Friday, November 19, 2010

Annual X-mas List:

*****Navy Blue UofM Football Jersey [w/stitching]
[acceptible #'s: 16, 37, 68, 98]
***** Bulldog Puppy
**** Kenneth Cole "Reaction" cologne
** ipad
*** Michigan State Spartan Basketball Tickets
** Indiana University Hoodie
[Crimson shirt, white lettering]
**** Coat
[Military Style]
** Amazon Gift Card
*** A winter scarf
** NCAA Football for the Nintendo wii
*** tickets to a Bowl Game in Flordia

Friday, October 01, 2010


Wherever riches have increased, the essence of religion has decreased in the same proportion. Therefore I do not see how it is possible in the nature of things for any revival of religion to continue long. For religion must necessarily produce both industry and frugality, and these cannot but produce riches. But as riches increase, so will pride, anger, and love of the world in all its branches.

-John Wesley

Friday, September 24, 2010

Welcome to Tragic Crossings pt 1

Death is tragic. Yet, even though we see it constantly, we are unfazed by it. For instance road kill. How often do we see animals that have been run over, yet feel no sadness for the death of this animal. My friend Casey and I have decided to do something about it...

First, a squirrel...

And then a racoon...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New American Passtime...and what it means.

In the last couple of weeks, the football season began. What's interesting about football, is that in the American sports world, the football season is King. All other sports take a backseat to this behemoth. Not only is the NFL the #1 sporting event but college football is #2. Here is why:

  1. Football is violent: Our culture is just that. We LOVE violence. Its part of our DNA...literally, we stood up and violently forced ourselves to be free. If you watch our movies, look at the TV, observe our crime statistics you'll see we're pretty violent. So it makes sense that we'd LOVE a game as violent as this.

  2. Football is hype: Football games happen once a week. [usually Thursdays-Mondays] and so we have ususally a whole week to get excited for a game. ESPN has made a living hyping "this weekend's game" By gametime, you're convinced that this is the most important game in the history of games. You know the biggest match-up, the X-factor, and the favorite. Our country is built on marketing...which is basicall hype. We are always looking for the new cool thing, the next fresh bit, or the next big hit. So it makes sense that we - every week - buy into the hype.

  3. Football is fast action: If you ever watch TV with a critical eye, you'll notice that each camera shot lasts less than 5 seconds. Its amazing how often the shots are flipping; yet we don't notice it. This is why when you watch an older show, it feels like its dragging on and on...its that your eye is accustomed to quick, fast scenes. It makes sense that we would be attracted to a sport whose plays average 7 seconds.

  4. Football fits on TV: Football is a game played on a square field and each field has lines every 5 yards. Most of the action happens in a very small space on that field. AND there are pauses in the game which allow for a quick look at a replay of what has happened. In fact the NFL has a blackout policy for any team that does not sell out its stadium because it is actually a better option to watch the game on TV verses in person.

I have this picture on the wall behind the desk in my office. It is a picture of Wriggley Field in the fall of 1945. If you look closely, you can see that it says National League Champions. Now if you know anything about the history of the Chicago Cubs, you'll know that this was the last time that they went to the World Series. It, for me, represents a bygone era.

In 1945, the biggest show in the world was baseball. Our best athletes played basketball. The biggest and brightest lights of the 1930's, 40's, & 50's were in the ball parks and stadiums of baseball. All the other sports looked up to our national pass-time.

While baseball was easily the biggest show in town, those days are long gone. It is still very popular and it still holds a place near and dear to many hearts in our country, but it no longer is a our national pass-time. It is not fast paced. It does not translate onto TV. It is not violent. AND its season drags on and on and on over 6 month [+ 3 rounds of playoffs]. It appears in all the ways that football fits in with American culture, baseball does not.

For people who grew up in the 50's and 60's [and earlier], baseball is still very popular, but for those who grew up in the 80's & 90's football is the #1 interest. This shift in sports is interesting to me because it reveals that culture is shifting and changing. For those in ministry positions, this is a clue that there is a shift in the world around us; that things need to change.

Interestingly enough Willow Creek [perhaps the most influential church in the Western world], the church who started the "Contempory Church" no longer follows that model. Apparently, things have changed since 1975. Perhaps we should follow their lead. What was good and cool back in the day [perhaps even last year] might not be good and cool anymore. Perhaps we need to lick our finger and hold it up in the air to test how the winds have changed...

