Saturday, March 29, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
- Author Struggles to Stay Removed from Slave Trade (NPR)
- More With Less Cookbook. From the reviews on Amazon: This cookbook is exactly what it sounds like- a cookbook about eating more with less. It is not all about eating hamburger but it is about saving money, eating nutritious meals that are cost effective and delicious. Every recipe calls for normal ingredients that you would typically have on hand in your kitchen. The recipes we have tried have been a hit in my family and have been easy to prepre. The directions are clear and easy to read."
- U.S. is Choking on Debt Financed Expansion. (Huffington Post)
- KGW/Audubon RaptorCam.
- World Made by Hand by Howard Kunstler. This is a just published work of fiction by a man I have come to respect in the field of Social Change. I enjoyed his well known and thoroughly depressing book titled "The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophe's of the 21st Century."
- I find it interesting that viewers connect so well with characters that have "Daddy issues". All The Best Castaway Have Daddy Issues (www.thetailsection.com). It makes me ponder the significance of our Heavenly Father and how we are wired as human beings.
- Horton Hears a Who was GREAT! Here's a good review.
- 4 Months, 3 weeks and 2 days. I'm going to try and get my hands on a copy of this movie and get a group of friends together to watch it. I'm sure I'll be posting about it once that day come.
- Cerulean Sanctum did a really enlightening blog series titled Banking on God (Covering The Tithe, Church Finances, Theology, and Crises). It's an awesome resource/study which I know I will be referencing back to in the future.
- The Feel Good Story. The I'm Good Story. The Grace Story. Which one are you living?
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Dostoevsky, through the character Ippolit, provides a much more profound artistic analysis of the painting then I could ever hope to create. If the painting strikes you, is unnerving, creating a sense of apprehension and uneasiness, then I really do encourage you to read the following excerpt.
Ippolit states, as the Prince did earlier, that "it produced a strange uneasiness in (him)".
"This picture portrays Christ just taken down from the cross. It seems to me that painters are usually in the habit of portraying Christ, both on the cross and taken down from the cross, as still having a shade of extraordinary beauty in his face; they seek to preserve this beauty for him even in his most horrible suffering. But in Rogozhin's picture there is not a word about beauty; this is in the fullest sense the corpse of a man who had endured infinite suffering before the cross, wounds, torture, beating by the guards, beating by the people as he carried the cross and fell down under it, and had finally suffered on the cross for six hours (at least according to my calculation).True, it is the face of a man who has only just been taken down from the cross, that is, retaining in itself a great deal of life, of warmth; nothing has had time to become rigid yet, so that the dead man's face even shows suffering as if he were feeling it now (the artist has caught that very well); but the face has not been spared in the least, it is nature alone, and truly as the dead body of any man must be after such torments.I know that in the first centuries the Christian Church already established that Christ suffered not in appearance but in reality, and that on the cross his body, therefore, was fully and completely subject to the laws of nature. In the picture this face is horribly hurt by blows, swollen, with horrible and bloody bruises, the eyelids are open, they eyes crossed; the large, open whites have a sort of deathly, glassy shine.
But, strangely, when you look at the corpse of this tortured man, a particular and curious question arises: if all his disciple, his chief future apostles, if the women who followed him and stood by the cross, if all those who believed in him and worshiped him had seen a corpse like that (and it was bound to be exactly like that), how could they believe, looking at such a corpse, that this sufferer would resurrect? Here the notion involuntarily occurs to you that if death is so terrible and the laws of nature are so powerful, how can they be overcome? How overcome them, if they were not even defeated now, by the one who defeated nature while he lived, whom nature obeyed, who exclaimed: "Talitha cumi" and the girl arose, "Lazarus, come forth" and the dead man came out?Nature appears to the viewer of this painting in the shape of some enormous, implacable and dumb beast, or, to put it more correctly, much more correctly, strange though it is - in the shape of some huge machine of the most modern construction, which has senselessly seized, crushed, and swallowed up, blankly and unfeelingly, a great and priceless being - such a being as by himself was worth the whole of nature and all its laws, the whole earth, which was perhaps created solely for the appearance of this being alone! The painting seems precisely to express this notion of a dark, insolent, and senselessly eternal power, to which everything is subjected, and it is conveyed to you involuntarily.The people who surrounded the dead man, none of whom is in the painting, must have felt horrible anguish and confusion on that evening, which at once smashed all their hope and almost their beliefs. They must have gone off in terrible fear, though each carried within himself a tremendous thought that could never be torn out of him. And if this same teacher could have seen his own image on the eve of the execution, would he have gone to the cross and died as he did? That question also comes to you involuntarily as you look at the painting."
