Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Ode To Monday Night Football

During the first 75 years of the 20th century, the United States of America was only concerned with baseball. All the other sports were fun, but baseball was our passion. If you doubt this, watch “Sandlot” with a group of people in their late 40’s or older and see how much they relate to it.

I believe that the main catalyst for the growth of the NFL is the impact that one night a week made in how people view sports. ABC devised a plan where they would broadcast one game a week during their primetime slot on Monday nights. They added more cameras and they had big personalities in the announcing booth. They devised a plan to make the game more than a game, they wanted to make it an event.

What Monday Night Football did for the sports television is history. Now sports television was in Prime Time television. A game that only men were predicted to watch was supposed to carry a network’s night of television, a totally unthinkable thing. But 36 years later it has proven to be the longest running prime time still running.

Monday night was the last Monday Night Football game played on ABC. Over the 36 years there have been 555 games in Primetime. There have been amazing feats set and I have had the privilege of observing the last 15 years or so. Here are some of the memories that helped shape my childhood:

1.) When I was like 6 or 7 my brother and I received for Christmas NFL sweat suits. I got a 49ers outfit and Brent got a
Chicago Bears pair. The Monday night game in-between the holidays that year featured the Bears and the 49ers. (This
established my future allegiance for the rest of the 90’s as the 49ers were feuding with the Cowboys. I still cannot stand
the Cowboys for that reason)

2.) In 3rd and 4th grade my brother would run down the hallway into our living room and slide on his knees when Hank
Williams Jr. would sing the line of the opening “are you ready for some football?!?”

3.) Jerry Rice was the best receiver of all time, hands down no close runners up. He played in 45 Monday night games and it
was simply amazing to watch him work. When I would play video games I always wanted to throw it to Jerry.

4.) My childhood hero growing up was Barry Sanders. Every play it was possible for Barry to score. During the 90’s Emmitt Smith was said to be the best back in the league, which I disagreed with. Twice in the mid-90’s Barry and the Lions played the Cowboys. Both games Barry out played Emmitt and made me smile.

5.) When I was a sophomore in college, the Tampa Bay Bucs were playing the Colts and they gave up like 25 points (or something ridicules) in the last 4 minutes or so to lose on a last second field goal. I was in my room doing homework and I had the game on, but many of my Colts fan friends stopped watching the game cause it was a blow out. I called one and she didn’t believe that her team was coming back. So she called her parents to see if I was lying.

6.) Of course as a 10 year old I was not allowed to stay up and watch the entire game, so I was made to go to bed after the 1st quarter. Fortunately my dad would tape the game so I could watch it the next day after school. Unfortunately this was how I watched most of the games were Barry made Mr. Smith look bad.

7.) Probably the game that showed me just how great a NFL game can be was when the Patriots were playing the Broncos. The Pats were down by like 4 points and in order to get better field position the Pats purposely took a safety in order to gain 20 yards or so on the punt. The Patriots ended up getting the ball back and won the game. The Pats (which are now the bane of the Colts) are the most prepared and most professional team in the NFL, and that was just an example.

8.) Frank, Al, and Dan were my favorite broadcast combo ever. They were the three broadcasters of MNF during my formidable years of football knowledge. These three guys are the guys whom I base all my critique of announcers upon.

As I sit and watch the last Monday Night game, I realize just how much of a part of my life that it has been. I will miss Monday Night football with my dad and brother in the living room on Monday nights. It is a tradition that I will miss, so I say goodbye to one of my childhood memories.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Cats are people too!

So I came home and my bird was gone. Yes the sickly little singing canary who didn't sing finally met the big one. My mom and dad finally decided it was time that he was euthenized. So one day while mom was gone, my father played Dr. Kevorkian thus ending this little birds singing career that involved very little singing.

So my parents sat there all alone; no bird, no dog, no cat, not even a gold fish. For nearly 20 years they have had a pet, and now nothing! Talk about an unsettling feeling. Put this alongside the fact that they're still dealing with having no children in their house, and this only doubles the feeling of isolation. So enough about mom and dad, this post is not about them,

The hollow feeling they had led to them getting two 4 month old kittens. One is orangish with white paws and the other is black with white paws and mom named them Marmie (she is marmalade colored (I guess that's orange)) and Boots. They now have the run of the house. My parents spoil them and pretty much allow them to do whatever they want except sleep inside. They come and go from the house as they please and get fed for their efforts. (what a life!)

I've noticed that cats are very peculiar creatures: they come and go as they please and want to be entirely independent, but they're not, they expect to be taken care of without giving anything in return, they fuss and rebel when they are forced to do what they do not want to, they fight with each other and steal each others food, and they're only motivated to do something or go anywhere when there is something in it for them.

In the movie "Meet the Parents" Robert DeNiro's character is a cat person, he talks about how dogs are so dependent and almost need the affection of their owners, and cats aren't like that. He says you have to win over cats, you don't just walk up to a cat and it's your friend. Dogs, in his mind, are emotionally shallow people who just throw their emotions around. Cats on the other hand are emotionally strong creatures who don't need anything or anyone. Thus cats are superior to dogs.

So I was thinking about cats and how independent that they are and I was thinking to myself how much a cat is like a person. If you think about it they're like the people that we don't want to be friends with. They're like people with a "who cares what you think" mindset. We like people who are like dogs. Dogs care about you and want to be with you and love your company; that's who we want to be with. It's almost like cats are dogs with a sin nature.

Now don't get me wrong, I do not hate cats, in fact I'm glad we got the kittens, and I told mom and dad that they should get the kittens, and I love having them in the house; they're funny. But honestly would you want your best friend to act like they do? Or how about your neighbor? I think we'd love it if everybody we knew was like a dog.

So for the rest of my 'Holiday' break I am going to be working on being a dog person and less of a cat person. I hope you can do that also.

Merry Christmas!!!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Comments about Narnia:

So yeah about a week ago I posted about Narnia (sorry it’s been so long, I’ve had exams) and I said that I would have some more thoughts about it. So here’s my offering, take the gifts I give with joy….or laugh in my face. It’s your choice.

First I do not think that the Narnia books are biblical. I believe that Lewis wrote them for his neice as a way to explain some Christian principles. So when there are people out there, on both sides of the fence, who take the movie as either saying it’s obviously Christian or the Christians have stolen a good book, say what they do, they’re both wrong.

They’re just good stories that have Biblical principles implemented into them, they are not obviously Christian. Yes Lewis was a Christian and put what he put into them but remember he wrote them as children’s stories, not Biblical commentaries.

Second, I’m scared that the Christian population along with a mutated form of #1 is going to christen this movie as the next great Christian movie. But how many movies have come out and EVERY believer you know have it? And all your non-Christian friends don't. Like the Passion-how many people do you know that have it? How many of those people are believers? My point. I don’t want Narnia to be like that, I want it to be for everybody! It has so many good principles lets not make it into a movie that in 5 years is only in Christian bookstores.

Third I think that the Character of Aslan is the best in the movie! The power and dominance that he depicts is amazing! Yes I believe that there is a direct connection between Aslan and Jesus. It’s one that is even more powerful on the screen. I think that there is a powerful scene where (forgive me if you don’t know the story) he lays down his life for Edmond.

I would personally like to see them make all 7 books into movies! I think it oculd be done since Lewis has the characters age in each book. So they could seriously change them out very easily and make all the movies fit. So I would like to see them do it.

Those are my basic thoughts about the Narnia…not very much. I like that the movie followed the book. It was a great work and I think you should go see it. Regardless of who you are!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

How I met Narnia

When I was 9 I was first introduced to C.S. Lewis’ made up world of Narnia. It was Wednesday night CYC (now it’s like Wesleyan Kids something or the other) and my friend was talking with my mom about the Narnia books. I was confused, all I could imagine was this big old leather-bound book written like 500 years ago; but everybody else seemed excited about it so I played along.

Let’s get honest, my mom was excited about it so that means I was not. It was almost like she was forcing me to read these books, and I hate being forced to do anything. So I really didn’t want to hear the stories, but mom made us. She was mom, so we kinda had to.
At that time, we had reading time every night, my brother and I would go into one of our rooms and mom would read to us. It was something that we’d done since I could remember, so it seemed natural that we’d read those books at those times. So when my mom was so excited about it, it was figured that we’d read it at those times. So one night that winter, we started to read “the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”
As we read the story, it just kept getting better and better. Every night we hated to stop and there were many nights we’d stay up maybe 30 minutes longer than we were supposed to. The stories had us captivated! When the 1st book was over, we watched the 2nd, then the 3rd and so on and so on. We finished the entire series in less than a few months.
Over the years I have gone back to Narnia a few times. I’ll be looking through my book collection, and I’ll find one of the books and pick it up and read it. C.S. Lewis, though writing to children, captivates me and makes me want to go to a place somewhere in my imagination.
So when I saw that Disney has remade the movie, I was stoked. You see there’s an old British version that was horrible! I mean I liked them, but quality wise they are not anything I’d want to show people who hadn’t read the books first. Thus Disney with all its new graphic possibilities could make the book into a movie without damaging its already stellar set-up.
So Brent and I went to go see it and it was AMAZING! It was everything that I dreamed about, and so much more. The quality of acting and graphic work was solid. It was an amazing movie (one which I’ll prolly go watch another couple times). As we sat there it reminded us of when we were 8 & 9 sitting in our bedrooms listening to mom read us the stories. The feelings of emotion that we felt were not just excitement and emotion from the movie, but were feelings of warm memories that we shared as little boys.
The next couple posts will be about me addressing my thoughts on the movie! In the mean time, go watch it! Check it out! If you have read the books before, you’ll love it. If you have not read the books before, you’ll love it; and want to go get them and read them until you’re done.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Dan the Pyro

I love fire. I think it's the pyro in every male coming out in my personality, you can't beat a good fire. I think fire is something God is even facinated with. But what is fire? a chemical reaction? Oh no it's God's living poetry.

