Good ol' Isaiah

"...will be trampled under him as straw is trampled down in the manure. They will spread out their hands in it, as a swimmer spreads out his hands to swim."


I think this is one of my new favorite verses! ...talk about 'rich biblical imagery!'


Ours is a sexually charged culture:

For many people sex is about a search for something; identity, conquest, validation, power, self-worth, connection...

And so, we run from relationship to relationship, looking for some degree of depth and significance.

Perhaps, however, sexuality is better understood differently:

Instead of sex being a search, what if sexuality is supposed to be the expression of something that we have found?

A culmination.

A reflection.

What if sex is an outward enactment of a deeper reality?

What if sex is spiritual?

What would be the significance of understanding sexuality as a part of God’s grand scheme for the universe?


Jesus the Revolutionary

Sarah Palin has been aptly described as "a God fearing, gun totting, former beauty queen."

I am encouraged to read up on the prospective VP selection for the GOP, she is more than a token female (although she is, quite obviously, a cagey attempt to garner some of the Hillary for Pres crowd), and has a track record of thumbing her nose at the establishment within her own party, and has taken a strong line against corruption in her own party. Things I admire, and believe the country will admire. However, I find these kind of sentiments to be... frustratingly disturbing... to say the least.

What do you think?

When people talk about Jesus as a revolutionary, is this what you think was meant?

...more thoughts on politics at a later date!


A Hermeneutic of Suspicion versus an Epistemology of Love

A Hermeneutic of Suspicion::

Our culture defaults to suspicion. This is even more prevalent amongst younger generations. I admit to it, my first instinct is to ask, 'where's the catch?'

'What are you selling?'

'Yeah, right!?!'

Even people I trust, even about things that I already adhere to. My primary mode of thinking is suspicion.

Look for the angles, watch for the hoax.

Who's the sucker? If you don't know who the sucker is...
...then you're the sucker!

We doubt as a matter of reflex.

The suspicious approach is our default mode of understanding and interpreting the world around us; this leads to an attempt at a self-centered epistemology, a 'pick and choose' hermeneutic that attempts to divorce thoughts from their context. We take what we hear, or read, or see, and we spin it to fit our own grid. We fail to come at anything with an attempt to understand it on it's own terms because nothing is to be trusted on its own terms! And so, we fail to understand.

This is what has been called the 'wikipedia-zation' of knowledge. It leads ultimately to a failure to critique sources of information, and their authority, because we have become the source of all authority. We assume that we can know the truth on our own, in fact, that this is the only way it can be known.

Because there is no authority that we will accept, ultimately we will accept any authority, because we cannot function without authority.*


Here is where this gets practical:

According to recent studies, 80 percent of this countries population believe that "an individual should arrive at his or her own religious beliefs independent of any churches or synagogues."

Here is where it gets problematic:

Epistemology is a communal activity; we cannot come to any knowledge of truth, or approach to knowledge of truth, apart from our relationships with people. If we think otherwise we are deluding ourselves, and ignorant of our tutors (those who influence us). We wear lenses in all that we understand, and those lenses come from other people.

This plays into spirituality in amazing ways. The DaVinci Code was a wonderful example of people grasping at anything to bolster their already held beliefs. On both sides. People antagonistic to Christianity looked to Dan Brown's novel to define their understanding of Church history (a work of fiction, based upon an admitted hoax... but an attractive one.) Christians were quick to respond with protest and outrage.

Rarely did people ask the deeper questions about what really happened, why people were so intrigued by such a presentation of history, or how we can even know! Much less actually enter into dialogue or relationship with each other...


An Epistemology of Love ::

So what would a different way of knowing and understanding look like?

To whet your appetite here is an interview that references NT Wright's epistemology of love.

More to come...


*We take almost the entire realm of our own knowledge of the universe on the authority of others, from atoms, to Beijing, to fidelity, to the 'Catcher in the Rye.' ...I've never actually seen a possum, I can choose to believe it is an elaborate hoax, foisted upon me by those with nothing to gain, or I can simply take it upon the authority of other people that such a creature does indeed exist.


What's the plan?

Ephesians 1:10

God wants to put everything back together in Jesus. Fixing broken people, broken societies, and broken ecologies, through the broken body of the Messiah-King.

Ephesians 2:10

God's method for this is you and me! The simple prayers of a faithful grandmother. The engineer designing portable water filtration. The family who adopts a homeless man. The coach who loves her athletes. These are the fingerprints of God.

Ephesians 3:10

It is the Church (not the institution, but the community of people who have been gripped by God's vision for the wold) that is the center of everything. In spite of the way things might look to the casual observer, it is the joy of angels, the obsession of principalities and powers on high, to look over the on goings of the People of God.



I had a blast on my birthday...