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    the [in]glorious return of the Press Box

    The biggest question I am constantly asking is how I, a Christian, should respond to “this” situation or “that” situation. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about here are a couple of example:

    Last summer I purchased a couch from American Freight [YES THAT AMERICAN FREIGHT!]. Now I’m a pastor and a $500 is a big deal to our budget, so when 3 months had gone by and we didn’t have a couch, and American Freight wouldn’t refund us our money…I kept having to ask myself, “How should I respond to this?”
    I keep seeing all these little signs around my town. They’re black with a red snake on them and say, “Don’t Tread on Me.” Upon further review, it’s the local New Carlisle Tea Party advertising their local meeting times. When I hear people tell me that gov’t is the solution to our problems [because that’s what the Tea Party is saying…they’re just saying that a smaller gov’t is the solution to our problems] I keep asking myself, “How should I respond to this?”
    Our church purchased 100 chairs this summer at $50 a chair…do the math. We were told they would get here by the end of August. Well its nearing the end of September now and we still don’t have those pesky chairs yet. So while trying to get those chairs here I’m having to ask myself the question, “How should we respond to this?”
    This happens to me all the time. I’m doing something where people don’t know I’m a pastor. And somebody drops an off color remark in my presence. [This happened yesterday!] I often ask myself, “How should I respond to this?”
    You know what I’m talking about. This is life. Somebody fails you. You are working in business. You have children. You have friends. The question is how, as Christians, should we respond to this? This is the graying of life, this is where we live.

    If you find yourself constantly asking those questions, you’re in a good place. If you’re searching for the answers, God will meet you there. If you listen God can and will provide a way for you; he can show you how you should respond.

    The place you don’t want to be is where you are not asking any questions; where you are just going without questioning yourself, where you are mindlessly supporting one political group, where you are reacting to set-backs in life without prayer, where you are saying what first comes to your mind when somebody says something that offends you. This is a place where I think its best to, as a Christian, avoid.

    So may you always be asking yourself what it means to be a Christian. May you always be questioning your loyalties and your actions. And may you walk in the knowledge that God will show you the right way to live.


    Sunday, June 13, 2010

    Summer Break!

    [this blog will return in a few weeks. filled with new inspiration, new direction, new passion!]


    Thursday, May 27, 2010

    Bible Verses: May 27 - June 2

    Thursday May 27, 2010
    Read: Psalm 23.1
    Think: What does a shepherd do for his/her sheep? Doesn’t a shepherd provide & protect his/her sheep? Don’t they do everything they can to make sure the sheep are ok?

    Friday May 28, 2010
    Read: Psalm 23.2
    Think: Calm pastures and quiet waters are good places to be if you’re a sheep? Do you feel like God is taking you to good places? Do you trust God to take you to places that are good for you?

    Saturday May 29, 2010
    Read: Psalm 23.3
    Think: What is a path of righteousness? Do you feel like your life is a life is on a path of righteousness?

    Sunday May 30, 2010
    Read: Psalm 23.4
    Think: Do you feel like you’re walking through a dark valley?

    Monday May 31, 2010
    Read: Psalms 23.5
    Think: “What does a table in the presence of my enemies mean to you?”

    Tuesday June 1, 2010
    Read: Psalm 23.6
    Think: When you think about dwelling in the house of the Lord, what do you think? Is this a good place, or is this a bad place? Is this a good thing? Or a bad thing?

    Wednesday June 2, 2010
    Read: Psalm 23
    Think: What do you think the message of this passage is? Why would David write about a shepherd? Is God your Shepherd?

    Friday, May 21, 2010

    Kingdom of God pt 3.

    In the Gospels, the accounts of the life of Jesus, we find the message of a new kingdom. A kingdom that is radically different than the kingdoms of earth. This kingdom, which is inaugurated by the ministry of Jesus is one that will change the earth. This Kingdom is last forever.

    Now there is an interesting play on words that happens here. You see, in one book its called the Kingdom of Heaven in other books its called the Kingdom of God. So which is it? Well, when you begin to think about it, they're really calling it the same thing. Heaven is where God is, thus the kingdom of Heaven is really the kingdom of God. Its the kingdom of God.

    Now what can we see from thinking about this. Well this kingdom is not a location. This kingdom is whereever God is - and he's everywhere - so location isn't a good way of understanding this kingdom.

    If this kingdom is where God is, then perhaps its about a certain way that it works. Its a kingdom that is vastly different than the other kingdoms. This kingdom is about flow, organization, orientation, and ethics. Its a kingdom that operates by a different set of criteria.