Have you ever lit a match just to look at the flame? How about stared at a candle for over a minute? Or just gazed at a bon fire for what seems to be an endless space of time? There's something about fire that's relaxing. You just don't want to look away nor ever leave it's warm embrace.

My RD has a fireplace in his house, I like it. We have our RA meetings by the light of it's flames. What could be better than sitting around an open fire and just talking? Think of all the Christmas songs that deal with fire and fireplaces, its in a bunch of songs! It seems that in the era of technology that we live in we forget fire! We like the clean, the easy, and the smokeless. Even if for centuries it's been one of the most romantic situations.

So when I grow up I want a fireplace, and if not a fireplace a lot of candles, and if no candles then at least a place where I can light matches. Just to see God's living poetry.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Would Jesus have come if man had not sinned?

I took a class that dealt with the doctrine of Christology last spring. In that class, the prof, Dr. Bounds asked us the question, "Would Jesus have come to earth if there was no fall?" I'll admit my first response was to say "why?" It seemed to me that there was no purpose to it, I mean he came to forgive sins right? So I reasoned to myself that no, Jesus would not have come to earth, and he especially would not have come as a human.

I believe that there is nothing God cannot do (outside of sin). This means that nothing is beyond the power of God. He spoke the world into existence, why didn't he fix the whole sin issue by just commanding it? It God wanted to he could solve the sin problem without involving man, yet He chose to involve His creation in the solution.

The tradition of the Church dictates down to us today that Jesus is still fully human; thus humanity has been introduced into the Trinity. What does this mean? It means that Jesus' life on earth has united God with his creation. There could be no better way for God to show how important humanity was to Him than to bring humanity into the Godhead.

God is omniscient. Omniscience means that God knows everything. His omniscience means that nothing can be taught to him, he cannot discover anything, and nothing catches him by surprise. So the result of Jesus incarnation did not catch God by surprise, He knew the result of the incarnation would be before the dawn of creation.

While God knew the result of the incarnation before the beginning of creation, He also knew that man would sin, and that He would find a resolution to the problem. If God could restore man in any way possible, nothing would be done without a purpose. All of God's plan's work, and all of the results of God's plans work; there's no other option.

Thus God's plan involves more than just the redemption of sins. Otherwise His plan would have looked different. Yes, sin was a big issue, it was a road block in the way of reconciliation of God and man. But God's plan involved more than just the a plan of redemption than back to Adam's level; he wanted it to go further. But where does the level of God's redemption plan lead to? I believe that it is to go participate in community with the Trinity.

So what? All of this may seem to have absolutely no relevance in your life today. But think about it, salvation in this light means more than just our sins being forgiven and we can have a relationship with God. Not only does God fix the problem of the lack of relationship, but he gives an extra sign of how important that relationship is by using a solution that goes above and beyond the problem.

This is the level that God places on having a relationship with you. He wants you to see just how much he cares about you! His whole plan is more than just freeing you from sin, but creating a route for as deep a relationship as possible. That's my God and his plan for salvation.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Bird We Don't Call Dickie

Since I have been 5, my family has had a pet; unfortunately the last 3 years it’s been a bird. My family has owned 3 dogs in those years, Goodie, Honey Dew, and Lady; sadly cars have hit all three. When Lady was hit, my parents decided to adopt a yellow singing canary; previously name Dickie. The funny thing is that Dickie doesn’t sing, and we don’t call him Dickie. Regardless he sits in a cage in our kitchen and eats seed, while I tell my parents to get a dog.

To me the point of a pet is to be able to enjoy having it. A dog you can play with it, and pet it, and it’s generally excited when it comes in your presence. Or if you’re a cat person, I can understand your passion because cats are like little people living in your house. You have to earn their respect, but once you do you’re their trusted friend for life. But a bird…a bird doesn’t even seem to notice when you’re in the room, let alone react. I think that they’re the most useless pet you could ever have, they won’t even let you pet them! What good is that?

Anyway, the morning we were to come home for thanksgiving, the bird that we don’t call Dickie, wasn’t doing so well. My parents found him lying in the bottom of his cage; with his feathers all messed up. No he was not dead, but he was acting very weird. My parents were obviously worried about him, but they left him in his cage as they went to work.

So later in the day as my brother and I get back from school, we discover the bird sitting on his perch quite disoriented. I have never touched his back but for some reason I discovered he would let me touch him. Not only did I get to touch him, but also he was standing there at an angle, almost a 45-degree angle. So I proceeded to investigate the issue. Apparently he couldn’t see me, and was trying to position himself so he could hear me instead. The poor thing was now blind!!

What was I to think? I have never liked that bird, but the bird had never done anything to harm or annoy me; it just sat in its cage. I was later that night sitting in a chair trying to figure out what to think about the whole situation. Should I support the killing of ‘the bird we don’t call Dickie?’’ or should I want him to receive the best medical treatment that ‘a singing canary that doesn’t sing’ can receive?

I wonder if there aren’t many Christians who we could consider ‘singing canaries that don’t sing’. We think of them as fringe members, and they just come into the church and they sit on their perch and eat their seeds. Then one day we see them and they look like they’ve spent the day on the bottom of their cage; totally disorientated. We walk up to them and they’re totally blind to their real needs, and there is nothing it seems we can do.

I think that Jesus would want us, as brothers and sisters in Christ to take them in and be a comfort to their lives. We should let our love for God and then them pour into their lives, hopefully helping them to heal. Even if they aren’t pouring into us, the body of Christ should pour into its fringe members, even if they don’t bring us the joy that we think that they should.

So back to the bird, I guess I should be supportive of its recovery; hopefully it’ll be ok. If not I’m sure that there’ll be a place somewhere in heaven for my little bird that we don’t call Dickie.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Oh Pat.....

I know i give Pat Robertson a hard time about things, but lets get serious, he just keeps the good times rolling. I was scrolling through the news pages when I saw that he made another comment making the Christian community to look like a bunch of twits. He told the town of Dover, PA and I quote: "I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city," Robertson said on his daily television show broadcast from Virginia, "The 700 Club." (cnn.com search 'Pat Roberston')

What gets me the most about this is that we believe the Jehovah God is a loving God, a God who forgives us no matter how bad we've been. I think Pat is forgetting this. Once again lets get serious, this creative design position is not even Christian, it's closer than evolution but it doesn't state that it is the same creator that created the world in the Bible. So Pat is saying that God is passing judgement on a city because they voted on an issue that isn't even Biblical. That's smart.

I am sick and tired of people pronouncing judgement on those who do not believe in God. I ask what do you expect of people who are without faith? Do you expect them to follow the same moral standard as Christians? No! That's not the way it works. Non-believers don't think the same way that believers think, that's what non-believers do. They don't believe what we believe; that's kinda the point!

The God I believe in doesn't have a vendetta with the world. He's not like that; he forgives and is looking to forgive. It's not that hard ask and he'll grant forgivness! That's how great our God is! I wish Pat would remember that before he says boneheaded things like he does!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

My Trip to the Synagogue

I went to a Jewish synagogue for a Shabat service last night. It was a very interesting experience. I went because Rabbi Lawrence Kushners, who my friend Nick is a big fan of, was present. Neither of us had ever been to a Shabat service, so we were both very conscious of our ignorance. While Christianity was once part of Judiasm they now are two completely different traditions now. While many elements were similiar, it was at the same time very different.

Some things that happened while I was there:
1.) a boy was having his bar-mitzpah, and he did much of the reading and was in front the entire
2.) there was a place that represented the ark, and part way through the service they opened
the doors to this and we looked into it.
3.) the entire service was read in hebrew, everything was explained but all the rituals were in
4.) the 'hymnal' was written from right to left, like hebrew reads, and the pages even moved that
5.) there were like 10 people in front, singers just standing around a table, and they danced
around the congregation.
6.) at one point in the service we faced the door way while chanting about the sabbath coming.
7.) I had to wear a yamaka. The program said it was to show respect.

These are just some of the things we did that were different than the Christian church. So much of the service was focused on rememberance. I noticed that the walls of the building had names of the people who had been influencial in their past. At the end of the service, there was a rememberance of significant martyrs in the recent past. Without a doubt to me the Jewish religion is not about tomorrow but about remembering yesterday.

