Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Interesting Thoughts on Just-War Theory

How Did We Get so Dumb about War?

Some blame for the facile acceptance and even sanctification of war must go to the venerable and misused “just-war theory.” This theory, developed over centuries, was a noble effort to minimize the harm of war. The theory had some successes and can be used to limit and block wars, but it has tended to be honored in word more than deed. The mischief of the “just-war theory” was that by putting the word war alongside the word just, it baptized war, making it seem rational and moral and good as long as certain rules are observed. It helped to rationalize war.

Just-war talk helped us to hide the reality of human and ecological devastation that war always involves. The abused word war has lost its sting; it is no longer descriptive of the horror we are wreaking when we “go to war.” If the “just-war theory” were called the “justifiable-slaughter theory” or “the justifiable-violence theory,” it would at least be honest. Maybe the slaughter and the human and ecological devastation we are planning are justifiable, but at least we would be honest in admitting what it is we are justifying. It would be language with out legerdemain. In moral matters, the rush to euphemisms is always a sign of bad faith.

Military strategists, and ethicists embedded with them, drape an even thicker tissue of lies and euphemisms around military violence. They like to call it “the use of force.” That sugarcoats it handsomely. Force, after all, is nice. A forceful personality, a forceful argument-these can be quite admirable. But an atomic bomb hitting the population center of Hiroshima or Nagasaki or the brutal leveling of Falluja in Iraq or of settlement camps in Palestine needs a more honest word than force. Force, like war, is a malicious euphemism. It averts our eyes from the horrors described by Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “Some two million children have died in dozens of wars during the past decade…This is more than three times the number of battlefield deaths of American soldiers in all their wars since 1776…Today, civilians account for more than 90 percent of war casualties. ”

We need a fresh look at the “just-war theory,” a principal tool for making war look normal. Its use is widespread, even when not referred to as such, though it is more often used as a cover for stupid military adventures brought on by the failure to do work that makes peace. Transforming that theory so that it truly serves peace is our goal.

This has been taken from Daniel C. Maguire’s book: The Horrors We Bless: rethinking the Just-War Legacy.

Bishop Desmond Tutu’s quote was found in the Washington Post, November 24, 1996 page C7 in an article titled “Stop Killing the Children.”

Monday, December 29, 2008

"why blow yourself up?"

It is amazing just how poorly we can see the “other side” of an issue. This past year has provided ample evidence of this, as both Republicans and Democrats continually fail at understanding each other. While politics is one example of this, another is terrorism. What confuses me is the fact that nobody ever asks, “Why blow yourself up?”

In the never ending Israeli – Palestinian crisis, we see Israel always acting in self defense against terrorist acts. Israeli troops are constantly forced to defend themselves against suicide bombers who run into crowded shopping centers and blow themselves up with nail bombs. Cities in southern Israel are forced to be constantly on guard against missiles being launched into their neighborhoods. Few people ever ask, “Why would people do this?” Typically the answer is, “These are evil men.” Or “They are attempting to destroy Israel, because they hate Israel.” The problem with these answers is that they really do not answer the question. They still do not answer the question, “Why blow yourself up?”

Maybe if we begin to dig into this issue, we’ll find that the people in Palestine live in conditions that a Jew would never consider living in. Maybe we’d see that in an attempt to control terrorism, the Jews have closed off the entire Gaza strip and the people there do not have adequate food or medical supplies. If we begin to see that the Palestinians are suffering under the oppressive hands of a nation who cares little for their rights, maybe we could understand why they would see their only chance for survival is to launch crude missiles into nearby Jewish neighborhoods.

This ongoing violence is a result of a lack of critical thinking about the situation. Israel is content in seeing their Palestinian neighbors as less than human. This is the only way to explain the way that they treat those living in the Gaza strip. The Palestinians in the same, fail to value the lives of the Israelis; the very reason they are committing these atrocious acts. Both Jews and Arabs need to cease treating their neighbors as less than human. This is why somebody would blow themselves up.

You see the problem is if we begin to ask this question, maybe we’ll find a reason we do not want to see. Maybe these people feel that there is no other way to stop an abuse. I recently read this quote from Peter Ustinov, “Terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich.” I cannot defend any acts of terrorism, they are pure evil. I also cannot defend any acts of war, as they are also pure evil. Launching a missile in defense of your nation is just as wrong as sending someone into a crowded intersection with a nail bomb.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Since we have headed north, it has been snowing!

1 - We've prolly got a solid foot of snow in the past 4 days!

2 - It was blowing so hard, the news classified the weather conditions here as "near blizzard" (blizzards are caused not as much by the amount of snow but the wind).

3 - Sunday morning, as we tried to get to my dad's church so I could preach, we got stuck in the driveway. My dad called Steph and said, "the roads aren't very good. we had to plow through some drifts..." which made us want to drive there even more.

4 - A friend got his 4x4 truck stuck in our driveway because the snow was soo deep his wheels couldn't touch the ground.

5 - My dad spent 2 1/2 hours blowing out the driveway, and the next morning (or 8 hours later) had to "reopen" the passage.

I know some of you have read these accounts and shivered, but truth be told, it's been pretty amazing. I have seen more snow here in this weekend than I have in the past 2 years in Wilmore. Its annoying to many but to me its home. I don't understand why I'm like this because nobody likes the possibility of having to cancel all ones plans due to bad weather. What can I say, I've been so happy in the midst of all the snow drifts. By the way, the snow drifts in Wal-Mart are big enough to hide a fleet of school buses.

Needless to say, living in a land that only gets 3 inches of snow a year. I feel as if I've been repressed...or I've been a fish removed from water, or a polar bear in the midst of a rapidly shrinking north pole. I'm absolutely loving my Christmas trip home! 

Hopefully, you'll have a very white Christmas, cause I know I sure will!

(incidently I found this picture of Johnson Park in Grand Rapids. It is located about 10 minutes from my grandparents house, and when I was a kid I thought its sled hill was the best in the whole world!)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


"The hijacking of the concept of morality began, of course, when we reduced Scripture to formula and a


story to theology, and finally


to rules. It is a very different thing to break a rule than it is to cheat on a lover. A person's mind can do all sorts of things his heart would never let him do. If we think of God's


as a technicallity, a theological precept, we can disobey without the slightest feeling of guilt, but if we think of God's grace as a relational invitation, an

OUTREACH of love,

we are pretty much jerks for belittling the gesture."

-Don Miller

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Advent proclamation

The prophetic utterance of Virgil, which Caesar Augustus used in describing himself as the World's Savior:

The turning point of the ages is near at hand. The iron age with its terrors is approaching. The divine destined hour of world history is approaching. The divine king of salvation, for whom mankind has waited since the time of the Pharaohs, is on his way. He will at last fulfill the promises which have not ceased to be heard among the Roman people since the days of Sibyl.

He will annihilate the evil of the past and free the peoples from unceasing fear. He will establish a universal empire of peace and lead in the golden age, for the blessing of a renewed humanity. And in nature, tool, all will be renewed. Poisonous plants and snakes will disappear, the fields will become a paradise, and the ox and the lion will dwell together in peace. Gods, who have been long absent, ages of salvation which are long past, will return to the earth. Saturn, the god of the primeval gold age, will return to power. Apollo and Diana will hold protective say over the new age and its ruler.

The time is ripe: enter on your high course of honor, great son of Zeus. See how the whole world staggering beneath its burden, how lands and seas and depths of heaven will rejoice at the in-break of the new age.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Terrorism is the war of the poor and war is the terrorism of the rich.
-Peter Ustinov

Monday, December 08, 2008

Two Exams, a 10 page paper, and a final project left

  • 8am - Final: John Wesley's Theology for Today
  • 1pm - Final: Exegesis of General Epistles (Greek Exam)
  • 10 page research paper: New Testament (I'm going to be writing on the Greatest Commandment and how we find it being played out in the Early Church, specifically in the rhetoric of the book of James??) 
  • 8 am - Final Project: Inductive Bible Study detailed Observation and Evaluation from a paragraph in Mark's Passion Narrative.
All in all, this will will be busy, but after tomorrow I'll be much more relaxed! I've been collecting a bunch of ideas, plus I get to preach at my dad's church on the 21st, so after finals I should have some interesting stuff to publish! So be looking for a rousing series of thought provoking posts! Until then, Auf Weidersehen!

