August 18, 2011

Being a weird, and normal Christian — but not a silly one.

This morning I stopped by the 7-11 to buy a soda for a potluck we were having at work.

As I entered I noticed a man with what looked like a Bible in his hand –  mind you, its six in the morning, and I am grumpy when I’m wide awake so being half asleep just makes it worse for me, and for you. So I entered and as he exited the building he said; “I snuck in here like a thief in the night.”  While the attendant at the counter just sorta stared at him. “I’m gonna reign with Christ for a thousand years.” As he pushed the door open, and then concluded while raising his Bible; “And the devil can kiss my ass.”

Now, if I were not already an amillenialist, this would have been sufficient proof for me. Premils tend to be silly, they read newspapers not for news sake, but for prophecy sake. You see the Bible is the headlines, and the New York Post is just reporting what the Bible already says, my grandmother (bless her heart) always used to say; ‘todo esto esta escrito’ and while I do agree with her, I wish I could simply say; ‘pero, el reino de Cristo es ahoy’. My grandmother is very edifying when it comes to the gospel, very insistent on orthodox Christian doctrine, but when it comes to eschatology she just falls in line with typical evangelicals. (I didn’t translate because, well, if you don’t know spanish shame on you – this is America, and Google Translate is very nifty in this case)

But in all seriousness, look at Shark Weak, Kanon Tipton, The Third Eagle of the Apocalypse, and the late (might as well say late) Harold Camping…why can’t we just be normal Christians? Why do we have a tendency to make the sides the main things. And in doing so making the main thing a side dish. Isn’t it enough that our gospel is strange, offensive and foolish? Why do we have to interpret an airport as a phallus? Or be culture warriors instead of evangelists while open air preaching? Or look stupid, instead of heralding the foolish message we believe?

Isn’t our message sufficient for being weird? I mean, heavens, we believe God died on a cross and that it was a good thing!? Why do we have to supplement the foolishness of the gospel with silliness and in doing so trivialize it? Its foolishness to those who are perishing not because we make it silly but because God caught us by surprise, you’re making it silly by trying to debate them on six-day creationism instead of heralding the death of God incarnate on a bloody cross for us.

I’m by no means an expert, but I am tired of the eccentricities (even my own). Of course we’re all guilty of it in some ways, for example a cage stage Calvinist is silly, but maybe not as silly as a conspiracy theorist, dispensational premillenialist. Fundies are really silly, but not as bad as open air fundies. Charismatics are strange, but Pentecostals are worse. I guess, I’m just wondering if we take away the gospel from whatever particularity we have, or whatever pet doctrine we observe…what do we have? A Gospel-less hobby-horse. Fundamentalists remove the gospel and turn into legalists, dispensational premillenialists divorce it from eschatology, rabid Calvary Chapelites from soteriology, cage stage Calvinists while touting that the gospel is the five points of Calvinism refuse to go further. Pentecostals displace the gospel and make God the Holy Spirit the showman. And when we do this, we look silly…I’ve heard a cage stage Calvinist tell me he argued about Calvinism with a Mormon!? WHO CARES!?

Maybe the reason we’re so silly is because we’re not weird. Maybe, a lot of these issues are symptoms of a real problem, maybe these people with all of their hootin’ and hollerin’ about pet doctrine x, or pet doctrine y refuse to integrate, immerse themselves, and live in light of what really is weird; the doing and dying of one, Jesus Christ. And maybe it’s when we realize that the reason we’re weird is that we confess a dead, risen, and ascended messiah. And its by that confession that we see how normal we are compared to other Christians.

July 18, 2011

Of Popes, Chihuahuas, Ex-communicants, and Mother(or Father) Kirk

His Exaltedness, the Right Rev. Kirk, Dominus Apostolicus, Pontifex Maximus, Archiepiscopal Exarch has spoken!

Woe to those who do not heed the words of His servant for his Words are many – too bad his content is cheap.

Perhaps one should heed the warning of the heir to Peter’s Throne. He has spoken infallibly, and speaks the “Truth” (thats capital T too!)  .

