The Parable of the Two Sons

30 07 2008

Matthew 21:28-32

 28But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.

 29He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.

 30And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.

 31Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

 32For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.

Jesus speaks this parable in the presence of some of the most important religious leaders of the day.  The first son in the parable initially refuses to do what the father requests, but eventually has a change of heart and does what is asked of him.  The second son feigns obedience to the father but then does nothing that has been told him.

Jesus then shows His audience that it was only the first son who actually did the will of his father.  Then, in one of the several moments that Jesus provokes the religious leaders to want to kill Him, He tells them that whores and members of the IRS will enter the Kingdom of God before them (at least, He probably would have said that if it happened today).  This is because the religious leaders didn’t repent when they heard the truth, unlike those they had deemed “sinners,” who turned to God.  The Pharisees and Jewish leaders thought they had all their doctrinal ducks in a row (stolen phrase- can’t remember where from though), and refused to believe that there was a possibility that they could be wrong.  Their self-righteousness had blinded them into thinking that they had all their bases covered and no one could tell them otherwise.

Is it possible that this same spirit of self-righteousness still exists today?  “Of course,” you may say.  “The Roman Catholics who are steeped in ritualism and extreme legalists who over-emphasize works-based salvation are very guilty of this.”  This may be true, but do not be too quick to judge others.  Look inside yourself and do a bit of soul-searching, and you may be surprised at what you find (I am guilty of this as much as anyone else).

Jesus said that repentant harlots and publicans would enter the kingdom of God before those He was addressing (notice He said “before,” not “instead of”).  Why do they get to go in first?  The answer lies in the fact that they were the ones who did the will of their Father.

The next question one would naturally ask is, “Well then, what is the will of the Father?”  Well, let’s make a list, shall we?  Which of the following do you feel is part of the will of the Father that we are to fulfill?

  • Holding rallies to ensure that a judge who wishes to keep the Ten Commandments displayed in his courtroom is allowed to keep doing so (The same Ten Commandments that were under the Old Law that Jesus took away [Heb. 10:9]).
  • Bombing abortion clinics
  • Boycotting any movie that disagrees with Christian values in any way
  • Calling women who have had abortions “baby-killers” and demanding they repent of their evil ways
  • Keeping churches “clean” by making sure that no one of obvious “questionable moral character” is allowed membership, or even inside the building in extreme cases
  • Fighting atheists tooth and nail to prove that God exists and they are wrong (by the way, I love this quote from the book Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller:  “Sooner or later you just figure out there are some guys who don’t believe in God and they can prove He doesn’t exist, and some other guys who do believe in God and they can prove He does exist, and the argument stopped being about God a long time ago and now it’s about who is smarter, and honestly I don’t care.”)
  • Writing songs with lyrics like “If you’re pro-choice, you’re pro-kill / Innocent bloodshed, murder at will” (no, I’m not kidding- the band No Innocent Victim wrote the song these lines are from, called “Pro-Kill.”  That is so soaked in irony right there that their very band name is a declaration that no victim is innocent, yet they call the killing of babies “innocent bloodshed.”  There are so many implications right there- I’ll save that for another day [By the way, don’t get me wrong, I think abortion is a horrific and wrong practice].)
  • Telling people who are not Christians that they had better get their life right before they die or God will sentence them to Hell to be tortured forever
  • Telling people that they need to start a personal relationship with Jesus Christ now so that when they die they can go to be in Heaven with Him or else they will end up in a place called Hell which is an eternal separation from God as a result of their own choices

I was listening to a message by a man named Gary Amirault the other day (a message that inspired much of this particular writing).  The message was called “Bull-DooDoo.”  Mr. Amirault told of a time when he was asked to speak at a Christian convention.  He spoke on the pharisaical ways of many Christians today and apparently used the word “bullshit” to describe it.  Having not realized he said the word, he was shocked when afterward he was pulled aside by two of the convention’s members of leadership and told that members of the audience had threatened to leave the convention over the use of the offensive word.  This got Mr. Amirault thinking, and after a lot of deliberating over whether he used the word because he was sinful or careless or what, came to a conclusion.  He looked through the Bible at all the strong language used by Old Testament prophets and Jesus against those who were doing particularly evil or deceptive things, and realized that perhaps God Himself had given him the word “bullshit” to describe the empty, useless doctrines/traditions/things valued by Christians, a word Mr. Amirault absolutely was not intending to use beforehand. (By the way, if you want to hear the message, let me know and I can send you the mp3 files so you can listen to it).