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Ty Lawson has "Mateen Cleaves' strength and God's quickness."
-Tom Izzo

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Quick Post

I know, I said I didn't have time to post anything, but I've got one assignment down and I took a little break to copy and paste this into blogger. (I actually stole this quote from my friend Phil Strahm's blog (here) while my blog is quiet, I highly recommend his! So go check him out!)
"When I feed the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor are poor, they call me a communist."

-Bishop Oscar Romero,

Monday, December 01, 2008

Hitting the Pause button.

Too busy to post anything creative this week or the next as a result of project week and finals week. Hopefully...I'll survive. 

In the mean time, entertain yourself with the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the best game will be North Carolina @ Michigan State (it'll be a good game, State is a good team, just let them get everything sorted out and you'll see). The Worst game will be the Indiana game. I'm not putting who they're playing because it really doesn't matter. They're awful! So check out the Big Ten/ACC Challenge (unless you're a Hoosier fan, then just bury your head in the sand for a year or two).

Also, who said that college football doesn't have semi-finals. The Big 12 Championship game and the SEC Championship game are both functioning as pseudo-semi-finals. The winner of the SEC Championship game will play either Oklahoma or Texas (depending on whether or not Oklahoma wins the Big 12 championship game). Both should be highly entertaining games, you might want to check that out.

I just might update how my homework is coming...I should survive, but who knows what will happen. I just might need to break my fast on pop (fasting for advent of course)...prolly sometime at 3am I'll get a craving for a cherry coke that might be overcome with temptation. Until next week! I bid you adios!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Obesity in the church.

One of my friends, who shall be unnamed, remarked that Obesity is the ultimate sign that the church is not a community of welcome. Obesity demonstrates that we care more about ourselves and our own avaricious desires than we do about those people who are underfed.

As we near Thanksgiving, I've been mulling that over. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I exist to bring God the glory?

I was sitting in church a couple of weeks ago when the worship leader said something like this,
The Psalms say that God can do anything He wants! And what he wants is for us to bring glory to his name!
Not going to lie when I heard this, I cringed. My first thought was, "if that's God then he's kinda a jerk!" I have interacted with this type of language before, so while it made me cringe it wasn't shocking. It's really the derived product of a guy named John Calvin. His basic theme is that God created the world for his own glory! In case you haven't picked this up yet, this thought is the core piece of Calvinism.

I don't think that Calvinism actually takes the Trinity seriously, because when thinking about God like this, glory really isn't part of the equation. The Church believes that at the core of the Trinity is love. A community of three, forever joined together in eternal self-denying community. The Father does not look to bring glory to himself, but showers it all on the Son. The Son is continually giving glory to the Father. The Spirit is glorifying the Father and the Son. The Triune God is eternally is a community in a loving dance of deflecting glory; not self-glorification.

Often we miss the context of the creation story. The dominant creation story of the ancient world detailed a world that was created out of a power struggle, violence, and bloodshed. In the shadow of our story we find a God who loves creating. The type of creation that he creates is one that does more creation! God is not about glory, he is about relationship and love! To be about glory is not very loving at all. Instead its self-serving. It treats others as objects with which I use (aka objectification of others or demeaning their person-hood). 

Now this does not mean that God does not receive glory, because God always receives glory. It is part of his nature. Kind of like I naturally do not receive glory for whatever I do, it naturally happens that way. I have to do something to receive glory. For God, he does nothing and is glorified - simply because he is worthy to receive all of the glory - and receives glory for everything he does. So God does not have to be intentional about glory. Nor would the world need to be intentional about glorification of God - because it is going to happen anyways. The issue is love.

At the core of God is love. The Biblical story shows a God who created the world out of an overflow and abundance of love. He created humanity as a relational creature, who without love, their life is meaningless. It is this through this lens that we should understand our purpose for existence. 

What do you think?

Monday, November 24, 2008


Is John Piper correct when he says that the purpose of humanity is to bring glory to God?

Friday, November 21, 2008

11.22.08 = Good vs. Evil

Confessing is a good thing, and I have a big confession to make: I hate Ohio. Not seriously, just I kind of get goose bumps when I enter the state, profanity enters my mind when see somebody wearing Ohio State apareal, I will never cheer for the Buckeyes regardless of the consequences, and I am never filled with more anger than when I watch an Ohio State football game. Ok, so maybe I have an issue or two that I need worked out.

How can I explain this anger, maybe that have to do with anger issues? No, I think I'm a pretty level headed guy. Maybe I am jealous of the rich tradition of winning? No Michigan has won more games, and the last time Ohio State won the National Champion Maurice Clarett scored the winning touchdown; so its not that. I don't know where my hatred comes from?

I remember growing up, Michigan players were made great by their heroics - Desmond dropping the Heisman pose, Brian Greese coming in and leading Michigan towards a win, Charles Woodson again dropping a Heisman pose. Ohio State was the next door neighbor that was annoying because he talked too much, but knew his place. Now Ohio State is in a pretty consistant place - getting hosed in the National Championship game by like 75 points. While Michigan is trying to establish a new identity (Don't think that bringing in Rich Rodriguez is the beginning of this, Michigan has been trying to do this for about 8 years now).

Tomorrow, when Michigan and Ohio State meet, nobody cares that OSU has been the better team this year. Nobody cares that Michigan just snapped the longest consequetive streak of winning season in the NCAA (a streak that goes back to the 60's), it broke it's streak of going to consequative bowls (since I was a baby), and the fact Michigan really didn't matter in the Big Ten championship race. It's freaking Michigan vs Ohio State you'd better strap your helmet on, all those things will go out the window!

And as much as I've been down on Rich Rodriguez, if he beat Ohio State I think I'll begin the process of accepting him. GO BLUE! in the mean time I'll just be watching these videos --> "Hail to the Victors" or the History of Michigan Football

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Social Networking Websites (aka what you're reading!)

Perhaps you've heard of the Social Networking websites: Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, or Blogspot?? If you have you have at least been introduced to Social Networking, if only in name. They are not to replace friendships, instead they function as a tool that allow friends to connect, connect deeper, and stay connected; depending on the development of the relationship. This is the purpose of these sites; nothing more, nothing less.

As a student training to be a pastor, tools like these present a gold mine of opportunities. The job of a pastor is to at some level, develop the community among the people of God. The process of spiritual growth happens within community - true growth never happens to the exclusion of community - thus pastors should spend more time developing community within the church. Why not look for tools we can use to form and shape the congregation around the person of Christ.

My friend JD, the chaplin here at Asbury, calls this redemption. This semester JD has been attempting to use the Social Networking site, Twitter, as a tool for developing community among the chapel interns. It has been a very good exercise for our team. The concept driving Twitter is the simply answering the question, "What are you doing?" The Twitterer answers this question in less than 140 characters and everybody who follows these Twitter updates is able to see what the Twitterer is doing. At some level what we do, impacts who we are. Thus to know what is happening in my life, you learn more of whom I am. Through the Twitter project our staff has developed a deeper sense of community, that we would not have developed with out this resource.

I am not saying that one must use Social Networking sites if you are a pastor, but I do believe as a pastor it is my responsibility to continue to push the envelope of what we're doing. Using new tools, and being creative with these tools in the process of the spiritual formation of the people placed in my care, is central to my duties as a pastor.

What do you think? How do you feel about these Social Networking sites?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Recently, I have become introduced to a band that I have known about, but never really listened to before. If you did infact read the title for this post, you know this to be Wilco.

I was introduced to them when they appeared on the Colbert Report a couple of weeks ago. I noticed that my friend Chad posted about it on his blog. And when I began to talk with him about the band, I realized he might be the man to shoot the lead singer one day-he's that big a fan.

