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Showing posts from November, 2018

Did Jesus Condone Slavery?

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This question on the r/Christianity subreddit sparked quite a controversy in the comments. But I think it's worth thinking about and trying to get at an answer.
Would Jesus have been in favor of, or at least complicit with the system of slavery?[TL;DR - NO!]

The unfortunate part of answering this question is that a biblical case can be made both in support of slavery and against it. That's why both Union and Confederate soldiers could believe they had God on their side. Slave owners and abolitionists both used Scripture to justify their actions and ideologies.

I think we have to start by admitting some things:
Slavery was a part of society and culture basically from the beginning of Scripture. The Israelites were slaves in Egypt. The Israelites were allowed to have slaves/servants (with certain rules and restrictions). The Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans all had slavery as part of their economic system.Jesus and his earliest followers did not explicitly fi…

Jonah: Head Above Water

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When we left off, our rebellious prophet was recruiting the pagan Gentile sailors to assist him in committing suicide.
“Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” (Jonah 1:12) But the sailors didn't buy into this crazy scheme and tried for Plan A.2 - row to shore. But they couldn't. God/the storm wouldn't let them. Jonah tried to force God's hand in overthrowing the Assyrians by running from the mission. Now God is forcing the sailors' hands to throw Jonah overboard - Jonah's idea, not God's, just so we're clear. God never asked this of Jonah.
Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm...Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:15, 17)FINALLY! Here's the fish! Now we get to pull out the flannel graph board and sick a kneeling/feta…

Messiah Is Coming, pt. 1

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In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. We know that story. We know its power, its beauty, its wonder. God simply spoke into being all the we see, hear, feel, taste, and smell. At God’s word, galaxies were formed and our planet burst to life with vegetation and wildlife. The crowning jewel of God creation in this opening song of Scripture is man and woman who were created in God’s own image and likeness.

And God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
God planted a garden in Eden in which the man and woman could live out their calling to “be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.” God placed man in the garden to tend it and protect it. God gave the man a woman as a helper equal to and suitable for him.
And all was right and good and pure and innocent. For a while at least.
Because somehow, God’s good creation was yet susceptible to the influence of evil. The deceiver slithered into the scene, hissing lies and injecting doubts like venom in the bl…

rCQ: Questions from an atheist

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/r/Christianity Questions
Recently, I came across this series of of questions asked by a Reddit user:
1) Do you agree with everything in the bible, sometimes it can be really messed up (like those quotes atheists like to bring up when they are debating with christians for example "Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately. But all the girls who have not known man intimately, spare for yourselves. Numbers 31:17-18" 2) Is the Bible like your law or advice for better life? 3) How often do you question your beliefs? 4) Are creationists the majority of christians? Here are my answers:

1) It is my belief that if it can't be said about Christ, it can't be said about God (seeing as they are one and the same). I read about the violence of the nations in the Hebrew Scriptures in light of the cross of Christ. Jesus' violent death at the hands of the state reveals the evil of state-sanctioned killing. So no, I don…

rCQ: Did Judas believe Jesus was the Son of God?

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I've been browsing the r/Christianity subreddit. Some of it is weird and a bit out there. But there are also some people asking great questions. I am a sucker for good questions, so I decided to begin a series on my blog called r/Christianity Questions (or rCQ for short).

Recently I came across this question:
Did Judas believe Jesus was the Son of God? Here's my answer.

[TL;DR version - No, Judas didn't know Jesus was the Son of God like we know him to be. No, I don't think Judas really knew what he was doing because he didn't understand Jesus' mission. Yes, I think Judas could have been forgiven had he not hanged himself.]

