Archive for May, 2005

I’ll make this simple

May 30th, 2005 No comments

As I am sure you are aware (the BBQs were a pretty good indicator), today is Memorial Day. I was thinking about writing up a long entry on what Memorial day means and its origins and everything. I decided against it because this holiday should be simple. Its meaning is simple: We are to honor those that have given their lives in service to our country. Regardless of your political affiliation, I hope you recognize that our soldiers fight and stand up for the freedoms we all too often take for granted. We think our freedom is free (true freedom is free though), but those that fight for it truly understand what it means.

If you would like the deeper story about Memorial Day, head over here, here, or here.

On a side (but significant) note, I believe that true freedom only comes from God and it is given without condition. We don’t have to do anything for God’s freedom and there is no way we can earn it. Just accept it and it is yours. Temporal freedom is nothing compared to God’s offer to us. Unfortunatley, temporal freedom must be faught for and defended.

I hope your weekends were filled with sun, BBQs, friends, family, laughs, memories, and thanks.

Categories: Politics, Social Commentary, Theology Tags:

Smoke ‘em if you’ve got ‘em

May 28th, 2005 9 comments

Dan, Sean, Greg, Chad, and I enjoying some fine Cubans and some fine company.

One advantage to living in Canada is Cuban cigars are legal. I had never smoked a cigar in my life but Greg suggested that I should bring some fine imports down with me. Finally last night we got together and hung out on a street corner on Capital Hill at 2:00 am and started a trek towards lung cancer… ok, maybe not a trek… I must say I enjoyed it, not something I could do very often, but I am definitely down with hanging out with good friends and taking a few puffs.

Doesn’t Dan look like the Cuban poster-boy with that shirt? And take note that to compliment the dignified nature of and / or pretentiousness of our cigar smoking, we had root beer and Mountain Dew. Classic. Good times had by all… until this morning when it tasted like (in Chad’s words) something had crawled in my mouth and died.


PS. Does anyone know all the “rules” to cigar smoking? They all sound pretty pretentious if you ask me. But I am not quite as “cultured” as some.

Categories: Daily Life Tags:

Yet Another Star Wars: Episode III Review

May 26th, 2005 10 comments

Do you really want to read another? Well here are my thoughts that can be added to the ocean of thoughts already out there.

I saw Revenge of the Sith last Sunday at Seattle Cinerama with some good friends and I must say I enjoyed the third (or sixth) installment from Lucas. There was good and there was bad, a light and dark side if you will.

Where the lines cheesy? Yes. Did I expect that? Yes. Was it better than the first two Episodes? Yes. Is it annoying when I ask questions and then answer them? Yes. Ok, here is my take on the cheese factor of Star Wars. It has ALWAYS been there. I am still not too sure why people were so surprised when Episodes I and II had horrible lines (although I suppose I could be the poor acting from Christensen). Sith had some classic cheese moments: Padme’s “hug me” was right up there (although not pulled off quite as well) as Leia’s “hold me”, Vader’s “noooooo” was quite intense, and I am not sure if it was as cheesy or not as cheesy as Luke’s “noooooo” (after being told “I am your father.”).

I do give props to Lucas for bridging the two series’ pretty well with a minimum of holes. I was impressed that Leia could remember her mother being “sad” - must have been the force through the womb. R2 also didn’t seem to remember Obi-Wan and visa versa, I guess they had Obi’s memory erased with 3P0′s. Yoda also seems to be under the same memory spell because he didn’t remember R2 either. Oh well, no biggie. I can over look the others because bridging the gap was a large task.

Grievous? Ok, he was kind of a cool character, but what was with his tuberculosis? I just assumed it would be explained, so I waited, and then I waited some more, and then I saw credits…

“I have a new mission for you.” What? I know Lucas wanted to bridge the movies well, but this just felt out of place. Yes, it totally explains how Obi-Wan and Yoda can come back to help our young Luke, but it felt very constructed.

The special effects were great, as should be expected from Mr. ILM. The fighting scenes were very intense and exciting, they made (Old) Vader’s, (Old) Obi-Wan’s, and Luke’s lightsaber abilities look anorexic.

Chewie’s cameo was great, especially since he carried Yoda around. And did anyone else see the Millennium Falcon at one of the docking ports?

My biggest disappointments: Vader’s reveal in Episode V will now have very little impact. Yoda’s reveal about the sister Skywalker will also have little impact. These two facts make me sad. As Kim suggests, I will make my kids watch IV-VI first and then I-III.