I am presently working my way through absorbing their album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which was highly recognized by Rolling Stone as an amazing album when it came out 6 or 7 years ago. It's a very interesting album, mixed with different sounds and textures. I was first hooked when I listened to the first song "I am trying to break your heart" and the album is continuing to fascinate me.

I am slowly working my way through other albums, but I'll go slowly because some of their older stuff (which I briefly previewed) is very country. I like it, just want to make sure that I don't get turned off by the "country vibe"

Have you heard of Wilco? If you have do you like them? Are there other bands out there that have a similar music style and sound that you would recommend? If you haven't listened to them you should definitely check them out!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


If a fly falls into the communion wine (or juice), does the fly become sanctified or does the juice become corrupted?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The post on November 3rd should have read something like this:

We've been married for a year!!!!!!!!

My beautiful wife, Stephanie, has officially made me the luckiest man in the history of the world! I can say that looking you in the eye, with a straight face because of the impact on my life she has had! I am truly a better person because of the time I have spent with her. She pushes me to be a better person, to challenge myself, and to connect at a deeper level with the world!

I have never done something that has required so much work & attention and at the same time quite as rewarding as the last year spent living with her! She is truly an amazing person, I can't wait for the next bazillion years we get to spend with each other!

Friday, November 14, 2008

What I'm learning about Teaching and Preaching pt. 1

Teaching is a two-way enterprise: the teacher and the student both must be engaged in order for learning to happen.

A teacher does not exist for his own benefit. This is the problem of tenured professors at colleges and seminaries. They loose the need to develop their teaching skills, instead they end up focusing on things that seem to interest them, and the classroom becomes second. Anyone who has spent a long period of time in classrooms has run across a professor who really doesn’t care about being in the class. And trust me it’s not a good experience. But if you’re like me you’ve been lucky enough to experience the joy of studying under a teacher who truly cares about the student’s progress in the subject being taught.

Here are 5 things I’ve learned about teaching (This list could be longer, but I’m a busy person and could only think of 5 things off the top of my head to write.):

Interaction is key.
One should not equate interaction with question and answer. Interaction is when the student is actually forced to deal with the subject in a meaningful way. I have experienced this best in small groups, projects, & dialogue (once again not just students asking questions of the professor, but the professor asking questions that lead into a structured conversation).

Structure is paramount
The best classes are classes where the teacher has a highly structured understanding of how the class is to develop. This does not mean that the class is full of work, or that the teacher is not flexible. Instead I think this means that the teacher/professor has everything ordered and all the information is clearly communicated to the class before the class begins.

Multiple Short Papers and Open Book Exams
Especially in the upper level college and graduate classes the issue is not information but synthesis. Thus the goal of the professor is not to test one on information, but the integration of the information. This is best worked out in small projects that constantly force the student to deal with information. Also Exams and tests should be few and far in between. The goal is synthesis and a test deals with mastery of the material not synthesis.

Lecture is not the ideal
Unless the professor is an amazing communicator (and even then) a class made up entirely of lecture will be less than productive. The issue is one of information overload, attention span, and lack of interaction. A lecture ends up being a dry recantation of information that does not allow the student to absorb what they are hearing. Lectures should be kept short, should be limited to the basic information, and should create an atmosphere for dialogue between the professor and the student.

The Student will only care as much as the professor cares about them
Too often a professor can give off the vibe that they do not care about the student. When this happens the professor usually has lost the student. The rare occasion is when the student gets angry at the teacher and ends up working in order to spite the prof (a friend in High School actually got a 4.0 because he wanted to show up his teachers…but he’s by far the exception). If the professor wants his student to learn – which is the heart of teaching – they must take every opportunity to show the student that they care.

What are your responses to my thoughts? Would you add any other thoughts?

Thursday, November 13, 2008


The United States is reportedly spending $1 Trillion per year according to Robert Higgs, on 'defense'. He reports this in an article posted last year. 

1 Trillion dollars!!! Let me show you just what that number looks like: 

And this is every year! That means in the next year we're going to spend another:

and the year after that
...you get the point!

And we wonder why our country is in the economic situation that it is in; our government has spending an outrageous amount of money on "defense" (a.k.a. war) with no end in sight. 
  1. What would happen if we were to invest in making friends as opposed to fighting enemies? 
  2. What if we were to use this money in creative ways to help bring those in the world out of poverty? 
  3. What if we were to invest this money, as opposed to spending it on bullets and bombs that will blow up never to be used again? 
  4. What if we did anything this this money besides create a massive killing machine!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I blame the Christian Right: a sort of serious look at the failure of the Christian Right's culture war.

I blame the Christian Right for the downfall of American Culture.

The Christian Right, especially of late, has attempted to push their agenda not through political action. They have tried to force the government to create just laws and to put in politicians who share their viewpoints on issues – especially homosexuality and abortion. They have attempted to create a unified platform with a unified group of Christian voices ramming this platform into effect. Thus controlling the country through majority rule.

I support good laws and I wish that the government would always have good laws, but to say that making good laws is the point of our religion would be a mistake. The problem with laws is that someone can decide to change the law. If abortion is ever outlawed, they could at one point decide to change that decision, and we’ve wasted all our time in a fruitless enterprise. The issue is in the hearts of the people around us, not the laws that govern them.

Around 1920 Christians rose up and outlawed alchohol. They saw drinking was evil and spent years trying to get it outlawed. Did making booze illegal change the nation? Well actually it created an underground. Organized crime began to distribute bootlegged alcohol, making millions of dollars in the process. Twelve years into the Prohibition experiment, the law was rescinded and today the nation is no different. Making booze illegal only created an atmosphere that empowered evil. This is a prime example of legislating morality failing! But the Christian Right did not learn from this misstep.

Notice what Jesus tells his followers to do. He sends his followers out to make disciples. He does not call his followers to infiltrate government and create good laws. He says go preach the gospel; teach the nations what I have taught you. When the nations are people of God, good laws will be made. It is a natural thing to happen. When we end up trying to force people to live like a Christian, in many ways we’re not following the directions that Jesus set out for us.

NEVER in the Bible does God force anyone to follow him. Instead he calls people, he asks people. The way of Jesus and the way of the Kingdom of Heaven is not about coersion, but love. This is why Jesus goes to the poor. He loves the unloved. His love is what changes hearts, not his brute force. Why does he do this? Because when you use force, it fosters one of two responses – fight or flight. This is what’s happening today in our culture. The Christian Right has tried to force the world to act like it believes they should – and the world is fighting back.

This is why I blame the Christian Right…

Monday, November 10, 2008

Great Quote:

"You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do." - Anne Lamott

Friday, November 07, 2008

Why Rush Limbaugh doesn't get it

Liberals and conservatives are two groups of people who use the same methodology, just different understandings of those methods to understand reality. They are the result of an understanding called foundationalism. This is the believe that our understandings of how the world is ordered must arise out of a foundational agent.

Simple and plain there are only two things that fit this model: experience or a text (something inside or something outside). So you'll see liberal Christians focus on doing good things. Conservatives focus on being Biblically oriented. Political conservatives argue that logic should drive our politics. Political liberals look to do things that are right, even if it isn't logical. Thus in my class my conservative church history professor sneers at liberals because they do not follow the Scriptures in their study. Liberal politicians argue that conservatives do not care about the poor. Liberal Christians argue that we need to live right. and Rush Limbaugh points out that liberals are idiots. It all makes sense!

I'm not saying that liberals are any better than people like Rush because they're not rude and they want to do good. I wouldn't say that at all. I'm simply trying to point out that people like Rush will never convince a liberal to stop being leftist...the liberals are judging the contest by a different set of rules! Until he understands this, he'll continue to only argue to the choir.
The issue for conversation is learning to see outside our point of view. Where are there differences what are the goals we are pursueing and how are we pursueing them. What are "the other's" goals and how are they pursueing them. When this happens then we'll be able to see change happen!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

How Did People Respond?

