Cocaine Jesus And A Few Other Thoughts…

I bet that title got your attention.

Well for all of you who thought Jesus was King of Kings and maker of all Creation you would be right, but drug dealers have also decided that statues of him are a good way to smuggle drugs. This is a picture of the Jesus drug statue.

Now if Dante was right about there being levels to Hell this will probably get you to the bottom level pretty quick. Maybe in this level of Hell, instead of having Cocaine Jesus statues, they have a constant stream of WNBA games on TV that you must watch. Yeah I said it, and if you like the WNBA then you probably also enjoy American Idol.

This is a great blog post I read on how to waste your theological education, but it could just as easily be applied to your life in general.

A few years ago Kobe was about to face trial for rape, losing all of his endorsements and hated by most in the NBA. Now Kobe is the face of the league and a story of redemption. Its “mind-bottling.” If he can do it maybe there is hope for Brittney Spears

The season finale of LOST last night was excellent. For those of you who do not watch the show then make you summer a memorable one and start watching it now. The questions continue to pile up and Ben still gives me the creeps but we are going to have a wild ride for the final two seasons of LOST. In my opinion, it is now officially the best show in TV history. And do not bring up MASH, Seinfeld, or something like I Love Lucy. To answer what is the greatest show of all time you only have to answer one question: if you could discover there were two previously un-aired episodes of any TV show what would it be? Put in this context nothing even comes close to LOST. Its suspense, depth and creativity make it captivating week in and week out. LOST’s depth and complexity is its greatest strength but also its greatest weakness, because it is a hard show to hop into. Therefore go and watch the first couple seasons this summer and be ready for next seasons premiere.

Last, I wanted to review more of Doug Pagitt’s book A Christianity Worth Believing, but I just could not do it. My eye started twitching and my blood pressure rose with every page as if I was watching some screaming cable news show. I did finish reading the book and I walked away sad. Doug spent a good length of time arguing that humans are basically good and that sin or evil is in large part related to systemic issues of even diet and mental illness issues. If that is where the emergent church is headed than it is a dead end of heresy and an distorted Jesus. I try not to speak hyperbolically on issues such as this so please do not think I am just trying to take shots at emergents. Go ahead and read the book yourself but you would be better off spending your fifteen bucks on a book such as this one.

Thats it for now, Crystal and I are headed out of town for the next five days so pray for safe travels for us…


Doug Pagitt and “A Christianity Worth Believing”

I do not intend to write a review of Doug Pagitt’s new book, A Christianity Worth Believing. But we will see what happens…

I am reading through it write now because I got a free copy of it. And of course other reason that are explained in the tab “The Theory” at the top of this blog. For those of you who do not know Doug is a leading voice in the Emergent church movement/conversation. I have heard him speak a few times and read some of his other stuff. Overall the guy is quite brilliant and is a gifted communicator.

I enjoyed the first few chapters as he talks about his own faith journey of growing up as an unbeliever and then becoming a Christian through a Passion play. Doug details how he was quickly immersed in the Christian culture and was quickly leading Bible studies and even involved in court cases for Christian rights.

Doug goes on to talk about how he went on to Bible college and then to be a youth pastor at a large megachurch. But all along he was still wrestling with what he calls the “uh-oh” moments of his faith. He talks about how he felt stifled to explore the the uh-ohs of his faith and that faith in Jesus was explained to him as this absolute finish line moment.  I relate to this as early on in my Christian life I hit a number of walls of doubt and frustration.  For me though, it was because I was void of any solid theology and began to think Christianity was too simplistic for explaining life.  I also intuitively knew there was a measure of understanding that sanctification was a process, that holiness and Christ-like formation was not completed at my conversion but something I needed to continue to workout.  These truths explain to us that the “uh-oh” moments of our faith are quite attested to by the Biblical narrative and just part of the Christian life.

Doug then engages in the regular emergent diatribe of how it was deeply unsettling to him the truth had to equal absolute. This is a massively false dichotomy that I do not want to fully get into here.  But all of us understand that while we know nothing absolutely, we can still and do know many things concretely. Just think about all the things you do in a day and how they are based on truth premises that you hold and operate out of.

From there Dough launches into how the poison of Hellenization has permeated into the story of Jesus. Doug really does not give any solid examples of this except to say that Greeks did not have a frame of reference or understanding of an intimate or personal God such as Yahweh. Given that the New Testament is written in Greek and there are plenty of words in our Greek New Testament that connotate these exact ideas I find this conclusion hard to accept. If Doug is making the point that the Biblical narrative has at points been contaminated with Platonic thought and worldviews, I would concur. but he is overstating his case to say that all church history has been asunder in Hellenization since the third century.

Truth is though I am just now getting to the good stuff. You know the reason people read and buy books like this, to see what provocative and blogworthy stuff Doug has written. Here is the first comment I came across that I am sure will have the folks at apprising ministries foaming at the mouth.

