Monday, February 27, 2012

Preaching/Oscar Thoughts

1) I’m very excited to sit down.

2) Water.

3) Did anyone listen?

4) I should take a nap… but I know I won’t.

5) The Artist… Made possible by the Americans, twice.

6) Hugo = Adele of the Academy Awards

7) Ryan Seacrest had ashes dumped on him. I was joy filled.

8) Every time Billy Crystal opened his mouth I heard Monsters Inc.

9) Watching the Oscars with good friends made it worth watching.

10) I ate bacon three times this weekend & used it for making a point in my sermon twice.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Week Long Thoughts

1) Kat (the cat) was fixed on Wednesday 'cause she was broken. And is sporting a trendy shaved tummy, leg, and neck.

2) I regularly have two cups (at least) of coffee in the morning.

3) We say we believe x but we act according to y; when will our practical theology match our spoken belief?

4) I had lunch with my 6th grade math teacher, I sucked at math then too. Consistency.

5) My Grandma and I have a unique relationship.

6) The Protestants need another reformation. One away from themselves.

7) Preaching this weekend over John 4:1-42 (yes, 42 verses, buckle up).

8) Ever had a day when you have it planned out and want to do a certain thing(s) but are never able to get to it? Yea, that's been my week.

9) Wichita State University has homecoming this week... One of these days I'll legitamately be out of high school. I promise.

10) India!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Scriptural Logic

Scriptural Logic i.e. logic which is defined by Scripture, taking the philosophy of Christianity and arguing for it based on the merits and cohesiveness of the Bible.

However for Scriptural Logic to be true or even plausible 1) God must be real, 2) God must be sovereign, 3) God must be Trinitarian, 4) God must be glorified.

First, if God is not seen as real then Scripture is nothing more than a compilation of odd stories to be used like Aesop’s Fables. For if God is not real, then Scripture is not holy, and it’s words are not useful apart from refutation against those misguided believers.

Second, God must be sovereign. He must be in absolute complete control of all things ever. Evil, good, bad, fun, sad all things must needs be under his authoritative control all lives all desires all wants. For if God is not sovereign then Scripture is not but a compilation of stories wherein God’s will is mutable and may be acted upon and changed by the will of man.

Third, God must be Trinitarian. God must be seen as acting and moving throughout the entirety of Scripture as the three-in-one God he is. For if God is not seen, as Trinitarian Scripture becomes the action of an ever-changing god who in one moment is capricious and in the next he is vindictive and teenager-ish.

Fourth, God must be glorified. The aim of all of creation, the end for which it was made must primarily be the glory of God. So it is understood that from creation to re-creation God has done everything, from the fall of Satan to the fall of man to the cross, from death to life, salvation to damnation, love to hate all things are done for himself, by himself to the glory of himself. Therefore in the gospel message God is aiming at glorifying himself by gather worshipers for his namesake.

If God is not about glorifying himself then Scripture can only be read as a God who is both merely responding to the wills of his subjects and is being vindictive and capricious for no reason.

Scriptural Logic is, or at least, should be apart of the Christian life, because in many ways God is believed only to be a stopgap for the times of life, which are difficult. Rather than life being pressed into the mold of God and the leftovers being thrown away, God is forced into the mold of life and is consequently a bastardized form of God, which is not God at all is leftover. But since it suits the shaper their belief is characterized by nothing else than mismatched verses and false pretenses.

Whereas in the process of Scriptural Logic one cannot at any one time say they have arrived at a point of understanding the Godhead and therefore they must, for they are forced to by sheer beauty, continually be in awe of the Creator of such a system.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Free Will

“Love God and do what you want.”

It’s probably my most favorite Martin Luther quote.

Rather than getting hung up on the is-this-God’s-will-for-my-life question (like so many do) resting in the comfort of his downright all-around big-ness.


This is not a pithy word. Something which means supreme ruler ought to catch us, shake us up a bit and toss our brains around to get the idea that the one this adjective describes is the supreme (i.e. better than everything) ruler (i.e. in charge).

