This isn’t what it means to love your neighbor. You might be thinking that your neighbors aren’t Muslim. I would dare to disagree with you. In Louisville Kentucky, just barely outside the Bible Belt, there is a Mosque almost right next door to the building where church I attend meets in. In New York City alone there are almost 70,000 Muslims. Dearborn, MI has the largest concentration of Muslims per capita in the US, 30% of their population is Muslim. The total population of the city is 98K, they have just over 29K Muslims living in their city. Los Angeles has over 25,000 Muslims. You can no longer say they are not your neighbor. They are all over the place. To assert that each and every one of them is a terrorist is ignorance of a religion you know nothing about is far from loving your neighbor.
Early last year a friend of mine (Alanah, who blogs here) sparked my interest in a certain TV show, and later on asked me about the crossovers between this show and theology. I have watched several seasons of the show and have since then stopped watching for different reasons, most of them are actually tied to the content of this blog.
The show that I am referring to is Supernatural. It follows two brothers who hunt demons, monsters, ghosts, and the like. There seems to be a great deal of importance for Christians to understand and interact with shows that interact the occult and the idea of God. Now in no way do I think that these shows actually interact with the God of Christianity, but these shows display to some extent what it is that people believe about God.
My initial impression of this show was positive, thinking that it was far too absurd for anyone to take it seriously. It eventually got a point where I would put the show on in the background as I was reading my Systematic Theology text-book just to have some decent theology going in.
The reason that I saw this show as absurd from the beginning is that it displays abhorrent theology that even Nestorius and Arius would have voted down at an ecumenical council. In case you are not familiar with those two names, let me put it this way, they have heresies named after them – that’s not good. The theology is far too bizarre to be taken seriously in the least bit. However as a Christian, watching this show forces you to have an orthodox understanding of God.
There is an angel in one season that has “lost her grace” and thus becoming human. Her name being Anna. At one point she refers to God as being an unknowable Father. She complains of blind obedience where she hears of what it is that is God’s will but never actually hears from him herself, only from her superiors. See what I mean by terrible theology? Interestingly enough gnosticism speaks of an unknowable father – a heresy that Irenaeus condemned in his five book work “Against Heresies”. Deism a more popular view of God also speaks of an unknowable Father, deism also speaks of a God who is no longer active in the world.
The biggest reason that I find importance in Christians watching shows such as this, or at least being familiar with shows that deal in this realm of the “supernatural” is the opportunity that it provides for evangelism as well as teaching proper theology. It is a springboard into conversation concerning a topic that many believe to be taboo, but is the center of the most important conversation you can have with someone.
Supernatural deals with God but it deals with Him in the wrong form. It deals with a god that exists as a single person that knows nothing of grace, forgiveness or love. The show speaks of an unitarian, one-dimensional, god. The god of supernatural has some of the worst character development that I have ever seen. Overall, the show leaves the watcher parched for the Living Water that only Jesus can draw. The entire time that you hear mention of God, angels, demons, the devil, etc. there is no mention of Jesus, outside of the one episode that takes him name in vain. This show presents a God who has no paid recompense for his people and has no concern for their fate. Further than this, there is absolutely no mention of the Holy Spirit, however once cannot expect a show that disregards the Christ, and his Bride, to have a proper understanding of pnuematology.
This show forces you to come to grips with who God really is.
It presents what seems to be some logical conclusions of belief in a god who acts as a watch maker. He builds the watch, and from there he steps back and does nothing. This god does not exist. The God of Creation is actively working (as Jesus identifies in John 5:17, as well as the rest of Scripture attests to) and concerned with the outcome of events (Romans 8:28). In this show God’s activity is minimal, he is working, however he is not holding all things together as the Bible teaches. In American theology we seem to believe that there is one God, however, we do not realize that the God that the Unitarians believe in and the God that Christians believe in are not, and cannot be the same God. We have monotheism down, but the issue is that we cannot agree on the character of God. I would argue that the show Supernatural displays and speaks of a god that is so far removed from truth that we cannot believe that anything it teaches is truly relevant to actually engaging in theology outside of corrective action.
