Sunday, December 30, 2007

Well, hello.

Christmas was weird this year. Really weird. I always hate to be Debbie Downer. But I can't help but to point out what I see. Call it what you will, I'm just pointing it out. Asking questions and such...

Christmas is awful, if I may be blunt. The signs of "Jesus is the reason for the season" make my stomach turn. Because its not. Its just not anymore. I don't know a ton about the beginnings of it all. I do know that the Church decided to celebrate a new holiday (Christmas) to offset Saturnalia (a pagan holiday) and that we get a lot of our traditions from said day. I don't know what Christmas was like 100 years ago. But now... its just not about Jesus. Its about us. Its about money. Its about gifts. Not that I don't enjoy those things. Who doesn't like getting nice things? Its just so hard to live like I'm used to. To "celebrate" like I'm used to.

What's it like to be poor and starving and to have nothing and to see those around you who have more than enough? What's it like to not be us white, middle-class Americans this time of year? I read a survey that said the average household spends $800 on gifts. I would venture to say that its much higher than for the majority of us. And the problem isn't the gifts. The problem is what we are ignoring by spending money where we do.

I don't know.
I don'tknowdon'tknowdon'tknow. I just don't know how to feel.
What to say
what to think
what to feel
what to do
who I am
who we are
who we're meant to be
I just don't know.

I don't mean to ruin anything for anybody. But in the process of examining me, it makes me think a lot about us. When someone doesn't have clean water to drink, doesn't have anything to eat, doesn't have medicine to give their dying child... how can I continue to "celebrate" like this? How can we?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I thought this was a great article. Worth a couple minutes of your time to read...

Pardon my foolishness, but...

I'm pissed. It happens often, I know. But tonight, I'm especially pissed. And not about something someone wrote on my blog or an email I received or my job... none of the usual.

I'm pissed because I think we make God boring. At our churches. With our corporate worship songs. In our lives. The way we present things. Our services. I think its incredibly insulting to God.

I follow a God who is creative and imaginative and inventive. I follow a God who inspires and pushes limits. But the ways in which we sometimes portray God... its awful. Lots of things about church tend to piss me off. But as someone who cares about what others think about when they look at our lives and our faith, it drives me nuts to have boring music at church. Or to have a corporate church service that isn't engrossing. Or to introduce people to God through a five point presentation of why they're a sinner and they need to be saved. Or to only be concerned about tradition and white bread American values not about being relevant to culture.

I'm ranting. But I hope you get the intended meaning. Blaine Bartel always makes the point that "relevancy is not an option." We need to always be aware of who we make God out to be. Jesus obviously captured people with the way he talked, the way he treated them, the way he simply interacted with the world around him. Look at the world... the universe. Quantum physics and the DNA helix and penguins and banana trees and mountain ranges and the Grand Canyon and nebulas and black holes... so much beauty and thought put into the design. Its mind blowing.

People need to meet God. Interact. See the big picture. Yes. But... freakin A... let's be interesting. Let's make sure we don't make God boring. It pisses me off. I bet it pisses him off, too.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Its finally been asked...

So Josh finally put it out there: how do we (as the church) approach homosexuality? I'm glad someone asked...

I write a lot on here. And I really appreciate those of you who take the time to read, comment, and discuss these topics that I put out there. I apologize if I get defensive (which happens easily when I feel like people are asking questions that could easily be answered if they actually read what I'm writing). I am arrogant and stubborn--but the whole reason I write is to share ideas and to get your opinions and viewpoints. It helps me grow and develop these thoughts that are resounding in my head and heart. I am working through these topics and I like being able to do it in an odd communal way. It really is quite helpful. You challenge me and I hope I do the same for you...

But back to the question at hand.

Josh, I think about it a lot. I really, really thought hard today about a way to respond to this. I think I can boil it down to this: For homosexuals, healing will start when the church accepts them as children of God who are worthy of love and respect. That has to be first and foremost. I feel like we tend to tell people they have to clean up their lives, THEN they can be a part of this community we call Christianity. When in fact, that's reverting back to the old system of sacrifices and laws. That's ignoring what Jesus did for humanity. That's not Christ-centered.

I just know that God would have us to accept and love people for who they are: his children. I know people need to hear that. People need to know they are accepted no matter what they do, no matter who they are. God accepted me, chief of sinners. Who are we to say that someone else doesn't deserve that unless they change everything they are first? People need love, first and foremost, people need to be shown love. Unconditional love. No strings attached kind of love. I love you no matter what kind of love. The love God has shown us.

Its easy for us to say "those" people. We compartmentalize so much of our world. It makes it easier for us to not have to deal with it. To push it to the back of our minds and say that "those" people are bound for hell and we can't change the fact that there's a huge rift between the homosexual community and the Christian community. We are so separated. Its going to take all of us breaking down the barriers that divide us and being willing to honestly be like Jesus. I think we try to force things because we think its our job to change people. Its not. Our job is to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Our job is to love. Our job is to point people to the God who loves them so much. Our job is to let people know about the choice we've made. Our job is to live our lives in pursuit of Jesus.

I think we agree that this lifestyle we are discussing is outside of what God intended for us. But I don't have a list of bullet points that are "Here's What We Do" when it comes to homosexuality. I don't think there's a black and white process we could print up hand out to churches world wide to explain to everyone: here's how to handle this issue we've all messed up so badly. I think the response will differ based on the situation and the location. I know sometimes I don't provide all the answers. I may lead you to believe something, but not actually come to that conclusion. For that, I don't apologize. I haven't got it all worked out yet. Some things are still up in the air (gasp! and that's okay!). That's why I write. But I've said what I need to say for now... I'd like to hear your (everybody's) thoughts on the question Josh has posed. I'd like to keep this conversation community oriented--not just me telling you what I think. I want to keep this as US talking about things TOGETHER.

As always, thanks...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Homosexuality: part 3

Well, final installment of this thread. I'm simply taking a few Biblical exerpts that are typically quoted for uses opposing homosexuality and asking that we all take a second look at what they really mean.

1st Corinthians 6:9
"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders..."

The word translated "homosexual" here is interesting. Why? Because we don't know what it really means. It is translated different ways different places, but is used so sparsely in ancient writings, that we really can't pin down its exact meaning. By its context, its obviously referring to some type of forbidden sexual behavior, but we can't nail it as being homosexual simply because we think it should be. We just don't know.

Romans 1:26-27
"...God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion."

First of all, Paul is writing, as he says in the beginning of the book, to the Romans. The Christians in Rome. The people reading this would be immersed in Greek culture where homosexuality was widely practiced and widely accepted. He was writing from Corinth. A city whose main god was Aphrodite--a sexual deity with both male and female reproductive parts. See, the word passion or lust (depending on translation) used here doesn't mean what we would think it would mean. It connects back to the frenzied, trance-like state that worshippers of mystery cults (like that of Aphrodite) would work themselves into as part of their worship rituals. So these people were choosing to participate in a cult where they collectively moved into a feverish, wild trance and (to get to know their deity better) acted as members of the opposite sex to experience all that Aphrodite offered. A man would act as a woman and have sex with another man as part of the "sexual orgy worship ritual." Make sense?

The context makes a world of difference here. Instead of referring to people who struggle with homosexual orientations, it seems that here, Paul is referring to people who let themselves have unrestrained sexual practices as a new kind of kinky thrill. Sure, its still wrong. But if we take the time to find out why Paul might have been writing this (because of what he was seeing in local pagan temple practices) it may changed your mind on what he was actually saying was wrong (ie, perhaps he wasn't condeming all homosexuality with this paragraph).

1st Timothy 1:10-11
"The law is not made for righteous man, but... for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust."

If you know anything about ancient Greek culture, then you know that the young boy was considered the most erotic subject. Look at paintings and sculptures from this time or influenced by this time period. Its plain as day. The young male body was the epitome of sexuality.

It was a common practice in these times as well for a male teacher to take a young boy and personally tutor him. This child lived with, ate, and studied with his teacher. They were most always together. It was also common for the teacher to exploit his position: either by seducing, forcing, or coercing the boy into a sexual relationship. Hence, to stay "attractive" to their mentors as they aged and progressed into puberty, these boys tried to conceal their oncoming manhood--effeminate mannerisms and make-up are a couple of techniques. When they eventually became too old and unwanted, they were tossed aside for a new victim. Obviously, they were left damaged and permanently scarred.

This practice is called pederasty. And like I said, was a common Greek practice. The word used in this verse ("them that defile themselves with mankind") is a masculine word, ruling out females from being involved in this practice. Its just an idea, a good guess perhaps. But in context, it makes more sense than other interpretations.

So while I'm not saying I have to be right, I'm just saying I could be. I'm just pointing out that we should take the time to have a good understanding of what's going on when we read a text. Just because the translators of the NIV Bible proposed a phrase to mean something doesn't mean we have to take it at face value and move on without questioning. Nor am I here to take a verse by verse break down of Biblical texts dealing with homosexuality. I've been very clear how I feel about homosexual eroticism. I've been very clear on how I think God feels about it. But the Bible isn't ammunition. We shouldn't go looking for something to shoot at someone. Its in those times we find a keyword, quote a verse, and stand behind what we say it means. When in fact, we could be totally wrong. Homosexuality is a perfect example of something that "Christians" often do that with.

