Tuesday, December 27, 2005

My Theological Worldview



You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.
Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan
93%
Fundamentalist
82%
Emergent/Postmodern
68%
Charismatic/Pentecostal
64%
Neo orthodox
54%
Classical Liberal
54%
Reformed Evangelical
54%
Roman Catholic
36%
Modern Liberal
11%


created with QuizFarm.com

Monday, December 26, 2005

Music Blog #1 || Ba-rum-pum-pum-pum



i've decided that i need some tradition in my life. so, starting now, every holiday i will post an official "mp3 blog". yes, that's right. free music. for all of you. it's my gift. ha!

anyways, it's christmas. this blog entry will include some emerging bands that i have stumbled upon and encountered. recently i've been on the hunt for new music. how do i go about this? a lot of browsing, and free, legal download sites [MySpace, PureVolume]. mp3 blogs are becoming quite popular as well [http://drop7.com/mp3s/]. i have no current desire to turn my blog into one of these, but i like the idea. and i figured since i make use of other people's mp3 blogs, maybe i could share some of my discoveries as well.

Brennan Strawn is a solo artist from New York. his song Lose It All(mp3) is absolutely beautiful. check out his MySpace profile for more music.

i came across Flyleaf's song Perfect(mp3) through an email newsletter. their influences include Incubus, Rage Against The Machine, Foo Fighters, and Nirvana. check them out on MySpace too.

Mute Math, formerly known as Earthsuit, is apparently busy working on a new album. they pre-released a brand new song on their MySpace. it's called Chaos(mp3) and it's downloadable for a limited time! so get it quickly while it's available.

Rob Bell and his infamous NOOMA series has just released an official soundtrack, which is really worth listening to. an omission to his list of songs is a band called The Album Leaf. i believe they were featured on his LUMP video. anyways, you can hear what they sound like from their song One Day I'll Be On Time(mp3).

from Ontario comes Uneven Ground. i saw them at a show in Simcoe, actually. pretty cool. listen to Angels Wept(mp3). influences include Pantera, Killswitch Engage, Alice in Chains, and Dreamtheatre... to name a few. they're on MySpace as well.

anyways, i've been up all night. i hope you enjoy these tunes!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Heavenly Ham

tonight i attended my grandparents' annual Christmas party. i was asked to say the blessing for dinner too. we had ham, scallop potatoes, cabbage salad, jello, peas, and lasagna.

anyways, so i had to pray. and ask God to bless our meal. let me tell you, i wanted to scream. why, you may ask? because i was remembering something scriptural about eating unclean animals, and that it was an abomination to God. so i checked this. Deuteronomy 14:3-20. i was about to ask God to bless an unclean animal, which He has already cursed. this was scary for me. because i did not know the rules for such things, or if it was strictly Old Testament, or if it only applied to Jews, or what.

i was beside myself, deafening my ears to my own prayer. i just thanked God for a bunch of stuff, family, Christmas, freedom, what-have-you. then it came. "thank you for this meal." i shook my head in my thoughts. i was disgusted. mind you, i was well aware that i cooked up some mean bacon last night, and enjoyed it thoroughly. i love bacon. i love ham. i'm canadian. leave me alone... with my bacon.
so maybe i was being a little over-dramatic. i mean, it's christmas. we eat what we're given. plus, there are much more important things than what you eat, right? so i came home and checked this. here you go, a little Acts 10:9-23 for you to look at.

there you have it, folks. all meat, clean or unclean, hooved or not hooved, delectable or revolting, bacon or ham. all good. it's all good. our God is evidently sane. as well as omniscient. worthy of praise, because He knows how good bacon really is. so thank Him.

oh, and for those contradiction conspirators, this is simply one of the many changes to the law instated by Jesus. Orthodox Jews do not eat meat, because they still abide by the old law and the Torah. why? because they are taught that the new testament is hate-literature. they do not believe Jesus to be anything more than a con. they're still waiting for their messiah. the Son of Man. sadly, they have missed it. because they cannot accept that He would have a problem with their legalistic tradition. that He would heal a blind man on a Sunday. or that He would fill their holy water vessels with wine. or that He would be born in a cow trough in Bethlehem, or crucified naked on a cross with a crown of thorns.

oh, and by the way, Merry Christmas... or Happy Holidays... or Season's Greetings... honestly, who cares if the government decides to call it "holiday season"? i mean, Dec. 25 was originally a pagan holiday of feasts, celebrating winter solstice. most scholars think Jesus was born around the end of September. but, with commercialized st. nicholas, and popular western culture, i don't see a dire need to make a change. as for me and my house, Jesus is the reason for the season. if He's not anyone else's reason, so be it. it's not a religious statute. evidently, it's not like God will smite you or anything. unless you're Jewish.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Creationist Cosmology

i've become fascinated with this idea of creationist cosmology. for those of you who would like to know what i'm talking about, read this.

most of the explanation of how this theory works looks like french to me. i'm not educated in it, and do not wish to give 7 hour seminars on how it works.

D. Russell Humphreys, Ph.D. seem sto be the forerunner in this theory and research. so i wanted to see what skeptics say about him. they have trouble with a lot of things just "happening" as an effect of their naturalistic viewpoint. yet Humphreys relies on divine intervention and belief in a God to explain away changes in the speed of light, white-holes, etc. again, most of it is french to me, but i've read his book "Starlight and Time" in which he recites key elements of Genesis 1 and paraphrases with his own research. this, to me, strengthens my belief that there is truth to this theory.

on the flip-side, cosmology is a term that skeptics are comfortable with as well. it fully supports the Big Bang theory. this is where i am truly intrigued. i love debate.

i guess my question is, has anyone else done research on this theory, have any thoughts, qualms, and arguments for or against it? it's difficult for me to base my faith on something i cannot fully grasp, as i'm sure many christians have this problem. creationists in the past have used embarrassing lack of judgment and neglect of observation. basically, i want to be sure that cosmology (apparently formulated in '94) is still a valid and firmly structured argument. i mean, to be skeptic for a second, if this theory is so great, why did i not find out about it until 11 years after it was discovered? why aren't we taught this in christian circles? why don't we pose this as an answer to questions raised about the foundations of the earth?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Live or Die

i am a frequent poster on the Relevant Magazine messageboard. the other day i came across this posted topic: CONSIDERING EXCHANGING MYSELF FOR A HOSTAGE. i clicked on the heading, and sure enough, it was someone's valiant contemplation of 'martyrdom'. this person was seeking guidance, and encouragement through my favourite messageboard. soon enough it became a hot topic among the patrons of Relevant. it was like a suicide helpline, where people are both giving you scriptural reasons to do it, and not to do it. scary! so i offered my two cents.

today i went back to the topic to see if he responded. he did. after many, many posts. so he didn't single out anyone. but he had a new understanding of the call on his life to live for Christ. i thought this was awesome. he changed the title of his post to "NO LONGER [original heading]. this was encouraging to me. it reaffirmed my understanding of God's calling on my life. it reaffirmed that my life has meaning. i don't think that my post changed this man's life, many other people made valid points. but i have a testimony. it may not be my initial decision to accept Jesus as my Savior, because it was nothing dramatic. my testimony began when i decided to live for Him.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

And Then Some

i have attended at least nine different churches in my lifetime. each one very different. one thing that stands out to me is the variation in worship. i have seen churches experience revival. growth. expansion. church-plants. church-splits. authority conflict. leadership scandals. among other things, one thing is consistent: the hypocrisy.

but i have realized that God loves the hypocritical church. He loves those who betray Him. the ones who are two-faced. the ones who don't practice what they preach.

this is a very difficult conclusion to make: that God is pleased with their offering. their worship. He blesses them. He heals them. He answers their prayers.

how do i know this? because i'm a hypocrite. i've betrayed Him. i've worn masks. i've failed to practice my own doctrine. yet i see the Hand of God over my life. i can count many blessings in my life.

why do we worship? why can we worship? because we've been justified in Christ by our acceptance of His sacrifice. (Galatians 2:16). we will never be more justified than we are right now. therefore, come as you are, lay your burdens down, worship because of what He did, not because of what you want Him to do. we don't prompt God to take action. we respond to God. if we desire earthly (sinful) things, we prompt the devil. because we have already conquered it (sin), we can easily access it. go back to it. likewise, if we experience God, we can easily go back to that experience. because we know what it looks like. make your election sure (2 Peter 1:10). God chose us. it's our responsibility to respond. we've been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). therefore, if we desire a blessed life and relationship with God, it's not an option--it's a requirement.

there's nothing like a hypocritical message to teach you not to judge. do not define the character of a christian by the struggles in his life, but by the fruit he bears.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Great Rescue


okay, maybe you will be able to tell i didn't write the following. truth is, i read it in a book and found it to put me in a place where i could truly see my own life through God's eyes. Paul claimed to be the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).