There is one other aspect of this show that speaks greatly into the idea of our culture. The apocalypse, now I stopped watching the show before I actually got to the end of it. Eddie and I often talk about the whole reason we stopped watching is that we got really tired of hearing “The Devil’s gonna wear you like a prom dress” or something similar every episode. However, there is a much greater issue with the season that deals with this season aside from a bizarre misunderstanding of demon possession. It is that the apocalypse brings no promise. In 2012, there were at least three claims that the world was going to end. Each case involved a significant distortion of the Biblical Theology of the apocalypse (apocalypse comes from the Greek word meaning revealing, referring to the uncovering of Jesus used to describe both his first and second comings). The distortion that is at play in Supernatural is a simple one, that rings true of our society’s belief of the end of time. The belief is the lie that there is nothing good to come from the apocalypse. The return of Jesus brings much more good than it does bad. To finally be restored to how things were supposed to be. To finally be in the presence of God is not something to fear. There is much more to the rapture, return of Christ, apocalypse than this but I’m sure your attention is waning and I’m getting restless. One last note concerning the theology of this show: the way that it addresses Lucifer/Satan more often than not makes me want to vomit.
You can watch this show and completely ignore the flavorless aspects of God and disregard the theology, the same way we do the health benefits devoid of fast food, but in reality we must eventually come to a decision concerning how we justify what this show claims. It opens the door for conversation concerning God, demons, and eternity. That alone is invaluable.
Over the last three weeks I was estranged from my home church in Louisville, KY – Sojourn (East Campus). It is over these past three weeks that I feel as if I am breathing a polluted form of oxygen. Excuse the bad analogy, but I think it captures it well. I have still been attending church and I have still been hearing the Gospel preached. It just doesn’t feel right. I don’t feel bad, I just don’t feel like it has been enough. The word that we translate to mean church can also be translated community or gathering.
In America it seems that it is more common for us to do church than it is for us to be church. A church does not exist between a couple of walls or on a few days out of the week. The church is. The church is not people who sit around judging others for being more sinful than they are, or for drinking alcohol or anything like that – the church is a group of people who unite of the idea that “Christ Jesus came to into the world to save sinners of whom we are the foremost.” The church that is acting as it should, should never look at someone and think “they are far too sinful” instead they should look at them and say “Welcome! We always have room for more.” The church is a family, a community.
I have admitted to several people this past year, that if not for my Church family, I probably would have dropped out of seminary and moved back to California – that’s for another blog though. One of the reasons that I was most excited to get back to Louisville is so that I can worship with them again. It has little to do with the musical style, or the preaching – which are both rad by the way – but because of how the church exists in community. A few weeks ago I along with a couple other people who I have never met before got together to help a person who none of us knew move. This is how the church should exist. Helping orphans and widows and those in need while always rejoicing in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I have felt starved over the past few weeks because I miss the people – I miss the church. We, as Christians, should not be accustomed to walking in to church on Sunday a few minutes late sitting in the same seat and leaving right as service gets out week after week. That’s not church that’s free entertainment. Church exists in the ruggedness of every day life where you pray for one another, bear one another’s burdens, love one another. Where we serve together. Where we point to the resurrected Jesus, in whom and for whom all things were created, the author and finisher of our faith.
If we are truly engaging the church as we should then being separated from our congregation should be painful. This is why Church Discipline exists simply in the matter of cutting the person off from the community. In today’s world we can simply go down the street to another Church and “do church” there. But if we are truly engaged in our church congregation and we are cut off we will feel as if we are foreigners, as if we are breathing dirty air. It won’t feel right. Our only response then should be to turn to Jesus and repent of our sin so that we are able to rejoin the congregation that we love.
Yesterday, I was happy to rejoin the church that I faithfully attend and serve at in Louisville. It felt so natural to be back. I had to do my best to hide my euphoria at times so that I wouldn’t freak anybody out. Although I spent 3 weeks with family away from the church returning to Sojourn yesterday felt as if I was truly home. I think this goes along well with what Jesus says concerning family in Mark 3:34. He states that his family are those who are doing the will of God. We should feel at home with those who are on the same mission that you are. Dedicated to proclaiming the risen savior who takes away the sins of the world. Now I’m not writing the other churches off as not being part of the Universal Church but it’s difficult to engage in a church that you are just visiting and thus when at home you have a church where you feel inextricably tied to the mission, the focus, the people, the preaching it almost feels like cheating.
Happy to be home.
Lately I have been wondering a rather bizarre question. What ever happened to the fanboy?
What ever happened to people who actually knew about the comicbook hero that they are wearing the t-shirt of? On any given day, you can probably walk past a rather large number of people both male and female wearing some sort of super hero paraphernalia. I often wonder how many of these people have actually read the primary source of information concerning the hero they are wearing? This might not seem weird at all, but let’s look at this differently. When I was in undergrad, a student was wearing a Led Zeppelin shirt, and my professor stopped class to ask him about it. The conversation went something like this (I will even include my remarks to my neighbor from the back of the class):
Professor: Zeppelin. Who’s the guitarist?
