A Precious New Daughter

I am so thankful for our new little girl, Epiphany Joy. She is a very easy baby (except at night!) and just so beautiful. The labor and delivery was wonderful. She is adored by her older siblings, who ask to hold her several times a day. I am a new mother all over again and completely in love. Her feet are so soft and smell so sweet. Everything about her is just perfect. This has also been such a great recovery for me. I’ve been able to really relax in bed most of the time—even though I am tempted to do more, I’ve been good at taking it easy.

See for yourself what a beautiful little gift I have received!
Epiphany Joy, 2 days old

Filed under: Uncategorized | 6 Comments
Filed under: Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Rob Bell vs. Martin Bashir: Why Martin Bashir Isn’t Really Pwning Rob Bell

I’ll put the same disclaimer on this post as my last one: “Let me first say I know very little about Rob Bell. I’ve watched a couple of minutes of a NOOMA video, and that’s about it. Then the promo for Love Wins came out, and I was intrigued. I say this to say I am not a big Bell fan defending him because I think he’s so great. My point in writing this is to say that he is not advocating universalism. Feel free to slam him for his beliefs, just don’t slam him for those beliefs (which he denies) that are attributed to him by others.”

I’ve been watching people post this interview of Rob Bell by Martin Bashir today. This is usually followed by some comment that Bashir “pwned” or “slammed” Bell. The problem is that Bashir is talking past Bell. Here’s my response to each of Bashir’s questions:

Bashir’s opening statements: Bell never indicates that “ultimately all will be saved.” In fact, he indicates that Hell is very real, and some will continually choose Hell.

Question #1: Bell answers correctly. It IS a paradox.

Question #2: Bell clearly states he is NOT a universalist. His book is also clear that it is not likely “God’s love will eventually melt [all] hearts.” He’s also clear that “some will continue to resist God’s love.” His book is also clear that our relationship to Christ determines our eternal fate. Bashir’s use of “heaven” is referring merely to an eternal state. I would disagree that universalism is “within the Christian stream,” Bell is indicating we simply do not know enough about the afterlife to state definitively that our status is static.

Question 3: Bell is clear that how one responds in this life is important because it determines whether or not we live in the kingdom of heaven (in this life) or suffer hell (in this life). It also affects our state in our next life. What Bell is questioning is whether or not our state in the next life is static.

Question 4: Yes, Bell is saying that love wins, but he is not saying that love winning means that hell does not exist or that all people will end in heaven. I think we all agree love wins in the end.

Question 5: Again, Bashir asks the same question as in #3. What Bashir can’t wrap his head around is that Bell is saying responding to Christ in our lives is important because YOU WILL END UP IN HELL if you do not respond to Christ favorably. Now Bell would probably add, “What do you mean by responding to Jesus? The sinner’s prayer? Verbal confession? Living a life that is in accordance to what you’re given?”

Question 6: Again, same question. Bashir is again imputing universalism to Bell. Bell hasn’t affirmed this.

Question 7: Is just a dumb question.

Question 8: Why does he use Origen over Arius? What kind of moronic question is that? Bell uses Basil too. Why would Bashir ask such an asinine question. Bell has never said Jesus is not a deity.

Question 9: Maybe what Bell is saying is unbiblical, but not for the reasons Bashir is imputing!

Question 10: Again, Bell has said he believes in Hell, but Bashir can’t seem to hear that.

Question 11: Bell is honest, but is that a fault? Certainly not.

Closing statement: Thanks for letting me make others think you believe something that’s not taught in your book, so that they don’t have to read it. They can just believe me!

Filed under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Summary of “Love Wins” by Rob Bell

Let me first say I know very little about Rob Bell. I’ve watched a couple of minutes of a NOOMA video, and that’s about it. Then the promo for Love Wins came out, and I was intrigued. I say this to say I am not a big Bell fan defending him because I think he’s so great. My point in writing this is to say that he is not advocating universalism. Feel free to slam him for his beliefs, just don’t slam him for those beliefs (which he denies) that are attributed to him by others.

I read the book this morning and wrote a summary on Facebook, and I have been getting friend requests all day by people who have wanted to read it, so I am posting it here:

So I know some of you have spent some blog time and Facebook time discussing Rob Bell’s possible universalism. I just finished Rob Bell’s Love Wins for those of you who don’t want to take the time to read it. What’s he believe? What’s debatable? I’ll hit the big points. I also have 7-8 quotes from his book that I sent over from my Kindle. You can find them on my wall if you want to read Bell’s words.

1. Jesus alone saves. People are not saved by their belief or their works, but through Jesus.

2. God’s will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The Gospel will transform the world on this side of heaven/Resurrection. (Bell is here strongly influenced by NT Wright’s Surprised By Hope.)