Take a good look at that list again.  Which of those things requires God’s intervention?  Which of those things, if you were to ask Him right now, would He want to be involved with?  Is God the God of guilt-trips?  Is God the God of improving the morals of those people who don’t even believe in Him in the first place?  Is God the God of the sort of justice that would compel a man to bomb an abortion clinic (after all, the abortionist had killed many before, right?  Surely, he deserves death?)  Is God the God of the death penalty?

(As an aside, take another good look at the last two items in the list.  Do you see a discernible difference between the two?  The first probably seems dated and legalistic to the modern Christian, whereas the second probably has a less harsh tone to it, and seems to relieve God of some of the responsibility of some members of His creation being lost forever.  A good question to ask yourself is why we as Christians have moved from “God condemns you to eternal torture” to “We sentence ourselves to eternal separation from God.”  There is a reason.)

When will we realize that Christianity is not about morality?  Jesus did not come to preach morality!  If He did, there would have been no reason for Him to come, for morality was already perfectly laid out in the Mosaic Law!

Look at this next list.  Again, ask yourself which of the following you think would be included in God’s will.

  • Telling people that God loves them unconditionally and has paid the ultimate sacrifice so that they can be saved
  • Loving people regardless of race, religion, color, sexual orientation, or political affiliation
  • Telling people that nothing they do could ever change how much God loves them
  • Visiting and caring for those who are suffering, regardless of if they have made bad choices that have caused them to end up where they are
  • Showing people that those who truly love Jesus are not condemning, but are, first and foremost, full of love and compassion for others

Demon Utopia? Training for Hunters? Hunter Utopia? Training for Demons?

22 07 2008

I had a sort of revelation recently concerning the band Demon Hunter.  For those of you who don’t know, Demon Hunter is one of the current most famous Christian metal/hardcore band around right now.  Also, for those of you don’t know, band members Don and Ryan Clark, rhythm guitarist and vocalist of Demon Hunter, respectively, were in a band called Training for Utopia before forming Demon Hunter.  They released two full-length albums, an EP, and a split EP with the band Zao.

Now, for those of you who are Demon Hunter fans, please don’t take this blog entry the wrong way.  I think Demon Hunter is a band full of talented musicians who consistently churn out slightly-above-average melodic metal music with occasionally awesome songs.  These are merely observations.

The band Training for Utopia released a song on their final album Throwing a Wrench Into the American Music Machine from 1999 called “50000 Screaming TFU Fans Can’t Be Wrong”.  It was the first song on the album and featured lyrics where the writer complains about not getting the recognition he deserves.  Here are the lyrics to the song:

Training for Utopia- “50000 Screaming TFU Fans Can’t Be Wrong”

Tired of playing
Tired of not being played
Tear this city down
Dance among the flames

Rock is alive and well
Give me all your fame
Some things are not for free
I’m for sale

I’m gonna tear this movement down
Im gonna remain deleted

Been played
Been under payed
You still threw me away

And I want it back


Training for Utopia 

Training for Utopia


Basically, if I’m reading this song right, Ryan Clark dislikes the fact that his band is not as big and famous as he would like (I say “if I’m reading this song right” because there are probably sarcastic overtones in the song that I’m missing).  Note that this band is not a Christian band, however Don and Ryan Clark are themselves Christians.  Also note that this album has nearly no discernible spiritual content, unlike previous albums which had hints of it.  Thirdly, note that Training for Utopia is an extremely innovative noisecore band whose albums each have a distinct feel to them, Throwing being the most innovative since it basically consisted of the album being recorded by the band and then electronically mashed and remixed some guy/thing called Appliance (said to perform “electronic interventions” in the liner notes).

After this album is released, Training for Utopia breaks up… and what comes up out of the ashes?  Demon Hunter, a Christian melodic metal band that wears its influences on its sleeve (Slipknot being a big one, so I’ve heard, I haven’t heard much of them) and is “shrouded in mystery”, as the band members aren’t revealed to the public and the press photos feature some of the band members wearing masks.  Good way to get attention, right?

Fast forward to 2008.  Demon Hunter has released four albums and is one of the biggest Christian heavy bands around.  They do one huge tour per album and usually take three or four other heavy Christian acts with them.  When Don and Ryan Clark aren’t busy with Demon Hunter, they work with their art company Invisible Creature, where they make album art for some of the most famous rock bands around, Christian and non-Christian. 

It seems to me that all of the complaints from that nearly ten-year-old song have been put to rest and its prophecies have been fulfilled.  Let me explain pertinent lines with my comments in italics.