I have a pretty wide range of friends. I know liberals & conservatives, Christians and non Christians, Democrats & Conservatives. Each of these groups overlap each other and present a very diverse viewpoint on major events. So I thought I'd share with you some of the responses that my friends posted as status updates either on their Facebook or Twitter. (I have removed the names to protect the innocent!)

Read through and tell me what you think!

  1. Smooth talkers win in single’s bars and politics…often with similar outcomes for the listener.
  2. Just found out that a Republican has not won the white house without a Bush or a Nixon on the ticket since 1928.
  3. I must not follow people who think Obama = Marx. Saves me from having to read negative end of the world updates! Christ is Lord!
  4. Good, bad or other it's over...thank God
  5. Just heard Geraldo Rivera claim that McCain lost because of Tina Fey. How awesome is that?
  6. Is new to this experience of not being disappointed after an election.
  7. Not sure why people want Hussein to be president, but thinks it will probably speed up the return of Christ
  8. Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. Romans 13:1.
  9. Very proud of the United States of America. As a man from Africa said, it took courage and a high level of morality.
  10. Excited for things to come...life is good!
  11. Has a peace…God is still in control
  12. Loving this breezy fall day,the brilliant colors remind me of where Real HOPE for CHANGE lies.
  13. So excited about the CRAP salary that (this person)'s going to be getting an RN now....thanks future healthcare system....I appreciate it!!!
  14. At least (we) have family in Canada if things get too bad....
  15. Feels that there couldnt have been anything more American then getting a free donut in exchange for my vote this year.
  16. Thank god the election is over!!!
  17. Continues to pray for (this person's) country.
  18. Finally voted third party yesterday...at least my conscience is clear.
  19. In a state of mourning for our Nation.
  20. Shocked at how out of control some people are.
  21. Loves the "land of the free and the home of the brave.".
  22. Noticed that the sun came up this morning.
  23. Wondering how many people who left ignorant status updates on their profile went to the polls yesterday and voted??? Time for change....time for a new age!
  24. B.O. is in...and hearing stories about his skin color is a waste of time. Focus on the man, not his color!
  25. Glad Obama won The Final Endgame Go Time Alpha Action Lift-Off Decide-icidal Hungry Man's Extreme Raw Power Ultimate Voteslam Smackdown'08.

A quote from Tony Campolo:

Quoting Tony Campolo- "If there were no heaven and no hell, would you still follow Jesus?"

would you?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Opposite of Poverty?

"The opposite of poverty is not property. Rather, the opposite
of both wealth and property is community."
-Jurgen Moltmann

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Some things Shane Claiborne said and my thoughts in repsonse

Things Shane Claiborne said and my thoughts in response.

1.) There is a difference between being pro-life and being pro birth. 
I am pro life. This means I disagree with abortion and murder and the death penalty and war. Being pro life means so much more than just being against abortion. It means giving the child a hope for the future.

2.) When the woman was brought to Jesus he got down and started digging in the dirt. I wonder what he was writing...like...'Where's the man?' 
A day prior I was having a conversation with my friend Peg and she and I actually got to talking about this story. And Peg said those very words to me. Funny how we often miss the story. How often we use other people to argue our moral positions. When we do this, and we judge them, we actually do them harm. (Also, notice that when Jesus tells the woman to go and sin no more, he's talking about judging people...not adultery.)

3.) (In response to being asked whether a Christian could be President) A man once asked Tertullian (a church father from the 2nd century) if he thought a Christian could be emperor. Tertullian responded, 'an Emperor could be a Christian if he ceased to be Emperor'
This made me laugh because I was talking with my friends JD and Tom Fuerst a couple of months ago and Tom made a similar statement. Maybe one day Tom will be a famous speaker traveling around the country preaching to churches, colleges, and seminaries!

4.) It is not enough to have good theology. and the response to bad theology is not NO theology instead the answer is good theology
I like these two points. Very interestingly Shane kept talking about how different statements were good theology or bad theology. Its a good thing to note that everything we do has a theological support holding it up. Our ethics come from our theology. I like that point.

5.) We read a prayer at the end of his time in chapel. At the end of the prayer we declared our allegiance to the Slaughtered Lamb. And to this I say AMEN!!!

Goodbye, No, and Long Live the Lamb!

I grew up an elephant, since then I've become disillusioned with their ideas and decided elephants are not the answer. I have flirted with donkeys, but have realized that they don't bring me any hope either!


I'm saying, Goodbye to the Elephant, no to the donkey, and LONG LIVE THE LAMB!!


A 'Little' Wesley for Election Day

"And first, I would ask, Where does this Christianity now exist? Where, I pray, do the Christians live? Which is the country, the inhabitants wherof are thus filled with the Holy Ghost? Are all of one heart and of one soul? Cannot suffer one among them to lack of any thing, but continually give to every man as he hath need? Who, one and all, have the love of God filling their hearts, and constraining them to love their neighbor as themselves? Who have all, ‘put on bowels of mercy, humbleness of mind, gentleness, long suffering?’ Who offend not in any kind, either by word or deed, against justice, mercy, or truth; but in every point do unto all men, as they would these should do unto them. With what propriety can we term any a Christian country, which does not answer this description? Why then, let us confess we have never yet seen a Christian country upon earth."

-John Wesley
Taken from the sermon titled “Scriptural Christianity

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Rise of Football!

Why is Football so popular? When talking about sports, some people like baseball, some basketball, a few like soccer, but everybody and their mom loves and watches football! So why is it that millions of people schedule their lives around this game every Sunday; September to February. I think it is because football is stereotypical American in every regard.

Baseball used to be America's pass-time, and in some ways it still is, but it's popularity is slowly waning. If you want proof of this only look as the playoffs are over shadowed by the beginning of the football season.  

There is an energy about football that all the other sports cannot match. Basketball sneaks up on most people, baseball's spring training is often a yawn, but football season starts with months of anticipation. Pre-season is even televised! What more sign do you need that people are excited about it, games that don't matter make it on TV! 

Here is why I think this is so 1.) television; 2.) hype; 3.) short attention span required; 4.) violence; & 5.) displays of toughness

  1. Football fits perfectly in the TV screen. I heard Larry King make this point a number of years ago. If you look at baseball it's hard to follow on a TV screen, as you can only see a limited portion of the game; you cannot see the defense switch in the outfield, the screen has to be split in order to see a player steal a base, you can't see the manager in the dugout. Football fits perfectly in the screen though. You can see the blitz coming, you can watch the players in motion, often you can see the coaches on the sideline. It's a perfect game to watch on TV
  2. Football is all about hype. There is a whole week to talk about big games. This allows analysts to spend hours day after day talking about match-ups, strategy, importance, and of course predict the consequences for winning or losing. In this build-up it seems that every part of the game is discussed and analyzed in preparation for the most important game of the year; this one! 
  3. Each play of an game lasts less than 10 seconds. For the average American this is how long we are conditioned to concentrate on anything. If you don't believe this watch an old TV show, it feels slow to you because the camera shots last a long time. Watch a TV show that has been recently filmed and count how long a particular camera shot is used. Usually the number is under 5 seconds (always under 10). Football plays on our inability to concentrate on something for a long period of time.
  4. Football centers itself around violence. The harder the hitting the more exciting the game is. There are replays on ESPN of the best hits, called JACKED UP! In this collection of replays the TV hosts play violent, bone jarring hits in slow motion over and over explaining how the victim of the hit 'got jacked up!' Not only are their highlights during pre game and post game shows, but there are also videos of "best hits." Fans can't get enough! 
  5. We not only expect our favorite players to be the most violent, but we also expect them to go out and perform under physical conditions that everybody else would be in the hospital for. Stories are told of players playing games on broken bones. Players who suffer concussions are pushed back onto the field risking severe brain damage. Walking off the field, even though one is barely able to stand up is seen as heroic. All in the name of toughness.

I am not making any statement about whether these qualities are good or not, they are merely observations. I'll let you do that! 

