Archive for February, 2007

Dry bones.

Who can you believe these days.  James Cameron, the director of the Titanic movie, says “he” has found the bones of Jesus, his wife Mary Magdalene and their son, Judah.  Says he has “proof”, even DNA proof.  These kinds of exposes come along rather frequently and I suppose we all wonder what is true and what isn’t

I certainly am no expert (you already knew that) but there are all kinds of holes one could shoot in this titantic display of greed in the name of scholorship. (check the official site for the film here) At the same time it seems important to me, as a follower of the resurrected Jesus, to know what is being said and what kinds of answers are available to me personally and for me to share with others. 

There is so much being written on this subject that I thought it was worth the time to point you in the direction of one whose reputation I trust and whose education and experience is impeccable.  He does a great job of answering this nonsense.  Ben Witherington writes with humor and good science on questions raised but not entirely floated by Cameron and friends.  If you are at all concerned about this issue read Dr. Witherington bio here, and it should help you sort it out.

This can’t be taken too seriously, it might be good entertainment, at some level, but that is all it is.  The fact that I’m writing about it means it can’t be too big a deal, right?

However, the resurrection of Jesus is a watershed, no, the watershed issue of the Christian faith.  If Jesus was married (another issue), and had a child and then died, was buried but did not raise from the dead then our “faith is in vain”. So it is not surprising that the resurrection is such a target for those who do not believe and would like to convince us otherwise as well.

I think I will still throw in with our friend the Apostle Paul who staked his entire life on the resurrection of Jesus.  A man who was so close to the actual event the likelihood that he is correct about what happened is astronomical. Paul puts it this way: I passed on to you what was most important and what was passed on to me-that Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.  He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the twelve apostles.  After that he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time and most are still alive, though some have died by now.  …I saw him too. (1Corinthians 15:3-8)

v.30 And why are we risking our lives, facing death hour by hour? (if the resurrection didn’t happen) For I swear, dear brothers and sisters, that I face death daily… and what value was here in fighting wild beasts-those men of Ephesus-if there was no resurrection from the dead? Apparently there were regular attacks against the credibility of the resurrection during Paul’s day as well.  Attacking both the message and the messenger.

The great Apostle is so convinced of the resurrection of Jesus that he is willing to take on anyone, anywhere at whatever price.  I am sticking with him.

The bones Mr. Cameron is promoting are dry!

More information here.

February 28, 2007 at 7:26 am 2 comments

Coinciding egoisms.

The following quote is from Michael Quoist.  I like the whole quote but I want to reference just the last line.

We are satisfied by our decent little life.  We are pleased with our good habits; we take them for virtues.  We are pleased with our little efforts; we take them for progress.  We are proud of our activities; they make us think that we are giving ourselves.  We are impressed with our influence; we imagine that it will transform lives. We are proud of what we give, though it hides what we withhold. We may even be mistaking a set of coinciding egoisms for real friendship.

What is friendship?  For a long time I had so many people vying for my time I thought I had lots of friends.  For years there were groups of people I met with regularly, so I assumed we were friends. I thought that because there were people who came to see me when they needed something, they must be friends.  I had coffee on a regular basis with the same people and so I thought we were friends. What I believed to be friendships were in many cases just coinciding egoisms.

Many of our day to day relationships, that we might call friendships, are people with whom we get together because we need something or they need something.  We gather for decision making meetings, planning meetings, meetings to get things done.  We like each other well enough but are these relationships, friendships?

I am not trying to say that the people you go to meetings with are not your friends but ask yourself the question, why are we together and if we didn’t “have to” would we?

Who calls just to see how you are? Who do you invite over just to play games?  Who emails you with a Word of encouragement?  Who do you invite to coffee for no reason?  Who do you call when things have gone south, who calls you?

Proverbs 27 says a lot about friendship: v.6 Wounds from a friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. v.9 The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.  v.17 As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend. Apparently friendship is something deeper than coinciding egoisms.

I must be a friend to have a friend and sadly most of my life has been invested in coinciding egoisms rather than friendships. I am working on changing that.

February 27, 2007 at 8:02 am 3 comments

Stab me in the front.

Think friendship.  What comes to mind?  Did a face appear?  Did the thought of someone long ago come to mind?  Was there an attribute that jumped out when you thought-friendship?  Who is your best friend?  Why? Because you want them to be?  Is your friendship mutual?  When you think friendship do you think-loneliness?

You discover your wife is cheating on you-who do you tell?

Your daughter is unmarried and pregnant-who will share your pain?

Your child is gay-with whom will you share your heart?

You have lost your job because of something stupid that you did and with all the shame-who do you turn to?

You have handled your money poorly and now things are a mess-who will help you?

You can’t seem to drag yourself away from the images on your computer screen, you need help-who will it be?

Your spouse drinks too much and no one but you knows-is there someone you can tell?

These are situations that cry out for a friend, do you have one?  No fair counting the confidentiality of your pastor or counselor.

It is a sad commentary on our lives that few have anyone with whom they could entrust such tough information.  It is a sadder commentary on our faith communities.

An old proverb says: A friend is someone to whom you may pour out the contents of your heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will sift it, keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.

A friend is someone who is still there when the whole world has gone away.  You can tell a real friend by the fact that when you make a fool of yourself he doesn’t feel you have done a permanent job.

I have thought a lot about friendship lately and have been learning some important things about it.  Perhaps the most important is that friendship needs real honesty both when there is something good that needs to be said and something uncomfortable that needs to be said.