    This is why Jesus can say its like a Mustard Seed. You see mustard seeds spread like crazy. In Jesus' day, they were actually outlawed in Jerusalem. They were outlawed because they could destroy foundations, walls, and buildings. It would overtake gardens. Mustard seeds could get out of control. It talks about something that comes in and completely changes the entire make up of the area.

    This kingdom is where God is. This kingdom does not have boundries. This kingdom is not about power, or about success. This kingdom is not about control. This kingdom is about being in the presence and living out the presence of God.

    And may this kingdom come.

    Saturday, May 15, 2010

    Kingdom of God pt 2.

    I'm reading the book The Myth of the Christian Nation, by Gregory Boyd. This is an interesting work. It came out of a sermon series he preached 5 or so years ago in which 20% of his church left.

    The thesis of this book is that in the world [and especially in America] we assume that our country is blessed above all others by God, and that the role of Christians is to perserve the "Christian values" in our mainstream culture. The problem with this, Boyd argues, is that America [nor any of the other kingdoms of the world] is not inherently Christian. THUS, when talking about the Kingdom of God, we're not talking about the United States of America.

    This is his reasoning. There are two types of kingdoms out there [and I'm totally paraphrasing his stuff, so if you want quotes, follow the link of the book to Amazon, but it, and read the stuff yourself]: Kingdoms which use power to control people, and Kingdoms which do not. ALL governments of this world use power to control us. Even if there are elections and we can decide the laws, those laws are then enforced by force and power. This is not the Kingdom of God.

    The Kingdom of God is a place where grace rules the day. The Kingdom of God is a place where love is the greatest value. The Kingdom of God is a place where the poor are valued as much as the rich. Where the weak are look upon as blessed. This kingdom is vastly different than the kingdoms of this world. The kingdom of God is a place where the values are different. Success is not a measureing stick that is used to place judgment on anything.

    Thus we need to, when thinking about the Kingdom of God, use a different set of expectations. We must understand it is something completely different something completely not of this world [John 18.36]

    Sunday, May 09, 2010

    Great Quote:

    "Too often the price exacted by society for security and respectability is that the Christian movement in its formal expression must be on the side of the strong against the weak. This is a matter of tremendous significance, for it reveals to what exten a religion that was born of a people acquainted with persecution and suffering has become the cornerstone of a civilization and of nations whose very position in modern life too often has been secured by a ruthless use of power applied to...defenseless peoples."

    -Howard Thurman
    [Found in A Peculiar People pg 39 by Rodney Clapp]

    Thursday, May 06, 2010

    Great Quote:

    War settles nothing.
    ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

    Friday, April 30, 2010

    Great Quote:

    All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and shortest means to accomplish it.~Alexis de Tocqueville

    Thursday, April 29, 2010

    The Kingdom of God pt. 1

    This is an issue that the Bible is constantly addressing and we completely miss it. If I were to ask you where your citizenship is, I imagine you would answer the United States of America! [that is if you live in the USofA] This would be a perfectly normal, and expected response. Yet, I wouldn't say that it is a very Biblical response to that question.

    The whole story of the Bible is drawing us away from looking at ourselves as citizens of this world. We are to be citizens of a new kingdom; the kingdom of heaven! This is how you define being a follower of Jesus. The rulers of the kingdoms of this world, according to the Bible, are just fakes. They control nothing, and when we act like they do we are believing in a fakes.

    This is our challenge as Christians living in our world today. Our history is clouded with people who while carrying the banner of Christ, have failed to see the rulers of this world as fakes. They bought into their false fronted kingdoms, and turned their primary loyalty from the Kingdom of God. They became citizens of places like Rome, Spain, England, or the United States.

    Jesus is calling us to see through the kingdoms of this world; to see them for what they really are: false hope. The ONLY hope for this world is the citizens of the Kingdom of God actually live out their citizen ship.

    Of what kingdom do you claim citizenship?

    Wednesday, April 28, 2010

    Brilliant quote:

    When the largest industry in the world is no longer War, I will accept Darwin's theory of Evolution.
    ~Dale S. Mugford

    Tuesday, April 27, 2010

    Top 10 Recommended Book List [Edited: 4.27.10]

    1.] Velvet Elvis - Rob Bell
    Standard work in dealing with being a Christian in today's world.

    2.] Blue Like Jazz - Donald Miller
    A wandering journey through the life of Don as he searches for faith. One of the cult classics from when I was in college.

