Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Shock and Awe

I was just pondering, cleaning my office (somewhat) and pondering. And then something hit me. Jesus was really profound. Of course, I knew this, but this story is different. I was thinking to myself about the time when Jesus confronted the Pharisees and basically said it isn't the things that go inside a man that make him unclean, but those that come out. Why is it significant?

Because if we want to redeem the world around us, by definition we have to get our hands dirty. We can't be afraid of being tainted by the world in the name of Jesus.

Where are your hands dirty?

Excellent post on the future of the church

Go read this post, by scot mcknight. I dare you.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Foto Friday- Old Tyme Jerusalem

An ancient family tomb, where the body would decompose before putting the bones in a sarcophagus.

The road down which Jesus would have entered Jerusalem (a)triumphantly, followed by pictures of the garden of Gethsemane. Some of these trees would be close to being alive in Jesus' time if Herod hadn't cut down all the trees in the area for seigeworks.

I want to say this is the church of all faiths, but I'm not sure on that.

Believed to be the pool of Siloam, until another excavation proved to be more likely, this is where we came out of hezekiah's tunnel (sweet). The new excavation is shown in the following pictures.

By the way, there are so many pictures of it because it is considered the greatest archaeological find in biblical studies in the last decade. On to the temple mount (where the OT temple was before destroyed by Rome in 70 AD, now where the Dome of the Rock is built) The foundation of the mount is from the time of Herod, who rebuilt the mount and temple to class it up (he also built Caesarea by the sea, antonia fortress, and herdia- tried to make a legacy from his buildings).

You can see how they built it so high, by gradually moving the blocks inward, yet keeping the building square.

An ancient, now filled in entrance to the temple.

Jesus would have walked on some of these steps when taking his sacrifice to the priests (though most of them are reconstructed now)

A far away shot of the mount. Following are pictures of an ancient jail, some claim that it was under the high priest's house, but we have no way of knowing whose house was on top.

The upper room- now made into a mosque as a fund raiser for local muslims (as mentioned earlier)- probably wasn't htis big and fancy at pentecost:

David's Tomb:

The heart of old Jerusalem, with some of the pillars reconstructed. One of the most amazing parts of the city is how the old and new mingle together, from an electronics shop to ancient ruins within feet of each other.

Part of the ancient wall around Jerusalem, with a graph showing it at its highest. it was broken down and reconstructed several times under several leaders.

Twilight (article)

Here is an amusing take on the Twilight (vampires for teens) stories, particularly the movie that just came out. Verdict: the book is about adolescent lust, not romantic love.

***Picture post is in the works (sorry, blogger pics has been down for a while).

Monday, November 24, 2008

Assaulted by Joy (review)

After my experience with Blue Parakeet, Zondervan offered to make me a part of their blogosphere. Basically, that means I get their books for free a few weeks before they come out so long as I review them on my blog and Amazon. It's a great deal. The most recent book I finished is called Assaulted by Joy: The Redemption of a Cynic by Stephen Simpson. Publish date: October, 2008 by Zodervan.

The summary
This is one of the most entertaining books I have read as of late, and definitely worth the read. The author does an excellent job communicating his story in an engrossing way. I could hot put the book down, and it kept me up late several nights in a row as a result. Karen couldn't stop reading it either.

Not only is it full of excellent anectdotes, but it is incredibly well written. Full of brilliant imagery (though also containing a rather large number of cliches), this story is one that helps the reader find hope in his or her life. Basically, the guy grew up as a nominal Christian, allowed his intellect to rule his life because he did not want to submit his entire world to Christ out of fear, became cynical as a result of his fear, and was forced out of his fear by having quadruplets.

The premise of the book is that we are all jerks. There is some aspect of our lives that we have difficulty forfeiting. The amazing thing is how often I found myself thinking that the book was about me. At the same life stages I have encountered similar problems, the main difference being our majors (he is psych., I am biblical studies) and the fact that karen is without child. My prayers have lately been, "dear God, don't let this story become too true for me, I can't handle quads. "

The good: Writing style is definitely a plus. instead of being a devotional, it is a confessional. It is full of brutal honesty and very light on how to apply it to one's own life. It is refreshing to see Christian literature about life rather than just a series of steps of how to be purposeful/well wed/disciplined/etc. At the end of each chapter, Simpson gives a very brief spiritual insight, never an instruction. It's just a great story/journey.

