Sunday, May 22, 2005
NEWPORT NEWS — Doug Terrel felt he was being influenced by a religious spirit, making him judgmental and closed-minded, so he began visiting a local bar to celebrate his freedom in Christ.
"A religious spirit won't go near a bar, so I'm safe in there," he says downing a second Guinness stout at the Pit Stop.
Church members say Terrel has stopped showing up for weekday prayer meetings since he started battling his "demon of legalism." What began as a spiritual housecleaning has become a full-fledged hobby.
At the Pit Stop, Terrel appears untroubled.
"I used to live by 'don't taste, don't touch.' Now it's pass the beer nuts and who's up for a game of darts?" he says. "That religious spirit takes it on the chin every time I'm here." •
I love www.larknews.com. Hilarious.
Posted by Dustin at 7:03 PM
Saturday, May 14, 2005
“Should the purpose of Christianity be reduced to this: to increase the population of heaven and the decrease of crowdedness of hell?” Mclaren 8
I thought this question was interesting because this was not the focus of Jesus. At the Mosaic Origins conference in L.A. this week the one thing the McManus’ brought up over and over again was that following Jesus isn’t about becoming a “Christian”, it’s about becoming fully human how God intended. The point of Christianity is not to become a Christian and then get to go to heaven someday. It’s about being saved now and making this world a better place.
God as Judge?
“In early biblical times, there was no such thing as a complex court system or jury or constitution or annotated legal code or judicial precedent or nation-state. The judge was – one hoped – a wise, honest, and brave person who helped people resolve disputes and seek justice.” Mclaren 40
Now there is a new understanding of God being the ultimate judge isn’t it? What a fresh and beautiful picture of God. In our day it is easy to have a picture of God as a judge that sentences people and punishes rather than redeems and helps.
Hell in the Old Testament?
“It’s never mentioned once in the whole Hebrew Bible. Even the latest books of the O.T., thought to have been written about 450 B.C. have no reference to hell. Instead the idea appears suddenly to us in the Gospels on the lips of Jesus. Jesus is the first in all biblical literature to talk about hell, and he talks the most about it."
“The Hebrew word SHEOL was translated as hell in the King James Version. But that was a mistake. SHEOL simply meant the place of the dead, the grave. There was no idea of an immortal soul involved and certainly no idea of different destinations for the good and the evil.”
The KJV has screwed up once again. I can’t believe people use this translation after all the errors found in it. Especially the stubborn ones that believe it is the original translation or something. Funny stuff.
So why did Jesus talk about hell?
It is interesting to note that the Pharisees had borrowed the idea of hell from the Greeks and other religions of the day. There was a lot of mixing going on with Judaism during this era. The Pharisees thought hell would be a good way to get sinners to stop sinning because they believed that only then would a Messiah come and redeem Jerusalem and they were getting tired of waiting.
“First they would threaten sinners with hell. Second, they would extend the reward of resurrection from the heroic martyrs of all good people-good meaning those who fulfilled the Pharisees’ ideal of good. Finally, they would use the language of hell to accomplish what they felt they needed to accomplish-to frighten sinners enough to repent and change their way for the good of the nation.” Mclaren 62
After Jesus heard them talk about hell threateningly, he did what he usually did. He turned it right back around on the religious leaders. He didn’t threaten the sinners with hell, he threatened the religious leaders with hell! While reading the Gospels take notice of the context that Jesus spoke of hell in. You will be surprised.
“The Pharisees used hell to threaten sinners and other undesirable and mark them as the excluded out-group, hated by God. Their rhetorical use of hell made clear that God’s righteousness was severe and merciless toward the undeserving. Jesus turned their rhetoric upside down and inside out and used hell to threaten those who excluded sinners and other undesirables, showing that God’s righteousness was compassionate and merciful, that God’s kingdom welcomed the undeserving, that for God, there was no out-group.” Mclaren 74
Does this sound like anyone you know???
“The Pharisees threatened marginal people with hell unless they submitted to their religious dominance. Jesus threatened the religious establishment with hell unless they showed compassion for the marginal people. Hell has been used and abused, back and forth, ever since.” Mclaren 136
True Hell Starts on Earth:
“What could be more serious than standing in front of your Creator-the Creator of the universe and finding out that you had wasted your life, squandered your inheritance, caused others pain and sorrow, worked against the good places of God? What could be more serious than that? To have to face the real, eternal, unavoidable, absolute, naked truth about yourself, what you’ve done, what you’ve become?” Mclaren 79
What is sad is how many “saved” Christians are going to be facing God and having Him look them in the face and say, “you’ve wasted your life.” You thought because you were forgiven that you had crossed the finish line, but that was only the beginning of what I wanted you to do. Not to wait until some “rapture” and hold on tight, but to be a blessing in the world and share the good news.”
I can’t think of any hell that is worse than hearing those words from God either. God I pray that we will not waste our lives here on earth but be on mission with you.