The face that Moses Had begged to see-was forbidden to see-was slapped bloody (Exodus 33:19-20). The thorns that God had sent to curse the earth's rebellion now twisted around his own brow...."On your back with you!" One raises a mallet to sink the spike. But the soldier's heart must continue pumping as he readies the prisoner's wrist. Someone must sustain the soldier's life minute by minute, for no man has this power on his own. Who supplies breath to his lungs? Who gives energy to his cells? Who holds his molecules together? Only by the son do "all things hold together" (Colossians 1:17).

The victim wills that the soldier live on-he grants the warriors continued existence. The man swings.As the man swings, the Son recalls how he and the Father first designed the medial nerve of the human forearm-the sensations it would be capable of. The design proves flawless-the nerves perform exquisitely. "Up you go!" They lift the cross. God is on display in his underwear and can scarcely breathe. But these pains are a mere warm-up to his other and growing dread.

He begins to feel a foreign sensation. Somewhere during this day an unearthly foul odor began to waft, not around his nose, but his heart. He feels dirty. Human wickedness starts to crawl upon his spotless being-the living excrement from our souls. The apple of his Father's eye turns brown with rot. His Father! He must face his Father like this! From heaven the Father now rouses himself like a lion disturbed, shakes his mane, and roars against the shriveling remnant of a man hanging on a cross.

Never has the son seen the Father look at him so, never felt even the least of his hot breath. But the roar shakes the unseen world and darkens the visible sky. The son does not recognize these eyes.

"Son of man! Why have you behaved so? You have cheated, lusted, stolen, gossiped-murdered, envied, hated, lied. You have cursed, robbed, overspent, overeaten-fornicated, disobeyed, embezzled, and blasphemed. Oh, the duties you have shirked, the children you have abandoned! Who has ever so ignored the poor, so played the coward, so belittled my name? Have you ever held your razor tongue? What a self-righteous, pitiful drunk-you, who molest young boys, peddle killer drugs, travel in cliques, and mock your parents. Who gave you the boldness to rig elections, foment revolutions, torture animals, and worship demons? Does the list never end! Splitting families, raping virgins, acting smugly, playing the pimp-buying politicians, practicing exhortation, filming pornography, accepting bribes. You have burned down buildings, perfected terrorist tactics, founded false religions, traded in slaves-relishing each morsel and bragging about it all. I hate, loathe these things in you! Disgust for everything about you consumes me! Can you not feel my wrath?"

Of course the Son is innocent. He is blamelessness itself. The Father knows this. But the divine pair have an agreement, and the unthinkable must now take place. Jesus will be treated as if personally responsible for every sin ever committed.

The Father watches as his heart's treasure, the mirror-image of himself, sinks drowning into raw, liquid sin. Jehovah's stored rage against humankind from every century explodes in a single direction.
"Father! Father! Why have you forsaken me?!"

But heaven stops its ears. The Son stares up at the One who cannot, who will not, reach down or reply.The Trinity planned it. The son endured it. The Spirit enabled him. The Father rejected the Son whom he loved. Jesus, the God-man from Nazareth, perished. The Father accepted his sacrifice for sin and was satisfied. The Rescue was accomplished.

- Excerpt from Steven Estes and Joni Eareckson Tada's book: When God Weeps












Thursday, December 08, 2005

Cost Nothing, Worth Nothing

check this out:

Matthew 7:13-14 "The Narrow and Wide Gates"
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

Luke 13:22-27 "The Narrow Door"
Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?"
He said to them, "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, 'Sir, open the door for us.' "But he will answer, 'I don't know you or where you come from.'
"Then you will say, 'We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.'
"But he will reply, 'I don't know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!'"
this is what Jesus said about how difficult it will be to find the road to life. many will even hear His word, yet they will not know Him. this baffles me. does this include some professing christians? how do we achieve a righteous life? these verses certainly raise a lot of questions.

it bothers me when people come and ask me for advice, but make no effort to seek God and strengthen their relationship with Him. what should i do? if all i can teach revolves around the principle of seeking intimacy with God? we talk about making God number one in our lives, but how do we make this applicable and palatable? how does the Church consummate her marriage to Christ?

this has been rolling over and over in my mind for a long time now. i knew the basics. i knew justification. i knew repentance. still, i wasn't seeing a means to "completeness" that i was hearing about from people's testimonies. oh, the testimonies. i've heard endless testimonies about how people have wandered aimlessly in life, with this emptiness inside them. yet they consistently posed salvation in Jesus as being what made them complete. He filled the gap. made them whole.

my conversion testimony happened when i was 6. i never knew this "emptiness" they were talking about. i don't remember being a lost 5 year old wandering aimlessly, doing drugs, living promiscuously, or even searching for answers. i knew Jesus was the way, the truth, and the life! why? because my parents told me!

so what did i struggle with? complacency. legalism. bad doctrine. peer pressure. lust. profanity. idolatry. all the while calling Jesus my Savior. i can truly say, that every sin i can remember committing, i did so while i was a christian.

i look back at my first blog on here... i'm still asking some of those questions. others i've found answers to. i'm still thinking about my actions. what my actions say about me. i'm still re-adjusting my life, and re-adjusting some more. i'm still dying to myself. every flippin' day! am i discouraged? my heart says no. i have something to live for. my life has meaning. my actions count for something. in 2 Samuel 24:24, David said he would not give God anything that would cost him nothing. in the same way, if i want God to bless me, i need to give Him something that costs me time... money... effort. if you have something that costs you nothing, it's not worth anything.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

80 Percent Club

how do you convict, but not condemn?
how do you call sin sin, but show grace and forgiveness?
how do you be stern, but also compassionate?
how do you say no in love?
how do you disagree, but listen to an idea?

should everything require a compromise? a truce? a change in thinking?
would you admit you are wrong? should you?

when does an argument end? what if you never argue? do you have an opinion worth defending?

would you die for what you believe? would you die for anything? should you have to?

are there questions worth asking? are there questions not worth answering?

am i entitled to an opinion? what does that mean? are you entitled to my opinion?

what is truth? can i speak absolute truth? is my truth different than your truth? can truth contradict itself? is truth a relative term?