"Most of all, love eachother like your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything." 1st Peter 4:8

Jesus said that others would know us by our love. Instead of scouring the Bible topically to find "answers" to a dilemma, let's take a more holistic approach. Let's take the time to find out what it really means. Let's not allow a team of translastors to tell us how to think, believe, and feel. Let's see the good news. Let's live like we love God. Let's love others, too. Because at the end of the day, we're all still human.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Comments are free...

Anyone can comment.
Isn't that nice?
Two rules:
1-Don't leave anonymous comments. Attach your name. Be a man (or woman). You get the point.

2-Like Jim Rome says: "Have a good take. Don't suck." It better make sense and be pertinent to the discussion.

That's all for now.
New post coming as soon as I can get it finished.
High five!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Homosexuality: Part 2

The conversation has been great so far. Lots of great back and forth. I greatly appreciate everyone's willingness to calmly, and logically discuss this. Thanks. This post will be part 2 of 3 (I think. Another may be needed. We'll see.) Part 3 will look at several Biblical texts typically quoted when this issue arises. But for now...

Let me make this clear: I firmly believe that there is a difference between being an American and being a Christian. While I personally feel that homosexual relationships are outside of God's design, I don't think its our right as a country to tell two men or two women that they can't legally be married and have the same rights thereof. I don't feel like someone of a different faith or world-view or political position should be able to tell me what's right and wrong for me. How I can or cannot live my life. And I don't feel like I have a right, as an American, to do the same to someone else. That's tough to say. I really struggle with talking about this. But its just how I feel. I do believe that homosexual eroticism is not what God intended for humans. Yet, I don't think I have the right to tell everyone else they have to agree with me 100%. But enough of that...

My point is (obviously) that I believe homo-erotic relationships are wrong. I do. But Ben brings up a great point. If people are born "gay," and its a "sin," then what kind of God are talking about here? That would be an evil god. True. And I can't argue with two points there. One, I do think people can have homosexual orientations or tendencies from birth. Two, I do believe homo-erotic behavior is a sin. But I don't think God "makes" us that way. Let me explain...

For a long time now, I've been telling people I think sin is breaking down humanity. Slowly unraveling our DNA as we progress in time. If Adam and Eve were perfect, we've fallen far from the tree, so to speak. Birth defects. Cancer. Syndromes and and diseases. Look at how things seem to be getting exponentially worse and worse. I truly believe sin is eating away at our genetic structure.

That being said, I hate to bring this up again, but I must: all this comes down to Reformed vs Free Will theology. If God really makes/forms people in a sinful state then predestines them for an eternity of punishment, what an evil God that would be. A typical Calvinist answer would be that "God is just in giving us what we deserve as sinful humans." True. But I find that premise totally outside of the character of the God of the Bible. Sure God holds us accountable. I don't know precisely how that works for everybody, granted. But I still believe in a God who loves his creation. A God who unconditionally loves what he made. I simply cannot believe God would even "allow" people to be born gay, then destined for hell.

I think we allow it. We chose sin. We chose this. We allowed it to happen. I don't think we can point the finger at God. I think we need to point the finger at us. We screwed this up. We brought sin into the equation. Now we're all jacked up and the world's all jacked up and we say one of two things: 1, blame God; 2, God's just in allowing this to happen. Well, I think that both of those responses are bull. God set things in motion. Gave us so much. And we messed it up. Now we have to deal with the repercussions. And some of them are terrible.

Being born with homosexual tendencies isn't any worse off than anyone else. Harder to deal with than most things that are "wrong" with us. But nothing that's sending anyone straight to hell. Just something else to have to choose what to do with.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Homosexuality: Part 1

I've been considering writing on this subject for quite some time now. I'm sure you are all aware at this point that I don't mind talking about whatever I feel needs to be addressed or discussed. However, I feel like this issue is another one of the top five that the Church at large should be focusing on (for many reasons, the first of which is that we as Christians have handled it so badly for so long). So I want to make sure everything I write comes out the way I want it to. As with my writings on Reformed theology, this will be written in several parts so we can hopefully dissect and discuss each area as I go.

I think its essential that first and foremost I put a few things out there.

Let's distinguish between homosexual orientation and homosexual behavior.

Homosexual orientation is who someone is. I've never met someone who says that they choose to be gay. That being a homosexual was a coherent, logical choice for them. While I'm sure there are people out there that for one reason or another have chosen it, I've never met someone who has. For years, many people have scoffed at such statements. The moral police of our country say things like: "Being gay is an abomination! If you're gay, its a sin and you're only gay because you want to be."

Really? I mean, really? Is that what we should think? Do you really think that someone would CHOOSE a life of homosexuality, especially in our culture? I don't. Modern science has made huge progressions in the study of what makes someone gay. Especially in men. At certain stages in pregnancy, testosterone imprints into the brain of the child that they will be a male. Significant stress or trauma can mess up that process, science has recently discovered. Many psychologists agree that children with absent father figures or abusive father figures tend to have more abnormal sexual behavior. I throw those things out there simply to say that, at this point in time, history and science have taught us enough to know that some people are born gay. Some people are gay. Its just who they are. Its not a choice they make. It is their sexual orientation. Just as I strongly desire to have sexual intimacy with my wife, someone of a homosexual orientation would strongly desire someone of the same sex.

Homosexual behavior is a different issue. Tony Campolo defines it as "erotic physical interaction between persons of the same gender." Someone cannot help being gay. Like I said, its just who they are. But, as with everything else in life, we choose how we ACT. For instance, young men have incredible hormonal inbalances. Sex drive is a horendous thing for a weak, immature high school kid. And its either act on it or control it. I think the same thing applies here. I couldn't help how I felt about girls in high school and college. I couldn't help how I felt about my wife. Those hormones and DNA programming as a human being are natural. I tried to learn how to cope with those feelings and urges and control them. But it wasn't wrong to have them. What was wrong was to be acting on them.

People can't change the fact that they have a homosexual orientation. They can change how they act.

We've done a terrible job as a church at talking about this. There are atleast 15 million homosexual people in America right now. That's a significant number. And I think we would agree that most of those people probably don't feel welcome at a local church. WHY? Because Christianity has made them feel unwelcome. Have you ever heard the phrase "Love the sinner, hate the sin."? Have you ever asked a gay person how they feel about that? Have you ever heard a gay person talk about how Christians automatically make them feel like a lesser person when they say that?

I start this thread off by talking about this just to get it out in the open. I don't think homosexual eroticism is morally acceptable just the same as I feel heterosexual eroticism outside of marriage is wrong. But I don't hold it against anyone for being gay. I feel like this is a huge community in the U.S. that has been shunned by the church for a long time. And we need to address it. The Gospel of Jesus is supposed to be good news for everyone. Not just the people in our town who are like us. I heard Rob Bell ask once: "If Jesus comes to town, and things don't get better for everyone there, did Jesus come to town?" In other words, this good news is for everyone. Not just the elite few.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:30-31

Let's talk about this. I've got lots more to say. But wanna take it slow. Give me time to break it all down. Thanks for reading along. Comment away.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Soon, very soon, a new post is coming.

On homosexuality.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

It all hits home...

I've never been there to watch someone I love slip away from this mortal world. I've had people close to me die. Yes. But its always been sudden. And I haven't been around.

A week ago, someone very close to me was involved in a very serious car accident. She hit someone else head on. That other person, an older gentleman, died on the scene of the accident. She, however, has been fighting for nine days to stay alive. Some days are full of hope. She'll be up in bed talking. The doctors all buzzing about getting her back to Bowling Green (she's in Vandy) so she can finish recooperating here. Other days seem like the end is so near.

Last week, my wife, older sister and I went down to see her for a while.
She had tubes everywhere
And the machines beeping
Braces around her neck and arms
Restraints around her wrists to keep her from moving and hurting anything more
And the ventilator pumping up and down
Drip.... drip.... drip.....

This frail, tiny body.
And I couldn't handle it.
My brain couldn't handle it.
I couldn't cry because I couldn't process it all.
Mom would talk. She would nod.

I couldn't pray. No words were there. So my step-dad prayed over her.

All I could think of was a line from the new David Crowder Band album: "There are so few words that never grow old... Jesus." So as I stood there, I just said "Jesus" over and over and over. I figure he understands. I figure he knows what I mean when I have nothing to say. I figure that even when my brain can't put together a line of thought to make sense of life sometimes, he knows that I don't know what the hell to do.

And it wasn't okay.
She wasn't okay.
But it was okay.

The reality of who we are and what we believe hits us like a ton of bricks sometimes. And today, I feel crushed. I'm still trying to get my mind around the fact that all life on this earth eventually ends. And then forever starts. And I still look at things as though time will still matter at that point. And I know it won't. And I know what I think happens next. And I'm a little unsure about the details, but I think the major points are fairly clear. And I think it's becoming real to me in this season of life. Death, that is. And that's so odd to say. And it's so... it's... it just is.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Church, etc...

