Tuesday, December 23, 2008

An Advent Reflection

The following link will take you to an mp3 file from Peter Rollins, a brilliant Irish theologian I have spoke of on here before. He calls it a "political reading on Advent." It is a brilliant commentary on the true meaning of the Incarnation that we celebrate on Thursday. I hope you take a few minutes to listen and reflect.

HT: Peter Rollins

Interesting Thoughts...

Interesting thoughts...not quite sure what I think! What do you all think about these?

HT: ASBO Jesus

The Last Few Days

A ton of stuff has happened in my life over the past few days, so I thought I would briefly give you a glimpse of what I've been up to. We are currently in North Dakota at Mandy's family's house and are enjoying our time with them. We haven't seen her family since May, so this time here has been a huge blessing. So...here is my last week in a nutshell:
  1. A Missed NBA Game -- I had tickets to the Blazers v. Suns game in Portland this past Thursday but was unable to go because of bad weather. I sulked on the couch at home watching the game, especially when Brandon Roy (of the Blazers) scored 52 points in the game, which was the 2nd highest point total in the NBA for the season. I should have been there.
  2. Terrible Road Conditions -- Mandy and I left Seattle at 6am on Friday and turned the 10 hour trip to Bozeman, MT into a 13 hour trip because of terrible roads. We had to traverse 4 mountain passes that first day and each one left us in dangerous conditions. We stayed with our dear friends Shad and Patti in Livingston, MT that night and loved seeing them and their 3 amazing boys.
  3. Tons of Food -- The Christmas holiday is only just beginning, but already I feel like I've gained a few pounds. I'm not sure how the birth of the Messiah came to be synonomous with overeating, but I'm definitely not an exception to this cultural norm.
  4. A Fantasy Football Championship -- For those of you who read this blog often, you've no doubt read about my addiction to fantasy football. A few weeks ago I won the regular season of our league, and just last night I secured the championship of the playoffs as well. I would be content enough with just "winning", but in our league we each threw in $100, so winning the regular season and playoffs also means winning a lot of money, which is never a bad thing around this Christmas season. Merry Christmas to Me!

This is all you get for now, but I look forward to more academic posting after we get home from Christmas break. I desperately hope this season is one of ultimate celebration over the savior of the universe bursting into our lives in the radical form of an infant child. Merry Christmas to you all. God Bless. Grace and Peace.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Altered Plans

We have quickly got accustomed to mild, snow-less weather here in Seattle, so these recent snow storms across the country have caused huge changes in our holiday travel plans. I was suppose to drive to Portland today with some guys to see a Portland Trailblazers v. Phoenix Suns basketball game, but that trip was canceled due to terrible road conditions. I was pretty bummed about not going because I've only been to one NBA game ever and am still living in the disappointment of the Sonics moving to Oklahoma City. I'm currently watching the game on tv and sulking about not being in the arena watching the game live.

Then, tomorrow we were planning on traveling to Moscow, ID to visit our friends Jaisen and Jennifer Pester. We were already considering changing our plans to not visit them due to poor road conditions, and then got a call from Jaisen today saying they are stuck in the Denver airport and wouldn't even be home when we came through town.

So our new schedule is to leave tomorrow morning at around 6am and try our best to make the 10 hours trip to Bozeman, MT. You can definitely pray for us as we travel over the next day. We are hopeful that roads aren't too bad and we can get on with enjoying our Christmas vacation with family and friends. Merry Christmas to you all. Blessings on your holiday plans.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's Finally Winter!

It's been really strange living here in Seattle lately because it doesn't feel like winter when there is no snow on the ground. Today it was 66 degrees warmer here in Seattle than it was in both Mandy and my hometowns. Of course we don't mind the warmer weather, but it is a little harder to get into the Christmas spirit while you are wearing shorts and no coat outside in December.

Last night it snowed here in Seattle, though, so I thought I would share a few pictures we took to celebrate our non-liquid precipitation.

For the Bible Tells Me So

My new friends from the previous post recommended a movie that they thought I should watch called "For the Bible Tells Me So". After hearing their synopsis and watching the trailer I am really excited to see this film. Being in Seattle has forced us to think through issues that we never really thought through in the past, and homosexuality is definitely one of those issues. Here is the trailer. Enjoy!

Open to Conversion

One of my professors, Dr. Dwight Friesen, often speaks of how when engaging someone of a different faith in conversation, to truly engage them in honest dialog, we must listen so intently and ask such genuine questions that we, ourselves, are open to being converted. This idea has really stuck with me and I have been processing whether I agree with it throughout this semester, but following a conversation I had on Saturday afternoon, I definitely believe these words to be true and freeing in engaging another in genuine encounter.