Tired of playing
Tired of not being played
Pretty self-explanatory.  Demon Hunter is definitely getting played.  If that’s not true, then Don and Ryan are getting payed in Invisible Creature.

Rock is alive and well
Give me all your fame
Dude wants fame.  Can’t blame him.  He’s being honest.
Some things are not for free
I’m for sale
Um, I can’t really judge people’s motives, so I’m not going to comment on this one.

I’m gonna tear this movement down
Im gonna remain deleted
Seems the innovative style started by TFU was the beginning of a movement. 
It got torn down when Demon Hunter was formed.

Been played
Been under payed
You still threw me away

And I want it back

Played, under-payed, and thrown away.  This problem will be solved with a new band.

Just some observations :)

(after-note: Remember, I’m not bad-mouthing Don or Ryan Clark.  The parallels between their successes and that song are just interesting to me, is all)

Velvet Elvis

21 07 2008
I’ve finally finished reading Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell (after taking a break to read six or so books for my summer class. Ugh. Those were good, too, I guess :). ) The first part of the note is what I wrote in the comments to another note I wrote. The rest is what I’m adding now, having finished reading.

Part I: Chaps. 1-3
There are many things I like about this book, one being that it seems to have a very “questioning” theme about it. Rob Bell is very interested in shaking people out of their comfort zones in order to ask the tough questions about God and why they believe what they do. Some quotes I really liked so far:

“Questions are not scary.

What is scary is when people don’t have any.”

“Now I think the Bible is the most amazing, beautiful, deep, inspired, engaging collection of writings ever. How is it that this ancient book continues to affect me in ways no other book does?

But sometimes when I hear people quote the Bible, I just want to throw up.”

“It is possible to make the Bible say whatever we want it to, isn’t it?”

Another theme that comes into play in the book often (so far) is that of continuously reinterpreting and engaging our Christian faith. He says that Jesus meant for us to continue questioning and growing and following Him, without being stagnant in our beliefs (and this sort of comes into play in the subtitle of the book: Repainting the Christian Faith. He speaks of a woman who says that she is going to “get back to the Bible and just take it for what it really says” in reference to a particular subject she was discussing in church with people who disagreed with her. The author goes on to say that “this view of the Bible is warped and toxic, to say the least.” He basically says there is no way to read the Bible without interpreting it through your own biases.

In the second chapter he references the Jewish rabbis of Jesus’ day and how they had “yokes” that their students would take up. He then says, “One rabbi even said his yoke was easy.”

In the third chapter, he speaks of God being present everywhere. He mentions how some missionaries tend to have this idea of bringing God to people. This isn’t really true, since God was there the whole time. A missionary’s job should only be to point Him out. In this chapter, he also says not to be afraid of learning new truth, even if it doesn’t come from someone who is “Christian”. He talks about a theoretical girl who grows up in Christianity and then goes to college. She is exposed to new ideas that pique her curiosity and interest, but since she has grown up without realizing that truth can be found outside of church walls, she is “now faced with this dilemma: believe the truth she’s learning or the Christian faith she was brought up with. Or we could put her dilemma this way: intellectual honesty or Jesus?” This chapter also speaks of not discounting significant moments in life that could be considered spiritual, but to accept them.

He says: “I assume you have had moments… when you were caught up in something so much bigger than yourself that you couldn’t even put it into words.” He says that a good faith should accept these moments instead of denying them.

Part II: My thoughts now

I think this book should be required reading for all Christians. The fifth chapter (or “movement” as he calls it), Dust, is worth the price of the book alone. It gives so much meaning to Jesus’ interactions and manners of speaking in a Jewish culture. I understand now why what much of He did was considered so shocking. I was nearly moved to tears reading this chapter. It shows how dearly he loves each person and how much faith He has in us (yeah, you read that right).

There are a couple things that I (possibly) disagree with in the book, but I still recommend it to all Christians (especially those who are stuck in legalism and judgmental ways). Of course, non-Christians can get a lot out of this book as well (and probably even more than the sorts of Christians who will read this book and criticize it for Bell’s more open-minded way of thinking). It promotes the opening of discussions between people who have different views. It encourages people with different interpretations of Scripture to actually discuss possible different meanings, instead of exchanging their own thoughts for those of whatever the authority (pastor, etc.) says is the truth. It calls for a community of like-minded believers who aren’t afraid to change what they believe if necessary. It urges readers not to just accept what one man behind a pulpit says, but to actually discover for oneself what the truth is and have civilized conversations with others about what is believed.

“If the gospel isn’t good news for everybody, then it isn’t good news for anybody.”

