Saturday, June 21, 2008

"Do you even know what you're buying into when you follow your leader?"- John Reuben

How in God's name did John McCain become an elected official?

I find myself amazed that people would want him to be our president. Why the heck did Arizona choose him as a senator? I honestly don't believe that any thinking, responsible human being could possibly vote for him. I would go so far as to add to that: I definitely don't know how any thinking, responsible follower of Jesus could vote for him. (Single issue political voters are alive and well, I guess.)

In his own words, he "disagrees with the majority of Americans" when it comes to the war in Iraq.

Barack Obama wasn't my first choice. (He came third after John Edwards and Hillary Cinton. Ron Paul wasn't a bad option either, if you don't like big government, but that's another post...) But Obama will certainly be getting my vote over John McCain.

Does anyone think there's any reasons left to have any trust or hope in our US government actually doing their job properly? To stop wasting billions of tax dollars annually? To stop colonizing the world? Any reason at all?

I think all hope for governmental change at a national level would be dead if McCain gets elected.

I'm trying to get two more posts up--a follow up on what happens when we die and a commentary on John 14:6. They are both complicated topics that I want to handle properly, so all in due time.

Friday, June 13, 2008

John 14... part Uno

I don’t believe in heaven anymore.

(Notice: “heaven,” not “Heaven.” The capitalization is quite important. I’ll get to that later…)

I think this myth of dying and going to “heaven” has been perpetuated by Christians and Christian culture for far too long. Sure it’s a nice idea. Sure it makes people feel better at funerals. But I find no Scriptural evidence for it. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada. (An aside: I'm sure someone who cares is going to throw 2nd Corinthians 5:8 at me. Don't bother. The Greek is very clear on what Paul is saying there, regardless of what you think your translation is telling you. So don't bother bringing it up.)

In John 14:1-4, Jesus uses wedding imagery to tell his disciples about the End. Why? Because his disciples were Jews and it made sense to them. (He had a tendency to do that a lot--use wedding imagery. {ie, Communion, the End, etc.}) See, in a Jewish marriage, once an engagement was sealed, the groom would return to his father’s place of residence and build an addition onto the house. He was making ready for his bride-to-be. Things weren’t ready immediately—it took some time. The groom would then return to the bride’s place of residence and escort her to her new home.

I find it obvious that Jesus was telling the disciples that he was going away, was going to get things ready, and then was going to return and take them “home.” Here we run into another issue.

Christians like to throw around this mumbo jumbo about a “Rapture” happening at this point. Its been described in an awful series of books that have nothing to do with the New Testament as a moment when all Christians will simply disappear and be taken up to heaven. Isn’t that lovely? (Well, lovely for everyone who is taken. Not so lovely for everyone who is left. The world pretty much turns to crap at that point and its really terrible.) The only problem is that, once again, there’s no Scripture to support the idea. There’s not a single shred of evidence in the Bible that points to an event like this. Lots of theories and interpretations could lead you that way. But it takes some stretching and reading with scissors.

Hang with me.

In 1st Thessalonians chpt 4, it talks about Jesus returning to earth. It says that the “dead in Christ” and those who are “alive in Christ” will be caught up into the air/clouds/sky/etc to meet Jesus. It’s a really nice thought to think that this is saying Jesus is coming to take all of the Christians away to goto heaven and away from this "terrible" planet, right? Once again, the imagery here is ever so important. The language and terminology being used is of an important figure coming to a town. The city goes outside of the gates to meet this person, welcomes them, and then they all return back into the city together. So based on what Paul is saying here: followers of Jesus would rise (somehow) to meet Jesus in the air/clouds/sky/etc then return to earth with him. Not go off to a magical place and leave the rest of the planet to its demise. (Note: this is called Christian Escapism or Dispensationalism and has been very popular since the World Wars.)

So what’s the point?

The point is: I don’t believe in heaven. I believe in a future Heaven. But I think the Bible is clear that the Heaven it discusses in Revelation chpt 21 is a future existence on earth. Heaven will be here. According to John 14, Jesus is preparing that existence. God is going to restore this place. (Another reason why I believe God meant what he said in Genesis about taking care of this planet. But that’s another post…) Not some far off dimension with clouds and harps and all that jazz. Earth. Jesus is gonna 'make the magic happen' (to use a Jason Brown term), at some point in the future, here.

