Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Does anyone remember that show Captain Planet? For those of you who weren't watching cartoons in 1990 I'll fill you in. Captain Planet is our hero, and he's gonna take pollution down to zero.
As you can see above Capitan Planet (The blue guy on the left) is an environmental super hero. He has a bunch of teenagers follow him around and save the world from "looters and polluters" (this foul lot can be seen on the right!)
The villains in this show had a strange thing for polluting as much as they could. It some how made them happy to destroy the environment. This little fact is what made the show so funny.
Who in their right mind would purposefully destroy the environment?
I never thought anyone in the real world would be resemble the senseless mallice of these cartoon villains until I ran into These Guys! (this is a link click it and read!)
Who does that!?
I don't have time to get into the details of how I believe Christians should respond to the environment right now, but I will tell you what I think the two greatest sins of our nation are.
1. The legalization of infanticide though abortion, as well as all other forms of government sanctioned murder (war, death penalty, etc...)
2. The disregard of our stewardship of the planet for our own gluttony.
OK... The floor is yours.
Answer me these 2 questions...
1. How do you feel about global warming.
2. What does God have to say about our role in this world.
Peace and Love... and God bless the cartoon villains
What is it about an itch? What is it about the way an itch can drive you mad? Why is it that the whole world can seem to fade away with a little itch caused by nothing at all? Just think about your whole body itching all over. It’s itching and you can’t do anything about it. Now how many of you just had to scratch yourself somewhere?
For some reason an itch can be contagious! Just saying the word itch can create the sensation in others! It’s not like itch is some magic word or anything. The same phenomenon will occur in German if you say Gelüst or in Spanish if you say picar or in Japaneese if you say muzumuzu.
Saying itch taps into the experience we’ve all had associated with that word. It cues our mind. We have these mirror neurons that cause us to imitate what we see others doing... like having an itch and scratching it.
What other things in your life give you a desire that needs to be fulfilled. Is that desire contagious? Is that a good thing? Peace!
Friday, May 23, 2008
2,186,230 Can anyone guess what that number represents?
2,186,230 any Ideas?
2,186,230 this is the number of people who were in Jail, or Prison in the United States alone in June 2005 (the most recent statistics I could find).
Each person incarcerated in our system today is there because the government believed they had committed an offense that warranted a punishment. It’s not the only way the government punishes people, but it’s one.
Other means of punishment include parking tickets, community service, probation and a slew of other reprimands.
Throughout time there have been many very odd ways justice is carried out. In Elizabethan England women who gossiped to much was led around the city with a metal cage over her head with spikes in her mouth so she couldn’t move her tongue, they also made drunkards walk the streets wearing nothing but a barrel, and encouraged public jeering. The means for carrying out justice have changed but in every society there has been a consequence to breaking the rules.
In the time of Jesus things were no different. If you stole, you were punished. If you killed you had to face consequences. There were laws in place to keep the peace, and keep society plugging along.
There were also laws that the people followed in order that they could have peace with God. These were laid out in a group of writing that were the heart and soul of Jewish culture. This collection was called the Torah. The Torah laid out the beginnings of the Jewish people, stories of how God had intervened to help, save, and nurture the Jewish people throughout time, and laws that taught the Jewish people how to have fellowship with God.
One of the major ways people made peace with God was through sacrifices.
Sacrifices were offered in the temple in Jerusalem periodically throughout the year. Many of these sacrifices were slaughter offerings where an animal was killed for the people. We see in the book of Hebrews that this was because blood was required to fulfill the justice of God. As Hebrews 9:22 states, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
Blood was needed, blood was given, but God wanted a deeper connection. He wanted life with us that was forever. Our lives fell short of God’s righteousness. We couldn’t live up to the standard of God. We weren’t perfect, and God requires perfection. This is what Christ’s life was about. He came and was killed, a perfect sacrifice between God and us forever. He opened the way to life with God, and united us with our creator for all time.
Because of Christ we are right with God. There is no need to sacrifice. There is no more blood needed for salvation. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God.
That often leads me to the question, “now what?”
Seriously, Christ took care of it. What are we to do now?
In the Torah we can see hints of what life with God is all about.
The offerings for sins were required to be perfect, as Leviticus 22:20 states, “Do not bring anything with a defect, because it will not be accepted on your behalf.” However there were other things we people could give God that were not required to be perfect.
In Leviticus 22:23 we read that, “you may, however, present as a freewill offering an ox or a sheep that is deformed or stunted.”