Why do you think that football is so popular? Do you agree with my observations or disagree?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Recently in an Interview in Relevant Magazine Rob Bell, teaching pastor from Mars Hill Bible Church (in Grand Rapids Michigan!), was asked this question:

What are some crucial changes that our churches need to make to become a Eucharist that is broken and poured out for the world?

He answered:
  1. Master the art of doubt. Faith needs it to survive.
  2. Surrender the compulsive need to constantly remind people that according to your worldview you're going to heaven forever when you die and they're going to burn in hell forever.
  3. Celebrate the good and the true and the beautiful wherever and whenever you find it regardless of the label it wears or the person it comes from or the place you found it. All things are yours.
  4. Remember that the tax collectors and prostitutes loved to feast with Jesus and the religious establishment gossiped about him and dissected his teachings and questioned his commitment to orthodoxy and eventually had him killed. There's a lesson for us there.

What do you think? Do you like these four responses?

For more check out the entire Relevant article (here)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

let me get this straight, you don't want me to follow you?

In the Gospels, Jesus is constantly doing stuff that throws people for a loop. There's the one time he actually pays his taxes by sending Peter fishing! There's another time when Jesus lets a prostitute wash his hair with her perfume. (I've never thought about it before, but probably the perfume that she used to attract men in her business endevors.) Like I said he's always doing things that are a bit suprising.

Perhaps you've heard the story about when Jesus met the man with a Legion of demons. He, of course, cast the demons from the man and into a herd of pigs. This is not the suprise. The suprise is when the guy asks Jesus if he can become his disciple Jesus says no. Instead he directs the poor guy to go home and tell everybody what has happened to him. So the man goes to the Decapolis and begins to tell his story; and everybody is amazed! 

The next time Jesus comes back to this area in chapter, large crowds come out to see him and the bring their sick to him to be healed. How did they know about Jesus? Well, perhaps the guy who had been so dramatically changed. Maybe this is what Jesus intended? How would these people have ever heard the good news that Jesus was here if the man had followed Jesus? 

I one time heard this story described as, "Maybe Jesus doesn't want you to follow him..." which is very unnerving. Where will you go that Jesus is not going. Where will you go that nobody else will go. Where does the truth of God take us?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

fall picture essay

Fall is upon us, the leaves in Wilmore are changing! Here is a picture of a branch from a tree that we park under!

Here is a picture of Stephanie with her class at the Wilmore Daycare! She gets to spend 8 hours a day with these little toddlers! They have so much fun together!

It's the end of October, which means that the Fall '08 Semester is nearing mid-terms! So Dan is hard at work doing school work!

October 19th Stephanie ran a marathon! it only took her 4 hours and 24 minutes to run 26.2 miles! Good Job Steph!

Here's Dan doing more homework! He and his Powerbook are inseparable it seems

For her birthday, Stephanie got to ride a horse for the very first time (the ponies at the Zoo do not count.) There was a nice stable up the road from the seminary that also provides riding lessons to the community. Here is a nice picture of Stephanie riding the horse Aquarius (a.k.a Gluestick)

In down moments, Dan likes to take naps!

In down moments, Stephanie likes to read, our friend Kristen got her hooked on Jodi Picoult books.

We hope your Fall is going well! Less than 2 months to Christmas!!! 

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Who or How?

How should we live in the world is the question that the church must deal with. Over the past 150 years or so we have failed to adequately ask this question. Instead we’ve been focusing on heaven and hell and who will live there. I believe at some level these questions are related, but difference is one of perspective. (The first is asked from a position of security, the other from a place of insecurity.)

The Bible seems interested in talking about who will be in heaven only when talking about how they live here on earth. That’s interesting because the major theme of Protestantism deals with salvation by faith not works. Now I am a Protestant in this regard, I believe that salvation is not something I gain by what I do, but by believing in Jesus Christ. So how do we reconcile the difference here?

The book of James says that true religion, that is pure and faultless loves those on the bottom of the ladder (James 1:27). This passage echoes the prophets and the Torah of the Hebrew Scriptures; a person can’t read through the Old Testament for very long without coming across how to live. These Scriptures are written to a specific who dealing with how to live. I think this is teaching us the who and how cannot be separated.

Interesting in the Hebrew Scriptures there is very little conversation about what happens to the who in the afterlife. Take the book of Daniel for example, it follows the life of four Jewish boys in Babylon, you’d think as they’re dealing with the fall of their society there would be talk about heaven, but there is surprisingly no conversation about the afterlife – even in the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Instead we find discussion about how to live in a foreign land among people who do not believe in YHWH and the hope that God will provide for the who here and now.

In the book of Revelation, the book most often used to discuss the final destination of the who, is focused on how to live amidst persecutions. The major fault in many modern readings of this book is to only see pictures of afterlife. The book is addressed to seven churches in Asia. The author gives instruction to these churches then spends the rest of the book talking about troubles that will come, but how these troubles are nothing compared to the glory of God. Discussion on the afterlife is focused on providing strength and reward for how these church live faithful lives.

We’re spending so much time asking whether this person or that person are going to be a part of the who that we have failed to ask how we are to live. The who is a question dealing with status and power struggle. We are the ones who are right; we’re the one who are going to heaven. This is the language of a people fighting a culture war. This is not the language used in the Scriptures. The language of the Scriptures (how language) is the language of strength. If you don’t believe me re-read the stories of Daniel 7 or Revelation 19, in both stories God does not need to move in order to defeat the beasts – they just lose.

What do you think? Should we be asking the who question or should we be talking about the how?

Sunday, October 26, 2008


I often mistake my identity with what I do. This is because my culture has trained me to think of myself as a producer. I am only as valuable as my performance. I may not have been explicitly told this, but it is everywhere. Sports, movies, Politics, pop culture, and even the church...all teach the Gospel of Productivity.

The problem with that gospel is that it’s false. It’s a straight up lie. Our value is not tied up with performance; if this were so, we’d all be in trouble. The problem is that it’s everywhere! This mindset brings with it a large amount of insecurity: If I do notperform, I am going to be out! Heidi Klum on Bravo’s Project Runway says every show, “In fashion, one day you’re inthe next you’re out.” This is in all of life. It’s a rat race. There is no peace, only insecurity. 

The whole world has been evangelized with this message, and we must get the truth out! We must tell people that they’re living a lie. As a Christian I believe my worth as a human being comes from God’s love for me. God’s love for me never changes, regardless of my actions. He proved his love for us on a cross. This means that my worth can never change!

Worth, in this mindset, is an intrinsic reality- one that is unaffected by what I do. It does not go up or down with my productivity, or does it change when I purposely do good or evil; God continually loves me. 

This impacts how we treat the other in our lives. If God loves everybody regardless of who they are or what they do, how should I treat them? I should treat them as God does, with love. I should be willing to sacrifice myself for them. The problem is the productivity mindset is so entrenched into the way we view the world we miss this. We see the other as our opponent. We see the other as less valuable because of what they can do for us. We make life about a rat race with them. Unless we see the worth in all of humanity, we're only perpetuating the myth that worth comes from what we produce.<

All the conflicts and wars in the history of the world have their root here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

What is our hope in?

Over the past 100 years historians have begun to look back and define these times by economics and war. Think about it - the Roaring 20's and the Great Depression; World War II and the Cold War; and the fallout from Vietnam against Reaganomics of the 80's. We have been taught to see the world through these lenses. This is usually played out as times of Properity (i.e. the Roaring 20's) are good times and the times of Recession and want (Vietnam's fallout) as bad times.

We organize and record that which matters to us. Obviously economics matters to the Western world, because our hope is in our money! Obviously war matters to us, because we believe that it is through violence that our world is made better. This is not to say the bad times are not bad - it's never cool when people suffer - but does this mean that everything that happens in these times is bad? Times of Prosperity do bring along many good things - like jobs - but should we just say everything is good?

Money and war come back to the fact that we like to take care of ourselves. If I am an independent person, I need money to provide for myself. A person in poverty, has two choices: go without or have need supplied by another. So it makes sense that a time when economics are in a slump would be understood as bad - because many people aren't able to provide for themselves. The same goes for war. We were able to stand up and destroy evil! We did it with our muscle and brains! We created strategy and it worked exactly like we thought it should. When we fail at war, just like economically, we're in a tough place.

