Friday, December 25, 2009

On a more trivial music note...

...I wonder about Amy Lee's personal view of Jesus? Regardless of what Evanescence is/was, what does she believe as her own person who's accountable to the God who created our universe?

(I guess you can take the seeker.TV domain out of the geek but you can't take the "Seekers Television" questions out of the Christian.)

From http://web.archive.org/web/20070827083214/http://www.entertainment-news.org/b...

(...Co-founder Ben Moody abruptly left mid-tour in 2003...)

Q: "Fallen" was first released in the Christian market. Do you consider Evanescence a Christian band?

A: Can we please skip the Christian thing? I'm so over it. It's the lamest thing. I fought that from the beginning; I never wanted to be associated with it. It was a Ben thing. It's over. It's a new day.

Pondering preterism

I need to research the "preterist" position which, in a nutshell (as I understand it), says that the events of John's Revelation describe the fall of Jerusalem.

In our Daily Audio Bible reading we're in Revelation (because its the end of the year now, duh) and I keep thinking, "The fall of Jerusalem was bad, but not THIS bad!"

For further study: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preterism

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A brief thought on heaven...

Brian Hardin from the Daily Audio Bible just emailed Christmas greetings and wrote:

"I remember a year ago writing to everyone and saying how I wish I could sit with you over a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy the richness of your story.?? I wish there were time to linger over God's faithfulness in each of our stories and ponder the future's path. Unfortunately some of those wishes may have to wait for now.?? Maybe one day."
Which got me thinking... Will we have "conversations" with fellow Christians in heaven? If so, why say "Maybe one day" (assuming, for the sake of argument, that your audience is truly Christian)?

My pastor has emphasized how there will be "work" there and that it's a redeemed world/life rather than just floating on a cloud with a harp... But will it be like "life, only better" or it will be a completely inconceivable "oneness with God"?

A rather deep topic on Christmas, which kinda represents the other end of the spectrum...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pondering relationships

I've been meaning to post an interesting "juxtaposition" that happened to me a few days ago. As I wrote once on Facebook (part of one of those "X-many random things about me" memes) that I care very deeply about people... but they probably don't know it.

On the same morning, I got two emails from friends that were pretty close a dozen years ago; we're still on great terms but just aren't in touch much. One replied to a mass-mail I sent to a group -- and we're getting together for lunch today.

The other guy confirmed what I'd feared from some Facebook evidence: he and his wife are separated and planning to divorce.

The former is an illustration of how "the church" works: after years, we still share a connection. The latter is an example of how "the church" fails. This couple shouldn't be splitting up. Something went wrong. His friends should have been able to help him. We didn't even know anything was wrong... and while there's no animosity toward them, I worry that the situation betrays a frightening level of "active indifference" toward the relationship.

Its not my job to "fix it," but I wish there were something I could do to turn back the clock...

Monday, December 7, 2009

1 John 5:1-21?

(Open and public) note to self: Check into this translation of 1st John 5:1-21. The December 5th reading had some interesting language about "degrees of sin" that I hadn't caught before:

Podcast Title: 1 Year Daily Audio Bible
Episode: DAB December 5- 2009
Media URL:

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Podcast feed URL:
http://feeds.feedburner.com/dailyaudiobible

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A theology of "giving generatively"?

I attended tonight's "Soulstice" service with my so-far "thorough skimming" of Peter Rollins' "How (Not) to Speak of God" in mind.  My concern in general around that book (and about the Emerging/Emergent Church, as much as I like to label anything) is the charge that they value conversation or dialog, not as a means to pursue understanding of the one real Truth, but as an end in-and-of itself because there's no one Truth to pursue.

Much more to be said on that another day.

But tonight's message was on "Gift" -- something of a pet topic of mine ever since it was the sole topic of my Theology 101 class my freshman year of college (in my pre-Christian days).  Pastor Micah Witham's terminology is that we should give not merely "generously", but "generatively" -- that our giving should parallel the work of Jesus, which "generated things" -- new from old, life from death, etc.  I like it.

Micah's metaphor is Ty Pennington's work in Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, where everything builds to the climactic end of Ty shouting "Move that bus!" to reveal a beautiful new home.

