Tuesday, April 13, 2010

So THAT's why death is bad!

Just heard the Easter message from Micah Witham at Soulstice and he said something that, believe it or not, I'd never heard explained this way before:

Podcast Title: Soulstice Podcast
Episode: Death Does Not Win
Media URL:

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Podcast feed URL:

The key point is that God is the only One who can create life. Therefore, the ultimate anti-God thing for Satan to do is to bring death. That's why death is such a bad thing, even though we know it will result in an eternal life of the soul in heaven. This might also explain why Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus (which always puzzled me; He knew he'd be up and around in a few minutes, so why the tears?).

Ironically, as I was walking down the sidewalk listening to this, I saw a squirrel try to run across four lanes of traffic. As they often do, they make it across three, back two, up another one, back again... He disappeared behind a car, which swerved to avoid him... and when it passed, all that was left was a ball of fluff.

All that life and exuberance, snuffed out in a second.

I'm not weeping for a squirrel, but it was an interesting demonstration of "alive" vs. "dead".

Saturday, April 10, 2010

What is the purpose of life?

"You find it more comforting to believe that this is it?"

"I find it more comforting to believe that this... isn't simply a test"


Friday, April 9, 2010

Unbundling church?

Super-profound thought here!

There's been lots of talk lately about "unbundling" higher education. The metaphor given in the conversation is the record industry, where songs were "bundled" into albums -- you bought all the songs at once, mixing in the good with the bad (where the former subsidized the latter).

The latest observation is that at universities, you can't just join the chess club or take one class -- you "enroll as a student" and get a whole bunch of "services" like free campus comedians and basketweaving classes and weight room access, some of which you take advantage of and some of which you don't, but all of which you really pay for. The talk now is about "unbundling" university services -- e.g. let students take one class for a fee -- because if you don't, they're going to figure out a way to do it (e.g. take a class from University of Phoenix and then transfer the credit to a university that's willing to accept it).

Got the idea?

I wonder if there's value in using the same "bundling" language to describe church services.

Think about it. On a typical Sunday morning, you have some sort of adult teaching hour or "Sunday School" or Bible Study. Then there's the "worship service" which consists of singing, observing a performance or two, giving money, hearing about upcoming events, prayer, communion (sometimes), and a teaching sermon.

It's a package deal. I suppose you could show up late for the sermon (or leave early before the sermon, depending on your preferences), but that's seen as tacky; most people take the whole thing, the "good" with the "bad".

But... today's "televangelists" have "unbundled" that and offer the teaching/sermon separately.

And while not terribly popular, things like the iWorship DVD series offer the "worship" portion (missing the collective element, of course), and finding a good religious "performance" on radio or YouTube or even PBS is easy.

I even saw Perry Stone talking about taking communion at home (on a Paula White show a year or so ago -- consider the source, but it's an interesting concept at least).

I have no idea how today's church service compares to the church in Acts (which, I suppose you could argue, was even more "bundled" as they lived life together in community)... but I wonder if this "unbundling" is going to be the wave of the future in the church community?

Thoughts? Any other examples that I'm missing?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

By a thread...

I've found that physically challenging times bring me closest to the "spiritual" -- not simply because they trigger "God, I want the pain to end" moments, but because they're a tangible, inescapable reminder of just how fragile and fleeting our lives in "earthen vessels" are.

Jonathan Edwards wrote in "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" of dangling over the fires of hell like a spider on a thread. But we all dangle just as precariously over a life after stroke, aneurysm, ruptured disc, cancer diagnosis, or hundreds of other challenges.

I remember visiting the Body Worlds exhibit with a doctor friend of mine (who eagerly brought along his anatomy textbook for reference). It was in 2006, during a sciatica flare-up, so my ears perked up at a woman and her 30-something daughter examining a skeleton with spinal nerves suspended in air, intact. "Right there, that's the disc that's causing it" they said, marveling at the interwoven strings of nerve fibers. They were clearly discussing the same problem that I had... And it was amazing that a tiny bulge agains an even tinier nerve could affect an entire body (and mind).

So if you're out there enjoying good health right now, thank God for it (your choice; ask me for recommendations if you're searching) and then pray that you can openly receive the insights you need without getting a wake-up call of fear and pain to make you listen.