I believe that the church is a group of people who believe that economics and war are not the hope of the world. Instead we believe that Christ is our hope. If this is true, what are ways that we can subvert the popular understanding of the world around us?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Is a Pastor a professional?

Over the past couple decades the church has seen the rise of the professional pastor. The old school model of being a pastor is much different than the model that a pastor now follows. What has resulted is the mindset of ministry has changed - in good ways and in bad. Let's start by breaking down the old school model of ministering vs. the new professional model.

In the Old School model the pastor does not have an office, but a study. It is called a study, because that's what happens there. Offices are where office work is done, pastors study for their sermon. The pastor is frequently going to the hospital, people's houses, having people come into their study (at least half of a week is spent with people). We should also note that in an old school model, the pastor usually does not have a huge staff; often pastors are by themselves in churches of 250-300 people! The programs are instead run by volunteers or the senior pastor. Planning for events and programming falls into the responsibility of church boards, thus relieving the pastor from having to be on top of every detail of every program in the church.

So, in the Old School model pastors spend most of their time either with people or preparing for sermons.

The Professional model takes this Old School model and tweaks it just a little bit. First off, the pastor is now operates as the CEO/President of the church. This is a drastic shift in role of the pastor. This means that primary on responsibility is the job of dreaming up, planning, and executing programs in the church. Usually churches have pastoral staff, usually a youth pastor, a congregational care pastor, and/or a worship pastor. The pastor works in an office, because more than just studying is happening there.

What to think?
1 - I think we should note the the addition of professional pastors has created an atmosphere where growth happens. Often in the Old school model, churches would stay the same decade after decade. Actually the Old School model has much to blame for many of the issues found in the church today.

2 - The professional model, often looks in all sorts of places to help develop the church and its ministries. Today I was given a photocopy of the Harvard Business Review by a pastor. It discussed Pixar's technique for creating kick butt movies that everybody loves! Thus we see that it is open to a multitude of avenues of thought.

3 - There is a shift in priority. No longer is working with people the focus, developing the church is the focus. While yes, developing the church is really focusing in people, there is a subtle difference. One is dealing with the individual, one is dealing with programs. In this mindset a pastor may spend most of his or her time pouring into the development of a small group of leaders. The pastor must be strategic in time management, because one must prioritize responsibilities.

4 - The pastor becomes task/goal driven. Evaluation in the Old School model is very tough to do as it is pretty subjective. If the people in the church feel loved, and the sermon is good on Sunday morning that pastor is doing a good job. If not, then he''s in thin ice. The Professional pastor can be judged more objectively through a study of the church programs. Church begins to be treated through the lens of how tasks are accomplished. (Even if it is just a small level of speculation)
What do you think?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Chris Heuertz stops by ATS

Chris Heuertz, the executive director of Word Made Flesh, came to Asbury to speak in chapel today. When I was a student at IWU, he made a stop - preaching there for an entire week (I remember him, because he (1) brought a fresh view the world and (2) because he wore jeans in chapel.) - and both times I've encountered his teachings I have walked away changed.

His ministry works with the most vulnerable people in the world: women and children in the sex trade, AIDS victims, those enslaved in sweatshops, those literally under the boot of injustice. His takes on many issues were hard and made me very uneasy - as they should. Here are some of the things that he talked about that made me think:

1 - Clothing Tax: He has a relationship with an Indian family with 5 girls who work in a sweatshop. One time he wore a shirt from the Gap when he was with them. The girls looked at him and said they worked in the shop that made that shirt. What's sad is that shirt cost him what they get paid in 6 weeks of work. That's tough because clothing made in sweatshops makes up the majority of products in the states. The only way to avoid buying it is to make your own clothing (a la Shane Claiborne...who by the way is going to be at Asbury, Nov 4). So every time he buys clothing like this, he imposes upon himself a tax, which he sends to that people in India. 

2 - We need to change our language. We should be careful not to dehumanize those being oppressed; often this objectification starts with how we discuss people. This means we do not call people "prostitutes;" instead people being forced to prostitute themselves. We don't say the poor, but people who are poor. 

3 - Short Term Missions Trips = Voyeurism: When short terms missions teams go into places around the world to see the places of great oppression, this should be seen as voyeurism. Social justice is the 'cool' thing to talk about in the Christian world, and people want to see the bad side of injustice. The problem is that the people on the underside of power are just that people. There is really no difference between a missions team going to a brothel, "just to look around" and a peeping tom. (The last line is mine; don't assume that Heuertz thinks this)

4 - The Wounds of Christ: He spoke in chapel on the wounds of Christ. He said that the only way to recognize the glorified Christ and the corpse in the tomb is the wounds. He made a very brilliant play on the story of Thomas. His point was that Thomas didn't believe because until he saw the wounds. There are so many people in the world who don't believe the church because the body of Christ is not evidencing the wounds. 

5. - Righteousness and Justice> Chris made the point that our lack of righteousness leads to injustice around the world. He talked about how the way that we live effects the rest of the world. Our greed results in sweatshops in India. Our lust results in the trafficking of young boys and girls all over the world. Our partying results in foreign corruption and mob activity. If we were to become righteous in these areas, these injustices would go away.

What do you think?

(Asbury podcasts all of it’s chapels. Search for Asbury Theological Seminary at the iTunes Store.)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

What is a Pastor?

A pastor is a Biblical Scholar. A pastor has been trained in the art of not just interpreting the text, but of explaining it in relevant ways which lead a congregation to apply the truths within it. This is because the Biblical text is the DNA of the church; it is these ancient writings which explain who we are.

A pastor is a theologian. A pastor must be knowledgable about the theological truths that center the Christian community. This is because theology is the codification (which is just a fancy word for labeling and organizing) of the truths we learn from the text.

A pastor is an artist. It is through the arts that the pastor communicates to his people; whether the spoken, the written, or the musical. The pastors job is to engage the people entrusted to their care with the Truth, but must be cerative with how it is presented. If the pastor ceases to be an artist, the text will not be properly engaged.

A pastor is a lover. These actions are all done out of love. The pastor does not do anything for the goal of any reward; simply out of love. When a pastor stops loving, their calling dies out.

Public Enemy #1

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Jesus did not come to die.

Jesus did not come to earth to die. 

This belief (that Jesus' purpose was to die) is the biggest misconception today in Christianity. The point of Jesus' life, in my humble opinion, was not to die! If death was his purpose, it would have made logical sense for Herod to kill him when he was an infant. If Jesus purpose was to die, why did he spend 3 years teaching his disciples? Why debate with the Pharisees, rabbis, scribes, and priests? Why heal the sick, touch the lepers or eat with the sinners?

The fact of the matter, is Jesus is trying to do something else with his life. It is this purpose that leads him to heal, teach, touch love, debate, eat, and even go to the cross. Also, we should probably notice that Jesus goes out of his way to be killed, it is not an accident that he is killed. It is very purposeful. Not everybody was crucified, Jesus seemed to have done enough to make the right people angry in order to warrant the cross. So where ever Jesus is going with his life, he is heading in a very intentional fashion.

I think Jesus' mission was focused on living. He was bent on restoring life. Not on death and dying. Even his death resulted from challenging a religion that was no longer bringing hope to people but instead was power hungry, abusive, and was filling its coffers with dirty money. If we are to understand his death we should begin to ask questions about why he was killed. (funny I just wrote a post about that: here)

How should we understand Jesus' death? I think we should understand Jesus death by studying his life.

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Worst Day In US History

The worst day in the history of the United States was the day the US dropped the atomic bomb on Japan. We dropped a second bomb a week later, just to let them know that we could do it again if they wanted to push their luck. Innocent people were killed on those days - all in the name of victory. We claimed that we were on the side of good, that evil sometimes is so awful innocent people are hurt in order to restore good. So we can justify some innocent people dying in order to prevent stop the bad people. 

