Monday, October 27, 2008

Stand for No(or some)thing?

Atheists plan anti-God campaign on buses…

So I read this story last week about a group of atheists in London who are investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into an advertising campaign that will blast, “There Is No God” onto the sides of buses around the city. When I first started working at my current employer I started in a call center. In an environment like this there is a multiplicity of unique personalities. One particular gentleman had signs hung all around his desk that said similar things that this London group is now investing into. He had website screen shots for the National Atheists of America and such. I would always look at this desk, like I did when I read this article, head titled, eye brow slightly raised while scratching my head. It is hard for me to understand why advertising goes into this. According to the American Atheist website, “Atheism is a doctrine that states that nothing exists but natural phenomena (matter), that thought is a property or function of matter, and that death irreversibly and totally terminates individual organic units. This definition means that there are no forces, phenomena, or entities which exist outside of or apart from physical nature, or which transcend nature, or are “super” natural, nor can there be. Humankind is on its own.”

I mean go to Google and type in the word atheist and look at all the links you get. According to the site I quoted from above there is an actual movement headed by Dr. Bukner. What? A movement for what; a movement to just scream and yell that they believe nothing? What do they stand for? They stand for the fact they believe that there is nothing to stand for… What kind of conundrum is that?

I’m not one to support any church putting a ton of money into advertising because I don’t think movements should advertise; Jesus didn’t. I do raise this question though: why is it that Atheism is a movement while Christian churches sit back as simply a religious establishment? Every time I go through the book of Acts I get myself into an internal dilemma of thoughts. I get so down because of the contrast between early Christians and “Christians” nowadays, but I also have hope and get excited because I know we can find this movement style of following Jesus again. We are not called to invest in bus-side billboards, but we are called to stand for something, we are called to be a part of a movement. What do you stand for, are you a part of the movement or just a boring religion? What will you do for the movement?

I Found God at 14,000 and Falling

So if you haven’t noticed by reading the below post, I went sky diving for my birthday. People keep asking me questions about it, how it felt, what it was like, was I scared, etc. and all I say is, “Indescribable, I went in with all these expectations and fears and doubts, but it was the coolest experience of my life and I can’t really explain it fully to you, you just have to try it.” Now all I can talk about is sky diving and just remember how cool it was, I watch my skydiving video at least once a day, just reliving the excitement.

I went sky diving on a Saturday afternoon and I haven’t stop thinking about it and telling people how exciting it was yet, I don’t think I will ever be able to shake it honestly. On the ride home Drew and I speak straight college frat boy language and occasionally will say, “Dude!” to which the other responds, “Dude!” We both totally understood what we meant, but in our excitement we could barely speak and only came up with one word.

Shouldn’t our walk with Jesus be something like sky diving? Consider it for a minute. This was really weighty to me walking around Chicago Saturday night.

Everyone who asks me about my skydiving experience say that they wouldn’t ever go because they would not like the feeling or the heights. They have this preconceived set of presumptions towards skydiving that holds them back from doing it. I thought it would be scary, my stomach would drop like it does when you go onto a roller coaster, thought I would never be able to jump out of the plane. Everything I expected was different in reality, what I actually experienced. People watch all these stupid shows that show things like skydiving going wrong and people dying when the reality is that you are more likely to get killed in an auto accident than skydiving, but no one is frightened by the thought of driving are they? False presumptions hold back many people from a life that is more exciting than they actually have been led to believe. The life of following Jesus is the most adventurous lifestyle I think anyone can live. You are basically acting contrary to almost every aspect of life that the mass media and majority population approve of. You are a rebel with a cause. If people would stop listening to what everyone says and try it for themselves they’d realize it is much like skydiving, the best experience of the life. Take the Bible for instance. Most people who say it isn’t true know nothing about it outside of what bitter people say. So they are unwilling to try it for themselves and therefore rob themselves of the opportunity to really read something for them and experience a living god. False presumptions are dangerous, they hold you back from great things like skydiving and God.