The joyful news which spread with electric excitement makes sense. That truly, a dead man had risen. The claim which Paul makes becomes palpable. That Jesus "...was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
...But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive...
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." (1 Corinthians 15)
Friday, March 21, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
This is the commandment: "Love one another as I have loved you." But what about Galatians 5:14? "For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" If the whole law is fulfilled in "Love your neighbor as yourself," what more can "Love one another as Christ loved you" add to the fulfillment of the whole law?
I would say that Jesus did not replace or change the commandment, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." He filled it out and gave it clear illustration. He is saying,
Here is what I mean by "as yourself." Watch me. I mean: Just as you would want someone to set you free from certain death, so you should set them free from certain death. That is how I am now loving you. My suffering and death is what I mean by ‘as yourself.' You want life. Live to give others life. At any cost.
So John says, "By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers" (1 John 3:16). Was Jesus loving us "as he loved himself"? Listen to Ephesians 5:29-30, "No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body."
In the horrors of his suffering Christ was sustained "by the joy that was set before him" (Hebrews 12:2). And that joy was the everlasting gladness of his redeemed people, satisfied in the presence of the risen king.
Therefore, let us see the greatest love in action during these next 24 hours. "Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end" (John 13:1). And let us be so moved by this love that it becomes our own. "He laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers" This is the commandment. This is the Thursday.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
Another great chapter in Tim Keller's "...Belief in an Age of Skepticism"! I have decided to start stressing the subtitle when discussing the book because it more appropriately conveys the contents of the book (as opposed to The Reason for God).
This chapter reminds me of one of my favorite Mark Driscoll sermons; “Examining Two Enemies of the Gospel” (May 30th 2007):
The first enemy is idolatry...“The second enemy of the Gospel is religion, and religion doesn't understand the Gospel."
"Religion says 'if you obey God will love you'. The Gospel says 'because God loves you you can now obey'."
"Religion says that the world is about good people and bad people...and of course we are good, and they are bad, whoever “they” are: 'Mac/PC', 'Ford/Chevy', 'Democrat/Republican', 'left-handed/right-handed', 'smart/short-bus'. The Gospel does not see people in terms of good and bad. We are all bad. If the world was an old western everyone in the world would wear black hats, only Jesus would get a white hat. The Gospel says repentant bad people, and unrepentant bad people... "
"Religion is about using God to receive an idol. The Gospel is about receiving God as the gift.”
Keller tackles this profound difference between "religion" and the "Gospel" with more breadth, a little less shouting, and with more elegance/less brashness.
"His grace both humbles me more deeply than religion can (since I am too flawed to ever save myself through my own effort), yet also affirms me more powerfully than religion can (since I can be absolutely certain of God's unconditional acceptance).
That means that I cannot despise those who do not believe as I do. Since I am not saved by my correct doctrine or practice, then this person before me, even with his or her wrong beliefs, might be morally superior to me in many ways. It also means I do not have to be intimidated by anyone. I am not so insecure that I fear the power or success or talent of people who are different from me. The gospel makes it possible for a person to escape oversensitivity, defensiveness, and the need to criticize others. The Christian's identity is not based on the need to be perceived as a good person, but on God's valuing of you in Christ."
Saturday, March 15, 2008
This was an exceptional chapter! I especially connected with the section on personal consequences of sin. I have recently been struggling through - and discovering - that hope put in any individual is setting yourself of for disappointment and failure. Keller pulls back and argues this is only one aspect of a bigger issue.
Every persons need to “justify their existence” through the sense of worth and identity. This could play out in the attempt to fulfill duties to family, giving service to society, achievements, gaining or wielding power, seeking human approval, self-discipline, social status, talents, or relationships.
“Even if you say “I will not build my happiness or significance on anyone or anything,” you will actually be building your identity on your personal freedom and independence. If anything threatens that, you will again be without a self.” (pg. 165)
Keller explores how each of these is subverted by sin and is really a hollow identity without any real substance. For example, if one builds their identity on being a good parent, they have no true “self”. They are simply a parent, nothing more and if something goes wrong with their children or parenting there is no “self” left.
“Identity apart from God is inherently unstable.”
If you have aren't quite grasping this idea, disagree with it, are intrigued by it, or relate to it, then go get the book and read because I'm not typing up the whole chapter for you!
