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Archive for July, 2010

Who’s That Knocking At My Door?

July 25, 2010 5 comments

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My family was preparing to leave for the day to celebrate our nephew’s 3rd birthday when we noticed a red car pull up in front of the house.  Four people exited the car and made their way down the sidewalk away from my house.  They must have split up shortly after walking past our house because it wasn’t very long before two of them showed up again in front of the house and made their way to our front door.  I knew what was coming.

Jehovah Witnesses had descended upon our humble abode.

I think most people dread that inevitable ring of the doorbell, but I was glad that they showed up.  In fact, I was wishing that we didn’t have a time commitment to be with family so that I would have time to talk to the man and the lady who were now standing on my doorstep.

When I answered the door, the man stepped forward while the lady stared down at the sidewalk in front of her feet.  The man made some small talk about the wisteria that is growing beside our front stoop and then handed me a sheet of paper as an invitation to some function that they were holding in a city that is 100 miles away from my home.  He didn’t take the time to explain who they were or what the function was and all the while that he was making small talk and introducing the invitation to me, the lady continued to look at her feet.  I felt sympathy for both of them.. especially the lady.  I think they have experienced a lot of rejection in the process of their door-to-door witnessing.

I tried to make them feel at ease by explaining that I was familiar with Jehovah Witnesses because my mother-in-law had been one.  The lady glanced up for a second and there was a smile that crossed her face before she bowed her head again to continue her examination of my sidewalk.  Because I didn’t have much time to talk to them, I wanted to gauge as quickly as I could how much these two knew of their own church history and beliefs so I posed the following two issues that I have with the Jehovah Witness church:

  1. Prophecies of the Jehovah Witnesses of Christ’s return that have failed to come to fruition.
  2. The question of Christ’s deity as translated by the Watch Tower Society.

The man decided this was an invitation to refute the trinity and side-stepped the prophetic issues of the Watch Tower Society by saying those people are no longer part of the group.  I went along for the ride as he dismissed the argument for the trinity as there is only one God according to the bible.  I think he was surprised when I told him that I agreed with him that there was only one God but that I believed it was God’s desire to present Himself as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.   We traded a few verses that lent support to our differing views and talked about what the Kingdom was and even broached some topics of eschatology.  He was unable to directly turn to any of the places in the bible that he was looking for except for the Lord’s Prayer as recorded in Matthew chapter 6.  He wanted to use that as a proof text that even Christ viewed the Father above himself and that there was only one God.

I asked him to open his bible (Watch Tower NWT translation) to Philippians 2:10-11 to see what was recorded there.:

so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I asked him how that verse corresponded with the Old Testament commandment that there should be no other gods before Jehovah.  I could see in his eyes that he didn’t have a ready answer for that question so I left both of them with the invitation to come back and visit with me again when we could have more time to sit down and talk. I shook his hand as he made a non-committal reply that they are always working “this territory”.  I also shook the lady’s hand and thanked her for stopping by.

I don’t know if they will come back.  I hope they will.  I have a lot of questions that I would like to ask them.  Maybe next time they will feel comfortable enough to share their names with me.

By the way, I found this link tonight that may help others who have questions about the issues with the Jehovah Witness faith: http://www.towerwatch.com/

While I am Driving

July 24, 2010 Leave a comment

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I have about a 30 – 45 minute commute to and from work each day.  It gives me time to think.  Sometimes I do some heavy thinking like today.

I thought it might be fun to share some of my insanity with you happy people, so here are my top 3 thoughts from today’s trip home:

  • American religiosity runs the danger of raising the banner of, “Look what we did FOR God”, instead of allowing God to work through His people in His way, manner, and timing.  I find this to be a troubling indictment in light of scripture where those who thought they were saved for doing works in Christ’s name are turned away for Christ never having known them.
  • Do we sometimes want to hold in higher esteem those that came before us as being more holy and righteous because we believe the world is more broken now that it was then? In my thoughts, I explored the idea that the world is no more broken now than it was just moments following Adam and Eve’s rejection of God’s sovereignty in their lives.  There may be more ugliness(evil) than other periods in history but the brokenness was complete and total once sin entered into creation. Much like plucking a petal from a flower breaks it completely from what it once was a part of.  If the petal is wadded up and torn, it may be less recognizable for what it once was but it is still equally broken in that no matter its condition, from pristine to total destruction, it can never be part of the flower again.  So, in my thoughts, brokenness can be separated from the perception of utility which can be correlated to our present condition within the church body.  We are no more or less broken than those who came before us but we may be a little worse for wear in the perception of utility.  While Christ is the answer for the brokenness, how we respond to that ‘good news’ has much to do with how the Christian church is perceived.  In other words, if we appear to be less holy or righteous than those who came before, it is not the fault of the state of the world (brokenness) but the state of our response to the redeemer (utility or obedience).  This can cause an inappropriate response to want to mimic those that came before (tradition) in order to preserve what we perceive to be their righteousness/piety/holiness instead of listening to the Spirit’s leading in this present reality.
  • Finally, I thought about how our messed up perceptions can blind us to some simple truths from scripture because we make interpretations from preconceived beliefs.  Our motivations for what we practice as faith are more about how we desire to respond to God than they are His.  This thought was birthed from my study of Matthew 25 and I will elaborate further once we have completed the upcoming Guest Blogger series.

