Thursday, December 11

Four Spititual Circles?

A while ago I read an interview with James Choung (here it is). In it he explains how he came to use four circles to explain the gospel to our current culture that is interested in social justice. Part 1 of a brief video is here; part 2 is here. I think it is a good tool that is more relevant than "The Four Spiritual Laws," though that can be useful too. I suggest reading the interview before watching the video.

We Are Rich!

For one of my classes this semester, I was assigned to read "The Crisis of Islam" by Bernard Lewis. It is a really good book that attempts to give a brief history of how and why "The West" and radical Islam are in the current conflict.
There was a passing comment that I thought was interesting though...

"Among the components in the mood of anti-Americanism were certain intellectual influences coming from Europe. ... In this perception, America was the ultimate example of civilization without culture; rich and comfortable, materially advanced but soulless and artificial; assembled or at best constructed, not grown; mechanical not organic; technologically complex but without the spirituality and vitality of the rooted, human, national cultures of the Germans and other 'authentic' peoples" (69-70).

It appears to me that there is at least some truth to this...
"For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked" -Rev. 3:14
Maybe we need more than just culture....

Sunday, December 7

Questioning the Faith?

Engage Truth has been recording video testimonies for the last year or so. They edit them down to a three minute video that they play before the service every couple of months. They recorded mine last week. I briefly spoke about my history before coming to Christ as an atheist and the process I began afterward. Here is an excerpt; I will post the video when it is done.

After I became a Christian, I had a lot of questions that need to be answered; it was a long process that didn't happen overnight. I spent a lot of time reading the bible trying to understand what it meant, praying for wisdom about specific things I didn't understand, reading Christian books (there are a lot of people who have had the same questions as you), and talking with my Christian friends. I would ask my friends questions, often about things that they didn't have answers to but we would begin to work out the answers together.

As I took the time to study, reflect, and work through the questions that I had, I began to find answers. I see a lot of people who struggle with questions and doubts but they don't appear to be bothered about finding the answers. It is almost like they are more upset that their world has been shaken up a little, than they are about finding the truth. The fact of the matter is we all have questions and we all need to be taking part in the dirty work of finding the answers.

I suspect that part of what happens when people have doubts and questions that eventually lead them away from the faith is, a lot of questions build up and never get answered. They may begin by asking: is the bible reliable, is Jesus really the messiah, does God answer prayer, did God approve of genocide in the old testament, if god exists does he cause suffering in the world, and many other valid questions like this, but they never find the answers. Eventually there comes a point when they say, "there sure are a lot of things that don't make sense, so God must not exist." The tragedy with this is not that they are asking questions but that they are not finding or even looking for the answers.

I would encourage anyone who has doubts or questions to not feel bad; it is normal and good to ask questions. The important thing though, is to not stay in that place of merely questioning; move on, look for the answers. We believe in God by faith, but it is a faith based on reason; it should not be done blindly. Jesus claimed to be "the way and the truth and the light" John 14:6a. I really think that as we begin to look for him he will begin to reveal himself to us (Matt 7:7-11). I don't want to give anyone the wrong impression either. It is not as though I have all of the answers, but I have began the journey of finding them with Him.

Saturday, November 22

Banana Etiquette - A Short Argument From My Freshman Year

I have a matter of very great importance for you to consider. I hope that you think about it deeply, and those of you who have wisdom will use it.

There are many different varieties of bananas in the world and they all have one thing in common, they all have peels. Of all the ways that bananas can be prepared and eaten, the most common way is simply eating them raw as a snack. One of the first questions that comes to my mind when eating a banana is, what do you do with the peel? Do you slowly peel the peel off as you eat the banana or do you remove the entire thing before proceeding? It seems that either way you go about it the main goal of consuming the banana is achieved, but what about the intermediary time? Peel on or peel off? There are three main reasons why I think that it is better to leave the peel on the banana as you eat it. The first reason, often times when you eat a banana or other snack foods, your hands are not clean. By holding the peel of the banana as you eat it, it separates the dirt and germs that are on your hands from the actual banana. If you were to hold the naked banana in your hands, any soil would be transferred from your hands, to the banana, and then into your mouth; resulting in unnecessary germ consumption. The second reason, most bananas have a fairly moist/sticky texture. If you hold a naked banana in your hands, the residue from the banana gets all over your hands. This results in a gross feeling, an increased chance of banana residue contaminating other objects, as well as an extra trip to the sink to rinse your hands. The third reason why bananas should be held in their peels as they are eaten is that it is most aesthetically pleasing to people around you. Just as it would be unsatisfactory to use your hands to eat a steak or spaghetti, it is also inappropriate to eat a naked banana with your hands. I hope that you understand the importance and gravity of the situation that is before you.