I couldn't help but think as I was watching the rabbis and the cantor, that this is my ancient heritage. I was thinking about when Jesus went to the synagogues that this is the situation that he would have been in. Paul when he went on his missions trips was the quest speaker, much like Rabbi Kushner. I was thinking to myself, if I had stood up and requested to say something, then explained how I believe that Jesus was the fulfillment the prophets of old were prophesying about, what would have happened. Probably the same that happened back in the 1st century.

The service was very family related. It felt so much more than just a worship service. At the start of the service we sang, then the rabbi asked if we felt the Shabot, after that it was like it ws expected that there was a sence of holiness present. Now they couCheck Spellingld do the real business of life togeather. There was a very strong sense of we're all part of a huge family (and hey they are!). After the Shabat there were family meals of some sort in different parts of the synagogue.

Nick mentioned to me he felt like the entire service was building towards the end. This ending was not an alter call, but a sense of celibration that they had survived the centuries and were still a people. This is the point of Passover: to remember leaving Egypt. This is the point of Hanukkah-to remember the rebellion of the Maccabees. Their celibrations are of remembering how they have been saved from destruction.

It was to me a very profitable experience and I am glad I went! I think it would be something every Christian should think about doing.

Sunday, October 30, 2005


So it's Oct 30, and tomorrow is Halloween. I don't know how I feel about Halloween. It's definately a holiday that our culture has made into something that is innocent. Like Christmas or Easter for the Christians, America has definately ignored it's satanic history to make it something that it isn't. So I struggle when I think about how we've made it completely innocent.

November 1st is All Saints day; a Catholic holiday. Like Easter and Christmas the Catholic church took a pagan holiday and made it into a 'Christian holiday.' The barbarians had holidays on these days as they are the sun is at it's peak for length or shortness, or days of the same length. The druids, and others of that background, were very aware of nature and it's quirks, among the quirks is that the spirit world is closer on these days.

When the Roman empire fell, and the barbarians became a large part of the Christian church, they had all these people who had these parties and festivals that were pagan. Instead of condeming these the church figured that this would be a great outreach and they made the holidays 'Christian.' All Saints day was a day that was held in respect of all those who were martyred. Catholics would pray to these saints so that they might interceed for others in pergatory. It's a day when relics and other such momentos that are stored in the church are brought out for everybody to see; and was considered the most holy day of the year.

Halloween is the day when all the evil was let out to prepare for the holy day that was to come. Witches and warlocks came out on this day to do their evil deeds. Many of the practices such as trick or treating, jack-o-lanterns, and wearing costumes were all parts of the celibrating that the members of this culture used in their festivals. Thus the entire holiday was birthed by the occult.

Yes today the majority of the people who celibrate this holiday are not members of the occult. But many of the practices have their origin in this tradition. How should we as Christians deal with this issue? Yes we celibrate this holiday without any attempt to worship any deity, we're just getting candy; and the vast majority of the country has the same intentions.

Should we let Halloween go on? Should we boycott it? Should we educate the church about it's origins? I don't know, I think I'm going to still wear my fake afro and maybe get some candy. What about you?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Ignorance Is Bliss

I've noticed since I've been to school, just how dependent my generation is on our parents. We're used to them cleaning for us, cooking (at least what we think is) good food for us, organizing our days for us, and fighting for our rights. Pretty much we're used to getting our way without having to work hard to pay the price for our wants and desires.

I'll admit, I've done that. When I was in High School I was awful. I'd let my mom and dad do the dirty work, while I was more interested in the things I wanted to do. I don't think I was being a bad kid, it's the nature of growing up, you're not used to hard work. So my parents helped me as I went, not forcing me to grow up.

The problem is not that parents today don't let their children grow up it's that they force very few rules on them. And the rules they have aren't held and defended like they should be. Now I'm not advocating just having tons of rules, but the house should be controled by the parent. There should be morals communicated. Reasons why are important but that doesn't mean every rule must be explained; the parent is in charge not the child.

Now don't think I'm saying parents should act like Nazis or something extreme like that. What I am trying to say is that being involved with college students I see that there is a general lack of understanding how to deal with authority. Instead of accepting the rules placed on their lives, they are constantly complaining or disregarding them.

What happens is when the student comes in contact with a new rule instead of submiting to it's authority, the student sites their parents' rule. But the problem is that college students are now adults, not children, and adults can't site their parents rules when they are in another setting. "My parent's never gave me a curfew!" or "My parents would have allowed me to watch this movie!" or "I'm legal my parents don't care." (my college has a curfew, an R-rated movie policy and a policy against liquor).

This post is not saying college students need to listen to every rule and command that your authorities have without thinking them through. I'm saying that we need to be responsible adults and realize who our authority is. This is not a call for us to put our heads in the sand and not challenge the rules at all. But be aware of the rules and try and make them better, more relevant. If you disagree with a rule, don't disregard it but figure it out, try and make it better.

Acting like you're a child again and just allowing your parents to think for you is just plain ignorant. As a generation we need to grow up, we need to be responsible by thinking and acting for ourselves; myself included.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Church Rituals Paper.

This is my position paper for church rituals class on Infant Baptism. Please critique me and let me know how much of a heritic that I am for this stance.-Dan

The Wesleyan Church supports infant baptism. This is a very controversial practice that even today is very derisive among Protestants. Many people believe that this practice is borderline evil and definitely not Biblical. These positions I believe are incorrect and misguided, as they do not see the purpose that the church uses this style of baptism. I stand alongside, in agreement with the Wesleyan Church in it’s stance in support of infant baptism.
Today in Protestant culture, we run fearfully from any tradition and practice that has any connection with the Liturgical Tradition. This fear is because of many centuries of lethargy that has characterized this style of church. The churches that represent this group are all hundreds of years old and long since become decadent. While this is the case the practices of the church are not what is suspect, but the reasons and traditions behind these practices. So I believe we should not just disregard their practices just because they practice them, but look into the thinking behind these controversial issues before condemning it.
The Catholic (or Universal) church has long held the practice of infant baptism. We can read the Bible as seeing children being baptized in many instances. First when Cornelius the Centurion in Acts 10, was conversing with Peter, his “his relatives and close friends” were present when Peter had the people there baptized. No mentioning is done to say that just the adults were baptized. While it is a stretch it could be assumed that there were children in this group. Second, when the Philipian jailer hears the news from Paul in Acts 16, it says that “immediately he and all his family were baptized.” While there is no mention of infants being baptized it much more likely than not that there were children or infants that were baptized at this point.
So I start this discussion with this evidence that infant baptism was something that has happened since the beginning of the church. It is not a practice that started in the Middle Ages, under a corrupt pope, but a practice that seems to be endorsed by the apostles at the very beginning of the Christian movement.
It is very important to see the foundation of the practice of baptism. While many believe that John the Baptist was the first to baptize people, they are wrong; he’s not. It was a Jewish practice to baptize a person who was not of Jewish ancestry when they entered Jewish culture. It was a figurative practice but it also has physical meanings. It was a ritualistic cleansing. They were immersing themselves in water to literally wash away their uncleanness. So baptism is not strictly a Christian practice, even though it is most known as such.
So when John began to teach that Jews needed to be baptized it was a very shocking thing for them. They probably thought: “Why do I need to be cleansed? I was born clean!” Almost the exact opposite of what Christian theology is today. Romans 3:23 says that ‘All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Jews and Gentiles alike).’ We realize that we’re not clean at all we all realize that we need to be saved, and that our ancestry does not automatically place us in the right with God. But the Jews did not see the matter in the same way that we do.
The practice of emersion was, I believe, a clear parallel with the ritualistic bath that the Jews practiced also. We see evidence of ritualistic bathing happening all over Judea at the time of Jesus ministry. In Qumran, an Essene community, ritual baths were in fact the norm. As one went to the temple there were baths that people were able to bathe in before the entered the temple. So the idea of baptism by immersion was not a totally new idea, it was very similar to the practices going on at that time.
The Jews also had a very large fear of still bodies of water. They were very fearful of stagnant water as they believe that there was a linkage somehow with the ‘underworld.’ This is why, in the Old Testament, we see very few references of Jewish shipping; they avoided the water that was not moving. In these bathing stations that dotted the country, we see that there were elaborate systems that were used to keep the moving. Qumran for instance has a very complex tunnel and pool system to keep the flow of water almost constant. This would explain why John did all his baptizing in the Jordan River area. It is not that there needed to be a river or a similar body of water, but to just have a baptistery in a building would be weird and against their superstition.
I say all this to show that while we do not see any type of Baptism other than an emersion style of Baptism, we do see that a very basic historical look into the culture of 1st Century Judea shows that the method that John and later Jesus’ disciples used for baptism was a very culturally relevant method, not a model of how to baptize people. The way that Jesus baptized people is never mentioned; in fact John’s method is never mentioned. The Bible never thoroughly explains the process that John and later Jesus goes through in baptizing people, we just know that it was near a river. So we must rely on the tradition that the church has laid out before us in explaining how it was done. Once we realize that how we baptize everybody is passed down by the tradition of the church, it’s not a very difficult step to get to infant baptism.
The Roman Catholic understanding of original sin is the reason that Roman Catholics baptize their children. Catholic theology believes that a person is born with original sin, and in order for that ‘stain’ to be removed, one must be baptized to remove it. Thus if a baby dies, before it can be baptized, their theology says that that baby is going to hell. This is a twisting of Christian theology, but it is the reason behind why the Catholic Church baptizes babies, they want that they won’t go to hell. So when Martin Luther and the Protestants were arguing against this doctrine, they were arguing against the theology behind a person being saved, at least in part, by baptism.
A very strong rejection, among Protestants, of baptism as a work that leads toward salvation has lead toward the in some circles the diminishing of importance of baptism. A very common saying explaining what baptism really is is: ‘an outward sign of what has happened inside.’ Baptism has become nothing more than an announcement saying: “I am now a Christian!”
This view of salvation is a very Calvinistic view; salvation is not a process, it is an event. Here Salvation has no change, no need for development, as there is no need for further growth. God has done his work, and now your life differently. The Sacraments, thus, have no signifance other than as reminders of what God has done for us. And Infant Baptism is wrong as there is nothing to announce about this baby’s life.
The Wesleyan point of view is that salvation it is Teleological. There is a life journey that happens and once a person is saved, the life has just begun. Salvation is not the end goal of a person’s life, it is just the beginning. Teleological Salvation means that salvation is moving towards a goal, and Wesley believed that this goal was holiness. The sacraments in this understanding become more than reminders of God’s work in our lives but they become, as Wesley put it, means by which God communicates his grace toward us. Thus every time we partake in the sacraments we are developing ourselves in holiness. Infant baptism in this view becomes more easily acceptable.
The sacraments when given to a person who has not yet began a purposeful walk toward salvation, take on a new role; helping a person move in that direction. Thus when an infant is baptized, it is done with that this is going to be a help to this child as it begins his or her life. Here we are communicating a means of grace toward that child that will impact its eternal future.
I am very firmly entrenched in the Wesley or Teleological view of salvation. Salvation is not the end, but a means to the end. Sacraments are not just reminders but they are ways in which God actively imparts his grace into the lives of people. This is why I support Infant Baptism.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


