Faith? Love?

July 16, 2007

What justice may come, let it be dealt swiftly to those who show no regard towards the Message of Love and Forgiveness You taught us.

I am sick.

I wonder if they even read the Bible? Actually, I don’t even wonder.

I am still sick.

Can decent discussion be had with such perverse beings? They curse with their lips. No blessings.

They delight in murderous thought.

They are not a part of Christ in any way, and I wish for nothing more but their use of the term Baptist, Church and Christian to be eradicated. If only they would see the plank in their eye!

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Reunification Project

June 21, 2007

It seems to me that there is a lot of division pretty much everywhere you look

  • I’m a Mac, I’m a PC (I’m a dual bootable PC with Linux on it! I’ve got games on one side and development and security on the other! Hello? Can you put the camera on me? No? Awww)
  • I’m a Conservative, I’m a Liberal
  • Go Yankees! Go Mets…yay?
  • East Coast Rocker! Left Coast Rocker!
  • NASCAR! F1!
  • Go Israel! Go Palestine (hooray Hamas?)
  • World of Warcraft! Every other awesome game that has come out but sadly overshadowed by WoW!

But I feel that one division just makes no sense.

Protestant and Catholic

Okay, there are definitely differences. But we are the same religion. It shouldn’t be “Follow the Catholic church” or “Follow the Lutheran church” or “Follow the Baptist church.” It should be, plain and simple, FOLLOW CHRIST.

“I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” -Ghandi

We follow the same God, and believe the same key tenets. Yet I see posts like this from the National Catholic Register, almost as if written as a smear against Protestantism.

“For the various species of
Protestantism, in addition to denying real biblical truths such as the Real
Presence or infant baptism, also have a tendency to invent “biblical truths”
that do not exist and impose them by means of a sort of cultural pressure via
charismatic preachers with pet theories who, in their own sphere, are granted
an infallibility the Pope could never dream of.”

Come again? What?

I believe you should focus on something more important. Something along the lines of:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.

Hmmm. That sounds familiar. Right?

Now which is more important that one believe? Whether infants should be baptised, or that there is one God, who sent Christ to die for our salvation? What does it matter should I believe that the Eucharist is not truly the body of Christ, when you do not? Does this alter salvation?

No, of course not.

So why does there seem to be this rhetoric of attack between Catholics and Protestants? It is nothing but destructive, and it is inconsequential in the end!

Mark 3:24-25

24If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

Right? It is the same God who created us, and the same Christ who died for the redemption of ALL men, Jew or Gentile, male or female, Catholic or Protestant. The Holy Spirit flows through the blood of the congregation, be it Catholic or Protestant. WE ARE ONE IN THE SPIRIT! It’s an amazing thought to contemplate.

So essentially, I am warring against this split. The church is NOT made of brick and mortar. It is not a heirarchical leadership. It is not to be divided Catholic and Protestant. It is one body. The Church is Christians, and the Church is a mission. The Church is a beacon, and the Church is support.

Matthew 5:13-16

 13“You are the salt of the
earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty
again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and
trampled by men.

 14“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither
do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on
its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

So where did it all get so messed up? How can such a comment about Protestant Christianity be construed as beneficial to the body? This kind of nitpicking is tearing the community apart, and it needs to stop right now.

So what you said was:

“For the various species of
Protestantism, in addition to denying real biblical truths such as the Real
Presence or infant baptism, also have a tendency to invent “biblical truths”
that do not exist and impose them by means of a sort of cultural pressure via
charismatic preachers with pet theories who, in their own sphere, are granted
an infallibility the Pope could never dream of.”

What I believe you meant to say was:

Colossians 1 15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For
by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible
and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all
things were created by him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And
he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the
firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the

Psalm 133:1 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!

John 10:16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.

Romans 12:5 …so in Christ, we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

John 17:23 May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

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Reflecting on Biloxi

March 20, 2007

It’s been a little over 48 hours since I returned from my Spring break mission trip to Biloxi, Mississippi, and I am still riding the wave of emotions that come from the experience.

Some quick, basic facts: there were 24 of us, many from His House Christian Fellowship, who went down to rebuild. We took Michigan Tech vans (two of them), and had 6 drivers who rotated their driving shifts. It took 28 hours to get down to Biloxi, and 26 to return. We worked with Samaritan’s Purse, who were a first responder to the site.

First, I should explain the region and its current condition. To those of you who think that the Gulf Coast has been rebuilt to some level of normalcy in the past year and a half, you couldn’t be more wrong. The coastal cities affected by the hurricanes of 2005 (not just Katrina) are in varying degrees of demolition and reconstruction. On the way to Biloxi, there were dozens of coastal hotels, absolutely ripped apart with no demolition or renovation underway. In the trees, debris and litter was strewn about; from rugs to bikes to engines to clothes.

