Thursday, June 28, 2007

Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?!?!

Where has the time gone? June has swept past us, and before you know it November 3rd will be here! I am going to take a bit of time away from deeper things and do some writting on something else near and dear to my heart-baseball. But if you want to read something deep and thought provoking check out Stephanie's article on Simplicity-it's really good!

Now on to baseball...

This summer looks like it could be the summer of epic proportions. Everybody and their mom is doing something specialon the field. Here are a few things that have already happened as we near the All Star break:

1. Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox threw a no hitter on April 18. And the only runner he let on (Sammy Sosa) was picked off first base-meaning he faced the minimum number of batters possible (27).

2. Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies “turned” an unassisted triple play on April 29. This has only happened 13 times in MLB history (over 100 years)!!!

3. Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers threw a no-hitter on June 12. Becoming the first no-hitter for the Tigers since 1984!! (This one has been my favorite event of the year so far!!).

4. Sammy Sosa of the Texas Rangers hit the 600th Home Run of his career on June 20. Sammy did this against the team he made his name playing for, the Chicago Cubs- How crazy!

5. Frank Thomas of the Toronto Blue Jays (it’s still weird to me he’s not a White Sox any more) hit his 500th career Home Run on June 28. Ironically, in the same ballpark he hit his first dinger.

So in 125 plus years:
• Pitchers have thrown 234 no hitters.
• A player hit 500 career Home Runs 21 times.
• An unassisted triple play has happened 13 times.
• Only 5 people have hit 600 Home Runs

History has been happening before our eyes this year on the baseball diamond! If you havn’t been watching, you should have. This has been one of the most explosive seasons ever and it’s only half way done! If the season is only half over what other events could take place?


• Four other guys have the chance to break 500 Homers (A-Rod, Man Ram, Jim Thome, & Gary Sheffield).
• Pedro Martinez should come to the 3000 career strike out mark.
• Two guys are in position to get 3000 hits (Craig Biggio and Barry Bonds).
• Tom Glavin is a few wins away from 300 in his career.
• Ken Griffey Jr. is streaking towards 600 (if he stays healthy).
• Barry Bonds looks like he is going to break Hank Aaron’s all time Home Run mark (755).

The summer of ’07 could be the summer that changes everything! Or maybe it's a great year to watch baseball!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Here is an essay that Stephanie wrote the other day:

I have been reading a book that I would highly recommend to anyone and everyone, “Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne. It is an amazing look at what it means to live simply and serve wholly.

Shane is a part of a community known as the The Simple Way. He lives with a group of people in inner city Philadelphia. Their goal is to build community and love the poor like Jesus did. They live communally, which yes, means they share their incomes, possessions, and everything else with others. In our American Dream world, this is a hard concept to grasp. Most people, me included, might view this group as a bunch of hippies who make their own clothes and eat grass. As I read about this group of people, and researched communities like them, it seems they are on the right track.

Now, I’m not saying I want to run out and start a commune, though the thought is appealing, I DO believe that the Simple Way is closer to what Jesus has in mind when he teaches in Matthew about how we should pray for His kingdom to come. I think the Early Church that we read about in Acts has the right idea and that seems to be what this group is doing.

Contemplating myself living in a community like this, I come up with many conflicting scenarios.
1) If we all share the same money, what about when I see a good sale on a purse, or shoes, or cute dress at Target, H&M, Gap, Forever 21, etc. etc. I am a shopaholic. Shopping is my stress reliever. This is probably a psychological issue I need to work out, but WHAT WOULD I DO????
2) Honestly, I feel that sometimes my heart and compassion are not big enough to care about the poor. Aren’t they poor for a reason? Why don’t they have jobs? Are they are lazy and milk the welfare system for all it is worth? Yet, according to the Bible, we are called to love them.
3) Wouldn’t people think we are crazy? Hippies? A cult? I do not want to be viewed like that by others. BUT, if I truly believe what the Lord says about being hated by the world, then shouldn’t my mindset be “Who cares what others think?”

Right now I’m living in the suburbs of Chicago. I work at a place where having money doesn’t matter, but the minute I step off this campus, that all changes. I see unnecessarily large houses, strip malls on every corner, 5 year olds with cell phones, and teenagers with better cars than I could ever dream of driving. How can I be a Christian living in this culture? More importantly, is it wrong to live in this culture? Is it wrong to have a lot of money? Is it wrong to want to have a lot of money?

How can I call myself a true follower of our Lord and spend $10,000 on a wedding? Couldn’t that money go to a much worthier cause? Where do we draw the line? Is there a line?

