answer into my life ever since that day.

Back then, when I would say that 'I know God loves me/us', this was really a statement about a collection of facts and applied reason. The problem with relying on our knowledge and reason is that we sometimes have to re-evaluate our conclusions whenever we receive new information. That is essentially what I was going through that day since I was lead down the wrong 'track' ironically by a very common teaching about a 'train' that was supposed to help people understand what to place their trust in. This 'train' was a picture that showed 'fact' as the engine, 'faith' as a middle car on the train, and 'feeling' as the caboose. This picture was supposed to teach you that faith comes from knowing certain facts that you learn from the bible (mental ascent to proper theology). This image fit very well with the teaching in my particular denomination, a denomination that is known for 'in-depth Bible study' programs. However this ideology is really a result of the enlightenment idea that 'knowledge is power'.

There is another way of knowing based on relationship and personal experience rather than a collection of facts and applied reason. To say that I know that my wife loves me is something quite different than how I 'knew God loved me'. I have 14 years of relationship with her that has been tested by time and trials. I draw from that far more than I would draw from the occasional 'I Love You' notes that I get (even thought I do enjoy receiving them). Notes minus the experience wouldn't be very convincing at all, however the notes do add to the reality of relationship that is already there.

That fateful day exposed to me the reality that I was relying on facts and reason rather than on experience. The flimsy baloon of my knowledge was easily deflated by a single lesson that left me confused. I thought I knew something, but as paul said I didn't really know as I ought to know. We are finite beings; our understanding of facts and our reasoning ability are far too weak to rely on alone. Since then God has been showing me that the Bible was intended to point me to Him and have a real relationship here and now with Him. And I am recognizing the care he has had for me all along.

Here is a quote from The Shack that relates to this very subject:

'In seminary [Mack] had been taught that God had completely stopped any overt communication with moderns, preferring to have them only listen to and follow sacred Scripture, properly interpreted, of course. God's voice had been reduced to paper, and even that paper had to be moderated and deciphered by the proper authorities and intellects. It seemed that direct communication with God was something exclusively for the ancients and uncivilized, while educated Westerners' access to God was mediated and controlled by the intelligentsia. Nobody wanted God in a box, just God in a book. Especially one bound in leather with gilt edges, or was that guilt edges?'

Thursday, May 31, 2007


Yesterday was a tough day for me. I hadn't felt so down in quite a while; over a year now. When I was hired on at my current company almost two years ago, I knew that the position I was filling was a short-term project position. Now that I'm done with it, I am having to send my resume around to other teams in the company to see if anyone will pick me up. After sending my resume around to nearly a dozen teams, I have only heard from one team who politely informed me that they filled the position with another person.

So, yesterday a sadness hit me and I was a bit confused at first as to why I would be sad. God, had already dealt with my issue of wrongly tyinging my Significance to my job over a year ago, I know that I really don't look to my job for a sense of significance. Yesterday I thought that might be it initially, that I was still doing such a thing, but as I thought about it more it didn't seem to quite fit. I think I now know what is beginning to bother me so much. It feels like rejection; like I'm not wanted. That is something that God still needs to work on in me. Rejection has always been a tough thing for me to handle, I rarely dated in High School because the word 'no' to my request for a date would cause great turmoil within me for weeks. I hate interviews, and do poorly at them for the very same reason.

I used to pray for peace in such situations, but this morning I asked God not for peace, but I asked him to remind me of his Love and Acceptance of me. I believe he is doing that for me, because the pressure under my eyes that usually comes with my bouts of sadness has disappeared. I really am thankful; two years ago I would have never dreamed that I would go so long without feeling those tears just under the surface -- ready to pour forward. A year plus is truly something to be thankful for. Thank you God, for the revolution you have started in my heart.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

God at our table

Isn't there something to hearing the same message from 2 very different places? Maybe God is wanting me to understand something, eh? Last week I listed to a podcast that was discussing the Lord's Supper (Eucharist), and they were talking about how we misunderstand 'partaking in an unworthy manner'. Many people think we need to get all cleaned up to partake, but the guys in the podcast said that the ones that are truly worthy are the ones that come knowing that they don't deserve it. They also talked about how the early church celebrated it, not in a sanctuary where we came to the 'Lord's Table' but in homes there the Lord came to our table.

So yesterday I was minding my own business and then I heard a song by Bethany Dillion called "You are on our side" that took my breath away. Here are the words, but you should really go over to rhapsody to hear it.

(Warning Lyrics might be considered PG-13, so if that bothers you don't read it)

The orphan clings to Your hand
Singing the song of how he was found
The widow rejoices
For her oppressors are silenced now

You sit at the table with the wounded and the poor
You laugh and share stories with the thief and the whore
When You could just be silent and leave us here to die
Still, You sent Your Son for us
You are on our side

The runaway falls at Your feet
You are what he has searched for
The rich man is broken
When he stands beneath a sky full of stars

You sit at the table with the wounded and the poor
You laugh and share stories with the thief and the whore
When You could just be silent and leave us here to die
Still, You sent Your Son for us
You are on our side

You sit at the table with the wounded and the poor
You laugh and share stories with the thief and the whore
When You could just be silent and leave us here to die
Still, You sent Your Son for us
You are on our side

Still, You sent Your Son for us
You are on our side

If you go over to rhapsody, you should check out her song 'The Kingdom' as well. Even though I'm not a big fan of repetitive lyrics, it still strikes a chord with me (The words more than the music). More to come....

