Ehrman and Wright debate

But it leads me to my final question – to press a point I made in our radio interview: Why, granted your view of the world, should we bother? Why not ‘eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die,’ and thank our lucky stars that we can do so? The other side of the coin of ‘the problem of evil’ is, after all, ‘the problem of good’: if there is no God, no good and wise creator, why is there an impulse to justice and mercy so deep within us? Why is there beauty, love, laughter, friendship, joy? How do you then tell the difference between Ecclesiastes and Sartre? The Bible of course has some answers to those questions. But I’d be interested to hear yours.


What moves you?

Emotions are part of what makes up our humanity, they are not bad or wrong, nor are they good and right...

The question is, what causes us to have various emotions and what do we do when they arise?

Do we love what Jesus loves, and hate what Jesus hates?

What do you care about?


Luther's Success...

Luther has been famous for many things, one of which is his disapproval of a few of the New Testament letters, notably James. He contemplated removing the book of James from the cannon of Scripture. He disliked the emphasis that James placed upon action, feeling that it cast a doubtful light upon the reformation battle cry 'salvation through faith.'

It seems, at least in my estimation, that he succeeded in that regard.

James' letter is still in our Bibles (and not even in a separate section at the end of the Bible as Luther did in some of his translations), but it's 'teeth have been pulled.' I have heard it interpretted away on numerous occasions, and even heard one radio preacher flatly contradict some of the things he read from it; yet one has only to look at the Church to see that 'grace' has become a thinly veiled code for a life of self-focus.

Luther has indeed succeeded.

(Okay, okay, so I am judging him outside of historical context, my diatribe isn't aimed at him, it is aimed at us!)


NT Wright Interview

"There is something really ugly about most of the world crying out for justice while the rich parts of the world argue about sex."


Thought's about sex through the eyes of a 21 year old virgin.

I love the blogs Steve has posted having to do with sexuality, I will reference some of the things he says in his blog. I am not an expert on any of this. I am just in a process of learning.

Here it goes!

I am blessed. I am blessed that before I was a Christian I didn't have sex. Growing up in a world where everyone just wants to be accepted, I managed to escape finding my acceptance in having premiscuous sex. I did have my sexual issues and like most people it did consume my thoughts. I did dress to "impress" and such, but by the loving grace of God I never had sex. I am glad and excited that when I get married I can give myself completely to my husband, in such a way, the way it should be. Many people have not been able to do this. But the thing is, my view of sex is still tainted by what the world speaks of this topic. Even people who have never had sex still need sexual healing. I still have a hard time believeing that something so abused and dirty can be viewed as an act of worship. God is sadden by that statement, because he created sex for a husband and wife, and it was good and a beautiful thing. Then the serpent came and Eve started to think "What if Adam doesn't find me attractive? Maybe I should put on some make up and dress scandalous." And Adam was like, "Is she getting all dressed up for another man?" Okay so maybe it didn't happen quite that way. But I think what everyone is really looking for is that deep reconnection that Steve was talking about. I desire deep reconnection, reconnection to God and if he wills (which I'm not going to lie, I hope he does) with another human being. I think that God allows us to marry so that we can also taste a little bit of his love for us and so that we can give love back.
Sex has been so twisted. Something so simple and so beautiful now can be done with more than one person, you can go so far before you "actually" do it, you can do it with men or women, boys or girls, you can do it for money or drugs, you can pay back favors with it, you can get a promotion with it, you can do it with however many people you want to in one night, or life time, you can watch it, you can do it with someone without even knowing their name. I grew up in this society, and like most people media was my sex-ed teacher (hence all the examples of it). So how I have viewed sex came from that. Scary, awkward, emotionless, loveless, something everyone does the rest who don't are shunned or gay, shameful, lustful, and the list goes on. Up until probably this last year (since moving in with 2 married couples) this view has probably stayed this way. After a few talks with the married ladies in my life I have heard more about what it should be. Loving, beautiful, worshipful ( I still don't get that one too much ) a gift and I believe that God will heal the areas that have been tainted by this world. I belive that there are men out there that can be trusted, I have even witnessed these men in loving relationships with their wives. I have witnessed these single men doing everything they can to keep their hearts and minds pure. I have witnessed women willing to wait till their wedding day to even partake in a little kiss. I have witnessed women call off relationships for the sake of just being with the Lord. I have witnessed married couples lay their lives down for each other. These are all beautiful things.
So what to say now? Now that I have witnessed the good things? I guess I can only encourage people my age to make the same choices that I have. People younger or older than, gay, straight, whatever. God is bigger that this issue, he is bigger than peoples sexual preferences, he's bigger than the relationships that are consumed with lust.

To burn with Zeal!!

So this is pretty raw, little post I have rumbling around in my mind!!! Steve and I have been having this discussion lately about our little church and what God is doing in it. It can be so discouraging at times because we don't know what we are doing here or if we are doing enough of it. We question what it should look like, are people meeting with God, what is happening here? We have also been talking about the way we do church, is it effective, is it what God is doing here? There have been a few people here in our little church who have brought up a few times the way we do church, in that it might get more people here if we had a building and sunday service and the things that go along with that. So this is that backdrop for my thoughts and ponderings today....

I am by no means opposed to have a meeting place out of our home, in a building to carry out some of the activities of a church body, like worship, prayer, celebration, group discussions, teachings. But I feel like this is not what people are asking, they are not wanting a building because we have out grown out of our home and need a bigger place to meet. I feel like rather people would like us to open another church building so that they can come on sundays, listen to music, drop their children in sunday school, hear a sermon and then go home.

Why do Americans want to settle for a dose of God once a week?