It depends on what you mean "Son of God." The phrase is a Messianic title taken from Psalm 2, which God actually quotes at Jesus' baptism. The Messiah would be hailed as "God's Son" in a kingly sense, not necessarily in a divine incarnation sense. In that regard, I'm not sure that any of the apostles truly bel…

Alexa, Share My Thanksgiving Playlist

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You know, I hear all the time that people listen to Christmas music in November because there isn't "Thanksgiving Music."  I call B.S. (bologna sandwich)! Here is my playlist that gets me in the Thanksgiving mood. These are songs that remind me of God and his blessings - my wife and kids, home, family, friends, love, belonging, joy, freedom.

It's got a little bit of everything, from show tunes to indie/folk to rap to pop punk. There's Mumford & Sons, U2, Queen, Lecrae, Michael Bublé, and more. If you've got a long road trip before digging into the pile of mashed potatoes or if you need something to listen to in the kitchen while you're cooking, go ahead and give these songs a listen.

Jesus Is the New Jonah...And So Are You.

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A prophet of God sleeping in a boat at sea during a particularly violent storm which has everyone else on board panicked. The prophet is rudely awakened and miraculously causes the storm to cease.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

The more I study the story of Jonah, the clearer it becomes that Jesus based a lot of his ministry and teachings on the life of Jonah. The connections become obvious to anyone paying attention. In fact, Jesus makes it obvious for us by coming right out and telling us that “something greater than Jonah is here” (Matthew 12).

So how is Jesus the new Jonah?

We’ll look at this throughout the story, but let’s just stay in chapter 1 for now.

THE WORD OF THE LORD

The opening phrase of Jonah’s story should perk the ears of Christians. “The Word of the Lord…” doesn’t that have some significance?

Look at how John’s gospel begins: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Jesus IS the Word of God. Jesus’ story is inextricably…

The Fear of Insignificance | My Life As A THREE

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In his book The Sacred Enneagram, Chris Heuertz explains it this way:
Their quietly competitive nature is rooted in their inner drive to prove to themselves that they are valuable. This inner drive is perpetuated by the Basic Fear of the Three, that somehow they are hopelessly worthless and characteristically base. Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile frame it this way in The Road Back to You:
Once in a blue moon when Threes slow down long enough to reflect on their lives, they might feel like they're a fraud. I wear a thousand masks, but which is the authentic me? When this flash of insight comes to them it surfaces a Three's worst fear: What if there's no one behind the image? What if I'm no more than an empty suit? The Basic Need for Threes is success, whatever that looks like to us. You would think that would make failure the corresponding Fear of the Three. And while we Threes try to avoid *public* failure at all costs, I'm not really that afraid of failure. If I try…

4 Life Changing TED Talks

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My reaction to most TED Talks is, Huh...that was interesting. And then I go about my day.

But every so often there is a Talk that sticks with me. It get lodged inside my brain. It goes on repeat, and I can't help but think about it. I come back to it time and time again in conversation or my own thoughts and research.

These four in particular are on that playlist. These are the videos I wish EVERY person would watch, because they will challenge you to grow. They will make you uncomfortable. They will question the status quo. They will help you see yourself, others, and the world in a new way.

These Talks emphasize Vulnerability, Humility, Empathy, and Creativity. Chances are you've probably seen one or two of these before. If you have, watch them again. I'm sure you'll find something new. If not, prepare to have your world turned on its head.
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Brené Brown | THE POWER OF VULNERABILITY


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Kathryn Shultz | ON BEING WRONG


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Review: The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships

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The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships by Suzanne Stabile
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been following the work of Suzanne Stabile and Ian Cron for a couple of years now. I've read The Road Back to You, and I was an avid listener of their podcast by the same name. I've continued to follow Ian's podcast, Typology, but I've kind of lost touch with Suzanne.

Until this book.

Suzanne Stabile has a way of understanding relationship dynamics better than the vast majority of people. This book, The Path Between Us, is going to be a helpful reference guide for years to come. The Enneagram is abundant in wisdom not just for discovering more about ourselves but understanding who we are in relation to other people. Why is it hard for Sevens and Fours to experience lasting, fruitful relationships? Why do Fives and Ones butt heads all the time? How can Threes seem so outgoing but be so inwardly lonely?

