Saturday, October 31, 2009

happy halloween

props to my daughter adriahna that did the make up, and most of the sewing. I did the special effects, was lots of fun

to my catholic friend no offense meant


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Just a little quote about Biblical Scholarship

Soren kierkegaard- "the matter is quite simple. The bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.

Take any words in the new testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life willl be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world?

Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian Scholarship is the church's prodigious invention to defend itself against the bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of a living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament."

This is so true. It is scholarship that tells us that the rich young man was just one man and Jesus wouldn't require that of everyone, in fact it isn't even about money, but greed and love of money, and if you don't love money you can have as much as you want, in fact its good to do so. This is what allows us to basically squirm around everything in the gospels that calls us to a higher ideal, yet still allows us to claim steadfastly to the bits that we don't deal with. Like what you do with your genitals becomes hugely important, (though Jesus doesn't talk about it much), but what you do with your wallet isn't. Gee that is convenient.

Jesus modelled and taught a new kingdom, a place amidst these earthly empires, in which things would be done God's way. People that were hungry are fed, sick are cared for, the prideful are cast down, the humble are exalted, that war would be no more, and that we would learn the beauty of love. Love of neighbor, of God, and even of our enemies. But let us instead focus on a few words of belief, and then go to heaven when we die. I am much more concerned with today, and walking in the kingdom today, than I am my future death. That is comin soon enough, that worrying about it wont help, in fact will probably make it worse.


Monday, October 12, 2009

part 5 (why I believe in Jesus)

Now in the past few posts I explained subjectively why I believe in Jesus. What I will do now is explain why I think it makes sense. In order to get to why I believe in Jesus, we must first start with why I believe in a God. And I will start there with a brief, radical paraphrase of the ideas I find in Simply Christian, by NT Wright. Please read that book if you want a more indepth approach (plus he is way smarter than I)

When I look at humanity, there are a few things that stand out that do not seem to fit into the idea of biological evolutionary theory. Not to say whether evolution is wrong or right, nor refuting the idea that we also evolve socially, as that would help us to evolve biologically.

These curious things in us humans, form the basis of why I believe there is something that is more than natural going on. In no particular order:

Our appreciation of beauty. In some species we can see natural benefits to appreciating atleast colors, and such. But in human experience there is an intense love of beauty that goes far beyond anything that can be considered biologically beneficial. We can stand in awe of a sunset, or a full moon, a majestic beach, or a twisted tree fighting for survival amidst a stark landscape. We can walk for hours just staring at paintings, sit for hours listening to music or oooh and awwww over photographs. There is something about our appreciation for beauty, that I believe suggests there is something behind our humanity that is not only inteligent, but creative, and beautiful

Our desire for intimate relationship. This is not the idea of being a pack (though we have those traits), nor is it the idea of a mating relationship (though we have those traits too) but in humans we have an incredible desire to know, and be known. To become part of others, and for them to be part of us. To experience life and feel like we are not alone. We crave an answer to our loneliness, and I believe this comes from ourselve being created by the community of God. Designed for perfect relationship by the perfect relationship.

Our concept of justice. There is no logical, natural reason to believe in fair. Yet every child knows that this is, and this isn't fair. Why do we have a concept of justice? This just gets in the way of our biological imperitive doesn't it? The natural idea is, what is... is, and it is just because it is. But no matter how inteligent the philosopher or scientist, they know, deep down that some things are not fair, they are not right, and something in them cries out for justice. Where does that come from? I suggest from God, our just creator.

And our desire for spirituality. There is something in us that desires to worship, that desires to believe, to make a leap of faith. Almost every single human tribe is drawn to some form of worship, whether it is the sun, the trees, the seasons, or any variety of gods. There is something in us that desires to be more than our earthly existence. We desire more, a connection with the greater than ourselves. There is in humanity a desire for eternity, for enlightenment, for more that what is natural. And many that do not believe in God, reach out for this spirituality. They reach out for it by clinging to political, or economic ideologies, they cling to the spirituality of consumerism, of the cult of experiences or even of science itself. We are by our very nature, spiritual beings, why is that? Because we have been made that way by the spirit of creation.

My belief in the idea of a God, is confirmed by these ideas. We cannot yearn for justice, if there isn't a judge, we would not yearn for beauty if there wasn't a creator, we would not yearn for eternity if there wasn't an eternal, and we long for relationship, because we are made to be in relationship.