You see, when men invite themselves into ecclesiastical affairs, or rather rudely intrude, as if they have any authority outside of their local congregation they can cause serious problems. I guess the problems aren’t serious, but they are most certainly annoying.  Nosey men, irritating men, who are merely tools, lap dogs (think chihuahuas) and servants to the maniacal plans of men thirsty for power and fame will only serve to unify and strengthen the resolve of the local congregation they are attacking. Rev. Kirk (Funny, Kirk is used to refer to the Kirk of Scotland, or the Church, Rev. Kirk…if only he had an ecclesiology worth the name) has offered a bitter critique and review of a series of affairs in our local assembly (of which he was not involved) and continued to push, and push parishioners for a response. Mr. Kirk; this is my response.

June 9, 2011

The jPod

What on yer iPod? This is on mine;

The Decemberists, The Civil Wars, and Matisyahu 

Now podcasting;

The God Whisperers – Post Rapture Throwdown

The Dividing LineJeremy Tate, Reformed Convert to Rome, and misc

and I’m listening to this book, by Challies.

April 2, 2011

In-N-Out is Over-N-Rated

This spring break I road-tripped all over the Southwestern United States, and through the course of the trip one of the stops included the famous (or infamous) In-N-Out Burger. This notoriously famous burger joint was at one point the talk of the town at my local church because of its supposed stellar fries, and burgers. Given that at the time 85% of my entire church was Californian (thankfully the times of the gentiles are over) I never heard the end of In N Out. So, at one point while trekking through the Grand Canyon with my friends (who were road tripping with me) I exclaimed, randomly;  “We have to go to In-N-Out in Cali!”. They too were mystified at the cultic obsession people from California and the western states had with In N Out. So, the day we arrived in Hollywood, we found the closest restaurant and sat to down to sup. I will be honest, I really approached In-N-Out with hope, the kinda hope that it contained within it the remnants of the fine fast food culture that thrived in California but boy was I in for a disappointment.

Now, mind you I’m a Texan, born and raised. Yes, my dad wears cowboy boots, he owns horses and drives a big truck. In fact at one point all of us drove trucks. I say y’all, and fixin’ to. Technically, if one were to be historical, my mexican ancestry is deeper than that of the Anglo-Americans, but meh. So, when I encountered the proud, and arrogant Californians (I say that very lightly) I reacted violently (also lightly) and asserted the primacy of Texas as the only true state. There is no state but Texas, the rest are non-Texas. California I began to refer to as the ‘third world’. But, I digress.

As we arrived, I must say that the Texan response to In-N-Out appropriately is What-A-Burger, but the decor, and the general aura of In-N-Out is definitely a great supplement to get a Texan like me excited about finally taking a bite out of a tasty burger. I ordered a ‘normal’ burger, a ‘double double’ with mustard not the sauce. With that I ordered jalapeños,and to my dismay they didn’t have any!? But my server was very helpful and asked if I wanted banana peppers? In the south this is a crime. Everyone has jalapeños in the south. You get jalapeños with Ice Cream here…so, I was very surprised. I guess the pacific just doesn’t get it.

Now before I topple the idols, and destroy the idolaters like a good ‘ol iconoclast, I want to clear the air, I did approach In-N-Out with expectations that were above average. I’m not hard to please, I’m not a picky eater, heck I eat pretty much anything. I did, however; have high, oh so high expectations for In-N-Out, why? Well, you see from lay person to elder they all hailed In-N-Out as the big daddy of burgers joints.

Now, the particular restaurant we visited was busy, so maybe I can grant some mercy to the establishment but as far as taste goes the burger simply tasted – well that was the problem, the burger was simply a burger. There was nothing extremely delightful about having it, I enjoyed it but I enjoyed it as much as I enjoy any other burger. Everything was good, I love the aesthetics of In-N-Out, the service was great but the burger was supposed to be the high to end all highs and I just didn’t see it. I liked it, but I expected more. In the end, I walked away giving In-N-Out an average, at least for the burger.

I enjoy my meals together, so when I take a bite of a burger I throw in a few fries, dip my fries into some ketchup (loaded with pepper) and rinse and repeat. I did hear that the fries at In-N-Out also were to be just incredible, but mine were cold, stale and just over all…cafeteria fries? I’m not joking, I’m being very honest, the fries I received must have at least from what others have said not been the true fries that they always sell. Again, the sense of average-ness remained.