This is not a book for Enneagram novices. This is no…

Jonah: Unnecessary Sacrifice

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Last time we saw that Jonah spilled the beans about who he was, what God he served, and what he was doing on the boat. Jonah was a Hebrew. He was a worshiper of YHWH, the creator of the sea and dry land. And he was on the boat because he was running from YHWH, the creator of the sea, ON THE SEA.

The rest of the sailors are rightfully panicked.
This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.)
The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”
“Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” (Jonah 1:10-12) Wait, what? This raises so many questions for me. Let's look at the a bit more closely.

WHAT GOD WANTS VS. WHAT JONAH WANTS

What does God want? God wants Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach against it in order that they might …

Review: The Prodigal Prophet: Jonah and the Mystery of God's Mercy

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The Prodigal Prophet: Jonah and the Mystery of God's Mercy by Timothy J. Keller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The book of Jonah is every bit as relevant today as it was 2500 years ago.

I've been a fan of Timothy Keller since college. The first book of his I read was "The Reason for God." I really admire the work Keller has done pastoring in Manhattan and reaching millions with his books. Another of my favorites was "The Prodigal God," where Keller explores the deeper meanings of the Parable of the Prodigal Son from Luke 15. "The Prodigal Prophet" is a natural follow-up to that book. Keller emphasizes the fact that Jonah represents both brothers in Jesus' parable, the younger brother in Jonah 1 and 2, the older brother in Jonah 3 and 4.

Kellers latest book and the story of Jonah are extremely timely for our political/religious climate. The story of Jonah, Keller argues, emphasizes topics like nationalism, racism, prejudice, and religious el…

My Life as a THREE

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So like I said in an earlier post, I've been really diving into the Enneagram the last couple of years. I am by no means an expert. But I have seen the truth and beauty in the system. No, it's not scientific; however, it's true at some deep level I can't quite describe.

I've taken the Meyers-Briggs and the DISC personality inventories before. They were interesting, but they weren't really all that helpful in my day-to-day life. So I went for several years not really giving much thought to personality and development. Then I came across the Enneagram through some podcasts I listened to. That's when everything changed.

I did what you do. I read up on some of the numbers, and I took an online test or two. I originally tested as a ONE, but that didn't seem quite right. After a while it became clear that I am dominant in Type THREE. As I read and researched more, I found myself being described in ways I never could have voiced before. Someone knew me. Someo…

Review: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

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Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book kicked my butt.

If you want a book that's going to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, this is not that book. If you want an easy self-help reader to take with you on vacation. This is not that book.

Brené Brown's combination of research and anecdotes will make you uncomfortable, anxious, and even angry at yourself. It will drag you through the dirt and filth of your own inner workings, digging up long-dead traumas and embarrassments along the way. That's called vulnerability.

The journey Brown takes you on is long, winding, and difficult, and the destination is uncertain. But that's life. The most important endeavors are often the most challenging.

As a person who is averse to failure, feelings, and vulnerability (Enneagram Type 3), this book challenged me every step of the way. But I particularly appreciated…

My Definitively Subjective Star Wars Movie Ranking

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It's an amazing time to be a nerd.

I've found myself thinking and saying that a lot over the last several years. I've always been a nerd - Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Monty Python, DC, Marvel, and everything in between.

I remember sitting in elementary school having Star Wars trivia contests with my friends. Who was Luke's childhood best friend? What was the name of the droid Uncle Owen almost bought instead of R2-D2? That sort of thing.

When I was home sick as a kid, I wore out our Star Wars trilogy VHS tapes.

And yes, Han shot first.

I have LOVED the onslaught of new Star Wars movies. They should have waited to release Solo until this holiday season, but whatever. I am definitely not one of those Star Wars "fans" who nitpick every little thing and boycott the movies. I will have opening night tickets to every single Star Wars movie and will see it multiple times in theater.

Is every Star Wars movie a masterpiece? No, not by a long shot. But…