April 29, 2007

I hate church?

I love church. I am a church dork. My own personal bubble is a microscopic(and northern)version of the bible belt. So I ask myself "Why am I going to this conference named, God for people who hate church?" "I don't hate church". Oh yeah, so I can let God be Himself and bust out of the box I have stuffed Him in, consciously or not.

Lord, please show us yourself in power and wisdom this coming weekend. Surprise us in conviction and love! In Jesus name, amen

April 19, 2007

seasons for everything under heaven


It's that weird time again. Winter has past but the radiance of spring in it's full glory has not yet come. Half of this past month seems to have been covered in a thick blanket of grey. These clouds can bring with them a calming effect, it can also influence a more negative vibe like depression or anxiety. I think the prior was God's intention, the latter is the result of our fallen nature. Still God turns it into His greater good. I tend to bottle up my issues inside. This is unintentional and does not become apparent to me until some hardship comes my way and then wham! I'm spilling my guts out. They needed to come out and God knew it. It just took me five days of no sun to get it out of me.
Praise God for I am back to calm again. And I am very excited because if I remember correctly the green buds on the trees will start coming out next week.

I love where I live. God has gifted me and my neighbors with four beautiful seasons. I could not imagine what life is like with less and I don't want to. I love the ups and downs of new england weather which is strange because (most days) I am a very steady person. I can be almost mechanical in my day to day routine. With help in initiation I can be a lot like the energizer bunny. I just keep on going and going and going. My wife on the other hand is quite the opposite. She keeps me on my toes and I love her for that! She is a visionary filled with beautiful, creative and thoughtful thoughts. It's like she is saying "Hey what do you think about this?!" and I say "I don't know, I just want to know what I'm supposed to do for the next hour". God has a sense of humor as well as a heart for romance. I am passionate for Melissa for she gives me passion for life unlike anyone else other than the divine himself.

Opposites attract, compliment, complete and are interdependent to each other. Yet I have found that they need to take turns. This taking of turns can also be known as a changing of seasons. King Solomon said that "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven."(Ecclesiastes 3:1) Even though this wise saying was spoken by Solomon it had to be originated from the Spirit of God. I have found strength, comfort and counsel in it a countless number of times. In my relationship with God, in my marriage and with everything else under heaven.

I haven't fully come to a clear understanding of a burden that has been on my heart for almost as long as I have been pursuing Jesus. My burden is the lack of unity within Jesus' family of followers and the lack of simple faith, service, spirituality etc. It is more of an "abstract head knowledge" right now, if that makes sense. I never liked labels or being labeled. I've never liked the fact that there are denominations but I have appreciated immensely the traditions and the wealth of spiritual goodness within each denomination. I also don't like buzz words. There's buzz words out there like emergent, missional, relevant etc. These are also labels so the annoyance is two-fold. These labels ironically define people like myself with burdens like I just mentioned so I naturally fall into the emergent name... I guess. I still don't think I could see myself calling myself "emergent".

Anyways, my point is that each tradition or group of the church has good points as well as bad points. The bad points must be picked out and thrown away, not because of one's preference or taste but because of prayerful discernment within a community of very different people. This requires that we need to actually get together and really engage in loving community. One tradition/group usually has one or two points(I'll call it virtues instead)that seems to contradict with another tradition's/group's virtues. Let me explain.

For example, Relational Family Oriented Church vs. Word of Faith Church. The relational model encourages honesty, transparency and embraces a messy kind of spirituality. The word of faith model encourages resolve and perseverance and embraces the power of thinking positively, speaking positively thus through God's assistance bringing the positive into reality. The word of faith christian looks at the relational christian and says "It's time to move on! Stop moping around feeling sorry for yourself and believe in God's promises". While the relational christian looks at the word of faith christian and says "Hey listen. It's obvious you're hurting. Be honest with yourself and grieve. Admitting denial is the first step to healing". A spiritual father of mine once said(actually I think he said it dozens of times)"God answers prayer in His time and in His order".
There is a time to grieve and there is a time to move on and stand on God's promises. They must take turns. At first glance they look like they conflict but in light of Solomon's words they complete each other.

Maybe more on this later.

April

Something weird happened today. I squinted. There was an unidentified object up in the sky. It's brightness frightened me but I than felt a warmness. It was great.