80% of questions are statements in disguise.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

For the Record

so much has been on my mind lately. it's been nuts. i could write a book.

on another note, i've been reading lots of stuff about faith lately. trying to piece it all together. despite interpretations and theories. some very convincing theories, at that. but i keep taking scriptural references used to back different arguments, and consistently come back to the same place. somehow, it makes perfect sense, just the way it was originally written. i know this sounds like, "duh!" but you wouldn't believe how many outlandish assumptions are made to derive complex conclusions. we make faith so complicated, don't we. i must say, after forming a reasonably solid grasp of an interpretation of scripture, it is hard to accept evidence of a contradictory concept... and its scriptural backup. is this a contradiction in scripture? well, more like a contradiction of interpretation. in relation to defining faith, we have some very popular opposing views: Calvinism and Armenianism. i must admit, both have their plus's and minus's. both are essentially accurate as well. i can think of a few names of people who would disagree with me. but i will present my views now, and debate later. after all, i'm still testing my theories. but i've run this by a couple people, and they have no qualms with my logic. so here it is:

We Are Human
outside of Christ, we are oblivious to God, as well as incapable of achieving salvation on our own. we are also unable to do good in complete purity, i.e. everything we do is tainted. we cannot seek God on our own. it is up to the Holy Spirit to reveal itself to us. it does not come from tainted understandings of Jesus, or even knowledge of the Bible, or our perception of christianity based on the acts of christians. you will know a christian by their love, but it ends there. you can't get an accurate depiction of Christ based on its followers. Christianity is different than any other religion by this aspect. i won't go into great detail to answer why, but it is quite interesting. Christianity was never a religion. it was never a culture. Jesus did not philosophize, He taught what one must do to enter the kingdom of God.

Salvation
so how should we 'witness?' well, personally i don't like this term. generally it's used to describe a conversation initiated and carried on with an intention to bring someone to conversion to Christianity. is conversion a bad thing? no. can we convert people? again, no. we can live our christian lives, according to a higher standard, but we can't push this to look desirable or simple to non-believers. firstly, if your christian walk is simple, you're doing something wrong.

accepting Jesus is simple. i.e. saying "Jesus, forgive me for my sins, and be Lord of my life" is a 12-word statement that will change a person's view of life, with no present word containing more than 7 letters. is there any deception in how this verse is presented? in and of itself, no. but we can give a horrifying Hell speech before-hand to seal the deal. funny how we manage to paint a picture of Hell so vividly, while our depiction of Heaven is that it "cannot be put into words." that said, both realms must be beyond our human understanding. Hell could only be worse, and Heaven could only be better, according to the Bible.

so what are we left with? i heard a preacher say the other night that Jesus never promised anything... He prophesied. meaning, He knew what he was talking about. He didn't have to do anything to fulfill a vow. He was, himself, fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. in fact, he advised not to swear by anything. He said, "let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no." so what's our role in the whole salvation thing? i think it's preaching the gospel message. we are given a Bible so that we can read it and tell people what it says. the Holy Spirit does the rest.


Relationship With God

call this "Calviminianism", but a lot of people argue about how this relationship works. and to be honest, i don't see consistency in one christian's experience compared to another. a lot of them wander around looking for, well, God-knows-what (i haven't read that book, btw)... a sign, an open door, a miracle, clear direction, affirmation, whatever. this saddens me. as i am sure it saddens God. Calvinists tell you that God is the initiator. Arminianists tell you to name-it and claim-it.

what's my take on it? well, take what Jesus said, for example: Ask and you shall receive, knock and the door shall be opened to you, seek and you shall find. Those who love Me will obey My commands. Come to Me and I will give you rest. Die to yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Me. Store your treasures up in Heaven. so i think it works both ways. i think all that we do should line up with scripture, meaning our attitudes, tithing, fellowship with other christians, accountability, preaching the Gospel, healing the sick, raising the dead, interceding, spending time with God. hmmm... that's quite a call to action.

how does one go about hearing from God? well, i think Jesus said it all right there. i think it's a give-give relationship we are supposed to have. we can't expect God do to everything, and we can't do things for our own purposes.

so who is the initiator? who commences this process? well, i think God does (John 3:16). the most stagnant christians are (very generally) the ones that have been christian for their whole lives. because they're not taught how to have a successful relationship.

did God see this as an issue worth dealing with? i believe that is one of the reasons He created Eve. to show us how to have an intimate relationship. this was how He initiated a relationship with Adam. similarly, men were made as the initiators (or pursuers) of relationship with women. this is their God-given role to understand our role in the relationship with God. what is Eve's role as a woman? to demonstrate our role within relationship to God. women respond to men, but that response strengthens the relationship. if it is taken out of the relationship, what happens? the relationship crumbles, and the initiator 'ceases to amaze' and loses the fire of intimacy.

similarly, God will not 'strike me with lightning' if i command Him to. because it is not a request that will have a positive outcome in my relationship with Him. non-christians don't have a relationship with Him to begin with, so God will not perform. He's not a "genie in a lamp" subject to slavery of a master. much like if I give a girl a flower and ask her on a date, and she says, "give me a box of chocolates and I'll accept your offer," i am turned off. meanwhile, she is pursuing a relationship with a jerk who spoils her with anything her heart desires, and when she isn't looking, winks at me in malevolence. i am rightfully jealous. because i know he will harm her. he doesn't respect her. he does this to spite me. as a result, nothing good will come to her. she will get all her heart desires, but her end is very dark.

"are you calling me a girl?" some of you (guys) may ask. well, the Bible describes the Church (that is, every christian in unity) as the Bride of Christ. so yes. as a "Church Body" we are female in nature. better said, we were created because God was lonely before He made the earth. this, of course, is introduced in our human understanding of God in relation to time. i have explained this to a few people, how God is outside of time, since He created time. He is, therefore, omnipresent in that time does not effect Him. Jesus backs me up saying "God is the same yesterday, today, and forever." but i said that in my last post. so i can't end this one there.

whew. that's probably the longest post i've ever written, and i hope it stays that way. as i said, there is a lot that's been on my mind lately, and i chose to stew in it and let it fully develop before i distributed it via the WWW. i hope you enjoyed reading it, as i'm sure if you're reading this right now you made it through. congratulations for making it through. i'll also have you know that my research in this has only strengthened my faith, thus making it worthwhile. i hope it does the same for you, if not providing insight, providing questions raised that you will find satisfying answers to.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Divine Authority

picture this: you buy a car and take out a bank loan to pay it off. you now owe the bank money. yet the car is used for selfish purposes. it drives you to parties and movie theatres, but not to work or anywhere that will generate income to pay back your loan. eventually you fall deeper into debt. you're not making money, and the interest is killing you.

will the bank give you another loan? no! similarily, we cannot ask for gifts and blessings from the Holy Spirit, unless we bear fruit with it. God will take it away otherwise.

salesmen make money: if we have gifts like holy boldness and peace beyond our understanding, we can preach the Gospel.

teachers make money: if we have discernment and wisdom, we can teach fellow christians how to seek God.

doctors make money: if we have divine healing annointing, we can lay hands on the sick.

Matthew 10:1 says that Jesus gave the disciples the authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness, before he sent them out with instructions.

in the Parable of the Talents, Jesus told a similar story of how the Master's gifts are not to go to waste. it also further demonstrates the repercussions of disobedience in v. 30.

that said, obedience stems from initial love for the Father. Jesus said those who love Me will obey My commandments. what is love without obedience? how can i say i love my parents if i do not obey them? how is my love demonstrated otherwise? i am called to honor my parents. obedience is one aspect of honor. that is also applicable to our Heavenly Father. a man gives flowers to his wife to display affection, or apologies. but when this becomes routine, love is removed and flowers mean nothing. if he continues to disrespect her and lose her trust, apologies mean nothing. husbands are not called to obey their wives. but they are called to love and serve them via the constitution of marriage. wives are called to respect and follow their husbands. this was instituted by God. who are we as society to redefine gender roles or marriage vows?

however, God's Word stands alone. it defends itself. i do not need to change the government's opinion, and pastors nation-wide have already made aware to them the consequences for their actions. they did not pray and receive the ability to change God's law, as this would never happen. the constitution of marriage has not changed as far as God is concerned.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Cross-Cultural Etiquette

change is vulnerable. can i ask you what it is instead of tell you how it is? so many questions yet i don't know what to ask. becoming weak is such a foreign concept. to ask for help. to learn how to give love rather than earn respect.