Recently I have avoided much theological talk so as to avoid the opposition to my thoughts. Some, though well intended, are all I need to ruin a perfectly beautiful day. So, call me a glutton for punishment, here I go again...

As I too often feel I need to do, I think I need to remind people of my point of view concerning Christianity and the Church at large. I don't ever try to discuss these topics as a "them" thing. Its always "us," "me," or "we." Never "them" or "you all." I find myself as part of a group that has a lot of problems. And I don't mind pointing that out. Call it raising awareness. There are lots of things wrong with our world and with Christianity. That's all there is to it. Pain and suffering and ignorance and hypocrisy and and beauty and love and hate all intertwined for some reason. Good is there, but bad is there as well. WE need to acknowledge that. That's what I try to do, I think. And I know it gets taken as criticism, and it is to some degree. But I don't care. I feel like a lot of Christians are like the kid who broke his mom's flower vase. It wasn't mom or dad, and he was the only other one there. But he flatly denies it when confronted by his parents. People CHOOSE to ignore problems. And I won't be counted in that number.

The Bible says that true religion is taking care of widows and orphans. This was huge to Hebrews. And there's so much emphasis throughout the Bible, particularly by Jesus and the first century church, on taking care of the poor. I don't feel like church is church unless these things are a priority. Jesus specifically went to the marginalized and oppressed. Though we try to portray American evangelical Christianity as the minority, we most certainly aren't beaten down or outcast anymore. We need to be about the things our God cares about. Jesus's first message in the temple begins with "I've come to preach the good news to the poor... to free the oppressed..." The famous Sermon on the Mount begins with Jesus saying "blessed are the poor." It is obvious that Christianity needs to focus on ending extreme poverty. It is a basic principle of our faith.

That phrase ("ending extreme poverty") seems to open a whole can of worms for some people. Few things make me as angry as Christians who object when this is brought up. I can't tell you how many times I've heard "Well John David, Jesus says that the poor will always be with us." And that's so sad to use that as a defensive comment to say that physical and material needs aren't as important as someone's "salvation."

First of all, a lil background on the situation. In this text, the disciples are all chillin with Jesus when a woman comes in, breaks open a bottle of expensive perfume and pours it on Jesus. Its a special thing. Very personal, symbolic act of sacrifice and annointing. But then Judas gets all pissed and says (probably very pieously) that they could have sold the perfume and given the money to the poor. Jesus replies that "you will always have the poor among you. You will not always have me."

Okay now, let's talk. Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy here. In context, it says there will always be poor, so be generous and help them out (Deut chpt 15). Also, he's talking about that moment in time when someone does something personal and intimate with him. And, HE NEVER SAYS WE CAN'T END EXTREME POVERTY!!!

Extreme poverty is the lack of basic needs for survival: medicine, water, food, shelter, clothing... The basics just to live. 1.2 billion people are in this state right now. At this very moment. 50,000 people die daily from lack of basic needs right now. Fifty thousand. There are books being written, organizations rising up, people raising their voice on how we can end this right now. Literally. Its possible, because of the massive amounts of wealth in the Western World (, to practically end extreme poverty right now. We, as a church, need to be at the forefront of this movement. We need to be the ones giving our money. Getting our hands dirty. Befriending the homeless. Making sure people can feed their kids. Pushing for legislation for the US government to put our tax dollars towards this cause. We should be the driving force behind it all.

Instead, I hear skepticism. I hear people quoting Jesus as to why we can't do it. I hear lies.

You may not agree with me on everything. Fine. To quote Rhett Butler from Gone With The Wind: "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." I think there are more important things to worry about than splitting hairs on theological issues. At the end of the day, our concern needs to come to down to loving this world. Both the people on it and the planet itself. The world is crying for social justice. I just think we should be the ones coming to help.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Not just another day...

Lots of things happened today.
Lots of things.

We bought bedside tables finally.

I had pizza.

Brittany wrecked my car (slightly, but not totally).

I figured out that I really do love Band of Horses. Their CD simply pales in comparison to their live show when the music is turned up to eleven. Still good. Just not as good.

I remembered that I miss Spacehog. What a great Brit pop band.

Tim invited me over to watch Saturday's big UFC fight. Four words: Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell

And I wrote out a new blog while driving home from BFE Kentucky. It'll take a while to type it all out. Tomorrow perhaps. And yes, I'm sure it'll be everything that you hope it will be.

So, until next time...
Holler back.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The long and short of it all...

A few things I'd like to point out. Bunch of lil quick things I'd like to say.

I have been thinking about ways to save money as a country. Things we could do to use our budget to the benefit of the world. I know it won't ever happen. But I can have an opinion anyway. I would shut down most of NASA. Space flights? No more. Research missions? Nope. I'd stop all that right now. Granted, I understand the reasoning behind it all. Trying to learn more about our universe and all. Trying to find viable options for our future. I get all that. But if we don't do something about our world now, who cares about the future??? We have things to solve. And they need solving quickly. Sorry if you are one of those who believe we actually walked on the moon. I think its ludacris. NASA admits we don't have the technology currently to put a man on the moon. I think its silly to believe we did back in the 60's. Call me a conspiracy theorist if you like. I won't apologize for not believing everything I see on TV, hear in the news, or that the government tells me. I question. Anyway, the Space program currently is a huge money pit. End it. Put the money elsewhere.

Did you know that if our government would keep taxes where they are and only raise the budget 1 to 2 percent, we could eliminate half of our national debt in a matter of years if the economy stays on the path its on? Its crazy to think how much money our government wastes on crap we don't know about. I get angry thinking about it. I'd like to see a real list of where all our taxes go. I'm sure it would sicken the American public to know the truth.

Athlete has a new album coming out. David Crowder Band has a new album coming out. Halo 3 is coming out. Wa Woo Wee Wah. I am excited. September 25th is going to be one McSweet day!

Clove=calm euphoria

I'm trying to decide on what tattoo work I'd like to have done next. Its important. Its kind of permanent. I want it to look good. I also want it to express what I am. Its a heavy thing.

I have developed a severe distaste for all things pop music. Hate is not a fitting word. I loathe pop music. I abhor it. There is so little musical and lyrical integrity anymore. If I hear "Hey There Delilah" or "Umbrella" one more time, I'm gonna go insane. Thank God for people like Bright Eyes and Lucero and Justin Timberlake and Ryan Adams and Wilco and Jack Johnson and David Crowder Band and Charlie Hall and Athlete... they help me not kill my radio. They actually are forward thinking artists. I wish there were more of them in the world.

I still think doubting can be a good thing. Many people have expressed their opinion that doubting is a lack of faith. I disagree. Doubting is natural for some. Others don't doubt so much. Some of us are inquisitive and like to question and dissect things. I am one of those people. I like to ask questions and get to the root of things. I don't believe in "blind faith." I don't take spiritual matters lightly. I certainly don't take my spirituality lightly. And I'm human. I'm not perfect. I don't know everything. The Bible doesn't answer every question I have. The church is in a state of disarray across the world. Christendom can hardly agree on anything. Millions of people are so poor they don't have basic needs like food and water and medicine. The president has fund raising parties charging a thousand dollars a plate while children sleep on the streets blocks away. Genocide is happening right now in Africa. So much crap. So much wrong. So much...

So I don't take things lightly. My heart is heavy and it hurts. I have hope for change. I have hope for a better world. I like talking with people about things we can do to help make that possible. Little things. Big things. Anything. And the older I get, the less I know. The more I feel the need to ask questions. The more I feel the need to voice these doubts I have inside. To get them out into the open. Hoping I'm not the only weird thinking some of these things I do. Its not a lack of faith in Christ. Its a desire to understand my world.

My opinions on reformed theology and Calvanism haven't changed. Just in case you wanted to know.

Thanks for reading along. I turned commenting back on. Please don't start throwing me under the bus again or writing ignorantly--I'll be forced to turn it back off.

Holler back.

"A perfect faith is nowhere to be found, so it follows that all of us are partly unbelievers."- John Calvin

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The married life...

Part One

I have an amazing wife. I really do. She is quite wonderful. I am thankful every day of my life for her. And not just for her good cooking.

I wish someone had told me how much fun married life really is. Its a blast. All the little things make each day a little better than the one before. Its not perfect. But its great.

Brit took me to the Modest Mouse concert at the Ryman last night. Freakin unbelievable. They rocked my face off. Band of Horses opened for them and were surprisingly great. Never heard of them before last night, and am now a huge fan. Think My Mourning Jacket with a lil more umph in the mix. Great great great. Awesome time. All cause my wife is creative and thoughtful and willing to goto see some odd next wave band with me.

She's always on my mind. The things she does. Those precious two minutes in the mornings when I crawl back into bed and wrap my arms around her right before I leave for work. The way she's untidy compared to me and it drives me nuts. The way she makes me laugh just cause she can. The way she loves sitcoms way too much. My wife is perfect for me in every way.

I know she'll read this.
So, I love you. And thanks. You make me better.

And to all of you who are waiting for me to stir things up again... be patient.
Its coming soon...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Pizza and sweet tea...

That's what I had for dinner. It was great.

We got our new MacBook today. Its Amazing. With a capitol A. Amazing.

