Monday, January 30, 2012

Thinking Thoughts

1) Found out my boy cat is a girl cat… Luther is now Katharina… Yup.

2) I got a lady friend (like a human lady, not a cat).

3) Bacon and coffee

4) If you’ve never read John17, or just haven’t done it in a while, then here

5) I’m reading The Hunger Games and trying to make them last

6) The Scarlet Letter

7) My thoughts on the whole Mars Hill discipline issue

8) Skittles are getting me through my College Algebra homework (the red pack, not some silly purple or blue pack).

9) Why is the sentence, “Go and sin no more,” not apart of our thoughts/words?

10) The trash truck that drives by my house every Monday might as well be a tank.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Grateful vs. Duty

I’ve had a thought running through my brain most of this week, more like a question really, “What would be, for me, disobedience if I don’t do it?”

What I mean is, is there something I should be doing (now or in the future) which if I don’t will be a sin? Is there a specific call on my life to do a certain something or start a specific somewhere?

Know what I mean?

I remember singing, as a kid at school, “Obedience is the very best thing to show that you believe.” I think we’d even clap along while we sang it. I disagree, in part.

Obedience is great, but the best way to show you believe must be love, for if it is how all will know we are of Christ, by the way we love each other, then surely love would be the best way to show belief (or disbelief). But even love, if not done correctly cannot be the supreme way to show belief.

It’s the chasm between obligation and gratitude, which separates correct love/obedience and incorrect.

Obligation is this, “I love you because I have to.” Flattering, right?

Gratitude is this, “I love you because of who you are.”

The first is forced action the other is a welling up within another because of the worth of the one loved.

So, back to the beginning, what should I be doing, not from having to, but from getting to, which would be disobedience if I don’t do said thing?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Controversy in Discipline

Recently some issues have come to light about church discipline (read Matthew 18:15-18 for a base) , specifically the misuse of discipline within a church, which is an injustice. For some time I’ve spoken about the final step of church discipline, what it means to treat someone like a non-believer, like a Gentile and a tax collector.

That’s what I want to do here.

I remember listening to sermons at one point and understanding church discipline as cutting ties, breaking fellowship, disposing of the person both in mind and heart. I was a janitor at the time, cleaning a toilet. So needless to say some thoughts ran through my mind of what it’s like to discard (*ahem flush ahem*) them away from yourself.

But it seemed wrong.

Treat someone, arguably a non-believer with the same contempt you treat your own waste. That seems a distant meaning from Matthew 18:17, so far in fact I consider it non-biblical.

Non-believers aren’t excommunicated, are they? We don’t go around shunning folks for not believing the gospel; we befriend them and love them in hope they’ll someday come to salvation, at least that’s what we preach (at least we ought to.). Heck, we even invite them into church.

So why should we excommunicate someone who sinned but didn’t repent of it? We shouldn’t. Sure how we view them changes, they go from brother or sister to simply friend, from inside to outside, from family to acquaintance. But we don’t openly (nor inwardly) damn them.

Gentiles and tax collector come into the inclusion of the Gospel. They are apart of the promise. Jesus hung out with them. One of the apostles was a tax collector. Mark isn’t a Jewish name (Gentile). Galatia isn’t a place in Israel, neither is Philippi, Colossi, or Corinth. My heritage is Scottish.

You see my point?

If the final step of church discipline were exclusion, revulsion, and casting away then the likelihood of belief for any outside of Israel would be doubtful… But it’s not so, is it?

In fact the Gospel goes to the four corners of the globe to the Gentiles and the tax collectors.

I am not advocating doing away with church discipline, not at all. Bold confrontation of sin is necessary in believer’s lives. We are, more often than not, blind to our own sin (because we don’t want to see it) so we need brothers and sisters to tell us about our blind spots.

And when/if repentance doesn’t come we don’t damn, cause surely that is not our place, we treat them as we do the lost with love and the hope of salvation (not in a Ned Flanders style either)

Yet there’s another point, believers don’t do a fantastic job at spending time with, “sinners.” They’re dirty.

So were you.

In response to the controversy: I think a church messed up, but I can’t nor won’t damn them, it’s simply not my place. But I will use it to point to the beautiful fact that the church is a whore. She is broken and dirty and loved.

Loved.

She’ll mess up and she’ll be confronted (as she is now) and she’ll learn. Because Jesus saved her at the cost of his life that’s why she’ll repent and learn.

So, we must now learn from others.

School's Started Thoughts

1) I have a professor with a bow tie (Prof. Bow tie), and another who looks like Dumbledore.