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Shack

I've recently finished reading a book called 'The Shack'....Actually I've read it 2 times so far, and will probably read it a third time very soon. It is gut-wrenching, thought provoking, and beautiful. Here is a snippet of something from it that has been bouncing around in my head for a while:

On the Law:
But can you clean your face with the same mirror that shows you how dirty you are? There is no mercy or grace in the rules, not even for one mistake. That's why Jesus fulfilled all of it for you -- so that it no longer has jurisdiction over you. And the Law that once contained impossible commands -- Thou shall not... -- actually becomes a promise we fulfill in you.

This book is rich with statements like this that challenge you to re-turn to the heart of God.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Long Absence from the blog, but God has been teaching me!

I have been away from this too long. My goal was originally to try to post something at least once a week for a couple of reasons. One to throw some thoughts out there that may generate some discussion. And two, to work on my writing skills -- I used to love to write, but I have been out of it for so long that I have a hard time putting thoughts on paper.

I've been thinking about the core motivations of human beings. While thinking about this I found that a great deal of what we do can really be traced back to 2 primary desires in our hearts -- Love and Acceptance. Our desire for love and friendships can obviously be traced to these, but I think the drive for success, fame, or fortune can also be ultimately trace back to these as well. What is success really, isn't it about being known as someone who is competent, valuable, and looked up to in a particular field? Isn't that really about acceptance? What about Fame? Isn't that really about being known and adored by masses of people? Then there is fortune, but is it really about the stuff, or is it about making an impression (Acceptance), or having the time and freedom to be more social?

While I've been thinking about all this, the verses about the Treasure in the field, and the Perl of great price (Matt 13:44-46) have kept coming to mind, along with Romans 6 (You have died to sin), as well as the numerous verses about Love being the fulfillment of the Law (such as Gal 5:14). Our self-preferring (sin) nature is constantly seeking to find Love and Acceptance on it's own terms. But what if we really understood that God Loves us and Accepts us as we are. No need to 'prove' ourselves, or to perform better to be Loved. What if we had all the Love and Acceptance we needed in Him? Would that be the pearl of great price, or the treasure hidden in the field? Would we then sell (get rid of) all the old ways of finding love and acceptance? Would we then be dead to all those old ways as well, since they held no life, no comparison to the Love and Acceptance we have in our Father? And if we had truly found such a treasure, would we be able to keep quiet?

One thing that I find sad it how easily as Christians we can get caught up in details and miss the big picture entirely. We get so caught up in proper behavior that we miss the whole point. The point isn't a set of principles or rules. The ultimate reality isn't a set of truths or a standard, it a personal being -- God. A God who has come into our broken world to restore us and our relationship with him. We are relational at our core, that is why love and acceptance is so important to us. That is also why Scripture says Love is the fulfillment of the Law. Law tells us how to treat God, and people when we don't love them but Love will take us much farther than Law ever could. I think Paul understood this and that is why he said "But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code." (Rom 7:6)

I know that this is really nothing new; something that I have had 'knowledge' of for a while, but I think that God is beginning to work the truth of it into my heart.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Why I don't view the cross as punishment - part 2

I'm slow, I know. I've been occupied the last couple of weeks with holidays, work, and some other interesting discussions online. One interesting thing I've found to be true is that we do tend to read our presuppositions into language that we read or hear. Sometimes we even make jokes about such miscommunication, especially those between Husbands and Wives. But I'm beginning to see that it happens much more often that we recognize. As a recent example, in one online discussion, one person kept using the phrase 'deeds of the flesh', and it became apparent that his mind was translating that phrase to mean evil deeds of the flesh, rather than all deeds of the flesh. I know that's a bit like chasing a rabbit, but I thought it would be worth mention when we look as the Scriptural language of the Cross. We don't want to fall into that trap and read a presupposition into what it really says.

I said that I wanted to look at the Scriptural language of the Cross, so here are the verses that I have discovered that may be relevant to this discussion.

1 Cor 15:3, 1 Pe 3:18 both say that Christ died for our sins, but do not say that he was punished for our sins.

Colossians 1:15-23 Says that God reconciled all things to himself by making peace though his blood.

Romans 8:1-4 Is the closest thing in the New Testament to something sounding like punishment. Is says that God sent Christ in the likeness of sinful man as a sin offering, and so condemned sin in sinful man. But condemning, or putting to death sin or our sin nature is something far different than punishing an innocent for someone else's crime.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21 God reconciled us to him. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Hebrews 9:15 He died as a ransom.

Heb 9:22 all things are cleansed with blood; without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Aphesis - forgiveness, release from bondage, deliverance). Again this is not saying there is a need for punishment, but a need for cleansing and forgiveness.

Revelation 1:5b-6 To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Very interesting, Christ freed us from our sin by his blood.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Why I don't view the Cross as punishment - Part 1

I originally didn't intend part one to be this short. I've been working on a draft, and I keep tweaking, and thinking about what I want to say. But then it hit me...Duh...One of the reasons that I don't view the Cross as punishment is because of Athanasius. He was one of the earliest to write about the Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection of Christ, and not once does he say that Christ was punished by God for our sins. Rather He talks at length about how Christ destroys sin and death on the Cross.

You can read and English translation of his writing on the Incarnation here:

By the way if you don't know who Athanasius is, he is one of the key people who helped to determine the cannon of Scripture that we use today. He is considered the first to identify the 27 books of the New Testament.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

You've gotta read this

My second installment of my previous post is almost ready. In the mean time, you've gotta read this!:

Have your Kleenex ready!