Friday, October 09, 2009

Part 4 (why I believe in Jesus)

The past three parts have all talked about my experiences, and this one will not be different. I might begin once again by saying that I do not look at these experiences as proof of anything, at least not to anyone but myself. However, I do believe they have put me into a mindset that makes me begin with the assumption that there is a God, that that God does relate to us in some way. This will be the last post that talks about things in a more subjective manner. After this post I will begin to talk about the logical reasons why I believe in God (to support my subjective reasons0 and why I believe in the person of Jesus as opposed to all of the other faith choices. That will take some time. And I will end with my defense against some of the critiques against theism, and Christianity in general.

So, in quick summation: I had a weak theistic upbringing, with a significant but not compelling experience during my youth. Then I had a very significant experience of community, and a sensual drawing towards a commitment to Jesus and God, to which I made a leap of faith, and was met with what felt like an agreeable internal reaction.

Then I began to do the stuff you are supposed to do as a Christian, (atleast the stuff I had imagined, or was being taught). I read the bible, I prayed, I went to church, and I preached to others. I stopped doing a lot of the "bad things" I did before, basically partying and sex, and other selfish acts, and tried to be a better person. As I did these things, I felt more and more peace in my mind. I felt a better awareness of who I was, and who I was meant to be. I experienced a deeper care for other people, and I began to feel like I was physically and mentally closer to what I had come to determine was the spiritual center (God) of my experience.

As I tried to do what the bible seemed to teach, it seemed true to me. As I began to look at the teachings, and actions of Jesus, it made more and more sense. I also began to read books that helped me look at the defenses of the faith, and the bible, but I will talk about those later. I felt like God had reached out to me, I felt like I had touched a part of the Spirit, and I knew my life was being altered, I subjectively assume that this was from outside influence, and not just church culture, as I can tell you, the further I go in this journey the less the church in general supports the direction I am going.

Which leads us to some other experiences. Again let me point out that I do not expect you to take these things as proof, they didn't happen to you, they are not repeatable, nor verifiable, but they are my experiences. As they are my experiences, I believe it would be intelectually dishonest to deny them.

I began to be a part of many things, that could be called miraculous, or supernatural. I do not talk about them often, and some I will only tell certain people. The proliferation of people like Benny Hinn, and Robert Tilton have made me more and more committed to allowing these things to stay quiet. I have seen first hand, significant healings, food multiplied, and words of knowledge (knowing things you have no way of knowing). I have experienced spiritual attack (yes demons). And the most significant is seeming to have wisdom that just "comes to me" when it is needed. I do not want to dwell on these things, and they are very sacred to me, so please lets keep any discussion respectful and not too prying.

In my life I feel like I have actually heard God's voice outloud a couple of times, but feel like I hear God's voice often in subtle whispers in my mind, through the pages of scripture, in dreams, and through loved ones. One particular story I will share with you, it isn't a really big deal, but it was a big deal to me:

A woman who was a devout Christian was at my school's wrestling meet to watch her son. He was on the Junior Varsity team, and of course she stayed to watch the varsity team as well, which I was on. When she saw me, she immediately felt like God spoke to her saying, "this one I have set aside for the ministry" After the meet she tried to get to me to tell me what she had heard. But for whatever reason, she was not able to reach me. She asked her son on the way home if I was a Christian, and he told her he didn't think so. The truth was if she would have told me, I would have thought she was a looney (as some of you probably do right now).

Probably three or four years later I was going to church, was in training to become a minister, but was having some doubts. I was wondering if I was not qualified, and was actually having a bit of a crisis of faith, not doubting God, but wondering about myself, my life, and my place in the church. I visited a big mega church that seated about 3,000 people, on a Sunday night. The woman just happend to go that Sunday night to take her daughter and a few of her friends (she usually didn't go, like myself) and wound up seated directly behind me. When the service was over she asked if I was Jensen (she didn't even know my first name) I said yes, and she told me what she had heard, all those years earlier. This was so moving and important to me, as I was praying hard for God to help me, and lead me. There are just too many co-incedences in that story for me to discount it, and as I heard someone else say, "when I stop praying, the co-incedences stop happening).

When people ask why I believe in God, and specifically Jesus, my first answer is, "because I have found God, and Jesus, interacting within my life. I cannot deny these experiences, so I start there, but..."

The but leads us into the next section, reasons why my experiences make sense to me, and why I believe they are the rational outworkings of what is truth.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

my succulents

these are my arrangements, three succulent arrangements and one miniature zen garden