These were offerings given to God, not to fulfill a requirement or obligation, but simply to give thanks to God.
Christ has taken the requirement of blood on himself, but we can still give God thanks. It may not be perfect like Christ, but God has always accepted true thanks even thanks that might be deformed of stunted.
I think this is what Paul is talking about when he writes: “in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1).
Right now I want you to close your eyes breathe in and just say Thank you.
What are we to thank God for? WHAT NOT!
When I was in Europe thank you was the first word I learned in every Country. In Germany, Danke, in Hungry Köszi, in Sweden and Denmark it’s Tak. To the Americans I met it was Thanks and to the Japanese guy I stayed with it was Domo arigato (Mr. roboto).
Life on earth is filled with expressions of gratitude to those who have given us even the smallest of things. We say thank you for gifts, for opportunities. We say thank you to the guy who gives us our change, and even to the guy who hands us a flyer to the show we don’t even want to see. How much more should we thank GOD!
Do you find yourself irritated by the people you work with, the teachers you have, or the kids you run into every day?
Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5, “give thanks in all circumstances.”
I have found the more I thank God the less things seem to bother me, and the more I feel close to God. Just as ancient offerings were said to ascend to the heavens, so also a life lived in praise connects us with God in powerful ways.
It also connects us with others in powerful ways. Last week at MissionChrist we sat around and gave thanks for one another. It was powerful to see the ways that each person had become a blessing in someway to someone else. As we went around there was no person who hadn't impacted another in love at some point. Your life can be a blessing.
What are you thankful for?
I was lost… but not now
I was hopeless… but not anymore
I was alone… but now I have true friends
And I know that even when I find myself lost hopeless and alone God will bring me out again.
Remember. Right now. EVERYTHING God has done.
God has inspired me, moved me, provided for me, saved me and known me. God has blessed me beyond comprehension, and taught me how to laugh, dance and run.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Alright I’m actually pretty excited now. I’ve been a great admirer of Phyllis Tickle for some time now, but have yet to read her latest published work, The Words of Jesus. I did however take a few pages in using the search inside feature on amazon.com, I also read an interesting interview with Phyllis on the book and I must say both of these things have me a bit excited, and nervous.
What the book does is simply remove all but the words of Jesus from the Bible. Or I suppose another way of looking at it is compiles all the word of Jesus into one place. The words are organized in such a way that you read all of Jesus’ words to a particular audience together (crowds, disciples, etc).
In her interview Phyllis articulates well the feeling I felt as I read through the selections I found online when she says, “You do lose the guru. You would never confuse this man with Mahatma Ghandi or the Prophet [Muhammad]. You lose any sense of the guru and you lose any sense of the sweet child, holy, meek and mild. You lose the stereotypes. This man is God incarnate. He claims it, he speaks it. It is as if Sinai is moving among us, speaking its own Torah with no Moses. It is Sinai on legs.”
I recommend some of you should give the full interview a read. Another highlight from interview is as follows, “[In reading the book I] came to hear him first instead of visualizing him. Another one of the preconceptions we bring – one of the problems with Roman and Protestant Christianity is we have been willing to visaulize and pictorialize the divinity. It distorts [the divinity], no question. If you come to this as a Roman Catholic or a Protestant, you have in your head a visual image of Jesus – whatever it is, you’ve got one. You come to the words through a picture. Now there is no picture. The voice is so overwhelming that it shatters all the pictures. The heard Jesus is inside you, not something outside you. I say in the reflections it is a great deal like being inside a room instead of outside it and seeing through a window what is going on in there. The second thing is his personality – that he is this persona that is stark and, well, godly. He is not some wandering carpenter who went for a new job. All of that is gone. What you’ve got is what probably made the children of
So what we basically have is a new way to look at Jesus that is quite similar to the hypothetical Gospel of Q, or the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas. Is this a good idea?
Much of what Jesus did was in his actions, and not in his words. He heals without any having any words docuented, prays and is not recorded, and dies with few words. In the earliest manuscripts of Mark his resurrection is even recorded without a single word of Jesus mentioned. The words of Jesus do not give us a complete picture, which is why I wonder how this book will influence people.
Personally I look forward to getting my hands on a copy and taking it in completely, but I do wonder what you all think,
Is a book that records only Jesus’ words a good thing??