    3.] Irresistible Revolution - Shane Claiborne
    A brilliant work, that reads like a journal, of the life, adventure, and musings of a guy who's a radical believer of Jesus. It will definitely blow your mind.

    4.] New Kind of Christian - Brian McLaren
    One of the original works dealing with the change in culture and its impact on the Church. One of the works which definitely changed the way I view the world.

    5.] Change or Die - Alan Deutschman
    A very interesting look at the possibility of change, even in the most difficult situations. The author looks at 3 clinical cases where change is not seen as possible, yet change does occur.

    6.] Peculiar People - Rodney Clapp
    A look at the church and how it engages with culture.

    7.] Searching for God Knows What - Donald Miller
    A book discussing the relational nature of salvation and Jesus. [It ends with a very compelling look at Romeo and Juliet.]

    8.] The Search to Belong - Joseph R Myers
    An intriguing look at community and relationships within the context of Church ministry. I had the pleasure of meeting Joseph, and found him to be a deep thinking person and well read person.

    9.] The Politics of Jesus - John Howard Yoder
    An Anabaptist look at the nature of the way as Christians we should live. This is one of the books that you'll find cited in tons of other books. If you don't read at this book, you're missing out BIG TIME!

    10.] The Challenge of Jesus - NT Wright
    One of the foundational looks at the life, ministry, and consequences of Jesus. I've found this cited in multiple other works. Wright is possibly one of the BEST New Testament scholars in the world. If you don't read at this book, you're missing out BIG TIME!

    Great Quote:

    War does not determine who is right, only who is left.
    ~Bertrand Russell

    Friday, April 23, 2010

    We all know whose side Yahweh was on...

    There was a race of people that migrated to ancient Egypt because of that nation’s prosperity. These people were poor and the lower levels of society in Egypt were better than the places they left. In Egypt they were able to feed their children. In Egypt they had a place to work. In Egypt they had hope.

    But because of their vast number, the Egyptians were afraid they would destroy their society. They believed they needed to control this population or their country would fall apart. Because of their fear they despised them, they killed their children, and they forced them into slavery.

    We know this group of people as the Israelites; the children of Abraham.

    And we all know whose side Yahweh was on...

    Friday, April 16, 2010

    Great Quote:

    THE VIOLENCE we preach is
    not the violence of the sword, the
    violence of hatred. It is the violence
    of love, of brotherhood,
    the violence that wills to
    beat weapons into sickles for work.

    oscar romero, november 27, 1977

    Saturday, March 13, 2010

    Inspiration please:

    in·spi·ra·tion   /ˌɪnspəˈreɪʃən/ [in-spuh-rey-shuhn]
    –noun inspiring or animating action or influence: I cannot write poetry without inspiration.
    2.something inspired, as an idea.
    3.a result of inspired activity.
    4.a thing or person that inspires.
    a.a divine influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind or soul.
    b.the divine quality of the writings or words of a person so influenced.
    6.the drawing of air into the lungs; inhalation.
    7.the act of inspiring; quality or state of being inspired.

    My wife has a blog. Its called Simply Inspired Designs. Its pretty much a collection of things that inspire her. If you have not checked it out, I highly recommend it.

    Lately, I've realized that I have not been inspired lately. To me this is a problem. I need inspiration. If you would like to help me with this, post something that is an inspiration to you. Perhaps its a book, a link, a picture, a group or organization, or perhaps its a quote. [Anything and everything wil be accepted!]

    Thank you for your help in this matter!

    Saturday, March 06, 2010

    My issue with sports:

    I have an issue with sports; primarially High School/Middle School sports.

    For the record, I am a very competitive person. I hate losing. My favorite moment is draining a shot to win the game. It is one of the best feelings in the world: I'm going to do this, you can't stop me, and its going to win the game. I love winning.

    Now with that said, I think too much emphasis in sports on winning. If you have studied Coach John Wooden, you'll know that he created a system called the "Pyramid of Success" which was the cornerstone of his coaching stragety. This Pyramid is a series of values that a person needs to have in order to have success. If you read through these steps, you'll see these are all life values. These are not steps outright steps to winning, they are steps to becoming a better person. Look at this quote from Wooden, actually defining what success is:

    “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
    -John Wooden
    So as far as Wooden, and his coaching philosophy is concerned, success is defined by doing your best. Success isn't winning the game, its being the best you can be. This is often overshadowed by the massive winning streaks, the undefeated seasons, and the 10 National Championships he won.