2) Last semester! (As long as college algebra behaves itself)

3) My classes have me writing 2-3 papers a week. Hello, Humidor

4) 24 hours = not enough

5) WSU should get a Starbucks… Or at least some good coffee

6) New bedtime: 9:30pm (So what, I’m an old man.)

7) This whole spring/fall thing in winter is lovely.

8) Bacon and orange juice is routinely breakfast.

9) Luther (the cat) goes nuts for bacon. Like try-to-climb-my-leg nuts.

10) I need a bigger music budget.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Political

I’ve been having quite a few ‘political thoughts’ this past weekend (scary). Usually I like to steer clear of that whole arena of thinking and talking (some who know me, know this well).

(I'm calling it as I see it.)

But here’s the deal, the thing that sent me thinking all day Saturday. There is no leader to follow, none. None which will fix the problems of the nation or help the plight to get better.

Sure, they’ll all promise it when the time is come for ballots, but will they do it, no. It’s the same great scam over and over and over…etc, a suit stands in front of crowd gets their votes and makes a career out of what should be an honor.

Working for a few days a year then taking the rest of it off, tossing around some legal jargon (which they probably don’t understand) and then campaigning to get re-elected, using the same lies they used last time.

We’re used to it, we expect politicians to lie.

That’s despicable. We expect the people who lead us to lie to us…

I’m not going to tell you who to vote for. I’m not going to give you some savvy political advice. All I want out of this is to make a few people think.

Think about the simple fact there is no leader to unite a nation unto its salvation. Sooner or later all nations fail and fall Egypt, Greece, Rome there’s not yet been an exception.

I’m an American, an (voting) American who’s tired of crappy politicians and a fractured, divided and leaderless country (leaderless in the sense of none to unite all). Men died to see a free country; something tells if the vast majority of those men saw us now they’d be sorry.

But we don’t hope in a nation do we?

We hope in God. In Jesus.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Outsiders

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, he world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:18-19



We don’t get a choice in being hated or not. As Christians we are naturally the outsiders, the misfits, the one’s that look different.

The withdrawal at the mention of what you are, “Christian.” The hesitation in their eyes at the mention of that name, his name, “Jesus.” The eagerness to die for the Gospel and willingness to let everything go to see the shadow of everything pass away.

But Jesus is the one who picks us out of the world to be outsiders and misfits.
He is the one who saves us so it should be that he is the one who chooses us.

As Christians we’ll be hated, things won’t ever be in our favor because we believe, we’ll suffer, we’ll die, and we’ll be abandoned and cold. Yet we expect things to be fine and dandy, happy clappy fluffy fun for all of life.

If that’s your reason for being Christian then don’t stick around.

Last I saw the word hated doesn’t mean fine and dandy, it means to be passionately disliked, you know the kind of dislike with a bullet not a teddy bear.

Out of the world he chose us to be castaways in a far land, outsiders in our own communities.

Because as outsiders we are insiders, we’re in the favor of God the salvation of Jesus. As misfits of the world we are suited quite nicely for the wardrobe as sons and daughters of the King.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Amaze

I was able to go see The Civil Wars again last night in Lawrence. This was my second time and still it was amazing.

The crowd would scream, clap, whop and holler at the end of a song, yet during the song they (all 1200 of ‘em) would be still enough to hear a mouse squeak.

I don’t know if you could call it awestruck (or perhaps star struck), but I’m certain it’d have been admiration in the least if not much more.

Amazed.

Standing in front of a stage filled with just two people, a guitar, and a piano.

It’s how a believer stands before the cross, only in a smaller sense.

We stand before a hunk of wood and are truly amazed and awestruck, not by the melody it produces (though this melody becomes our song) or by the craftsmanship of the wood (though it’s roughness tells of the life we’ll lead) but by the act, which was done there.

Yet more than the finished act we look at the re-taken life. Laid down and picked up at the will of the one who lived/lives it.

So, yes, The Civil Wars were amazing to see again, and yes, their songs are still powerful for me, and yes, they are a shadow of the truth which we’ll know in time.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Obsessed

So, I’ve got a cold. Last night I was up off an on the whole night (2:53-4am all at once. Bam.), not really feeling icky just awake. But my mind was racing with thoughts and images and ideas (probably why I couldn’t sleep).

Recently I was hooked on Lost. The show that was all the rage a while ago (I know, I’m behind.) I also started reading The Hunger Games. The thoughts shooting through my dome last night were everything from, “How do they get Claire back? (Lost)” to, “Is The Hunger Game trilogy three different Hunger Games or does the story stay with Katniss?” (If anyone tells me the answer to either it’ll be a bad day… for them.)