“O but wait, I may choose the wrong person and end up messing up the will of God.”

There’s no nice way of pointing out the massive logical inconsistency wherein one confesses to believe in a 'sovereign' God whose will can be screwed up by his subjects. It’s just ignorant and amazingly prideful to think the creature can highjack the Creator.

“But free will…”

If an example can be given where a will is free then I’ll believe free will to be true. But until a will is not in reaction or precaution to any outside stimuli I cannot submit to the idea or ‘doctrine’ of man’s free will. (Even outside of Christianity I cannot see free will as true. We eat, beacue we need it, we sleep because we need it, we procreate because of biology. Outside stimuli crontrol us even outside of Christianity.)

Rather submission to the Sovereign God is a bit sounder than that of my own flimsy desires.

Love God and do what you want. It’s a twofold deal. First, love God. Second, do what you want.
You see a fundamental change within us is required for a dead sinner to love the Living Perfection, which is God (Eph 2:1-10). First there must be life given to the dead (John 3:1-21), and then the sinner must be washed clean of their unrighteousness (Ezekiel 36:24-27). But none of that is contingent on the will of man.

Love God… and do what you want. These two things are completely apart from the will of man. If I am free I will not love God (1 John 4:19). If I am free my wants are a slave to sin. God loves us, therefore we love him. God saved and now we are slaves to him (Eph 2:10).

“But I don’t like that.”

I don’t like that I don’t have an iPhone 4s, but that won’t change the reality of my having just a sad little iPhone 4. I don’t like that it’s cold outside but my not liking it won’t change it. I don’t like whinny people, but people whine (… I whine).

Are you catching my drift? What we like and don’t like won’t change reality.

It’s a trust deal in the end. Do we trust God to change our wants to be more in line with his own, or do we trust ourselves to see ourselves through our lives?

I’d submit if one fears messing up the plan of God, then one is trusting in themselves and not in God.

He is either the Soveriegn God (in complete control of your life) or he is not God.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Pre-Weekend Thoughts

1) I don’t get a weekend, duh.

2) 5th year reunion for high school tonight… only my high school would have a 5-year reunion.

3) If I eat at Il Vicino enough does that mean I can start getting free samples (and by 'samples' I mean 'dinner')?

4) College Algebra, I. Will. Win.

5) Kat (who was Luther, but is now a girl and soon to be an it), decides when I get up in the morning.

6) I am the proud owner of a real, tie-it-yourself, bow tie.

7) I’m going to India!

8) Mega church’s super pastor more often than not is not your pastor. Listen to what your pastor preaches, he knows your heart better than the guy in wherever.

9) Skittles, coffee, and books these are a few of my faviourite things (and yes, that word needs a ‘u’ in it.)

10) I try, at every turn, to make the Elliott School of Communication like Hogwarts. So far I have Professor Dumbledore and Ron Weasley. (Gimili from LOTR is in the Geology department.)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Story of Stories

I finished reading The Hunger Games on Monday night (yea, this post is late oops.). They were like 1984 for teens. I was really enthralled by them and frankly they kept showing up in my mind throughout any given day and I woke up a few times re-playing images in my mind of them. PTSD, is what they describe too well, a 17 year old girl’s attempt at dealing with killing and being the face of a revolution.

But what I liked the most is no one had told me anything about them. I was on the road for the first time, I’d never seen the view before and never even heard of its beauty.

Like the first time I heard U2’s Where the Streets Have No Name (but not as amazing), like the first time through Romans, Inception, Jonathan Edwards, or The Count of Monte Cristo (since the movie… sucked).

Stories are like that, no? They entrap our minds and force us to imagine (something we don’t do enough of as adults) all sorts of possibilities.

I really do think it’s an overly used cliché, “Your life is a story,” and sad too, cause the impact of the statement is completely lost on us. It’s true though. Just ‘cause it’s not full of Hollywood ‘beauties’ doesn’t make it any less of a tale.

We seem to trudge (like the guy from Knight’s Tale) along like life is not exciting enough. When people are dying all around us (literally and spiritually); when a war is raging within us; when love is root deep inside us. The commons of WSU is loaded with people, all of them with unique narratives.