Thursday, May 8, 2008
When the world was six days old God decided that he was ready to pull out the big guns. He rolled up his sleeves and created humanity. He took some dust and breathed on it, and the bible tells us that the dust became man. He called the man of the ground Adam, which was a good name for him, but I guess that goes without saying because God is the one who named him, and God… well he pretty much rocks at everything. The Hebrew name for man is adam, and the Hebrew word for ground is adamah. So the scriptures tell us that God took Adamah and created adam who he named Adam. And it was very good.
From Day one humanity has been physical. We are flesh and blood we are people with physical needs, and physical desires, with physical hopes, and physical dreams. The scriptures tell us that we were formed from dust, and they promise that we will become dust again.
So just to make sure your trackin’ lets go over what it means to be human. Dust + Breath of God = human.
So next time your cleaning off your old t-ball trophies remember there is really only one thing that separates the winner of that trophy and the resident of that trophy. And that is breath. Of course it’s not just any breath but it’s a breath none the less, and that’s all our lives are. Or as the writer of ecclesiasts says, “everything is a breath.”
How great that breath must be.
The Hebrew word for breath is Ruach.
The Hebrew word for spirit is Ruach.
The Bible tells us the angels are spirit.
The Bible tells us that God is spirit.
The Bible tells us that we are spirit.
From Day one humanity has been spiritual. We are created from the very breath of God, in the image of God, in the likeness of God, to live forever with God. We are spiritual people with spiritual desires, spiritual hopes, and spiritual dreams. We were formed from the spirit of God, and God has called us to live spiritual lives.
Have you ever been hurt by something someone said?
Has anyone ever talked down to you?
Has anyone ever made you feel like dirt?
Have you ever made anyone else feel like Dirt?
In his book, Beyond the Last Tribe, Dr. Alan Rabinowitz tells the story of a pygmy tribe called the Taron. The Taron were a people who were shorter, and weaker then the tribes around them. Surrounding groups who would capture them and turn them into slaves continually dogged them. They became a group out outcasts, living at times in trees to avoid the slave runs. Since no one wanted them the tribe became very inbred. Eventually deformities started to emerge from within the tribe from the limited genetic diversity. The Taron recognized this and made a pact with one another to stop reproducing. They intentionally committed ethnic suicide. Today there are a few remaining Taron left, but the tribe has virtually disappeared from the earth and within a generation will be completely Gone.
Humanity can be ugly sometimes.
When we treat each other like dirt we are denying that God has made them in his image. We are eliminating the spiritual element of their existence. We tell them they are simply here and will shortly be gone. In doing so we tell ourselves the same thing. Every time we treat someone as if they aren’t worth it, we loose touch with the worth we ourselves have.
Jesus delivered an amazing sermon on a mountain in
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Eugene Peterson translates it like this: ” You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.”
By creating peace with others we find ourselves. By creating strife we loose ourselves.
Love brings life. Hate brings death.
You are worth it
Because God said so
And so is your boss, and your dad, and your neighbor, and the Taron, and the Jews in the holocaust, and the Nazis that killed them.
God created us all for a purpose. God created us, together, for a purpose.
Hate destroys all of us. Love builds all of us.
An early Christian evangelist named Paul puts it like this in a letter he wrote to an early church in
Are you a human?
Then you’re worth it.
Are you alive?
Then you’re here for a reason.
Do you know anyone?
Then you can show them who God is.
Think about it.
Seriously think about it.
You can show them who God is.
Yes even THEM!
Yes even YOU!
Because you’re worth it.
Has it gotten awkward between you? Does the idea that the relationship could be anything more then dust to dust seem impossible? Is the idea of bringing God into conversation painful to even think about?
God wants to redeem even that. The deep pain. The wounds. The words spoken in anger.
Have you lost your passion? Has the stranger on the corner become less of a human, and more of a nuisance? Has the Job ceased to be about changing the world? Has the class become a chore rather then an opportunity?
God wants to redeem even that.
Do you feel like you’ll never get over the addiction? That you’re caught in a cycle you can’t get out of? That you’re trapped?
God wants to redeem even that.
Monday, May 5, 2008
1. For Others
2. To Worship God
3. In every context we find ourselves
I thought some of you might be interested in listening in on our conversation. I've posted it below. Click on the play button and enjoy!
If you have any further thoughts please post them in the comments section so we can all dialog further on the issue!