    This is an entirely different approach to sports and success than is being taught today in the Prep sports world. This is entirely different than what is being taught at the college level. If a team does not WIN, and WIN often, the coach is fired and the team is considered a failure. This to me is a problem. This is not why sports are played. Sports, at its core, is not about winning.

    If you ever listen to Robert Montgomery Knight talk about his coaching philosophy, you'll get very quickly beyond his insanity on the basketball court. While Bobby was a firey coach who threw chairs and yelled so loudly that his face turned purple, he also was a brilliant coach who prepared his teams to play their best every night. He actually considered himself a teacher preparing his players for life. When fired at Indiana, he did not comment on the number of wins, the 3 national championships, or the record number of Big 10 wins. He commented that he was proud of the "kind of kid that we've turned out here and the kind of men that these kids have developed into." For Bobby Knight, the focus of his coaching was the development of kids into men.

    In my opinion, if a team--or if a player--plays their best, plays with intensity, and minimizes their mistakes they are going to, more often than not, put themselves in a great position to win. Now, if a team is coached to win becoming a better person, better player, do not become the focus. Which is a shame, because that's exactly what sports is not about.

    A little extra:

    Just close your eyes, and dream of Sunday afternoons with Jordan playing Isaiah, followed by Larry going out to take on Magic. [The Glory days of the NBA]

    Wednesday, March 03, 2010

    Great Quote:

    How vile and despicable war seems to me! I would rather be hacked to pieces than take part in such an abominable business.~Albert Einstein

    Monday, March 01, 2010

    Great Quote:

    Chauvinism is a proud and bellicose form of patriotism...which equates the national honor with military victory.
    ~Colonel James A. Donovan, Marine Corps

    Friday, February 26, 2010

    Haiti and Building Bigger Barns

    Here is a chart comparing the population of the US and Haiti:

    As you can see the population of the US is 31 times larger than that of Haiti.

    Below is a chart of the GDP's of both the US and Haiti [Gross Domestic Product]:

    As you can see the USA GDP is around 2,043 times larger than that of Haiti.

    The difference in those numbers mean that a person who lives in the US is somewhere around 65 times richer than somebody in Haiti. That's a huge difference. With these numbers the average person in the US makes $46,710 per year and the average peron in Haiti makes $716.00 per year. [That means the average bi-weekly pay check for an average American is 2.5 times larger than the entire year's wage for an average Haitian!]

    The problem with Haiti is not that they just went through a massive earthquake. The earthquake that went through was a 7.0 on the richter scale, nearly the same as the 6.9 that hit the Bay Area of California in 1989. The '89 quake caused 63 deaths, injured 3,757 people, and left somewhere between 3,000 and 12,000 homeless. Compare those numbers to the 230,000 deaths that occured in Haiti. Even though the populations are [somewhat] compareable, somewhere around 229,967 more people died in Haiti. Let me say it again, the problem with Haiti is NOT that they went through an earthquake.

    In Luke chapter 12, Jesus tells a parable of a rich man who had barns which hold the crops he grows [as a sort of retirement fund]. Jesus says that this year he has a bumper crop. His crop is so big that the barns he has are too big to contain it all. So this man decides to tear down his barns and build bigger ones. He only cared about his own financial security and because of this Jesus calls him a fool. It is not because he is rich, its because he only thinks about himself and his future security - wanting to have his bottom line look good - that Jesus condemns this person. Its not because he's rich, its because he keeps trying to get richer.

    The thing is that its responsible to save. Its responsible to protect your future. But if the rich never look to help the poor, how will they ever pull themselves of poverty? If the rich only are concerned with their own safety and security, the poor will only get poorer. Not only do the poor suffer when the rich do not look to help them, the rich also suffer. Jesus in the sermon on the mount goes out of his way to pit riches and money against God [Matt 6.19-24]. So the rich person, when focusing on his own riches, is really making their God their money. It is for this reason that Jesus calls our friend in Luke 12 a fool.

    I guess Haiti's problem is not that they went through an earthquake, or that they're poor. I think that their problem is that they have a rich neighbor who keeps building bigger barns.

    "You used to Pray..."

    In the film Romero, which documents which documents the struggle of the people of El Salvador during the 1970s and '80s, there is a scene in which Archbishop Romero, priest and martyr among the poor of El Salvador, speaks to one of his fellow clergy as they try to navigate the way through a tumultuous revolution:

    "You're a priest. You believe in God and in the power of love. You used to pray."