Tim Keller is speaking at the downtown Portland Borders this Tuesday at 7:00pm. It's free!
Thursday, March 13, 2008
The New York Times article that I posted yesterday, concerning the tragic death of young Lawrence, has been weighing heavy on my heart.
I keep asking myself the question; if I was in that 8th grade class at E.O. Green Junior High in Oxnard California, if had been in that computer lab on the morning of February 12 morning (excited by the buzz of Valentines day, and the candy which ensues, and even more excited for my fast approaching birthday), if I had been sitting near Lawrence when our classmate walked in the door wielding a gun, would I have stood up and taken the bullet?
I am reminded of a story Tony Campolo shares in a scene - which will forever be etched on my heart - from Lord Save Us From Your Followers. I found it online and would like to share it.
"There was a boy in our high school named Roger. He was gay. We knew about it. We spread the word on him, and we made his life miserable. When we passed him in the hall, we would call out his name in an effeminate manner. We gestured with our hands and made him the brunt of a lot of cheap jokes. On Fridays after PE class, we would go into the showers, but Roger never went in with us. He was afraid to, and for good reason. When we came out of the showers we would take our wet towels and whip them at his little naked body. We thought that was a fun thing to do.
I wasn't there the day they took Roger, dragged him into the shower room, and shoved him into the corner. Folded up in a fetal position, in the corner of that tile room, he cried as five guys urinated all over him.
That night Roger went home and he went to bed sometime around ten o'clock. They said it was about two o'clock the next morning when he got up and went down to the basement of his house - and hung himself. When they told me, I realized I wasn't a Christian. Oh, I believed all the right stuff. I was as theologically sound as any evangelical could expect to be. I knew what I was supposed to believe and I believed it intensely, but I hadn't surrendered to the Holy Spirit. I had not yet yielded myself and allowed God's Spirit to invade me and transform me into the kind of person I ought to be. If the Holy Spirit had been in me, I would have stood up for Roger.
When the guys came to make fun of him, I would have put one arm around Roger's shoulders and waved the guys off with the other and said, "Leave him alone. He's my friend. Don't mess with him." But I was afraid to be his friend. I was afraid to stand up for Roger, because I knew that if you stand up for somebody like Roger, people will begin to say nasty things about you too. And so I kept my distance, and I failed to be the loving person that Christ wanted me to be. The work of the Holy Spirit was not evident in my life. If it had been, Roger might be alive today."
This is an extract from
'Let Me Tell You A Story'
by Tony Campolo
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
"A 15-year-old boy kicked and stamped to death a woman because she was dressed as a Goth, a court heard." (BBC.co.uk)
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
“There is not a person in the world that behaves as badly as praying-mantises. But wait, you say, there is no right or wrong in nature; right and wrong is a human concept! Precisely! We are moral creatures in an amoral world...Or consider the alternative...it is only human feeling that is freakishly amiss...All right then – it is our emotions that are amiss. We are freaks, the world is fine, and let us all go have lobotomies to restore us to a natural state. We can leave... lobotomized, go back to the creek, and live on its banks as untroubled as any muskrat or reed. You first.”
Annie Dillard saw that all of nature is based on violence. Yet we inescapably believe it is wrong for stronger human individuals or groups to kill weaker ones. if violence is totally natural why would it be wrong for strong humans to trample weak ones? There is no basis for moral obligation unless we argue that nature is in some part unnatural. We can't know that nature is broken in some way unless there is some supernatural standard of normalcy apart from nature by which we can judge right and wrong.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Friday, March 07, 2008
Here, then, we have a way forward. We should not try to “look into the sun”, as it were, demanding irrefutable proofs for God. Instead we should “look at what the sun shows us.” Which account of the world has the most “explanatory power” to make sense of what we see in the world and in ourselves? We have a sense that the world is not the way it ought to be. We have a sense that we are very flawed and yet very great. We have a longing for love and beauty that nothing in this world can fulfill. We have a deep need to know meaning and purpose. Which worldview best accounts for these things?" (Pg. 122)
I don't think it's a bad thing that my favorite parts of this book are when Keller expands on C.S. Lewis quotes (which is at least once in just about every section). Also know, if I posted everything that I liked about this book I would be failing my Spanish classes. I'm just trying to give you a taste of it to wet your appetite. He tackles some really complex post-modern philosophical ideas that everyone has been too afraid to touch, but I would have to be quoting multiple pages to get that stuff across.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Monday, March 03, 2008
By Jonathan Martin
Instead of answers, my Dad gave me a hunger to question, seek, find, and grow. Is my theology all nice and neat and correct now? I wish. I have so far to go and so much to learn. But may we "Learn together".