I was obsessing. I restlessly tossed and turned. Luther (the cat) just sat on the bed watching.
But then the thought occurred to me, “What’s the point? These fictions are taking over my reality.”

We obsess so easily about different little things shows, books, relationships and I am chief offender. But to be obsessed with the glory of God would be another matter entirely.
Think about it.

Men who’ve been in this line of obsession have and do shape our present. The Apostles, Augustine, Martin Luther etc… Consumed by one thing, seeing God glorified over and above all else.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sitting at Death's Door

There’s a chair, it’s a big soft one, sitting in the corner of the coffee shop. It’s inhabited by all kinds of folks throughout a day. Youngsters reveling with friends, older men reading the paper, a man receiving news of a relative’s death.

He’d probably just been to the hospital or nursing home, saying his final goodbye. Coming here to get away and, ‘work,’ which was really just an excuse to not be in the room at the same time as Death.

He’d probably met Death before in some dark alley a world away or in an open street fighting a war for someone else’s freedom explaining his reticence to be around it when it came knocking this close. Trying to forget the final gasps, trying to loose himself in something, anything else.

His phone rang, sounding like a funeral march in his ears. He answered. It was done. They were gone. There was nothing left for him to do but to marvel at the sun that shown on his back and feel the heat of the day, the warmth of life.

The same call had been made before, the call of death.

But instead of being made with a phone it was made with nails and a spear. The thud of the hammer and the thrust of the spear spilled and spelled certain seemingly unalterable death for its victim.

The family wept. The friends sat in their chairs and stared in unbelievable disbelief at some unfocused distant point.

But soon they would know what the man in the chair at the coffee shop knew death isn’t a vault anymore, it’s a revolving door. The one they wept for would shatter the vault’s door leaving alive and free to reign.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Things I Struggle With...

1) Loving The Avett Borthers, NEEDTOBREATHE, The Civil Wars, Adele (Ahem-Taylor-Swift-ahem), and Mumford & Sons too much.

2) Agnostics: I was one. And I love logic.

3) Moralistic Therapeutic Deism: The American Church’s fake Gospel. It’ll make sound truth of Matthew 7:21-22.

4) Lady Gaga: What’s a ‘gaga?’

5) ‘Christians’ taking their list of conscionable (extra-biblical) morals and placing it on everyone (i.e. legalism).

6) Folks that ask for advice then don’t take the advice. The Three Musketeers had a quote about that, “As a general rule, 'he had once said, 'people ask for advice only in order not to follow it; or, if they do follow it, in order to have someone to blame for giving it.'-Athos”

7) WSU’s Earth Science class, last week we learned about Mars (?!?), and all the videos are from 1980, so mullets prevail.

8) JalapeƱo Cheez-its. They look like the original, but they are most definitely not the original, surprise!

9) Straight evolution: If it was Theistic evolution I might could understand a bit more, but straight up undiluted evolution makes me go, “Whoa, that’s a lot of faith,”

10) The Silmarillion, it’s good, but you need to focus to read it.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Grasping at the Trinity

This weekend while we were in John 1:1-18 we discussed, in part, the Trinity, the doctrine of the person(s) of God. While Mathematically it makes no sense (3 is 1), and all of our descriptions of it fail (for all we have is what we know and all we know, save God, is creation) this doctrine is reasonable and sound.

Another way to say God is Trinitarian in nature is to say, “God is love.”

God is love means God is Trinity.

Let me explain.

God the Father is eternal. He is the most perfect Being in the entire universe and as such he deserves worship from all other beings including himself. Therefore he must love himself above all things. He, the Father, loves himself in such a perfect fashion so as to be the person of the Son. The love between the Father and the Son is so perfect and so complete so as to be the person of the Spirit.

And since God is eternal we cannot say that there was any one time when God was not God and the Trinity did not exist.

This love is one. It cannot be added to nor subtracted from. For we cannot say the love between the three was so perfect and so complete so as to create another being (for there is no other being).

3 is 1 and is stronger than any other number. Given three points you’ll have a triangle, the strongest form in geometry, engineering and architecture.

Yet the roles of these three (one) are different.

Think of a play. (This description fails in the end but serves a purpose)

Seeing the director as God the Father, the stage manager as God the Spirit, and the lead actor as God the Son. Such are their roles.

The Father oversees, coordinates and plans the play; he is the orchestrator of it all. The Spirit moves props and flats into position so as to make the movements of the Son effective. Thus all eyes are turned onto the Son, the one sent into human history to redeem.