    Zealot Revolutionary Priest:
    "I still do."

    "Then why are you carrying a gun?"

    [Claiborne, Shane and Haw, Chris. Jesus for President. Zondervan Publishing. Grand Rapids, MI. 2008. pg 285.]

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010

    Non-violence quote:

    “A solider in command must be told not to kill people; if he is order to do so, he should not carry it out. Nor should he take the oath. If he will not agree, he should be rejected. Anyone who has the power of the sword, or who is a civil magistrate wearing the purple, should desist, or he should be rejected. If a catechumen or a believer wishes to become a soldier they should be rejected, for they have despised God.”

    Hippolytus, “On the Apostolic Tradition.” (SVS Press, 100). Mid 3rd century.

    [HT: Tom Fuerst]

    Monday, February 22, 2010

    Walter Wink on the Myth of Redemptive Violence:

    [Editor's Note: Here is an exerpt from an Ariticle by Walter Wink I found. (Click here to read the rest of the article.)]

    In short, the Myth of Redemptive Violence is the story of the victory of order over chaos by means of violence. It is the ideology of conquest, the original religion of the status quo. The gods favour those who conquer. Conversely, whoever conquers must have the favour of the gods. The common people exist to perpetuate the advantage that the gods have conferred upon the king, the aristocracy, and the priesthood.

    Religion exists to legitimate power and privilege. Life is combat. Any form of order is preferable to chaos, according to this myth. Ours is neither a perfect nor perfectible world; it is theatre of perpetual conflict in which the prize goes to the strong. Peace through war, security through strength: these are the core convictions that arise from this ancient historical religion, and they form the solid bedrock on which the Domination System is founded in every society.

    ...[The Myth of Redemptive Violence] is as universally present and earnestly believed today as at any time in its long and bloody history. It is the dominant myth in contemporary America. It enshrines the ritual practice of violence at the very heart of public life, and even those who seek to oppose its oppressive violence do so violently.

    We have already seen how the myth of redemptive violence is played out in the structure of children’s cartoon shows (and is found as well in comics, video and computer games, and movies). But we also encounter it in the media, in sports, in nationalism, in militarism, in foreign policy, in televangelism, in the religious right, and in self-styled militia groups. What appears so innocuous in cartoons is, in fact, the mythic underpinnings of our violent society.

    Great Quote:

    Preventive war was an invention of Hitler. Frankly, I would not even listen to anyone seriously that came and talked about such a thing.
    ~Dwight D. Eisenhower
    About the quote: from 1953

    Saturday, February 20, 2010

    Great Quote:

    Because I do it with one small ship, I am called a terrorist. You do it with a whole fleet and are called an emperor.~A pirate, from St. Augustine's "City of God"

    Thursday, February 18, 2010

    Great Quote:

    [Editors note: Here is a quote taken from Shane Claiborne's book, "Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals" It is a compelling look at being a Christian. Definitely recommend you pick this book up. Be warned, this book will mess with your mind.]

    The documentary film Blindspot presents the provocative, heart-wrenching memoir of Hitler's secretary, Traudl Junge. In it, she remembers the assassination attempt [on July 20, 1944]. She recalls how the bomb exploded in such a way and at a precise moment that Hitler narrowly escaped. She says that after surviving the attack, Hitler was more convinced than ever before that God was protecting him and his mission [with a triumphant smile Hitler showed Mussolini the site of the bombing]. It fueled his reign of terror and confidence in his mission. Violence galvinized his violence. Ms. Junge says that after the bomb attempt, "Any hope for peace were lost." Hitler rolled forward with record fervor to "rid the wrold of evil." Another attempt to pick up the sword went haywire, not only fueling further bloodshet but costing out brother [Dietrich] Bonhoeffer his own life as he was executed by the Nazis. Once again the cross lost, and the Devil laughed. [Jesus for President. pp202-203]

    Monday, February 15, 2010


    Why should we hear about body bags, and deaths...I mean, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?
    ~Barbara Bush
    About the quote: Mrs. Bush spoke these words on ABC's "Good Morning America," March 18, 2003.

    Friday, February 12, 2010


    I recently asked myself, 'if the US didn't have a military, what would happen?' My first thought was this would not be a good thing...we'd all be destroyed! I'm sure this is your first thought as well. We all think that if a country were to lay down its arms it would be vulnerable to our enemies. We would be weak. Who would defend us?

