a theological post

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”

Whether you are a Christian or not, that verse makes a lot of sense. Why do I fight? My passions take over, and to varying degrees, based on various levels of social conditioning, I fight. Now I might not punch very many people in the face (actually, I have never once punched a person in the face. Although there are two people I do regret not punching in the face. Sean McClenahan in 1st grade, and Joe Maloney in 9th grade. I’m sure I would have got my ass kicked in both circumstances, but I always regretted not sticking up for myself), but there is a good chance that I will verbally fight with someone.

Actually, I don’t tend to verbally fight with people, besides my wife, all that much. However, most of the time I think many things about people, that if verbalized, would cause many fights. We like to make fun of Britney Spears and Michael Jackson all day, but would never dream about repeating what we said to a co-worker to the now ex-Mrs. Federline if she were present. And 50 foot robot that roams the Vegas desert shooting laser beams out of its eyeballs aside, we would never call Michael Jackson the craziest person to ever walk the face of this earth to his face. Yet, more often than not, we think these things in our head, or even share them with people we trust. Why?

Well, on the one hand, are passions are at war within us. Why did we make fun of Kevin Federline for two straight years? Surely, there have been many more jokes about him being a male gold-digger, than those pointing out the absurdity of Papazao. So then why most people make fun of Kevin Federline:
– Some were jealous he got to sleep with Britney Spears (note: this contingent has dwindled to an amount as large as the people who own Gigli on DVD)
– Some were jealous that he got money for nothing (note: the idea that he got this for nothing has also lost steam in the past few weeks)
– Some were simply jealous that he was famous and they were not

Now, what does this have to do with quarreling. It is simply an obvious example, of the not-so-obvious tensions that move and motivate our hearts daily. Why did I get in a fight with my wife last night? Well, first of all, I was a harsh jerk that cared more about being right than loving my wife. I used truth as a tool to win the argument, instead of using truth as a tool to love and serve my wife. Why did I do this?

I needed control

I needed to feel like the one who knew everything, and who controlled how my wife processed feelings and emotions. Now, how many times do these same desires flow through my heart and mind daily as I interact with co-workers? Only with them, the relationship is different. I don’t need to control the things I do not care about, so I let it go with them, only it festers. These thoughts of thinking I know better than everyone continue to go unchecked throughout the day, festering and multiplying, nearly overflowing as I attempt to drive home amidst the sea of drivers who obviously can’t drive as good as me. I am better than them, I deserve credit instead of them. All they do is annoy me, and why can’t they communicate as good as I can? All festering, all boiling up until I get home.

And who’s waiting for me to have dinner: my wife.

She gets to interact with a man swimming in the desires of his heart and mind all day. A man whose passions are so convoluted in a selfish smorgeshborg of elitism and insecurity. Of covetousness, and self idolatry. This is the man she gets to connect with assuming that he is going to love and connect with her. She has no idea what kind of man she’s really going to get.

Now did I directly sin that day. Well, all my assignments were turned in, I made people laugh with jokes, I was polite, and didn’t offend anyone all day. On the surface, like everyone, I think that I’m fine. While inside, my soul is dying as it swims in the cesspool of human sin. It is within this context that Paul tells us to live by the Spirit. It is within this context that Paul tells us to not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world. It is within this context that Paul tells us to put off the old self. When Paul tells us to not gratify the desires of the flesh, he’s not talking about getting drunk, having sex with your girlfriend, listening to country music, or doing drugs. He talking about the passions and desires, the way we think and feel about ourselves, others and God, that motivate every action we do each day.

Now, with this background of our nature fresh in your head, I admonish you, READ EPHESIANS CHAPTER 2 and COLOSSIANS CHAPTER 3.

Now whether you are a Christian or not, the gospel makes a lot of sense.

klosterman on oden

I love Chuck Klosterman. Seriously one of the best and smartest writers alive. Here’s why he likes Greg Oden so much:

Frankly, Oden is my favorite player in this entire tournament. I love his stoicism. I realize members of the media are supposed to love “raw emotion,” but I always find that undignified. At this very moment, I assume Joakim Noah is moshing around his hotel room and eating handfuls of glass and yelling at “The View” and hitting a tennis ball between his legs; he is a citizen of the world, but he’s also something of a lunatic. I prefer the expressionless Mr. Oden, a person who’s likely sitting beneath a singular table lamp, silently reading Chuck Eddy’s analysis of the British Invasion while peeling a tangerine. I always want my post players to be intimidating-yet-wooden.

Did I mention how much I love Chuck Klosterman.

HT: Chuck Klosterman’s Final Four Blog

Matt out

next years team

    UNLV’s 2007-2008 Roster

Player Position Height Class
Wink Adams G 6-0 Jr.
Emmanuel Adeife C 6-10 Jr.
Corey Bailey F 6-5 Sr.
Troy Cage G/F 6-5 R-Fr.
Joe Darger F 6-7 Jr.
Scott Hoffman G 6-3 So.
Jerome Johnson C 6-8 R-So.
Efrem Lawrence G 6-0 Sr.
Marcus Lawrence G 5-11 So.
Lamar Roberson F 6-8 So.
Rene Rougeau G 6-6 Jr.
Mareceo Rutledge G 6-3 Jr.
Matt Shaw F/C 6-8 So.
Curtis Terry G 6-5 Sr.
Kendall Wallace G 6-4 Fr.