Mandy and I were volunteering downtown at the YWCA yesterday and I had the opportunity of serving alongside two amazing, intelligent women whose heart for social justice astounded me. They were two homosexual women who were serving because of their Unitarian faith. I was truly blessed in the conversation. I asked them a myriad of questions about their beliefs, their alternative lifestyle, how being gay had impacted their relationships with family members, and how they had been treated by the Christian church because of their sexual preference.

My heart was broken as I listened to story after story of ways in which their Christian families and other Christian churches had failed to put grace on display, but had instead reacted in a spirit of judgment and condemnation. The one lady said that when her brother had told his mother he was gay, she responded by saying it would have been easier to hear that he was dead than to hear he was gay. That story crushed me.

As I continue to think through this amazing encounter, I truly believe that I was "open" to being converted. Now was I converted? No. Was I worried about being converted? No. But I approached these woman with such openness, honestly, and humility that everyone involved was impacted for eternity. They could sense I had no agenda and was not looking to preach. I was simply trying to be the good news of Jesus, that grace, peace, and reconciliation have come to this world through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ...for everyone.

As we were cleaning up and preparing to leave, the women came up to me and asked for my contact information. They said they had loved our conversation and would be interested in continuing the dialog. I look forward to how our relationship might unfold and I pray that God would grant me the strength to stray from judgment and condemnation and continue to put the Kingdom on display through a message of grace and peace. Enough of the religiosity that only leads to people feeling estranged and bitter toward Christians. In the words of Meister Eckhart, "God, help rid me of God."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Quick Update

This is just a quick hello to all you out there in the blogosphere. I've been crazy busy lately with the end of the term (thus the lack of writing recently). I've got one more paper to write that I am hurriedly pumping out as I write this post, and then I will be done with my first trimester here at Mars Hill Graduate School. It has been a great fall and I will write more about that later, but for now, just pray for me that I can finish this trimester well. At 6pm tonight I will be a free man for the next month. Can't wait for Christmas Break! -- Grace and Peace

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Peter Rollins

For those who frequent this blog, you've seen me write about Peter Rollins before. He is a brilliant theologian from Dublin, Ireland who is offering a much-needed theology for the 21st century. I am half-way through his first book, "How (not) To Speak of God" and am mesmerized by his brilliance. He recently spoke at my seminary and his words have strongly encouraged and challenged me. I recently came across an interview he had with Brian McLaren and was impressed with his thoughts. I thought I would pass his words along to you. Enjoy.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Green Bible

Usually when I hear that some publishing company has come out with a new version or paraphrase of the Bible, my cynism instantly takes me to thoughts that this world has enough Bibles to go around and I wonder if that company is just trying to make a quick buck. Over the past 20 years we have seen an onslaught of paraphrases, translations, and every kind of study Bible imaginable and usually my thoughts are "enough".

I recently came across information about a new Bible called the Green Bible that I am actually quite excited about. The main thing that they are doing is that they are, similarly to the red-letter versions, putting all passages of Scripture that refer to creation in green ink. In addition, the pages, ink, cover, and spine of the Bibles are all made out of "green" materials. Their website says that Scripture speaks of heaven 490 times, love 530 times, but speaks of the earth and our care of Creation over 1,000 times. Christians have not traditionally been at the front lines leading the charge to better care for our world. We claim to worship the Creator, but we often don't care for what the Creator has created. I am glad this group is taking it upon themselves to do something about it.

Their website has so much more information and a great video for you to watch. I strongly encourage you to check it out for more information HERE. I think you will enjoy what you read and hear.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Random Quote

I am totally checked out in class right now, busily checking in on my fantasy basketball and instant messaging my friend, but I did manage to catch a random quote from my professor. I have no idea what the context was for this quote, but it made me laugh.

"Suffering and conflict are bed pals."

Monday, December 1, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

Over the past few years, Mandy and I have begun to shift our ideas about material gifts around birthdays and Christmas. This year we have decided to not do gifts at all for each other, and we are spending far less on everyone else in our family than we have in the past. Ultimately we would like to not do gifts at all, and instead donate all the money we would have spent on gifts to a worthy cause. My friend Nate recently made me aware of a ministry that is attempting to make this possible, called Advent Conspiracy. Here is a video that has convicted my heart. Enjoy!