So I begin to write again. Yay! Its my birthday, Gilbert!

First and foremost, I've just finished reading the first six Harry Potter books. All I can say is: WOW. All caps, yes. WOW. I would highly recommend them to anyone. I can't wait to get the seventh book and devour it. Unbelievable how good they are.

Secondly, my wife has developed a liking for the show "King of Queens." So far, the best quote of Season 3 is "Morning sex is the best thing in the world without cheese on it." How true. How true.

Thirdly, I have found that no matter how I dislike Ben Stiller, his father Jerry Stiller is a funny, funny man. Outrageously funny. I wish he lived across the hall. He'd be my new best friend.

Fourthly, I'm not sure that "fourthly" is a real word.

Fifthly, I've been reading this crazy thing called the New Testament. Wild stuff. But the wife is giving me a look right now that I'm afraid is going to cause my body to suddenly burst into flames, so I'm done. Theology later. I swear. No really, I promise I will. Don't give me that look. Bobby's calliing now. Holler back.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Hear ye! Hear ye!

Brittany and I have a big announcement to make.

Yes, you've guessed it: we bought a new MacBook.

Its a big day. We're really excited about bringing home our new bundle of joy here at the end of the week when the stork drops it off at the Apple Store. That means I can write on my blog whenever I want without having to restart the PC every two minutes. Which means I won't be as angry. Which means that I'll be writing more often. Which means that there's a good chance some of you will be angry more often. Which is why I turned commenting off. Which will probably be turned back on before too much longer.

I know. Its all rather exciting.
Holler back...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Well well well...

It finally happened. I turned off comments. You can still comment. They just won't display on the page anymore. I'll get an email with the comment. But no one else will see. That way, I can be privately angry and not have to share the thought with anyone else. Right?

I just got so tired of all the ignorance. Its like people aren't even reading what I'm writing. They don't get what I actually say. Crazy conclusions being jumped to and words being put in my mouth and on and on... I just got tired of dealing with it.

So now, I can write whatever I want again without having to worry about the response. My wife won't have to hear me complain about the moron's writing on my blog anymore and see me on the verge of either tears or blowing something up. So very soon I'll go back to normal writing. I swear.

Until then, thanks for reading. Holler back...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

After a good night's sleep...

I'm growing increasingly concerned for several reasons. I never expected my blog to stir up so much of this... senseless arguing. I use this as an outlet. A place for me to write and express my opinions, concerns, feelings, thoughts or anything else I feel like sharing.

I've been asked why I don't use more Scripture when writing on Biblical topics. Two reasons: 1) I don't wanna sound like some pompous a-hole. I don't wanna sound like a Biblical know it all; 2) this isn't authoritative. I'm not "preaching". I'm not trying to convince anyone else that I'm right. I'm not writing my graduate level exegesis. I am expressing my viewpoint. Take it or leave it.

For those of you who disagree with me, I don't care. I really don't care. And I'm getting really tired of reading your lengthy responses and dealing with phone calls, to be honest. I'm surprised people can't talk to me like a rational human being. I'm surprised people that don't know me at all don't have the guts to talk to me first before letting loose some bitter Biblical diatribe about what I think--calling my beliefs wrong because they disagree. I've never deleted a comment before. And I'm not about to start. Why? Because you are welcome to think what you want. Because I believe what 1st Corinthians 13 says about us never having it all figured out until we stand, one day, before God. Here on earth, no one is going to have all the answers. Therefore, I'm willing to admit that this is what I think, but I could be wrong. Everyone else should be willing to do the same thing. You should be willing to say: "This is what I believe, here's why, but I could be wrong, no big deal."

Oh, and when we stand before God one day, and full knowledge is finally available, I don't think we'll care. I don't think God cares about what we think NOW. Everyone is so wrapped up in orthodoxy. In believing the "correct" way. I don't hear anyone talking about orthopraxy. About living like Christ. Some of you are all torn up about my personal beliefs, but I don't see anyone talking about the 50,000+ people who died yesterday from starvation, lack of clean water, and AIDS. I don't see anyone who's critical of me, getting worked up about how far American Christianity is from what Jesus started. I just don't get it guys.

This is my place to write what I want. Feel free to comment. Feel free to respond. Feel free to agree. Feel free to disagree. But to those who are so blind as to call me wrong, I ask: you think I'm wrong based on what? YOU THINK I'm wrong. YOU do. I've heard people say things like: "I read the Bible for what it says, without interpretation." Impossible. We are all going to have our own view of things like the Bible. We all come from different backgrounds, from different places, with different parents, with different thoughts and feelings. No matter what, we all interpret these Christian Scriptures as we read them. We're human.

I still hold to my statement that asking questions and searching for answers and healthy doubt is a good thing. My wife made a good point in her comment: no one can say they've never doubted anything about their faith. How can you grow if you've never questioned your own beliefs? One of my favorite songs is by the OC Supertones that says "I don't believe in what you call blind faith." I can't just accept what someone else teaches me as truth. That's not faith. That's stupid. One of my favorite Religious Studies teachers taught me that. He's a Harvard Biblical scholar, and he encouraged me to question him. I would have no confidence in Biblical texts if I hadn't had doubts. Because of those doubts, I have taken the time to research the Bible's history, research what historical outside texts say about it, read it in its original languages. Because of my questions, I have a stronger faith. I choose to follow Jesus. I choose to pursue seeing his kingdom come. Not blindly, but with confidence in what I believe. I understand someone's concern with my using the word doubt (the book of James was quoted), but don't take that section out of context and don't take what I'm saying out of context. Basically, quit using Scripture to win an argument in the first place.

I'm going to go back to normal writing on Monday. I'm done responding to the mess some people are stirring up. This is John David Ryan. This is my blog. This what I think. What I want to say. Thank you for reading. Thank you for caring. It means a lot, it really does. Keep expanding your horizons. Keep searching. Keep pushing forward. But don't lose sight of the big picture. Holler back...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I'm taking a deep breath first...

And now I'm letting it out.

Obviously, when I wrote my last few blogs, I was prepared for the responses. I've heard there has been much said lately. And I say: high five! Glad to hear I make you think.

Two things: 1, I've never said I am some super-theologian writing his newest exegesis on systematic theology--I say I am me expressing my opinion; 2, if you don't like my opinion, I don't care.

I'm not saying I'm 100% correct. I don't think anyone is 100% correct. I'm saying that "this or that" is what I think, what I believe, how I feel. Take it or leave it--it is what it is. And I'm not asking you to agree. I'm not saying: "Follow me! I've got it all figured out!"

So feel free to disagree. Please! I encourage thinking, asking questions, doubting... they are some of the best things for one's spiritual growth. But don't waste my time and blog comment-area space by writing some long dissertation on the opposing view point. And please, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, stop putting words in my mouth.

I'm not big on labels, but I am Arminian. I stand on the opposite side of the fence from Reformed or Calvinist doctrine. True. However, that does not mean I don't believe that God is sovereign above all else. I believe he is. I don't believe my Biblical view points contradict that. No matter how you feel, this is how I feel.

I believe that God initiates salvation. SHOCK! Yes, I do. I believe in prevenient grace. A better phrasing would be preceding grace. In other words, when Romans and Hebrews say that Jesus died once for all, it means it. Contrary to what Reformed doctrine says (that this means he died for the elect) it clearly says he died for all. Therefore, following along with the rest of the New Testament (SHOCK again! I read my Bible) grace is OFFERED to all. Jesus offers grace to all. Therefore he has started the process. We choose to respond or not.

I do believe that God is in control! SHOCK! But just because he's in control doesn't mean he causes everything to happen. I can't look at the world and say that its this way because he desires it to be. That's not the God I see in Christian Scriptures. I don't see a God who creates a bunch of human robots--controlling their every move and decision and so on and so on. I see a God who creates and gives that creation the choice. What's more glorifying to God? A robot that praises him or a human that chooses to praise him?

And I agree with those who say: there's some mystery to this. Sure. Certain concepts and ideas and parts of Scripture simply cannot be fully explained. I don't think that rules out us being free to discuss it.

So discuss away, I say! Let's talk about it. We don't have to agree. I'm sure we all won't. We're humans. That's kinda the beauty of it all: we won't really know it all here on this earth in this life.

But don't put words in my mouth. Don't think I'm going off the deep end. I'm just trying to honestly pursue Jesus and what he has for his church. That looks different for everyone, and that's okay. I'm just trying to be who Christ has made me to be. I make no apologies for that. And as always, I encourage you all to do the same. Holler back...

Friday, July 6, 2007

But there's a couple of bananas...

Good friends and great food made for a wonderful evening. In the midst of discussing a lot of different things, one of my friends made a comment about how much he felt like I had invested in the local Emergent movement. I got to thinking about that...

I lost my house. Lost my home church. Lost friends and colleagues. Lost a lot of sleep. And someone asked the other day: "Would I go back six months ago and do it the same way?" Yes. Without hesitation: yes. It was all really sad. It really was. A lot of things were done really wrong. Lots and lots of things. I wasn't happy with the way it all played out. Brittany and I just say its sad. But in the end, ignorance is not bliss, and so I wouldn't trade in what all God has taught me for what has happened. I'm not saying the Emergent movement or emerging church is the answer to all of our problems. Its a great start.