But should we consider any Japanese person innocent? They were supporting their government weren't they? Their government was the enemy of the United States, and they (the government) had attacked us. We could not allow that! Vengeance for the dead at Pearl Harbor demanded that we only accept an unconditional surrender from the people who had taken their lives. America deserved its revenge!

In all reality, it is this mindset that has lead to the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. I recently heard one of the Presidential candidates criticized because he didn't mention revenge as a response when asked how he would respond to another terrorist attack. Are we really that advanced a society? We're still promoting revenge... are we still in junior high? is the President supposed to act like the Godfather? 

What Jesus' life teaches us is that the world is not made better through revenge. Think about it, he is raised from the dead, what's stopping him from going back to the temple and having a little face to face with the priests? What are they going to do try to kill him? He's spending time with his disciples, explaining to them the point and purpose of his death. If there is anybody who has a right to revenge it's Jesus, but he refuses to play that game.

The cycle of revenge does not lead to resolution. World War II was a result of World War I (I know, very ironic.) Revenge only leads to more revenge. Until your family is feuding with another family for 150 years (think: Hatfields and McCoys). Revenge leads to bitterness and anger issues. Revenge leads to death. Revenge leads to killing thousands of people instantly with an atomic bomb.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Why Was Jesus Killed?

Why was Jesus killed? This is an interesting quest that many people never ask themselves. The usual pat answer is that he died for our sins. And while that is true, I want to know why the chief priests kill Jesus. You see there are very few good answers to this question. I think to understand the nature of the situation in Jerusalem circa 30AD may shed some light into just why he was killed.

The Gospels are quite clear; people wanted to and tried to kill him throughout most of the story. All four accounts naturally end with his death, so we shouldn’t be surprised when he is killed – but this still doesn’t answer why he was killed.

Wanna know why I think so? Read all entire post read --> here

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

God acts weak...

The Kingdom is built upon weakness. Strength is anti-kingdom.

Steve DeNeff was here last week, and he said this: "God divests himself into his people, so he is only as power as his people." This is very interesting as God is all powerful, there's nothing that he cannot do, but he chooses to limit himself. When Jesus was born, he was God, but yet he was defenseless as he trusted his well being to Joseph and Mary. Think about it, if Joseph hadn't left Bethlehem when he did, Jesus would have been killed by Herod. We do not see God just appearing and everybody falling down, instead he comes as a baby.

Possibly my favorite quote of all time is this: "The weakness of the Christ's cross is the ultimate criticism of all our attempts at power and security." What it is saying is that Jesus' salvific act was one that is trying to get us to see how dangerous our attempts at power and control are deadly! His act is not just about atonement, but it is also the way that the kingdom works. (Remember the cross was the sign of failure and the sign of being dominated a stronger nation.)

Thus, when we play power games we are not being like God or Jesus. They - even though all the power in the world was in their grasp - acted from positions of weakness!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Story pt. 2

We’re always being told a story. When we read a billboard beside the highway or listen to a commercial on the television, we’re being told a story. When we watch the news we’re being told a story. When our parents explain our family history, we’re being told a story. And these stories that we are constantly being told actually define reality. The billboard is saying us that if we buy a certain product we’ll be happy. The news is telling us that we need to see the events of the world in a certain way. Our family stories give us a framework for who we are. Stories are literally everywhere!

Recently, I met an author who is writing a book discussing this principle. He discovered that we learn the rules of life from children’s bedtime stories. If he is right (I think he is), then the question is not whether or not we learn how to live from stories, but what we learn. This means that the stories we learn as children, are actually teaching us the principles that we will live by as adults. (This is an interesting concept to think about as today’s children’s stories are told in now being told in comic books, movies, video games, and television. Now I am not condemning any of these mediums, but what stories are being told there?

It is in this light that we read the Biblical text. Notice how very little of our Scripture is written in the imperative (You do this); instead it is poetry, narrative, and correspondence. The Bible is really a story! When we understand the text is not a manual for life – but a collection of writings teaching us the true story – do we truly understand the nature of the Scriptures. 

Since the Bible is story - and stories are open-ended - we realize that it demands interpretation and it should be understood not to have meaning outside of its interpretation. Bible study then determines to understand the story, giving context for interpretation. This interpretation is called theology, as it is the explanation of the story. Preaching takes this interpretation and presents application for the hearer of the word. Thus the task then of Biblical scholars, theologians, and preachers is to research the story, interpret the story, and then apply the story to our world.

The question is what story is the Bible teaching us?
(for my take, check out Story pt. 3)

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A project in redemption

Blogs, Facebook, & MySpace are all different forms of social networking sites. All online forms of ways that people can connect at different levels with each other - even when living miles and miles away. During my final year at Indiana Wesleyan, Facebook came on the scene and within a month nearly everybody had signed up and was constantly checking friends profiles.

This site allows it's members to post a message answering the question, "What are you doing?" These messages Today, the newest social networking site is Twitter. can be updated with either a text message or a computer. Thus friends are able to keep up with others where ever and whenever they feel the need.

In an attempt to strengthen the community at Asbury, the chapel office and office of community life, has attempted to utilize these networking possibilities. We believe that community is a combination of these, and we should encourage even this type of community building even as trivial as twittering. 

First, students were encouraged to 'twitter' back and forth between each other. Then, the chapel office started an official Twitter called 'Twiturgy.' Six times a day, a selection from the Asbury Reader (which is focused on the Sermon on the Mount) is posted - a very redemptive use of social networking!

If you would like to sign up and Twitter with me, my screen name is 'danrob' and when you do that, join up and also begin to follow 'Twiturgy!'

Monday, September 15, 2008

Abortion pt. 2 (As a Christian...)

As a Christian, I do not put my hope in laws. As a Christian, I do not put my hope in kings, presidents, or elected representivites. As a Christian, I do not believe that the world will become a better place because I can voice my opinion and my beliefs. As a Christian, I believe that the world is made better through the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit working through the church. This is what makes me a Christian.

So, as a Christian, I also believe that Jesus calls us to stand up against the injustice of our day. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus gave of himself for those who had no voice. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus loves those who did (and do) evil. As a Christian, I believe that we do not live life in the black and white, that we should see the complexity of a thousand shades of gray. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus brought hope to those he met. As a Christian, I believe that I am called to follow the example Jesus set before me.

So, as a Christian, I read stories of Jesus not coming to condem the world, but to save it. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus came to proclaim good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. As a Christian, I read about Jesus telling the woman caught in adultry that he does not condemn her. As a Christian, I read of Isaiah telling the people of Israel to seek justice, encourage the oppressed, to defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.

So...as a Christian, who is more worthy of my support: the unborn baby who can't defend himself or the unwed mother who has no support?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thinking Outside the Box pt. 2

Thinking outside the box is problematic because usually the thinker is inside the box (which is why it's called 'Outside the Box thinking'). As American Christians, we've created a box, one that we're struggling to get outside of. We've been infected by the outside. Thus out box, just like Christian's boxes during many parts of church history, has become tainted and less than what it should be. For this reason, the church has failed to live up to it's calling. The church alienates the world, instead of bringing hope to it, when it fails to be true to it's nature.

For this reason, we look for catchy ways to attract people to the church. We try catchy marketing, campaigns, and creative approaches to our presentation in order to accomplish our goal of attracting people. The problem with this form of "thinking outside the box" is that it is really the box we've already created; it's not thinking outside the box at all. Thus we get stuck in a cycle that really is not taking us anywhere.

I believe the root of the American churches problem is that it fails to understand the unity of the who and how of Jesus. The who is right belief of who Jesus is, we call this orthodoxy (simply right belief). The how of Jesus is the context of the Biblical story this leads to orthopraxy (simply right living). Simply there is no division between the two - they are one!

I think we need to get outside the box of only making sure we have orthodox thinking. In this way of thinking, the emphasis is on getting people to believe what you believe. Thus turning orthodoxy (the who) into a product to be marketed (which just makes me cringe, I hope you did too when you read that). As Christians, we cannot do this, it fails to understand the unity between the who and how of Jesus.

