Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Changing Churches

So I have gone through my first church exit and entry. It's weird because, although I thought there would be some sort of disparity in leaving Gateway and going to Trinity, there hasn't really. I don't have any misgiving. I believe I am in God's will with this move. I pray for my old church, that they would continue to be blessed and prosperous and I pray for my new church, they I would be able to get to work soon.

I won't go into the reasons why I left the first church, but I will say that I was under a heavy burden doing it. But as I looked a this burden, I realized that I was the one carrying it and making it heavier. I was the one wanting to stay against what God had planned. At this realization, I couldn't have stayed. I hate burdens. I hate carrying. So I chose not to. I think I made the right choice.

Theologically, it was an easy jump. In fact, I feel more comfortable here at Trinity than I did there. Although I always have my cynic's glasses on, I notice I use them less here. And that is good.

Anyway, that is all I have. I'll try to write more consistently.

Good day.

A Date With Stephen McCleskey

A question was posed to me a while ago. This wasn’t the typical question I get from people about the Bible, my philosophical views, what I see as beautiful, or how to make a velociraptor tap out.* This question was ‘What does a date with THE Stephen McCleskey look like?’ At first I was taken aback. I’ve been off the market for sometime because of my multiple jobs as an astronaut\spacepirate, animal charmer, lady charmer, philosopher, composer, performer, gamer, Master Chief, rapper, gangster, spy, mechanic, and time-traveler. So to ask me about dating would have been to ask Nietzsche about his first book. It’s been so long since I’ve written a book about dating, I had never really thought about it since.

And so I asked for time off from being the REAL president of the United States, headed to the REAL Camp David and pondered for weeks… What does a date with me look like?

1) It is well known that I drive a VW Beetle, ’02 model, because of the gas economy and the missiles I’ve equipped to it. However, this car is actually (for some reason beyond me) not conducive to getting a girl. So, my first piece of advice is… Borrow a car. I borrow my mother’s car for all my dates. Why? Because it isn’t my car. It is a well-known fact that the best relationships are made of harmless deception. Being kind of honest is obviously superior to being completely honest. Look at the rate of people getting married today! Dishonest perceptions are the in and it is WORKING! If you’re into telling the truth ALL the time, reduce the amount of money you make into a small amount. Say you make 250 dollars a month say, ‘Yeah, I pull into around 1000 quarters a month. If you want to sound awesome, tell her you make 25,000 cents a month. But kinda cough when you say cents and end the ‘cough’ with ‘-ers’.

2) So we’re in my mother’s car going to our first destination. A classy restaurant? Absolutely. But the problem I’ve seen is this: We are poor. So how does a guy get that hot chick to a classy restaurant for a reasonable price?

Applebee’s has resolved this issue. The God-given 2 for 20 meal. Any eligible bachelor has twenty bucks. That means any eligible bachelor can take a nice girl on a nice date: Or a not nice girl on a nice date. Either way, it’s a nice date. To drink? Water. It’s healthier.

3) So you’ve eaten and are back in your mother’s car. It’s movie time. But what film should you choose? That new chick flick she’s been wanting to see? Nah, she’s think you’re too serious too soon. That crude comedy? Nah, it’s crude. Not a very good date movie for a first date. Action film? Absolutely. What could be a better choice? Nothing. Why? Because guns, explosions, cars, abs, and guns. And there are ALWAYS the obligatory one liner like, ‘Hasta la vista, baby’, which you can use when you drop your date off at her house before she gets out of the car (because I’m not going to walk her to her door. The world is dangerous and it’s dark outside). Action films: The way to go.

4) So the movie is over and it was awesome. Time for something sweet? Braums

5) Finally, when you take her back to her place don’t say anything. Let he revel in the awesomeness that is the date you just took her on. Not a word. Then when you reach her house, mess with the locks until finally she accidently gets it. Flirting is so adorable and she’ll consider it an endearing quality. Don’t walk her to her porch because that chauvinist action isn’t worth it. It can only hurt you in more way than one. After all, it is dark outside.

Congrats, dude! You just completed the best date ever! Don’t forget to call that lucky girl tomorrow to arrange for a second date! And always remember; if she lives too far away, the gas isn’t worth it.