I'd rather be somewhere where its okay to be asking the questions that need to be asked and doing the things that need to be done and not be part of a local congregation than to be part of a local congregation and not be allowed to question or doubt or try to change things. My buddy and I were agreeing with each other tonight that we have tremendous hope for change and that we want to do everything we can to pursue change from within the walls of a local church. But if we aren't allowed to pursue change honestly, and if not allowed to do the things that need to be done, then (and only then) would I do otherwise.

I guess I feel like I need to make that clear. While I think there's a lot of things wrong with me and with you and with us and with American Christianity, I think there's hope for change. Hope gets me through. And I pray the church realizes how far off we have gotten. I pray we as a church acknowledge how badly we've messed up and begin to turn from the sins of our past and present. I pray we do this together as the body of Christ. Whatever that may look like.

I can't go back to the way things were. My eyes have been opened, and I'm beginning to see how my faith really becomes action. I'm beginning to see what was really going on with all those people in the first few chapters of the book of Acts in the New Testament. God is stirring something up. I can feel it. I can hear it. Its coming: change. No matter who you are or what you do, I hope you see it. Things are not all as they should be. And its up to us to make it right. No matter what it costs us personally. I hope we're all willing to sacrifice. I don't think I've really even sacrificed anything yet. I've been blessed... lucky... pampered thus far in life.

"God, remind me you meant it when you said to sell everything I own, give it to the poor, then to go follow You."

Holler back...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Come pick me up...

Salvation Part 2:
Well, the obvious question following my last entry is: "If you don't believe that God predestines the souls of men, what does it mean in Biblical texts that use the word predestination.?" Good question. I simply believe God predestined the plan--that is, as Ephesians says, he predestined us to be adopted as his children through Jesus. While I find the Calvinist doctrine of predestination totally ludacris, I don't find the Biblical idea of predestination absurd. I find it reassuring.
See, in Romans 8, it says that those God knew would choose to follow him, he predestined them to be conformed to the likeness of Christ. In other words, he set the example for us with Jesus. We are chosen to be just like that... eventually. Its the path we pursue in this world and the assurance of what we'll be like in the next. Anyway, every time I read a text in the New Testament about predestination or election or being chosen, I find it leading to being made like Christ or being made into the image of Christ. Hope that answers that.
And I wanted to point out something about foreknowledge. Just because God knows what's gonna happen doesn't mean he's gonna make it happen. I had a guy in a philosophy class explain it the best way I've heard. A girl in the back was saying that if God already knows what's gonna happen then its locked in place and he made it happen because of his omniscience. This guy turned around and asked "In a few minutes, you're gonna get up and leave class, right?" She said yes. He then said, "Just because I know its gonna happen, doesn't mean I made it happen." I said word. That's it right there. God gives us the ability to make choices, knows every possible outcome, and allows whatever is gonna happen, to happen. Easy as that. Just because he knows what we'll do doesn't mean he makes us do it. That's foreknowledge.
As always, please comment. Let me know what you think. Let me know if any of this makes any sense. Holler back...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The city cemetary's humming...

Here goes... I warn you. I'm sure this will probably take about three posts to even be close to approaching lucid. But I wanna write about salvation. "Why?" you might ask. Well, I think there's a lot of different ideas about it. I want to express mine and hear yours. Plus I think that a lot of misconceptions exist. Then too, I think Christians tend to throw around a bunch of jargon that doesn't make sense to anyone outside of church circles. So, not only do I want to express my feelings on the subject, but I want to try and clear some air around the idea.

I follow a line of thought called "free will." Meaning that I believe that Scripture teaches us God allows us to make the decision on Jesus. Either we reject the life he offers or we choose to follow the example he set. One way or the other. But we choose it. Reformed, Calvinist, or Predestinationist thought, on the other hand, teaches that God chooses for us. He decides who spends the eternity with him or eternity away from him. We have no say in the matter.

Obviously, there is much heated discussion on the subject at hand. People get worked up really quickly over what I just boiled down into a few basic sentences. One could argue that the Bible even leaves room to support both schools of thought. Perhaps. Perhaps. But whatever one believes, I don't think its worth arguing over. I just want to express why I feel what I feel...

For instance, Reformed theology really confuses me on one point: why would God choose to accept us or reject us for eternity (our salvation or lack thereof) but allow us to make every other decision in life? I mean, does that confuse anyone else? God doesn't give us a choice on the matter of following him or not, but he allows us to choose on everything else? I don't get that. If you follow this line of thought, then you simply have to say that if God makes the decision on salvation, he makes the decision on everything. If you follow Reformed thought, then God leaves nothing up to us. We're robots. Designed to love him and serve him and follow him without question. Or designed to reject him and spend eternity separated from his presence.

Its gotta be all or nothing on it. Either he does it all or he doesn't. But the problem for me comes in when someone replies: "Yes. God chooses." If that's true, if we truly have no decisions of our own in life, then the world is the way it is because that's how God wants it to be. And if that's true, then the world is all f-ed up because God wants it to be. If predestination is true, then close to thirty thousand children starve to death everyday because God wants them to. And that's my problem.

I just can't follow it. I just can't. Sure there are certain verses in Scripture that could lead one to think there's something to it. But in light of ALL of Scripture, I just can't read with scissors and say that its certainly true. (Heck, I can't say what I believe is certainly true. But...that's another post.) I'm just saying it doesn't make sense. It doesn't line up with the character of God. I don't follow an all-merciful and loving God who makes suffering and evil exist because he chooses it to. I follow a God who formed us, breathed into us, then set us free to enjoy this life he's given us. But WE make it what it is.

I put the sovereignty of God above all else. I just don't think that shoots down free will. I can't look at the current state of our world and think that God desires for it be like it is. This is not what it should be. We are a long way from the Garden, my friends. And I don't blame God. I blame us. I blame me. I believe God gives us choice. Real, actual choices. These choices determine everything. So at the end of the day, when I look back on what we've done. On who we are. On what our earth has become. I know that we failed miserably. But I also know that the all-merciful, loving God I follow calls me to do something about it, even in the face of the inevitable. (Such as when people quote Jesus saying that "the poor will always" be with us. They try to defend our own selfish spending and lifestyle. Like its not our fault and we aren't accountable. I'd say just the opposite. Its our job to do something about poverty, even if we can't ever totally eradicate it.)

That's part one for now. Just a starting point. I'm sure I'll need to clear up some things I've said, so be gracious and patient. We'll get there. As always, holler back...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I'll keep saying it...

If you haven't figured it out by now, I have issues with a multitude of things. Lately, my mind can't stop considering the current state of our world. I think about it all the time. Especially American culture. It makes me sick. We make me sick. I make me sick.

My friends keep talking about how I can be a downer sometimes, but my mind is always thinking about it. I hear people say these ignorant things or people praying these cliche mindless prayers, and it hurts. I said after a men's church league softball game the other night we should think about the 1200 children who starved to death in the hour we played softball.

Maybe we don't wanna hear about it. But that's the problem. We want to stay separated from the poor. Poverty makes us "feel bad" when we have to face it. The Feed the Children show is on and we change the channel as fast as we can. We see the family sleeping beneath the overpass on the highway and we say how sad it is and drive quickly away. We see it. We don't like it. But we won't face it.

My main issue is that we allow ourselves to stay separated from it. And organizations encourage it. United Way and the Salvation Army and all the rest of the list wants you to give to them. That's great. I don't have an issue with giving. But all you do is write a check. Jay-Z in his song Minority Report says that "We forget the unfortunate. Sure I ponied up a mill, but I didn't give my time. So in reality I didn't give a dime or a damn."

We stay separate. We stay away from it. We give. We donate. We may even promote. And a lot of times its with good intentions. We wanna help. We want things to get better. But we don't wanna get our hands dirty. People will give to the homeless, but they won't hold a homeless woman while she cries about the boys who threw rocks at her earlier in the day. People will give to the Salvation Army, but they won't pick up a homeless person and try to help them by actually taking them to get food and find a place to stay. People will buy Christmas gifts for kids in an underprivileged family, but they aren't gonna check up on them two months later to see if they need any help with the light bill or buying groceries.

We have had a tendency in our churches to do the same thing. To encourage people to give money for the church to do the work. Too bad that about 75% of most churches budgets are internally focused. Anyways, we tell people to give. And thats not a bad thing. But that's not what's gonna change our world. People doing something about the problem physically, tangibly, with their hands... that's what will make a difference. Don't separate yourself anymore. Get involved. Support the organizations and campaigns and movements that need our dollars and voices. But support it with your time and actions too.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Its been too long...

Sorry. I feel bad. I've been worrying about it. Really. I have... I've really missed writing. But as of three o'clock today, Brit and I finally have internet at our place! Woo hoo! So I'm about to let loose with some blogs... I'll start later tonight or sometime this weekend. I think I'm gonna start by talking about the wedding metaphor. Church vs the poor is coming soon. So is a posting on homosexuality--that should prove for interesting discussion. Nonetheless, its on the marquee...

Tell your friends.

Thanks for caring.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Married life...