Oh, AND, Cinerama didn’t show the Narnia trailer! How LAME is that?

I look forward to seeing it again! If anyone wants to go, let me know, I will be down.

Categories: Daily Life, Movies Tags:

Regent Tradition Conference

May 24th, 2005 6 comments

This past Saturday I headed back to Regent College for their Tradition Conference with guest speakers and Emeritus faculty Eugene Peterson and Bruce Waltke.

Here are the things of note (at least that I took down) that I thought were insightful. Also, I have some recordings of the sessions, they aren’t the best quality, but if you would like them, I could send them. This is a pretty long post, but I feel it is worth it. If you find any hypocrisy, it is probably in my poor summary, or maybe they are / I am just challenging your belief! ;)

Bruck Waltke spoke on money and what a few Proverbs had to say about that topic.

“Wise Advice About Smart Money”

We are in danger of living by the world’s proverbs and not God’s. We are called to live by God’s commands and the Proverbs can help illustrate how to live. Proverbs give a philosophy of living and behavior. Proverbs also tend to say more about money more than any other topic. We can exegete (and Waltke has here and here) proverbs will take on a deeper, more meaningful meaning instead of the usual “sound bite” interpretations. Proverbs can be read as a full collection and not just the individual sayings.

Chapter 10 has the first major unit and suggests that earthly treasures have no lasting value (even if they have some temporary value) but righteousness has true value. In proverbs, righteousness is defined as serving the community over yourself or even more specifically, disadvantaging yourself for the advantage of others. There is also a practical side in this section: money is needed to help people and that takes work. In our culture we want to make money quick and without having to work. Lazy hands make for poverty. Even though proverbs deals with practical situations, it is not meant to be reduced to a “how to” manual. It is a guide.

Let’s look at the dangers of money. The main danger is that money could supplant God. ANY situation that causes that is bad, regardless of what it is. Money has a way of making itself our God. God is that to which our heart clings - who or what is your God? God is that which gives us security and significance? Who or what gives you security and significance? For many people, security is in their portfolios and bank accounts. Significance is in their toys they have and carry around. Security will be found somewhere: power, manipulation, sex-appeal or even in teaching and lecturing.

You can make more money without Jesus than with Jesus. How do you deal with that? A “rich” person in Proverbs is someone who lives autonomously, someone who trusts themselves. 28.11 says that they rich are deluded. But having wealth does not mean you are “rich”; it is the attitude that will make you “rich”. The “rich” are seduced by money. Christ disadvantages himself to give to us. He perfectly illustrated righteousness. If you live like that, you are trusting God for security, not money.

Proverbs also suggests that it is also dangerous to have too much money. In Agur’s prayer in chapter 30 he asks not to be rich or poor, but simply for his daily bread (cf. Matthew 6.7-13). having too much or too little can make a relationship with God more difficult (but not impossible). Security is not what is in your pocket, but who is in your heart.

Limitations of money should also be looked at. Money cannot save us from death but it can lead us to eternal death. Psalm 49 tells us that we all die and that those who trust in wealth will have eternal death. Righteousness will deliver us from death. Proverbs 3 tells us money cannot compare to wisdom. Money can provide the food and table, but not the fellowship around it. Money can provide a house, but not a home. In North American culture we have lots of food in our houses, but little fellowship.

While money can cause problems, there are also temporal and spiritual values to money. 22.7 suggests that money can give us security against slavery. In this discussion of slavery we can’t think of the African American experience, it was different in OT times. Kidnap slavery (like African American slavery was) was a capital offense but that is not what proverbs is referring to. Indentured slavery is the common form in those times. People who defaulted on their payments would become an indentured slave. They were treated generously. Regardless of that though, having money could still keep someone out of that type of servitude. Having money would also provide you with people who could work your fields and provide for your family. In modern times we don’t have slaves, but we have dishwashers, computers, and driers. These conveniences take money. It takes money to get an education. Money can help lead to an abundant life.

Aside from those temporal benefits of money, there are also spiritual benefits. While having wealth can mitigate a loss of relationship with God, the opposite is true as well. Band conscious alienates you from God and having too much or too little can cause this. Having too little money can cause someone to take advantage of welfare systems, to take advantage of others’ generosity. 14.20-21 tells us that the poor can be shunned from society. We don’t want to be around people who are completely dependant on us. But also take note that we can’t just stop reading there, the next proverb tells us that it is a sin to despite your neighbor and that blessed are those who are kind to the needy. Having money can also enable someone to be righteous - it can often be easier to help others if you have the means to help. The problem that arises is that when you gain more and more money, you become more and more involved with the things of this world.