Student: I know his name, I’m just blanking at the moment.
Brian (to my neighbor): Really dude? Jimmy Page.
Someone else in the class: It’s Jimmy Page.
Professor: Okay, well what about the singer?
Brian (again to my neighbor): Robert Plant – and the bassist is John Paul Jones, and the Drummer Jon Bonham.
This demonstrates two things:
- I was a nuisance. (I censored this word for my seminary friends.)
- What you wear makes a statement about yourself.
If I see someone wearing a Spider-man shirt, I know that I can probably not expect to have a conversations with him about the differences between Steve Ditko’s art and John Romita Sr.; nor can I ask him about how important of a role Todd McFarlane played in changing the art style of Spider-man – from the intricacies of his redesign of Spider-man’s webbing to the design of the character Venom – and how that has changed how we view the character today. It’s very possible that I probably cannot even discuss with him our feelings on Dan Slott’s recent fate for Peter Parker in Amazing Spider-Man 700.
The true fan seems to have more or less died. It has become cool to wear a band’s t-shirt without knowledge of their line up or discography, it has become acceptable to wear clothing with a comicbook hero on it without having the slightest clue who the hero is outside of the few hours you have spent watching TV or movies. It seems that there is a strange dichotomy here if you wear an Iron Man shirt and have seen the movies it’s cool, if you actually read comics you’re a nerd.
It seems to me that to say that you are a fan of Superman when you have only seen Superman Returns would be similar to saying that you are a Christian when you have only ever seen Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ. You probably think that this is a ridiculous comparison, but it’s remarkable the number of people who claim to hold to a religion without understanding the entirety of what they believe. In the same sense can you really be a fan of a comicbook character if you have never read the central text concerning the character?
I once heard a Christian friend poke fun at a pastor because he believed that “we will all one day raise from the dead.” Let’s just say it was an oddly awkward moment when another friend of mine and I looked at each other before we explained to him that the pastor believes that because it is indeed what the Bible teaches (1 Thess 4). I’m not saying that to be a Christian you need to be a master theologian, or have everything figured out. However, it seems that there is a great deal of significance to knowing basic Christian doctrines. There is a great importance in knowing what it is that you claim to believe by extension with what belief system you identify yourself with.
I’m not saying to throw away your Green Lantern t-shirts, or your Spider-man iPhone case. I’m just giving you something to think about. You might think that my claims are a bit too strong or that my expectations are too high. It’s possible, but it’s really just something to consider. How much do you know about the things that you claim to identify yourself with? The superheroes? The religion? The musical acts? The people you follow? etc.
I have a few reasons for being extremely skeptical of Disney’s acquisition of LucasFilm and the announcement of more Star Wars films.
If there is one thing that the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy and every Halloween since 1977 has taught us it is that Star Wars is a cash cow. They have one of the largest video game franchises in existence, one of the largest action figure franchises in existence. The market to which Star Wars appeals is immense: comic books, clothing, toys, decorations, coffee mugs, cell phone cases, ringtones, GPS sounds, etc. If Star Wars poops people will sniff it. Proof: Episode 2 grossed $302,191,252. I will admit that I saw it in theaters, and I even own it, but it made a lot of money when most Star Wars fans wish that it did not exist.
“Well as long as George Lucas isn’t involved we’ll be okay.”
The only thing worse than Attack of the Clones is the Star Wars Holiday Special in which George Lucas was not involved. I mean sure I do like the idea that he cannot change the movie 18 times any more, but just because he isn’t involved does not mean that it will be better.
“Disney brought us the Avengers!”
No. Joss Whedon brought us the Avengers, after Stan Lee brought us the Avengers. The Avengers was going to happen way before Disney bought Marvel. Giving Disney credit for the Avengers is like giving Barack Obama credit for killing Osama Bin Laden. Stan Lee gave us the Avengers, not Mickey Mouse.
Whedon is a huge Marvel fan, even more so a huge X-Men fan. He has a vested interest in how Marvel films come out – he could not blow it. Whedon has done an incredible job with what he has directed and written in the past. Let’s look at this: Firefly, Serenity, Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, He worked on 15 or so comics for the Astonishing X-Men, which were brilliant. If Joss Whedon directs/writes the new Star Wars trilogy I will be at ease. For anyone who is here thinking well Marvel brought us Spider-man 3, I will say that is partly true, Sam Raimi, Spider-man 3 was the natural progression of weird for Sam Raimi, see EvilDead, EvilDead 2 and then Army of Darkness and then you’ll understand.