We sometimes forget just the point of salvation. We're so concerned with justification and salvation that we don't have room for Love. The main theme of the whole Bible is Love, not God's justice, predestined, or power. In fact the Bible seems to show a God who has let his people almost go as far away from his wants and desires as possible. And for some reason we focus on what the Bible doesn't focus on.

Now don't get me wrong, God is just, God is in control of the world, and God is never in a bind to need more power (Think Tim Allen). But the message of the Bible is none of these at all! The message of the prophets in the Old Testament is one of a God who wants his people to stop rebelling against them. His Law when researched has multiple reasons behind all those indebted rules. This is not a petty annoying God, but one that wants for His people to pursue him.

By not focusing on the Love of God we struggle explaining sin. We have these indepth charts and diagrams on which actions are sins and sometimes there is no way of understanding any common dominator. This to many people is confusing....I'm one in that group! How can you say it's a sin to drink, but not a sin to drink like 25 Mt. Dews, when both effect you.

I have been thinking about Love, if God wants us to Love, what's it's opposite? 'Cause that'd be what sin is right? It only makes sense to me that this is the case. So think for a second, what is the opposite of Love?........What do you think? I know probably the first thought was hate, while it's a good thought, I don't think that this is the most basic component for this discussion. What is deeper than hate? Pride and selfishness is my thought.

Mull that one over for a while, how does that feel for you? Can selfishness and pride really be the opposite of Love? If that is the case, is selfishness and pride the root of sin? How about that?
Jesus' break down of the law was Love God and Love your neighbor, so the whatever the opposite of Love is must be what Jesus doesn't want us to do....maybe we can understand that as sin.

Think About It....

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Church- Hated or Loved by the State?

The end of the Early Church period was when the Christianity was made the official state religion. After this happened we see a beginning of a total dynamic shift in the forward motion of the church. This dynamic shift led to many of the corruptions that the world has come to despise in the church. So I submit that it is better for the Church to be under persecution from the Government, than to be supported by it.
Christianity, the belief system that Jesus death and resurrection founded was a “religion” that has nothing to do with political or social standing. All of the disciples were men who were social rejects of their day; men who were common workers and some were the political ‘yes’ men. Jesus was not welcomed by the political institution of Judea of his day. We see that he had to leave regions as different political leaders wanted to kill him. We also see that his death was a result of conflict with the Jewish leaders. So even from the beginning of the Christ movement approval of the state was not the primary issue.
Jesus said that blessed are those who are persecuted in his Sermon on the Mount found in Matt 5 & 6. Looking back to the early church once again, Tertullian said that the blood of the martyrs was the reason the early church grew. So we see that persecution for the early church was what made Christianity. Our Western culture has become a culture of comfort; we are used to going to church and sitting in a soft pew and we forget that this is not how it has always been. Places where there is great persecution today are where see the largest growth rate in the church. So while our culture has avoided persecution, the church historically has not; this shows the western thinker’s bias.
The Bible when dealing with persecution discusses the importance of overcoming persecution. At the time when the New Testament was written, Christians expected to be persecuted. Jesus in his teaching called for his disciples to “take up their crosses and follow him”, Paul says that to live is Christ and to die is gain. This makes perfect sense as 11 out of 12 disciples were martyred. Since its beginning the leaders and members of the church have been persecuted and killed for the truth of the gospel.
Persecution brought to the church a sort of trial by fire. When the faith of those who go to death because of a powerful belief in Jesus can be seen; witnessing ceases to be an issue. On the other hand when a person grows up in a church where real faith is not modeled, witnessing becomes near impossible.
A real faith cannot be induced by anybody else; it must be a heartfelt decision. To become a part of the church for the wrong reasons is the equivalent of not joining at all. In a country where Christianity is the supported by the state, people join the church for the wrong reasons, and they damn themselves along the way. In a country where Christianity is attacked by the state, those with wrong reason for being a Christian are weeded out.
While being in a country where the government enforces the state religion as Christianity does give the outward appearance of having more Christians, outward appearances mean nothing, as Christianity is about an inner relationship. This is why I believe that it is better for the State to be against Christianity, than for there to be a state supported church.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

We are the ' World '

One thing that scares me about the church is the church’s tendency to remove itself from “the world.” Since I live, and have lived in a Christian bubble for the past 3 years, I feel it every day. My classes start with prayers and for the most part are all focused on ministry. Not that I think these are bad things, i know that in the “real world” (whatever that is) you don’t go to chapel 3 times a week.

It seems that so often we as Christians are scared of the world. Almost like when I do leave my bubble that it’s out there waiting for me, so he can eat me up. You hear it in church classrooms, and I hear it in the college classroom: “the world is out to get you!”

This to me seems very reminiscent of the Black Panther movement of the 60’s and 70’s, and their talk of “the man”. This movement constantly would make remarks about this over arching evil force that was out to get anybody that was black. This “man” was always looking over the group’s collective and individual shoulder. This dark and evil force was something to combat, sometimes violently, and must be stopped at all cost.

For RA training this summer I had to read the book “The Promise of Paradox.” While I did not finish the book, I read like 2-3 chapters of it before I got back to school-yes I have every intention to finish it later. The author is a big fan of Merton, a Roman Catholic monk. He quotes Merton who is addressing the issue of “the World”:
It is wrong to come to the monastery in order to escape the world so conceived, for the conception is false. The world does not begin at the monastery gatehouse (or the Church door, or once off the college campus). It is within each one of us. WE ARE THE WORLD!
When I read this it made sense to me, for so long I was sitting back thinking that the world was this big, bad, evil thing out there trying to get me. And while I do believe that there is an evil presence out there, the World is not it. I am the World!

The ‘World’ can be defined in a similar way to the way we define the church. The Church is not the buildings or the organization that runs it; but the Church is the people that fill its ranks. Quite similarly, the world is the people that make up the population of the world.

Yes there are some people who are definitely evil, and motivated by nothing but evil, but I contend that the vast percentage of people are not evil, but merely just selfish and are motivated by taking care of ‘ole Number 1’ (which is the whole root of the sin problem). For me this thought totally changes how I interact with people, sin while bad, is not necessarily done with evil intents.

While I am not saying that everybody is good, I am saying that the world is not this big evil dark presence that is trying to destroy you. The world is hurting people; people desperately in need of being healed (whether they know it or not). We need to start realizing that these people are not out their trying to destroy us, but they are out there without the grace of God in their lives; and that's something that they need.

Monday, September 05, 2005

The Big News Story....Katrina

So we've been dealing with the hurricane recovery now for about a week. Everybody I know is dealing with it in somehow. My RA staff went up to Bluffton Sunday night and we went door to door asking for supplies; but everybody I met had already donated items. I continue to be amazed by the response that America has when it sees a need.

This isn't the first time that this has happened. If you remember last year there was a typhoon in the Indiana Ocean. The death toll was in the hundreds of thousands, and America responded in ways that once again amazed me.

