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How I Won 2013

At the end of 2012 I sent a group text message to a couple friends saying something like, “2012 sucked. I am going to win 2013.”

At this point I think it is pretty safe to say that I did.

I got a promotion at work. Which in turn was my first full time job. I managed to perform rather well at my job. I have been in the position for about 8 months and I have been hearing a lot of good feedback lately. I’m really happy about this.

I met a wonderful woman named Vanessa who is now my girlfriend and things are going quite well. She is very swell and we are very happy.

I stepped into a few different lead roles at church. I moved into the parking lead for a bit and then moved back to where I currently am as auditorium lead. Still kind of figuring out what all of that means, but I’m really stoked and really excited to be in this place where God has brought me.

I moved off campus. Paid off my credit card. A lot of wonderful things happened this past year.

Part of me thought it might be good to give a few of you an update on my life since many have been quite far away.

In Lamentations 3:22-24, Jeremiah the author writes “The steadfast love of The Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion” says the soul, “therefore I will gain hope in him.”

This is a wonderful picture of how we ought to respond to wonderful things that happen to us in life, however given the full context of Jeremiah’s life and Jeremiah’s message it is important to recall how much we need to remember that The Lord is our portion even when it appears that the endless mercies have run out. I assure you they haven’t but even in dry spells and time of discouragement God is enough.

Even when it seems that all is lost, that all is forgotten, when we seem to have gone too far we ought to remember that the blood of Jesus is thick enough to cover the sins of the vilest sinners as long as they believe in Him as Lord.

In the best years when we feel as if we have won the entire year, and in the worst years when we feel that Gld has abandoned us we ought to recall what Paul says in Acts 17:27 “In Him we live and move and have our being.” Here Paul takes a Cretean philosopher and reveals the Biblical truth hidden behind it the meaning showing that God sustains us through all of it.

We have our best and worst years according to his will.

Here’s to another year.

I’ve not forgotten about my month of blogging I’ve just lost motivation lately, I might write about why tomorrow.

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Happy (Belated) Birthday Jesus

On the night of Christmas as we were sitting down for dinner my brother-in-law made the suggestion that we sing happy birthday to Jesus. So we did.

At first my thought was that this was a little silly, however as we were singing I began to realize that if as Christians we are to emphasize Christ over Santa then this is an appropriate action in light of the Christmas holiday. I am still very divided on whether or not I will introduce the concept of Santa to my children and I still have a lot of time to think about it. 

John Piper recently addresses this issue in his ask pastor John podcast. It’s the last line that really makes me think “If being Jesus-focused is a killjoy for your Christmas, you don’t know him well.” What glorifies Christ most?

Having children sing Happy Birthday Jesus and making sure that he emphasis is placed upon the birth of Christ. 

In a further addition to my “Who cares when Jesus was born?” here is an article from with one of my pastors/professors concerning the date of Christmas that we traditionally celebrate it, which relates the date of the birth to be places according to the date of conception not to counteract Saturnalia or Winter Solstice. 

I am aware that I am 2 days late on posting this, and several days behind in December Doomfest but I will be making up for it.

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Communion and the Diversity of the Church

As a child I recall singing a song at church called “Jesus Loves the Little Children” the lyrics went:

Jesus loves the little children all the little children of the world, red and yellow black and white we’re all children in his sight Jesus loves the children of the world.

So it’s a little culturally insensitive but proves the point. I serve communion at church quite often and I find that I often notice the diversity of the church community. Some times I wonder about the past of some. I imagine some are ex-drug addicts, some ex-adulterers, some ex-religious fanatics who finally found the real Jesus, some might have been prostitutes, pimps, abusive, broken, some doctors, some seminary professors, some retail workers, some laborers, some teenagers, and who knows what. Some are very clean-cut, others are covered in tattoos. Some are white, others black, some Asian, some Native American, some Indian, some American, some immigrants, etc. In the universal church there is such a great diversity. So many different people with so many different backgrounds, stories, sins, etc. And Jesus loves them all. For all of this we ought not to ignore the differences of the color of our skin, or the accents, or the differences in education, the differences in jobs… there are so many differences in the nature of the body of Christ that we cannot look at the community and not rejoice over how diverse it is.

I feel like I have written this blog before but I cannot help but continue to reflect upon the wonder of how thick the blood of Christ is to cover the many sins of many different people. All from different backgrounds – Jesus died not just for the sins of Israel but the sins of the whole world. Our church community should be diverse and we should love it. I have to admit one of my favorite parts of communion is watching men and women of different cultures and different backgrounds come together in unity and rejoice in their savior.

