The Servant

Rachel’s family was attending a CRE church for several weeks, and a few weeks ago, Rachel’s little sister, Esther, said she didn’t like church. When asked why, she said, “The servant talks for a really long time.” Also, “I don’t like wine.” I got a kick out of this. After going to our church the next week, she said she liked church, and she even painted a few pictures of it, mostly of communion. When asked why, her answer was threefold: 1) The “servant” didn’t talk for a really long time 2) She liked to walk up to the front to get communion 3) The bread and wine taste good.

I like all those things too, cept maybe the walking to the front for communion. I find it really neat to see this four year old talking about how “Jesus is in the bread and wine.” I find it very encouraging that a four year old really enjoy church. It’s great to go to services week in and week out and hear the Gospel preached clearly. The focus is so Christ-centered, and weekly we are reminded that God meets us where we are. One thing my pastor said a few weeks ago has stuck with me. He was talking about how people always want Jesus and something else. It’s Jesus and my prayers answered. Jesus and peace. Jesus and knowing my calling. But, he said, “If it’s Jesus and anything else, we must despair.” And it’s true.

I’ve really grown a lot in the past few months at Salem. In a lot of ways, it’s been because I am growing in a constant knowledge of God’s presence. God with us. That’s what it’s about. I haven’t figured out a lot of things in my life. I haven’t even figured out today’s schedule. But I know a couple of things. God is with us, and if I feel like I need anything else other than Christ, I must despair. Those two simple truths have been some of the most profound ones in my life.

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Randomosity

All of the people I work with, my favorite is Mohammed. He’s a Sunni Muslim from Egypt. He worked for the US Embassy in Egypt for 15 years. Ya know that big line of limos that take all the famous people around? He was the supervisor for it. He was Egypt’s top driver. He’s led around folks like George Dub, Clinton, and Colin Powell. This morning we talked for a couple of hours on religion and politics, and he had a lot of interesting things to say.

He told me that Dick Cheney’s daughter wastes the Embassy’s money on trips to the pyramids and such. Apparently, you usually get the driver a gift. She bought him shoes. I can’t imagine what other countries think of Americans.

Anyway, he said something interested this morning. He said that when Colin Powell goes over to the Middle East, his face is always in pain. He often cries. He is by far the favorite American in the Arab countries. Personally, I wanted Colin Powell to run for President in 2000. He would have had my vote, whether that’s good or bad. Although I had no idea what was going on, it’s been pretty much etched in my mind that Colin Powell is America’s top American. Don’t ask me why. I’m a product of 80’s music and Desert Storm.

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Weaning myself off Net

I remember when I used to spend hours on the internet in high school and college. It’s amazing how little I use it compared to then. I went two days with maybe five real emails. That’s just weird. I guess it’ll get me prepared for not being able to be online much in the summer. Oh well.

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“Hey, what’s going on?”

Well, this week flew by quickly. Let’s see. I was assisting minister Sunday. I need a Rick-size cincture. Um, I have to learn a solo for this Sunday. Greeeat. Of course, the director gives me three days, and I can’t read music.

I got my green LBW in the mail yesterday. Been reading Braaten’s Principles of Lutheran Theology (which I bought with the gift certificate from Josh, along with the LBW and a Willimon book) and The Gospel of Baptism by Paul Jungkuntz, a Lutheran, who has made quite a few great insights.

I know I was joking when I said they would do this, but the session at the presbyterian church did schedule the heresy trial during our honeymoon. Heh.

That’s it really.

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Something Else To Get Me Into Trouble

God likes stuff – so much that He became the stuff that we are made out of in order to save us. He became flesh.
In the midst of a raging controversy within the church of Christ dealing with whether God is sufficient for our salvation or if we have to depend on “stuff,” I find myself shaking my head in confusion. Can nobody else see that this is a false dichotomy? Hasn’t God shown us – first of all, by creating this world, and secondly, by requiring blood, earthly matter, to redeem that creation of its sin – that He chooses to use physical means to communicate love to us?
A new form of gnosticism is starting to take over the Church, diminishing it into nothing but a “spiritual congregation” – one that can flee not only from the physical world in which we were called to serve, but also one that avoids the physical elements that God instituted for His Church. Many Christians today are looking so much “to the heart” that they belittle the importance of baptism or the Lord’s Supper. If you are “spiritually nourished” or receive the “spiritual baptism” of the heart, there is no need for the actual sacraments that God taught us to practice. Perhaps we need to consider that water baptism is spiritual, and that the Lord’s Supper does offer spiritual nourishment.
Christ’s blood is certainly not something that we would want to “spiritualize” in the same way that the sacraments have been. If we ever thought that the physical blood of Christ wasn’t important, wouldn’t we end up with the conclusion that perhaps Christ only shed His blood in a spiritual sense? After all, God doesn’t depend on physical things, does He?
The question has never been over whether God needs us or depends on things or can’t live without His creation. It is not whether God can or can’t work immediately on a person’s soul. The point is, He has chosen to use physical things. Shouldn’t we simply accept God’s Word?
Call me crazy, but when the Bible says that “as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death” and
“we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life,” I take it seriously. When Jesus told his disciples that the bread and wine were His body and blood, I’m pretty sure He was telling the truth. God told us to “make disciples of all nations” by “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” I think that makes it pretty clear that baptism is the entrance rite into our fellowship of God’s people. It is then that we become His disciples. Why should we frown on that, and say that physical isn’t good enough? God certainly thinks it is.
The Church is made up of bodies. Living, breathing bodies of flesh and bones. Remember, Christ took on a body like ours. And He used that body to bring salvation to the world. Can’t He also use water, bread, and wine to bring salvation and forgiveness to His people?
Let us end our faithlessness and disbelief that God would attach His blessings to earthly things. Didn’t He already prove that He brought salvation through the things of His creation by His incarnation? Therefore, listen to the words “baptism now saves you” and “this is My body” with ears of faith, knowing that God makes Himself present in the waters of baptism and in the bread and wine of communion. He’s God. He can do it that way if He wants to.

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Great Classified Ads in Our Local Paper

Free Rent In Seattle?
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Volunteers

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED to help me refute the doctrine of “Once saved always saved.”

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Some more general thoughts on The Passion.

Well, I watched it again, and I’m pretty unwavering in my opinion.

It has several powerful moments, pretty good theologically, and decent artistically.

I commented to the FamRevs that the soundtrack was pretty mediocre. One suggestion was that perhaps Mel was trying to not be emotionally cheap and manipulate us. Perhaps.

I agree with Dr. Leithart when he says,

“N.T. Wright has spoiled me. He has given such vivid portrayals of Jesus that I had difficulty getting into and appreciating Gibson’s The Passion. The film seemed so context-free that it’s hard for me to see how anyone could make much sense of it without already knowing who’s who and what’s what…In the end, I suppose I’m complaining that Gibson didn’t read Jesus and the Victory of God or consult with N.T. Wright while making the film. ”

Oh, and I counted the number of times Christ was scourged. 32 times with the switch. At least 84 with the cat of nine tails. Give or take a few because he was actually getting more lashes than the Roman dude was counting. The numbers weren’t going up as fast as the actual number of lashes.

I’m still bothered by the fact that Mel left out the “Surely this was the Son of God” line. That was a golden opportunity.

Still ticked off at the Resurrection, or lack thereof.

Oh well. Mel paid for it, not me.

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