I have worked in a suburban church, and known many wonderful people with wonderful hearts. They open their homes up to youth groups and missionaries, and roll into church on Sundays in their Lexus. I have gone to Willow Creek a few times since I have lived out here. While I know they are doing many good things and helping with many different causes nation wide and world wide, it just seems that instead of building such a huge building with water fountains and busses and a different stage design every week, they could be using that money for more important things--perhaps feeding a hungry kid in Chicago. At the same time though, my heart is torn because, like I said, I know the church is doing good things.

I guess a lot of us believe that if we just give to Compassion or donate to short term mission trips, then we are fulfilling our obligation to give to the poor. I do not want to discount giving to these worthwhile causes, or giving in general because it is a spiritual gift. But, is shelling out cash to these organizations while still living in the American Dream bubble enough?

This is where my heart is. I feel torn and unable to express everything I feel. I want to have money, a retirement plan, a reliable car, nice clothes, a beautiful home, but in the end, this will all still leave me empty. I know why it was so hard for the rich man who Jesus told to give up everything to follow Him had such a hard time with that idea.

I believe it is impossible to pursue Christ and pursue the American Dream. We have the promise of mansions in heaven, so why am I trying to find mine while I’m living here on earth?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Summer ’07 Update

Here are some things that are happening in my life right now.

1.) For those of you who do not know, I am engaged to the love of my life, Stephanie Ann Riggs. She is my best friend and I am soooooooooooo excited to get to spend the rest of my life with her. We are getting married on November 3rd so as of this date (June 22) we have 133 days left.

I proposed to her on Christmas night after her family had opened their Christmas presents. She did not know that I had driven down to talk to her mom the week before, but everybody in her family and a few of her friends did. So they were all hanging out cameras in hand, and Steph was wondering why everybody was hanging out.

One thing I will not recommend is to propose to a girl and then move 7 hours away. It is very tough! So guys if you’re thinking about proposing then moving to another state…don’t!

Even with the distance issue, this has been the best 6 months of my life!!

2.) I have just finished my first semester of Seminary. I had three classes: Matthew, Biblical Hebrew, and Vocation of Ministry. All classes were very good and very formational in my understanding of the Christian faith, and my latest posts have been focusing these thoughts. I believe that God is stretching my understanding of who He is and what He is doing in the world through my experience at Asbury.

Graduate work is intense, and I am continually learning to be more disciplined and more focused on my work. But it is doable.

I am currently finishing up Comprehensive Greek I, which is crazy. We are taking a 3-month class crammed into 3 weeks. This means that everyday we are studying 1 week worth of homework. AND that means that we’re expected to do one week’s worth of homework every night (it averages out to 7 ½ to 9 hours).

Next fall I will be taking “Kingdom, Church, and World,” “Church History I,” and “Method and Praxis.” Method & Praxis and KCW will be taken from the virtual campus. I am excited about those classes!

3.) I have been playing basketball 2-3 days a week on the seminary campus. Noon-ball as it is called (Why “noon-ball” you ask? Well, because it starts at 12-noon! Clever I know.) It has been the best part of coming to seminary for me. One of the tough parts about moving to a place where you don’t know anybody is that you don’t know anybody. It really was this group of guys who made me happy to be here in Kentucky.

It has been good for me, as the last couple years in college I did not exercise enough and I had gained a few lb's that I need to shed. The exercise has been good for me and my pants have been a little bit big on me! Hurrah for exercise!!!

4.) I am planning writing a book. I think that I’m going to spend the rest of my time here at seminary working on it here and there and then try and get it published. I still am in the extreme beginning of the process...aka still thinking stuff out. But maybe you’ll some day go to a bookstore and see my name on the shelf. Who knows??

5.) I am working at A D Carpet Care; it’s an interesting place. I am the guy who comes and cleans your carpet. Actually, we do mostly commercial so I am in hotels most of the time when I work (which is primarily Mondays for right now). So I have spent a good portion of my free time over the past couple of months in hotel rooms.

Here are some things to think about when going to a hotel: 1.) The lobby isn’t a good sign of the quality of the hotel, the hallways are. 2.) The carpet of the hotel is a dead give away of the quality of the hotel. 3.) If you see tons of stains on the carpet, it means that the hotel has tons of people party there. 4.) NEVER stay in at Hyatt in Lexington.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to put in a ton of hours over July and August with this company…“A D Carpet Care, call ‘us’ on the carpet!”

That’s what’s going on in my life!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

What is Salvation?

As I read the Gospels, Jesus’ understanding of salvation seems to be active. To Jesus, salvation requires that there be a change happening to your person; it is not just an abstract event. I see Jesus telling a rich man to give away his wealth. I read about Jesus challenging the expert in the Law in how he views the Samaritans. I find Jesus telling the woman caught in adultery to stop. Salvation requires action.