How would we change our churches if we focused as much on how we live as what we believe. I think it would make people uncomfortable. We don't like being told what to do. We like being told things that don't affect how we live our lives. Quite often, we're very comfortable with who we are, or we've tried for years to bury what we're uncomfortable with and don't enjoy having to dig that up.

A Christianity that thinks outside the box would be a Christianity that challenges it's believers to live out the Gospel where they are. What would that look like? What would it look like if a congregation lived as one. How different would a church look if it was continually trying to give away it's power & authority instead of trying to gain more. What if a church started to treat their neighbors as more important? What if a church began to question the justice of the rich side of town opening new pools while closing pools on the poor side?

Maybe that would be thinking outside the box...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Abortion pt. 1

So it's election year which means that it is time to begin debating the major issues of our day. One that has caught my attention this election year is the abortion debate. I have been (and continue to be) a fervent pro-life supporter, but this year I am seeing the debate in a different light.

For one side, the argument is based around act of abortion. Abortion is killing an unborn baby, which is murder, thus it is wrong. (Don't get me wrong, I think that conservatives are right on this issue!) This is not a question of context; but of right and wrong. Murder is always wrong. This is not up for discussion.

The other side talks about the nature of the environment. They discuss how many single mothers cannot afford to raise a child. They say that women are the victims of men who leave them alone to raise a child. This cycle of poverty is wrong, and we should look for ways to protect these women from men who objectify them. I get this argument, and at many levels I agree with the feelings of this side.

One side's ethics support the poor, one side strongly stands upon the side of truth. Which side is right? My answer: yes!

We have to see both sides of the issue or we're completely missing the point. As Christians, we are called to love those who are at the bottom. We're called to support those who have no where else to go. And this does not mean we do this only when they agree with us in morals, ethics, and lifestyle. As Christians we need to see all the sides of the issue. We need to understand justice on both sides.

(please do not write me off until you read the second half of the series)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Thinking Outside the Box pt. 1

As I have studied local churches, I've discovered that many churches like to try "thinking outside the box." They do all kinds of things; they change the time, they meet in small groups, or sometimes even dim the lights. Sometimes churches go way outside the box; they ride motorcycles, tatoo people or they even try ancient forms of liturgy.

From my humble opinion, most church's attempts at thinking outside the box are mere gimics. They are only trying to do something a little crazy in order to get some attention. They really are not thinking outside the box at all; they're just changing the wrapping paper.

The overall concept of what these people are doing is staying the same. They are simply changing the way that they are communicating (i.e. trying to do something more extravagant in order to garner attention). We have learned this tactic from the business world. It is the constant re-packaging of a product that gains attention and boosts sails. One must becareful not to allow oneself to become boring or repetitive. Really? The answer is in how we market ourselves???

When I listen to people talk how to help churches grow; the answer usually comes back to marketing. "We need to be better about how we present ourselves. We need to be focused on being the type of church that fits in with our community, so they can grasp our message in their own context."

What do you think?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

the massive knot in my back

Saturday night I was laying on the couch-watching the Wolverines look awful (right now I think firerichrodriguez.com is not far from being launched)-when I noticed that my back started to feel uncomftorable. By the time the game was over I had a painful muscle knot.

I had Steph try and massage it out. She did a good job and it began to feel a little better, but today when I woke up it came back - only this time worse! So today, I'm as stiff as a 2-by-4! I look like a dufis!

I can't bend. Sneezing hurts. Getting in and out of the car hurts! Getting into a prone position is painful, I tried to laydown on the couch and I about jumped out of my skin! I had to circle around the coffee table and try to land a second time. Needless to say, life is kinda annoying and painful right now!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Story pt. 1

In Christian circles there has been an increased emphasis on story in the past few years. Biblical theologians like NT Wright and Joel Green have discussed the nature of the Biblical story within the text. Popular Christian authors like John Eldridge and Donald Miller have written books about joining the story. But what really does this mean?

Let's diverge for a second. There are many traditions when it comes to Communion, Eucharist, Common Table, the Great Thanksgiving. Some traditions believe that during this time, the elements (aka bread and juice or wine) literally become the body and blood of Jesus. Other traditions believe that the elements are just reminders of Jesus' great work. Still others believe that something mysterious happens during this time, but the elements do not change. For centuries there have been wars and conflicts over this topic (the original worship wars if you will). Some would say words like: This is the Body of Christ...the Blood of Christ, others would be sure to emphasize this was just a representation.

England was especially afflicted with these wars (literally). One king or queen would hold a particular view, and would kill everybody who held the opposite view. As you can imagine this was a very unstable time; churches and communities were divided. Finally, the church realized that the point of the time at the table was not about the nature elements as much as it was about the time at the table. Now when they passed the elements they simply would say, "The Body of Christ was broken for you." as opposed to saying, "This is the Body of Christ!"

This shift allowed people from different view points on the topic to come together in peace. It moved the people from a dogmatic understanding of the elements and freed the people to focus on what they were doing. Christians (especially those of the Wesleyan, Angelical, Methodist tradition) believe that it is through the act of the Communion that God is present. That this Sacrament (translation: mystery) is speaking to us the Gospel message. We believe that the bread and the cup are the physical embodiment of the lyrics sung and the words spoken. When a believer takes part in this act, he is actually ingesting the Gospel message! You see the Table is not about the table.

In the same way there has been many centuries of conflict on the nature of the Biblical text. Some have emphasized that Text is just an inspired story, told to teach us about God. Some of emphasized the fact that it is (capital T) True; and if its not true its not inspired. Just like before, many people argue back and forth about the nature of the text instead of asking what is the point of the inspiration was.

This is where the Biblical theologians, popular authors, and many other Christian leaders are coming into the conversation. Just like the people of England were broken apart, the Church Universal has been broken apart by this divisive topic, and these Fathers in the Church have come along and said you're missing the point! Stop, the point of Christianity is not about the Biblical text, its where the Biblical text is trying to take us! Let's not focus on the minutia, let's agree its from God and move on.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

August in Review!

This is the week inbetween semesters, so it has a very disjointed feel. The fall is about to start and it feels like everything is starting to fall downward towards the end of the year. Isn't that the way it seems, once September hits Christmas seems like it is next week. Even with that being true, it is still August! It has been one crazy month, it just absolutely flew by! I honestly don't know where the time went. Well actually I do:

One weekend Steph's mom, grandma, and cousin Amy came down and hung out with us for a few days. We showed them a good time in central KY. They got a tour of Lexington, Nicholasville, High Bridge, and of course Wilmore.

We discoverd the YMCA pool,. I thought was going to be a slab of cement with a diving board. Instead it's actually a nice little park with multiple slides and sections for kids and adults alike.

We pulled a prank on our new neighbors (here).

We've been getting up at 5:30 or 6:00am to go running and we've been getting to know the neighborhoods. It's really cool to see the morning routine of a place.

We also were able to see friends. Steph went to Indy to hang out with her friends from High School. They stayed at her friend Rachel's apartment (in downtown) and hung out in the city. They went to a baseball game, layed out by the pool, and had a few nice dinners together. We also were able to drive up to Cincinnati and spend a Sunday afternoon with my friend Dilly (aka Luke Delong) and his fiancie Leticia. We went to the Findley Farmer's Market (located in the stunning downtown of Cinci), then hung out at IKEA and Wendy's. Nothing beats hanging out with friends!

The Political conventions always leave us with some amazing (sarcastic) clips (here). Skip ahead to 1 minute 25 seconds to see political speeches are their best. Who thinks stuff like this is clever or funny? That's what I want to know...

It has been a good month, hopefully a sign of the season that is to come. I think it'll be fun. Shane and Shane are coming in 10 days or so. Shane Claiborne will be here on Election Day. Steph is running a marathon right after she turns 25! And who could forget our 1 year anniversary! HOLY COW it's already been one year!!!!! Time sure if flying!