Disney did not bring us the Avengers, Disney brought us the Little Mermaid 2, Lion King 2, Toy Story 2, Beauty and the Beast 2, Cinderella 2 and 3. Disney has a history of bad sequels that happen to make them money.
You might respond to this with okay well Disney isn’t bringing us Star Wars LucasArts is. Once again I’d like to redirect you to the holiday special.
Let me remind everyone of a movie series that Disney abandoned recently. Narnia. The first Narnia movie was incredible. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was extremely well done, it was pretty popular as well. Prince Caspian however, was no so popular. After Prince Caspian more or less flopped Disney dropped the Narnia project, and Fox picked it up. It was evident that the Voyage of the Dawn Treader was picked up by a very different company, the feel was different, the effects were off – it just didn’t feel the same. Because of that it was sinply okay. What Disney did not realize was that a good reason for why Prince Caspian flopped was the Prince Caspian is found to be probably the least favored book of the Narnia series. I’m somewhat afraid that what will happen with the new trilogy is that the 7th one will not be so successful because we are all a little gun shy from Jar Jar Binks and moody, estrogen filled Anakin Skywalker and Ewan McGregor’s fake beard in Episode 2 and result in Disney will dropping the project. The last thing I want is another story with potential abandoned because the paycheck wasn’t big enough.
This is a little off topic from the normal theme of my blog, but I’ve found it is something I need to speak my mind about.
I was talking to a friend the other day and he was telling me that when he was in youth group he watched a skit that went something like this:
Guy: Can I have some skittles?
Girl with a bag of skittles: No.
Girl eats skittles.
Girl: Want some skittles?
Girl spits skittles out of his mouth into the guy’s hand.
Pastor: You don’t like it when you get things that are used, do you?
This was intended to be about purity. This was intended to tell junior high and high school students that your spouse will love you more if you save yourself for them. This is horrendous. Sure, it can be argued that there are reasons to encourage high school students to abstain from having sex, but to infer that someone loses their value once they have been “used” is disgusting.
I have heard this idea in churches before not just in skits, but also in conversations, in sermons, in small groups. It is never presented so simply as you should not date someone who has had sex before, it is often presented as how important it is to save oneself for marriage. But we never go so far as to answer the lingering question “What if we don’t?” or “What if it’s too late?” Ignoring this leaves an underlying assumption that creeps through those words that screams, “You’re no longer good enough.” The idea that a Christian man should not date a Christian woman because she is not a virgin is awful. It is worse than awful. It is Satanic.
The reason that I say that this is of Satan is that it directly displays what a Christian believes about the church. Jesus’ bride is a whore. In the book of Hosea we see a historical prophetic example, a type, of how Jesus pursues his own bride. The prophet Hosea marries a woman who is given over to whoredom, she continues to pursue a life of sexual immorality and Hosea continues to pursue her. Jesus pursues the Church in the same way; though we continually fall short and continually chase after other lovers he still chases us.
If you at this point are thinking “But Jesus’ relationship to the church is different” then you seriously need to reconsider your interpretation of Ephesians 5 and 1 Corinthians 6. You will find that it is no different.
If you are truly pursuing God’s direction in life and you state that you will not marry a girl just because she made mistakes then what you are communicating is that God’s grace is enough to forgive her, but not enough for you to look past it. In John 8:36, Jesus states “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Are you so bold as to say that she is not free enough? If it is enough for Jesus to forgive then it is enough for you to overlook. Sin offends God way more than it does you.
“Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25.
I assure you, that she has not yet gone to the uttermost. I assure you that there is still forgiveness for her.
Revelation 14 is refers to the 144,000, or a number that represents God’s elect; it is not a literal number. In this passage, when the 144,000 are revealed it is at the throne, the church has at this point been redeemed. In verse 4, we see the 144,000 referred to as virgins. They have not defiled themselves. This has nothing to do with whether or not they have had sex – it has everything to do with their stains and that they have been washed away. This passage has everything to do with them being presented to Jesus as pure. It does matter who they were, it matters who they are in Christ. Christ has made defiled sinners clean again. He has made them pure virgins. In 2 Corinthians 11:2, Paul tells the church that was rampant with sexual immorality that he presents them as pure virgins to Christ.
(Now I am not saying that it is wrong to save yourself for your spouse, that would be faulty logic – see transposition fallacy. The same goes for taking this too far and believing that I am telling you to marry a girl who is given over to sexual immorality. I am simply arguing that a woman’s past should not be a consideration in whether or not you date her.) If Jesus forgives to the uttermost, and you are “the head of your wife as Christ is the head of the church” then your role as a Man of God is to forgive. Your role is to “love her as Christ loves the church”, to show her as pure when she feels otherwise, to testify the gravity of the Gospel, and to constantly teach that we cannot be forgiven outside the atonement that Jesus brings.