(originally written 7/11/08 )

2 Corinthians 5:17

21 07 2008

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

This verse has caused me a lot of trouble over the years (or maybe I just brought the trouble on myself). I would read it and assume that because my “godliness” hadn’t increased tenfold and all my bad habits didn’t disappear when I “became a Christian” (it could be said I was a Christian all my life, since I grew up in the church) that I (1) wasn’t really a new creature, (2) wasn’t really saved, and (3) was on my way to Hell unless I did something, fast (although what exactly I was supposed to do always escaped me, I had already prayed the “sinner’s prayer” about 50,387 times and I wasn’t sure what else to try).

My Dad’s Bible had a section in the back about how to minister to people effectively called “Guide to Christian Workers.” Ironically, a certain section in it served more than just about anything else to make my Christianity a living Hell at times. It was in the section titled “Convincement” meant to convince the new believer that they were actually saved (more irony). It was in the third subsection of this and was entitled THERE IS A NEW IMAGE. Anyway, it starts out with the 2 Cor. 5:17 verse (actually, I didn’t even remember that it did until a minute ago when I looked it up in my Dad’s Bible). It emboldens and italicizes the words he is which is irony in itself (I’ll explain later). Anyway, this is what the rest of this section says (forgive me if I’m breaking any copyright laws):

“A New Testament Christian is not a patched-up job, a reformed sinner. There is a new will; there are new affections; there is a new purpose because there is a new nature.”

Here’s the kicker:

“The emptiest and unhappiest occupation in the world is trying to act like a Christian when you are not a Christian. You do not gradually stop stealing. You stop stealing. It is miracle, not magic.”

Wow. Let’s break this down. This is what I was thinking:
“I’m extremely unhappy and empty because I fear that I’m not really saved. I look to this little Christian worker’s guide to help give me assurance. I read that once you are saved, you instantly stop sinning habitually. I am still dealing with many sins and sinful habits in my life. I must not really be saved. If you are not really saved, then you go to Hell forever and ever. I’m screwed… unless I do something NOW. I’ve already prayed to God/Jesus numerous times to save me from my sins and forgive me and come to live in my heart. What else can I do? I must not be trying hard enough. I must not believe enough. Maybe I’m one of the people who isn’t meant to be saved.”

Okay, maybe I never thought that last sentence, but it lurked in the back of my mind, mostly because I was too afraid to think it. These thoughts tormented me for most of my teenage life. I probably already mentioned this somewhere in one of my other notes, but I would get caught in a cycle of doubt salvation/become terrified of Hell/get help from pastor or friends or family/be reassured/doubt salvation…

What I didn’t realize up until about a year ago was that there was nothing I could do to be saved. You can pray the sinner’s prayer all day and not have a single thing change in your life. You can will yourself to be sincere all you want, but sincerity will not save you. You can truly be seeking and even want Jesus in your life (which I did. Believe me, I did), but unless God chooses to bless you with a personal experience with Him, nothing will happen. You can’t force it. God alone is the One Who chooses when you will be brought to the point where you will truly cry out for Him from the depths of your soul.

Terrible memories are coming back as I write this. NO WONDER I was so doubtful. NO WONDER I couldn’t trust God like I wanted to. NO WONDER I couldn’t believe with childlike faith. Any childlike faith I might have had was perverted by reading wonderful “Christian Guides” like this. One cannot believe with simplicity with the fear of Hell and separation and death and torture hanging over their heads (by the way, there is no separation in the commonly held view of Hell. If you hold to the Eternal Separation view over the Eternal Torture view, read Revelation 14:10. The “torment” in Hell happens in the presence of the Lamb. There is no separation from the Lamb, He’s right there). If praying the sinner’s prayer and trying not to sin and trying to love people and trying to focus on reading the Bible and trying to enjoy and learn from church are not enough to escape Hell, THEN WHAT IS? I tried so many things! Luke 18:22 says that the rich young ruler lacked one thing… maybe it was also what I was lacking. Maybe I had to sell all that I had and give to the poor. I never did that and had no real desire to do it unless I felt God was calling me to do that. But maybe I just had to do it and the fact that I wouldn’t was keeping me from fully experiencing salvation. (I’m sure those who wrote the Christian Guide had done that [sarcasm]). Nothing I tried was working and giving me the assurance I needed. According to my guide, God only works in one way, and if you aren’t saved in this one specific way (excessively detailed by the author[s]), then you’re probably not really saved and had better do something about it.