It breaks my heart because idealistic or not I came here because I wanted to see people's lives changed and surrendered to God. I wanted to help be part of an army of people who want to change the world by loving it, living in it, dying for it. I feel like I have this passion in me to be part of something bigger than a sunday church service with small groups during the week for added holiness.

I am not trying to bash the way that church is done here but I have come to believe that there is something more than that and I know it cause I experienced it!!!!! I came from a regular church in some ways (it met on sundays, had sunday school, had small groups during the week) but it was so much more than that. I found a community of Christ followers, who had laid down their lives to take up Jesus' and they were reaching out to a broken, fallen world around them and trying to participate in what God was doing. I feel like I am running into maybe American Christian Culture, we just want to go to church on Sundays and lives our lives Monday thru Saturday. I know there is more though and I guess that I feel hesitancy and discouragement about people here thinking that we should have a building, when we don't need one yet.


All things...

Ephesians 1:7-10

Have you ever stopped to consider what this means?

Two little words, usually glossed over, "all things;" what do they mean?

What are the possible implications for a proclamation that God intends to reconcile all things?

How does the flavor and scope of our individual salvation take on new and different connotations?

How does the shape and reach of the mission of the Church change and redirect under such an overarching goal?

Certainly we must come to see that our Western, consumer, materialist, individualist, capitalist, democratic, culture has blinded us to the possible answers to such questions; in fact, has blinded us to the questions themselves!

What things does God intend to reconcile to Himself in Christ?

Make a list... what is on your list?

What is not on it?



...thoughts from Sunday.


Our culture tells us in a thousand ways, big and small, that "money makes the world go 'round."

We are bombarded with images and slogans convincing us that we need the bigger grill, the better vehicle, the more expensive shoes, or the newer house; then we will be happy!

We are told we earned it; that the wealth we possess is our right.

We are taught to define ourselves by the income we make and the associated status symbols. Our individual and cultural identity is wrapped up in symbols of wealth.

Even those caught up in poverty often mistakenly believe that the solution to their problems is money!

“If your relationship with God doesn’t bring you into conflict with your culture, then you need to reevaluate your relationship with God.”
Pastor Rob Owens

The truth is that these things will complicate our lives and end up making us less satisfied with our lives! Once basic needs for food, water, shelter, health, and freedom are met, any increase in wealth leads to a decrease in felt happiness.

We operate from within a vastly unjust global economic system, and it is tilted in our favor! We haven't earned the wealth we have, it is a gift; the job, the economy, even the strength, health, intelligence, or skill that we possess that enable us to procure and maintain the levels of wealth we are accustomed to, are not things we are responsible for. They are a gift!

...and our value has nothing to do with the amount of stuff we control. We have value because God says we do! Our identity is in our reflection of His image, not in our hoarding of His possessions!


The simple fact is that money is not central, it is peripheral. God is central. Whenever we allow our culture to convince us otherwise, our lives and our world suffers for it!

Even in the church money can gain the place of prominence. Churches command tithes to line the pockets of clergy, others preach a message that says "Jesus died to give you a big house and a nice car." Even the extreme ascetic streak that has run throughout the history of the Church can often be simply an unhealthy emphasis on the role of money (albeit a negative one) instead of putting money in its proper place.


So what does God want us to do with money?

...a brief perusal of the way the topic was handled in the Jewish Scriptures is illuminating.

From the very beginning Jews recognized that all wealth comes from God. God is the creator of the earth, wealth included. He owns it all and has merely placed it in human hands to act as God's caretakers. We are YHWH's gardeners.

The wealth of the Nation of Israel was literally handed to them by God. They were a nation of slaves who left Egypt with the riches of their oppressors on their backs. God carved out a country from the surrounding nations and handed it to a people with no country.

The Law then proscribed that Jewish households were to periodically set aside 10% of their wealth for God and His purposes in the nation. (Some estimates are that this amounted to approximately the equivalent of a 25% yearly income tax) This was done for three specific purposes:

1) Maintaining the system of priests and Temple. This was essentially a tax to support the religious, educational, and judicial system of the country (as the priesthood fulfilled these roles in some capacity).

2) Redistributing wealth to those who had little or no capacity for generating income, orphans, widows, foreigners, etc.

The first two purposes fit well within our modern conception of taxation, the third, however, is uniquely surprising:

Deuteronomy 14:22-26

3) The Jewish People were commanded to use a portion of their Tithes to throw a tremendous nationwide party! Eating and drinking was not merely encouraged, but commanded!


God loves stuff, that is why He made it! He wants us to enjoy it! Food, drink, beautiful scenery, physical pleasures, fine art, colors, smells, textures. Not only did God invent these things, He also designed us with the capacity to enjoy them! (Check this out.)

The problem is not with wealth. The problem is never in the stuff. The problem is in what we do with it, how we get it, why we want it, how much of it we use, whether or not we share it...

In short...

...the problem is us!

(More to come)


Exclusion and Embrace

Click on the title link to read the intro to the book, really just the first few paragraphs. Intriguing, the book is coming...


Judas and the Gospel of Jesus

...the Gnostic presentation of Jesus (setting aside for now the opinions of the historical scholars on the date for the Gnostic texts in comparison to the canonical ones...) fails in a singularly striking way:

What the canonical gospels communicate almost in every paragraph the Gnostic gospels never do -- explain the reason for Jesus crucifixion.

The Gnostic communities were notoriously free of persecution precisely because they posed no political threat to either the Jewish establishment or the Roman one, whereas the disciples of Jesus (and Jesus himself) were so threatening to the status-quo that they were vehemently eradicated wherever possible.

The Gnostic (or New Age, for that matter) picture of Jesus as a kind of Platonic Buddha figure simply can't explain why anyone in power would be threatened by Him; the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, however, provide a picture of Jesus as a Jewish Reformer-Prophet-King who is a constant threat to those in power, and hence crucified.