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?