Saturday, April 4, 2009

Dr. King, Race and the Gospel

Forty-one years ago today the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
As the son of white middle class parents, I have never really had to deal with racial prejudice being exercised against me. As an activist, I've heard horror stories from men and women mistreated because of their ethnicity. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I can not stomach the antics, tactics and slogans of so many white Americans when it comes to the racial divide in America. I desperately want to connect people's lives to the good news of Jesus Christ, and how the Gospel changes the way you look at the people around you.
One of the books I've recently been reading, "Gracism: the Art of Inclusion" by David A. Anderson, has been helping me work through how, as a Christian, I respond to racism and the different tensions between ethnicities. He said something as an African-American that caught my attention.
"As much as I love the black church and at times miss it, there will be no black church in heaven. There will be one church and it will be multicultural. One Bride, not a harem, is what Jesus is coming back for"
Did you get that? This idea our culture has propagated, that all Christians should worship with only their ethnicity, is dead wrong. You will not find any single ethnicity church anywhere in the New Testament. Why? Because Christ came to save people of every ethnicity. We've got to remember that the universal community of faith is just that Universal. Lets not forget the millions of believers around the world who don't look like us.
As we think about the life and death of the Rev. King, it is my prayer that we would make our communities more like heaven will one day be.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Brief Note on Lent

Lent is an interesting period in the church calendar. Originally intended to symbolize Christ's temptation in the desert, it has become one of the largest celebrated seasons in the World. As today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of lent, I thought it might be appropriate to discuss what I'm doing for Lent, and why so many people get it wrong.
Lent is more about having a right heart than it is about sacrificing something. Many people wrongly decide to observe Lent as an exercise of their will power, not understanding the greater significance of their fast. This year, as the first year I will observe Lent, I have both given up a couple of things and added something to my life. I will be drinking one gallon of water everyday, and will be giving up the majority of carbonated drinks. My goal is no more than 4x12oz cans a week. The one other thing I intend to do over this period of fasting is to eat out less, and eat with my family more. All of my "sacrifices" for Lent are directly related to two guiding principles of life that I am trying to stick with. First, that my body is not my own, but God's creation and thus I am expected to maintain it well. I have let my physical well-being slip in the last few years, and this "sacrifice" for Lent is an opportunity to love God with my body. The second driving principle of this concept relates to the biblical command to love my family. As the oldest son, and as one still living in my parents house, I have not obeyed that command well. I hope to be able to spend time with my parents, while living at home, so that when I go over-seas, they will not feel abandoned.
So then, thats my plan for Lent. I'm going to try to Love God and Love my Family.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Break from Blogging and a Trip to North Africa

In case either one of you faithful readers has missed me, I've been taking a break from blogging to focus on some more important endeavors (school, IMB, the Summit...)
Lord willing, I'll be making my return to the blogosphere in the next month or so, with a series of posts on theological topics. In the mean time, I thought you all might like a brief overview of my life at present.

I'm twenty-four credit hours away from finishing my degree in English at the College at Southeastern, with a lot of options open to me when I graduate.
I work part-time at Southeastern Seminary, in the media dept, doing production and design work.
I am also doing an internship at the Summit Church in Durham, NC, in Video and Design.
I'm currently single, with no intention of dating over the next 18mo.
The reason I'm not pursuing any relationships is that at this point, I am planning on spending two years in North Africa with the Journeyman program, as part of a Church plant from the Summit. If everything works out, I will be leaving for the field in August of 2010, and spending two years there with a team of Godly men and women, sharing the love of Jesus in an Islamic context. Your prayers are greatly appreciated as I prepare to do this.