If you are seeking to be a man of God and one of your requirements to date a girl is that she must be a virgin then you very well may not understand the Gospel. If you are seeking to be more Christ-like and are unwilling to look past her sin you may not understand the church. The church is made up of sinners, the church is a glass house, it might be time we stopped throwing stones. Jesus, the sinless, loving, redeeming, Messiah, God-incarnate, does not pass up the church because of her sin. Israel was given over into sexual immorality and idolatry and yet Jesus didn’t bail, he paid the ultimate price; he died for her to be pure.
There are too many beautiful, godly, women in the world who believe that they are far too stained, because of their past, for a Godly man to love her. We cannot allow this to continue. It’s extremely likely that a male, that one of your brothers deceived her, played with her heart, stole it and left it shattered after he got want he wanted – are you really going to tell her that she is no longer worth it? She’s already heard that once, and she’s probably damaged from it. Be a better man than that.
A woman’s worth is not caught up in her purity. Her worth is not bound up who the world says she is, or what her past says she was, her worth is found in who God says she is, and He says she’s beautiful. When in the presence of an adulteress caught in the very act of fornication Jesus didn’t throw any stones instead he showed love. When Christ came, his people were given to all sorts of sin and yet he pursues her to the end – he dies for her, he saves to the uttermost. The Church has been used, but Jesus doesn’t see her in her scarlet rags and think she’s hideous, he sees her in her perfected beauty and he tells her “red isn’t your color anymore”; Jesus takes those filthy blood stained rags and replaces them with pure white robes. Sinner isn’t her title anymore, saint is. Slut isn’t part her description, beloved daughter is.
It is not your job to judge her past sins; it is your job to love her in spite of her sinfulness. She’s worth it. Regardless of her past she’s worth it. Jesus thought so.
If you’re a woman and you are struggling with the concept of your worth I highly encourage you to check out http://wearelionhart.com/ it’s a “[G]rassroots movement to empower, inspire, and heal the hearts of young women struggling to know their inherent value.” (I stole this from a recent tweet of their.) A friend of mine helped to start this, I even had her overlook this blog before posting it. You are worth more than you know.
I was informed that today (10/17) is “No Beard Day”. I have been working on the following blog for a while but today seems like an appropriate day to finally click publish. To show my disapproval of this day, I posted a photo of my beard on facebook/twitter/instagram whatever earlier, and I will continue to do so by posting this.
pogonotrophy: the art of science of growing a beard
The other day I attempted to find a decision tree for the question should I grow a beard? I didn’t find one. I have to admit I didn’t look very hard – mostly because I cannot think of a good reason not to grow a beard.
However, for the sake of argument I’ll explain to you why you should grow a beard.
Have you grown or attempted to grow one before? If no, grow. If yes, and you have a reason for not keeping one then you have a pass – as of right now – I will test your reasons later.
It’s itchy. That goes away – man up and grow a beard.
My girlfriend doesn’t like it. Really? Do you make all your decisions based upon what your girlfriend does or doesn’t like? Is she your mother now? Grow a beard!
I like looking like I’m a little boy. Okay, that is an acceptable answer.
It doesn’t grow in well or it doesn’t look good. Okay, you finally have a decent reason to not grow a keep a beard. However, I am going to test that later.
It’s too much to maintain. Learn some discipline.
Work won’t allow it. Acceptable.
Here are my top 5 reasons for why you should grow a beard:
1. It’s a lesson in discipline. You commit to doing something and then you do it. There are a great deal of days when I wake up open my medicine cabinet and reach for the beard trimmers – more often than not I am happy I put them down. If a man grows and keeps a beard it shows that he can commit to something. He has made the decision to grow a beard and not give up until he reaches that goal. It’s discipline – see Spurgeon quote below.
2. It’s proactive laziness. For a short period of time you have to do absolutely nothing. You may be thinking well I still have to trim my neck. Nope! Most people make the mistake of trimming to early and thus their beard looks terrible because they trimmed too early – not all of your hair grows in at the same time, the longer you have your beard the fuller it will grow. This is the only area of your appearance that you can be lazy in and still have it look good. Now trimming and edging are needed at times, but for the most part you do not have to do anything. How long have you taken to attempt to grow a beard? If it’s three weeks you might need to wait a little longer. It normally takes a bit more time than that to get all of the layers of one’s beard to grow it. Be patient, anyone who is cleanly shaven who makes fun of you for having a splotchy beard is probably cleanly shaven and a douchebag. I can endure with you – I used to have some pretty intense bald spots in my beard.