Almost 15 years ago, America responded to the call for help from countries that felt threatened by Iraq. Our response lead to the 1st Gulf War. America attacked Iraqi soldiers, and encouraged the people that were suffering under their oppressive government to rebel.

In the mid-80's the AID's virus became an epidemic and began to move through the continent of Africa. It came to America, and very soon, we jumped to the rescue. Research and study of the disease was highly followed, and people all over the country were donating money and resources to help fight this new epidemic.

But in the case of all three of these epidemics were put on the back shelf. The people of Iraq were left stranded and they were killed by the thousands, the AID's epidemic in Africa has exploded and nearly half the people there have been effected by this virus, and the typhoon recovery has nowhere near the national exposure that it once had.

To me I feel that far too often we as Americans are very aware of the big needs and we through alot of aid and help at the start of a crisis, but we get bored and lose interest quickly. We think that we're doing a good job because we sent a one time cheque to help with the needs at hand, but we never follow up.

This is why many people around the world hate America. We sit back and think that we're doing a good job, and people should thank our country for our work, but we're seen as fake and shallow. Our good works only add up to us looking like we only care about the publicity.

I have felt challenged in the past couple months about my commitment. I live in a sheltered world, I am not rich but I am comftorable. Do I really care about those around the world who are in need? Do I actually pay attention to thoes in need around me? I say I do but do I really.

One of the former religion professors at my school has really challenged me with his example. I have never heard him say anything publically, but he is a behind the scenes worker for an inner city ministry. He does all the work that he can; a board member, a treasurer, and etc. That is an example I want to follow.

If you have been thinking, maybe there is more I can do there are different organizations you can work with to help:

-Bono of U2 has an organization to help combat AIDS in Africa. you can find information about it at www.one.org

-Compassion International has thousands of children you can help support.

-Churches usually have outreach programs that could use money.

-Missions organizations are always looking for help.

There are countless ways to help, but don't just help to satisfy your personal need for "doing good," but actually get involved at a deep level. Stay involved and don't be fake; in fact I encourage you to be involved and don't tell anybody.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Seperation of Church and State

I opened up the Internet Today and to my suprise there was an article about Pat Robertson. It seems that good ole Pat decided to say we should "take out" the president of Venezuela. A day later he claimed that he didn't necessairly mean that we should kill him, and that there were more ways than one of taking a guy out. Whatever he meant, it was taken to totally mean we should pop a cap in this guy's head, and move on with life.

While this proposition may not be a bad idea, since when do we get the idea that we're going to go shoot another president of another country. Heck, since when do we get the idea that we're going to abduct another president. While it may be talked about, behind closed doors, it's just not an option; that's how wars are started. So even the suggestion of such an action is maybe the dumbest thing that a person can do!

Teddy Roosevelt's idea that the United States is a policeman for the rest of the world is a far outdated policy. Sure we need to stick up for the lost and the dying, but the idea that we're superior to other countries is a joke. While the French people obviously hate Americans, they have a reason: we've treated them like crap for years. We've taken the mentality that just being American means we can do what we want; and other countries despise us for it.

The idea that as Christians loving everybody unconditionally is one of the important themes of the Gospel. This means that Christianity is not politically propelled. Running nations is not something that the Christian 'religion' (I hate calling it that) should be about. The business of the state and business of the church should be seperate! This has been the downfall of many countries and many churches. I know you probably don't like what I just said but keep reading and don't think I am a heretic just yet.

A State Church only does one thing, and that is take the realness of the Christian faith away. Yes the attendence and the membership levels are higher, but common logic shows that when the church becomes 'the cool thing to do,' the principles we base our faith on become erroded. No longer are our objectives being to help people find their Savior, but it becomes being a social club.

On the other side of the issue, the Church should not dictate the State's agenda either. Why? Because the mission of the Church is not to run a government, but to be about restoring people. Now before I get too far down that path, I think I need to clarify an issuse; this issuse being our impact on our society. I do believe that Christians should be active in our government, I do believe that Christians should strive to have godly laws, and I do believe Christians should fight to keep laws from being made that are countrary to our faith; but that's not the primary mission of the Church. When Christians live in a country they should make the country a better place to live. Plain and simple, the Gospel message does make the world a better place!

Now as for this whole issue, I think that Pat Robertson needs to flat out fess up for his mistakes. I do not think that a place like the 700 Club is a venue that he needs to be declaring political judgement upon other nations. I do not think that any church is a place for a minister to be making political declarations. Yes, I believe that talking about certain laws and supporting the good in government is proper; but day-to-day policy is too much.

Shame on Christians who think that Pat is right for his comments. If being a Christian is all about Love, where do we have room to 'take out' another person? If being a Christian has anything to do with political policy, then we've missed the point of Jesus message, the Gospel of Jesus becomes only a religion. I think we've seen enough of those.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Thoughts from the Press Box part 12

Check me if I'm wrong, but was Jesus ever offensive to sinners? I only remember Jesus talking about forgiveness and love when he was talking to those who were lost and in sin. If I'm wrong please let me know. Honestly, I have been thinking about this issue for my own life.
I noticed when I was in New York this summer at a music festival, how many times we as Christians are very negative and emphasize the sin in people's lives. Many people were walking around with shirts that said "Abortion is homicide." or shirts with other messages that may have come off to people as offensive.

I feel that this is the reason that we as a family of God get a bad rap. I know that yes not everybody has this mentality and that many times it's a small minority of people giving the rest of us a bad name.

But lets be honest, when I'm looking at people, I expect my own morality and the standard that I have set for myself to be the best. I mentally condem people who do not hold the line that I do. So don't think that I'm saying in a judgemental way, I'm just saying that it's something I struggle with too; something I think is a cancer to Christ's church.

This isn't the complete conversation that I'm having in my head but it's all I want to write about now. I'll finish later. But if you disagree maybe leave me a line or two. Or just talk to me about it if you see me.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Why I don't want to be the Schwab

One of my new favorite shows is ESPN's "Stump the Schwab." I sit on my couch amazed at the huge amounts of sports trivia that he has hidden in his head. 3 people who have taken tests and are quite knowledgible about sports challenge him every show, and usually they are the ones who are left sitting there looking like they don't know who the Yankees are.
I like to think of myself as a person who knows a thing or two about sports trivia, and I do know alot of useless information. But I would not stand up to the Schwab's knee if we were stood side by side, he is just amazing.
But as smart as he is, and as much sports trivia that he contains in his head. He still is not a true sports figure. When you look at the Schwab all you see is a fat man who wears throw back jerseys. He looks as athletic as a pregnant woman. His job is to sit behind a deak and learn as much as he can about sports, but that does not make him an jock. In fact it makes him a stat boy.
I guess that resembles the person who knows the Bible but it doesn't have an impact on his or her life. Look at countless people who can quote large portions of the Bible, but they don't have a relationship with God. Yeah they know about God, but they don't know God. They can describe God, but they don't know from experience.
Yeah Schwab is an entertaining guy, but if i had my choice and he had his choice, we'd rather be the guys on the court.

Statues not in stone

I realize that I one day will be dust in the ground. But I want something that I do to be lifelong. I have never been anything amazing, mostly I am overlooked and average. But one day I would like to be remembered. I don't think that this is so strange, I don't know very many people who want to be forgotten. To compensate for this, people try and create humungeous things to be remembered by.

The ancient peoples of our world did the same thing; they built huge monuments to be remembered by. While I realize that many were built to different gods and the like, but they are what we remember them by. Babylon is known for the hanging towers. The Greeks are known for their temples. The Romans made huge aquaducts. The Egyptians figured out how to make Pyramids. But of all these ancient cultures the one who has no major monuments has had the biggest effect on civilization.

That's right the children of Abraham have had the biggest impact on the world. We have no physical evidence that Abraham lived on earth. The only writings that we have about his life were written at least 500 years after he lived, and they said that he lived his life in a tent. While it may seem that he lived an insignificant life, his actions have drastically changed the course of human events.

Christianity, Judism, and Islam all claim to have Abraham as their ancestor. These three religions have effected most of the known world, and outside of China and Southeast Asia, I can't think of a Region of the world where these arent' the primary religion. So you could say that Abraham was the most influential person in the history of the world.

Paul says that Abraham was justified by faith. There was nothing that he did to deserve God's merrit and because he had faith, and he acted on that faith he became the father of many nations. This is an amazing proposition. Now I don't believe that if I have faith in God, one day my descendents will rule the world. But I believe that if I have faith in God I will be taken care of.

So I guess I don't need a statue or a complex aquaduct to be remembered by. I think I'll be ok if am remembered as a guy who trusted God with his life. And God blessed him for that.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Something isn't right in my head...

I have grown up in institutions that have been fundamentalistists. This means that the churches and schools has taken a very strong moral stance on many issues of the surrounding culture. This position is seen by many as a very separates stance. Fundamentalists don't dance, or drink, or smoke; in fact these actions are considered sinful. And growing up, this has been my philosophy on life.

I believe that this is a very safe position to be in, but it can lead very quickly into legalism. Too often fundamentalist camps have pulled away from the world, leaving it to it's "vices." Forming Christian schools, Christian radio stations, Christian hang out places, where they sell Christian coffee.

