Don’t Tell Me What’s NOT Right

This morning I came across an article titled, “Five Ways to Teach Your Children to Hate the Ministry.”

This is a very popular article format–putting something in a negative, as a way to explain what SHOULD happen. But I’ve come to dislike it. It’s gimmicky, cliche, uncreative. And it comes from a negative mindset. We shouldn’t look at ourselves from a negative viewpoint, always pointing what Christians do wrong.

  • “Ten Ways to Kill Your Youth Group.”
  • “How to Turn Off Unbelievers.”
  • “Five Behaviors That Will Destroy Your Church.”
  • “Seven Principles of Highly Ineffective Pastors.”

When I come across this type of article, I pass. There may be great content, but I’m not interested in reading yet another article about what we Christians do wrong. The media is filled with so much negative stuff. We don’t need to add to it, especially when talking about our life-giving faith. Let’s try to start from a positive.

Share Button
Leave a comment

History of the Bell

Taco Bell was started in 1946 by a former Marine named Glen Bell. His first location was called Bell’s Drive-In, and it sold hot dogs.

About six years later he began experimenting with tacos, and eventually opened three stands he called Taco Tias. He rebranded it as “Taco Bell” in 1962. By 1967, there were 100 Taco Bells.

The question is: why do I care? I never eat there.

Share Button
Leave a comment

A Wasted Afternoon in a Snowdrift

Made a quick trip to Times Corners this afternoon, a couple miles from my home. Roads are very slick. Coming back on Covington, I knew the uphill grade at the Hadley intersection could be very slick and you don’t want to come to a complete stop. But a car ahead of me was spinning tires, and I had to stop…and couldn’t get going again. I slipped into the snowbank, with no chance of extracting myself. Wheels spinning on ice.

I helped the other vehicle get unstuck, then some guys came to help me…but MY DOOR WAS LOCKED. Autolock kicked on? I sure don’t remember hitting the lock. No way to get in.

I had to leave my Dodge Dakota running on the side of the road, with cars creeping and slip-sliding past. A guy took me home (about a mile), and I called Pam, who had the only other key. She left work (clear on the other side of town), picked me up, and we drove to my pickup, which had now been idling for nearly an hour.

The road was a sheet of ice. In face, a police car was spinning its wheels and had to give up trying to get thru the intersection and just turn around. I expected other cars to have slipped into my stationery truck, but none had, fortunately. Amazing.

As I approached my truck, a guy in an SUV behind it said, “Steve, you need me to pull you out?” It was my neighbor. He attached a strap and pulled me out fairly easily.

Not a fun afternoon, but everything worked out.

While waiting for Pam at home, I had a nice prayer time. I asked God to somehow protect my truck, and to provide a way for me to get my truck out of the drift. Check, and check. When I saw my neighbor there, it was like God saying, “How’s this for an answer?” God is good.

Share Button
Leave a comment

Five Movies Worth Seeing

We watched five movies in theaters over the holidays. All good ones. Finished with “47 Ronin”  (it was the weakest of the five, yet still enjoyable). Here’s the full list, in the order we saw them.

  1. Thor: the Dark World. The second Thor movie (or third, if you count the Avengers movie). Marvel is doing a very good job with their superhero franchises–except for the Hulk movies.
  2. Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The second of four movies (derived from a book trilogy).
  3. Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. The second of three movies (derived from a single book). Added a number of things not in the book (“The Hobbit”), but I’m not a purist. They were good additions. They got pretty much to the end of “The Hobbit.” Not a whole lot left for the third movie.
  4. Saving Mr. Banks. An original screenplay, based on a true story–about the woman who created the Mary Poppins character, and Walt Disney’s efforts to get her approval for the movie. She was a VERY difficult person. Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks were superb as the main characters. Great acting all around.
  5. 47 Ronin. A Keanu Reeves movie, based on a Japanese legend. “Ronin” are masterless Samaria. It’s a love story and an action movie.
Share Button
Leave a comment

A Hefty Planet

Analyzing data from GPS satellites, scientists say the Earth may be heavier than previously thought. Which raises several questions for me:

  • You mean, somebody actually weighed the earth? How accurate can that be?
  • Does the Earth need to go on a diet? How heavy is too heavy? Would Jupiter be considered obese?
  • In light of the Earth’s additional weight, is there anything about my everyday life that I should change? Like pouring extra soda onto the ground?
Share Button
Leave a comment

My Alma Mater Makes ESPN’s Top Plays of 2013

ESPN’s SportsCenter compiled its Top Ten Plays of 2013. Huntington University, my alma mater, made the list. Ranking #6 was Shane Merryman’s three-quarter-court buzzer beater against Marian College on November 27.

Share Button
Leave a comment

The Cross in the Netherworld


I recently read, “The Day I Was Crucified,” by Gene Edwards. Frankly, it’s not a very good book. BUT, early on, Edwards raised an idea I’d never thought of.

Did Christ’s death atone not only for the sins of mankind, but for sins in the supernatural realm? Like, with Lucifer and other angels who rebelled against God? I doubt you can build a biblical case for it, or against it. It’s just an interesting concept. The total context for Christ’s death went way beyond Planet Earth, but we don’t normally think of it that way.