If you watch my video you will notice at the end of the video I was so excited I could barley speak. I did this on Saturday Oct 18. It is now Monday Oct 27 and I am still excited as can be about doing it. I watch the video at least once a day. I look at the pictures and get goose bumps. I can’t stop thinking about it. Isn’t that how we should think about God?

Skydiving and God, I would have never drawn that parallel before. Drop your presumptions about Jesus, God, the Bible, Christians, and experience it. Once you experience it, never stop thinking about it, be excited about it. Living for God makes jumping out of a plane look like going to the dentist, try it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Flying, Falling, Screaming

AMAZING, GNARLY, RAD, AWESOME, CRAZY, LIBERATING, EXHILERATING are about the only words that can describe a fraction of the true feeling of skydiving. Here are some pictures of my experience. Enjoy.
Generally for your birthday you get cheesy cards and stale birthday I decided to get out and do something I have always wanted to do...skydive. So a friend and I drive up to Chicago, played in the city, then went skydiving for my birthday. Awesome gift to myself because it will be an experience I will never forget.

So here is the video of my sky dive or as I am lovingly call it, "Quarter Century Fall to Earth" This was one of the most amazing things I have done in my life. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Smoke Signals

I’ve never been one to admit my flaws or short comings, but feel like this may be appropriate and ask that those of you who do keep up with my blog and know me well enough, please pray for me. The bottom line is that I am apathetic toward God and that is causing a lot of other things to occur. I’m just lost and feel like God is hiding. The truth is I know it is a problem with me, I just don’t know what it is or how to solve it. Every time I try to read or pray I just say that my heart isn’t in it and walk away from it and go to sleep. So here’s the truth kids….your boy Adam sucks! I’m apathetic and lost, I don’t trust my own thoughts because I’m not sure of their sources (good or evil). So here is my smoke signal…calling out for HELP…I’m not sure what is going on, but I do know this, it is not good for me or the local church…So please pray for me as I try to find God in a non-scholastic, child-like, faithful, passionate way…it’s hard to do this right now, please join me in praying for strength and resolve. I refuse to write another blog until I get this right so here again are smoke signals calling for HELP and letting you know why my blog will be looking pretty shabby for a while.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ninja Turtle Forgiveness

Even in a matter so basic as our giving, the ability to truly worship God is hindered by the reality of relationships broken by our wrong actions, attitudes, and words.

“If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift (Matthew 5:23-24).”

Here goes Jesus again, saying something that seems crazy to the Jewish men He would have been talking to. They were all about the temple and offering sacrifices because that is what they knew God wanted and that is what pleased God. Jesus flips the switch here again and says something different. If you are coming to the alter to offer a sacrifice and you have a broken relationship then you should drop what you are doing, even though it is seemingly for God, and go get that relationship right. I think the biggest mistake we can sometimes make is not taking Jesus at His word, take it as some kind of joke or, “you can’t be serious Jesus!” type of deal. This makes sense for the alter right, you have to approach the alter righteously and cannot have messed up issues like a broken relationship before you give to God right? We also are quick to become smug twenty-twenty visionaries. What I mean is we smack our teeth and shake our heads at the behavior of the Pharisees and Disciples, but never try to apply that situation to us, here and now. The temple and alter system is gone, Jesus tore in two when He was crucified. Jesus now lives and the temple is now within us. Paul calls us to live everyday as a living sacrifice too (Romans 12). So we are to be a sacrifice as the temple, since that is what we are right? Then living our lives should be an offering or sacrifice to Christ right? That’s easy to think of, many people say they want to live their lives for Christ. What happens though when Jesus tells us to leave the temple and go reconcile a relationship before a sacrifice is pleasing to Him? Can we separate ourselves? No, that would be a little bit bloody and gross.

It is impossible to please God with a sacrifice if we have a broken relationship out there. That’s what Jesus said above isn’t it? This false idea that is being injected into the churches veins is poison, the idea that you can forgive, but do not need to reconcile that relationship. You can forgive and never have to face that person or attempt reconciliation. Forgiveness is sold to us as a one way deal, as long as we forgive in our head then no actual action is required, it is a interpersonal thing. I say poo on that! Forgiveness is hard, it requires you to face your demons, face the pain, face the hurt, the past, it requires more than a simple intellectual acknowledgment of a foreign idea. Forgiveness takes action, it takes reconciling relationships.