Okay, now where was I… oh right:
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

The italicized words in the King James version are words that are not actually in the original text. They are added in to make the text more readable and understandable for the English speaker/reader. In other words, the italicized words “be” and “he is” are not actually part of the verse. Remember when I told you that the author(s) of my Christian guide emboldened the words “he is?” Funny they would try to emphasize that part of the verse, when it’s not actually part of it in the first place. In my particular (King James) version of the Bible, there is a (1) before the words he is which refers to a footnote. This footnote says “Or, let him be.” In other words, the verse could also be read as:

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, let him be a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

Hmmm, puts a bit of a different twist on the verse, doesn’t it? Could it be that instead of us automatically being completely cured of our sinful ways, this verse is calling us to make the qualities of this “new creature” become a part of us? Is it telling us to rely on God so that in our new Christian lives it will be that “old things are passed away… [and] … all things are become new?” Perhaps this verse means that it will not be easy to do such a thing, but that we must strive (not completely by ourselves, relying on God is absolutely necessary) to get rid of the qualities of the old creature?

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are people who, once becoming saved, really are immediately transformed and seem to give up very many of the sinful habits they’ve had previously, and I think that’s wonderful. Does that mean that this is how God works with everyone? A thousand times no! What of those who have been raised in the evangelical church system for their entire lives and have been “good little boys and girls,” with nary a public sin to be spoken of? What of those who were “saved” when they were five years old because their parent or pastor led them in a prayer and as adults are no longer sure of what they believe? What of those who live with a pharisaical spirit, who think that God is on their side (and only on their side) and everyone else is doomed? What of Muslims/Jews/etc. who live perfectly moral lives and love others more than the majority of Christians do? What happens when these people are saved? None of these people seem like they have any sin that needs curing. God works in different ways with different people. Some He will change gradually, others instantly, some won’t seem to change at all, but God is still working in all of them.

Like I’ve said before, I’ve been “saved” most of my life, and had my “real salvation experience” at the age of 13 at a Christian speaking/music event. I remember shortly after that, I was very excited about God and I would look at the people around me and see sadness in their eyes. I wished that there were something that I could do to help them and show them love. But I never did. I was soon caught up in pharisaical thinking and the mindset of “I have to do this, this, and this and can’t do this, this, and this or I’m not really saved” and forgot about other people. Only in the past year or so have I begun to get back the love for people that I felt shortly after I was “saved,” and that was only after I abandoned the pharisaical, exclusionary way of thinking and the fear of Hell that had burdened me for most of my life.

Well, this note was only supposed to be a couple paragraphs about the verse, but it turned out that I wrote a lot more than I planned on. Oh well, I hope whoever reads this gets something out of it. I’ll close with the lyrics to a song by Michael W. Smith (words by Wayne Kirkpatrick) called “Calling Heaven”:

Calling heaven
Seeking mercy
Tell me there’s a place for these

What of the children who have never felt a love
Tender as the morning
Nursing the bruises
And the scars that never seem to go away

What of the babies who have never left the womb
Breathing in the lifeline
Angels in waiting
Gone before they could be given wings to fly


What of the noble who are searching for the truth
With truest of intentions
And yet they’re jaded by
Hypocrisies behind cathedral walls

What of the humble and the meek that knew despair
And never got their moment
But sacrificed a life of comfort
So that others knew no pain


What of the ones who call you Lord
But play the field
with faithless indecision
Forgive us father for we truly
Do not know what we have done


(originally written 7/3/08 )

The Unforgivable Sin

21 07 2008
I found a terrific article on this subject by George MacDonald, a theologian and writer who was deeply admired by none other than C.S. Lewis. I’ve been free from fear about this particular subject for quite some time now, and I wish I’d seen this article years ago. It helps to put this whole issue in perspective, and he effectively communicates that this particular sin isn’t one specific act, but a state of being (one that is not entirely irrevocable, either).

Here it is:

“My friends, I offer this as only a contribution towards the understanding of our Lord’s words. But if we ask him, he will lead us into all truth. And let us not be afraid to think, for he will not take it ill.”

(originally written 6/30/08 )


21 07 2008

I wrote this about a week ago, and was sort of wary of posting it to Facebook, so I held onto it for a while. I decided that I’d post it with some minor edits. Women, if you read the first few paragraphs and think I’m just bitter and trying to hate on women, please calm down and read the rest of the note. I don’t really have much to be bitter about, and please don’t think that what I said about women is about any specific person. These are just general observations. I don’t think I’m any sort of expert on the subject of attraction, I’m just stating my opinion.