Thursday, May 1, 2008
I haven’t seen the movie Expelled. But I have been engaged with the issues involved in intelligent design, and creation science for some time now. I am continually frustrated by both Christians, and non-Christians on the issue of Intelligent Design. I personally believe in God, but am of the opinion that in Public schools God should be taught in world view and religion classes, not classes that teach the empirical sciences. This is not a view I have always held. I used to be a staunch “Young Earth” creationist that believed that the world was created in Six 24 Hour periods, and thought that this is what should be taught in schools. Much has changed in my life since then, but I think I understand most sides of this issue pretty well.
After countless discussions on this issue I’ve recognized a few misconceptions people have on this subject on both sides. I’d like to clear them up, so hopefully we can quit shouting past each other and start learning from one another in love.
Top 10 things you should know
BEFORE arguing about Intelligent Design
- Not all creationists are whacked out crazies, but some of them are. I’m not going to name any names here, but I have met both. To those of you who believe in a designer make sure you check your sources. Intelligent design folks are notorious for getting their information wrong and not just the ones with DVDs and speaking tours. Even some Journals have a reputation for a less then adequate system of peer review. That being said, to those who don’t believe in a designer. Don’t be close-minded. Make sure you are LISTENING to what a person is saying, even if you disagree you can still learn, and be surprised. By pidgin holing anyone who believes in a creator as crazy, not thoughtful, or even “wrong” you are exhibiting the kind of blind assumption that frustrates you about the other side. LISTEN, CLARIFY WHAT YOU HEARD, REFLECT then speak. That goes for ALL SIDES INVOLVED.
- There is more then one kind of “intelligent design” and there is more then one kind of “evolutionist,” and sometimes people are both. I can’t tell you how many times I find I am judged before a single world leaves my mouth. People know that I am a Christian so they assume I am all sorts of things I am not. I find half of many of the conversations I have attempts to communicate who I am beyond my labels! Don’t judge before you listen. Just because someone believes in creation doesn’t mean they don’t believe in evolution. Just because someone believes in evolution doesn’t mean they don’t believe in the bible, and even if they don’t it doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them!!
- Public school science classes are not here to teach us what is true, but rather what is “empirically” true, to the best of our knowledge. Even if you know for a fact that God created the world there is NOT an empirical proof for a creator. What we teach in schools is the natural sciences. These are rational observations about the world based on what we can experience with our senses. Although the system makes some assumptions that may not be reliable it is the system that is being taught, and it does work most of the time. Just because you find evidence that the story of a God COULD work it doesn’t mean you have proof that there was indeed a creator.
- Intelligent design doesn’t always start with religion. There are a number of scientists and other folks who start with evidence and deduce there must be a creator. Not everyone is trying to fit the world into the bible. Some people simply believe the evidence points to a creator and make that jump independent of a religious tradition.
- Genesis can be seen in more then one way. Although many Christians, Jews, and Muslims do read their account of creation as a historical piece of work, many see it as poetic; others read it as theological, while still others find it cosmological. There are some who read it as social commentary, and others who see it as simply legendary. Most people read it in more then one of these ways. As a Christian I do not believe that it is heresy to read it any of these ways. I may believe someone is wrong, but I recognize that I might be too and choose to love them as a brother or sister in Christ regardless of their take on this. This is not an essential issue of our faith!
- The argument is not just a Christian one. As I mentioned above there are plenty of Jews, Muslims, and people of other faiths who believe in a designer, and within each faith there is a rich variety of opinion on the matter. Heck there are even Atheists who believe in forms of intelligent design!
- Both sides have their frauds. On the creationist side the are things like the “Burdick Print,” and on the evolutionist side there are things like “Piltdown Man.” When a hoax is discovered, and there certainly will be more to be sure, don’t make it the issue. Just because someone lies about something doesn’t mean everything they believe is now wrong.
was not the last word on the matter. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life or The Origin of the Species as it is commonly known is not a sacred text. Darwin was a man who made mistakes just like everyone else. Evolution has changed dramatically since Darwin ’s theory hit the scene in 1859. Don’t think that because you can debunk Darwin that you can debunk evolution. Make sure that you understand what you are talking about before you attack it. The same can be said to all sides involved. Darwin
- Science doesn’t have all the answers. The evolution taught today will not be the evolution taught in 10 years. The theories we have today are full of problems and paradoxes, and textbooks are usually about a decade behind in the times. There is a good chance that many of the things you believe today about the world we live in have already been revised and edited into something quite different. Don’t make what you believe something static and unchanging unless you like being wrong.
- You Tell me. Comment on this with what you think people should know about!