If you do not reconcile these relationships then your offering is not pleasing to God. Swallow that, it goes down about as easy as an old Ninja turtle figurine doesn’t it. May you forgive, reconcile relationships. May you be a pleasing sacrificial offering to God, may you reconcile with your brother or sister before you offer to God. May you deal with forgiveness even though it is hard. Pray for strength and help from Him, He wants us to endeavor down this hard road of forgiveness!

Broken Hearts and Love

A broken heart changes a person, it changes their whole world, their whole existence, it changed my outlook on love and life.

I was emailing a friend about love, heartbreak, and how ruined I am when it comes to all of it, and that is what she said. I find this amazing, that casual conversation can reveal such great truth. The inverse of this statement is that love changes everything. Once love is broken or not returned by someone you get a broken heart. That changes everything, a person, their whole world, existence, and outlook on love and life in general. Think about the person or people who you have or do love. If you have ever had your heart broken there is this crazy healing process that you go through and the once you are “over” it you are a completely different person. The way you experience or do not experience their love creates a context or environment from which you will react and think from for the rest of your life or until you come to another point of love that will then change everything that follows. It’s kind of like a connect the dot puzzle. You go from 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 to 6 and so on. Maybe you only fall in love once, but that one experience will change you forever, but you may not notice because you will never have another environment of love in which to live and breathe in. If you love hard and do it a couple times, no matter what, you are affected greatly by the first and then once you find the second you are affected by that until you meet 3 and so on. I can evaluate myself and the fears, ideas, emotions, and attitudes toward love I have and track them back to one of the few people I have loved. Now if that person I love breaks my heart or betrays that love then that brings the implications on stronger than just pure love.

Heart break is something strong isn’t it? The reason it is so powerful is because Love is so powerful. In the context of personal relationships, whether it is romantic, family, or friendships, love is something that excites us, it changes us forever right? Not one person who loves can forget the people they have loved. We invest hours of time, pools of tears, and hope on the idea of love. There is a whole market out there, everything from dating books, magazines, online dating, etc. that feeds our insatiable desire to love and be loved. And when we find a companion or friend to love us, we are changed by it. Think about this for a minute let it permeate in your mind. Love is exciting and will change your life.

I don’t think anyone would disagree that love is powerful, I don’t think they’d disagree that love changes everything and thus so does heartbreak. I would say that for anyone to love or be loved they have to make themselves vulnerable to being hurt. We don’t know that people have bad intentions, but the reality is that some do. We don’t know if they will change all of the sudden and shock us with heart break but we still open ourselves up. I think about all the dumb things I did for a girl I loved when I was younger. To this day I still think about her and would be hurt if I heard something bad happened to her. She is doing well for herself, she’s a mom and happily married now. I think about all the dumb things I did for her and to myself just to feel that love. Have you ever done things for love that seem stupid now? We are changed, risk being hurt, and allow others to hurt us all for love. Isn’t it funny that we do this for people who have the ability and sometimes actually the intentions to hurt us, but refuse to do anything or react in any way but mundane towards a perfect person who would never hurt us and never changes? I find it ironic that we’d be happy to risk it all for love by people who change and will hurt, but won’t accept love by someone who won’t do any of the above. If there was a machine that could brand consistency into our companion and get rid of the risk of change we’d probably spend millions.

Forget church, Christianity, religious words, or anything else that makes your skin crawl when it comes to people who talk about God and listen to this…that love you seek so bad is out there. God loves you, no matter what you think or even if you don’t love Him back. God will always love you. So maybe you won’t go to church or say things like sanctified or persevere or saints or ecclesiology, but I pray that maybe you would just consider that there is only one person who would never hurt you and never change on you. That person is God and through Jesus He proved His love ultimately and I’d think that it is foolish for us to seek love so hard with the chance of getting let down by people, but won’t take a look at God who would never do such things. God is Love and wants to heal your pain, He wants you to cry to Him, He wants to hear you ask why? God wants you to know His love and would do anything to get you to feel it and know Him, He even killed His son for you. Maybe you’ll stop reading now and say forget God and Jesus, but even if you do He still loves you, you can’t make God not love you, he does and will always, He just wants you to accept it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Whitehouse Prayers