Anyway, here it is. Please try to refrain from crucifying me :)

I’m finding it quite interesting lately how women become attracted to men. I don’t know if it’s because of some primal urge that takes them over (as they often accuse men of), but it seems that all women, to some degree, are attracted to the same type of men. The athletic, confident, forceful, somewhat jerk-ish “perfect guy”. If there isn’t some sort of immediate, gut attraction to a guy, then there doesn’t seem to be much hope for him.

How is this any better than guys who they accuse of being attracted only by the physical aspects of a woman? They’re clearly attracted to a certain “something” that isn’t in any way derived by what type of person the person they’re attracted to is. It’s impulsive, lust-driven attraction that isn’t any nobler than the guy who points to that “hot piece of ass over there.” I’m not trying to justify guys here. It’s pretty terrible for a man to look at a woman as a sexual object for personal gratification. I’m just saying that women have a huge double-standard in this area and most (I believe) don’t realize it.

Oh, and one other phenomenon that amuses/appalls me: What is with the strange fascination that a large majority of the female population has with a select few male actors (Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Patrick Dempsey, to name a few). Ask any woman if she likes Johnny Depp, and 9 times out of 10 you’ll get a squeal and an answer like, “OMIGODYES JOHNNYDEPPIS SO HOTT! OH I WOULD SO MARRY HIM AND CARRY HIS BABIES!” It seems to me that guys don’t have this strange obsession with any two or three particular female actresses (or any two or three females in general). Why is that? (just throwing it out there)

Anyway, that’s women. And yes, I do realize that not all women are this way. Just a lot of them.

Men are just as bad, of course.

A lot of times it does seem as if looks are all that matter to men. Just listening to them talk sometimes you’d think that all that’s ever looked for in a woman is a pretty face and a hot body. All men need to see is a sexy photograph before they’ll be willing to marry and carry babies… er, have the woman carry their babies. Some guys will just see a woman for the first time, immediately ask her out, and (if the guy has the “right personality”) will be on a date with her in no time. Her personality does not matter. “Ugly” girls are this social taboo that you can’t be caught dead around. It doesn’t matter how braindead the “hot girl” is, the guy only wants her around to boost his confidence (take that however you like).

Where am I going with all this?

It seems that men and women are looking for something in the opposite sex that will satisfy them for a lifetime in marriage (granted, I’m only talking about people looking for a lifetime marriage, not to “get lucky” or have a fling). Women think that men’s confidence / bold attitude / manliness / romantic ways will keep her in love with and interested in him for the rest of their lives. Men seem to think that having a “hawt wife” to wake up to every morning and have hot sex with at night will be enough to satisfy them.

Men and women are both dead wrong, in my opinion. And my opinion is this:

Looks do not matter, and neither does one’s “confidence” (at least in dealing with long-term relationships). Even in personal experience, I’ve noticed that the first time I meet a woman, I may think she’s not very attractive. But that changes once I get to know the person. My deepening relationship with this person will actually change how I view them. I’ll see that person as prettier, more beautiful, whatever… and I’m sure it works the same with women and their specific attractions. It also works the other way around. I’ve seen girls who I thought were drop-dead gorgeous, and once I got to know them, that sort of faded away and I didn’t feel that attraction to them anymore. They became “just another face”. As my Social Behavior teacher, Professor Hennessey, said, “pretty wears off”.

What I think really matters here is the deepening, personal relationship between the two, and how they are relating to one another intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally. Now, if you’re doing all this and growing in these areas with this person, and the person STILL looks hideous to you (or seems “not manly enough” or whatever for women), then I guess my theory goes out the window. Or maybe not. I mean, I do realize that there needs to be at least SOME element of physical attraction there, but it may not always come immediately.

I guess my main point is that looks and physical attraction are not that important when compared to the intellectual, spiritual, and emotional connections that would bind the two together.

But, hey, what do I know? I could be completely wrong, I’ve never even had a girlfriend :)

(originally posted (6/6/08 )

It’s funny…

21 07 2008
“but nothing unifies like a common enemy
and we’ve got one, sure as hell
but he may be living in your house
he may be raising up your kids
he may be sleeping with your wife
oh no, he may not look like you think”
-Derek Webb, “A King and a Kingdom”

I really fail at practicing what I preach. This poor girl went to Vintage all alone, sat by herself, and no one talked to her. She looked so sad. Myself, being an incredibly nice guy, felt like someone should go and talk to her / make her feel welcome. So, I did what any other decent person would do and actually did: nothing. It’s not the first time, either. In the past few times I’ve gone to Vintage, the same thing has happened with two other people, both guys. They seemed to come by themselves, sat by themselves, wandered aimlessly around by themselves. Those times, I also did what any decent person would do: absolutely nothing. You’d think a guy who spent the better part of his life wishing he had friends and that people would talk to him would be more likely to go out of his way to be nice to people. Nope. I could’ve encouraged these people and shown them love, but I let my fear of rejection and my shyness take over, instead of not worrying about that stuff and doing what I should have.