3. You look like a man. You cannot have a beard and not feel confident about it. If and when you have a kick ass beard, everyone will let you know. One of the most amazing things to hear on a regular basis is the way that people get stoked on my beard. St. Clement of Alexandria puts it this way “This, then, is the mark of the man, the beard. By this, he is seen to be a man. It is older than Eve. It is the token of the superior nature….It is therefore unholy to desecrate the symbol of manhood, hairiness.” The beard is one of the few things that men have that is older than woman.
4. It’s good for your voice. The great Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon states in his lecture “The Voice” found in his Lectures to my Students, that easy way to fight off bronchial infection is to cover up your throat with a scarf to keep your voice nice and warm for when your speaking – or you can just be a man about it and grow a beard. Spurgeon states that growing a beard “is a habit most natural, scriptural, manly and beneficial.” You can’t argue with that.
5. Most men’s major reason for not growing a beard is because of women. If all men had a beard women wouldn’t have this excuse. I have heard countless stories of bearded men’s wives/girlfriends not liking beards until their husband grew one. She can only threaten not to kiss your for so longer until she gives in – after that you will forever have freedom to keep or shave – it once again becomes your face. I have met very few women who actually despise facial hair. Most of them despise the look of homelessness. The female comedian Minnie Pearl said “Kissing a man with a beard is a lot like going to a picnic. You don’t mind going through a little bush to get there!”
One of the things that I love about coffee shops is the ability to eavesdrop. I am sitting in Java Brewing Company right now, a local Louisville coffee shop, overhearing a conversation between four guys on what seems like it might be them planning out a movie, or short film or some sort of creative project of that sort. Briefly grabbing bits of their conversation as I hear it between musical stops of the album I am listening to over their 20 hours of footage, and their artistic style and creative shooting. They are making things happen.
As I am overhearing all of this I begin to wonder: what happened to all of the amazing creative ideas that I have had. I know that I have friends who come up with an idea and immediately purchase the domain name for it, but then they never do anything with it. I’m not criticizing them because in many cases that is more steps than I have made in certain ideas that I think are amazing.
I somewhat recently had an amazing idea for Church History comic books. Sure the demand would probably be small – somewhat limited to seminary students, maybe friends of seminary students, younger pastors, pastors kids, or missionary kids. The target market really isn’t huge for that. However, it could still be rather fun to write out a story for and have someone illustrate St. Nicholas at the Council of Nicea punching Arius for denying the Trinity; or Elijah Craig’s story, the Baptist pastor who helped James’ Madison frame the Bill of Rights so that our country would have freedom of religion after Madison heard Craig preaching from his prison cell after he was arrested for preaching without a permit, and of course the is the inclusion of Craig accidentally inventing Bourbon after his property caught fire and he was too cheap to buy new whiskey barrels. The reformation would make a great couple issues. Specifically Luther’s Biography. From Luther praying to St. Anne, stating that if he was saved from the thunderstorm he would become a monk, to Luther running from the Catholic Church, the Diet of Worms where Luther is handed a declaration to recant the 95 Theses and all that he has stated concerning the error of the Catholic church and him tearing up the declaration and telling them “Here I Stand. I can do no other.” Calvin’s conflict in Geneva with Michael Servetus – taking this as an opportunity to shed light on it. Where he is shown as praying for him on a nightly basis and begging for him to recant his heretical views. Church History is exciting, and this could be an incredible opportunity to shed light on that. It is a shame that far too few Christians know where they come from. What happened between the closing of the book of Acts and the American Church of 2012? Many cannot answer this. This could be an excellent venue to inform people of Church History. Yet after coming up with this idea over a year ago nothing has happened with it. Far too many of my creative ideas have taken this turn. I have an incredible idea and it never goes any further.
Why is this?
Instead of chasing and making these ideas happen I allow them to swim off to The Island of Misfit Creative Ideas. Where all of my brilliant ideas go to die. But every so often they get a letter from me pleading for their return, and that a second letter will follow with support funds for them to move back. And just like a good metaphor a second letter never arrives.
How often are we blessed with brilliant ideas that never come to fruition because of laziness? Forgetfulness? Writer’s Block? Because of our “current situation”? How often do we get in the way of our own dreams? Would our childhood selves be mad at our adult selves for having the resources to make the brilliant dreams come true but not the drive or imagination?
What brilliant ideas have you send to this Island of Misfit Creative Ideas? What will it take to bring them back?