I turned 30 yesterday, and got to celebrate it by gathering together as God's community, honoring Him, enjoying each other, and growing in His purposes. I was truly blessed! Thank you to all of you who are a part of my life, and this community!

We spent the evening talking about Scripture, asking some of the following questions:

What is the Bible?
Where did it come from?
Is it something we can trust?
What is it's purpose?
How are we supposed to interact with it?

I had several people express interest and gratitude for the handout that we looked at, so here is the material that was on it:

Basic Questions:
What is the plain meaning of the text?
What is the significance of that?
How does that apply to my life, or that of my community?

Word Study:
Look up every use of a specific word in a letter, or the entire Bible

Look up the meanings of people’s names, or place names.
Find out the history of certain places or people mentioned in a passage. Look them up in other passages or sections of the Bible.

Become a Character:
Ask some basic questions about the character’s role in the story:
Who am I?
What am I feeling?
What are my motivations?
What am I doing?
What am I thinking?
What am I learning?
What mistakes am I making?
Take this approach to each character or group of characters in the story.

Take a large chunk of scripture (for example: an epistle, or the life of Joseph in Genesis) and make an outline of it, listing major points, subpoints, and details

Put a passage into your own words.

Memorizing Scripture:
Commit a passage of scripture to memory

Lectio Divina:
Lectio-read the passage several times
Meditatio-meditate upon the passage, a phrase, or even a single word
Oratio-respond to God in prayer
Contemplatio-listen to what God wants to say to you

Where do I start?

Get a good modern translation of the Bible
(I use NIV and The Message primarily)

Start with the New Testament:
Mark is the shortest letter that tells Jesus’ story
Luke and Acts were written as sequels, telling the story of Jesus and the early Church
The Psalms are ancient songs/poems

Study Bibles

NIV Application Commentary Series
Everyone Commentary Series
NT Wright
How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth
Stuart and Fee

What am I trying to accomplish?
1) Familiarity with the grand story told by the Bible as a whole
2) Study of the details and how they fit into that entire grand story
3) Meditation upon the words inspired by God;
allowing the Spirit of God to reveal from the words of Scripture who God is, what He is like, and what He is inviting us to participate in.

How often, and how long, should I read?
Find a regular place in your daily routine where you can be uninterrupted.
Read as little or as much as necessary to interact with the Holy Spirit!


"It's not our business to make friends with all of the political leaders of the world," said Bob DeWaay, an evangelical minister from Minnesota whose book, "Redefining Christianity: Understanding the Purpose Driven Movement," critiques Warren's work.

"We have a message about how people get right with God, not about how the world is going to get rid of its problems," DeWaay said.

I came across this in an article about the McCain/Obama interview at Saddleback Church.

I have to say I am flabbergasted by this statement...

Getting people right with God has nothing to do with the world's problems???!!!?!?!?!

It seems like Jesus would disagree:

Luke 4:16-20

And it seems like the fulfillment of the promises in Scripture, in fact, would contradict the statement above:

Revelation 22:1-6
Ezekiel 41:1-12

We could go on, and on, but I will instead, encourage you to read for yourself! Does the Bible really teach that people living in a right relationship with Him will have no impact on what goes on in the world? What is the relationship between the state of the world and humanity's openness to God?

The next generation is watching, closely watching, how the Church will answer these questions!


A Different God

"Do you know that moment in Jesus Christ Superstar where the crowds are coming into Jerusalem and the disciples are all singing, ‘Haysannah, Hosannah’. And one of the zealots says to Jesus, ‘Come on, you ride in ahead of us and you’ll get the power and the glory for ever and ever and ever.’ And Jesus turns round and says, ‘Neither you, Simon, nor the 50,000, nor the Romans, nor the Jews, nor Judas, nor the twelve, nor the priests, nor the scribes, nor doomed Jerusalem herself, understand what power is, understand what glory is.’ And then he proceeds to weep over Jerusalem and prophesy its destruction; and then he goes, steadily through the following week, to his enthronement on Calvary, which with hindsight the church realizes to be the place where all power, all real power, is congregated.
The world needs to see that there is a different model of authority. Because the world needs to know that there is a different God. When the world says, ‘God’ it doesn’t mean what you and I mean by God. It doesn’t mean the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. It means either a pantheist god: the god of all-being, a sort of nature god. Or, it means a deist-god way up in the sky who started off by being a landlord, then became an absentee landlord, and now is just an absentee. We have to tell the world again, that the God who is in authority over the world, the God who speaks through scripture, is the Father of Jesus, the God who sends the Spirit. And, therefore, we have to announce to the world the story of scripture."

NT Wright


Grandpa Jim

My Grandfather just recently passed away.

I have to admit that it is a little hard to grieve at his passing; not because I didn't love him, or because I won't miss him; but rather, because he lived such a remarkably great life that I think it is more fitting to celebrate him than grieve him.