As believers in Jesus we should understand this more than most, as those who’ve been brought from death to life, from being beggars to princes.

So, here’s the deal: stop looking to something else for fulfillment and look to the God of all to satisfy your cravings for an ‘interesting’ life. He can create the minds who created the stories, songs, and movies so he can create something better out of you… Plus to judge your life by a book is like comparing a mountain to the flint hills.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A New Day

Because something is significantly wrong with a creature that sacrifices its children’s lives to settle its differences.” (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire)

A whole book series wrapped into a line, after the characters have been run through the ringer and the plot has nearly wound itself up into a beautiful tapestry this one line plays the chord through the entire series.

It begins with the attempted saving of the innocent, and ends with its lose. The story in the middle could really be anyone’s. Yours, mine, whomever you want to put in the hero’s position.

I won’t turn this into politics.

I will turn this to point at you.

Will this be us? Is this you? Does this line paint us?

I can’t answer this for you. I can’t yet even answer this for me.

We’re all in the story, every one of us. There’s no escaping our character’s development, no avoiding the tragedy and comedy, no stopping the coming crescendo.

But in the night, when it’s dark, we feel the vacancy of our economy, the economy of our hearts, the one that pines to be more and less, all and nothing. Really wanting to be carried away in something bigger than us, something, some cause which is worth our lives and deaths.

Still this quote rings true in my ears,

I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.” (Lord of the Rings)


Here it stands.

We are playing the part we were born to play.

We are not our own.

We never were.

Yet hope.

Scarlet Forgivness

"Come along Madame Hester, and show your scarlet letter in the market place."

The end of church discipline when carried in the wrong direction, is this: "Come let us tell all what you have done you brazen hussy. Tell all that you have sinned; that you are excommunicated."

Many have recently been telling their tales of spiritual abuse. Whether it was a story of church discipline gone terrible wrong, the failures of a pastor to be who he's called to be, or the subjection of the people to the wills of a man and not to God. All bear resemblance to the story of the Scarlet Letter.

My question is this: who is man to judge repentance?

Yes, as church leadership goes there is a desire to know one is truly turning from form sin. But it is also the desire of all in church leadership to know the salvation of all their people, but they (we) do not. These two things are intertwined.

Repentance and salvation go hand in hand. And neither can be formally judged by any man.

Evidences of repentance can be shown, and they can be fake. No evidence can be seen and the repentance can be more real than any before it.

I am a cynic. I disbelieve all shows of emotion. I fight emotion in services. I don't want to be swayed by bland emotionalism; I want to be swayed by reason, sound Scriptural reason.

But that's just it. What I want has no bearing on what actually is.

We want to see repentance as an immediate thing. But it's not. We want evidence of a soul's conversion, but sanctification is a lifelong process and therefore more than anything the exercise of patience should be the primary role of brothers confronting brothers. (1 Cor. 13:4-7, in a book full of parience.)

But a piece of where we live will always look for immediacy. Our culture is the clock.

Repentance is not always fast and sanctification is a lifetime.

God works in mysterious ways. We all agree to this. So why is repentance shoved into a formula?

Yet all sin bears consequences, it's the nature of it. Some are both legal consequence as well as eternal, others eternal consequence and no legal. Where is the church to damn? We've been given the message of reconciliation. We are ambassadors of Jesus. We are not the ones to damn.

Yet sinners judge and damn out of place. We like to play as though we're gods and lend our voice in the government of the universe, casting out here and bringing in there all for the glory of ourselves.

Thus we forgive, as we have needed to be forgiven and love our brothers in repentance.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Far Too Common Story

She walked into the bar. Tired, worn down and out. The bags under her eyes were obvious, the same clothes she had on yesterday cling to her skin. There’s a look of desperation in her face, of worry and torment.

Flopping into a seat near the bar she orders her drink. Huddling over it once it arrives she begins to gingerly milk it little sips here, little sips there. Tears, and possibly a scream seem to be close to bursting from her.

