Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I am (or at least close to being) a pacifist.
Interesting to see some reasons why C.S. Lewis was not a pacifist.  And interesting to see how Stanley Hauerwas responds to him.
Hauerwas responding to C.S Lewis.

I would like to read C.S. Lewis entire argument against pacifism.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Read about increase of violence in prisons due to overcrowding (CBC).
Pray for the chaplains (Dean and Brian are the chaplains at Stony Mountain), guards, wardens, and inmates.  Pray that the believers would walk closely with the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Religious traditions

Other people's religious traditions, for most of my life, fit into three categories: interesting and/or irrelevant and/or a hindrance to actual spiritual growth.
As I have grown older I discovered the value in other people's traditions.  Encountering God through other people's traditions has opened me up to a fuller understanding and appreciation of God.  
Right now one of the traditions I am exploring is from the Jesuit monks.  They run a website called "pray as you go".  I have been listening/praying as I have been walking my dog in the mornings.  

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Sabbath

Do Christians have to keep the Sabbath (specifically Saturday)?

Jesus (his life, death, resurrection and accession) is the pivotal moment in all of human history.  God became flesh, lived among us, died for us and was resurrected to new life.  Jesus is not simply a prophet or good teacher or wise person.  He is Yahweh become flesh.
This changes everything.  I do actually mean everything.  To go back to the way we related to God and others before Jesus is not a real option.  We need to remember that God actually becoming human is amazing and totally earth shattering.  The question is not, “do things change?” but “how and to what extent?”
So how does the Sabbath change as a result of Jesus?  (To claim that we have to obey the Sabbath simply because it is in the Old Testament fails to take Jesus into account.)

Now I am not advocating that we throw out the Old Testament.  The Old Testament is God’s word, it is inspired, it is an account of how Yahweh interacted and dwelt with humanity.  To understand Jesus, Yahweh, and the rest of the New Testament, we need to understand the Old Testament.  What I am advocating is that Jesus was Yahweh and his presence ushered in a new time period for humanity.  Things changed.  The Old Testament is read and understood in light of the New Testament.

So how do we know to what extent things changed?  We read and study the New Testament comparing it to the Old Testament.

So let’s talk about the Sabbath.

One of the most striking things I find is that after Jesus’ death and resurrection the Sabbath is hardly mentioned in the Bible.  It is just not an issue.  Now this is striking when you compare this to the writings of the Old Testament prophets.  The Sabbath was huge for the prophets, it was vitally important, it was the marker of faithfulness to God.  Sabbath is also huge in the life of Jesus.  There is constant dialogue about the Sabbath with Jesus and the Pharisees.  Suddenly after the resurrection the whole conversation about the Sabbath disappears.  It is impossible to imagine that suddenly at this point everyone finally figured out the Sabbath and got it right.  In fact if it was such a vital issue one would think that there would be even more written about it since the church was reaching out to Gentile people, Gentiles who would not have known or grown up with the Sabbath.  Or at least you would think there would continued conversation about Jesus’ teaching on the Sabbath.  But no, the Sabbath is hardly mentioned.

New Testament passages after the resurrection that specifically mention the Sabbath.
Hebrews 4:9 
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God

The context of this verse is actually not about the Sabbath at all but about God giving rest to his people.  So this is not really relevant to the discussion.

Colossians 2:16
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.

The context of this verse:  Paul has just explained the significance of the cross of Jesus.  He has described how Jesus defeated “the powers and authorities”.  From understanding Jesus' victory on the cross Paul moves and says this verse.
Now some of have argued that “a Sabbath day” refers only to pagan holidays.  However I am not sure one could ever link “Sabbath day” to pagan holidays.
Some say that this does not refer to the normal Sabbath but to the special Sabbaths.  This is a possible interpretation, which would mean that this passage is not that relevant to this discussion.
Of course this passage can be understood as referring to a regular Sabbath day.  If this is the case then it becomes obvious that the Sabbath is not vital in the new covenant.

It is interesting to note that outside of the gospels these are the only two references that explicitly mention the Sabbath.

However there is another verse that is important.
Romans 14:5-6
One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord.

Is this verse about the Sabbath?
One reason to say no is that within this context Paul talks about meat sacrificed to idols.  He talks about whether to eat or to not eat of these meats.  Since he is talking about food sacrificed to idols the reasoning goes then he must be talking about pagan holidays.  However there is a small problem with this understanding.  It is difficult to believe that Paul is saying that it is not a problem for a person to honour a pagan holiday, to think they are “sacred”.
Another interpretation is to say that this is once again referring to a special Sabbath, or a holy day.  This is a possible interpretation.
However I think this is talking about the regular Sabbath.  The entire context of the book of Romans is how do Gentile and Jewish believers get along and worship together.  One of those conflicts would have been the Sabbath.   Here Paul basically states that this is a non-issue.