I'll be posting more on the blog once life gets into a better groove.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Gospel Confession for 2008

Or, why the description “The (2008) Confession of a materialistic, hypocritical, narcissistic, egotistical, proud, cynical, ignorant, lazy, apathetic, Pharisaic, rebellious, syncretistic, moralistic and addicted; sinner” doesn’t even begin to cover it.
In many ways, this year has been a painful year. I've been rejected by several women, I've been caught in sin, I've been almost kicked out of school, I’ve been dismissed as a musician and through it all I've proven myself a sinner over and over again. In many ways this year has taught me a lot about myself. I learned that I want a Godly wife, I learned that I'm capable of serious sin, I learned that I’m not the man I’m supposed to be, I even learned that I'm the most self-centered person I know.
As I contemplated this year and I relived the many painful moments of 2008, I began to see a cycle. I went through periods of great renewal, followed by painful crashes that left me feeling guilty, depressed and hopeless. I created alternative realities all around me, where I was the good-looking one, or where I was the talented one. As each cycle progressed, I saw my sin, the alternative realities I had created for myself, and I repented and turned toward a new path.
In many ways, this year has been a pendulum swing for me. I went from justifying myself through moralism, to taking journeys of “self discovery” in hopes of not needing to be justified . But no matter where I turned, my sin kept finding me out.
I tried making shortcuts for myself, and wound up in a meeting with the threat of being kicked out of school. I took a break from life for a semester, and ended up barely passing four classes. As I swung back and forth between the two poles of self justification, I kept seeing my own sin repeating itself. Through it all, I turned to many different forms of self-help, but I never turned to Christ.
As the most recent semester ended, I took some time to listen to some teaching by Tim Keller, out at Redeemer Church, NYC. His messages relating to Jesus and the gospel struck a chord in my life. The more I listened to Keller preach the gospel, the more I began to see myself in stories like the prodigal son. Which brings me back to that description of myself that doesn’t even begin to cover it. This year has taught me something invaluable. I’m a colossal screw-up. And before you tell me I’m “being too hard” on myself, I think it might be wise to point out that I would know.
But that’s not the point. Because as big a screw up as I am, there is a bigger solution to my life problems than anything I could ever attempt to do on my own. As Keller puts it, Jesus saves both self-righteous moralists, and self-discovering rebells, he died for both. And that means that screw-ups like me are given hope for the future. Because of Jesus, and what he did in dying for my sin and rising from the dead to give me new life, I don’t have to worry about being a screw-up, because there is nothing I have to do to be loved. And that’s why this is a Gospel confession, because the Gospel is the only hope I have for the future.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Glory of the Incarnation

The Almighty Infinite God humbled himself and entered into human history. The Glory of the Incarnation is indescribable.
Remember what it means with me:

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,

It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,

'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! O, hear the angels' voices!

O night divine, O night when Christ was born;

O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

Truly He taught us to love one another;

His law is love and His gospel is peace.

Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;

And in His name all oppression shall cease.

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,

Let all within us praise His holy name.

within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,

His power and glory evermore proclaim.

His power and glory evermore proclaim.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Bried Overview of Eschatology

The Doctrine of Eschatology has two important components. On the one hand, eschatology is very broad, dealing with the eventual fate of the present world. On the other hand, eschatology is very personal, dealing with our own future, including our eternal destiny and eventual death. These two aspects of eschatology work hand in hand to give the Christian a well-rounded view of the Christian Hope.
All eschatology must begin in Genesis. Genesis one and two lay the foundation for all study of the future, where God created a perfect world for his own glory. Genesis three tells the story of humanity’s rebellion against God, and God’s coming rescue plan. (Genesis 3:15) Eschatology then, is the story of God’s redemption plan for humanity. The climax then of Eschatology is Jesus Christ. In the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christians find all future hope. (Galatians 3:16)
The tension of Christian hope comes in the pronouncement of Christ, “the Kingdom of God is at hand.”(2 Peter 3:13) To fully understand the Christian Hope, you must understand that the Kingdom of God is already present in human history, in the person and work of Jesus, but that it will be consummated in the New Earth. (Romans 5:12-19)
Before the New Earth begins however, there is the unpleasant business of judgement. The Bible clearly illustrates that those who have not repented of sin and placed faith in Christ will be judged according to their sins and sent to an everlasting, literal hell.(I John 3:8) God’s wrath will be poured out against all the remaining evil corrupting this world, resulting in the purification and recreation of this world.
The New Earth will be perfected, in that the city of Heaven will descend, and the New Heaven and Earth will be one. This recreated state will serve as the eternal home of all those who follow Christ. In the new order, all God’s people will have resurrection bodies, perfected much as Christ’s was after his resurrection. (Revelation 21:2)
In the present, while Christians wait for the return of Christ, and the New Creation to begin, there is an intermediate state prepared for both the damned and the redeemed. The damned reside in a place the Bible refers to as Sheol, a place of pain and torment, where they await the final judgement and the continuing torment of the final Hell. Simultaneously, those Christians who have died await the final judgement, when their souls, which currently reside with Christ in Heaven, will be reunited to their remade bodies for the wedding supper of the Lamb.
That intermediate state is of pressing concern to many people today. Individually, every person can expect an eternal life to come. For those who have rejected Christ, their place has already been prepared in Hell. For the believer, God has prepared a place in the New Creation. Until that time, every believer is being made more Holy, in preparation for the new order. Though death is an enemy, it is important to remember that death has been defeated and a New Creation is at hand. (I Cor. 15:55)