We, the staff, here at Good Shepherd have been getting non-stop questions about the wildly popular book called “The Shack”. I was handed a copy about six months ago and I read it to my family. Local author, Paul Young, has done a superb job of breaking our preconceived notions of who God is and has painted a beautiful picture of a God, who above all, loves and desires relationship with his creatures. He also treats the problem of pain and suffering in a magnificent way. I especially liked the chapter, “Here come Da Judge.”
The main reason I really like this book is that it creates an amazing opportunity to talk theology. Tragically, few Americans ever talk about theology - which I believe to be the world’s greatest and most important topic of conversation. This book provides the greatest opportunity in years to engage in discussions about the God we say we worship.
The greatest compliment you can give a book is to talk about it. I was a literature major and have loved to debate over an author’s meaning, philosophy, and theology. This is good. It is not being unkind to the author to do this. Authors love this.
Some people love this book so much that they get very frustrated or downright angry when I do this with “The Shack”. I find that phenomenon quite fascinating. What is it about this book that rings such a chord that when one dares to discuss its possible shortcomings – they call it “book bashing”? What about this book seems almost sacred to so many?
Anyway there are a number of questions the book raises in my mind and in the minds of the other pastors on staff here. I have wrestled with these questions with my wife and kids and have spent hours with friends talking theology both with those who agree with and disagree with me. The discussions are valuable and I learn. I love it!!!!!
If the book somehow seems sacred to you, maybe you don’t want to ask these questions. But if it is all good, and you want to be stretched in what you believe about God – wrestle with them. Here is my simple exercise “Read the quotes in “The Shack” in context, and then see if you can reconcile the book’s content with these quotes from the Bible as read in their context.”
Some friends I know can do it, and I can reconcile a number of them in my mind. Others I know simply cannot. But no matter these are good things to talk about. What we believe to be true about God is what we live out and is truly the most important thing about us.
I do feel really bad when people get angry at me and say I am throwing a bucket of cold water on a great book. If you feel that way, you might not want to do the following exercise. I actually look at it - not as throwing a bucket of cold water - but as fanning the flame of a great “God” discussion. If we want to be challenged to think biblically, I think this might do us all some good.
“I never left him at that moment” (on the cross)” p.96 - Mark 15:33-39, 2 Cor 5:21
I don’t need to punish people for sin: sins it’s own punishment. p.120 - Rev 6:16,17 Acts 5:1-11,
Romans 2:5 ,6, Rev 2:4,.14-16,20-24 3:15-19
“No concept of final authority” or hierarchy in the Godhead 122-124, 145 - 1 Corinthians 15:20-28, Mark 14:32-42, Rev 2:26-27
“I don’t create institutions – never have, never will” p. 178, 179 - Romans 13, 1 Peter 3, Luke 12:42 , Dan 4:24-35, Rev 11;15 , 20:6
“These institutions are all a vain effort …. They are all false” 179 Luke 20:25, 1 Tm 6:1, Col 1:16 REV 2:26,27
“Guilt will never help you find freedom in me” p.187 - 2 Cor 7:10, John 16:8
“You never disappoint me” p 187, 206 - Mark 3:5 Ephesians 4:30 Prov24:17
“I’m not frustrated or disappointed. I’m thrilled” p 187 - Eph 5:10, 1 Cor 5:9, 1Thess 2:4,15 Heb 13:16, 21 1 John 3:22
You won’t find the word responsibility in the Scriptures pp 203-05 – Luke 12: 47-49, Matt 11:28,29 Matt 12:36, Matthew 25:20-30 24: 45-47
I’m omniscient- so I have no expectations, p. 206. - 1 Cor 4:2 Micah 6:8 Matt 12:36
In my relationship with those men I will never bring up what they did or shame them or embarrass them. Pg 225 - Acts 7:51-60 , Luke 9:26
In Jesus I have forgiven all humans for their sins against me. p .225 - Luke 12:8-10, Acts 8:22
“The whole world – you mean those who believe in you right?” “The whole world Mack” p. 192 Acts 10:43, Luke 19:27, Luke 24:47, Acts 2:38, 1John 2:1 , Acts 28:16,
“I am now fully reconciled to the world” p 192
So now that God has reconciled himself to the world – go at it and wrestle these passages and get into some great conversations about the God of the Bible, and may it push us to His word and into real relationship with Him.