Friday, March 13, 2009

Marti's Story

Her eyes popped wide open. To four-year old Marti, the hastily torn wrapping paper revealed the most beautiful doll house she could imagine. She had asked for a doll house for Christmas, but the picture on the box was far better than anything she had seen in the stores. It was more like a doll mansion, complete with ornate decorations and rooms full of antique furniture. She couldn't wait to get the box open.

When she finally did get it open, her joy faded somewhat as she saw it was filled only with doll house pieces. She would have to put it together before she could start playing. Oh well, she thought, I can do it and it will be so much fun when I'm finished I don't mind at all. So, with a determined look on her face, she dumped out all the pieces and began.

Now from my vantage point, looking down from the couch, Marti's wonderful Christmas looked like it would soon turn into a disaster. When I bought the doll house I was worried that even I wouldn't be able to put it together without wrecking it. Now Marti was hard at work assembling the delicate parts and I knew I would soon have to interfere before things got out of hand.

"Hey Marti," I said hopefully, "That looks kind of complicated, would you like some help?" "Oh no, Dad, "she replied, "I can do it myself." So, feeling rejected, I resigned myself to watching from afar as she went about her task.

Well, you can guess what happened next. Marti became frustrated and began to complain to everyone about the now stupid doll house. Exhausted from the festivities and her efforts, she gave up on the doll house and went to her room pouting. I went in to offer her some consolation but she was fast asleep.

I felt sad because the present I thought would be the big hit of this year's Christmas turned out to be a big flop. I was also upset because I knew how hard Marti had wanted to please me by assembling the doll house herself and I admit I would have been pretty impressed. For Marti, though, it was important to show that she could do it herself. She wanted to prove that she was a "big girl", a contributing member of the family.

It would have been so easy for her to sit back and watch me put together the doll house for her and she knew that she would be able to play with it much sooner that way. I would have loved nothing more than to complete the doll house for her so that she could begin enjoying it. Instead the day was a failure and we both ended up unhappy.

As you may have guessed this isn't really a story about Marti and me. It's a parable about the principles and attitudes in God's family. Marti represents what the Bible refers to as the flesh or the sin nature. This principle has warred against the spirit throughout the history of God's people.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

My Ideal Church Gathering

Have you ever read something and wanted to share it with everyone right away. I had this experience when reading Rob Bell's, "Jesus Wants to Save Christians." My daughter, Lauren, gave me the book for Christmas. Since she is the one person who incarnates my idea of what the church should be, I wanted to read it right away.

For most of my Christian life I've been searching for my Holy Grail of the Ideal Church Gathering. I've looked for it in existing churches and I've tried to begin one myself. Each time I met with disappointment. I'm still searching. My hope has been rekindled after reading Rob Bell's description of what he calls, "the new humanity." As soon as I read this I rushed to my wife, Lisa, and read the passage to her. Bell perfectly describes my ideal church gathering. My eyes teared up as I read to her because I realized that someone else shared my vision and there was hope. Isn't that what coming together as a body is all about?

What follows is from "Jesus Wants to Save Christians", pages 154-157. It has become one of my favorite books.

Peace has been made.

A church is where peace has been made.

Because in the Eucharist, in Jesus' body and blood, everything has been reconciled to God. Paul calls this the "new humanity."

People who previously had nothing in common discover that the only thing they now have in common is the one thing that matters.

People who had previously found themselves on opposite sides of a wall find out that the wall has been destroyed.

People who had fought over an endless array of issues realize that peace has been made and there is nothing left to fight about.

In the new humanity,

you hear perspectives you wouldn't normally hear,

you walk in someone else's shoes,

you find out that the judgments you had previously made about that group of people or that kind of men or that kind of women or all of those kids simply don't hold up because now you're getting to know one of "those" and it's changing everything.

You learn that your labels for different people are insufficient, because people are far more complex and unpredictable and intelligent and creative.

You used to have a rigid stance on a particular issue, but now you've heard the other side and it's impossible anymore to categorize them all as stupid and uninformed and heartless, because you realize that they have thought about their position and they have weighed the consequences and they have some good points that you must consider.

In the new humanity our world gets bigger, our perspective goes from black-and-white to color, our sensitivities are heightened, we're rescued from sameness and uniformity, because the wall has come down and peace has been made.

A church is the new humanity on display.

She's in graduate school, and he's in his nineties;

and one couple has a million dollars, and another doesn't have enough money for dinner;

and he arrived in this country three years ago with a small suitcase, and they've never been out of the country;

and they have a son fighting in the war, and they're going to a war protest later today;

and he's got serious doubts about what he was taught growing up, and she's just decided that God might even exist.