Yet the Trinity is still beyond us and for that we worship God, because we must confess his ways to be higher than our ways and his thoughts to be higher than our thoughts and his very being to be higher than our being.

Remembering Psalm 19

My class memorized Psalm 19 in kindergarten. I remember reciting it in our little room and then in front of all our parents at the end of the year for ‘graduation.’

I remember thinking the words, “handiwork,” “bridegroom,” and “firmament (we used the NKJV, I think)” being weird words.

I remember this Psalm. Not by heart, but I remember it.

“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.”

“The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.”

“The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.”

“The Commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.”

“The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.”

“The rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.”

Great, right? But I’ve long thought knowing, remembering these things is fine and dandy, but if there is no living these things then the knowledge of them is faux (and something tells me Mrs. Dyck wasn’t having us memorizes this to just know it).

So, here’s to it Psalm 19, pointing us to Jesus. The law, the testimony, precepts, commandment, fear, and rules point us directly to Him.

The law does because only Jesus could uphold it perfectly; the testimony of the Lord because all of the testimony of Scripture is about Jesus; the precepts of the Lord because these points us to the prefect God-Man; the Commandment, because we must believe the Gospel; the fear of the Lord because Jesus is the only one who intercedes between the wrath of God and man; the rules because Christ is the rule of all of life.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The New Year… So Far

1) Reading The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien and geeking out about it.

2) My cat, Luther, is no longer echolocation-kitty – he’s falls-in-the-toilet-kitty.

3) When I heard Boeing was closing its Wichita plant I thought of the song “Further Along” by Josh Garrels

4) 2012 has started off with a furry.

5) I’m taking a pre-session Earth Science class. Yesterday's lesson was about Mars. Thank you, WSU.

6) Colossians 3:12-17 is good stuff and Romans 7:24-25 still defines me.

7) My Christmas tree is still up.

8) This years reading list (so far): The Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, The Arabian Nights

9) Where’s a place that works on record players?

10) Scotland. I wanna see Scotland.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Half Smoked Cigarette

He was looking for a cigarette in the cracks of the sidewalk. Not one he’d dropped, but one that had been half smoked by some cold individual just wanting a fix and to get back inside.

Thinking he’d found a good one he smiled and pulled a rag from his pocket. But as he stooped to pick it up he saw it was just a filter. Quickly he returned to his walk past the window.

The urge had probably begun a few blocks back, thinking a smoke would warm him up on the sunny yet chilly day. But the urge would return, he knew even if the one he spied had been worth the smoking.

Just on the other side of the window pane a man tore a page of The Wichita Eagle into long strips after he’d read it’s entirety. He’d done it to every page he’d finished, his OCD spurring him to do so.

The urge was so strong and the satisfaction so immediate, but so short lived. He’d begin reading the next page with a fever.

The fix didn’t fix anything.

Another and another and another would be needed throughout the hour throughout the day. Tomorrow a man would walk the streets looking for a half smoked cigarette while another would tear every page of the paper into long strips.

This boat is full of all of us.

Thinking the fix will cure us. Thinking the outcome will save us. Running from temporary to temporary, wanting them to be our saviors. But we know tomorrow will bring the same hunt for satisfaction.

Maybe we’ll get it, we’ll understand nothing but Jesus will satisfy and save, or maybe we’ll keep hunting for the next fix. But writing can’t save and neither can music. Her beauty isn’t enough and his style won’t do. We need the living God to do it, not a cigarette or some paper.

Monday, January 2, 2012

More Tragedy

I finished The Three Musketeers last week (year). It didn’t end the way I thought it would. Most of our stories now (movies count as stories – but their still not as good as books) end happily.

The boy gets the girl and the whole world smiles. The bad guy is defeated and the good guys win. While in the overarching scheme of everything I agree, but in the day-to-day plot of a lifetime tragedy is very much the main course.

Yet at the same time it’s possible to look back over your own history and see the good of it all. While it was deeply tragic then it now serves a better purpose.

All of that to ask this, “Why don’t we have more tragedies on the screen?”

When Romeo dies and so does Juliet. When Constance dies in the arms of her lover. When the family remains broken.

I know the answer; “We want to escape from the hurt for an hour or so into a fiction.”

Well that’ll work for a day but not for another. Sooner or later pain must be faced and a lesson must be learned. The more we run the less we’ll see and our ignorance will continue to grow. For pain is a great teacher (not a comfortable one, neither was my soccer coach, but he got results).

So my thought is this: stop running from all your fears and worries and start facing them. Yet in all of this facing look to Jesus.

He perfectly faced your greatest fear.