She’d been here last night, this bar. But then she was vibrant and happy, laughing at the stupid jokes and dancing the night away. But now she seems broken.

He’d been a nice enough guy. Seemed to genuinely care. He bought a few rounds for her and her friends and made polite small talk. After she’d denied his advances of becoming a little too physical he left. She thought nothing of it at all.

She’d parked too far away from the safety of the lights, she’d said goodbye to her friends, and she was alone.

He took her. He raped her.

Here she sits the next day weeping into a cup of coffee. Trying to find what she’d lost at the place she had it last.

It’s the story of far to many women.

It’s the fear they’ll never tell.

But it’s a travesty.

To believe the lie of being, ‘broken,’ and therefore unwanted. To remember the youth group teaching, “Who would want someone who’s not a virgin?” Yet that’s the lie.

God wants the broken. It’s the culmination of Christianity. That the destitute are redeemed, that the broken are made whole.

There’s a Redeemer who’s come to save. The righteous has no need of saving, it’s the sick that need the Doctor, and it’s the broken that need the Mender. It’s the raped that need the Healer.

So to Jesus she runs, to him, who'll treat her like the daughter she is, she clings. Away from the mire of the past and into the glory of the future. Because hope has come.

In all seriousness: If this story is you, don't let the boy who did this get away. There are many who will help. There are friends who'll listen. You, of all people, are not alone.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Thinking Things Through

While I worked on some things this picture came across my mind. The passage is John 2:13-22.

The temple was created for worship, much like mankind was created for worship. It was to be pure, to be spotless, to be the meeting place of God and man. Sound familiar?

Once was a garden wherein man lived and communed with God. God had made man to worship Him. It was the reason for creation, to glorify God… It still is the reason for creation.

But man sinned and fell.

The Temple created for worship, intended for nothing else but worship, fell.

Then Jesus came in and whipped out the traders, turned over the root of the issue, the money, and cleansed the Temple.

John 2:13-22 is a picture of the Gospel, of what Jesus does in the life of his people.

Traders buying, selling while the moneychangers finance it all inhabits you. Yet Jesus comes crashing into your life, whip in hand, and doesn’t simple go for the small issues, the pigeons and goats, he turns over the root of the problem, your sin filled heart. Then by the blood of himself he cleanses you and calls you, “Mine.”

Yet we are constantly being made new. Sin is continuously being routed out by the work of the Spirit, the Helper.

Jesus has done precisely what was planned. Cleansed.

Beautiful, no? To be the temple of the Spirit, the dwelling place of God. Him moving and working and causing life to be and sancification to occur. Wonderful.

Yet still there's sin.

This shows how deep the problem goes. Everything we are is corrupted by sin. Everything (Errything).

The situation ought to seem a little desperate. That we're all hypocritical messes just waiting to explode. But today I'll go to lunch at The Anchor and talk like a leader.

Because there's only one reason why life can carry on while a tooth and nail war is raged in your soul.

"My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness... His oath, his covenant, his blood supports me in the whelming flood. When all around my soul gives way, he then is all my hope and stay."

At least this must be the aim.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Evangelical Leprosy

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD). It’s a blight on evangelicalism. It really is a disease inside the Christian Church.

Let’s take the idea one word at a time.

Morals. Lists of rights and wrongs made up by every individual person to live a good life. No drugs, no pre-marital sex, no cursing, no alcohol, yes church, yes trying to be kind, yes being a ‘good’ person. The church, meeting place, is teaching how to have a better life, and be a better you, and managing debt well, and have a better marriage/parenting/spouse/fill-in-the-blank-here.

Therapy. We all know this one. There’s no guessing what it’s about. Making us feel good about who we are and what we’ve been/are. No pushing to change only the desire to see just a few more 'how to’s' added to the list of morals from above because hey, God loves you.

Deism. Deism is the belief in a Supreme Being who created the universe. But deism is nowhere near Christian. Deism holds that this Creator created then left us to play everything out. The clock-winder-god. He wound the clock and now it sits on his mantel only to be glimpsed when wanted. This is not Christianity. Not. At. All.