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On Spreading Oneself Too Thin

So I have been slacking on blogging the past few days. Vanessa came to Louisville before she left for California for the holidays so I chose to spend more time with her instead of blogging. I just felt that if I were to work my normal 8 hours shifts, spend time with her, and blog I would end up attempting to take on too much. This might be a small example of spreading oneself too thin given that I work full-time, go to school full-time and still serve at church on Sundays. I tend to keep myself pretty busy. I often wonder if I am taking on too much or if I am spreading myself to thin.

For this reason, I find myself failing to keep less formal commitments. Example: not blogging the last two days. Some times I do not feel like this is a bad thing. But I still can’t help but wonder how this might creep into my future ministry. Will that turn into bailing on elder meetings or showing up late or canceling on meetings in which I am attempting to connect with for church planting reasons? 

In the end spreading one self too thin is dangerous. You end up not giving yourself to anyone. The important things are lost and the things that do not matter.

The biggest problem is we never admit that we are spreading ourselves to thin. We call it drive. We call it the next step to getting to our career. We call it ambition. We call it so many different things but at some point we have to admit that this busyness is just that it’s keeping ourselves busy. For me it’s often being afraid of something – this weekend maybe it was afraid of the emotion and transparency that blogging requires. Maybe it’s just being afraid to display my craft and find people look what I believe to be my equivalent to Degas or Mozart or some brilliant artist for others to look upon it and simply say “I don’t get it.” Or for others to simply never look at it all. I often find myself in the tension of spreading myself too thin and not putting myself out there at all. I feel as if I often overdo it, or if I don’t I just don’t do anything at all. 

It’s a dangerous disease that seminary students seem to have and I caught it really quickly. But it’s an American epidemic – we all spread ourselves far too thin. Some times we need to just chill out. When we die will it be said that we kept ourselves too busy?

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Sign Holders and Saturday Morning Door Knockers

Today while I was at work one of my coworkers told me ‘There’s this guy standing outside Chick-Fil-a with a Christianity has failed” sign. I was tempted to throw a Bible at him.” (He didn’t mean to chuck it at him, but simply to toss it to him.) This sparked my curiosity, so when I had my lunch a few moments later I decided to see what this was all about. I went out there and met this man named Drake. He was a nice guy, very intelligent guy. Though I disagreed with much of what he said in the 20 minutes I spent talking to him I was never mean to him, with the exception of accidentally interrupting him. I never raised my voice, and I never pretended to be anyone I was not, but I never revealed to him that I was a seminary student. This was because he revealed that he believed that Christian academics were part of a cult. In all honesty, I would not be opposed to meeting this guy again be it at another street corner or at Heine Bros. for coffee.

Upon further talking to Drake about his sign and what it was that he believed and things like that I found that he actually knew the Bible quite well and that he was looking for conversation. His basic premise was simply that Christians are hypocrites because we claim to believe the Bible but we do not keep the Torah. I pushed back on this but he had a lot to say and had many responses. At some point I simply tried to talk to him about the Gospel but I could not get him to agree with me about who Jesus was since he refuse to accept that Jesus is the person who is talked about in the Bible, but preferred to call him Joshua, the Aramaic name for Jesus. Same name different language – see Paul and Saul or Peter and Cephas among other examples. 

However, this blog is not actually about him. Within 5 minutes of standing there talking to this guy, I saw a man drive by in a nice car honk at the man and flip him off. He then turned to me and said “I get that a lot.”

Soon after leaving I posted a tweet about this stating: “Dear drivers flipping off the guy with the Christianity has failed sign, you are only proving his point. Jesus loved.”

At what point do we see flipping someone off who disagrees with us as being an acceptable form of argument? It not only represents you poorly it also represents Christians poorly. In the long run if you are trying to convince him that Christianity has not failed and offensive gesture isn’t going to cause him to leave the corner, nor does it help the person chatting with him who is attempting to not be a jerk. Oh wait I forgot about the passage where Jesus says “they will know you are my disciples by your hate for their opinions.” (that’s because he didn’t.) 

A Christian who is attempting to be faithful to the Biblical text isn’t going to raise a nasty finger to someone as a gesture saying that they shouldn’t be there. A Christian attempting to be faithful to the Bible is going to do something more similar to buying this guy lunch, or just letting him talk. A Christian attempting to follow Christ is going to love on this guy and help him to understand the Gospel, and pray for him. 