April 16, 2007

The God of what's not in the bible


As a good biblical conservative evangelical christian, I consider everything in the bible to be the infallible word of God. I set my standards of spirituality, morality, sexuality and every "ality" that I know of upon the bible. When some idea or philosophy comes around that is not found in the bible it is the evangelical's tendency to frown. >:( So I do.... sometimes. Just kidding. :) Smiling is better. All us christians need to lighten up every now and then.

The bible has a lot in it. Perhaps it's depths are limitless. Still it's missing a lot. For a silly example, cats rule! but they're not found anywhere in the bible. Does the good evangelical choose to not believe in them? I hope not. Same goes with judgement of right and wrong as well as science and fact. As christians we must seek truth in the extra biblical. One easy guideline in this is that extra biblical truth will never conflict with biblical truth.

There are times in our life that can be really complicated and confusing and the bible does not give us detailed instructions on how to deal. The bible is easy enough to understand that the simplest person can comprehend it. God meant it that way but it should not stop there. When trials come our way we can read over bible verses that really spoke to our hearts back in them good ole days and get nothing from them. But if we persevere with patience and prayerfully read the bible, slowly, even repeatedly we can find the Spirit of God behind the words. Than from those words God can breathe new life into us and our situation, wherever that may be.

Lord, I need to read the bible more. Help me. Amen.

April 15, 2007

Israel



There have been some major father figures in my life, spiritually and literally speaking, who are close to if not totally considered christian zionists. What I mean by a christian zionist is a follower of Jesus with a deep reverance and appreciation for the jewish race and their rich religious culture, history and home land called Israel. Why all the commotion over this tiny percentage of the world's population called the jewish people and why all the commotion over such a tiny piece of land called Israel when compared to the rest of the world? Why is there so much anti-semitism and why was Jesus (a jew) rejected by many jews?

Christian zionism seems to have grown immensely during the past hundred years as well as the number of jewish christians. The concept of jews being God's chosen people can be very controversial. Are not all of us "chosen" by God to follow him? So why does God call the Jewish people the apple of his eye? Replacement theology teaches that the jewish race, which was once known as God's chosen people, have now been replaced by the muli-racial body of Christ. Christian zionism in it's most extreme form still acknowledges that Jews are set apart as God's chosen people.

Gentiles (nonjews) are "branched in" as the apostle Paul mentions but there is a richness, mystery and sense of wonder to the jewish law and tradition especially when we consider that Jesus was the fulfillment of it all. Another thing to consider is the possibility that someone who's ethnicity is not jewish can become a religious jew, observing the traditions and holidays. I plan on doing some more research on this all these matters but my opinion so far is that the truth falls in between replacement theology and the extreme forms of christian zionism.

What do you think?

April 09, 2007

"Velvet Elvis Under Investigation"

Rob Bell's book "Velvet Elvis" struck a major chord within me this past fall. It was a well needed word to me for where I was at spiritually.

I have come across a bible scholar named Ben Witherington. He is a professor of new testament interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary. A major brain who I sense has a heart close to God's. Here you can find an honest yet loving critique of Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis in his blog.

April 06, 2007

The Passion


Two or three good fridays later and I'm still too chicken to watch Mel Gibson's "The Passion" again.

April 01, 2007

calling all rabbis for help

Peter's Confession of Christ ~ Matthew 16

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter,and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 1I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.

So there is the scripture verse. What is the proper interpretation? I have come across a couple different takes on it. These are my basic/fuzzy descriptions. Don't quote me but please help me out.

A. This has been used in teachings for spiritual warfare. This interpretation believes that the binding and loosing is an authority over demonic powers that a believer in Jesus (Peter being the first to confess belief out loud) has been given.

B. While reading Rob Bell's "Velvet Elvis" I came across his interpretation of this verse and his take on it was that it was referring to what is known as a rabbi's yoke. A rabbi's yoke is a respected rabbi's interpretation on a certain biblical verse. Jesus, who is a rabbi, has said something along the lines "You have heard it been said but now I tell you....". A rabbi with proper authority would than bind or loose an interpretation as he sees fit.

I came from a spiritual upbringing that would definitely affirm the first interpretation but I had no problem with this take on the verse either. I also found it ironic that a verse that I was having slight difficulty in finding an interpretation was about interpreting bible verses...possibly. Perhaps there can be an integration of intepretations?

C. This verse could probably used as a scriptural basis for the roman catholic doctrine of papal infallibity/authority. Since I consider that belief to be stupid if not heretical(pardon by protestantism, I respect roman catholicism a lot)I kind of need to know what it means to refute this take.

Any feedback would be appreciated. I am very interested.