*To properly get a velociraptor to submit, you must first break its pride by whispering sweet nothings to it, followed by a retraction of those. For instance, ‘Oh wow, you’ve lost a lot of weight, fatty!’ Adding a ‘sike!’ or a ‘NOT!’ right after the compliment is always effective. Once they are taken a back by the stray comment, slip your forearm under their large jaws and around the neck and simply pull back. Instinctually, those idiots will try to stay up via their tail. However, we have more upper body strength and the counter weight from top to bottom will topple the beast. Now just apply ample pressure to its throat and victory is YOURS!

A Park Conversation on Cars

There was once a blind man that knew sign language and a deaf man who could speak. At one time, both men had all of their senses but various accidents led to their various and many infirmities.

One day, the two were sitting in park on the bench and a car near the road came and went. The blind man signed to the deaf man, 'What does that vehicle look like?'

The deaf man replied, 'It looks like a black sedan. It was very ordinary. I suppose the vehicle was rather humble.' Then asked, 'What did it sound like?'

The blind man signs back, 'I was alerted to it by the large sound of the engine; but if you described it to me accurately, then I cannot make sense of it. How does a sedan cause such a commotion?'

The deaf man thought it over. Finally he answered, 'Such a great commotion could not reasonably come from this kind of vehicle if it were not intended by the owner. Judging by my experience and your description, I can guess that the owner could be a master mechanic or we are deceived and he used another mechanic. But that raises a new question; who would put their time or their money into making that kind of car loud?'

The blind man signed back, 'This man, whether by himself or through another, has made himself known to us by the sound of his vehicle and the question raised by it. If either one is true, it doesn't matter to my life here. I will never be able to fully realize this car or know the truth of it's looks because of how I am injured; but I know there is a car and it is loud.'

Again, the deaf man pondered the response. Finally, he spoke, 'And because of my infirmities I can see there is a car. I cannot hear it, but I can trust in the friend I have to describe to me what it sounds like. And more than that, if it is making a sound, I will feel the vibrations if the sound is loud enough and unique enough.'

The blind man replied, 'Wait, what are we talking about?'

On a Poem

There has already been a lot to talk about over the poem 'Why I love Jesus and Hate Religion'. The reviews, while mixed, have been there and this has been a hot topic of conversation around college campuses and high school youth groups for the past week and then some. And I feel like I should say something.

Jesus came to fulfill all the law and the prophets; not abolish them. In Scripture, He says that 'For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.' Matt. 5:17-18 ESV

And again, moreover Jesus came to BUILD a church that He would sustain through His word in Peter. Mathew 16:18 ESV

And there are many more examples of how Jesus cares deeply for His institution of the church. The book of Acts is almost all about the early church and apostles dealing with issues; one issue is false religion or religiosity.

In my opinion, THIS is what the poet was talking about. And I'll spare the line-by-line exegetical exposé on why he's wrong and why this doesn't jive with the Bible. But the truth of the matter is,the guy was just pissed at the falsity and pride he saw. He saw somethings that Jesus saw in His day and what He continues to see and is grieved by.

And Jesus entered in the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you make it a den of robbers." And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant, (Matthew 21:12-15 ESV)

And again in Luke.

In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. (Luke 12:1, 2 ESV)

And we see here also, Jesus used these people as examples.

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:9-14 ESV)

In Dietrich Bonhoeffer's work, The Cost of Discipleship, he takes an exegetical approach into the beatitudes that is mind-numbingly difficult to understand. For chapter five, he talks about the extraordinary nature of the Christian's life. For six, he describes how one cannot be aware of this extraordinary quality for fear of gaining some sort of religious pride in it. He shows us the single-hearted righteousness of the believer. For seven, he speaks to how we cannot believe we can or should be separated from the world. This leads to pride and judgement; religiosity.

That is what the poet is speaking out against. Not so much that Jesus hates religion, though he does say that and there is merit in saying he should take lessons in how to articulate what he believes theologically; but what the key message is speaks to the same things Jesus did not support. Pride in prayer and worship, the temple or church being made a shell of it's former self, and SURELY not a superiority complex. We cannot believe that we are above anyone else, because we are just as bad as anyone else. But Christ's righteousness has been imparted to us.

The guy, in his ideological stance, is correct I believe. Jesus hates religiosity. He denounced Pharisees and shook the religious leaders of the day to their utmost cores. But he is also wrong in saying Jesus hates religion; He made it and Jesus doesn't make crap.

The church is the bride of Christ and the bridegroom doesn't hate His bride. He does, however hate an infectious cancer that has progressed in her. And He, as the great physician, will cure this cancer. He will right all wrongs; He will end all pain.