I am so grieved and so frustrated about this drive by gesture that essentially tells this guy “you have no right to voice your opinion.” Especially when for years Christians in America have been defending the right for religious liberty and freedom of speech. Drake also told me that he had to change his sign from “Christianity is heresy” to the more tame “Christianity has failed” because a police officer came by to talk to him about it. He also told me that he was a little afraid that he would be arrested today 

Do I disagree with this man’s opinion concerning the Book that I consider inerrant and his perspective of my beliefs and his hermeneutic? Absolutely. Do I think that he shouldn’t have a right to speak up about it? By no means! 

In Jesus’ interactions with people who got it wrong, he didn’t give them the finger, he didn’t write them off, he still showed love to them. He talked to them, he showed them that they were wrong but he showed love. He died for them proclaiming the message of the Kingdom that he was bringing all the way to the cross and then continued to preach it when he came back. Maybe we should model this and put our rude gestures away.

Taking this a little more close to home how do you respond to those guests on Saturday morning handing you their copies of Watchtower or coming to tell you about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints? Do you welcome them with a smile or a squirt gun? I have heard some pretty terrible stories of how people greet them and I think that anything shy of a huge smile, a welcoming disposition and an open Bible would be to miss the point.

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Why I am afraid of DecemberDoomfest…

For those of you who do not yet know, this month, I and several others are writing one blog a day for 30 days. Rumor has it that this was my idea – this is speculation (there could be evidence on twitter): I may or may not (definitely did) on November 6th post a tweet that said “Let’s play a word association game: I say 30 days of blogging and you say…” This may have possibly started this idea – others agreed. Some after twisting a few arms, sorry Sean, and Cordes, not sorry. 

I’ve found myself afraid to open up again. I’ve found myself afraid of wasting words. I only get so many words to write, speak, etc. in this life and I am afraid of wasting them. In the long run, this life is really far to short to spend the entire time in fear. Fear of rejection, fear of death, fear of whatever are all not worth it. Fear of being found out. That maybe I am not that intelligent, not that well spoken, maybe that I do not have it all together. In the end does any of that even matter? What good is living a life of fear of what other people think?

Jesus died. He died to save those who believe in him. I believe in Jesus. Because of this I have his righteousness imputed on me and thus I am now identified as a Child of God, in whom he is pleased. Why does anything else matter. I am going to write a lot about Jesus and a lot about Christmas this month. If you happen to find yourself looking at this blog and have no idea what I am talking about leave me a message and we can talk.

Fear is why I am finally writing a second blog in on day to catch up for day one. I am going to stop fearing what I am writing and simply write. The truth is some of us need this, and some of us refuse to admit that we need this. I need this month of writing.

For a list of those participating see Alanah’s blog

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Joy has been brought

A few weeks ago at work I saw an email at work that was sent from someone at corporate. This email was chastising several team members across many stores for our guest assistance. In this email I saw the author make an emphasis on guest service stating that this is what this season is all about. In another email I saw a different author write “let’s bring joy to the world.”

In both of these instances I had to fight writing a “Jesus juke” email. I didn’t want to sound like a jerk, but when it comes down to the purpose of the song Joy to the World and the meaning of the season it is kind of ignorance to bring anything else, especially something as trivial as customer service as the reason for both of them.

1. Joy has been brought. The purpose of the song Joy to the World is a quote from the Bible, Watts was referencing Psalm 98, and singing exaltation to the Lord of the Universe. To take this phrase and reduce it simply down to guest service is blasphemy and is accidentally seasoned of a dangerous doctrine that we call the social gospel. We cannot bring joy to the world, when it already came in a manger in Bethlehem 2000 ago swaddled in a feeding troth. The only way we can bring joy is to share the Good News of Great Joy that the Messiah has come in the form of a man yet maintaining the fullness of his divinity and after 30+ sinless years this God-man took up a cross and died at the hands of those he came to save. Through his cross he brings atonement to all those who believe in him as the Son of God.

As I mentioned yesterday, Jesus may not have been born in December but we still use this season to celebrate the wonders of his Love and work of atoning sacrifice. It completely grieves me that the consumerist society of the American nation has trampled the purpose of Christmas from being about the advent of the Messiah to being about the advent of the Xbox 1 and the emphasis to bend over backwards to make sure that the consumer buying this item that will not work in 10 years leaves ecstatic but not before they buy that extra controller.