Fundamentalists have sat down and established actions that are sins, and stamped them into the minds of every child in the churches. Boom..black and white: no and's, if's, or buts. Growing up I was indoctrinated (if you will) about the different sins and what I needed to do to avoid falling into their grasp.

As I began to mature, the rules seemed to be a burden to my life. They were cramping my style. I only followed the rules because it was what I had been taught my whole life, and not because I wanted to. So I would follow them, mostly because I couldn't prove the feeling deep inside me that wouldn't let me buy into rules just for the sake of rules. This lead to me breaking some of the rules, because they had no meaning to me other than it's what I had been taught, and not something I necessarily believed.

I still struggle with this feeling of not totally accepting the rules side of the deal. And I think that this is the reason that many of the young adults today struggle with church. They feel that the church is only giving them half the truth. We know that this Christian thing is right for us, but the whole idea that the Christian life is set out before is in black and white instantly makes us uneasy.

I guess the only thing that I wonder about is what is the point of living a moral life. Donald Miller in his book "Searching for God knows what" suggests morality is a private thing between man and God. Which to me is kinda an awkward proposition as earlier in his book, he talked about man being meant to live in community with each other. But I think he makes a good point, we don't live by the rules to impress anybody but God. What will impressing them do? Get us brownie points in the person most likely to succeed category when we graduate. So I think maybe that has something to do with the issue.

I have also heard the argument that God created us and set up rules for our own good. And not following the rules will lead us down roads bad for us. I totally agree with that statement. God created us and so He has the right to say what we can and cannot do. BUT what are the rules laid out before us? God can demand anything of me He deems necessary, but are the rules so Black and White as I grew up thinking?

Sorry I have been rambling on and on for a while now. I still hold onto following the rules. Not as tightly as I have before, but I live a life that I consider "by the book." I guess I have typed this all as a platform to help start the process in my life (and yours if some of this bothers you too) of how I am supposed to live out life. So if you want to leave a comment please do. If you wanna IM me and talk there, cool! Or if you want to forget all about this conversation please do! But I hope that in some way you'll be drawn closer to the love and grace of God!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Band of Brothers

I am a HUGE Band of Brothers fan. For those of you who do not know, Band of Brothers is an HBO series (10 episodes) that walks through the events of World War II with Easy Company, 2 division of the 506 PIR of the 101st (or something like that). If that went over your head, these guys were pretty much just a group of soldiers who Parachuted into Normandy on D-Day, took part in the liberation of Holland, held Bastogne in the Battle of the Bulge, and took Hitler's residence in the Alps. So they were a group of elite soldiers who saw a lot of fighting in the war.

The first thing that I noticed when I began to watch these movies, is how realistic they are. The combat is very realistic, and the man in me is loving every minute of it. Then I began to notice that I was becoming very attached to these soldiers, I hated the episodes where my heroes get wounded and I was devastated when they got the Big One.
Now I don't want to sound like a huge fan of war and death, but these guys have captivated my interest. What does it take to be able to go through what they went through? How does a man watch his friends get blown up and still be able to have the want to live?
I think that the beauty of these movies is that fact that the emphasis is not on the fighting, that's just there because it is a war film. The emphasis is on the relationships that these men have developed with each other. These guys even busted out of hospitals all throughout the war to make sure that their friends wouldn't be fighting the enemy without their help. There was such a tight camaraderie among the men that it seemed they would go through Hell for each other.
Last night, I was watching the NBA, and Stephen Jackson of the Pacers (I'm not dogging the Pacers) was being questioned about an argument he had with one of the assistant coaches. He was upset that people were questioning his loyalty to his team, and he was upset that people were judging him. Then he referred to the infamous night in Detroit when he ran in the stands and started fighting the fans, to help Ron Artest. Not to criticize any of the actions that happened that night, but that's not going war, that's a riot.
A few years ago the same thing happened with the Detroit Tigers. They were playing a game against the White Sox and during the course of the game there was two bench clearing brawls. It seemed that like half of the Tigers were suspended, but the reactions were not what I thought they would be. The players were not upset with the suspensions, I think that they realized that there was no way around those. But they were upset at the players who didn't come out and fight with them. Instead of nasty comments about the commissioner, they were making comments about the players who were still on the bench.
Why is it that players will risk large amounts of money for their teammates (Stephen Jackson said he lost $2 million)? Why did the soldiers in WWII leave the hospital to go back into combat and risk their lives? And why do I feel excited when I see and hear stories about these things?
The answer to these questions, I believe, is that we as humans are meant to be in a community. We need to know that when I go through life, I am not alone. People will sacrifice a whole lot of things to be a part of something. When you look a people who are depressed and people who take their lives, isolation seems to be a big part of the reason; not physical isolation, but mental and spiritual isolation. It seems we are at our lowest when we are alone.
I think that's why I like Band of Brothers, not for the cool war actions shots, but because it shows man at his finest.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Baseball...the heartbeat of a Bellinger

Whoops....It's bee almost centuries since I have posted anything!! Please all you "Legend" blog fans forgive me!!

I am a huge baseball fan. I love it! Baseball was in my blood. My grandpa was a star pitcher at his high school. I grew up hearing stories of how hard he could throw. In fact, my grandpa took my family to my first baseball game ever. We drove to his house, and Brent and I both got one of my dad's Tiger hats. My parents still have that picture of us with my grandpa that day. He was so proud that his grandsons were baseball fans. I don't think we had a choice really, it was a family thing at his house, family reunions, church picnics, and any time people were there it was highly probable that people were playing ball, or were trying to get somebody to play with them

I played 1-1 baseball with my brother in the backyard everyday. We were fanatical Tiger fans (it was back when the Tigers were good) and our afternoons were spent pretending to be Cecil Fielder or Rob Deere hitting the ball out of the park, and then trotting around the bases. Our games would usually end up in a fight or atleast and argument. Usually I started it because I was upset my little brother was beating me.

When I was in 2nd grade I was finally old enough to play Little League! My first year I was assigned to left field, and I was so pumped just to be in the starting line up (even if it was the outfield). That year we had a good team, and got 2nd place in the league. I remember going to the awards ceremony, and getting my 1st trophey. I was so proud of that, I placed it on my dresser and showed everybody who came over, my 2nd place trophey!

That summer we moved, and in the new town we lived in the Little League was not as organized as the one I had just left from. Because I was new to the area, Brent and I were picked by the bad team, cause all the good teams didn't know just who we were. That year it was horrible, I don't think we won a game. It was totally embarassing. Here we were, Bellingers and our team was the worst in the league.

The next year was different. I was old enough to move up to the older kids league. I was the youngest kid on my team, and nobody expected the kid that nobody knew from the horrible team to be any good at all. I played my best summer of baseball ever that year. Not only was I a good outfielder, but I was a cluth hitter (If I may say so myself). As the season came to an end we were in the hunt for 1st place in the league, and I was helping contribute to that!

On the last day of the year, we had to play two games in one night. In our first game that day the other team jumped out to a 2-0 lead on us. As I came up to bat in the 3rd inning, I knew I had to come through. With a man on second, I drove the ball into center field and got our first run of the game. My hit started a ralley and we came back and won the game. We won the second game and went on to win the league championship.

After those games, my coach came up to me and my parents as we were about to get in the car. He looked at me and told me that he was going to nominate me the All-Star team. After that he told me that I had "saved the teams bacon all season long". I was so proud! I was the youngest player on the team and I was nominated to be an All Star and the coach said I had saved the team!

I played baseball the next two summers and both times my teams placed 3rd and 2nd in the league. Both were fun, but we could never get over the hump like my first summer. But after those years, my family moved again. I started goin to a Christian school that did not have a baseball team so I stopped playing baseball.

While I was in high school, I had little contact with the game. I would play softball during camp time. Every now and there would be a Saturday game on that I'd catch. But I had developed a new passion, basketball. I left my glove in the garage, my bats in their bag, and the baseballs laying on the floor rotting; basketball was now the game of choice.

How often is this the case for people who grow up in the church. We grow up involved in church. We are there every week memorizing scripture, inviting our neighbors to Sunday School, praying every night, and reading our Bibles. Then inevitably we move away, and replace our faith for something that is cooler. We "play" Christian a couple times a year, and in the mean time let our "equipment" rot.

As I moved through high school and into college, I began to watch baseball more. My friends at school were huge baseball fans, and I began to pay more attention to the game. When I tried to do the things I had used to do with ease, I found that what was once done with easy, was now difficult. The once familiar ball in my hand, now felt foriegn. The accuracy that I once threw the ball, was no where to be found. In the game I was once at home in, I now was an alien.

I'm a huge fan of baseball it's in my blood, and I want to keep it that way.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Eternal security....maybe not the point

If you're a Christian, you've proably had the question, "can i lose my salvation?" Many people hold fiercly to both sides of the debate, and I have been in many arguments on this topic. In the last couple of months, I have realized that the issue is much deeper than whether we can or cannot lose this gift of salvation.

First of all, I do not believe that any group of Christians would say that you can lose your salvation; that God looks down upon you and says you've done enough wrong, now you're not a Christian. But that we have the choice whether to or whether not to give up our life in Christ.