    Probable starting line-up

Lawrence and Wink in the back court (with the possibility of bringing Curtis in for a three guard lineup)
Darger, Cage and Roberson in the frontcourt

Size will be an even bigger issue that it was this past year, having no player taller than 6’8″. I would expect to see Lon really experiment with the line-up a ton in the early season. I predict a really slow start to this team, not becuase I don’t think they have the talent, ability, or the heart to play well. But rather becuase it won’t be until around early to mid-Jan until Lon can figure out the right line-up and rotation.

Without seeing the schedule, here’s my early prediction:
22-12, including a win in the Mtn. West championship
9th seed in the NCAA’s with a second round loss to Georgetown

Feel free to chime in

Matt out

in the fridge/on the grill

In the spirit of shelf/ipod, I thought I would start a fridge/grill. It’s spring, and if we’re going to take full advantage of it, then we’d better be drinking a good assortment of good spring-time beers, and grilling like mormons have babies. Hopefully this post will spur us on to trying different beers, and ways of grilling each month.

In The Fridge

Sam Adams White Ale
A really light and refreshing beer. It is a blonde for sure, yet it retains many flavors a typical blonde would not. This is probably why Sam Adams decided to serve a White Ale as a late winter seasonal. Which is nice now because stores have it heavily discounted (4 bucks off a 12 pack), allowing one to enjoy a great spring beer at a great low price.

Guinness
How the guys at Guinness thought you could replicate a nitro tap system (the tap system that makes Guinness so thick) in a bottle by using a plastic rocket doohickey is beyond me. It’s like being really good friends with the hottest girl in high school. You get to hang out all the time, but never get to make out. That’s what drinking Guinness in a bottle is like. Yes, I was suckered in to buying this because of St. Patty’s Day.

Smirnoff Ice
This needs some explaining. Remember when we first turned 21, and our chickified beer selection was limited to Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Smirnoff Ice, and Hard Cider’s, yikes. Well I had some guys over to watch UNLV lose to Oregon last week, and Ben brought over some Smirnoff Ice’s. How fitting. Ben did take offense when his selection was referred to as chick beer, to which I replied, “Hey Ben, that was Vicky that called it chick beer. Her being a chick qualifies her to make that assertion. So drink your chick beer.”
Good times.

On the Grill

Barbecue-Flavored Chicken
I make my own rub for this using paprika as my main spice. I add a few shakes of crushed red pepper, some fresh ground pepper (the Mitch Hedberg joke about fresh pepper is playing in your head right now isn’t it), a dash of garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Slap some Jack Daniel’s BBQ Sauce on for the last few minutes. Serve with asparagus and a good porter. Ah, Spring.

Burgers
Anything less than a half-pound per patty is unacceptable. A light amount of Mesquite Steak, and 15 minutes of glory on the grill gives you a wonderful medium burger. The key to a great burger is plenty of fresh toppings. I always keep red onion, tomato, green leaf lettuce, and spicy brown mustard on hand for great burgers and sandwiches whenever I want. I cook so much more now that I keep the right condiments around.

Kabobs
I never realized how wonderful kabobs were until Vicky started making them for me to grill. They cook fast and easy, they don’t involve silverware, and the include veggies. Note: if I ever had to prepare kabobs myself I would never cook them. Thank you Jesus for my smoking hot, kabob preparing wife.

Matt

to quote hoss

“The Spirit of Tim Keller is upon her, because the Lord has anointed her to help her husband plant a church; he has sent her to bind up the broken vision, to proclaim liberty to the captive thoughts, and the opening of the prison to those ideas that are bound”

Alright, a background story is necessary to justify that blasphemous changing of Isaiah 61. The short of it is that my mind was actually paraphrasing that as my debilitated wife (because of cramps) shared what the Lord has showed her regarding our church plant. Let me explain.

Friday night my wife couldn’t sleep, so she spent the night praying and researching acts29 stuff in order to help as best she could with the planting of a church in Vegas (note: if I were awake, this would have been incredibly sexy). She put together her thoughts, and had no intention of sharing them until I had finished doing my research and prayer to help polish up the vision. The next morning I dusted off my Redeemer Church Planting Manual and decided, “Hey, didn’t I buy this for a reason?” Plowing through the first few chapters, and while praying, many thoughts became to come together. I’ll list them in order:

– I must become a man of prayer and spiritual discipline. The task at hand demands it
– If we are to build a core, then we must focus on building a core. Not trying to build a core, and be attractional. Or build a core, and preach though books of the Bible. All of which we were trying to do
– Vision must be put out, and the core as it develops, will respond to that vision by developing the missional aim of the church
– As the planter I will disseminate these ideas into a fluid vision that lines up with the scriptural mandate for the church as it lines up with the culture of the city

These are my paraphrases of Keller’s church planting techniques that helped get Redeemer off the ground. Vicky’s vision idea’s, were nearly verbatim of the actual Keller quotes I had highlighted in the manual. This was a great confirmation, as were the many conversations that followed this past weekend.