I think there are people who argue for an ‘inerrant’ authoritative understanding of the Bible to support their prejudiced feelings about homosexuals. I know they would deny it, and they have done so to me many times. They would argue that it works the other way–the Bible teaches certain ideas about homosexuality, so that’s what they believe. (p. 63)

First off who is “they?” This is classic straw man in which you rail against a faceless opponent. I am not doubting that there are indeed homophobic Christians, I have met some myself, but to say this is their higher priority over a genuine belief in the authority of the Bible is quite presumptuous. Also I just could not help of thinking how much assuming Doug is doing of their heart and true motives. How can a movement of emergent Christians claim to be generous and want conversation and then accuse those who they disagree with of being misleading and not truly saying what they mean? I will pause here and post some more thoughts as I get further into the book.



Five Dollar Gas?

Yes sir.

I wrote a post a long time ago about how gas would hit 4 dollars a gallon and some of the consequences I thought it would have on the driving habits of most Americans. Well courtesy of Adam’s blog here is a photo of 4 dollar gas as a reality in California.

Well here is my next prediction, 5 dollar a gallon gas! And maybe even 6 dollar a gallon. The Washington Times is reporting that 70 percent of Americans see 5 dollar gas as a foregone conclusion. What does all of this mean? Here are a few things.

1. Gas is only going to continue going up, maybe until the end of next year. If you believe the forecasts of some of the largest financial institutions then don’t be surprised to see 200$ a barrel oil by the end of 2009, and this is without any major eruption of violence in a oil producing nation. All of this reminds me of only about 14 years ago as a little kid visiting my grandparents in Kansas and going to fill up with my dad. Gas was 87 cents a gallon. Those days are long gone and the developing world now has an unquestionable hunger for America’s greatest addiction.

2. People will travel less. This is the reality of the situation. When it costs even 50 bucks to fill up a mid-size car people will begin to think twice about where they drive and how. This should be an interesting cultural development in suburbia and church activity participation. I am sure this will begin to factor in for many as decide how to spend their free time. I would not be so dramatic about this if food costs and health insurance are making the margins for the American family smaller and smaller. For many a few elective driving trips will become the financial tipping point.

3. The end of the gas-guzzler. News report after report is saying that SUV’s and trucks are lagging in sales and wasting away on the lots of car dealers. Ford has already reported that they are diverting away production activity from their truck SUV line to small compact cars. Anecdotally, I heard a guy next to me at the pump last week cursing the whole time he was filling up his Dodge Ram. His total came to 103 dollars! We made eye contact as I was filling up our Honda Civic, I could tell he was coveting my Civic and just laughed as I drove off after filling up for 36 dollars. This story is being repeated all across the country as people with massive trucks are having to chose between making the payment and driving them; they can not do both.

Why do I spend all this time writing about this? Because it is a great example of how American policy is much like most families; they wait until the problem is here before they worry about it. This gas problem has been a long time in the making and yet as a nation we have ignored it and kept consuming recklessly. We are doing the same thing with our nation’s oncoming Social Security problem. So now as a nation we will have to spend the next 10 to 15 years in this rut as we wait for new technologies or fuel supplies to have a national impact. So in the words of Mellencamp, “This is OUUUUUUUR Country!!!”


It Sure Is Good To Be A Bull’s Fan

While I was off at Pine Ridge Reservation and not logging onto the internet or watching TV for six days, the Bulls happened to have one of the best weeks in NBA draft history.

The Bulls pulling a monster upset ended up with the first pick in the draft even though they only had a 1.7 percent chance of winning it. Basically this is akin to an 18-0 evil juggernaut, cheating football dynasty choking in the biggest sporting event in the world. So get ready for the Bulls to return to dominance in the next few years. We will finally pick up the franchise player we have lacked since the retirement of his Airness. I am not talking about getting a good player like Deng, Kirk, or Gordon, I am talking about a star and he is none other than…

That my friend’s is a future All-star. Rose will be the centerpiece of the Bulls for the next 15 years. The Bulls will end up packaging Kirk, and one of their repetitive power forwards for a low post-scorer, maybe even Elton Brand? For those of you who want to witness the historic event of the Bulls leaping to the top of the draft and sealing their future as NBA contenders can watch the clip.

Ohh and if this was not enough big news for the Bulls, Joakim Noah was arrested for weed. This was a surprising as finding out that Adam likes American Idol. Just look at this guy, does he look like someone who might use marijuana?