The high-rise hotels seemed to be going up at a reasonable rate, which is indeed a good thing. However, the casinos are going up at much more rapid rate, which is indeed a bad thing. Yes, the casinos are a way to bring in income and jobs, but these should NEVER be your main source of tourism and taxes (Vegas as exception). There are so many people living in poverty in the region, and casinos capitalize on their misfortune. What little money the folks do have is squandered away on impossible odds and flashy lights. Children are literally sleeping on the benches while their parents are inside, trading their meager income for disappointment. What the city and region really needs to do is bring back the things that made the area better: the shoreline restaraunts, the charter fishing industry, the entertainment piers, and the beach life. Those seem to be on the backburner for now, but that Hard Rock Casino sure is going up fast.

But the folks there remain, living on whatever ends they can. Many of them have been in FEMA trailers for upwards of a year, while their house stood battered and beaten with no work being done to rebuild. There are places in the city where people live in a communal setting in tents, and there are countless homeless, living out of their backpack.

Our mission was straightforward: go into the city and rebuild houses for folks, while showing them God’s love. We started out with this:

And ended up with this:

In between those two, there was a whole bunch of this:

And this:

And this:

And somehow, there was also this:

We left some marks on the place, in hopes of inspiring the next crew to come in, as well as the homeowners themselves.

The main point of the week.

Take a look at this building, and then take a look at the church a little bit down. Same elevation for all intents and purposes. During the surge, the church was completely destroyed, while the cafeteria (pictured here) sheltered all of the church staff. As they prayed, the surge diverted itself away from the building. Not a drop of water got in to the cafeteria! Everything else in the area was slammed. Entire casino barges were lifted out of the water, over the trees, and landed thousands of yards inland. Yet the building and the workers inside were unscathed.

There were also all the Powerades and Cokes you could drink.

Some pictures of the main bridge (I-90) as it’s being reconstructed. It’s been a year and a half since the hurricane hit, remember.

New bridge.

Old bridge


3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. -Romans 5:3-5

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September 10, 2006

I know I’m just another Judas, kiss your face
While I drive the nail through your hand
I know I’m just another Thomas, won’t believe
Until I feel the hole in your hands
Then I will say, my God, I see not what you see
My God, what do you see in me?
My God, crowned in glory
The lamb of God is worthy

My sin yells, crucify! louder than the mob that day
My sin yells, crucify! louder than any mouth.

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Good read

August 16, 2006

Is It Really All That Bad?
At Christian Music Today, we’re often applauded for being objective, critical, and fair when it comes to opining about new music. After all, it can’t all be great. And one of my pet peeves is how some people insist that all Christian music is “good” because of its intentions—to glorify God, to witness to others, and so forth.

Conversely, it’s equally frustrating to hear people declare that “all CCM sucks.” There’s certainly nothing new about this mindset—it’s long been fashionable to bash Christian music for lack of quality or creativity. But over time, secular culture has learned to ignore CCM or accept it, if not occasionally embrace it. Today, it’s Christians that do most of the bashing.

Some bashers would say they only want to push Christian music to do a better job at being relevant to secular culture. Others are frustrated that CCM only succeeds in capturing part of the total Christian culture. I’m certainly with those who feel that Christian music doesn’t adequately embrace Christians who find success in the mainstream, like U2 and Sufjan Stevens. And I’m the first to admit that in recent years, the narrow scope of Christian music radio has me flummoxed.

But it’s shortsighted to proclaim all Christian music “bad” based on limited playlists and a few top sellers. How many are giving knee-jerk responses based on their limited exposure to the broad spectrum of CCM? Some even criticize the genre based on musical styles they never liked to begin with. Some readers rip into pop artists, only to cite hard rock bands as their preferred style of music. Some complain about a band sounding too emo-rock, using them as another example of bad Christian music, only to admit they don’t like emo-rock to begin with.

Friends, nowhere is it written that all Christians must appreciate all Christian music. We all have different tastes and opinions as to what is truly “good.” Growing up in the ’80s, I seem to remember enjoying as much as 20 percent of what was played on Top 40 radio. But I also appreciated being exposed to a broad range of musical expression, and that’s what’s missing in today’s compartmentalized culture.

Nearly half of the music we cover at Christian Music Today is ignored by much of the industry, or else lost in the shuffle—radio, media coverage, promotion, etc. Unfortunately, it’s often the good half that’s ignored or underplayed in a market that already has limited channels of exposure. Thankfully, it’s easier today than ever before to try out new music online. Rather than condemn an entire genre, music enthusiasts should do a little more digging and use media outlets like us as a guide. Odds are there’s a struggling artist or band out there you’ve never heard of before that’s right up your alley.

One of those artists might be in this week’s review coverage: Leigh Nash (formerly of Sixpence None the Richer), Sarah Kelly, Leeland, Jimmy Needham, Men of Standard, and the latest Hip Hope Hits compilation. You also won’t want to miss our deeply felt discussion with Sarah Kelly about her abusive past, or the poignant excerpt from Mark Hall’s new book, Lifestories, about Casting Crowns’ hit “Praise You in This Storm.”