OK. Now that I have completely bored you with my thoughts while driving, what do you think on while commuting to work, school, or play?

Where the Rubber Meets the Road – Guest Blogger Series

July 23, 2010 5 comments

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I am excited and nervous at the same time for the upcoming series that will be occurring here.  I am pretty close to finalizing the list of folks who will be partaking in this journey and I have not made it easy for them when it comes to the topic of discussion.  I won’t ruin the surprise just yet but know that it will have something in common with the old adage about the rubber meeting the road.

I am not sure how much time these fine bloggers will need to prepare and I want to give them all the time they need as this could be a very challenging topic.  I know that it has been for me and it is the reason that I chose it.   I will keep you posted as we get closer.

I simply can’t wait to learn from the different perspectives that these individuals will bring as they explore ‘Where the Rubber Meets the Road’.

Be My Guest

July 21, 2010 6 comments

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I have never had a guest blog and since I have been pretty busy lately, I thought it might be time to engage some fine people to make a guest appearance here.

But, I am not handpicking the guests.  I am asking you, if you are interested, to leave me a comment here to either suggest yourself or someone else that you would like to see make a guest appearance.

I am going to make it easy for my guests – and maybe a little fun – by coming up with a series of questions that I would like them to address as their appearance here.  Don’t worry! There will be no harsh or deeply intimate questions on the list but you can’t find out what they are until you have committed to making an appearance.

So, who is in?

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UPDATE!!

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Ok.. I think we have a good representative mix of Guest Bloggers for this series so for those of you who visit and would have liked to be part of this series, I apologize and ask that you consider a possible, future series.

Categories: Just For Fun Tags: , ,

Bananas Foster – The Devil’s handiwork

July 21, 2010 13 comments

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I recently got the hankering for making some Bananas Foster for my family.  I had seen the dessert highlighted on one of those food shows on tv and it looked pretty straight forward to make.

In fact, here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

– 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
– 1 cup brown sugar
– 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1/4 cup banana liqueur
– 4 bananas, cut in half lengthwise, then halved
– 1/4 cup dark rum
– 4 scoops vanilla ice cream

Directions:

  • Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a flambé pan or skillet.
  • Place the pan over low heat either on an alcohol burner or on top of the stove, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.
  • Stir in the banana liqueur, then place the bananas in the pan.
  • When the banana sections soften and begin to brown, carefully add the rum.
  • Continue to cook the sauce until the rum is hot, then tip the pan slightly to ignite the rum.
  • When the flames subside, lift the bananas out of the pan and place four pieces over each portion of ice cream.
  • Generously spoon warm sauce over the top of the ice cream and serve immediately.

As I looked over the recipe I noticed two ingredients that I don’t carry in my pantry… Rum and Banana Liqueur.  So the only way I was going to be able to make an authentic Bananas Foster for my family was to make a visit to the local store’s aisle of devil water.

What a quandary. I don’t drink.. not because of religious convictions but more out of the practicality of avoiding the issues that drinking can cause.  Plus it is expensive and I don’t care for the idea of being out of control of my senses…even a little bit.  That is not what caused the quandary though.  Just about every church that I have ever attended has taught against drinking whether calling it a sin or admonishing the members to hold a good witness by abstaining.  I don’t exactly adhere to either of those teachings as the first is contradictory and the second creates a legalistic position based on a moralistic appearance of righteousness.  And though I wasn’t going to be drinking the stuff and I don’t adhere to those teachings, I still had reservations about publicly buying alcohol to make a dessert.

So a couple of questions for you readers:  What would a good Christian do?  And why?

  • Would they buy the alcohol and make Bananas Foster?
  • Would they make Bananas Foster without the alcohol and use a non-alcoholic banana flavoring in its stead?
  • Would they just steer clear of Bananas Foster completely to remove any hint of possible witness issues?

Just to throw another wrench into the works – what about the use of Nyquil or other medicines that contain alcohol?

Also, so that you know how I proceeded on this position, the above recipe was delicious… the whole family loved it.

Merely Reading

July 14, 2010 10 comments

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I was reading Pete Wilson’s blog today at Without Wax and he was highlighting an excerpt from Michael Spencer’s book, Mere Churchianity.  Please stop by Pete’s blog and join in the discussion.