    As I reflected on this, I had an epiphany. I was putting my faith in the fact that our army will protect us. I was putting my faith in the fact people with guns would destroy our enemies. This seemed a bit troubling to me.

    This then led me to ask the question, is military strength a Biblical concept?

    What are your thoughts on this?

    Thursday, February 11, 2010

    Biblical Depth pt1:

    When reading the Bible it is important to remember that this book has depth. One cannot read all passages at the same level. There are some passages the trump other passages. There is an order and a priority to the books, and they must be read with these things in mind. If one does not understand how to read the Bible, it is very easy to make poor or incorrect interpretations of what this all important book is saying.

    Let me explain this concept this way. If you were to read the book of Leviticus, you would eventually come to chapter 11. In this chapter, you'll find a series of instructions on what animals that the Israelites are allowed to eat. Everything that is ok, is classified as "clean" and everything that is not ok to eat, is classified as "unclean." The chapter ends by telling the people that "they must distinguish between the clean and unclean..."

    Acts 11, seems to indicate something else. The apostle Peter has a vision where a sheet is lowered filled with all types of animals that were declared by the Torah as unclean. A voice from Heaven declares: "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat!" As a good Jew Peter refuses to eat these unclean animals. The voice responds, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean." The obvious interpretation is that this story seems to indicate that Peter is now allowed to eat these unclean animals. No longer must he distinguish between that which is clean or unclean.

    At first glance, these passages conflict with each other. At second glance they still do. The issue then is which has priority. In orthodox Christian teaching, it is understood that the passage in Acts 11 is the passage that we should follow; and that no longer should we think of animals as"clean or unclean." Indeed, everything that God has made has been made clean.

    The Bible needs to be read with movement. One cannot simply read the letters of Paul and expect to have a full understanding of the Gospel, we must also read the Gospels & General Epistles. We cannot just read the New Testaments; we probably should have a full understanding of the other 2/3rds of the Bible as well. The Bible is a 66 part book, and we need to understand each of the 66 parts in order to have a full understanding of its message.

    A good exercise would be to read some of the "obscure" books of the Bible. Books that you don't normally read. Books that aren't normally talked about in church...

    [more to come on this topic]

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    Here's a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance:

    Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of who I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Jesus Christ might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King Eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. -AMEN

    [I Timothy 1.15-17]

    Sunday, February 07, 2010

    I still love you...

    [Peyton Manning: 6'5", Laser Rocket Arm]

    Dear Peyton,
    I know you just lost the Super Bowl. I know people think less of you because you didn't win this game. You know what? I still think you're the best Quarterback of all time, that when its all said and done, this game will only be a distant memory and a small blip on a Hall of Fame resume that will be unmatched by any other QB of all time.

    I know I've said, in the past, that you're a choker, but I was just kidding. I don't consider this a choke, just a tough loss. In a team sport, you have consistently led your team to victory after victory. Congratulations on getting your team to the Super Bowl, you'll get 'em next year.

    I can't wait to see you don your #18 next fall.


    Dan Bellinger

    thoughts about the Beatitudes...

    This morning we talked about the Beatitudes in church. Every time I read this text, I am continually amazed by the fact that I am not this type of person. I'm not poor in spirit; I'm proud. I'm not meek; I'm pretty bold. Its not easy for me to be merciful; I want justice. 

    I was recently reading Stanley Hauerwas' book "Resident Aliens" and he made the point these qualities aren't natural for human beings. This, Hauerwas says, is the point. God is merciful. God is meek. God hungers and thirsts for righteousness. God is a peacemaker. 

    Our problem is when we think about God, we don't think of him in these terms. We envision God as bold and proud, looking to find justice - at all costs. We think God actually cares about what people think about him, that he has an image to keep. The matter of the fact is that, this is not who God is. God is willing to humiliate himself, looking to humble himself. God in the Bible continually goes out of his way to allow humans, though we don't deserve it, to have freedom to do what we want. 

    If you want to know who God is, read Matthew 5-7

    Tuesday, January 26, 2010

    How to be an Insurrectionist pt 2.

    Stanley Hauerwas, a professor at Duke University, wrote one of my favorite books titled "Resident Aliens: A provocative Christian assessment of culture and ministry for people who know that something is wrong." Now I know what you're thinking, and yes, it is that amazing!