I am grateful for God’s faithfulness to this church plant, and very excited to see how the next few months play out. I am also grateful that God gave me, and I’ll quote Mark Hostetler, “A great wife for a guy that wants to plant a church”. I agree Hoss.

Matt

Shelf and iPod

Since Matt believes I am a “professional reader” and he is in some ways right, I am going to exclude all the school stuff I have had to read and focus on just the stuff I read for enjoyment, which is not much especially considering that my James paper had a biblo with 28 items on it.  Well here goes

Shelf

1.  Serve God and Save the Planet by Matt Sleeth.  This book is fantastic.  When I read McLaren’s Generous Orthodoxy a few years ago I loved his chapter on being “Green.”  I considered it to be one of the strongest chapters of the book and loved his point of our relationship with the world around us, being related to our belief about the restoration of the Kingdom.  His book is pretty easy reading, and in many ways him writing a bunch of short essays on a number of environmental topics.  The writing is also surprisingly good.  He takes on many of the sacred cows of the American lifestyle (stuff, TV, consumption, houses) and some other controversial topics (health care, population levels).  He is a tad extreme for me, as I do not think I will ever think about hanging a clothes line in my living room to save my wife from using the dryer, but who knows.

2. Simply Christian by Tom/N.T. Wright:  This book is also well written and enjoyable to read.  I will just put my cards on the table here; Tom is a fantastic writer.  I know I know one can easily mistake his congenial nature to be appeasing of liberal theology, but I do not think that should be all we focus on when we come to Tom’s writing.  He really has so much to offer, and writes in quanties that would make him the Sam’s Club of Evangelical scholars.  The book in has been compared to C.S. Lewis’ famous “Mere Christianity.”  This alone was enough to intrigue me, as “Mere Christianity” is one of the most influential books that God brought before me.  I read it twice within months of becoming a Christian and still find most of it to be the best combination of brilliance and simplicity I have ever read.  Wright’s book is in that mold, but it is quite a bit more complex and I actually think it would not have been as helpful or compelling as a new Christians as “Mere Christianity” would be.  His book is really good and give a great picture of the redemptive history that God is using to right many of the wrongs all can discern in our world.

I do not have a third book right now, as I am about half way through seven books so hopefully by next month I will have a bunch to write about.

iPod

1.  Danielson:  Okay this stuff is weird but I really like it, something childish and fun about it.  When you listen you laugh, smirk and enjoy, kind of like being back in Jr. high.  Just some fun music.

2.   David Crowder:  I know that most Christian music is quite iffy, but I enjoy Mr. Crowder.  His last CD is one that I find myself coming back to over and over to when I need some good study music.  If he would have left off the stupid phone interviews, one would be able to listen to the CD straight through.  This guy has skill and is worth listening to.  Do not let your prejudice against Christian music keep you from listen to such a good CD.

3.  Jack Johnson:  His song “Banana Pancakes” is a great song that I can listen to all the time.  And both CD’s I have by him including his Curious George stuff I can listen to straight through. In case you have not noticed I really like albums I can listen to all the way through.  I have come to appreciate artists who can organize their songs in a well fashioned model that lead you through the entire album.  I think this has become a high value for me, because I do not want to be reading something and then be distracted by a crappy song, or something that just does not seem to fit.  This is why Sufjan is usually is my go to guy when I need to get a lot of reading done.

satisfied

“don’t mess with my emotions smokey”
– Big Worm, Friday

These were the words ringing in my ear after UNLV’s four point (3 point spread, unbelievable) loss on Friday. See, being down 17 with seven minutes to go allows you to prepare yourself quite easily that your season is over. Especially when your a “live by the 3, die by the 3 team” who can’t make a shot, and some guy faster than speedy gonzalez is making every shot like he was Jordon in game 1 against Portland in 92. Then, in a way that cannot be described, because I’m still not sure how it happened, we get the game to four points with a minute to go. Then, for the next excruciating 60 seconds, I am reminded that none of our shooters were on. It would have been easier on my emotions if we let it stay at 17. But how could we, this is what we’ve been doing all year.

Such a fitting end to a wonderful UNLV season. We didn’t have the talent to match up with Oregon, but we still made it a game. Even though we weren’t playing like we wanted to, we still found a way to be in the game. We overachieved in the game, we over achieved in the season. We fought hard and never gave up. I am more satisfied with the end of this team than any other team. I am so proud to be a rebel fan for the way we have handled ourselves. All four of our seniors are graduating (Kevin is technically a senior, but he can’t graduate, he already has), we handled ourselves with class all year, and we fought harder than any team in the nation. What a year, I am so proud to be an alumnus, and a fan.

Note: please disregard the last paragraph if at anytime next we you read a headline that includes kruger and michigan.

Matt