unconditional. the way you give to charity.

i hold the door for someone and pretend to not hear the "thank-you." yet when someone returns the favour i proceed to speak those words onto deaf ears. as if hearing my own voice acknowledges my effortless gift of brotherly kindness. but i am selfish.

is it a sin to think that a way of life could be perfect? anything dreamed up by man? is there such a thing as heaven on earth? are we to achieve that here? so many places i can see myself. happy. spontaneous. yet i think of heaven as some form of reality. with nothing desirable in sight. because nothing of this world could exist in eternal heaven. what should i accomplish in my earthly body that i cannot do in the afterlife? are there any limits? i cannot begin to imagine something that is so undefined to be so desirable.

the best-selling book of all time has always been the Bible. unmatched by any author in the world; poetically, historically, prophetically, and inspirationally. is it true that no-one will ever have anything to say that is contiguous to its magnitude? the gospels were written by those, and those observing those who were closest to Jesus. that is, God-incarnated.

we are told that the Bible, in essence, is complete. in fact, Revelation 22:18-19 forbids us from adding or removing from this book.

somehow we over-complicate things. cross-cultural etiquette is something that 99% of the world's population will likely never learn. i barely understand North American culture. even this concept of "cool" is here today, gone tomorrow.

but Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever Hebrews 13:7-9.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Drinking, Smoking, Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll

there. i did it. grouped them all together.

i have a new pet-peeve. instigating. basically, i want to find out what is so "taboo" yet "sinfully" permissible about these topics. i can see them as choice topics for debate, but i find a lot of this happening: "i could really use a smoke right now" or "i'm itchin' for a heineken"

it's as if these are unrightfully frowned upon and the relevant thing to do is set ourselves apart from any pious pharisees that we come in contact with, and spite them from a distance, waving a lighter and a finger.

are these things wrong? for anyone? i never thought a recovering alcoholic should be given alcohol. or a smoke-intolerant person should be smoked around. i know some new christians who are trying to quit smoking. yet i see christians craving cigars from time to time. and inviting others to join. okay, maybe i'm pointing fingers. but i fail to see a need to be liberated to do these things rather than encouraged not to.

okay, i haven't even talked about sex, drugs, or rock and roll. basically i threw these things into my title to set a tone. rock and roll is considered evil by some people, i, myself do not want to get into this argument. sex i think is understood to be a closed door until marriage, and drugs are just plain bad. i could get into why, but i'll leave it for now.

is smoking wrong? well, we've all seen the gingevitis ads (shivers), but i don't think this is what is arguable. i know a guy who gets angry with himself because he smokes. he says he hates it because it's "just a front." people hide behind it. it's an escape from emotional stress.

"did Jesus tell us to light one up when we are weary and burdened?" i bet lots of smokers get that one... is smoking a burden?

"Jesus turned water into wine, but He didn't drink any" personally, i don't believe this, secondly, was Jesus encouraging drinking or getting drunk?

my beef is not whether or not we should damage our bodies, that's between us and God. conviction comes from the Holy Spirit. not fellow believers. that's judgment. where my beef is is telling others that it's okay. or doing it simply to get a rise out of some legalist. as if relevance is set apart from holiness.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Haunted Wedding

this made the front cover of today's newspaper. i have written the caption here in case you can't read it on your computer

This corpse bride (alias Kim Kitchen) and her treacherous groom (alias Holly Bates) were among the numerous frightening sights at the "Haunted Hill on the Grand" Halloween display presented by Caledonia's Grace United Church at the Oelkuch property north of York on the weekend. Proceeds went toward the church's building and restoration fund, and the Haldimand Norfolk Children's Aid Society.
 I am so glad that christians are willing to do anything to glorify God.

Guerrilla Jesus

while reading the subsequent post, do not lose focus. this is but one of the many sides of Jesus. not to discredit anything i am about to say, but please take note.

the genealogy of Jesus is interesting to note, because it it goes through Joseph's (husband of Mary) line. and we know, from reading of His birth, that Jesus did not have a "father" in a mortal human sense, but that Mary was impregnated by God Himself (this is why Joseph questioned Mary's loyalty to him). so i began to question the credibility of the account for Jesus' genealogy. in Matthew 1:16, it includes Mary as the wife of Joseph... as if to hilight the importance of marriage as a binding contract and addition to family. becoming "one"... also, Matthew's inclusion of women in the earlier ancestry accounts for the shadiness of His ancestors. people put Mary on a pedestal. but not Joseph, or any of his ancestors. how come? can we not bear the idea of Jesus having prostitutes and adulterers and pagans for relatives?

i think this really adds to the incredibility of Jesus and His claims. you have to take His word at face value. and the doubt goes with it. taking all this into account, trusting Jesus becomes a little less fuzzy, and a little more provocative.

who was Jesus? when interrogated, He confirmed their accusation against His claim, being the Son of God.

Jesus spoke with authority. the disciples noted this. Jesus would go around casting demons out of people, calming storms, and teaching with humble conviction. and besides all of this, He was perfect. He could wander in the desert for 40 days without food, and be tempted by the devil, yet He would not falter.

He challenged their understanding of the law! He rewrote it for them! He raised the bar. comparing us not to other men, but to God Himself. even as a child, Jesus would sit in the Nazarene temple and debate with their highest teachers. Later, He trashed the temple in Jerusalem, overturning tables of money changers, telling them they had made it into a den of theives Matthew 21:12-13. He called the pharisees and teachers hypocrites! snakes and vipers! blind and unclean! then he accused them of murdering righteous blood between the temple and the alter Matthew 23. And when the priests questioned His authority, He answered them in riddles Matthew 21:23-27.

Yet in His perfection, He remained humble. He was a servant-leader. He washed the disciples' feet.

Read Luke 23:11-12. wow. through Jesus' innocence, two rulers are befriended. yet Jesus said that He did not come down to earth to bring peace, but to fulfill God's law through atonement for our sins. but it just seems to radiate off of Him. He wore it on His sleeve, only to give it away by saying "peace be with you." George Lucas applied this as a bidding farewell: "may the force be with you." though there are also an array of other pagan and spiritual religions behind his "force" concept. it reminds me of wiccan and spiritual feminist ideas of a god that can be influenced for good or evil uses.
Jesus predicted His own death and resurrection. then He did it. and while He did it, He made sure to take one final slap in the sanhedrin's face by ripping the temple curtain in two (the one hiding the ark of the covenant from the priests' eyes upon entering the Holy of Holies, so that they would not be struck dead by the radiant presence of God) Luke 23:45.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

So Cliche

You have heard, "hold on"
But I say, "let go" Psalm 55:22

You have heard, "be strong"
But I say, "be weak so that I may be strong" 2 Corinthians 12:10

You have heard, "get it together"
But I say, "become broken" Psalm 51:17

You have heard, "figure it out"
But I say, "I will confound the wise" 1 Corinthians 1:27
and "lean not on your own understanding" Proverbs 3:5

You have heard, "assess the situation"
But I say, "look to me" Colossians 3:1-2

You have heard "you know yourself better than anyone"
But I say, "the hairs on your head have been counted" Matthew 10:29-31

I suppose this is all very cliche, but it goes to show how relevant the Bible is in our culture. It shows that God's ways are still not our ways. Even the best advice we can offer is still challenged by a book published 2000 years ago.

Matthew 5 outlines interpretations of the law, challenged by Jesus.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Candid Camera

remenis with me:

my brother's highschool graduation ceremony.

mother and i are in attendance.

my job: to videotape isaac receiving his diploma.

so i turn on my camera.

but i can't see anything through the lens.

cap is off, just to double-check.

but i suspect a busted CCD chip.

i take it to the shop a week later.

it's a busted CCD chip.