    Resident Aliens promotes the belief that Christians ethics rise from living in Christian community. He sees the church as a colony of believers living in the world, yet separate from the world. Thus, the main problem for the church is, instead of focusing on being a good colony, the church looks to sway influence in the world around it.

    In the book's fourth chapter [named: "Life in the Colony: The Church as Basis for Christian Ethics"] Hauerwas says this:
    In fact, much of what passes for Christian social concern today, of the left or of the right, is the social concern of a church that seems to have despaired of being the church. Unable through our preaching, baptism, and witness to form a visible community of faith, we content ourselves with erstaz Christian ethical activity - lobbying Congress to support progressive strageties, asking the culture at large to be a little less racist, a little less promiscuous, a little less violent. ... Both groups imply that one can practice Christian ethics without being in the Christian community. Both begin with the Constantinian assumption that there is no way for the gospel to be present in our world without asking the world to support our convictions through its own social and political institutionalization. The result is the gospel transformed into civil religion.

    This does not that mean that the church should ignore injustice in the world, just that the church needs to do it in the proper way. When we look to do it by asking the world to first support our position, we end up changing our message into something that it is not. A civil religion, regardless of how "Christian" it may appear is far from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Perhaps our response should be to live as insurrectionists.

    Sunday, January 24, 2010

    Daniel: how to be an insurrectionist.

    [Editor's Note: The book of Daniel is a manual on how to be an insurrectionist. I think it'd be a great exersize to study the book a bit and attempt to understand a little more about what it means to be a Christian.]

    If we read through this book, we'll find that Daniel is written to inspire, prepare, and teach its readers how to refuse to fit into the dominant culture of its day. This story was written to the Jewish people as they were in exile. [while we're not sure of exactly when the book was written, its safe to say that the possible range is sometime during the exile] It was during this time that many of their opponents began to directly challenge the Jewish faith, climaxing in the Macabbean revolt of the 2nd century.

    If we read the first 6 chapters of the book, we find that the hereos of the story are heroes because they refused to cave in to the pressure to conform to theist host society. Their hereoic deeds revolve around rebellious stands against these imperial bullies. If we read the second 6 chapters of the book we read a very intense apocalyptic account of the authority of heaven over the rulers of this world. Thus, the book is giving examples of insurrection and a theological framework by which the readers should base their life on.

    I'd like to spend a few posts discussing exactly how the book shows this for us and perhaps spend some time breaking this down in today's world.

    Saturday, January 16, 2010

    Food Inc.

    [Editors note: Many of you know that one of my New Year's Resolutions was to not eat meat for the month of January. I am doing this because I want to be more thoughtful about what I eat and do research about where the food I eat comes from. I've heard good things about the movie "Food Inc." Here's a preview I recently saw.]

    Thursday, January 14, 2010

    There is no I in church:

    I love what Keith Drury writes in his book, "There is no I in church." Here's a great quote I found it in:

    Individualism and heaven are incompatible...Heaven is not a place where your wildest dreams of personal fulfillment come true...These are pagan notions of heaven. Heaven is about becoming a people. Heaven will melt our stubborn individuality and merge us into a group - the Bride of Christ. It will be the Church that goes to heaven, not just a bunch of individual believers. That is why people who reject the church cannot e Christian. They won't melt. They won't join the bride. [There is no I in church, pg 16.]

    Friday, January 08, 2010

    Great Quote:

    You cannot win a War on Terrorism. It’s like having a war on jealousy.
    ~David Cross
    About the quote: Cross is a comedian, most well known for his roles on the television series "Arrested Development" and "Mr. Show." This quote is from his 2002 comedy album.

    Friday, January 01, 2010

    Happy New Year! [New Year's Resolution Edt]

    This year I've got a few New Year's Resolutions. 

    The big one is, I'm going to attempt to go the entire month of January without eating meat. This is my big one! When I was thinking about what to do, I thought perhaps attempting to not eat meat would be a possibility. Recently, I've heard multiple sources make comments about the nature of the meat industry. These comments made me feel a little uncomfortable;  comments involving how many chemicals/anti-biotic medicines the majority of beef cattle are exposed to, the unnatural conditions that these cows live in, and the entire mindset of the business

    A couple of points. I realize that any resolution that involved giving up meat would most likely only last through the first month, therefore I only gave it up for the 1st 31 days. I wanted to, at first, try a vegan diet [no animal products at all], but realized that's a pretty hardcore step. So I'm just going to try to cut meat out of my diet for 30 days.

    Good luck to you, and Happy New Year!