Based on my understanding of the impact of Jesus becoming flesh and through my reading of the New Testament, I believe that as Christians we are not obligated to strictly observe the Sabbath on Saturday.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Love God

Love Jesus
This is what I am called to do.
It is surprising how quickly I get distracted from this.  Distracted by good things
  • Love the bible
  • Love reading and studying the bible
  • Love teaching
  • Love worshiping
  • Love talking about God and Jesus
  • Love going to church
All good things...but they are not the same as loving God.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


I here a lot about the need to have a "brand".  Churches are encouraged to have a "brand".  People are encouraged to develop their own personal "brand".

Here is an interesting take on Brands
The reason brand conversations get so convoluted and end up feeling like wordsmithing exercises is because so often brands don’t stand for anything.  So instead of capturing what you stand for, or capturing how what you stand for needs to evolve or be sharpened, you instead end up pretending to stand for something and then writing pretty words around an idea that has no core and no truth.
Unfortunately, the branding team (and the firm they’ve hired) isn’t in a position to actually get the company to stand for something.
The next time someone suggests a branding exercise, a new logo, a snappier tagline, grab ten people in your company and ask each of them to tell you in simple, plain words: what do we stand for?
Instead of asking what's your "brand" can I just ask: "What do I stand for?  What do we as a church stand for?"

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Meaning of Marriage

The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God, by Timothy and Kathy Keller

A good book.
The Kellers really nail the number one problem in marriage.  We are selfish.  We care more about ourselves then we do about spouses.
In Western culture today, you decide to get married because you feel an attraction to the other person.  You think he or she is wonderful.  But a year or two later - or, just as often, a month or two - three things usually happen.  First, you begin to find out how selfish this wonderful person is.  Second, you discover that the wonderful person has been going through a similar experience and he or she begins to tell you how selfish you are.  And third, though you acknowledge it in part, you conclude that your spouse's selfishness is more problematic than your own.  (page 64)
The solution that they offer is the gospel:
The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared to believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.  (page 48)
Out of this acceptance and love found in Jesus we are able to move to love our spouses through action, even if we don't feel like it, or we feel they don't deserve it.
In any relationship, there will be frightening spells in which your feelings of love seem to dry up. And when that happens you must remember that the essence of marriage is that it is a covenant, a commitment, a promise of future love.  So what do you do?  You do the acts of love, despite your lack of feeling.  You may not feel tender, sympathetic, and eager to please, but in your actions you must be tender, understanding, forgiving, and helpful.  And, if you do that, as time goes on you will not only get through the dry spells, but they will become less frequent and deep, and you will become more constant in your feelings.  This is what can happen if you decide to love.  (page 104)
If we all live like this, gaining our worth and significance from Yahweh and from there deciding to be loving to our spouses, then our marriages will be awesome!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Marriage Challenge

Here are some ideas of how to enhance your marriage:

  • Go on a date
  • Write love notes
  • Buy flowers
  • Make a special meal
  • Help your spouse with something they normally do
  • Tell your spouse 10 amazing things about them
  • Read a book together
  • Snuggle
  • Watch a movie you both enjoy
  • Kiss and hug - often
  • Go for bike rides (or walks)
  • Watch the sunset (or sunrise)
  • Take a marriage course (our church will doing one in fall)
  • Read a book about marriage (and do what it says)
  • Forgive
  • Have sex
  • Look at the stars
  • Dream together
Other ideas?

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Play at your marriage

"Don't work at your marriages.  Play" - Leonard Sweet

Too often work is something that we try avoid.  We wait for the evenings, weekends and holidays.  Work is viewed as a burden and drudgery.  A boring thing we must suffer through.
We want to play.
Now playing at something does not mean that it is easy.  Consider playing sports.
It can be very difficult at times (watch the Olympics).  But we embrace the difficulty because of the joy of playing.  We push ourselves to get better and better out of our love for the sport.

When we play instead of working we actually become better.

At a cyclocross race (the best kind of bike racing) there are different categories, A race and B race (A being the better bikers).  Watching a race I noticed the B racers worked.  They worked hard, they were pushing themselves (sometimes to the point of throwing up).  There was blood, sweat and tears.
The A racers played.  They were showing off to the crowd, smiling.  Still pushing hard, and there were still blood, sweat and tears.  But they played...and they were a lot faster and better then the B racers.

If we stop working at our marriages (doing the minimum because we have too while just waiting to do something fun) and instead play at our marriages - embrace difficulty, bring blood, sweat and tears - because of the joy of being married, it will become more and more wondrous.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Marriage resources

Here is a list of marriage resources that we have in our library:

  • Love & Respect by Emerson Eggrich
  • Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
  • The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
  • Best Friends Best Lovers by Bob & Audrey Meisner
  • The Love Dare by Stephen & Alex Kendrick
  • For Men Only by Jeff Feldhahn
  • A Husband After God's Own Heart by Jim George
  • For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn
  • Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas
  • What's It Like Being Married to Me? by Linda Dillow
DVD Series & Movies
  • Love Respect
  • Sacred Marriage
  • Fireproof
  • From Anger to Intimacy by Gary Smalley
What resources have you found helpful?