There was no room in the inn where else has no place for Jesus?

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Who cares when Jesus was born?

On the first day of Blogging Brian brought to you a giant disappointment because he didn’t have internet – and an excuse for simply being too tired at the end of the moving. But on the second day of blogging Brian is going to write his butt off with two blogs. Here we go!

Lately, on my scouring the internet for all sorts of entertainment I have come across the argument that Jesus wasn’t really born in December but rather Christmas was placed in December in order to counteract the Winter Solstice and therefore counteract the Paganism that would take place on this holiday with holiness instead.

There are mildly convincing arguments for Jesus being born for every month of the year. However, the argument that Jesus could not have been born in December because the shepherds would not have been out in the cold is absurd. (I found this argument on the Hulu page for the Charlie Brown Christmas Special) The reason why this is absurd is that the climate is Israel is actually quite similar to Southern California. Shepherds can easily handle 50 degree weather. Therefore, Jesus probably could have been born in December but that’s not important. Trying to place a specific date for Jesus’ birth is just absurd. Scripture is silent on the date of Jesus birthday – therefore we should be silent. However I still have a few thoughts:

1. Why is this view as a bad thing? Instead of people having orgies and running around naked and sacrificing things they are instead celebrating the birth of the Savior with their families and giving gifts to one another. I can’t see this being a bad trade-off.

Christ + Mass = Christmas a celebration or mass of Christ. So we don’t know the date of the birth but this is when the early church decided to celebrate Christmas. So why does that matter? We celebrate most of our holidays based upon which day of the week they fall on and they change each year. Thanksgiving for example is a fiasco. Since we will never know if Jesus was actually born in April or August why does it really matter. We have enough evidence to see that he is real, he is God and he was born in a manger some 2000 years ago and he changed the world. I don’t think the actual date is really that important. The song Come Thou Long Expected Jesus places the thought appropriately it’s not about when he came, it’s simply that he came.

It’s December so I will probably blog about Christmas a lot – I love Christmas.

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Jesus Didn’t Die For Your Skinny Jeans

I spent years of my life denying my interests for the illusion that I was cool or interesting. I stopped reading comic books, I stopped liking “nerdy” things. I pretended to lose interest in Spider-man, I pretended to like Star Wars a little less. I pretended that I didn’t love The Legend of Zelda. I lived a lie concerning my actual interests because I thought people might like me better.

On occasion I get the label “hipster” dropped on me, and I think this idea is why I hate it. I hate that I get placed into a social group because I have a tattoo, a beard, a  haircut, a certain color shirt, a specific cut of jeans and am visually impaired. (I can’t wait for the day that glasses stop being trendy and people realize that I am not being cool I just can’t see). I hate being stereotyped because it makes me think that people think something of me that isn’t indeed true. These words, these labels, these shallow descriptions are not who I am. It’s a label that forces people to think they know me when haven’t the slightest clue.

Jesus didn’t die for your skinny jeans. He didn’t die for your façades. In Mark 1, we see during Jesus baptism that The Father splits the clouds and from the heavens comes His voice exclaiming “You are my beloved son, with you I am well pleased.” Given that in Christian conversion our identity is now found in Christ, we can see that God is pleased in us. In extension of this we must never forget that a great deal of our interests are related to how God created us. Those interests can be distorted towards sinful inclinations, but they were never intended to be sinful. The idea that the extension of God being pleased with the Christian fits the idea that we do not need to make ourselves better in order to God to love us. We do not need to learn more theology, wear Church Planter glasses, read the right pastor, hate the wrong pastors, whatever.

God created each and every one of us with certain interests, it is important that we live out of who He created us to be. We ought to deny our sin, but embrace the things that God has led us to and use those for his glory. We should never try to fit a mold that we were never intended to fit.

I have repented of a great deal of the struggles here. I have begun gathering collected issues of The Amazing Spider-man, given my budget it’s a bit slow but it’s a matter of returning to my interests that I believe God has given me. I think there is a strong reason for this interest (see blog on The Island of Misfit Creative Ideas).  My love of Church History and my love of Comic books could potentially be an amazing opportunity for evangelism as well as Christian education.

I’ll be honest, I’ve been trying to write this blog for about 9 months now. If you are reading these sentences then let’s just say I finally clicked publish. I found some encouragement to write lately and I am acting upon that.

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