Is a blood sacrifice necessary for forgiveness of sins committed by Satan and his minions? I’m not aware of any counterpart to bulls, sheep, and goats in the supernatural realm. Can they sacrifice a unicorn?

As with mankind, this would be a continuing offer of reconciliation, rather than a one-time deal. Can a fallen angel “accept Christ as Savior”? Do fallen angels come to God seeking reconciliation? Or are they condemned forever for their rebellion, with no possibility of redemption?

Like I said, I’d never thought of anything like this. Just something to muse idly upon and go, “Hmmmmm.”

Share Button
Leave a comment

Terrorists in a Haystack

I’ve ranted before about how we’ve gone overboard with hyper-security, one prime example being the TSA. An excellent article on talks about this.

Referring to the TSA’s tactics at airports, “The very few terrorists that exist are like needles in a haystack. But the TSA’s approach is to check every single piece of hay, in case it might actually be a needle.” Well said.

Share Button
Leave a comment

Be Careful Who You Aim At

In 1997, I believe it was (maybe 2001), my denomination passed a resolution to boycott Disney, because Disney was extending benefits to gay partners. The boycott was quickly forgotten, but it has never been rescinded. So technically, we’re still boycotting Disney…which half-owns A&E, which airs Duck Dynasty. Which means, I guess, that we should be boycotting Duck Dynasty. I’m so confused.

Share Button
Leave a comment

Book Review: “Zealot: the Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth”

zealotA few months ago I finished “Zealot,” by Reza Aslan. This wonderful book looks at what history tells us about Jesus, the people around Jesus, and that era in general. I learned so much, and as a result, I now read Scripture in a much more informed manner.

Aslan, a religious historian, is a Muslim with an evangelical background. He is fascinated by Jesus, and holds Christianity in high regard (he married into an evangelical family). While some of his views conflict with traditional Christian teaching, he never attacks or tries to discredit Christianity like the atheist writers–Dawkins, Hitchens, etc. He’s just saying, “This is what history tell us.” His views also differ from traditional Islamic teaching about Jesus–again, based on his objective findings as a religious historian.

The book is mostly straightforward history. He gives background on Herod, Pilate, the high priests, other “messiahs” (pretty much all of them killed by the Romans), the economic boom occurring in Galilee at the time, the mood in Israel (always on the verge of rebellion against Rome), the disciples, the divide between Paul and the church in Jerusalem, the destruction of Jerusalem, and so much more. His explanation of why Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man is excellent, and unlike anything I’ve heard before. In explaining the historical context of Galilee, he presents some utterly fascinating, and totally plausible, possibilities for how Jesus might have spent those “silent” years of his youth (helping build Herod’s “dream city” very close to Nazareth). He information about James, the brother of Jesus who led the church in Jerusalem, presents an incredible hero of the faith we never talk about.

I’ve found that Christian writers tend to regurgitate the same information. They use each other for references, and so you get nothing new. But Aslan comes at the life of Christ from a totally different perspective and illuminates that period of history in ways that continually made me stop and go, “Wow! I never heard that!”

Aslan’s writing style is clear and accessible–not academic in any way (though he footnotes extensively). It’s not a long book (less than 300 pages without the footnotes), broken into topical, fairly short chapters. He humbly admits, right up front, that his conclusions are nothing new, and that many of his claims can be rebutted with equally authoritative claims. There is no academic arrogance here. When he discounts a miracle, it’s not because he doesn’t believe in miracles, but because no historical source beyond the Bible mentions it. He divides events into matters of history, and matters of faith. For instance, he says the crucifixion of Jesus is a matter of history, but for Christians the resurrection is a matter of faith which goes beyond the historical record–and he’s okay with that. There are similar matters of faith in Islam.

Aslan describes himself as a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth, but not a disciple of Jesus the Christ. Viewing Jesus as the Christ is a matter of faith. But even the historical record, he shows, contains evidences of Christ’s divinity, including his well-documented (I didn’t realize) reputation as a miracle worker and healer. He even gives one of the best proofs for the resurrection that I’ve heard (based on the disciples).

The book was just downright eye-opening to me. I learned so much about Jesus, and compromised none of my doctrinal views. Aslan never promotes Islam; doesn’t even mention it, I don’t think, except in the opening chapter in giving his background. It was easy for me to cling to my view of Scripture as the authoritative Word of God, and to slide over what conflicted with my views. Aslan apparently found the Bible authoritative from a historical standpoint (basically, with caveats), because he used the Bible as his main source of information about Jesus. Many times, in fact, I felt like I was in a Bible study.

I’ve been very simplistic here in reviewing “Zealot,” and can’t do justice to Aslan’s approach. I’m sure many of my fellow Christians are ready to go on the warpath to defend the faith. But please, just read the book. Yes, he raises lots of questions for us Christians, but always in a respectful way. Aslan’s Jesus and my Jesus inhabited the same world. Aslan helped me better understand that world and, in the process, better understand my Savior.

Share Button
Leave a comment

Receive Posts by Email

If you subscribe to my Feedburner feed, you'll automatically receive new posts by email. Very convenient.



Linked In


Monthly Archives