$300 and 4 months later, it's fixed.

today i am excited. today is the day i get my camera back. it has been in the shop for too long! finally my baby is coming back to me. my Canon ZR-65. my companion. my love. my treasure. my weapon...

it occurred to me just how deadly a videocamera can be, when in the hands of a warrior for Christ!

check it out: i can be a witness, disguised as a documentary filmmaker. a camera not only gives purpose for interviewing random people to get opinions about our small town issues, but also poses a means to an end: Jesus Christ. it opens a window for candid conversations about topics chosen by the interviewer (me). while earning a reputable profile as a videographer, i'm doing undercover work for the kingdom of God.

there's something sexy about the potential of this project. this would make a cool youth event. i can just picture a bunch of teens running through the streets of downtown Simcoe with videocameras... with a *new mission: soulharvest

* i say new mission as a correction. originally i said "primary focus," but that is incorrect. it should be secondary to a primary focus of God. how could i slip that up! ha. as soon as i posted this blog entry, my mom told me that she couldn't pick my camera up today and that it would have to wait until tomorrow night. and i had made plans of using it tomorrow. then i had a shower and thought about this for a little while. then God kicked me in the head. why would i challenge people to do anything before time with Him? before prayer? so i made up my mind. i would change this post. because i needed to be corrected. because i am still flawed. then i got a phone call. it was my mom, telling me that she could try to pick it up tonight after all. honestly, this is interesting. it's like the thoughts that go through my head manipulate reality. the conversations with God, at least.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A Second Definition

Philippians 4:12-13 Paul says I have learned the secret to being content in any situation. being content... having joy. i found this during worship on sunday morning. because we were singing a song that had a verse about joy. God has been teaching me how to find joy in all circumstances. which, i can only describe the way that Paul did. being content. not over zealously thrilled, but content. is it possible to have joy in mourning? in suffering? in depression? only if you draw strength from Christ Jesus. does that make sense? Paul thought so. we celebrate joy at christmas time. joy to the world. somehow we've attached it to a seasonal holiday.

i'm reading a book called "Provocative Faith" right now. in it, the author recalls an experience during a mission trip to romania. there he visited an orphanage where they were greeted by a youg boy who asked the mission team to join him in singing "Jesus Loves Me". the author couldn't help but think about this kid's evidently broken past, his present circumstance, and his bleak future. how could he want nothing more than to sing this song? where was his inspiring joy coming from?

presently, i am unemployed. not to embelish on this struggle in my life, i mean, what is this? a blog?? ...but at times i wonder how God could know this and have my best interest in mind. another month like this and my credit history is at stake. debt will soon arise. debt is not good. student loans are not good when you can't pay them back. but God knows this. and still He is telling me to be content? if i go a day dwelling on my circumstances, i face a battle of depression. yet if i keep my eyes on God, the battle is won.

last week i attended a jobconnect workshop to help me with interview skills, resume writing and all the fun stuff that comes with job searching. there were two of us in that workshop. during our break, i had a conversation with the guy beside me. he was fresh out of highschool who described himself as an "entrepreneur"... his mother signed him up to take this workshop in hopes that he might get a real job and earn an honest living. he was a dealer. as much as i could not relate to him, i told him that the path he was on had a dark future. and the longer he stayed on that path, the harder it would be to get off. he acknowledged this, telling me how much he was making, which was immensely more than if he were to work for a legal company.

perhaps joy is not an emotion. perhaps joy does not come in an ecstacy pill. perhaps joy does not come in the magical time of christmas. the analogy here is pretty straight forward: there is no quick fix solution to inner turmoil. from happypills to a permasmile.
i'm sure that joy can be a warm fuzzy feeling at times. i believe it is intended to. but joy has a second definition: contentment in any situation. joy as a virtue.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Kindled

Look at the evergreen.

Surely it recognizes its cold, frosty surroundings,
But despite the current season, it appears unaffected.

Its green, waxy pines are celebrated as they pinch
Anyone that goes near.

Plugging away in the dead of winter,
While other foliage embrace the change.

Show their true colours in the fall,
Then lose their pride after the harvest.

They become naked.

Transparent
Before even those who do not have eyes.

For they hear
Not the rustling of leaves,
But the scraping of branches.

Yet the evergreen sits in the warmth of company and gifts,
Gasping for breath,
While the others roast in the fire.

Because green wood is harder to burn.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Damaging Effects of Direct Sunlight

our culture has allowed us to embrace the comfort of the world which we are presented with. we are sheltered by what mass media deems important and worthy of our attention. it, in turn, dictates our world-view and ignorance of the bigger picture. it is our tinted pair of sunglasses, transforming reflections of the sun into a more tolerable, soothing picture. not revealing the intense; painful; and, in prolonged exposure, damaging effects of direct sunlight.

we have become vulnerable. accustomed to the shade that our 'sunglasses' provide for us. even in our spiritual lives. we tackle the decoys that the devil has set for us: saving gospel music; the constitution of marriage; prayer in school; pro-life activism; religious holidays... the list goes on and on.

the Church holds on so dearly to these things. these social issues. they proclaim our pride to this great nation. all that we will stand for.

but our war is not that against flesh and blood. but in the intense; painful; and, in prolonged exposure, damaging effects of spiritual warfare (damaging to your complacency in your faith)

perhaps it is our freedom of speech that has been our biggest hinderance of all in this battle. meaning, the ability to fight for these 'rights'. i mean, by making all of our country's laws align with our biblical philosophy, will we see a country turn to God? i hope not. i would hate to attend a church that is programmed by government dictatorship.

i do not think this country will experience full-fledged revival until our freedoms have been stripped away from us. until the church is an underground movement. let them bulldoze our church buildings. let them persecute us for our world-view. let christianity become a rebellion again. then and only then will you see a true hunger. a true passion.

i'm not suggesting that we light matches to our church buildings. thank God for the freedom to build a place for gathering of christians. but i think we are afraid of the inevitable: north america as a third-world country. it is actually harder to live your faith in this westernized culture than anywhere else in the world. because our battle is not against oppression, it is against legalism. our battle is not against the social issues of our north american culture, but against the root of the problem: their world-view... largely, evolutionism. give a people no meaning for life, and you get a life with no meaning. no absolute truths. no values. no conscience. try and explain to them that the purpose for church is to make the world a better place to live... it's doomed to fail. because Jesus did not come to take over the world, but to save us from it!

let that be our mission also: to save people from the never-ending punshment for the wickedness of this world.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Judge a Book by its Followers (revised)

the book: The Holy Bible
its followers: Christians
the judges: ....Christians?

i've been thinking about this for a little while now. (pause for more thought) can people base an accurate preconception of a 'religion' based on its followers? should they be able to? pop-culture teaches not to judge a book by its cover. but christians do it all the time. could one, being a non-believer, tell someone what christianity is without ever reading the entire christian bible, but by judging the lives of its followers? could christians? this would require christians to learn the bible, and apply it to their daily life. i mean, this sounds somewhat absurd. to memorize 66 books of prophecy, ethics, miracles, and genealogy and practice it in your daily life.

perhaps some omissions from the bible are permittable, if we are called to "preach the gospel"... like, we could leave out all the boring stuff, cut straight to the 'meat' and hilight key references in the bible. or better yet, cut out the entire old testament. besides, Jesus never came to save the world until the new testament, right? well, there's 4 whole books about Jesus, so he must be important. maybe we could just pick one book and stick with that. let's stick with john because i think i heard he spent the most time with Jesus. but there's 21 chapters in john. still a long read. so let's boil it down to the main message of Jesus... He did say to obey God's commandments. but there's 10 of those, and i only remember a few... so what are the important ones? Jesus said that the greatest commandment was love.