Well, I love it. Being married is definitely one of the best things to ever happen to me. That being said, Brittany and I still don't have cable, so with that, no internet. BUT HARK! We will soon! So patience, patience, I have many things to write about. Just to give you an idea:
the wedding metaphor
Isaiah and Jesus and how they intertwine
the gospel and the poor
all coming soon...

Stay tuned...holler back.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Apple: a company of heroes...


Just wanted to let everyone know about the awesomeness to come... on May 20th (yes, its a Sunday) at Broadway United Methodist Church at 9:30 am, Kaleidoscope is presenting a bit of delightfulness for your eyes and ears... perhaps even your hearts. They have joined with the ONE campaign, Bread for the World, and Voices Against Poverty to help bring awareness to social issues of our world... locally and internationally. I urge anyone reading this to attend. These kids will knock your socks off with music, art, hip-hop.... the list goes on and on. Anyways... if you can, come. It will not be time wasted. Promise.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

In response...

So, I want to respond to Richard's comment on my last blog as well as explain myself further. I think I might not have written things out as well as I wanted--here goes on clearing it up a bit:

I don't want to push evangelism to the side. Not at all. I am NOT discounting sharing our faith. I am not even saying that its a secondary issue. I am saying that we get to it by sharing the love of God in a tangible way. Evangelism is like point B, where love is point A. I get to point B through point A. Its not on the back burner, its just that I think it comes naturally after point A. Following along with what Brittany said when she responded: we are commanded to share the love of Christ unconditionally. Period.

Secondly, American churches have been pushing this whole "share the gospel" thing for a while and its simply not working. It just isn't. And the problem isn't non-Christians. Its Christians. Did you know that only 1 out of every 10 Southern Baptists will ever share their faith? That's 10%!!! The largest Protestant group in America and only one out of every ten ever bothers to tell someone about their new life in Jesus. Wow...

People don't want the personal responsibility. They want to put the blame on someone else for everything. I've definitely seen it in my time managing a retail store and a fast food joint. People always want someone else to point the finger at. The problem is, pastors allow their congregations to do it. They tell them to invite people to church to hear the gospel. Churches organize one big Sunday every now and then for everyone to bring a friend or two. "Make sure on THIS Sunday you bring someone!" My head hurts when I start thinking about it... why in the world would someone want to come to church to hear a pastor explain about life in Jesus when they don't see it in the person inviting them? Shouldn't the members of a church be living a life in Christ where they don't have to invite people on Sunday for their pastor to explain it? Does that make sense? Its sad. We don't live lives that reflect Jesus so we have to have someone else explain it to them. That's just a terrible situation to be in. We simply need to recognize the mentality isn't working and we must rethink and rework it.

Thirdly, I don't think that "sharing the gospel" is always the most loving thing we can do. If someone has no food... if someone has no clean water source... if someone has no basic medicinal needs... if someone is in need, and we say "Hey, Jesus loves you and etc etc etc..." What have we done for them? Nothing. Nothing at all. Maybe made things worse. In "Velvet Elvis," Rob Bell says that we should consider saying: "Jesus loves you, here's a toaster." Funny, but you get the point. If someone has needs that are urgent, we should be helping them to meet them in a sustainable way. The whole teach a man to fish mentality. Make a difference in this world.

Look at the situation in Darfur. Hundreds of thousands are being displaced. Thousands and thousands are being murdered. If I went to a refugee camp simply to "share the gospel" and did nothing else, that's missing the point. Totally missing the point of Jesus. We should be about changing our world. Changing our community. Changing our own lives. We need to support groups like the ONE campaign and let our government know that we must make a difference here and now.

I love the Church. My faith has been renewed recently and I have hope for the Church. Hope for change. Hope that we can make things better. That's what Jesus left us here to do. I have hope that there is a kingdom to come, but also want to be about seeing the kingdom here and now. Too many misconstrue my recent change for something other than what it is.

To just get it out in the open: I have a lot of issues with the Church. But I still love her. And I have hope for us all. I think Jesus wants us all to pursue him in a way that is authentic to who he made us to be. I think Jesus never wants us to get in a mindset where we say we have arrived. But that we are all always on a journey to pursue him in a honest and real way. Sure, that looks a little different for everyone, but I don't think God would have it any other way.

Above and beyond all of that though--we must be sharing the love of God with a world that desperately needs it. Less that have of a percent of the US's budget goes to impoverished people while thirty percent goes to the military. America's government and America's churches need to open their eyes. Winds of change are blowing. I feel it. Emphasis must be placed on loving people, helping people, changing lives... because that's what we were made for.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The question of love...

It's quite amazing how many times I have been asked by people if I really believe that we should love people just to be loving people. In other words, do I really think the Church in America should put all its emphasis on loving people without any strings attached?


I answer with a resounding yes. I think loving people for the purpose of converting them isn't loving people. I think loving people so they listen to your point by point spill on what "salvation" in Jesus is, isn't loving people. I think giving someone food or clothing if they come to an event at your church to hear a "gospel" presentation isn't loving people.


Love isn't conditional. There's no "I'll love people so I can..." or "I'll love people if they..." That's conditional. That's not love. And quite frankly, that's not the way of Jesus. I think that's what's all screwed up in American Christianity. Our purpose has become our passion. Rather than our passion taking on a purpose of its own. We think that Jesus said we should first and foremost convert people into "believers" or "Christians" so they can goto heaven. How far off we have gotten.

Jesus never said love people so... Jesus never said love people if... Jesus said we should love people. Besides, the salvation Jesus preached was a rescue from the hell they were already in. And on top of that, the restoring of Creation the Bible speaks of is ALL of Creation... not just humans. All of this universe. This earth is hurting because of our lack of concern. So if God's concerned about the whole of Creation, shouldn't be as well? Anywho, I think most of our understanding of "salvation" is way off too... but that's a whole other can of worms I am choosing to open at a later date. Nonetheless, no matter what you believe salvation is, I think we can all agree it is a rescue from hell--but shouldn't it be rescuing people from the hell so many are caught in here on earth? Shouldn't we be about that? Shouldn't we be concerned about that? Shouldn't that be a priority? Shouldn't it be real?

I need to stop writing... I tend to get on tangents and get way off subject and I don't want my point to be lost. So in response to so many who keep asking and to all those yet to ask: YES. We should love people just to love people.

If that's our focus... the rest should come naturally. I know not everyone is going to choose to be a Christ follower. I am well aware that the Gospel can be "offensive." I don't think its our position to make it so. I don't think its our position to change it from what it is. I think its our job to do what it says. And the rest--it will come naturally.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My God, what have we done?

I read the news from yesterday, and I can't fathom it. I scan the headlines and find no answers in them. The articles provide more details, but there's not conclusion to them. It's just... more nothing.

32 people? How can one human take two handguns and kill over 30 people? How? And why? Why would someone do this? I don't get it. I can't understand. My heart hurts so bad. So much death. So much anger. And no answers.

The worship leader at my last church said aloud one Sunday morning: "Jesus, come quickly. Come quickly, Lord." I find myself responding in my heart: "Jesus, don't come back so soon. We've messed this up so much."

I'm not even torn on the subject. It doesn't bother me to say that we have a lot of work to do and I won't be disappointed if the "2nd Coming" isn't in my lifetime. We have screwed up this planet and its people so much... we've screwed up eachother. We've screwed up our lives. We've screwed up everything. So much is so wrong. And we blame evil... and we blame TV... and we blame rap... and we blame heavy metal... and we blame computer games... and we blame advertisers... and we blame the adult/porn industry... we blame the internet.

I blame us.
We've messed it up. The shootings at VTech show that. We, as humanity, are way off track. We like to point the finger. Its a human thing. Like in Genesis when God asks Eve what happened and Eve says it was Adam's fault; then God asks Adam what happened and he blamed Eve and God and Satan. We've always been misplacing blame. We don't want it on ourselves. But it's time to be honest about our situation... This earth is bleeding. Its dying. We have to make efforts to stop it. We can all be fatalistic about it and say its too far gone--but then we start huddling up in our own little groups and give the rest of the world the middle finger and say "To hell with them." But isn't that already happening? We have all got to change. Its not optional. Its not up for discussion. Its a necessity. Change must happen. And it must be now.

Jack Johnson says: "It was you, it was me, it was every man. We've all got the blood on our hands. We only get what we demand. And if we want hell, then hell's what we'll have."

So I leave you with the same question I heard Jim Quigley pose a while back: "My God what have we done? My God! What have we done?"

And what must we do now?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Oh no... words are coming out.

That's what Brian Regan says about those of us who don't think before we speak. We think words, we say words. Seems simple. But so dangerous. I say what's on my mind. And I have so much to say at times that I don't know where to start.