The Bad: Addictive ;). There are quite a few cliches, but they are easily overlooked. I do not agree with all of Simpson's theology, but that isn't a significant part of the book.

The grade: Solid A, nearly an A+.

Everyone should pick up a copy of this book. It is very approachable, endearing, and quite frankly interesting. It is simply an excellent story, adeptly told and captivating (and in my case, relevatory).

What did I personally get out of it most? A recognition of how much fear runs my life masquerading as cynicism/having it all together. It helped me diagnose a problem without forcing a solution down my throat.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Praying with the Church Review

I recently finished Scot McKnight's Praying with the Church:  Following Jesus daily, hourly, today.  Published by Paraclete Press.  Here is my abbreviated review:

The Point:  It is important for Christians to pray both in and with the church.  That is , our individual prayers are important and form our lives, but we also should be involved in corporate prayer.  One way to be involved in corporate prayer is to pick up a prayer book and begin praying the "offices"  These are set times during the day that different traditions stop whatever they are doing and pray together.  Traditionally there are 7 offices.  By practicing some of them (2 or 3 is manageable for most average people), we create a rythm of prayer that helps us get through our day.  Jesus practiced fixed hour prayer as a disciplined Jew, and so ought we (many of the examples Scot uses are in the book of Acts, where a person was praying in the fixed hours and God speaks to them:  i.e. pentecost, Peter and Cornelius)

He addresses common misconceptions, chief of which is the idea that by praying set prayers, they become vain repetitions.  McKnight remarks, "if our prayers have become vain repetitions, it is because our heart is not engaged, not because of what we say . . . we need both [spontaneous and practiced prayers]" (6).  

McKnight continues by explaining the benefits of fixed hour prayer, how to start doing it, what books different traditions use, and how we can benefit from our brothers and sisters, and then a practical guide on getting started.  Overall, THIS IS A GREAT MANUAL FOR SOMEONE WANTING TO START THIS TRADITION.  

The Good:  Excellent, approachable guide on practicing a tradition that keeps our relationship with God central to our lives.  He approaches the subject with grace and truth, not condemning us for not practicing fixed hour prayer, but also encouraging us to start.  I started reading Phyllis Tickle's Divine Hours (pocket edition) on a somewhat usual basis while reading the manual and loved it.  I am looking forward to continuing in this tradition.

His introductions to the various prayer books was very helpful, and had online versions to try out as well.

The Bad:  It gets really redundant after about chapter 3.  He could have shared the same amount of information in half the space.  It is not particularly engaging midway through the book, and it was somewhat of a burden to work my way all the way through.  

The Grade:  B-  Just above average due to the repetition.  A good intro.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Two weeks after:

There sure doesn't seem to be a lot of hope or change in the works.

Later this week: a new pic post. a new book post (on Scot Mcknight's Praying with the Church)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Post-election prayer

Now that Obama has won the election, will Christians pray? How will they pray? My assumption is that the vast majority of evangelicals will pray prayers of mercy for "god's country", view the election as a disciplinary action from God, and hope that something radical happens.

But will we pray for Obama?

What would Jesus do here? Pray that some unfortunate incident befall our president elect? That recounts change the result? Of course not. Even if Obama was Jesus' worst enemy (which I doubt), Jesus would love him and pray for him. Not for his policies, failure, etc, but for the person.

We are all for praying for our presidents . . .

. . . when they are white evangelicals who say the right things about abortion, Israel, and taxes.

Will we be praying for Obama, his family, wisdom, and decisions?

(Brought to you courtesy of an intriguing post on

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day 08

Thank God that after today we don't have to hear any more election ads.

Thank God that I have something better to do tonight than sit around the tv all geeked up about who wins the election

Thank God that we live in a country where our voice matters.

Thank God that whomever wins, no matter how fair or fraudulent, He is still our ultimate hope.