we have boiled it down to one thing. love. is that it? can we settle for that? can we live that? sure! every christian will tell you that! roman catholics and protestants alike! as well as mormons! jews! muslims! hindus! buddhists! sikhs! taoists! wiccans! we can all live together in peace and harmony! isn't that the ultimate goal? is that love? i think it's more of a tolerance. this is NOT the love that Jesus was talking about. this is not being the "salt of the earth". i think we have the wrong idea about love. love is not about making sure everyone gets along nicely with eachother. love hurts. love bleeds. love intrudes. love heals...

the hippie movement was inspired by contemporary christian music artists. they wrote love songs to Jesus. they told the world that Jesus loved them. that He didn't care where they had been. that God would love them no matter what.

people liked this idea about Jesus. they could smoke a joint, fornicate in the woods, run around naked... and it would never matter, Jesus loved them! well, they LOVED this idea. don't get me wrong, i can't argue with them. the initial message is true! Jesus DOES love me. and THANK GOD for grace...

grace? okay. let's back this up. what is grace for? why do we need grace? grace was God's ultimate gift to man. THROUGH Jesus. he gave us forgiveness and a second chance. this is our second chance. a chance to make a difference. to create change. God demonstrated His love for us by intruding into our lives. sending His son to die for us. to heal us. and that hurts. and Jesus bled for us. he died for us. that is love.

so my point is, we are to be like God. is this unfair? if, to enter heaven, divine perfection is expected of us? can we judge a book by its cover? can we judge the Bible by the lives of its followers? do christians follow the Bible? do christians live bible-inspired lives? we need to stop judging eachother. we need to start loving eachother. speak love, not judgement. we need to stop tolerating eachother. we need to start holding eachother accountable for their actions. speak truth, not compromise.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Feeding the Fire

the fundamental stage... has turned into a lifestyle.

this blog, if you haven't noticed, is not your typical one. because i don't just talk about my experiences. i intend to challenge you, my brothers and sisters. so i will begin...

okay, so that was my big intro... can i get right to the meat? i hate beating around the bush. i hate intro paragraphs to be honest. they sound so phony. so insightful. this will be a blog about the church. somewhat like my last one. however, i am coming to a point where addressing the same issues people have seems futile. and let me tell ya, it will wear you down. it seems as though from the moment one christian gets a burning passion for Christ, everyone you come in contact with wants to suck you dry. and it's natural. people want what you have. they see your life heading in a direction they would aspire to.

is this so wrong? to want the fire they see in another christian? i don't think so. however, i think this is plays a big part in the fire spreading too thin and becoming extinguished. did i lose anyone with that analogy? say a christian goes to a christian youth rally for a weekend. during that time, his desire for God increases in passion to a point that will (in this analogy) be known as a "burning fire". after the weekend, he is dipped back into society and regular church meetings and inevitably, his old life. other christians see that burning fire in him, and encourage him for a little while. talk to him about God. they want what he has. but he soon realizes that his understanding of God is limited. and church is not as hyped about God as the youth rally was. so his fire dies. he is extinguished.

so often people tell me that they wish their fire could never die. they know that it will fade eventually. but even in that statement, they speak death upon that burning passion. can i tell you that it is possible, and not a foreign concept, of "feeding the fire"? and here's the good news: it doesn't mean going to a rally every weekend! heck, it doesn't even mean drinking 2 litres of red bull every day either.

somehow, the last 2 paragraphs have gone off on a wicked tangent from what i originally intended to write... but that's okay, i will continue. because this is getting interesting (at least, i think so!).

okay. so here's my ultimatum: make your time with God. make your 'quiet' time with God. daily! read His word. read books that will challenge you to live your faith provocatively. but most importantly, pray. pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ. pray for your church leadership. pray for your mentors (if you have any).

if you make this daily, you will become a solid christian. how often do we talk about the trinity? God in three parts. we know about God, we know about Jesus, but how much do we know about the Holy Spirit? throughout the new testament, you will learn about the Holy Spirit. the Holy Spirit has many purposes, and one of which is to teach us and equip us. because there is an enemy out there who seeks to destroy. to bring dissension between our brothers and sisters. to divide the Church. to tear down our leadership. TO EXTINGUISH YOUR FIRE!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Evolution In Public School


Foreword: I wrote this essay when I was in grade 12 and presented it in front of my class along with visuals and video content, followed by questioning from the class. My views have since changed and no longer reflect the views I so strongly expressed herein.
Science should be taught in school. Ask anyone why, and you will likely get similar responses. Because children will ask questions, teachers must be prepared to answer them. Imagine the frustration and confusion a child would have if he/she was given a different answer from every teacher in every classroom for the same question. This is one of the reasons why public schools have what is known as a curriculum. Ideally, the public school system is meant to teach accurately, without biased opinions or religious viewpoints. This is why evolution is taught in science classes when it comes to explaining our origins. After all, evolution is backed by scientific evidence, right? If it didn’t, it wouldn’t be taught in the schools of North America. At least, that’s what we’re told.

First, let’s look at the origin of the Evolution Theory. Long before Charles Darwin’s time, people began questioning the age of the earth. Up until the late 1700’s, the majority of people believed the Bible and that it suggests that the earth is about 6000 years old. Then James Hutton came along, and said that the earth was in fact, billions of years old. Hutton claimed to be a christian, so logically, if he said the Bible was wrong, he would be the one to know. In 1831, Charles Darwin took a trip to the Galapagos Islands. Charles loved worms, so he shot birds. Some of which, were finches. So Darwin collected them and studied the variation in the shape of the beaks. He developed a theory called natural selection. A Scottish lawyer named Charles Lyell observed microevolution, and believed in macroevolution. His hate for the Bible was evident in his studies.

Fortunately, Evolution is not the only belief with regards to the origin of the earth. There is another theory, Creationism. Creationists believe in the Bible. The Bible states that the earth was created in 6 days, not billions and billions of years. Furthermore, Christianity has a definite geographical origin. No other religion has that. Creationists spend a lot of time debating Evolutionists. So far, they have managed to tear apart every shred of evidence supporting evolution. In fact, it not only disproves evolution, but proves creation. Take for example, the fictionous ‘Ape Men’. All any paleontologists ever found of Nebraska Man was a single bone. A tooth, for that matter. It was later found after careful study, that it belonged to a peccary (a close relative of a pig). Or take the Piltdown Man. It was declared a 500,000 year old ape-man by many British scientists. Four decades later, it was found to be consisting of a very recent orangutan jaw stained to look old, with its teeth filed down to make them more human-looking, planted together with a human skull bone, also stained to create an appearance of age. Pithecanthropus, Darwin’s missing link of the evolutionary scale, was actually a human thighbone found close by the skullcap of a chimpanzee. The bones were found in volcanic sediments, which were responsible for the fissilization, not old age. As for Peking Man, few students learned that the skulls had been found in scattered little fragments, with missing fragments substituted with plaster. Neanderthals were long portrayed as ape-men, stooped over. This misconception was largely the result of a faulty reconstruction by French paleontologist Marcellin Boule, who mistook the skeleton of a man with kyphosis (hunchback) for an ape-man in the process of becoming upright. Human ancestors are shown going back almost 6 million years. But no chimpanzee or gorilla ancestors are depicted before a million years ago.Why does every bone fragment turn out to be a human ancestor? Where are all the fossils of chimpanzee and gorilla ancestors? "The problem with a lot of antrhopologists is that they want so much to find a hominid that any scrap of bone becomes a hominid bone." - Dr. Tim White, anthropologist.