First, I think we're all a bunch of self-righteous pricks. Me. You. Us. We're all so concerned with ourselves that we think little (if ever) about anyone else. So concerned about staying in our own little circles. So concerned about personal purity. So concerned about being doctrinally correct. Dispensationalism has taken over America. I wish I could simply blame Darby, Scofield, LaHaye and Jenkins, but its not just their fault. We see a world getting worse and we just give it the finger and try to take care of ourselves. We use the excuse we're concerned with eternity, but really we're just trying to make ourselves feel better about ignoring that whole "your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." We say we're focusing on not being of the world, but really we're just trying to make ourselves feel better about ignoring that whole "in the world." ORTHOPRAXY, my friends. ORTHOPRAXY. Sure, orthodoxy is important. But that's a whole other bag of worms. Orthopraxy is the DOING part of the equation. Ephesians 2 says we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works. Its not an if. Its not even a command. Its a fact. Its who we are. Its our purpose. Its our reason for being alive in Christ: to do something about it.

Second, going back to what I said a couple of weeks ago: we all wanna be right. And when it comes to Scripture, doctrine, theology, etc... people get heated real quick. Why? Because we're all convinced we're "right." I heard a pastor a couple weeks ago talk about having the "pure" gospel. It made me sick to my stomach. Without naming them directly, he began to call out other denominations that didn't have it right. They are wrong. The way they view God's word is defiling it. But he... he has it right. The SBC has the pure gospel.... what a pile of manure. We're all humans. 1st Corinthians 13 says that in this life, we'll only know in part. Sure, I think the way I look at Scripture is right, but I admit that I could be wrong. I try to stay teachable and willing to listen and learn. Cause I could be wrong about some things. For us to say we have it 100% right and others don't--that's wrong. Anyways---back to my point about being right and Scripture: people get heated quick. The Bible is personal and we strive to be correct in our understanding. I'm trying to take that into consideration when I say what I'm going to say next...

Postmodernism is coming on fast. Times are changing. Minds and hearts are changing. This world is not the same world of thirty... even twenty... years ago. For us to hold to our "absolutes" like they are our only hope is a lost cause. We need to acknowledge our view of Scripture could be wrong in effort to break down the walls of denominations. We need to focus on unity and love. We need to see that refining of our faith is not found in more scholarship or study or in degrees... but in getting our hands dirty, in holding a dying person, in taking the time to care about a homeless person, in contributing to social organizations that make a difference in our communities, in teaching a child about art and how to express themselves, in making others feel important. This is where kingdom work is done. Not every so often when our church plans an event. But everyday. EVERYDAY. I need to change. We need to change...

Jesus said to "repent, for the kindgom of heaven is at hand."

So: Christians, Christ followers, followers of Jesus... repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

God have mercy on me, a sinner.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Ahhhh, Saturday...

Brit's outta town all weekend and I'm off today. I needed some time to myself. I've been recording some new songs for about four hours now. Its nice. Tedious, but nice. I wish I could do this all the time. Record and produce and sing and write... that's what I'd love to do. Hone these talents and abilities rather than my sales skills. Work towards a career that's rewarding. To feel like I'm giving something to this world. To contribute the best way I know how...

I'm so scared to even attempt to pursue it though. Those close to me tell me to try and sell some songs, but I don't wanna sell anything. I'm sure I'd love the money that comes with all that. But I'll be... (something)... if I'll turn on the radio in the car to hear someone else singing MY song. Ya know? The words are from my heart. From my life. I wanna sing them. I wanna play these songs. I wanna be the one on stage.

I don't feel like I was made for a career in sales. I don't feel like I was made for middle management. I don't feel like I was made for marketing. I'm good at all those things. But I have this burning I carry around inside my heart that says I was made for so much more than that. Made for so much more than what I live. So much more than this...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Some explaining to do...

So often, so many questions get asked about the Emergent movement that don't get answered. I have been searching for a band-aid for the bleeding this is causing, and found a decent one. This article does a whole lot of explaining about the Emergent movement and the Emergent church. It talks about differences within the movement, differences between Emergent and Emerging, beliefs, practices, etc etc. Its wonderful, and its an easy read that fills in a lot of blanks. If you have general (and even some specific) questions, then take the time to read this! Let me know what you think...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

It is decidely so.

I've been thinking a lot about being right. And I think we're all obsessed with it. I don't know if its a yearning for validation. Or if its a desire to be on top. I dont know. I just dont know. Its like with a Magic Eight Ball. You ask it a question and you shake it and you turn it over hoping it says "It is decidely so" or "Without a doubt" or "Signs point to yes." With live life turning over Magic Eight Balls in our minds... hoping we're always right. Always wanting to be right.

What's bad about that mentality, is that it infects our hearts. We are more concerned with coming out on top than about the well being of others. More concerned about being right than about making a difference. If someone isn't a follower of Jesus, and they don't agree with my stance on Creationism, I don't think I should sit down and give them a point-to-point Biblical exhortation showing them evidences of why Creationism is the better thought system over Evolution. I don't think that makes a difference in Eternity. It makes a difference in my ego, sure. But I don't think my best methods should revolve around trying to convince someone to think and believe just like me.

And its the same within the walls of the Christian faith. If we disagree on Biblical view points or about what a Christian world view should be comprised of.... who cares? I mean really, who cares? What does it really matter? We argue and fight and cause more division trying to make the Magic Eight Ball give us the response we want.

But Ephesians says there is "one body, one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all..." ONE ONE ONE ONE ONE! Unity is talked about along with patience and humility and dealing with eachother in love. We... us... me... you... we have to get to a point where the Me is not what's important. The Us... the universal church.... the body of Christ is whats important. Unity in "one body" and "one faith." Can we disagree? Sure. That's the beauty of this mosaic of Christian faith. But should it get in the way of "loving your neighbor as yourself"? NO. Never.

But it is. It is. Our desire... your desire... my desire to be right gets in the way of a world that needs help. Like my step dad used to tell me, I need to "suck it up." We need to get over ourselves and our petty discrepancies. We need to stand up and say we aren't perfect, we don't agree on every detail, but we are still ONE. And in that unification, there is strength to make a difference. Power to change.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Remedy is coming...

So, David Crowder Band began recording their fifth full-length studio album today. If you know anything about me, then you know I'm excited. You can goto Crowder's personal blog by following the link on the left side of the page. From there, just read and click, you'll find the live webcams they have set up so nerds like me can check in on what the band is doing during the recording process. Hurrah! Hurrah! Besides my birthday, Christmas, and Wedding day, this could be the best day this year. So, I suppose its the fourth best day of the year. But wait, when the album comes out, it'll be the fourth best day and will make today the fifth! Oh! Brain hurts... anyways, so far this year, this is the fourth best day of 2007.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Could you love this bastard child?

Its a provocative song--but its probably one of the best songs I've ever heard. Derek Webb's "Wedding Dress." Its an honest question though. One that I ask myself. How could the God of the Universe want anything to do with me? I don't say that to sound humble or to garner pity. Its just honesty. I am a prideful, bumbling attempt at being a follower of Jesus. I am always open to learn. And always trying... but I fail. I don't see it as weakness. I see it as being human. I see it as part of the process.

Later on in the song, Webb says: "I am a whore, I do confess. I put you on, just like a wedding dress, and I run down the aisle." Wow. Its interesting in the New Testament that Jesus uses the illustration of sex to paint the picture of the relationship he wants with us. Not that our relationship with God is sexual in nature at all! But its this closeness. So close, that the two are one. One is in the other. Its so special, its sacred. Beyond anything our mind can really describe. Sex--this is the image Jesus uses.

In the Old Testament, it says things like "Abraham knew Sarah and she bore a son, Isaac..." So what happened when he KNEW her? They had a kid. That's funny on the surface. But this word know, was used for expressing two people becoming one physically, sexually. Knowing someone was the most intimate thing two could share.

Back to the New Testament... the Bible talks about at the final judgement, humanity will be addressed individually. Each person will hear one of two things: A) "Well done, my good and faithful servant"; or B) "Depart. I don't know you." Wow, again. First of all, there's no "You were a good person. Come on in." See, Jesus doesn't grade on a curve. 100% is an A. 99% is failing. That's a high standard--a serious line in the sand, if you will. But that second thing. The whole "I don't know you." Jesus doesn't turn people away for being "bad" people. He doesn't turn people away for things they've done. He turns them away if he doesn't know them.

This whole "knowing" thing is rocking my world right now. God accepts me as I am--failures, baggage, addictions, questions, doubts and all. And he wants to know me... intimately. Completely. Always. I don't understand why... why love someone like me. I don't understand how...after all the mistakes and screw-ups. But, using sexual metaphors, he says: "I want to know you. I want you to know me." That's how close it should be.

It just gives me hope at the end of the day.
If God loves me, surely there's hope for us all.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Take my world apart...

I kept thinking of the lines to Jars of Clay's "Worlds Apart" all afternoon. I had breakfast with a pastor this morning, and it was very constructive. Encouraging. Corrective. Forward thinking. Eye opening. It was many things. It really helped me with everything that's been going on lately. Its really made me think about my actions and choices. Its really made me reconsider some of my recent thoughts on the institutional church. Its really made me reconsider how I should be approaching these frustrations I have inside.

The conversation was kind, repremanding, but at the same time, Biblical. I felt like, for the first time, a pastor at this church cared about the outcome of the situation. I've been really negative lately, and I don't need to be. I realized that today. I realized I have been wrong about some things lately and I need to work on correcting them. I need to work on repairing some relationships. I need to make sure people know I am still the same me.