How do you get money and not be destroyed spiritually? God has given to us abundantly so we can use it to bless others. This is what Proverbs teaches. You teach so as to help the helpless. You share with those in need, put money into the community. Ephesians 4.28 tells us that we are to work in order to share with those in need.

Proverbs gives us wisdom to help us have enduring wealth. Fear of the Lord must come first. Humility and trust in God who has revealed himself is crucial. Submission brings lasting wealth and riches. Second is to honor God. 3.9-10 tells us that we can give God social weight by giving Him our best, our “first-fruits”. Third is to be righteous and to do righteousness. 11.23-27 says that seeking good will find favor. We are to go through life giving with an open hand. Fourth is to not become indentured to your neighbor (cf 6.1-5). Fifth is to not feed the leech (cf 30.15 and 2 Thess 3.10). Sixth is by doing hard work and not being lazy (cf 10.4-5, 6.6-11, 14.23, 24.30-34). Seventh is to be content with what you have and don’t be indulgent (cf. 21.17). Eighth is to be patient (cf 13.11). Don’t go for get rich quick schemes. Ninth is to take care of your investments (cf. 24.27 and 27.24). Tenth is to marry a competent wife (cf. 31.10) [heh :)]. And finally we should train our children to be righteous (cf 22.6). We shouldn’t just train to make money, but train to give.

Finally we should look at Proverbs 4.20-27. We should take from this book a desire to “do” and not just learn to “be”.

Eugene Peterson spoke on living in faith.

“Death and Resurrection for Saints and Other Sinners”

The practice of Death
Death is good for us, if we were immortal, we would be insufferable. ;) Looking at the life of Abraham, the binding of Isaiah (the Akedah) on Mount Moriah is a defining event. How could God command murder, and not just any murder, but murder of a beloved son. The Akedah is a defining moment that happens in the middle of Genesis. It seems that God’s promises were taken away in the Akedah. How could this story be allowed to block the path towards Jesus? This story is here to illustrate the “way of faith”.

“The way of faith” illustrated in Abraham and the Akedah is crucial to our understanding of Death and Resurrection. It is a call to living in an obedient relationship that ventures into land we know nothing about. We have to give up control. Faith entails a total reorientation towards “earth as it is in heaven”. It is also important to note that it is not our duty to impose our will or God will (or at least what we think God’s will is) on others or on the world around us. Abraham believed in God - faith was reckoned to God as righteousness. The book of Hebrews uses Abraham as the model of faith. Abraham is the dictionary by which we look up the meaning of faith. The Abraham story suggests that the way we walk on our journey is not about our “duty” (although that is included), but about faith. Abraham narrates a story in which God is personal, in which He speaks. Abraham is the model of faith, but we are not told many specific details about his live because we are not to copy every detail.

Abraham was also called to a “way of sacrifice”. Abraham was a veteran in sacrifice. He was often called to leave wherever he was and each episode brought further cleansing. The sacrificial life is the means by which a life of faith matures. Abraham did not become our model by having things explained to him, he went out and lived life - in the practice of sacrifice. Abraham is present to his son in the same way he is present to God. The phrase “Here am I” is used because Abraham is present and willing to do as God calls him to.

Faith and sacrifice are also part of the “way of testing”. In Abraham’s life, numerous altars were built, there was generosity, tithing, conception, births, covenants, judgments: everything leads up to the Akedah at Mount Moriah. Life of faith is not an abstraction, but life with real people on real ground. Mount Moriah is embedded in context. Is God a mystery we can embrace or is He a formula we can figure out to control? Nothing is as demanding on our faith as Mount Moriah. We cannot trivialize our faith, the way of faith does not serve our fantasies: it is a way to God on His terms, not ours. At Mt. Moriah, we accept a God we do not understand. Abraham failed many tests (as we do), but he still had faith and kept on going. If testing dissolves what we thought was faith, we are better off because we should not have had faith in that in the first place! If God’s testing hadn’t dissolved it, it would have dissolved our lives.