He was married to my grandmother for well over fifty faithful years. He raised a wonderful family, loved his wife and children dearly. Watched his grandchildren grow up and have their own kids. He live a life full of goodness and virtue that many simply could never imagine to be possible.

He worked hard, worked with his hands.

He grew up very poor, but didn't know it until he grew older! He spoke fondly of his boyhood and his family.

He was the kind of man who enjoyed the company of children. As I grew older I began to notice how easily he enjoyed taking his grandchildren for walks, to play catch, to swing on swings or slide down slides. What for many adults (and even parents) is a chore that they engage in, knowing it to be important, but finding it less than exciting, my grandfather did simply and with joy.

He was a friend to many. He was deeply involved in the life of their Church. He took it upon himself to care for handyman tasks about the Church building.

I remember holidays at their house in San Jose. All the cousins building forts in the living room out of chairs and blankets. Raiding the fridge in the middle of the night! I remember silly jokes and Hertz Donuts! I remember goofy sayings with just a little bit of an accent..

He is a man with a legacy.

My spiritual life is a tribute to his. He not only raised my mother to live in Christ, but was always there for me to see; a man of God. He is my grandfather, but he passed on much more than genes. He loved God deeply, and was deeply loved by Him. And so, God has brought Grandpa Jim to be with Him!

(I hope he gets the jokes!)

And now, we await the coming resurrection of the saints, when we shall see each other again!

Hollywood Does It Again!

Man! What a let down...

I saw the 2nd Narnia movie, what a horrible movie!

I was in pain the entire movie!

They added scenes, they deleted scenes, they changed characters around, invented plot lines that didn't exist, and removed ones that did...

I was literally cringing the entire movie!

Why would you make a move based on a book and do something like this?!?!

I guess you can get away with it if the author is DEAD!

I wanted my money back! (Which wasn't much because we went to the $3 theater...)

If the same guys rewrite the 3rd one, I may not see it...


No Easy Answers...

So I read this interview with NT Wright about the recent Lambeth Conference (a once every ten years, gathering of worldwide Anglican Bishops to address issues the global Anglican Communion is facing) which had been addressing the issues surrounding the potential schism in the ranks of Anglicans worldwide.

Anglicans in Africa and elsewhere have been appalled at the decision by the US Episcopal Church to go ahead with the consecration of Gene Robinson as a Bishop in spite of appeals by Anglican leadership to refrain. Robinson is an openly practicing homosexual. The central issue for the conference was Church discipline, Church community, and the basis for the communions remaining whole; of course, this also touched very much on the issue of homosexuality itself (although, the wider world, both secular and Church, has seemed to act as though the sexual issue was the primary one).

After reading the article I ended up following links and reading various things...

The above link to the Wiki-entry on Gene Robinson, and this article. If you only read one of the links in this post read the last one (gettingit.com)

I had just had a conversation yesterday with a teenage girl, pregnant, homosexual, and deeply disturbed at the Church and the way it treats people; she was referencing the science that has proven homosexuality to be rooted in genes, and the history that shows Jesus as a man who had impregnated Mary Magdalene.

I read much more than the above articles, but I think the above is enough to give you the flavor of what I was ruminating about...


What does Scripture say to someone in Cheryl Chase's shoes?

How would various outcomes in scientific findings about human sexuality effect our understanding of what the Bible teaches about human understanding?

What should a pastor do with someone in Mrs. Chase's shoes? ...and how does that answer impinge on the issue of homosexuality?

Does the typical answer the Church gives on the question of homosexuality do justice to the uniqueness of the issue?

Questions abound!

Answers, perhaps, are more ambiguous...


What I do know is this:

Pat answers are more about the self-image of the person giving them, than the person in need of wisdom, or the god who is said to endorse them.

Humble and genuine concern for the welfare of others should be the primary motive in offering wisdom.

"Jesus is Lord," is the proclamation of the gospel.
"I wanna have heterosexual intercourse," is not the proclamation of the gospel.


If we can lovingly point all people to Jesus as the true King of the world, and encourage them to allow Him to become that for them, all the while acknowledging that this requires a death to self and death to sin for all people (primarily for us as His disciples and does not single out homosexual people in this respect), then I think we have made the first step down the right path...

...if, however, we are pointing to heterosexuality instead of Jesus; or singling out homosexuals as somehow fundamentally "other" than the rest of humanity; or if we are not speaking of Jesus in terms of absolute surrender; or failing to communicate that identity is found in Christ and no other place; or if we are bolstering our own position at the expense of people on the outside; we are walking a path that will lead to our own ruin, the abandonment of the very purpose for which God has given Himself to us, and the ruin of others.


I'd love some comments on this one. It continues to be a very raw issue in Buffalo.