How we look at this topic is deeply interwoven in the fabric of the issue of salvation. What exactly is the salvation that we as Christians believe we have? If to you salvation is something that is delegated by God, a judicial view of salvation, where the focus is man's sin being forgiven so he does not go to hell, then it would be illogical for man to be able to lose his salvation.

But if your view on salvation is a relational view, that God forgives your sin so not only you can be saved from being damned to hell, but so that you can be in communion with him. And the relationship between God and man is the reason, then I believe that it is possible for man to dissolve the union of that relationship.

I have given two paths to take down the road to understanding just what salvation is; but which one is right? Are there some clues to the purpose of salvation? Hmmmm. I think the only way we can truely know the purpose of salvation is to find the purpose of why we were created in the first place. Is the point of man to soley give glory to God? or is the purpose of man for God to show perfect love.

I believe that both options are correct but I think that one with the most emphasis is to show us love. John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son...". While God does recieve glory from his creation, because it will happen no matter what happens, I believe that God does not act out of concern for this.

I'll admit that I have leaned in the direction of my bias, and if another person were writing this, no doubt the arguments would be the complete opposite. But I believe that the position that i take is not on the extreme left or right. I believe that the position of a relational view on salvation is the middle. If you think that my view of salvation is way to the extreme, I say to you that there is another view on what salvation is. We have God alone doing the saving work, man and God coming togeather into a relationship, and the final way of seeing what salvation is is man saving himself.

Of course that view is not an option, as it is discredited by the Bible. The nearly universal understanding of salvation (I say 'nearly' because there is a very small contingent of people who believe that you can work your way into salvation (yes i think they're wrong)) is that God is the one who does the work of salvation. If you are going to make me choose between either side of my belief, I will choose to say that God is the only part alone who does the work of salvation.

If you believe that God does the work of salvation completely independent of man, what is your understanding of man's role in the process. Because by the defination of what side you're on, man does not have a role, accept to be saved. This position very quickly leads to a lack of responsibility to be moral, not only for the reason that God is the one doing the acting, but because a changed life is not the point. The point becomes God saving you from hell.

This "point" does not seem to line up with the verses that talk abotu living transformed lives. This "point" also does not deal with verses that call us into living life in Christ. If all that God's purpose was to save us from eternal damnation in the afterlife, why did Christ come to earth and die as a 30 year old human. If he wanted to do that, all he needed to do was become a baby and die. If all that he wanted to do was give us a way out, why did he go through the ups and downs of life? Was there a purpose for the three years of teaching about a right way of living, if how we live our lives does not matter?

Think about it.....

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Anorexic Christians

With the modern mdeia, we have been able to see starving children from africia and asia. It's shocking to see just how disfigured that they are, and how horrible it would be to not have enough food. America has no understanding of how poor and hungry these countries are; look at all the McDonalds that are within 30 minutes of your house. There is no lack of food, even people who we consider poor are head and shoulders above the rest of the world.

The biggest oxymoron in our Western Culture are people who are anorexic. Here these people are, in a world where they know no suffering, and they totally reject what is put before them. Because they are worried about their looks, that they're fat; that they starve themselves. They are the exact opposite of the people who are starving in 3rd world countries, if you put food infront of these starving Africians and they devour it. But with anorexic people they completely ignore the food.

Now I say these things about anorexic people not because I make fun of them, nor because I do not realize their sickness; but because I want to point out how foolish what they're doing is. To deny the body what it needs to stay healthy is nothing short of idiotic. Eventually if a person continues to starve their body this way, it completely breaks down.

This to me is almost the same way that Christians are in North America. We have so many options, so much "spiritual food" to nurish our bodies that it is almost sickening to see the rest of the worlds lack. Yet we look at all this "food" and we ignore it. We have the resources to be the strongest church in the history of the world, but we try and keep the food at arms length. There almost is a sense, that we think we'll become 'fat' and 'unattractive' that we starve ourselves.

Maybe we're not worried about becoming fat, but we think to ourselves "the food will always be there, we can get food anytime we want to. This is my problem. I attend a christian college, attend church, help out at youth group, have more Bibles than I can remember, and countless books talking about spirituality and theology. Yet one of the biggest struggles that i deal with is to actually sit down and eat.

This to me is just as even more illogical than anorexic people, at least they have a reaon (yes it's a bad reason) to starve themselves. I just am not taking time to feed myself when I know that it's what I need. HOW SENSELESS CAN I BE?!?!?

So what? Are you anorexic? Are you scared of what will happen to your life if you eat? or are you even worse, and just don't eat? Lets take some time and eat, eat alot.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Is being relevant really revelant?

In order to expand our youth groups we're in the midst of a struggle to become relevant to the youth culture. I believe that this is important, and in no way am I diminishing this aspect but I do not believe that this is the entire problem. In fact, I believe that part of the problem with youth group attendence is the fact that the church does not keep up with youth culture. The other side of the problem is that the church focus' too much attention on the fact that they are not keeping up.

I think that the result of tring to be "hip" or "cool" leads to creating just a hangout enviroment. I contend that youth groups should have some of that atmosphere, but there needs to be more than just a hang out time. There needs to be something that makes youth groups different than any other social club.

The fact that Christians have the hope of Christ should be what keeps people curious about our lives. We can have joy in the good and the bad, because we know that God still loves us and wants the best for us. Those who do not have a relationship with Christ do not have that hope, that ability to see through the bad. This is what should distinguish those in the church from those not in the church.

This is why when I hear people talk about how excited that they are about a new building or a new program that the church is working on, I become somewhat critical of what they're thinking.

Conversely, I do not like it when people say, "We just need to be spiritual" because while it is important to be spiritual we must be relevant so people can understand our spirituality. We cannot focus completely on how spiritual we are and become monks living somewhere in the middle of the woods. While monks definately are very spiritual, when they isolate themselves they help nobody but themselves.

So what can be said of this blog? I think that there is a balance we as Christians must have. First we must focus on developing our spirituality. Secondly we must have an emphasis to stay relevent in our world. We must have both, and both must be taken seriously if we as Christians expect to change those around us.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Charming God....

For years I miss understood the Christian life. I grew up in the house of a very conservative pair of ministers, and did not understand why people didn't live in the same style that I did. I also did not understand other styles of worship. In kindergarden my best friend was Catholic, when I heard about some of the things and rituals that he did in church I was confused.

Catholics believe that salvation is about what you do, and doing those things right. If you have been to a Mass, you see that this is true. The whole service is printed out in a little booklet, so that everything is done just right. It is not about feelings or emotions, but that you do Mass right. The result of doing things right in mass is Transubstantiation.

Transubstantiation is the belief that when taking communion that the bread and wine are turned into the blood and body of Christ. This they believe takes place when a properly lead Mass has been performed. The whole service is pointed towards this happening. The message is short, there are not many songs, and all the prayers are recited from the books. Literally the largest part of the service is the serving of communion. So when Catholic people leave the service they leave believing quite literally that God is in them.

At first I thought that this was so odd and wrong, but after thinking about it I believe that many evangelical churches have the same type of thinking. Instead of having the body of Christ in our stomachs, we are looking for the Spirit to come upon our beings.

I know what you're thinking "yeah....that's a good thing, what's your point?" But we try and induce the presence of the Spirit among us by singing the right songs, or by singing this way or that way. All of which are good things but not the only way to do them. We feel that if we don't sing chorus' or if we have just a guitar or just an organ for the music we're gonna miss out on the working of the Spirit.

I believe that there is nothing wrong with wanting the Spirit in our lives, but isn't He already there? That's the beauty of Christianity, "Christ in you, the hope of glory!!!" When we are saved the Holy Spirit comes upon us and takes residence in our beings. We don't need to do the right things because he's here.

So where does this concept leave us? I guess it should make us stop and think about what we really are doing in worship. What is it about the order of worship in our service that makes us. Why do we do the things we do? Should they stay that way? Are they truely acts of worship or are you trying to "charm" God to be present?

I think we need to totally rethink our stance on church and our lives. What do our acts of worship really mean? Why do we do them? Are you like the Catholic trying to call God upon yourself? Or are you using whatever acts you're doing to truely worship God for who He is and what He has done?

Monday, January 24, 2005

Roman Catholic Faith

The Roman Catholic Church at the beginning of the 16th century was in shambles theologically. The teachings of the church were very far away from the truth and they were leading people into a false faith, and in essence damming them to hell. Here is a breakdown of what was being taught.

There was a comparison in their view of salvation to that of a scale; the good you do, and the other the bad For a person to go to heaven the good needed to outweigh the bad.

The bad side of the scale is weighed down by mortal sins and by venial sins. Mortal sins are the deadly sins that send a person to hell. These sins can only be forgiven by God. Venial sins are just things that are bad for you but won't damn you to hell. If any venial sins are left unconfessed and unforgiven the sinner is sent to purgatory where the penalty is worked off.

The Good side included all the good works that you did and the work of Christ on the cross. Both are necessary for salvation. But the work of Christ is not enough for your salvation. There must be good works in your life, works that will tilt the balance of the scales toward the good. Any venial sins that are unforgiven are accounted for by good works.