Radiocarbon dating, especially the Carbon 14 method, is the primary source of proof for evolution. C14 dating is very accurate when used for wood from up to about 4,000 years ago. After that, the method becomes very unreliable for the following reasons: (1) This method is only accurately used when it is calibrated with objects of known age. Example: wood found in a grave of known age by historically reliable documents is the standard for that time for the C14 content. (2) To assume a particular level of Carbon 14 in an organism requires a precise determination of environmental (atmospheric) levels of the same. That is, to presume a particular level in a living thing requires a precise knowledge of the ambient amount of Carbon 14 in the air and environment. Scientists pervorming radiocarbon dating assume that the amount in the environment has not changed. This is compelling for several reasons, not the least of which is the convenience with which "science" apparently operates; we hear of massive changes in the earth, ice ages, catastrophic events that killed the dinosaurs, etc., but the environment never changed according to the same scientists.

Evolutionists talk a lot about the Geological Column. But the only place where the Geologic Column exists is in the textbooks. Dinosaurs are not aged by Carbon dating, but they are aged according to how deep they are found in the rock layers. The funny thing is, the rock layers are aged by determining what kind of fossils are found in them. Talk about circular reasoning.

It is evident that the Evolutionists have a biased judgement against Creationists. After all, was the theory not developed to disprove and offer an alternative to the Bible? Any evidence disproving the Evolutionist Theory is simply ignored, and is still printed in school textbooks all over North America.

President Washington’s face is carved in a rock. Could that be done by chance? No, it had to be designed. Knowing that, could Washington himself have happened from chance? They both came from a rock, right? It seems almost comical that an Evolutionist will argue that a human being can come from a rock, but a mere image of one cannot. Since Evolution was introduced into our Public School System, suicide rates have skyrocketed. It could be just a coincidence, or perhaps the thought that life was an accident is really getting to the students of today’s school. If eliminating the study of evolution in our schools would allow children to live long and prosper, would it not be a worthwhile endeavor? Do the kids a favour: tell them there is a reason for life. After all, if it’s about keeping religion out of the schools, why is the Theory of Evolution being taught? Is that not just an idea? A hypothesis? A belief? Before Evolution was introduced, Creation was the common belief. So why don’t we get back to the basics? Or here’s another suggestion, eliminate both theories. If you really want to get rid of the religious aspect to our education system, don’t teach anything. It’s better than confusing the students with two theories on how the earth originated. Of course, it would be a shame to eliminate the theory of Evolution from the Education system entirely, so maybe it should be taught. But not in Science. If anything, it should be taught as History, or World Religions.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Third-World Food for Thought

i want to remain sensitive to this issue, third world poverty. this is my second attempt at writing this blog entry. i wrote one line for my first attempt, coming off ranting and complaining like my similar styles in previous posts. but when i started researching this issue, i guess similar to the experience you get after actually watching the advertisements of starving children in need of hope and care half way around the world, i didn't want to cut up anybody's efforts to help these children. i mean, i'm not looking for a debate that much.

i was watching a video that i rented about cult explosion. from a christian perspective, this video looks at various cults and religious organizations around the world, tells you what hindu, muslim, jehovah's witness, mormon, christian science, black muhommad, and scientology are all about. they explore all the brainwashing tactics, selling schemes, manipulation, how to reach people involved with that, their conversion experience, what the cults believe, where the holes in their philosophies are, how it relates to what the bible teaches, their views on Jesus, God, satan, christians, etc. India is one of the most suffering countries in the world. The majority of social problems in India have their roots in Hindu religion and Hindu philosophy. this includes their unhealthy lifestyle and deathly fasting. Hindu children are subject to this, producing ill results and disturbing images of living corpses. when this was brought to my attention, my immediate reaction was "no wonder we're still sending money and food over there after all of these years." you'd think that now we'd begin to see a change. have we? if it's a cultural issue and a religious issue, shouldn't we be fighting that? to erase that mentality?

i guess this is a hard opinion to stand by for myself, i do not sponsor a child. i haven't contributed to global humanitarian efforts. although the idea has crossed my mind. especially during those heart-wrenching commericals. but is this guilt that i feel God tugging on my heart strings? or is it manipulation of television? funny how those commercials don't ask for your prayers as much as your money. are prayers not as effective? God's word talks immensely about the power of prayer. i wonder what God's humanitarian commercial would look like? then again, many of these organizations are christian organizations. they're the ones we should be sending money to. because they're building churches. spreading the gospel. sending missionaries to these countries in need.

one thing i've seen more and more of recently and something i most respectively admire are rock bands that are doing something. this includes the ever-famous U2, and their Live 8 worldwide concert and their long list of bands who made thier contribution to that. i look at Coldplay and their efforts. but more importantly i am seeing a number of christian bands stepping up to the plate. taking their fame and putting it to work -- humanitarian work. Audio Adrenaline, Jars of Clay, dc Talk, P.O.D., Brian (Head) Welch, Newsboys, Switchfoot, etc. those are some of the big names. and they're doing something. whether its every time you buy an album, t-shirt, concert ticket, or set up a donation table at your local church, these bands are dedicated to saving this lost and dying world from dirty water, racial discrimination, disease and viruses, and world hunger.

i suppose the smart and best thing to do as a christian, if you do desire to contribute to these organizations, is first to pray about it. see if God wants you to donate to this effort. also make sure it is a christian organization, because you can be sure that they do good business and are preaching the gospel everywhere they sow these seeds. maybe you do want to sponsor a child. there are other things you can do, at the Jars of Clay website they have a special program that you can set up a donation table at your local church or school to raise money. and if you are looking to buy a cd, check out the band's site first. see if any partition goes to a good cause. (for the music downloaders out there, this could mean actually spending a couple bucks instead of robbing those evil conspiring record companies we all love to hate)

Monday, September 12, 2005

Mind's Eye

in my mind, i can see your face. as your love pours down in a shower of grace. some people tell me that you're just a dream. my faith is the evidence of things unseen. - dc Talk

A Taste (revised)

This is an attempt. an experiment. to size your appetite. to see if you're hungry enough. to see how far you will go to find answers to your questions. the ones that haunt you. am i supposed to tell you that you will find the answers here? i hope not. i want you to keep looking. keep seeking... eagerly, patiently, fervently. to answer life's questions. to not ever give up. because you have to know. maybe you're reading this and you feel like you're missing something. key number one. and your biggest question is "where do i start?" well, obviously if i tell you that it will be biased. but i seem to be dangling a carrot in front of your face, so i'll tell you what i found: Jesus knew the answer. Jesus is worth knowing. find out about Jesus.
so. here you are. the next paragraph. and you still have questions. here's where i really wanted to go with this blog. the last 2 paragraphs were just to make sure you're on the right track for what's ahead. because that's the foundation for everything i know to be true. do you seek truth? i don't know why you wouldn't. but one thing you have to accept, as i have had to accept, is that truth stands apart from you, your opinions, and your beliefs. that's what makes it truth! truth stands alone! Jesus said "I am the way, the truth and the life!" if Jesus is the truth, then that means everything He says is true! for further understanding of this, take a look at John 7. if someone tells me they believe that the earth is flat, it does not mean it's truth. it just means that they're ignorant. and if they're ignorant of truth, then they're a fool, quite simply.

so maybe you're a christian. maybe you agree with some of what i've said so far. and you still have questions. problems. you want to be a better christian. you want to be stronger in your faith. you want to be out there on the front line, preaching the gospel. following God. hearing God. you want to know how to pray. you want to know about baptism. about the trinity. about speaking in tongues. about understanding scripture. about miracles. about church government. about denominational differences. about doctrine. about holiness. about dream interpretation. you need to get into the Bible. you need to know about repentance. get rid of your distractions. make God the centre of your life. focus on Him. His way. His heart. His will. we need to be fruitful and spread the message. we need to pray. make your time with God. ask the Holy Spirit to teach you how to pray. find a mentor.