I need friends who will tell me when I have hurt them and will tell me when I have blessed them.  Friends who will tell me when I have played the fool and when I am being played for a fool.  Friends speak the truth, even when the truth hurts. 

Oscar Wilde said, A true friend always stabs you in the front.     Ouch!

More on friendship later.

February 25, 2007 at 2:24 pm 5 comments

Follow-up to yesterdays post.

If you haven’t read what I posted yesterday (I don’t want to die) then this quote won’t make sense.  You can read yesterday by scrolling down.

Why is it that Jesus is so adament about us dying to ourselves and crucifying ourselves?  This quote I found somewhere answers the question.

The quote is from pastor/author Erwin McManus: Jesus wants to take us to places only dead people can go.

What do you think of that thought?  I am really thinking about where it might be that Jesus would take me if I would just go ahead and die. How about you?  Any one willing to share where you think Jesus wants to take you, if you could just die?

February 24, 2007 at 2:11 pm 1 comment

I don’t want to die.

Jesus wants you dead-Todd Pierce

The call is to die daily and that is just a little too regular for me-Andy Taylor

Lose your life for my sake and the gospel…-Jesus

For a number of months now I have been trying to avoid the reality that death is the call on anyone who chooses to accept the invitation to follow Jesus.  I don’t like it, I fight it, I avoid thinking about it, I try to make excuses, I suggest I have the right to whatever it is I won’t give up.  I try to figure out what else He might mean because there is no way He could mean that. I suggest to myself that it really was just a manner of speaking, a metaphor about the seriousness of being a follower, but He really didn’t mean to die every day, to lose my life every day. Did He?

But none of my explanations work.  I can’t explain it away. No excuse makes it, I need to die, and I need to die, regularly.  I need to wake each day to the reality that Jesus wants me dead, if I am to get any kind of clue as to what it means to live.

Some how when I commit suicide, as it relates to my goals, my dreams, my desires, my will, my attitude, my drive to get even, my hope for recognition, my need for restoration, my drive to succeed, my desire to be vindicated, my, my, my… Somehow when I commit daily suicide of my self, the life I truly seek is resurrected in me as Jesus comes back to life in my very being.

Over and over, many times every day, I must choose the Father’s will over mine.  Jesus “endured the cross for the joy set before Him”.  Death, daily death, moment by moment death is for the joy set before me.

I don’t want to die.  I hate it, actually.  I seldom ever come to it joyfully but when I go ahead and die, the resurrection is always joyful.  Every time I go ahead with the self-death-suicide, I find I come a little more alive. 

But it has to be an every day deal.  Once is never enough. 

CS Lewis wrote “The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self, all your wishes and precautions to–Christ.

I am pretty sure that every thing wrong with the world, church, marriage, family, relationships of all kinds, would all be made right if we would die a little more regular.

Any thoughts?  I hate dying alone.

February 22, 2007 at 11:39 pm 5 comments

Jon Brockman: A man among boys.

Just when we start to think all college athletes are mostly over-privileged, drug using, class avoiding, womanizing young men, just waiting around for their NBA ship to dock, think otherwise and think University of Washington Husky Jon Brockman.

This mornings Seattle PI (www.seattlepi.nwsource.com) has a great article featuring this young man that describes in detail his commitment to live as a man who not only makes the claim of being a follower of Jesus but also lives it out.  Lives it out in an environment where every effort is made to persuade young men to grab the college “dream” of the wildlife, where athletes get the best of all the parties, the women and if the two Gonzaga basketball players recently busted for drug possession are any indication, they get are even more harmful temptations all around.

Jon Brockman has found a way to stand tall, remain a respected athlete (he is Husky hoop captain as a sophomore) and still maintain a lifestyle that is decidedly Christian.  

In a world where many of us who claim to follow Jesus are better at talking it out than walking it out, it was refreshing to read about Brockman this morning and be encouraged that there are still young people who have a lot of the power, money, popularity etc, that seems to be so craved, and yet can live a life that makes a difference.

Obviously Brockman is not alone in his chosen lifestyle.  We all know other young people who are distinctly following Jesus and I am grateful to know many of them.  Brockman’s story gives some “props” to all young people who march to a different Drummer.

Read the who article here: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/cbasketball/304657_brockman22.html

February 22, 2007 at 8:50 am 1 comment

What is Ash Wednesday about?

Ash Wednesday, observed today, is a day of penance marking the beginning of Lent for Western Churches like Roman Catholic, Anglican (Episcopal) and even some Protestant churches.  Churches that observe Ash Wednesday hold special services where their foreheads are marked with palm ash as a symbol of death and sorrow over sin.  It is a sign of mortality, “an outward sign of inner spirituality”.  As the ash is applied to the forehead the worshipper recites one of two phrases: “For dust you are and to dust you will return.” or the more modern phrase  “turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel.”

The Seattle Times has an article this morning on this tradition and the how and where of palm ash . http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003581538_ashes21.html

Perhaps for those of us whose religious tradition does not include an Ash Wednesday observance there ought to be a time when we give some thought to the reality of sin in our lives and the wonderful story of the gospel that sets us free.  Not a guilt induced view but a realistic check of our hearts that causes us to realize that indeed we do fall short of the standard set by the Father but also realize that indeed there is Good News that sets us free to live each day as a dearly loved, fully accepted child of the Father.

While I don’t intend to put palm ash on my forehead today, I am going to spend the day reflecting on how great the knowledge is that I can and have “turned away from sin” and am attempting to live each day “faithful to the gospel”.  Care to join me?

February 21, 2007 at 8:59 am 1 comment

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