All this talk of fire and brimstone sounds like good metaphors to describe what that must feel like.
Three responses to hell:
Accept it and preach it as the terrible but unavoidable truth
Understand it as temporary and leading to annihilation.
Understand it as purgative and effective at bringing all to repentance and ultimate salvation.
I’m still not sure where I would fit in on what I think of hell. This is a toughie.
What is the gospel?
Our contemporary modern Western conservative Protestant gospel would say this:
Behavior: Not accepting Jesus Christ as personal savior, not being saved or born again, not asking Jesus into your heart so your sins can be forgiven, etc.
Consequence: Being sent to hell
Point: Accept Jesus as your personal savior.
Shocking Truth: Not one passage from the Gospels says anything remotely like this! There is more to following Jesus than just praying a prayer. It is a lifetime mission!
What was the point Jesus was trying to make about hell in the Gospels?
-It definitely wasn’t to “hold the right beliefs” or “affirm the right doctrines” or anything like that. Instead Jesus was clearly interested in action, in what we do, in how we treat others, especially, and in whether we trust him enough to follow his teaching even if it means difficulty and persecution. It was clear that Jesus wasn’t just saying that anything goes, everything’s OK. He was telling people that they would be held accountable, that how they live no would count forever.
Judgment Vs. Condemnation:
Mclaren says there is a difference between judgment and condemnation. Even though we are saved we will still be judged by what we have done on earth and the person we have become. That was the tension in the gospels.
“Judgment is real. Accountability to God is real. A good, just reconciling, loving, living God is in everybody’s future. The danger of wasting your life and ruining other people’s lives is real. Whatever road you take, you’ll end up facing God, and that means you’ll face the truth about your life-what you’ve done, who you have become, who you truly are. That’s good news-unless you’re a bad dude, you know, unjust, hateful, unmerciful, ungenerous, selfish, lustful, greedy, hard-hearted toward God and your neighbor. You know, if God judges, forgives, and eliminates all the bad stuff, there might not be much left of you-maybe not enough to enjoy heaven, maybe not enough to feel too much in hell either.” Mclaren 137
“Salvation by grace, judgment by works.” Interesting concept here.
Traditional, modern western way of telling the gospel:
1. If you were to die tonight, do you know for certain that you’d go to be with God in heaven?
2. If Jesus returned today, would you be ready to meet God?
New understanding of the gospel:
1. If you were to live for another fifty years, what kind of person would you like to become-and how will you become that kind of person?
2. If Jesus doesn’t return for ten thousand or ten million years, what kind of world do we want to create?
This is incredibly refreshing and really shows the harms that the whole “Left Behind” theology has done to God’s Church. What do they care what happens to the world, to people, to the environment. All the want to know if where a human soul will go but Jesus’ gospel is much bigger than that.
If you have several questions about hell I would recommend reading "The Last Word and the Word After That." It has been very thought provoking and as much as people don't want to think about hell, subconsciously it has much to do with your view of the gospel and how you share it with others. I never realized how important this was. I can't wait to hear people's comments on this one!!!
Posted by Dustin at 12:09 PM
Monday, May 02, 2005
Today I broke up with my credit card. I say that because I had to call and cancel one of my cards because I don't use it anymore. The first person transferred me to an account specialist (the guy i would be breaking up with).
He sounded pretty bummed out when I told him i would be cancelling. I felt bad upsetting him like this. He started by asking me, "is there a particular reason you are cancelling today?" I responded, "I just don't need it anymore."
He tried to remind me of the great benefits. "But don't you want all those airline miles?" "Sir, i get like 4 miles everytime I spend a thousand dollars, where is that going to fly me?" "You know there are other things you can get with those like cars and hotels." "No sir, please cancel my account."
He tried everything to get me to continue dating the credit card. He reasoned with me monetarily. "But sir you already paid the service fee for the year, you might as well hang on to it for the year right?" "Please Cancel My Account."
He tried to give me free offers. "How about if I give you 30 dollars and refund your yearly charge?" "No thanks, please cancel my account."
Finally as Josh Peigh says, you just have to tell the guy, "i'm sorry man, it's not you it's me. I can't manage a credit card well."
And then he realized that there is nothing he could do to keep the credit card and I together and he just said, "fine your account is cancelled, bye."
It must have been tough on him because he just wanted to get off the phone. I guess he couldn't hold back his emotions anymore.
I however started laughing after the third question when he sounded like he was taking it personally and couldn't answer the fifth question because i was laughing so hard.
Goodbye American Airlines Frequent Flyer Citibank Gold Mastercard. You helped me in tough times and I appreciate it. We bought useless and frivelous things together like a Starbucks drink anytime I wanted it, underwear when mine started getting holes in them and gifts for other people i never thought to budget for. I just wish you wouldn't have taken so much money from me in the form of interest.
Posted by Dustin at 1:06 PM