This is where I’m from…

My wife found this last night. It reminds me of home. I’m not exaggerating. Back home in South Carolina, until about 8 years ago, there were more gambling institutions than in the state of Nevada. Then video poker was outlawed. There were about 73 thousand former video poker establishments which promptly became… you guessed it, fireworks stores.

Thanks, Leah. I love you.

mark 1 and the deity of christ…

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in the prophets,

“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,'”

-Mark 1:1-2

I read this passage earlier, and I thought of a couple of things:

  1. This “gospel” is of Christ. Christ is the most important part of the gospel. Not our justification. Not our salvation. Not our faith. In John 1:29, John the Baptist doesn’t say “Behold, the sins of the world have been taken away by the Lamb of God.” He says, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Christ is what we are to behold. His saving work is certainly part of his greatness, but Christ is what is great, not our own benefit from Christ.
  2. Its pretty clear that Mark here understood that Christ was God incarnate. If you read the verses quoted there, in Malachi 3 God is saying that he will send someone before himself. And in Isaiah 40, its clear that “the Lord” was speaking not just of the merely human messiah, but of Jehovah. “Prepare the way of Jehovah.” Thats what John the Baptist was crying out in the wilderness. “Make a highway for him.” Jesus was more than a prophet more than a ‘son’ of God, he was the Son of God, the Lamb of God, the One and Only God. Behold, the Lamb of God.

There will probably be more from the gospel of mark in the near future.

Bono Versus Osteen

I saw this article a couple of years ago, and I found it again today to use an illustration out of it. Its an excerpt from an interview between Michka Assayas, who is, from what I can tell, a humanist, and Bono of U2.

Bono talks about the difference between karma and grace.

You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.”

“But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled… . It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.”

I’ve heard a lot of Christians claim that Bono is a Christian and a lot claim that he isn’t… but I think he understands the gospel more clearly than most Christians… I read a transcript of Larry King’s interview with Joel Osteen.

“Well, I think, Larry. It’s just an attitude we’ve got to get up and make a decision every single day. I mean, what so many people today do, they focus on what they don’t have instead of what they do have. They focus on what’s wrong instead of what’s right. And I believe that all of us, if we want to, can be happy right where we are. We may not be laughing our heads off but we can get up and say, you know what, I’m in a tough situation, but this is where God has me and I’m going to make the most of it. And I think that that’s where so many of us miss it today. We’re waiting to be happy one day.”

And this is from a video of Osteen that was played during the interview:

“And there’s nothing the enemy would love any more than for you to go around thinking about your faults and weaknesses, all the mistakes you made last week and all the times you messed up last month. No, don’t even go down that road. Quit dwelling on what you’ve done wrong and start dwelling on what you’ve done right. You may not be all you’re supposed to be, but at least you can thank God you’re not what you used to be. And we all make mistakes. But you know what? You need to learn to just be quick to repent. Say God, I’m sorry, forgive me. Help me to do better next time.”

The most popular pastor in America stumbles around and never really says anything about the gospel… the lead singer of one of the best, definitely the most long-lived rock band ever clearly articulates the gospel. Whats going on here?

love your enemies, have compassion on everyone…

This has become a common theme, I know, but John Piper talks about the contradiction many of us have in those to whom we have compassion.

This is why aligning with a political party is seldom consistent with Jesus’ message, regardless of what most people think.  We are all guilty of treating compassion towards one group as more important than compassion towards another group.  The sanctity of life includes far more than just the unborn.  It also includes the poor.  It also includes the unwed mothers who decided against abortion.  It includes the homosexuals in your community.  It includes your boss.  It includes the guy who cut you off this morning on your way to work.  It includes the inconsiderate jerk who lives next door.

Love your neighbor as yourself.  I think that in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus made it clear that our “neighbor” should be anyone and everyone we come across, regardless of differences.  I asked my youth the other night how we could better love our enemies, and one of them said, “Don’t have any.”  Don’t have any enemies.  View them all as your neighbor, no matter how different they are, no matter how much they disagree with you, no matter how much they abhor you.  Love them as you love yourself.  This is way that Jesus would have us follow.

Its a hard way to walk, but its what we are called to.