And I thought... What if the home were destroyed before its owners arrived?  What if the need were felt, and hundreds of people pulled together in community to remodel and revitalize... and then the show ended with a demolition crew wiring the home to provide for a spectacular explosion as the credits rolled.  (Sounds like a lot of Hollywood set construction, now that I think about it.)

What's the difference between the two outcomes?  After all, the same "bonding" and "community" and "service" happens; why should that crew be distracted by the focus on the "goal" of creating a "product"?  Shouldn't the focus be on each other during the "conversation"?

I think our natural reaction to that is, "Duh! No!"  But why do we think that?

I think Micah is spot-on that "Jesus' work generates things."  In fact, I realized during the message that the Biblical term is "fruits" -- we've all seen that mentioned frequently.  I don't (yet) want to claim that the Emerging movement disagrees and says those things/fruits/results/goals are wrong... but, at this point, I'm wondering.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

On Angels and Emergence

Two brief, unrelated thoughts to-be-journaled later.

1) Yesterday's daily Bible reading came to Daniel where the angel appears to him and says he was detained by the "prince of Persia" -- a competing demon, according to John Eldredge. Something I've not studied much but want to. Matthew 18 spends much time talking about angels and their acts/hopes/conduct, from the mouth of Jesus Himself. I think the evangelical church has ignored "angelology" and, while I think it's quite odd and "spooky," it's incredibly Biblical.

2) I'm just starting to read "How (Not) to Speak of God" by Peter Rollins, which talks of the "emerging church" as being on a "journey" in the context of wandering OT prophets who seemed strange to their culture. But when I read Paul (and others in the NT), the theme seems to be "That's all been fulfilled; now it's the goal-goal-goal of Jesus and Christ-likeness. Clear as a bell!" Am I mis-reading the NT, or is the emerging church (accidentally or intentionally) overlooking that aspect?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

"Jesus, thank you for coming anyway"

Every so often I'm struck by a turn of a phrase that probably didn't seem very profound to most people, but happened to really cut straight to my heart.

The first sentence of this Sunday's closing prayer did it for me:

"Jesus, thank you for coming anyway."

If the Bible is true -- or if even "the majority of the words of a rabbi named Yeshua who lived about 2000 years ago" were true -- then 1) we live out our lives in the midst of a remarkable spiritual plane that goes almost totally unnoticed, and 2) it's amazing that God would choose to interject himself into that ignorant and ungrateful world.

And that's not an indictment by "me" against "them;" I'm as ignorant of and ungrateful for God's workings as the next guy is. I don't live in a state of unceasing prayer. My life isn't focused on "advancing the Kingdom." I hope (and am fairly confident) that I'm not actively undermining God and His work by my actions, but an honest self-assessment does make me wonder what the right definition of "Lordship" is... and how I measure up to it.

And then whenever I get too concerned about whether I measure up to God -- news flash: I don't -- I remember the perspective captured so succinctly in that prayer. "Jesus, thank you for coming anyway."

What are missionaries called to do?

This is just a shadow of an age-old question, but I'm still pondering it at the moment: the Great Commission has us go our and teach "everything" that Jesus has commanded us. But Jesus' teachings weren't merely Paul's "Romans Road" -- He called us to be "good people" and do "good things".

I don't think missionaries are teaching the opposite... but is the emphasis on "saving faith in Jesus," or is it on being the good Law-abiding Jew that He was?

Yes, I know some works-oriented heresies lurk there... but it's still important to ask the question, isn't it?

Investment, as defined by God

One thing that always bothered me about the "Parable of the Talents" stems from the fact that I think of "investment" in the modern-day context of "put some money into the stock market and hope it doesn't disappear."  In that sense, the servant who buried his money seems pretty reasonable -- he took a conservative but prudent step and made sure that none of his master's principal was lost.

It was Joel Osteen, of all people, who gave a message that altered my perspective.  He described "talents" (the 2000-year-old monetary word) in the context of our skills or "talents" that God has given us and expects us to use.

In that sense, the master in Jesus' account was exactly right: the only way to waste/abuse/lose a talent is to not put it to use.

For me, that's a much more liberating view than to see God as someone who expects you to metaphorically "play the stock market" and come out ahead, punishing you if you have bad luck and lose some of His investment.