It’s a good thing the seminary has me on a covenant or I would be at a bar right now enjoying a nice delicious glass of fine Kentucky Bourbon. I am not implying that I would be inebriated, but rather that I don’t think it’s smart to drink one’s problems away no matter in which capacity it exists. (I told my Mom this she responded with “People are going to think you have a drinking problem.” I told her, “I do. I have a problem with not drinking.” See this post for further explanation.)
Let’s go back a few hours.
I was working on register tonight at work. Before I say anything else, let me say that I am beginning to like my job more than I thought I would. However, tonight I dealt with one of the most rude people that I have ever dealt with in my 4 years of retail experience – customers at a Baptist University can be pretty rude. At work we offer an extended warranty that we call a buyer protection plan. Typically people assume these are frivolous and a way to get more money. In some cases they are. However, I work at Babies R Us. Children break stuff. Constantly. All stuff. It’s what they do. One of my managers has a story about her child dropping his Nintendo DS in the toilet and our company replaced the DS because she purchased the buyer protection plan. Manufacturer warranties do not cover wear and tear and especially not accidents. I had an interaction with a guest today that involved these protection plans.
Worst. Guest. Ever.
I am going to give you two bits of the conversation that occurred with this guest.
Brian: On the play yard and on the monitor as well we offer a…
Guest: Stop. No. We don’t want it.
*I politely smile. Yet, I am a little annoyed since I am required to ask and they won’t let me finish my sentence.*
*I click guest declines on the register and continues to ring up the guest’s few items.*
Guest’s husband: Those are a waste of money! They’re useless!
Brian: Well, children do break things.
Guest: We’re fine with the warranty.
Guest’s husband: If it’s going to break, it’s going to break in the first 30 days.
. . .
Guest’s husband (to his wife): Did he scan the play yard? If not don’t tell him.
Brian (in jest): Oh, so you want me to get fired?
Guest’s husband: I don’t really care what happens to you once I leave.
*About this point I am taking the spider wrap off of the Baby Monitor*
Guest’s husband: If the alarm goes off when I leave I’m not turning around.
They did not have many items however, the couple has a plethora of coupons. They have a 20% off any one item for being a rewards member, $5 off for being a rewards member, 2 vendor coupons from avent on pacifiers, another 20% coupon that we give in stores, and then they have a 10% for closing our their registry. All of the coupons except the 10% off work without a problem. I proceed to call one of my coworkers over to question about whether or not this coupon works with other coupons, the guest is making snide remarks at this point. Nothing overly offensive, but nothing needed to improve or even to add to the conversation. I eventually get it to work out alright. I have to call my manager to have her fix the situation, she tells me how to do it. I manually enter 10% off for each individual item and note that it was a registry error. The entire time that I am dealing with the guest, this guy is making snippy remarks like “The whole store’s going to be over here soon.”
As the guest is leaving, he says “Sorry for the trouble.” At this point, I’m rather bothered as well as offended by this interaction. I began to realize that he says that he is sorry for the trouble with the coupons but he is not sorry in the least bit that it was an issue for me. He is sorry that the transaction took longer than it should have because his time was taken up. He is sorry that he was inconvenienced, not that it was any issue for me, because it wasn’t really that bit of an issue for me to fix it. It just took a few of his precious minutes. I eventually told my manager about this. She told our store manager about this, they were both appalled.
This guy’s mother cannot be proud of him.
While I was ringing him up and he was making these comments all I could think that when parents raise their children they typically teach them not to act like this, and here this man is raising a child and I cannot imagine how this child will grow up. I imagined an woman who was old enough to be this guest’s mom standing over his shoulder watching him. I began to question whether she would approve of his treatment of other people. To be honest, grandparents are some of our worst customers, so sadly she probably would.
I cannot believe that people find it okay to act like this in any situation.
If you do not believe in any sort of higher power then the only thing you have is legacy really. Until your parents die you really just hope to live a life good enough to make them proud of you. After they pass on, you just hope to leave a good legacy for your children.
As a Christian, I typically make a conscious effort to live my life in such a way that is glorifying to God and I make my decisions and judge my actions by standards left by Jesus. If you have no one that you need to answer to, treating people like this is completely acceptable. However, I can’t see life that way. I know that one day there will be judgment in which we will have to answer for how we have used the time that we were given. I can only imagine what it will look like for the times that we were rude to the cashier at a Baby Store, the time that we stiffed a waitress on a tip, when we trash talked out boss, when we threw an item at a sales associate, the time we treated the least of these like less.
The secular world identifies the Golden Rule as treating another like yourself. Jesus identifies this as the second greatest commandment. The Non-Christian and the Christian world a like claim to see an importance in this and yet where do we fall?