(If you are thinking right now, “What about Ephesians 2:8-9 (we are saved by grace and not by works so no one can boast.)?” then I think you should be reading Ephesians 2:10 which ends saying we are God’s artwork created to do good works.)

Salvation I believe is best summed up this way: “Salvation is when we trust ourselves to Jesus and His way, the way of the cross (see previous post).”

Over and over in the Gospels Jesus is confronting people with Himself and His way of life. He is conversing with religious people about how they have missed the point-how salvation is not just about how good you are at not breaking the Law. He continually challenges the social structure that many of these (I assume well intentioned) teachers and people we would consider Pastors, with revolutionary ways of thinking. He’s demanding that these leaders quit bogging themselves down in theological studies and arguments and start living out their beliefs.

Jesus in Matthew 11 makes the statement: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” To which we ask what Jesus means when he says, ‘take my yoke?’

Well, a yoke was a rabbinical term that a rabbi would use to classify his way of interpreting the Law. And by using this term, Jesus is asking the people to take his understanding of the way that life is to be lived. Follow and live life the way that I am teaching you to live.

If you read the radical things that Jesus says in the Gospels, it takes a ton of trust to follow Him. Jesus’ way commands that we do not fight for our rights, instead we pick up our cross (an idea that stands directly in opposition to the Declaration of Independence). Jesus says don’t worry about tomorrow, instead give what you don’t need to those who do need (in direct opposition to retirement planning). Jesus says if somebody hits you don’t hit them back instead let them hit you again (in direct opposition to self defense).

It’s foolishness to say that I’m going to let somebody hit me a second time. It’s crazy to give away your hard earned money to somebody who has done nothing for you. But this is the way that Jesus says leads to life. He is asking us to trust Him.

Biblically, we do not just receive salvation, we take it up. We do not hunt down ways to gain eternal life; we hunt for ways to give up our lives. We do not carry around the guilt of the sins we have committed; we throw our guilt to the cross. We trust Jesus, trust His work on the cross, and trust His triumph over the grave. THIS IS SALVATION!!!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Way of the Cross

In Matthew 16:24 Jesus says that the core of what his way is about is carrying a cross. What does it mean to “carry your cross?”

The cross was a shameful way to die, it was designed by the Romans to be just that. They even reserved this way of execution for the lowest of the low-they didn’t crucify citizens (even Paul isn’t crucified)-and Jesus is telling his followers that this is what it means to follow him.

A cross meant that you no longer had rights. You did not have the right to live-they killed you. You didn’t have the right to dignity-they did it in public so everybody could witness you die. You didn’t have the right to privacy-they took off your clothing. You didn’t have the right to freedom from suffering-they purposefully let your death take days and maybe even weeks.

Carrying a cross is to totally give up your rights.

This is the way that Christians are supposed to be living their lives. But sadly this is not how most do. Sadly, many Christians hold on to their rights. They end up doing the exact opposite they fight for their rights; which is against what Jesus was about.

Christians even are known to fight and argue to promote Christianity. What’s up with that? Should we be sitting around fighting about what we believe? How far have we come from Jesus’ way of thinking if this is how we are acting? Are we spreading the message of giving up our rights by arguing for our beliefs? Something just doesn’t make sense to me.

If we believe that abortion is wrong do we really think we’re going to stop anybody from doing it by calling them baby-killers?? Do we honestly believe that fighting to prove that abortion is wrong in the public sphere is going to stop people from having abortions? Is this our best solution?

Is telling people their actions are wrong even our job as Christians? Is this giving up our right? Are we really the moral police? Is that the point? Or did Jesus have something bigger for us to be working towards? Instead of calling out people we believe are wrong, why not go to them and introduce them to Jesus. Introduce them to the man who wants to heal all the wrongs and abuses in their life.

I have often thought that far too often the Pharisees get a bad rap in the Bible; all they’re doing is getting people to try and live the right way. They’re trying to get people to follow the Torah. The problem is that this is not the point of the Law. The point of the Law is to show the world the way of God (in the Gospels: “Kingdom of Heaven”) by living it (Exodus 19:3-6).

Over and over in the Old Testament the prophets come down hard on the people because they forget that they are living examples of who God is and then end up Empire Building. They end up not being who they are called to be-God’s people.

We are called to live differently than those around us. We are called to live out our faith, not defend it. “Defending the faith” is not a Christian ethic, it’s Muslim. Muslims believe that the kingdom of Allah is spread by struggling (jihad); Christ said to lay down your life and pick up your cross.

How about you? Are you picking up a cross or are you struggling?