This story is prime evidence that our country is in dire need of some change whoever that comes by. This post is not to give you my opinion on politics or why I hate them, but we are told to pray for our leaders, no matter if you like McCain or Obama, both men face an economy that is causing people to kill themselves and need prayer. They both claim to be men of God, let us pray that they will seek Him in their leadership. Please join me in praying for both presidential candidates. God can see past political party preference and sees two of His children in need of Him.

Will you pray for these men (both of them)?

Slippery Jesus?

I was reading through the news a couple days ago and came across a link that said, “Warning Contains Graphic images,” which made me want to look at it even more. The first picture I saw is what you see above and I’ll admit it caught me a little off guard. I didn’t think that would make think about Jesus, but I think I’m enthused by little things generally. Below is an exert from this article, you should read the whole thing for yourself though.

Each year, health authorities warn devoted Buddhists that “Ma Song,” the ritualistic self-infliction of pain, could cause HIV/AIDS and hepatitis infections. And every year, adherents walk barefoot over smoldering coals, climb ladders with rungs made of knife blades and bathe in hot oil—all in pursuit of spiritual trance which will earn good luck for themselves and their neighbors.
When God, you know the I Am God, the one who split the Red Sea, provided water from a rock, burned up a wet bull on a mountain top, travel by fire and cloud, that God, well, when He originally revealed Himself to Abraham it was completely new, completely revolutionary. At the time God did reveal Himself to Abraham there were other religions and false gods all around. There were tons of practices and things that looked a little like this:
We need rain, so we will dance, then maybe that will please God. If it rains then that must mean the dancing worked, but if it doesn’t then we better try something else. Maybe if we offer God our bodies and cut ourselves, what about our children’s lives, as long as we keep doing things then we eventually will be able to please God.

The problem with that system is that it is like trying to figure out a menstrual woman. We can’t figure out all her emotions and dare not try (this is good advice for any man). God is not this unstable emotional person though. God is not like all these false gods and does not want nor does he require us to guess what He wants. God did something revolutionary by telling Abraham who he was and revealing Himself to Him directly. He then calls Him out of this cultural context of false gods and guess religion into something brand new. God then reveals Himself even further through the 10 commandments. He further reveals Himself and His standards in the book of Leviticus (one of the greatest books I’ve studied honestly). Then there is this long time of the alter and temple worship system set in place by God all in a very precise way of revealing Himself to man so we don’t have to run around doing silly things guessing at who He is and how to please him.

God didn’t just stop there though. He left a big hole in the temple system, He left the loop hole and reality that it always requires more and is never ending. Why? Not because He is clumsy, but because He wanted to draw attention to the definitive way He would reveal Himself. In the ultimate act of revelation God send His son, Jesus, the Christ. Jesus immediately begins referring to Himself as the temple and says crazy things along the lines of, it’s not about mere actions it’s about the heart. Jesus didn’t want the sacrifice of the temple, He wants sacrifice of life. Jesus calls us to die to ourselves and live with Him. If we know Jesus and seek to live in Him then He is in us and no longer do we have to chase temple rituals. Jesus tore the temple in half when He died. The temple is no longer around, we are it. So we don’t have to wonder what God is like, what He wants, how He does things, or His general character. He has revealed it all to us through creation and through His Word (the Bible).

I’m saddened by stories like the one above-mentioned, by people doing crazy things on a whimsical chance that they might get some luck from a distant and foreign god or religion. May you know this Jesus and not chase rituals that only call for more and more and more. Jesus revealed Himself and promises to fill us up and the Spirit will let us know exactly what He wants. My God is not one manipulated by cutting oneself or dancing, but in control and all powerful. May you know this God and His son Jesus, the Christ. Jesus is not a slippery Jesus, he isn’t evasive and hard to grasp, He puts it all out there for us to see, we just need to have faith and follow, stumble, and learn.