So logically, if I don’t think Heaven exists yet, where do we go (once dead) in the mean time? I don’t know. I don’t find Scripture to be 100% clear on the subject. I think it would be really odd if I died, was judged by God, sent to “heaven,” then was taken out again at the End to be re-judged and sent back to “heaven.” That makes no sense. I believe in one Judgment. I couldn't tell you exactly what that looks like or how it will take place, but I do know there’s only one. So once we're dead, and until Judgment, we wait. How? Where? In what state? I don’t know. Luke 12 points to a waiting place that’s comfortable, but obviously not “Heaven.” In clarifying what Jesus and Scripture and Judaic tradition say about all this, it leaves a lot of things unanswered. It doesn’t really bother me. Either way, in the End, its all gonna make sense. Right? Hopefully...

All that from four verses in John 14! Obviously, this doesn't cover everything--its just my thoughts (condensed as possible). But, nonetheless...

Up next: the infamous John 14:6

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I know... I promised... but...

I promised some blogging on John chpt 14, and it is soon to come. I've been quite busy at work and such. Little time to write lately. But its coming. Some of you will love it. It will piss some of you off. Typical writing on Scripture and Jesus from me, right? But it is coming.. SOON! I promise.

Tonight, Christian "the real deal" Villarreal invited me to watch the employee preview of "The Happening," M. Night Shymalan's new movie.

I was incredibly disappointed.

The dialogue was pretty bad in places--poorly written, poorly acted out. The plot just didn't play out well. The music was really great, but that was about it. I'd spoil it all and tell you what its about, but perhaps you wanna watch it so you can be angry, too. More or less though, its about the plants/trees/grass/foliage/etc attacking humans. They run from the wind at several points. I just didn't get why they thought it was a good idea to write a script and make a movie about it.

It just wasn't good. And I'm a little sad. I expected more. "The Sixth Sense?" Mind blowing the first time I saw it. "Unbreakable?" Great concept for people who appreciate super heroes/comics/etc and a great movie. "Lady in the Water?" Heck, I even enjoyed it. Different, but triumphant and enjoyable.

"The Happening" was one big let down. The guy behind me said: "The twist is: there is no twist!" I think he was getting at the fact that the movie was anticlimactic. But I'm repeating myself.

If you can watch it for free, like I did, take a shot. Otherwise, save your money for something... anything... else.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

the one and only Shane Claiborne...

At the moment, I can't put into words how I feel after watching this.

When Shane speaks... writes... lives his life... he points to real Christianity.

Not this fake B.S. so many of us have been taught to follow.

This video is a litany Shane lead people in at Catalyst Conference. You can read the whole script here (after the jump, just click "more info" beside the date to the right of the video image). The words here made me uncomfortable. The words made me think. Its as much a confession as anything. It should a confession we make together as a church. I wonder what the response was in that arena full of people.

Sunday, June 1, 2008



all together

one of the best weekends ever

We enjoyed the spring showcase for Kaleidoscope on Friday night. It was amazing. Q and Marcus are probably the two best young writers/rappers I've heard locally. The art... the photography... the dance... the step... the stomp were all phenomenal. It was really, really great.

We then went to Jordan and Tim's house with Collin to watch "Lars and the Real Girl." I really liked it. Brittany said she would call it interesting, not hilarious though. Very dry, awkward humor. The movie has a lot to say about humanity and relationships. I wouldn't recommend it for the average movie-watching night. But for something different, its well worth it...

Saturday was a present. From the wife. And it came in the form of tickets. Club box seats in the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnatti to watch the Reds and Braves. A-maz-ing. We had nice padded chairs in the shade. We didn't feel like getting up, so we flagged the server down and put in our order for hot dogs and drinks and they brought it to us and it was delightful. VIP treatment guys. The game was great, too. The icing on the cake was watching Bobby Cox get thrown out--but that's normal for him.

And today was a nice end to it all. Played a lil git-er at Broadway's Greenwood campus this morning. Then met the wife at the Shoemaker's for a lil brunch and Scriptural discussion. The afternoon involved playing some GTA IV and taking a ride with the wife on the hog around BG with Jordan and Tim. Then I played Grillmaster for the youth at Broadway--hot dogs and burgers all night.

Nothing mind blowing in this post.

Its just that weekends like this remind me of how good life is. People tend to be so excited about future things and miss out so much on the here and now. I am so grateful for this beautiful world. So grateful for this beautiful life--my wife, my job, my friends, my scooter, etc etc... I want to enjoy every minute of this. To live fully in it. To laugh and love and sing and be here now.

Coming soon... my thoughts on Jesus' statements in John chapter 14. Prepare thyself!