Wednesday, November 12

The Greatest Command

This semester has been absolutely exhausting. I have been trying to balance work, family, friends, girlfriend, 15 upper division credits, two different club's leadership positions, church, and working out (Ha! like that ever happens). I know that some of you may have been concerned about the lack of posts, but you need not be, I have been continually thinking about philosophy, history, theology, spirituality, etc. Though I may be able to blow you away with discussions of all sorts of things (doubtful), this will suffice for now.

The writer of Ecclesiastes ends the book with this phrase, "Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh" 12:12.
No matter how much knowledge or wisdom I gain it is all weariness and vanity. There is but one thing to do, "fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment with every secret thing, whether good or evil" 12:13b,14.
I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to go a university and acquire new skills but it still remains that the greatest commandment is to "love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength ... [and to] love your neighbor as yourself" Mark 12:29-31

Friday, August 8

Till We Have Faces

I recently finished "Till We Have Faces" by C.S. Lewis. I was told by several individuals before I began reading the book that it was their favorite novel. I now understand. After I finished I noticed two things that remained in my mind.
The first is how disgusting and dreadful sacrifices are. "Hateful to Ungit, is it? Why does Ungit not mend it then? She's had bulls and rams and goats from me in plenty; blood enough to sail a ship on if all were reckoned" (45).
The second was Orual's complaint against the gods. As she began to read the complaint she understood that she knew the real answer all along. As she unrolled her book, "It was written all over inside, but the hand was not like mine. It was all a vile scribble - each stroke mean and yet savage, like a snarl in my father's voice, like the ruinous faces one could make out in the Ungit stone" (290). She had in fact written the book but she immediately recognized why and what the problem/solution was.

Friday, August 1

The Veritas Forum

Last April I helped host the first Veritas Forum at Boise State University. Dr. Scott Yenor delivered two lectures on how the modern view of science and the Christian world view understand pain in our lives. Does science as understood by the Enlightenment thinkers adequately account for why we find pain so problematic? Does the Christian world view allow for medical science to alleviate pain in our live? Is there an answer that both gives a solution for suffering and explains why it is a problem? The lectures may be found here.

Tuesday, February 26

The Dynamic of Service

An except from The Dynamic of Service by A. Paget Wilkes

The first need of Japan is for the preaching of a real salvation able to reach the lowest and vilest of men. It seems to be taken for granted that we can never expect anyone to be saved in a heathen land prior to a considerable period of instruction in the principles of Christianity. This appears both reasonable and ordinary common sense, and yet one feels instinctively that there must be a way for a helpless drunkard, a derelict on his way to commit suicide, a criminal condemned to death, and such other, to receive enough instruction in the elements of the Gospel to allow them entering into the experience of salvation immediately and without delay. ~circa 1920

Monday, February 18

French Missionaries

I recently received a newsletter from missionary friends of mine who are in France. This is an excerpt that i thought was very honest and encouraging.

It would be fantastic...and false, to be telling you every time I let you know what's going on, of how exciting life is here in France. Life, as a Christian, wherever you live, is hard. There are certainly the times of joy and excitement, the times when our eyes are wide with wonder at what the Lord is doing, but there are also the daily valleys, in which we find that what we are really made of. Will we continue to follow after Him with zeal when he has said to 'follow me' into the recesses of darkness, through the forests of loneliness and drudgery? Will I walk a holy life of peace and joy for Him, when relationships become unbearable and in constant conflict, when living circumstances become daily uncertain, when I miss my home, family, and friends so terribly... when He is all that I have will I still sing His praises?

What is exciting is that Christ is a sure steadfast anchor of hope, that He (unlike all persons and places around us) does not change, that He is faithful.

Much has happened over the last months, and I think I have found that nothing at all happens without prayer, nothing at all. Sadly, we spend so much more time investing in every other thing other than our time with the Lord and prayer. Do we really meet the people where they are at or are we simply telling them where they should be? Do we really take the gospel to them, or in the provision of certain programs require that they come to us?