Morals won’t save you.

Therapy won’t make you well.

Deism doesn’t do anything.

Morals won’t save you because you can’t be good enough (Romans 3).

Therapy won’t make you well because pride kills (Psalm 31; 59:12; Prov. 8:13…).

Deism won’t save you because it is absolutely void of the Gospel.

Let this be crystal clear. The cross is central to the Christian faith. Jesus is what separates Christians from all other religions. To call deism ‘Christian’ is like calling a mouse an elephant and the moon the sun. 1) It is a lie. 2) It is a blatant disregard for the way God has made things. 3) It is pure ignorance.

It’s why we preach the Gospel. It’s why we talk about the brutality of the cross and the glory of the resurrection. It’s why Christianity is Jesus and not morals or therapy or deism.

Quite frankly - I'll go Puritanical in my speech here - this way of teaching (MTD) needs to die. Pastors who preach this will be welcomed into hell by the screams of their congregants, I don't doubt this. "Whoa, that's a little harsh Sam." I'd agree with you, if it wasn't the glory of God and the saving of souls at stake. Wishy-washy belief makes for non-commital people which causes heresy that is not Christian.

And this heresy staralizes people to the Gospel, because why would a 'good person' need saving?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Mercy Falling From the Sky

The rain falls; I can hear it out my window. The thunder claps, frightening the cat. The grey morning begins to shine. Mercy is falling from the sky.

Often the thought never sticks and the idea floats away that all we know and all we have is a mercy so undeserved.

We deserve immediate death.

The replacement of this rain with the fires of hell, but yet it rains on outside.

How long will it take for us to see?

The party doesn’t last, the drink doesn’t quench, and the cigarette must be followed by another. Thing upon thing we’ve used to supplant the Supreme. And time after time we’ve seen them to fail.

Insane is what we are, the textbook definition tells us. Repeating the same action hoping for a different outcome.



Frees us from our repeating of nothing and causes us to do something. Saves us from our captivity and calls us to be satisfied in him. To throw away all the ignorant vices we once had and cling to the cross.

While it won’t be easy, it’ll be worth it. While it won’t be safe, it’ll be worth it. While the journey will kill us, it’ll bring us to our Savior whose beckoning us home.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sin No More

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

That was one of the thoughts from Monday’s post. As I wrote it then I knew I’d want to do a follow-up on it for more than one reason.

First, because it’s a massive statement to be thought let alone said.

Second, because of recent issues involving church discipline.

While in some instance the passage this quote is taken from is considered an extra-biblical text (for more info: here). The theme of the story, and the story itself does not deviate from or give a different picture of Jesus in any way whatsoever. So it’s safe to assume this story actually happened, just not in the chronological order assumed in John.

But that’s beside the point, the point is, “Go and sin no more,” a sinner being forgiven.

“What? How could Jesus say this to someone even though he knew they’d sin again.”

Two things.

First, why would Jesus say, “Go and sin as little as possible”? Does that make since? Nu-huh.

Second, Jesus is a sinner’s forgiveness. It’s the point of his coming, to take all (by all I mean all) of the sins of sinners and pay for them. Leaving the sinner as though they’d never sinned. (Which doesn’t allow for ‘living-like-hell’ syndrome, but for gratitude.)

“… As the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. (Col 3:13)” This ought to hit hard.
We forgive and call for ourselves and others to, “Go and sin no more,” because it is precisely what Jesus did to and for us.

So in terms of church discipline this means we forgive. The bit about forgiving 70 times 7 (maaaath/ Matt 18:21-23) isn’t just for some and not for others, it’s for all, when we are sinned against we forgive.

As it comes to repentance I want to know someone is truly repentant, but will I? No. I won’t truly know if someone is truly repentant, the same way I won’t truly know someone is a believer. It’s not in my hands or capability to know. Sure it’s possible to have a reasonable assumption, but in the end it’s just an educated guess (like true false on a test).

The point is this: go and sin no more trusting Jesus to be the final authority on their repentance and their forgiveness, the same way you trust him to be yours.