When I had visited Pete’s blog this morning I hadn’t realized who the author of the book was because I have always known Michael Spencer as the Internet Monk.  I have enjoyed Michael’s blog as supported by my linking his site in my blog roll.  I haven’t been spending much time in blog land this spring so I was unaware that Michael had passed away until I read Pete’s post and made the connection to the person behind the Internet Monk blog.  It was a surreal moment.

When I arrived home this evening I picked up my Nook and downloaded the book.  I want to share a portion of what Michael shares in his book that resonates with me:

There’s no way to keep going on this adventure of making Jesus my only Lord and God without the community of Jesus around me, attempting the same project.  None of us can do this alone.

What I need is a personal transformation by the real Christ, not the one that is manufactured by organized Christianity.  I need to be changed by the Jesus who never agrees to be quiet and cooperative. I also need a movement of culture-resisting, church suspicious rebels and Jesus-followers who have taken the same view of religion that Jesus took in His scorching denouncements of religious phoniness.

I’m swimming in a sea of mediocrity, worshiping in a church captivated by consumerism, and deeply affected by a skewed view of God that the bible would call petty idolatry.  My life frequently sucks, and I sometimes wonder why Jesus doesn’t send me a note asking whose holy book I’ve been reading.  I need a ragtag family of Jesus-shaped disciples to pull me out when I’m floundering and teach me how to swim with the Lord of the universe in these putrid and dangerous cultural waters.

I need to read and hear the Bible taught with the passionate integrity of Jesus, not the manipulation and misrepresentation of modern Christianity-lite.  I need a commitment to the Bible that is unapologetically Jesus centered.  I don’t need to hear about a magic book of life principles for suburban success.

I need some truthful talk – not safely scripted chitchat – about what it means to follow Jesus.  I want a place where I am allowed to raise my questions and verbalize my struggles, a place where I can mess up and be prayed for, and I want to be able to stumble and still be accepted on the team.  I need to see and know real human beings who have walked the path of hard choices and hard times in order to remain faithful to Jesus.

I need a cadre of friends who pray like Jesus, who step across the lines to include outcasts, and who open the Lord’s Table to those Jesus invited to that table.  I need fellow students who hold the ancient faith of the church in their minds and the mission of Jesus in their hearts.

The only comment that I have for that passage in the book is, ‘Amen’.

Getting some Nooky

July 7, 2010 4 comments

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I love to read.  I love books.  And there are many that I wish I could carry around with me from study to study or discussion to discussion.  My car is a testament to that fact as there are currently about 10 books stacked in the back seat.

So I took a leap this past week and purchased a Nook from Barnes and Noble with the hopes that it would exceed my expectations.  While I appreciate technology and books (2 of my weak points when it comes to purchases), I was more than a little dubious about combining the two.  I like how a book feels in my hands and I enjoy being able to scrawl notes in the margins when the whimsy hits me. But… I just can’t carry them all with me thus my breaking down and acquiring the Nook.

Since I purchased the Nook over the holiday weekend, Barnes and Noble had a promotion that allowed me to download 20 or so books for free.  These were preselected American classics that they chose since it was our Independence Day holiday.  Some were works of poetry by Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickson, and Walt Whitman.  Others were from great story tellers like Mark Twain and O. Henry.  After downloading those free ebooks, I also purchased the electronic copy of The Pursuit of God for $1 and the NASB version of the Bible for around $2.

To give it a test run, I opened the Pursuit of God and read through the first chapter and decided to test out the highlighting and note capabilities of the Nook.  I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to do both, however, it is a bit of a slow go for me because I have big thumbs and punching the letters on the touch screen wasn’t necessarily made for big thumbs.  Taking copious notes may be out of the question unless I get a little better at using the small keyboard… or get smaller thumbs.

This device has several options that I haven’t fully checked out yet as I haven’t had time to dig in and investigate.  It comes with a contact manager, a music player, games, and limited internet browser.  I will keep you all updated as I learn more about this new toy.  By the way, I purchased the cheaper version that was offered.  There are two options at this time – Wi-Fi capable and 3G capable.  There is a $50 difference between the two and the only true difference is that the 3G allows the user to access downloads where ever there is cell phone access (note: a cell phone is not necessary.. just the ability to connect to a cellular tower).   I didn’t think the $50 cost difference was worth the ability to download a book while I walked down the sidewalk.  With the Wi-Fi version, I can download a book from any place that I can connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot.

If you already have a Nook or Kindle, let me know your thoughts and where I can find free legal downloads.

Oh.. I almost forgot.  The Nook advertises that it can hold approximately 1500 books and has a micro SD slot to expand that limit.

Categories: Just For Fun Tags: , , , ,