Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Christmas/nativity/birth of Jesus story in the scriptures

Merry Christmas Eve everyone!

For those looking for the Christmas story in scripture for bedtime reading tonight or possibly around the tree tomorrow morning, I would suggest looking at Luke chapters 1 and 2 and Matthew chapters 1 and 2

Also, there are lots of good texts from the Old Testament prophesying his coming.  Some of those include Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6, and I really enjoy Isaiah chapter 53

If you're looking for an online Bible to read from (with all different translations) I would check out http://www.biblegateway.com

Thursday, December 19, 2013


This is short and simple, but of the utmost importance.

People Jesus hates:  0

People Jesus tells us we're allowed to hate:  0

Rebuttals to these points:  0

Jesus was hard on people, yelled at people, and even condemned people.  Believers.  Family.  His own disciples (Mostly).
Not unbelievers, not the ignorant - to them he showed mercy unending, grace undeserved, and love unconditional.

People Jesus hates:  0

People Jesus tells us we're allowed to hate:  0

Rebuttals to these points:  0

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Are you/me/he/she/they Really Prepared to serve the Kingdom?

An introductory course on the basics of laying the ground work for apprentice leadership training.

Now, apart from the fact that that is one incredibly poorly written description (see what I did there?), it does get the point across that this is... well.. that this is where you are trained to consider the possibility of someday sticking a toe in the water.  Where the water is 2 inches in a bathtub surrounded by lifeguards and you are wearing no less than 3 flotation devices.

This is largely the direction that training has gone.  In corporations, in schools, in homes, and yes, even (perhaps to the greatest degree even) in churches.
We are going to make absolutely sure, not that someone doesn't mess up, but that they never even have the opportunity to mess up.  This is how we (try) to bring up new people.  This is our preparation.

Now, just a couple of problems with this approach (there are lots) include the fact that if you never face adversity, then you will have no idea how to handle it when you do.  If you never say anything wrong than you wont know that it's possible.  If you never need to take advice then you wont know the value of the abundance of advice all around you.  Often times people rise to the level of opposition with which they are confronted.  People learn through experience.  People learn from their mistakes.  People gain confidence and humility, knowledge, and passion from doing.

Moses clearly never read the manual on how to give an introductory course on the basics of laying the ground work for apprentice leadership training.

Neither did Paul.

Neither did any of the apostles.

Neither did Jesus.

Have we?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

"What's a good scripture for _______?"

This morning I was asked by someone for "a good scripture for someone needing marital advice" and it dawned on me...

The verse that most often pops into my head, the verse that I came across a few years after my mom died suddenly just before I turned 10, the verse that so profoundly changed my life is good scriptural advice for, well... everything.

Whether it's depression, loss, vanity, anger, trouble with your spouse, trouble with your kids, trouble with your job, your boss, your church, this passage speaks.  It's about choosing your attitude, about how circumstances shouldn't define you, and about when looking through the lens of Christ, how could we (really) respond any other way?

Rejoice always
Pray continually
Give thanks in all circumstances
For this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Friday, December 6, 2013

Doctrine vs. Theology

These days (oh who am I kidding... since the beginning of time) many people confuse "doctrine" with "theology".  These are not synonyms.
[semantics?  eh, they've become that, so substitute whatever catch phrases you like to get the point:]

Doctrine is a set of ideas that are taught or are believed to be true.
Similarly, the definition for Dogma is a set of beliefs that are accepted by the members without question.

Theology is the study of God (faith, experience, God's relation to His world and His people).

Doctrine is a set of traditions, taught my man, founded by man, passed on by man.

Theology is the study of and (attempted) understanding of God (not the study of tradition) through scripture.

Doctrine:  based on man
Theology: based on scripture
Doctrine: tradition
Theology: God's actual words
Doctrine: details
Theology: God

Am I saying that doctrine is bad?  No.  Am I saying tradition is bad?  No.
What I am saying is that tradition (no matter how good or beautiful) is no substitute for God's words.  Just because we/they/I/you have done something a long time, even a really, really, really long time, doesn't make it Gospel.  No matter how long mankind follows a tradition, it does not a command of Jesus make.

It's dangerous and arrogant to confuse tradition, doctrine, and dogma with theology (based on actual scripture).
Jesus was not pomp and circumstance, he was not legalistic, he was not a denomination (not my denomination, not your denomination, let's stop putting him in little tiny boxes that our feeble minds can understand and control).

Jesus was shockingly simple in the face of insurmountable detail, gracious and merciful and lowly from the (high) seat of absolute power.  He was, is, will be, I AM, relentless and reckless love without bounds.