The Catholic church dicatated what these good works were and also reserved the right to openly forgive any and all sins. This lead to the rise of indulgences. Through a progression of sorts that arrises out of the crusades which at the end, a person could buy forgiveness for venial sins and other trivial matters. This climaxed when a monk began to sell indulgences for any sin; mortal or venal.

Martin Luther was reading throught Psalms 31 and the book of Romans and he said that the just live by faith. He saw what the Catholic Church was doing when it was selling indulgences and saying that your good works out weigh your bad works, and said it was wrong. It is faith in Jesus' work of redemption that saves us, not through good works not through buying indulgences from the church, and definately not through our own merrit.

He published his problems with the practice of indulgences in his 95 Thesis which he wrote in 1517. His work led to the Prodestant Reformation, which lead to the fall of the power of the Roman Catholic Church. This reformatation also lead to the movement which the church I now attend is a part of.

I sit here today almost 500 years later, and i catch myself falling into the pattern of the Catholic's of Luther's day. I try and base my salvation on what I do. But the Bible says that all our righteousness is as filthy rags, so obvously that won't work for us. We have to place all our faith in God, and not what we do.

But I continously forget this, and try and work my way into being a good Christian. I forget it's about my faith and in Christ and i make it how good I am. And when I have not been good, I wonder if I am no longer a Christian. It is not about my actions as much as it is about my faith.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Am I really a Soldier for Christ?

The Christian church has been inundated with the message; "you're a soldier fighting evil for Jesus." It's a very romantic word picture, and at some levels I like the thought. I see myself dressing in my "armor" and going out into the world fighting the devil where ever he may be. I hear the church bells ring and i run to fight, and willing to lay down my life for the cause. But while parts of this model for a christian life fit, overall I think it's a bad way of looking at my christian life.

What is a soldier? A soldier is a person who joins an army to fight or to die. He stands ready to sacfrice his life at the command of those in authority above him. He is armed to the teeth with the most advanced weaponry available and is programed to kill whatever enemy that comes in his way. He does not have the same rights that a normal citizen has. Yet he has less responsiblity to provide for himself that a normal citizen. Finally, a soldier's posture is to show no remorse for the enemy, his enemy is to be defeated at all costs.

While yes I believe that Christians just like soldiers are fighting for a greater cause. I believe that we should submit to those in authority of God. We have given up our rights and our lives just like a good soldier must do. That we are in a battle between good and evil for the world; and we must take up our spiritual weapons to fight the evil one where he may be. While all these descriptions that line up do line up, the posture we must take is not one of a soldier.

What we are in a war agaist evil, a war in which we as Christians are active participants, and we're not supposed to be taking the posture of a soldier? What's this I say? Yes you heard me right, we're not supposed to be taking the posture of soldiers. So you may ask what posture should we take then? A posture of love and a posture of prayer.

While we are active participants in this conflict, we are not the ones fighting. Jesus' won the fight already, His death on the cross so many centuries ago sealed the deal. So we dont' need to fight. What we need to do is show love. This is commandment that Jesus gave for us to follow, love your neighbor. Our fight is against powers that we cannot see, not our neighbor. Our weapons are not the Bible nor the church's doctrine, but prayer and love. When we take the posture of a soldier, we find ourselves fighting the people we're not supposed to be fighting.

What would happen to our way of approaching a lost world if we quit thinking of ourselves as fighting a fight against sin in the world, and started to think of ourselves as the medical staff applying the love of Christ. If instead of using the word of God as a weapon to defend our positions, we use the message inside as bandage for the wounded. If instead of using prayer to make us feel better about ourselves, we pray for others around us.

Am I really supposed to be a soldier?

Thursday, January 06, 2005

HUH?!? Made In God's Image?!?!

The Bible says that we're created in the image of God, but I struggle with this concept. How are we made in God's image. There are many different ways that I have thought about that we could be made in His Image.

God is all powerful, all knowing, all good; and we as humans have none of these traits. Here is God infinate, and we as humans are on the other side of the spectrum. We cannot even begin to understand God's characteristics because we cannot view the world outside of our limits. I've tried it, I cannot imagine a line that never ends, I can theorize it but I cannot visualize it. I always in my head make an end to the line. It's because in my finiteness, everything that I know and understand has boundries.

Maybe it is in the way that God rules over the world. No, because God has absolute control. His will, will be done. There is no and if's or buts about it. God is soveriegn. Man does not control everything. Man tries to control what he can, but that power has limits, and it really isn't real control. Nature cares little about man, it moves how it wants to move, and nothing can stop it. Man cannot even control his fellow man completely. Only through cooersion and manipluation does man's power stand among other men. So man has some power, but just a concept compared to God's power.

God is emotional. Maybe this is going somewhere. But wait, God is never offbalance in his emotions. The root of all his emotions is Love. His love for man is the reason that he hates sin, because sin destroys man. But his emotions never get the best of God. God never has mood swings; he keeps an even keel. Man on the other hand has emotions, but nobody keeps them under control. So while God is emotional, man's emotions are raging out of control.

God knows everything, so this can't be the way that we're like God. But man does have the ability to comprehend somethings. But not near like God does, there is nothing that God does no know, man with man on the other hand, there are things that he does not know. Ok there are many things man does no know.

In all three of these ways that I have described I have begun to notice a pattern. While we are like God, in part, we are not completely like him, almost like he is the model, and we're minature pieces. But is there another way we're made like God? Is there a way that we humans are like God?

I think it's that we want relationships in which we can pour out our love and affection in. I believe that God created man to love and have a relationship with. Not to rule over like a dictator, but to be in communion with and share our lives with His life. I think that this is the reason that we as humans are always trying to find the perfect relationship to be in. We long to share our experiences with somebody else, and its as if when we find that intimacy, something clicks, it's almost like we feel complete.

God created the world, as a perfect paradise for Adam to live in, and I believe that He created Adam to commune with and to love. This to me helps me understand why the punishment for sin had to be death. Because if the relationship between Adam and God was the reason for creation, then sin destroys that relationship, SIN would be the ultimate act of adultry between man and God. Not only would it be the ultimate act of adultry, but sin would destroy the purpose for God's creation. Thus God took the sin problem seriously, and did everything that he had to do to solve it; even come to earth as a human and die the worst possible death.

So we were created in God's image. That makes me smile.

Monday, January 03, 2005

For Good or For Bad

I have grown up a W.A.S.P. (white anglo-saxon prodestant) like the majority of Americans. I have been a lawabiding citizen, and I and an overall good person. I go to church, and want to be a pastor. I am not a racist, and i support helping out people who are less fortunate as I am. I support the demise of all opressive regiems and I believe that these downfalls should be done as peacefully as possible. I condem terriorism as evil, and I hate it when the bad guys win. I cheer for the underdog, along with despising it when the big guy gets bigger and bigger every year. I do not drink nor do I smoke or do drugs. I have never had a traffic citation, nor have I ever been arrested.

From that list it looks like I'm a good guy, yet I am not. I am lazy, often unmotivated, and very undisciplined. I do not have a job, and I am in debt up to my ears. If given the choice I would probably decide to take the easy way out or the path of least resistance. I have lied and cheated often in my life, and many of my accomplishments have been the result of other people's hard work. I am not always good because I want to be good, but because I am too scared of what will happen to me if I get caught being bad.

Who could love a person like me if they really see me deep inside? Is there anything that would make a person love me? I am so flawed and stupid, so simple and vain, that i make myself sick. I do not believe that I am alone in my plight. I believe that I am just one in a sea of people who see themselves in such dier straights.

What will become of me if I am left to myself i do not know. The only escape I have from myself is to be cured by something outside of myself. But another human being cannot help me because they have the same problem I have. So the solution to my problem must come from outside of myself, and must be something not human.

This is root of all human experiences; this quest that we take, the quest of life, is based upon this feeling of missing the mark, that somehow there is something missing from our existence. That somehow no matter how we try, life misses the point. We need something to live for, something that fills the gap that we have in our lives. That something is defined in different ways by different people. Some people try all the rushes that they can, whether it is drugs or high risk events. Other people try and find their purpose by doing as much as they can or owning as much as they can. Some try and find it in other people and the popularity that they come with. Still others try and find the meaning of life through religion. Finally people mix and match these groups.

For this reason Christianity sticks out. No I am not talking about the religion of Christianity, I am talking about the teachings and life of Jesus that, years ago, men tried to make into a religion. Of all the major religions (and i only say religion here because it's the only way i know to describe it), Christianity is the only world religion where salvation's first step was from the diety. If you hunt and search you'll not find a religion like it. Because religion is defined as man's pursuit of God. The Bible teaches that there is nothing man can do to come before God, unless God makes the first step. And He did. Jesus, because he loved us, came to earth to die for us to give us a way of salvation. Thus Christianity ceases to be about what we do, and about what Jesus did.

To a human who cannot see out of his walls of filth, this is the only way I can see out of my hole. There is no other answer out there that makes sense quite like Jesus' love for me.