I need to say I'm sorry. For so many reasons. But mainly for acting out of anger. I don't think there's really anything wrong with being angry, but its how I react that can get me in trouble. I had a friend say today: "YOU? Act out of anger? No!" Of course, he was being sarcastic. I'm an emotional person. I wear my heart on my sleeve. And I need to soften some of these rough edges I bear.

Jesus says in Matthew 11:28 that anyone who is weary and loaded-down can come to Him, and He'll give them rest. That's where I'm starting again at. I'm starting in the arms of a God who loves me no matter what. I'm starting in the arms of a God who is willing to take all the crap and junk from me onto himself because he cares about me. I'm starting again in a lot a ways.

I'm also starting to smile again.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007


Good news today. I needed it. Brit and I heard that our application was accepted for our new apartment. Moving out starting tomorrow! Woot woot! I'll be totally out of the house on Morehead by Saturday. Its sweet relief. Brit said she was secretly wishing we could get some place nice, but knew I was too proud of the house and what all I'd done to it to mention that to me... just shows how much she loves me. Can't explain how thankful I am to have a better job with which to afford this place.

I was reading an article about how faith and trust and reliance in God is a whole different thing in modern America. We have everything we want--right here. And if we can't afford it, who cares? You can charge it and live even more beyond your means. That's the American way... and its sick. It has totally jaded my perspective. I am spoiled and I am ruined. Can't blame it on the folks. Its everyone's fault. We live in a time when we don't have to rely on God to fill our basic needs because those and more are already met. So trust has to take on new meaning. Sacrifice has to be taken seriously.

For the first time in a long time I am asking what that means for me. I read a blog by a local pastor asking what we keep off limits to God. I don't want that. I know I do it, but I don't want it. I don't want to block sections of my life off from my Creator. That's not sacrifice. That's not living Galations 2:20. That's selfishness. Moreover, that's not trust. We think tithing 10 percent is rough. That's a command! Not a request! And I'm the first to say I'm the worst with my money and my faith. The two play hand in hand. There's no one to blame but me on this one.

At the end of the day, I don't wanna be thankful for a job with which to afford steeper rent. I want to be thankful for a life that has needs being met by a God who provides. I want to be living a life that takes risks for the kingdom of heaven. I want to be real. I just wanna be like Jesus...

So I'm really pursuing what that is for me.
Really pursuing handing my life over.
Really pursuing authenticity.
I'm really pointing the finger at myself and saying: "This is what's wrong with Christianity."


Monday, March 5, 2007

Black and white...

Today I had a conversation with someone over my recent involvement in the Emergent movement. It ended with us both agreeing to disagree, but then I was told I was still in the wrong. It wasn't: "Hey, we both see things differently. And that's okay. We're working towards the same purpose." I had hoped for that. That's kinda where I was going with the whole "remembering Titus" thing... we're all different people who think different things and see things different ways. But I don't see a thing wrong with that.

It's kinda the beauty of God's masterpiece... isn't it? We're a mosaic. A kaleidoscope of humanity. And we should be working as one. Together. United. Not divided over who's right and who's wrong... not forcing the issue of who's in and who's out. We should be one. Peter says that "love covers a multitude of sins." I feel so strongly about that... that in love, we shouldn't be so focused on the minor issues. We shouldn't be so focused on disagreements. If we both don't see eye to eye on something, who cares?

I just don't think that in a world of gray, to make things black and white, someone always has to be wrong.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Surprise, surprise, surprise...

I went to a local production of Fiddler on the Roof tonight. I really enjoyed it honestly. Much more so than I thought I would. There were a lot of ideas that hit home with me right now. Sides that, everyone did a really great job. Several of my friends were in it, so kudos to them. It got me thinking thought about the lack of arts in Bowling Green. Performing and otherwise. No real galleries to speak of. Not much to just enjoy in this area. Sucks. But really, there's not much to do anyway, much less when it comes to art.

Well, short, simple, and nothing else to say tonight...

Friday, March 2, 2007

On a different note...

Anyone can post a comment on here. You don't have to be a registered Blogger. Just click on the comment section below the blog you'd like to comment on and type away! I'd love to hear from everyone...

Thursday, March 1, 2007

I weep for us...

Today, I was asked to move out of the house I rent for reasons too many to talk about here. I wept and wept over the situation. I've tried so hard to provide a nice place for my soon to be bride. So much time and paint and work to make it nicer for her... for us. And that's all down the drain. So we're looking for a new place. But that's not what really hurts.

What really hurts me inside is that it happened at all. I weep for us. I weep for Christianity. This is what's wrong with us. With me. So much ignorance went into this decision, it seems. So many people are talking about me without actually talking to me. So many people are slamming the Emergent Church without really knowing anything about it. So much ignorance. So much blindness.

What happened to love? When did we become so obssessed with who's right and who's wrong? We did we lose our backbone? Instead of going to a brother or sister in Christ and talking to them, we talk about them behind their back. I had a friend tell me the other day he doesn't see anyone trying to "out love or out give" one another. When did we quit caring about what we are really here for? Jesus left us here to continue his work. We are supposed to be bringing the kingdom of God here and now. We are supposed to be imitating Christ. We are supposed to love people unconditionally. We are supposed to give as much as we can without asking anything in return. We are supposed to be community.

Maybe you don't know much about the Emergent Church. is a great resource for some basic information. You could also try http:/// for some good info on it. I can even suggest some good authors like Donald Miller or Rob Bell or Louie Giglio or Mark Driscoll or Dan Kimball--they all write about a lot of the ideas the Movement holds dear. But if you have questions or concerns, talk to someone. Talk to an Emergent, like myself. Find out what it really is. It's not a bunch of moral relativists (people who think there is no Truth and you can do whatever you want) who sit around and slam the church in America. Its not a bunch of pessimists who don't think the Word of God (ie, the Bible) is important. Its not more division of the church. It is people who are seeking to live like Jesus. Its people who want to see the kingdom of God come here and now. Its people concerned about loving a world that is hurting and dying.

I make mistakes. I fall. I do the wrong thing all too often. I'll be the first to say that I'm not perfect. I'll be the first to say I don't have it all figured out. But I have hope for change. I have hope for us. Even today...

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I am not a good pretender...

While its a sad fact, I find myself to be a good liar. My darkness shows through in that part of me... but I'm not a good pretender. I'm not much of a faker. What I feel like... what I think... my emotions--they show through. Its always obvious what type of mood I'm in.

That said, my blogs on here will probably be the same way. Whatever I want to write about at that moment, its going to come out. It could be about the church. It could be about marraige. It could be about careers. It could be about music. It could be about ministry. It could be about politics. It could be about how much I despise most of pop culture. Regardless, I'll always be honest. Always. I wouldn't say I write truth. But I do write what's true in my heart and mind. That you can count on.

Blunt. Brash. Incoherent at times. Laughable. Humorous. Emotional. Serious.
Hopefully it will be all of these things at some point.
But honest, I will always be.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Explaining some things...

Why the title? you might ask... Do we remember who the heck Titus is? This dude in the New Testament that Paul just drops off on a rather large island, tells him to pick leaders for new churches, writes him one letter... and that's all. Kinda strange. Titus has this incredibly important job that he's selected for. This guy has a lot riding on his decisions and just him in general. Yet, it seems there was so little communication between him and Paul. I mean, Paul's writing letters left and right to Timothy and the church at Ephesus. Talking about visiting him as much as possible. Sure, Timothy was probably closer to Paul's heart than Titus, but my point still stands...
This is all to say what a huge difference there can be in who we are as believers.

You see, Titus was Greek. He would have been labeled a "pagan." He may not have been circumsised! Gasp! Nonetheless, he was saved IN sin. Timothy, on the other hand, was raised by a godly mother and grandmother. He was a good little Jewish boy.
This isn't a slam on Timothy, but I think Titus had a better appreciation for this salvation. He had been saved IN sin. Timothy had been saved FROM sin. It's a lot to think about. And its not to say that those who have "sinned" more than others can always appreciate their salvation more. This is all just say that we come from different places. I'm sure Paul didn't expect the same thing from Timothy as he did from Titus. They were two different guys. From two different places... different families, backgrounds, beliefs, values, talents, and concerns. It didn't make them any less of a leader, or a follower of Jesus, or a man. It was just who they were.

I think we fail to recognize this sometimes. We aren't all the same. We in the church come from different places and backgrounds and we were all rescued by the same Jesus at different places in life. And that's okay. I am not anywhere near the same as my best friends. One's a drummer pursuing a degree in cinema/television. The other's an I.T. guy for Fruit of the Loom who plays way too many video games. One's way too infatuated with football, plays some mean guitar, and sells industrial air compressors for a living. We agree on a lot. We disagree on a lot. But it doesn't tear us apart. We're friends.

In the church, especially here in America, we focus on differences so often. We put so much emphasis on the wrong things. What about what ties us together? What about what unifies us? What about what makes us one?
I want to be remembering Titus. A man all too often forgotten. I want to be remembering that where I come from doesn't designate where I'm going. I want to be remembering that I may not be exactly what everyone expects, but in the kingdom of God, who cares? I want to be remembering that we have a purpose...