“If this is all the love my spirit can give
There is not a reason more to live”
-Demon Hunter, “The Tide Began to Rise”

But you know what? How many other people (loving Christians) were there? I realize that I’m no better than they are for not doing anything, but I wonder, was I the only one who even noticed? Why is it that we can talk ’til we’re blue in the face about being loving to others, but can’t take enough time to break out of our stupid cliques and show love to someone who needs it? Do we (I) not have enough love? What can I do to get it? How can I get to the point where I don’t care about the consequences and will just do what I feel is right?

I’ve failed to make a difference in someone’s life. I could have shown God’s love, but stifled it. I could have said a kind word, but held it in. I could have been the hands and feet of Christ, but chose to stay little, insecure me.

What the hell is my problem?

“It’s funny how chemo wears you down.
It’s funny when the lame dog is put down.
It’s funny when it is taken out into the street and is shot.”
-Spitfire, “Chemo Therapist”

(originally written 6/4/08 )


21 07 2008
I just read a great book online called So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore by “Jake Colsen” (actually a pseudonym for two authors). It’s about a man who grows increasingly frustrated with the church that he is an associate pastor at and his eventual departure from it. He only does so after he meets a man named John who helps him learn how to love and live in the freedom that only God can offer. He slowly learns how to break away from religion, organizations, and what is normally called “church”, and how to be free to love as Jesus did instead of trying to coerce people into behaving the way Christian society deems acceptable. My description is woefully failing at this point, so I suggest you go to and read the book for yourself. It’s really changed the way I look at church and is a terrific read. I found it very difficult to only read a chapter at a time.

Another book I’m currently reading is called A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis, which is his personal memoirs after the death of his beloved wife, Joy. He asks difficult questions about God and even appears to lose his faith. The basic premise (from what I’ve read so far) of the book is that one can never know how much faith one has until it is tried by a tragic event in one’s life. An amazing quote from the book:
“If God’s goodness is inconsistent with hurting us, then either God is not good or there is no God: for in the only life we know He hurts us beyond our worst fears and beyond all we can imagine. If it is consistent with hurting us, then He may hurt us after death as unendurably as before it.
Sometimes it is hard not to say, ‘God forgive God.’ Sometimes it is hard to say so much. Buf if our faith is true, He didn’t. He crucified Him.”

And another:

“You could say we are fallen and depraved. We are so depraved that our ideas of goodness count for nothing; or worse than nothing—the very fact that we think something good is presumptive evidence that it is really bad. Now God has in fact—our worst fears come true—all the characteristics we regard as bad: unreasonableness, vanity, vindictiveness, injustice, cruelty. But all these blacks (as they seem to us) are really whites. It’s only our depravity that make them look black to us.”

It gets even better from there.

Read these books. I command you. Do it now. Don’t hesitate. DO IT! Use your abilities! Reading is a superpower! Be a superhero! Hurrah!


(originally written 5/23/08 )

So who did it?

21 07 2008
2 Samuel 24:1 And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.

1 Chronicles 21:1 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

These are two verses from two different tellings of the same event (both from KJV).

In my Bible, to the left of the word ‘he’ in the 2 Samuel verse there is a (1) which points to a footnote which reads: “That is, Satan; see 1 Chr. 21:1″

So, in other words, if the note is included in the text, the verse looks like this:

2 Samuel 24:1 And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he (That is, Satan; see 1 Chr. 21:1) moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.

If this isn’t one of the biggest contortion acts I’ve ever seen, I don’t know what is. Why in the world would the 2 Samuel verse use ‘he’ to refer to Satan without actually calling him by his name, when the LORD is mentioned directly beforehand? It seems the publishers of my Bible were afraid to admit that possibly there is a contradiction in two different verses, so they found whatever reason they could to explain it away.

So, who provoked David? God? Satan? Or maybe a little bit of both?

To be honest, I don’t really think these verses are a contradiction, even if we don’t believe the explanation from my Bible’s note.

“the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel”

We aren’t told why God was angry, just that He was. If you take this verse as it is written, it’s not because David numbered the people that He was angry, but the LORD moved him to do so in His anger.