okay, some of that was my sermon notes. but it's true! whether i tell you or not, it's true. so often we want to build this tall tower of ministry and works. but you need to have a deep, strong foundation first. otherwise, it will crumble. so many christians don't know what they believe. find out what God's Word says about what you believe - because God will not lead you astray. that's why He sent His Son. to show us what God is like.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Relevant Church

Can i ask one thing? what happened? why is it so hard to get people to come to church? okay. it's no mystery that the church has become an icon for the much less popular alternative to the uneventful sunday morning. is it the appearance? the people? the general aura? tradition?

often a prominent feature to any "church" building has to be that enormous steeple. i mean come on. ask someone to draw a picture of a church and that will be the 'cherry' on top. complete with stain glass windows depicting somewhat significant events in the bible, a pipe organ that has probably won some awards or is the town "thing"... (you know, every town has a thing whether it's the largest bowl of cereal, a giant moose, a largemouth bass, a hotel, a spoon...why not an organ?) hard wooden pews for less than comfortable seating, keenly designed to keep you awake during the service. did i forget anything? a large cross behind the pulpit, maybe some banners hanging on all the walls hand crafted by some of the elderly ladies of the church. i seem to have created a typical traditional church building, havent i? could be somewhat frightening to a...7 year old. okay, it doesn't look like a killer venue for a keg-party either. and if it did i'm sure some people would be offended by such a thought. after all, this is the house of God correct?

maybe you're disappointed that i haven't said that the church IS the people. well i've said it now haven't i? anyways, picture this: you walk into church for the first time on sunday morning. someone you've never seen before immediately grabs your hand, gives it a firm shake, stuffs an event calendar into it, and tells you where the coffee is. that's friendly, right? right? i mean, you've been in church for 5 seconds and you've already made a new friend. okay. so you find the coffee without any trouble, add some creme, and reach for the sugar. then you notice the pair of hands tightly gripping the sugar bowl, hands that are attached to a small boy wearing a coffee-stained tie. soon enough another stranger claiming to be the boy's mother reaches in front of you while in mid-conversation with someone else to find her little prodical. so you walk into the sanctuary looking for a welcoming hardwood pew to seat yoursef. you find one amongst the quickly filling benches, next to someone else you haven't met. soon enough someone follows you but hesitates before sitting on top of you, because you apparently found their regular spot. then you spend the next hour figuring out the hymns everybody else knows by listening to the person beside you, who happens to be off key. then you are formally greeted by the pastor who then lists off the events for the upcoming week, tells you who you should pray for, then delivers a repentance sermon which makes you feel guilty for not wearing your other pants that morning. okay... so that was a little harsh. perhaps too harsh. you may be thinking your church is nothing like that in the least. and you're probably right. that story actually sounds a bit crazy.

so you're probably now thinking about potential fixes to any "problem" i've mentioned above, like maybe moving tea and coffee time to after the service instead of before... or providing pillows for the seats or a more enthusiastic speaker... okay let's get real.. maybe powerpoint presentations? better music? okay, okay. can i be blunt? it won't work. honestly. you can 'entertain' a congregation as much as you want, but the truth is, they're looking for something real.

so far i have done nothing for you but present a problem, haven't i. and i must confess, i have only learned recently that it is easier to criticize a church than to run a church. and i have done only that.

suddenly i'm not sure what to write. my thoughts are scattered, and all i know is that there is some more truth that i can give you.

currently i am reading a book entitled "the relevant church". all it is is a collection of essays written by pastors, mainly in their twentysomethings. they are pastors of newly started churches. what's neat is that their churches have sunday services in pubs, theatres, old nightclubs, coffeeshops, you name it. and the stories are fascinating. but i do not want to emphasize where these services are taking place. i do not want to suggest that starting up some kind of underground movement is the only solution to this problem. the thing that stands out about the people in these churches is where their hearts are.

i read one story about some people who met a homeless man in a park. they invited him out to church, and called him "homeless ken". now they call him "ken-ya!" because he found Jesus, got an apartment, has a new job, and is going to kenya on a mission trip with their church. that spoke volumes to me, because this church did more than invite that man out to church. they helped him turn his life around. there are many other stories like that in this book. sorry if i sound like a sales pitch on this "relevant church" book i'm reading...but you can find it at any christian book store i'm sure. even check out www.relevantmagazine.com if you'd like. it's a company that's main focus is their monthly magazine which i also buy monthly. the website itself is pretty cool--lots of good articles and spaces for you to respond to their articles or ask questions. very neat.

so i guess my solution is, we can't bring our lost friends out to church. we need to bring the church to them. take a look at Jesus' life. he hung out with thieves, prostitutes, lepers... people nobody wants to be associated with. he didn't tell them to get their butt in church, he healed them, and simply said, follow me.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

How's it going to end?

I feel trapped. contained. shook up like a lava lamp. the bubbles will never mesh together again. beaded and separated forever. whatever pops into my head i want to write it down. document. because tomorrow i won't feel the same way. funny how that works. feels like a friday. my wishful thinking. and here i am, slouched over because in the back of my mind i know that it's bad for my back in the end. typing. to who? who will read this? will someone respond to this post? who knows. i could say i don't really care. but maybe i do. what would i want them to say. maybe tell me how i'm feeling right now. because i'm not myself. listen to me ramble.

it seems like the beginning of summer still. so much to do, so little time. so little money. and work. how is work going? it's going good. same old same old. i work for Student Works Painting. we paint houses. want us to paint your house? call chris. his signs are all over i'm sure you'll see them.

i've never blogged before. what do you fill this space with? do people read these? and who knows where you're supposed to end a paragraph. i think my first one was too long. that might have discouraged some people from continuing down this online rabbit hole. except you. you're still here. plugging away. waiting for something interesting to sneak up and bite you in the rear. now you feel insulted. maybe you can spite me by ending your read here. or not. maybe my next paragraph will be more interesting.

or not.

so today i'm thinking about my actions. because actions make up something like 70% of human communication. therefore making actions louder than words. if my math is correct. what do my actions say about me? is it obvious that i am a christian? am i living and breathing a life that Christ would deem worthy of such a title? i can talk the talk. i know i can. i could say all the right words, memorize all the right verses, and talk about my prayer life openly. funny how Jesus instructed to do the very opposite of that. to find a hiding place for prayer. a prayer closet. do i talk to God like He's my best friend? do i talk to Him as much as my best friends. no. but i think about Him. does that count? when my thoughts include Him does that count?

i ended that paragraph before i started preaching.

so i want to know something. how do you influence others to live christlike? do you spruce it up and make it cool? do you just live normally and hope someone sees you doing something holy? perhaps strive for excellence? after all the bible says that none are worthy to enter the kingdom of God. and Jesus gives us grace if we choose to accept it, but what after that? i have begun to detect a pattern. because i know my sinful nature hinders me so frequently. i fall time after time after time. and i fall back on my knees in repentence lower and lower each time. i think i'm digging a hole here. i feel like my words mean nothing when i try to come back to Christ. but then i am reminded that God says come as you are. and He loves us no matter what. and if we ask he will forgive us. each time. seems redundant. but still i climb back up the mountain. the pattern i'm noticing is that the more time i spend with God and the stronger i get, the less susceptible to attacks i become. they have less effect on me. so what's the result? bigger attacks. yes. and i fall. so i am learning to stay ahead of the curve so to speak. there is no limit to how much we can get to know God, so there is always a mountain to climb. there is no final destination. just death. that's the prize. i want to practice this. to test my theory. and i'm not afraid of death. i look forward to it. and no i am not suicidal. just desperate for something more.

man that's a long paragraph. i hope i didn't lose anyone with that megabyte of text.