Ultimately, I enjoyed my meal at In-N-Out, but did I ENJOY my meal at In-N-Out? No. For that reason as soon as we drove back into Texas, Ian and I stopped at What-A-Burger for a good burger – an above average burger.

January 6, 2011

Movie Nerds, and Turds – Why my movie afficionado friends annoy me sometimes.

**WARNING – Overcharged, and abused religious language is used in this post…**

I’m no movie critic, nor am I the son of a movie critic. I don’t care to be a movie critic, but I do care to critique movie critics. At least the self-appointed ones. Well, in one sense all are actually, self-appointed, but right now I’m going to critique your self-appointed movie critic friends.

You know them, they’re your best friends, your roommates or your siblings. They are self-appointed vicars of Gene Siskel, they infallibly declare a movie  ‘b-rated’ when they cannot get over the fact that someone jumped from two trailers onto another one, on a different highway, while she was being chased by cops pointing and shooting their guns.

Now, it’s not a real problem and maybe this is a local problem or maybe I have too many movie critic friends. I know I shy from saying I like a movie sometimes because I’ll be stoned for even suggesting that I enjoyed it. Below is a brief reaction to a friend who is a self-appointed vicar;

Firstly, all good stories have a plot twist, or a set of circumstances that place the character(s) in a situation with terrible odds that things will turn out in his/her favor. The Vicar of Siskel will usually pontificate on the unbelievable circumstances of a situation in a movie, and its solution. They will then follow it by a real life example or comparison and on this basis argue that the movie is too fantastical, it’s too unbelievable to accept.  He will proceed to decline in commenting on the quality of the movie or simply dismiss the movie as a miserable failure which should be thrown into the vault of such other fails as the Batman franchise, or anything by Nicholas Cage. He will declare the movie anathema.

But is it really necessary? Isn’t the movie after all a movie? Isn’t a story enjoyable because we can escape reality in one sense? If someone will complain about a movie about a CIA agent (like Salt) and her near super power strenght and spider-like qualities as nearly impossible, well then go watch something else – COPS.

(Cops is filmed on location with the men and women of law enforcement all suspects are innocent until proven guilty…in a court of law)

Now, don’t get me wrong some genres require more realistic situations, for example would this whining movie-pope whine the same way if he were watching the Chronicles of Narnia? “What as stupid movie dude, Lions don’t talk, and half man, half goats!? Seriously?” No, of course not, but the standards change but these people decry the movies for all the wrong reasons. A movie, whether drama, suspense, fantasy, anime all involve an element of the imagination that seeks to exit your living room, to take you away and place you in a different world. For the people watching the Chronicles of Narnia, you exit this world, and enter Narnia, exercising your God-given imagination and enjoying the twists and turns of this world. And this usually plays well with all movies, until you have Pope Siskel who in his self centeredness wants to make himself the center of the movie, instead of taking himself into the movie, Pope Siskel wants to be the movie, and brings the movie to him. Pope Siskel refuses to enter the world of the CIA Agent, the illegal immigrant, or the poor black boy. Pope Siskel is the movie.

Now, as I said before, I’m no movie critic but I sure do find movie critics annoying sometimes, especially when they argue the way the Vicars of Siskel do.

November 12, 2010

The Talentless Chump

I became an atheist by being born.

The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies. Psalm 58:3

This is not a flippant answer; religion, faith and God never made sense to me from the get go. I simply didn’t believe any of it.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18.

However, had I been exposed to one of the more shrill and strident religions (see what I did there?) I still don’t think it would have had any effect on me. I just don’t think I’m that kind of person.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. Romans 1:18

It wasn’t until about two decades later that I started to learn why I didn’t believe what I didn’t believe. And I’m still learning.

He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Psalm 2:4

May 3, 2010

I’m just sayin…

You know, I’m not the hard core evangelist kinda guy. I don’t pass out tracts, don’t stand up in a crowd of people to preach, and I don’t wear ‘Christian’ t-shirts with a Gospel message so that perhaps the spirit would use the t-shirt to save men. I’m much more comfortable being the quiet guy wearing the Abercrombie t-shirt, or the just fellowshipping with the brethren over coffee, or cooking fajitas at my house for my brothers.