“Satan stood up against Israel…”

It seems that this is in perfect accordance with God’s will, since He was angry at Israel at this time anyway.

“and provoked David to number Israel.”

OH NOES! I’m confused again! In the other verse, it just said that the LORD (in case you’re wondering why I keep capitalizing that, it’s because it stands for the Hebrew name YHWH, which is also translated Jehovah, but for some reason the original translators used the word ‘LORD’ instead of the others) provoked David, not Satan! How can good and evil do the same thing? What’s going on here?

Could it be that God used Satan to accomplish His purposes? Could it be that Satan is not an equal and opposing force to God, and that he has a specific purpose given him by the LORD? If this is true, the first verse is not contradicted by the second. God still provoked David, but used Satan to do so.

Maybe Satan actually has a purpose. Carrying this further, this would imply that evil itself has a purpose. Is it possible to trust a God Who would use evil to carry out His will?

So what was the result of David doing this?

2 Samuel 24:10 And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.

2 Samuel 24:15 So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.

So, let me get this straight:

  • The LORD gets mad at Israel
  • The LORD uses Satan to provoke David to sin by numbering the people of Israel
  • David repents of his foolishness
  • The LORD slays seventy thousand men

Doesn’t seem very fair, does it? Now, I’m not going to get into why God would kill so many people over one man’s prideful sin (that’s for another time… maybe), but it seems that the LORD used David as a scapegoat in order to kill the people He was mad at before David even did anything.

I’m not trying to be blasphemous here, only trying to make sense of the passages. I don’t know why God would do such a thing, but I do know that I trust Him and His purposes. I’m not going to get into my views of the Old Testament here (like I said), but I know that I can trust that He will do whatever is best for Himself and for His creation. So, whether He uses good or evil to accomplish His will, I know that we can trust that everything will work out the way that He planned it. Nothing surprises Him. Satan cannot ambush God. Satan is on a tight leash and cannot do anything outside of God’s will.

If we would meditate on this, I believe we would find it much easier to rest in God and trust that He only has our welfare in mind, whatever it is He plans to do.

(originally written 5/19/08 )


21 07 2008
Right here.

Needs to stop thinking about juggling these incandescent thoughts.

Courage doesn’t become some people (and probably never will).

Postmodernism? Not exactly.

Use that grey matter your Heavenly Father blessed you with.

Push them away.

“Burn it down and walk away.”

Not much use in forcing it.

Repent of your bitter cynicism, it’s driving you into the ground.

Who is being addressed?

Keep being vague, nothing gets solved that way.

“Give us more desperation / isolation, because it works for me.”

Basket case.

Once a basket case, always a basket case?

It doesn’t make sense in the given context.

Walk in the room.

Turn on the charm.

Bask in the warm glow of adulation as the masses shift their attention in zero seconds flat.

Seeing oneself as a martyr can easily become the height of arrogance.

Just do as you feel led.

Dr. Weyandt’s words still haunt me.

Where is this all going?

Utter destruction?

Complete and total bliss?

A possible lifetime of isolation traded for what?

To conform and lose one’s heart / soul / spirit / passion, or forge a new path and be fed to the wolves?

Have you washed yourself in the rain? I ask as I wallow in my cesspool of filth.

We’re all hypocrites.

Do we really want what we say we desire?

Which one of you holds the ultimate truth?

Certainly it can’t be all of you.

I refuse to praise Him for saving *me* anymore.

It’s not about me.

If anyone is unworthy, it’s not the atheist, it’s not the Muslim, it’s not the Hindu, it’s not the Christian Scientist, it’s not the Satanist.

It’s me. (Is this the height of arrogance or humility?)

The hypocritical “Christian” who refused to see the good in other people.

I don’t care who you are.

You’re on this journey with me.

It’s not me against the world.

It’s not you against the world.

It’s not *us* against the world.

Stop pushing. Stop fighting it. Stop being desperate.

Stop seeing others as hopeless. Only then can we learn to love them.

Satan, the Devil, our “free will”, “The prince of the power of the air”, our sinful natures, our refusal to listen, our outright denial, our hatred, our self-righteousness, our condemning natures, our sickening pleasure at the retribution of the wicked, our failure to “repeat this prayer after me,” even our outright refusal of His forgiveness.

Which of these will stop the unlimited, unconditional, unfailing love of God?

The initial cynical rant has turned into praise to God. How did that happen?

God works in mysterious ways, friend :).

Lord, I praise and thank You for saving *us*.

(originally written 5/4/08 )