All of these people-who are divided, who never sit down and listen to each other-in the new humanity, in the church, they meet, they engage, they interact, they begin to feel what the other feels, and the dividing wall of hostility crumbles.

In the new humanity,

them becomes us,

they becomes we,

and those become ours.

This is why it is very dangerous when a church becomes known for being hip, cool, and trendy.

The new humanity is not a trend.

Or when a church is known for attracting one particular kind of demographic, like people of a particular age and education level, or that particular social class or personality type. There's obviously nothing wrong with the powerful bonds that are shared when you meet up with your own tribe, and hear things in a language you understand, and cultural references are made that you are familiar with, but when sameness takes over,

when everybody shares the same story,

when there is no listening to other perspectives,

no stretching and expanding and opening up-that's when the new humanity is in trouble.

The beautiful thing is to join with a church that has gathered and find yourself looking around thinking, "What could this group of people possibly have in common?"

The answer, of course, would be the new humanity.

A church is where the two people groups with blue hair-young men and older women-sit together and somehow it all fits together in a Eucharistic sort of way.

Try marketing that.

Try branding that.

The new humanity deifies trends and demographics and the latest market research.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Importance of Being Married

Marriage is the absolutely most important theme found in both the Old and New Testaments. It is found in the first chapters of Genesis and the final chapters of Revelation. In this article I will examine why marriage is so important. Let's begin with the book of beginnings and see where the concept of marriage starts.

Genesis 1:26-31

Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food"; and it was so. God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

In this passage we see that God created man in His image. Being created in God's image has two aspects. Immediately following the declaration that man is created in His image it is stated that this image contains both the concept of male and female and the concept of subjugation and rule. God then declares that these concepts are very good.

Man as male or man as female cannot, alone, bear the image of God. The image of God requires both male and female. I maintain that the image of God involves the two "opposite" sexes reconciling their differences in order to reflect the love that exists in God.

The concept of subjugation and rule is also inherent in the image of God. As the male rules over the female and as the female subjects herself to the male the love of God is reflected. Of course, this ruling is in the sense of caring for her as a king cares for his kingdom or as our heavenly King cares for us.

Since, as we have seen, marriage reflects the love of God it is important to bear in mind that the story of Genesis 2 is a reflection of God.

Genesis 2:18-24

Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.

The man said,
"This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man."

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

First, we see that it is not good for man to be alone. On the sixth day, when male and female were already created, everything was good. When we have just male we have "not good". This tells us that it is not good for man to be alone because man, alone, cannot reflect the image of God's love.

We also see that it is not good for God to be alone. He desires to have his own Eve to love and care for.

As we move on to the New Covenant we will see that God desires to "become one flesh" with His Eve, the church.

Ephesians 5:22-32

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.


This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.

Just as Adam and Eve became members of one body, so also Christ and the church form one body. God nourishes and cherishes the church and the church subjects herself to the loving care of God.

Revelation 19:7,8

"Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

Finally, at the consummation of covenant history we see the joining together of the Lamb and His bride.

Revelation 21:2

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.

The new covenant community, the new Jerusalem, is the bride of Christ.

Revelation 21:9

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, " Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I came across this site while googling the other day. I was immediately struck by the following quote. I also found the four articles, linked below, to be very helpful as well.

Here's the quote:

"We do not start our Christian lives by working out our faith for ourselves; it is mediated to us by Christian tradition, in the form of sermons, books and established patterns of church life and fellowship. We read our Bibles in the light of what we have learned from these sources; we approach Scripture with minds already formed by the mass of accepted opinions and viewpoints with which we have come into contact, in both the Church and the world.�It is easy to be unaware that it has happened; it is hard even to begin to realize how profoundly tradition in this sense has moulded us. But we are forbidden to become enslaved to human tradition, either secular or Christian, whether it be �catholic� tradition, or �critical� tradition, or �ecumenical� tradition. We may never assume the complete rightness of our own established ways of thought and practice and excuse ourselves the duty of testing and reforming them by Scriptures."

(J. I. Packer, �Fundamentalism� and the Word of God [Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1958], pp. 69-70.)

And here are the links:

Jesus' Teaching on Hell
It might surprise you!

The Resurrection of Israel
in I Corinthians 15

Matthew 24-25:
Destruction of Jerusalem vs. Final Judgment

The Second Coming of Christ, the Resurrection,
and the Judgment

Their Timing and Nature
A Brief Introduction

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Christian History: End of the Jewish Age

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Here are links to a couple of Powerpoint presentations I have made.

You can download a viewer here: Powerpoint viewer

The Parousia - This is a presentation I have used to present Preterism.

Clouds - This is a presentation of the uses of clouds in the Bible, such as Jesus coming on the clouds.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Mr. Deity

Mr. Deity and the Help Meet (Season 2, Episode 9)