The practice of Resurrection
The practice of resurrection is something that is unique and distinctive and irreducible in Christian living. Spiritual formation entails both birth and growth. In order for us to come to maturity, to the full stature of Christ we must grow in Him. We are always to be in growth but birth has gotten more attention that growth has. Churches are often at the heart of the problem: some are more concerned with “converting” or the “born again” and not with spiritual growth in Christ. Growth in Christ is equally essential. The Church run on the adrenaline and euphoria of new birth (please see this post). Some think it is a waste of time to make growth the importance. This focus is North American style and not part of the history of the church.

Practice of Resurrection is what Spiritual Formation is all about. “Practice” implies action, it is doing something. It is not just an exercise in getting better, it is more like a participation in something larger - like practicing law or medicine. Resurrection is not something we either do or believe, it is a way of life, a resurrection life. Everything we think and do is shaped by Jesus’ resurrection. There should be an overwhelming sense of wonder in the event. Matthew uses fear and great joy. Mark uses alarm and amazement. Luke uses perplexion, burning hearts, terror, joy, wonder. John uses surprised exclamations and rejoice. The witnesses were preoccupied with Jesus’ death, that is what defined Jesus and their lives - but then it was resurrection, a complete opposite and new way of life. This new way occurs under the conditions of wonder and mystery. Fear and desire at the same time. Sudden danger, sudden beauty. This is all done on God’s terms as defined in Jesus, there is nothing we contribute to make the resurrection happen.

There are no mysteries in North America, just problems. The mentality is that if we throw enough money at something, research something enough, spend enough time on it, we can figure it out, we can solve the problem. The Christian Life and God are approached that way. We try to figure it out, we try to solve it instead of it being a mystery to be entered into. We need to recover the sense of mystery that is inherent in the Christian life that has been removed by our culture.

The work of an artist can help reclaim some of that mystery. When we are under pressure, we often don’t practice resurrection. We need to see artistry in that situation. Jesus himself employed fictions. We live in a vast world of creation and salvation. Sometimes it takes an artist to see something and help others to see in that way and see what they see.

We need to embrace the conditions in which resurrection takes place. Resurrection needs to take place in our congregations. We tend to think “if the conditions were more favorable, resurrection (growth) would work…” We need to forget these lies. You have these people, this pastor, this church! This is what the Church of Christ has always looked like - it is made up of sinners. God works with us, even at our worst and yet He makes salvation work. The conditions are also extremely ordinary. He uses us in our every day lives. Growth in Christ is often like we are on an expedition without the proper gear. We need to equip ourselves with the right gear and go from there.

What do we do to help in Spiritual Formation? This is the wrong question. We need to ask, “what does God do?” We are called not only to a life of faith and action, but a contemplative life. Adoration, appreciation, wonder are all parts of that life. We are to submissively and obediently follow and enter into resurrection on God’s terms, not ours. We should also cultivate wonder - mystery is a good thing, enter into it. Contemplation steps back and looks first at what is right before us.

So there is the just of the talks. I hope I did them justice! I guess you could order the recordings from Regent Bookstore and come up with your own summary!


Categories: Regent College, Theology Tags:

Peterson on Child Birth

May 23rd, 2005 1 comment

I have a quick soundbite for you from Eugene Peterson, translator of The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language and author of numerous books and pastoral guides.

Now let me warn you, if you are a tightly wound Christian that cannot handle anything that isn’t what you consider to be “proper” - this is not for you… really.

Eugene Peterson on the euphoria of child birth.

Enjoy ;)

Categories: Daily Life, Regent College, Religion Tags:

Midnight Potstickers

May 22nd, 2005 2 comments

I am back in Bonney Lake after a weekend of driving, listening, eating, playing, and watching. The Regent Tradition Conference went very well and will share some of Peterson’s and Waltke’s thoughts with you in a later post. I then headed south from Vancouver to Seattle and hooked up with Chad and Dan and after Dan jokingly said we should make potstickers and milkshakes I decided that we should. So at midnight we went to Safeway and bought some tasty pork sausage and other ingredients for potstickers along with some icecream and bananas for milkshakes went back to Dan’s and made some delicious snakcs. Nothing like potstickers and milkshakes at midnight! (Good combination, eh?) In the morning I headed down to Seattle Cinerama to catch Episode III with Chad, Meghan, Leann, Greg, and Angie. All I will say right now is that I really enjoyed the movie and felt they did a good job of bring the two trilogies together. I am a little bitter though because Cinerama didn’t show the Narnia trailer, how lame is that? After the movie a few of us got some tasty eatin’s at The Old Spaghetti Factory. So after a full weekend I am now back and ready for another work week!

A post with some actual content will come later!
I hope you weekends were well!

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