3. Hell exists, and people experience it by their free will both here on earth and in the afterlife.

4. The gates of the heavenly city are open, and people can come when they choose life instead of death. This also goes for those who have died outside of Christ. After death, we can still choose Christ. He leaves open the possibility that all will eventually leave Hell for Christ, but doesn’t think it likely because some will continually choose Hell.

5. Many who did not consciously confess Christ on earth, including those from other religions, will be with Christ in Heaven/Resurrection. They did well with what God gave them, and they will come to the Father through Jesus.

Filed under: faith, Theology | No Comments

School at Home

I’ve known for some time that I’ve wanted to home school my kids, at least for the early years. I had every intention of starting Kindergarten with Kyrie last fall and continuing on throughout the school year. I don’t like to make excuses, but I didn’t follow through with my intentions. My pregnancy, having to move out of our own place for several months, and other numerous stresses got the best of me. I did manage to teach Kyrie how to read, though, and I am happy for that. She can sound out most simple words without help.

But anyway, the point of all this is that I feel like I really didn’t do enough with her, and she’s a very eager student. She’s often asked me to do school with her and I’ve felt too exhausted to really get into it, so my attempts have been half-hearted. I don’t want her to struggle academically because of me. So I’m going to try to incorporate some education throughout the summer, and I am working on creating a good Kindergarten curriculum for her. I think it’s going to be really fun! And no, I’m not going to be a mean mom who “makes” her child do school through the summer—we’re going to still have a laid-back, flexible approach. We won’t let it get in the way of park days or play-dates, but I do want to be more involved in educating her, and I feel like we should get a jump-start on it instead of waiting until next fall.

If she progresses quickly throughout the summer, I can envision us jumping right into 1st grade material by this coming fall. But if she still needs work, I have no problem with doing Kindergarten again—technically, she wouldn’t even have made the cut-off for K this past year anyway, and if she was in the public school system, she’d be starting it this fall.

As for Antonio, I’m noticing that he’s really curious about learning his letters and numbers. I’m pretty sure Kyrie knew all her letters by the time she was 3, but Antonio really doesn’t—well, other than knowing the Alphabet Song. So I’m going to also be doing lots with him with just the basics—learning letters and numbers. He needs a little work on shapes, but knows all his colors just fine. It’s going to be interesting teaching him, because I can already tell his style of learning is different from Kyrie’s.

So, for Kyrie I’ve lined up reading, writing, math, science, and Bible. For Antonio, letters, numbers, shapes, and Bible. I think we’re going to have a great time! And it’s going to be very interesting juggling it all with a new baby, but I’m excited to challenge myself to it.

Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments

Lent and Death

Something Rachel and I wrote as filler for the church newsletter, but we didn’t end up needing the filler:

For most people, Lent is about what they have to give up. It is a season of monotony where we yearn desperately to wear our new Easter clothes and hunt for plastic eggs. But Lent is so much more. Lent is a special time, set apart by the Church, to accept the reality that we do just about everything we can to ignore, escape, and evade God. All the while, God calls us to die to ourselves so that we may live to Him. For the Church, Lent is a time in the rhythm of life in which we concentrate on dying to ourselves. We practice this self-denial through the Christian disciplines of repentance, meditation, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. As we die with Christ each day, the goal is that the pattern of Jesus’ life—death to self—becomes the pattern of ours – that, like Jesus, we will journey into the wilderness and utter the words, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mt. 4:4).

If we learn to slow down the whirlwind of life and realize its powerlessness over us, monotony will be transfigured into peace. Sadness will be transfigured into a realization that we must recover what we have lost, what is all around us and yet so distant—God’s presence.

Some of us choose to give something up for Lent, whether it’s chocolate, television, or some other luxury we normally enjoy. All of us should take on new or additional disciplines – like the traditional practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. The point of this is not to punish ourselves, nor is it to be “super spiritual.” The point is acknowledging that we must die—to live. Alexander Schmemann once wrote,

“We simply forget all this – so busy are we, so immersed in our daily preoccupations – and because we forget, we fail. And through this forgetfulness, failure, and sin, our life becomes ‘old’ again – petty, dark and ultimately meaningless – a meaningless journey toward a meaningless end. We manage even to forget death and then, all of a sudden, in the midst of our ‘enjoying life’ it comes to us: horrible, inescapable, senseless.”

And each time we fail, we realize that we have alienated and exiled ourselves from God. Drifting from God, we lose our joy, our soul, and our life.

We practice self-denial in both Lent and life because we know it leads to eternal life. Just as death is not the end, so too, Lent is not the end. Death ends in resurrection, and Lent ends in the festival of life – The Great Three Days (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter) – where we celebrate that Jesus Christ has trampled down death by death.

Filed under: Church, Death, faith, Theology | 1 Comment