Reflecting on the Second Week of Advent – The Grace Candle

This past week was the second week of Advent and in my church, we lit the “Grace Candle”. So similar to last week, I tried to keep the meaning of the week at the forefront on my mind. What did “grace” mean to me this week? It can be both a frustrating and wonderful experience asking yourself the same question throughout the week. Anyway, there are a thousand thoughts and angles you can come up with.

When you start meditating about “grace”, you generally go to what you were originally taught – it’s God’s goodness without merit, it’s something given to you completely undeserved, etc. Upon reflection, it’s rather humbling thought to say the least, especially in our culture where we generally feel we are entitled to many of the things we have.

Throughout this week, I’ve been wondering about things like the grace it takes to forgive. I know God Himself is the greatest example of this, and I dare not take this for granted but I’ve been thinking about the grace it takes for us to forgive each other. I’ve [Read more…]

New Rule Regarding Twitter Usage – No More Rules

About once a week, I click on a post that talks about the proper way to use Twitter. Like a sucker, I click and read and it’s usually written in a rant form (much like this post) and includes threats of unfollowing anyone who trespasses them. Now every Twitter user has every right to follow or unfollow whomever they want but I thought I’d push back on some of these. [Read more…]

Reflecting On What Ben Witherington Might Say to Lady Gaga – Part 1

“It doesn’t matter if you love him, or capital H-I-M
Just put your paws up’
cause you were born this way, Baby”

A couple months ago, I got to hear Ben Witherington lecture at Gordon Conwell Seminary about humanity being created in the image of God. As you would expect, it was an excellent presentation but halfway through, I started thinking about Lady Gaga. It’s not that Dr. Witherington’s outfit resembled one of hers (your welcome for that mental picture), it was that as he was sharing of the high place that humanity is set, it reminded me of “Born This Way.”  I find myself thinking about that again.

As you may know, I find Lady Gaga compelling. In fact, my last sermon at Montvale was entitled, “What Jesus Might Say to Lady Gaga.” It was awesome, our church organist got all dressed up and ascended from the baptistry (just kidding, we don’t have a church organist).  Anyway, there are several reasons I find her compelling, all would likely sound petty to insert them here and so I’ll spare you from that. But like her or hate her, she has captured the attention of millions and it’s not just for the spectacle. For many, Gaga inspires people to be themselves.  In some sense, what’s not to like about that?

I love theology and I love music and I’m always fascinated when the two overlap each other. Christianity places such a value on the place of humanity and a careful reading of the Genesis account tells us that humanity is the pinnacle of creation.

[Read more…]

Review of God Behaving Badly by Dave Lamb

Note: I have not been asked to review this book by a publisher or by the author. Like all reviews, these are my sincere opinions.

I was pretty excited to see Dave Lamb had written God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist? in the InterVarsity Press book catalog. Dave was one of our profs at Biblical Seminary and everyone in our cohort thoroughly enjoyed his class and teaching style. He’s academic with the just enough “normal” and missional (among other things) made it a good class. This book is a natural expression of his teaching style and sincerely, I really enjoying reading it.

Here is the publisher’s summary:
“God has a bad reputation. Many think of God as wrathful and angry, smiting people right and left for no apparent reason. The Old Testament in particular seems at times to portray God as capricious and malevolent, wiping out armies and nations, punishing enemies with extreme prejudice. But wait. The story is more complicated than that. Alongside troubling passages of God’s punishment and judgment are pictures of God’s love, forgiveness, goodness and slowness to anger. How do we make sense of the seeming contradiction? Can God be trusted or not? David Lamb unpacks the complexity of the Old Testament to explore the character of God. He provides historical and cultural background to shed light on problematic passages and to bring underlying themes to the fore. Without minimizing the sometimes harsh realities of the biblical record, Lamb assembles an overall portrait that gives coherence to our understanding of God in both the Old and New Testaments.”

[Read more…]

We Want a King! #Occupy Ramah – Blogging Through Our Sermon Series

A couple weeks ago, I was asked to speak at our gc@nite service which is our Sunday evening service. As you may know, we are in the middle of a sermon series called “Living God’s Story” and in an effort to add “voices” to this particular service, I was asked to offer my interpretation in the evening while our senior pastor preached his message in the morning services. It was our first time collaborating together and we ended up borrowing a couple ideas from each other while keeping our distinctives. You can listen to them both here. If you are part of the GC Community or local to the area, I invite you to come this Sunday night at 6p to hear our Pastor of Young Adult Ministries, Dave Ripper give a message on the coming Messiah.

In summary, my message was from I Samuel 8 about the elders of Israel gathering in the town of Ramah to demand that Samuel give them a king. The text tells us that Samuel is getting old, his sons are a couple of punks and besides that, they don’t want priests running the country, they want a king, like the other nations. So they come and “occupy” Ramah until God tells Samuel to give them what they want.

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Reflecting on the First Week of Advent (The Hope Candle)

This week I’ve been praying for Hope.

It started by remembering all those that had a difficult time during Thanksgiving.  Some were in mourning, some were hospitalized, some are untreatable, unemployed, depressed, trafficked, poverty-stricken and in short, those who I’d rather not trade places with.  I found myself praying for the families connected to names like Sandusky, Fine and  Conrad Murray. Eventually I found myself saying a prayer for them.
This week also marked World AIDS Day.  If anyone could use hope, it’s the HIV/AIDS victim (and their families).  As you may know, [Read more…]

My Review of Why God Won’t Go Away by Alister McGrath

I received Why God Won’t Go Away – Is the New Atheism Running On Empty? by Alister McGrath book from Book Sneeze. As always, I am not required to write a positive review but only an honest one.

According to the publisher, here is the summary from the publisher, Thomas Nelson:
“The rise of the new atheism, which includes the manifestos of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, has created a public willingness in today’s marketplace to talk about God and religion. Yet the debate up to this point has focused largely on rebutting the new atheist critique of Christianity. Why God Won’t God Away moves into new territory by challenging the new atheism on its own grounds.”

Who It’s For … [Read more…]