Friday, November 28, 2008


Today my blog is blacked out, in mourning for the rampant materialism, idolatry and greed that will be cheered on today, in the name of a Bargain.
Please stand with me as I mourn Greed-Celebration-Day, otherwise known as "Black Friday".

The Vision?

The vision is Jesus: obsessively, dangerously, undeniably Jesus.
The vision is an army of young people.
You see bones? They are an army.
And they are free from materialism. They laugh at the markets.
They hardly care! They wear clothes like costumes:
to show and to tell, but never to hide.
They know the meaning of the Matrix; the way the West was won.
They are mobile like the wind; they belong to the nations.
They need no passport.
People write their addresses in pencil and wonder at their strange existence.
They are free, yet they are slaves of the hurting and dirty and dying.

What is the vision?
The vision is holiness that hurts the eyes.
It makes children laugh and adults break and cry.
It scorns the good and strains for the best. It is dangerously pure.
This is an army that will lay down its life for the cause.
A million times a day its soldiers choose to lose that they might win, one day
the great "Well done" of faithful sons and daughters.
Such heroes are as radical on Monday morning as Sunday night.
They don't need fame from names. Instead they grin quietly upwards
and hear the crowds chanting again and again: "COME ON!"

And this is the sound of the underground
The whisper of history shaping
Foundations shaking
Revolutionaries dreaming once again
Mystery is screaming in whispers
Conspiracy is breathing...
This is the sound of the underground.

And the army is disciplined.
Young people who beat their bodies into submission.
Every soldier would take a bullet for his comrades at arms.
The tattoo on their backs boasts "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain."
Sacrifice fuels the fire of victory in their eyes.
Winners. Martyrs. Who can stop them?
Can failure succeed? Can fear scare them or death kill them?
And this generation prays like a dying man with groans beyond
talking, with warrior cries, sulphuric tears
Waiting. Watching: 24 - 7 - 365.
Whatever it takes they will give: Breaking the rules.
Shaking mediocrity from its cozy little hide.
Laying down their rights and their precious little wrongs,
laughing at labels, fasting essentials.

The advertisers cannot mold them.
Hollywood cannot hold them.
Peer-pressure is powerless
to shake their resolve
Material clothes matter not
Would they surrender their image or their popularity?
They would lay down their very lives,
swap seats with the man on death row;
guilty as hell.
A throne for an electric chair.
With blood and sweat and many tears,
with sleepless nights and fruitless days,
they pray as if it all depends on God
and live as if it all depends on them.

Their words make demons scream in shopping malls.
Don't you hear them coming?
Here come the frightened and forgotten, with fire in their eyes.
Their prayers summon the hounds of heaven and invoke the ancient dream of Eden.

And this is the sound of the underground
The whisper of history shaping
Foundations shaking
Revolutionaries dreaming once again
Mystery is screaming in whispers
Conspiracy is breathing...
This is the sound of the underground.