The thing is…

June 22, 2006

"Hello floor! Make me a sammich!" -Gir from Invader Zim

I did some stuff today that made me pretty happy. I ran for 20 minutes straight (1.75 miles, do the math), which is actually quite a feat for me. Also, I got my laptop to a state where I can work downstairs tomorrow and keep an eye on the USA-Ghana match. For those not in the know, USA must beat Ghana, and Italy must beat the Czechs in order for the US to proceed.

Our church has been going through this 40 Days of Community program, which is actually quite neat. The general idea is that a church shouldn't be recognized by the things they say, but by the things that they do. So it is more of a switch to outreach. It should be interesting.

The last week was all about tithing. Tithing is basically giving the church 10% of what you make. And there are some points that were made that really got me wondering about the practice. The author of the program is Rick Warren, the man who penned The Purpose Driven Life. He notes that the more you give away, the more you get in return. Maybe not financially, but definitely in other way. If you give people encouragement, you will recieve encouragement. If you gossip, you will be gossiped about. It's the golden rule in action, essentially.

Warren also notes that it is the first 10% you should give. It is a test of faith. Not "See how much you have left over at the end of the month and give that" but "Give the firstfruits of your salary and trust that God will provide." Warren notes that over the years he and his wife have been blessed the more they gave. It took time, but now they live on 10% and give 90% to church and charity..

The family that we kept the kids for a few weeks back was displaced by hurricane Katrina. I did not know the entire situation back then, but more details are being exposed to me. I got paid for hanging out with the kids those few days. The money went straight to a book on Linux. A few days ago, the mother gave me and Jennifer some more money. I honestly tried to refuse it, now that I know the full story (or as much as I will know), but in the end had to accept it to keep her pride in tact. But the money, whether she knows it or not, is going back to her. Our church has been supporting them, and I am making sure that this money (and then some) goes through the church back to them.

And things just keep falling in to place. I mentioned a while back that I was trying to work on a Habitat for Humanity build this summer. It turns out that my sunday school teacher is on the board of directors for the DuPage county branch of HfH. I need to get in contact and see where I can volunteer, and how to fit my work schedule around that.

My point is, detatch yourself. It isn't all about you. There are tons of people around the world who would love to be homeless on the streets of America than in the streets of their country. We are rich. Don't believe me? Then check out Global Rich List…

I'm the 863,571,764 richest person on earth!

Discover how rich you are! >>

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May 29, 2006

Look up at the little bar thing above this post. See where it says Reccomended Listening? That's where I will be ranting and raving about music. So check it out.  I may also be putting in one on movies and shows and the like. Maybe.

I feel pretty bad right now. All day I have been wishing that my oldest dog, Honey, would die. It's absolutely horrible. I love Honey, more than the younger Barney, but she is so old and frail. And today she has been sick as well. She can hardly walk, and I think that she may be blind. Her hearing is going, and she is in generally bad shape. But she's the dog that slept at my feet for so many years, and hung out in my room while I was working on homework.

I guess I'm facing the reality that at this time next year, she will probably no longer be with us. I don't like that thought. While she may be in pain, she is still alive, and makes me happy. I'll probably go sit with her for a while after finishing this post.

For those of you who have never seen Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, you have no clue what these families feel. I hardly do. People might wonder why they call it "Home Edition" instead of "House Edition." These families lives are rebiult, renewed. Not only do they get a house, they get a home. There is a very significant difference.

The family tonight had been victims of domestic abuse. I didn't get to hear the whole story, but you don't really need to when it comes to that. Domestic abuse is ugly; an abomination. No matter what form it takes, be it verbal, emotional, or physical, our culture should have no tolerance for it.

To see the smiles on the faces of the family, and the tears flowing down the mother's face (tears that for the first time in what seemed like eternity were tears of joy) is all that one needs as payment for these acts of love. The house, don't get me wrong, is amazing (and the fact that it was razed, cleared and raised in 5 days is equally impressive), but what it means to these families who have walked along the broken road is so much more powerful.

I wish this country were full of these stories. Headlines splash: "Local family recieves new home from charities" or "Single mother recieves tuition for her kids from area philantropist."

There are many things I want to fight for. Many of these causes are simply too complex for me to try and solve, but support is a large factor in eliminating the horrors in this world.

Romans 12:4-8
Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if
it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the
needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him
govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

In leaving, I'd like to list off some charities and organizations that are important to me. Check some of them out.

Habitat For Humanity
The ALS Association
The North American Mission Board also see Annie Armstong Easter Offering
The International Mission Board
Right To Life
Child's Play
Life For Latins

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If We Are the Body

May 15, 2006

I think Naperville Baptist Church may be the church for me after all. The church has decided to go and be an active member of the community. At the end of the summer, there will be no more Sunday School. The lower level will be completely renovated, and turned in to community space. The focus of the church has switched to outreach, and it is completely awesome. Instead of classes, there will be small groups in home settings. 

Basically, the idea driving this change is that it doesn't matter what we know, we have to show what we know in order for that knowledge to be effective in any way. There's a lot to this change, and I'll go into it later when I understand it better.