I’m not into Ray Comfort, or the popular evangelical tactics. I don’t really like the attitude of ‘us against them’ in evangelism, and I don’t really like the whole ‘fighting the culture’ mentality that some evangelists take. In this sense, I reject the whole transformationalist messsage carried in evangelical pop-evangelism. I’m unashamedly opposed to transformationalist (cha ching…two kingdoms huh Daniel?) views of culture. The culture is not to be confused with the cult. There is a sacred and a secular.

I don’t think of myself as an anti-evangelist, although they have given me good reasons to be anti-evangelism because the abrasive attitude of some evangelists reminds me more of Westboro Baptist Church, than the Church Christ founded.

I think apologetics isn’t evangelism, and evangelism is much more important than apologetics. I don’t confuse the two categories, while I do recognize the necessity of both. Apologetics is used to shut people up, evangelism is heralding the message of the Gospel, the announcment of forgiven sins, and the reconciliation of a people to God. 

I’m not big into confrontational evangelism, I am big into relational evangelism. I do witness to cousins, friends, brothers and sisters. Although, I have witnessed to the occasional stranger, for example the young hispanic gangster who asked me for a cigarette (gasp! I even smoked one with him!). It was an interesting interaction of culture, I’m a hispanic but I’m not a ‘cholo’  and while my background may have some ‘cholos’ in it, I don’t familiarize with the subculture they’ve created. Of course the message transcends the culture, so whether it was a yuppie, or a cholo the words of sin, righteouness and judgement all mean the same thing to both groups of people. I would think that I presented a coherent message in a gracious manner. No need to yell, no need to run him through a list of sins – he knew he was evil. I didn’t attract him by giving him dollars, being tied up, or playing a game. All he wanted was a cigarette.

I don’t mind open air preaching, but I’m not an open air preacher. I do think some tracts make the Gospel herald look like an Entertainment Tonight reporter with some Gospel mixed in. But, I also don’t think the other methods are evil, or should be excluded from the life of the Christian in evangelism.

I guess, what I want to say is that sometimes we run into the zealot, the guy who can’t stop sharing Jesus, the guy who treats sharing Jesus with people in his manner, his way, and only his way as if it is the supreme act of piety, as if God’s work will not be done if we don’t evangelize in that way, at that time, in that manner. I don’t need to stand on a stool, passout million dollar bills or chick tracts to get someones attention. I already have some peoples attention, why not focus on them and include the occasional stranger?

Finally, what about the church? After all the Lord commissioned the disciples, and people have interpreted that as implying the Church. If its the comission of the church to evangelize the nations through preaching and the administration of baptism and the Lord’s supper, wouldn’t it be beneficial to invite unbelievers to the gathering of the Church? The great commission wasn’t given to us as individuals but the chuch as a corporate entity.

April 22, 2010

Pentecostal Sacramentology

I’m reading this book; The Lords Supper: Five Views , which includes a view of the sacraments from a Pentecostal perspective (who’da thunk?) it includes a fascinating quote from Aimee Semple McPherson that makes her sound even more sacramental than Jason Person, check it out;

We believe in the 4commemoration and observing of the Lord’s supper by the sacred use of the broken bread, a precious type of the Bread of Life, even Jesus Christ, whose body was broken for us; and by the juice of the vine, a blessed type which should ever remind the participant of the shed blood of the Savior who is the true vine of which His children are the branches; that this ordinance is a glorious rainbow that spans the gulf of years between Calvary and the coming of the Lord, when in the Father’s kingdom, He will partake anew with His children; and that the serving and receiving of this blessed sacrament should be ever preceded by the most solem heart-searching, 5self-examination, forgiveness and love toward all men, that none partake unworthily and drink condemnation to his own soul. We believe in the 4commemoration and observing of the Lord’s supper by the sacreduse of the broken bread, a precious type of the Bread of Life, even Jesus Christ,whose body was broken for us; and by the juice of the vine, a blessed type whichshould ever remind the participant of the shed blood of the Savior who is the truevine of which His children are the branches; that this ordinance is a glorious rainbowthat spans the gulf of years between Calvary and the coming of the Lord, when in theFather’s kingdom, He will partake anew with His children; and that the serving andreceiving of this blessed sacrament should be ever preceded by the most solemnheart-searching, 5self-examination, forgiveness and love toward all men, that nonepartake unworthily and drink condemnation to his own soul. -Aimee Semple McPerson, Declaration of Faith