Christians often paint these bizarre mental images of how we would respond if Jesus was watching over our every action. I think there is some validity in this.
To a non-Christian world I challenge you with this: Make your mother proud. She trained you better than to tell a cashier that you could care less if he were fired or not if it benefits you.
To a Christian world: Make your heavenly Father proud. Love God, Love others. If you do that, it will be difficult for your mom not to be proud.
Is applying for student loans a lack of faith in God to provide?
This is something that I have been struggling over and fighting with for the past couple months. If I trust that God has led me to seminary and I believe that God is Jehovah Jireh, God my provider, the God who needs nothing but rather the one who gives, then shouldn’t I believe that he will provide for seminary today?
I feel as if applying for a loan is telling God, “I trust you to provide, but not today, I trust you to provide five years from today.”
My seminary tuition is about $5000 a semester give or take. I make a little above minimum wage in Kentucky, I make what would be California’s minimum wage. My job, which I will admit I am beginning to like more and more each day, will only give me 30 hours a week as a part time employee. Before taxes that is less than 10% of my tuition per month. There is no way that I can survive on this job and pay for my tuition. I’m a little past the point of being able to call home and beg for money.
Aside from begging for money, which I am by no means above, loans are seemingly the best option. I have the opportunity to take out loans because I did not really take any out in my undergrad. However, I don’t like it. It is clearly not sinful since the seminary allows us to do it. I was reading the other day that some churches provide funding for their seminary students, Southern Baptists, outside of the cooperative program, do not do this. I have been looking on Craigslist for random jobs here and there that I can do to provide but being that I am a God fearing man most of them are not quiet acceptable or just sound sketchy.
My financial aid deadline is June 1st. As of right now I am not sure if I should take out a loan for the next semester. I have a week to figure this out.
In Matthew 17, Jesus needed to pay his taxes so he went fishing and pulls the coin out of the fish’s mouth to pay for it. In Philippians 4, when Paul states that he “can do all things through Christ who gives him strength,” he is talking about living in all circumstances. he is referring to living in wealth and living in poverty. In Luke 12, Jesus tells his disciples not to worry about what to wear the lilies do not spin or toil yet God clothes them in more splendor than Solomon ever had. The ravens do not bug out about what to eat and yet God feeds them. How much more valuable are we than they are?
There is a man in Church History named George Müller. He is known for running orphanages in England. He cared for those that God cared for though many others did not. Müller did not have any job outside of caring for these children, the orphanages which in total cared for about 10,000 children in Müller lifetime, were all run by donation. He never begged anyone for money, he sent out annual reports telling of financial need which was provided but he never begged, he only trusted God to provide. There is a story of a day that he had no idea how he was going to feed any of the children at one particular location and a little girl asked him about food so he, knowing that they had no food, held the little girl “Let’s thank God for the food he has provided us today.” When he finished praying he heard a knock on the door and a baker showed up with a bunch of bread telling them that the had stayed up all night baking because he felt that they had a need. They prayed again for something to drink, another man knocks on the door his milk truck has just broken down, he cannot let the milk spoil so he gives all of it to Müller. That very morning, Müller had no idea how he would possibly feed the children, he just knew that God would provide and he did.
On the side of my arm I have an illustration of Psalm 23. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” I am going to have to figure out what I believe that means.
It seems as if the Word of God is telling us, is telling me, that God will provide for things according to his will. I have never encountered anything in my life that I felt was more in the will of God than me going to seminary so that I might pursue a career in the ministry. I do not know what else I would do if I were not going to work in a church. Therefore, I must trust him.
I wrote previously about God providing for a spouse as well as a job and if I believe that he will provide those two in order for me to continue in pursuit of the ministry then I must also believe that he will provide for me to finish my education for the pursuit of the ministry. How much faith do I have?
Christians love to use Psalm 50:10 to state that God will provide because he owns the cattle on a thousand hills. God is not in any need. He doesn’t need anything from us. He is the Giver. I’m just praying for one cow really. To be entirely honest, I am still not entirely sure what to do here. I’m not sure how I am supposed to respond. I need much prayer, and would appreciate much correspondence.
Above all else, as a seminarian, no matter which path I take here I must know that I need to trust God. I must remember that he is always faithful. Israel turned from devotion to God to sexual immorality and idolatry and he still gave his Son to redeem his people out of their sin, he further went to include a people that were not his people and called them his people. He grafted the gentiles into his promise. He was faithful to his word to redeem his people even after they had forsaken him.
What do you think about this issue?
Get a new job is not a helpful answer.