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
Neo orthodox
Classical Liberal
Reformed Evangelical
Roman Catholic
Modern Liberal

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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.

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.