Spurgeon on Prayer

From this morning’s reading:

IN looking back upon the character of our prayers, if we do it honestly, we shall be filled with wonder that God has ever answered them. There may be some who think their prayers worthy of acceptance—as the Pharisee did; but the true Christian, in a more enlightened retrospect, weeps over his prayers, and if he could retrace his steps he would desire to pray more earnestly. Remember, Christian, how cold thy prayers have been. When in thy closet thou shouldst have wrestled as Jacob did; but instead thereof, thy petitions have been faint and few—far removed from that humble, believing, persevering faith, which cries, “I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me.” Yet, wonderful to say, God has heard these cold prayers of thine, and not only heard, but answered them. Reflect also, how infrequent have been thy prayers, unless thou hast been in trouble, and then thou hast gone often to the mercy-seat: but when deliverance has come, where has been thy constant supplication? Yet, notwithstanding thou hast ceased to pray as once thou didst, God has not ceased to bless. When thou hast neglected the mercy-seat, God has not deserted it, but the bright light of the Shekinah has always been visible between the wings of the cherubim. Oh! it is marvellous that the Lord should regard those intermittent spasms of importunity which come and go with our necessities. What a God is He thus to hear the prayers of those who come to Him when they have pressing wants, but neglect Him when they have received a mercy; who approach Him when they are forced to come, but who almost forget to address Him when mercies are plentiful and sorrows are few. Let His gracious kindness in hearing such prayers touch our hearts, so that we may henceforth be found “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.”

School’s Over! Going to South Dakota

Well I wrapped up a monster semester of 16 credits this semester.  To be honest it felt easy compared to the days when I had Greek always hanging over my head.  With the completion of this semester I have come to the end of the road of being a full time student.  Seminary has really flown by, but I will blog about that later on.

I will be out of town this week as I am heading to a Native American reservation in South Dakota.  No internet connection so am going to use the opportunity to engage in a media fast.  This should be weird for me as I am a news junkie and love my Macbook as much as anything I own.

So I will pray for you all while I am gone since it appears I am living you in the hands of “homeless Matt.”  Maybe he will post some sweet youtube videos, or how Rockstars are the greatest beverage ever.


Homeless guy strikes again

I wrote this last night while answering a question. Note: it wasn’t even necessary that I write this.

Noah: obey God even when no one else will. Don’t get drunk and pass out so your sexually confused son can do things to you so dirty Moses wouldn’t even describe them.

Other note: I also caught myself writing a smiley face after an answer like this 🙂

Good thing I didn’t to a wink 😉 or slip the tongue :)’

I am hoping to go for a run later, eat some bacon and eggs make a circus poster while wearing a shirt that says, “I lost my grass in Vegas”. Note, someone will pay me a lot of money to do that last one, there called taxpayer.

homeless guy

The Wrong Question

People always ask me if I am a self-starter.

Hell Yeah, I am the most kick-ass self-starter you’ll ever meet.

Only the reality is that they don’t mean self-starter. Here’s what they should ask:

“Okay so your really good and starting many things, how about finishing them?”

Shit, I suck at that. I get all these different things going, get stressed out by them and then write a blog.

Speaking of which, I have two four page assignments that both need an extra page left to do. Rockstar #2 here I come.


A brief, sleep-deprived, Rockstar induced interpretation of 1 Chronicles 4:10

If I were Jabez and I were alive, I would kick Bruce Wilkinson in the junk.

Borders = Ministry my ass!!!

I think it’s time for another Rockstar.

Only 3-4 more hours and I’m done.


Rob Bell and Egalitarianism

I have gone to a mostly egalitarian seminary for the last few years.  Do not ask me to explain the “mostly” that is a topic better left out of the blog world.

In the spectrum of biggest hot bottom issues to be found at seminary campuses these days, it is the issue of women as elders that might rank number one.  Some like to phrase the issue as “women in leadership” but outside a few backwood churches like Pastor Anderson’s, not many churches are against women in leadership, the real issue is women as elders.  I can remember the issue coming up in classes throughout my time in seminary and the whole entire vibe of the class would become tense and dicey.  I would venture to guess the issue has become what the authority of scripture was for the last generation of seminary students.

The issue of women as elders has divided churches and both sides of the argument have sinned in the process.  So where do we go from here?  Well if I had that answer I would write a book and get rich!  But part of being biblical is also the way we go about living out our biblical truths.  No matter how right either side feels they are on this side we must proceed with humility and charity for those we disagree with.

I came across this article written on the Resurgence about how Mars Hill Bible Church, where Rob Bell pastors, reached their decision on women as elders.  The article is a fasinating insider’s account (at least one side of it) about the what the process of deciding on women as elders at Mars Hill Bible Church.  If this article is true I think it can serve as a lesson to all of us on how to do better.

Rob Bell and Mars Hill Bible Church decided to embrace women as elders largely due to the work of William Webb in his book, Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals.  In it Webb argues that the ethics and values of scriptures were not fully unveiled but were meant as a point in a redemptive trajectory toward higher and ultimate ethics.  If this is going over your head the big idea is that the ethics and teachings of the Bible are evolving and getting better.  Kind of like Atari leading on a trajectory toward Xbox.

And yes I know there are other routes to get to an egalitarian understanding of the scriptures, I am not arguing that here.  My point is that as churches go through this process we must guard our hearts and fight recklessly for unity.  As the article highlights, things get messy at churches when they debate the issue of women as elders.  No matter the side of the debate you come down on, and I would encourage all of you to study vigorously and search the scriptures on this topic, we must fight recklessly for unity.