Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Things We Tell Ourselves

How many times a day do you say something mean and hurtful...to yourself?

I can't say that I've watched very many videos from Truth Bomb Mom. (They've always seemed kind of female-focused, you know?) But I'm really glad I took the four minutes needed to watch this one.

I think you'll be glad, too.

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Truth is...negative self-talk is not just a feminine trait. And the more we do it, the more our negativity becomes self-fulfilling prophecy. Better to believe what God thinks about you: You're to die for. (Romans 5:6-8)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

There's Truth in Them There Works of Fiction

Josh McDowell saved me.

Well, no. Of course that's not true. Christ's sacrificial death on the cross wiped my sins away and His resurrection released me from my slavery to sin itself...but reading Josh McDowell's book, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, turned my belief in those things from something I was raised with into the fundamental core of my personhood.

Since that time in my freshman year of college, I have had a strong appreciation for apologetics ("systematic argumentative discourse in defense [as of a doctrine]") and it was with great interest that I purchased a book edited by Josh McDowell's son, Sean, titled Apologetics for a New Generation.

In the chapter written by Brian Godawa, "Storytelling and Persuasion", Godawa describes his love for the linear-thinking logic of classical apologetics but how today's culture demands a more imaginative approach than "If P then Q". And he uses some big names to back up his idea that maybe telling stories is a better way to share the Gospel than diagramming sentences:

       I looked closer at Jesus' ministry. Did He teach dogmatics from a pulpit? No. Jesus taught about the kingdom of God mostly through parables  -  dramatic stories. To Him, the kingdom was far too deep and rich a truth to entruat to rational abstract propositions. He chose stories of weddings, investment bankers, unscrupulous slaves, and buried treasure instead of syllogisms, abstraction, systematic, or dissertations. Jesus could do abstraction. He preferred not to. And He remained an enigma to the unbeliever. He did not explain His imaginative stories and metaphors to those who did not have ears to hear.
       Indeed, stories and parables may be superior means of conveying theological truth than propositional logic or theological abstraction. As N. T. Wright suggests, "it would be clearly quite wrong to see these stories as mere illustrations of truths that could in principle have been articulated in a purer, more abstract form.".... Theologian Kevin Vanhoozer writes in his book The Drama of Doctrine, "Narratives make story-shaped points that cannot always be paraphrased in propositional statements without losing something in translation." Claiming that the "ultimate meaning" of the parable of the Good Samaritan is simply that we should love or help the marginalized does not contain the full truth that comes only with telling the story with all its characters and emotions. If you try to scientifically dissect a parable, you will kill it, and if you discard the carcass once you have your doctrine, you have discarded the heart of God.

Truth is...Movies may have more impact than intellectual discussions, and there is truth in some works of art that is far deeper than will ever be memorized and recited.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Shot Down

I don't know how you respond to nasty rumors, but I do know how Larry Norman did. He wrote and recorded the song, "Shot Down", and made it the second song on the second side of his album, In Another Land.

It's got a good beat, is easy to dance to, and points out that it's wrong to cut people down instead of building them up. I give it a 95.

I've been shot down, talked about
Some people scandalize my name
But here I am, talkin' 'bout Jesus just the same

I've been knocked down, kicked around
But like a moth drawn to the flame
Here I am, talkin' 'bout Jesus just the same

I've been rebuked for the things I've said
For the songs I've written and the life I've led
They say they don't understand me, well I'm not surprised
Because you can't see nothing when you close your eyes

They say I'm sinful, backslidden
That I have left to follow fame
But here I am, talkin' 'bout Jesus just the same

You wanna talk about my life, hey listen to me
You got your facts all backwards, one two three
And spreading rumors and gossip is a real bad game
The only name to spread is Jesus' name

I've been shot down, kicked around
But like a moth drawn to the flame
Here I am, talkin' 'bout Jesus, brother
Here I am, talkin' 'bout Jesus, sister
Here I am, talkin' 'bout Jesus just the same
©1976 Beechwood Music Corp.
J.C. Love Publishing Co.

Truth is...none of us is perfect. All of us are flawed. It is only the love and forgiveness of Jesus that makes anything any of us say worthy of being listened to.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

His Name Means WHAT??!?

Surprise! This is NOT a piece about the name of Jesus.

I was reading The Final Days of Jesus, by Andreas J. Kostenberger and Justin Taylor, and got surprised by a little bit of knowledge that had never passed my way before.

In the chapter that was commenting on the trial of Jesus, I read:

Pilate, believing Jesus to be innocent and desiring to see him freed, proposes a solution that he believes will take care of the problem. Apparently, a custom had developed according to which the Roman governor released a prisoner each Passover. (Matthew 27:15, Mark 15:6, Luke 23:18, John 18:39) Pilate had likely [perpetuated] this tradition as a way of easing the political tension and anti-Roman sentiment that could have escalated at a time when a large number of pilgrims gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate God's past deliverance of the Jews from an oppressive foreign regime (i.e., Egypt). Pilate clearly assumes that the crowd will choose Jesus over Barabbas, a violent man who had been imprisoned for taking part in an insurrection and committing robbery and murder.

Nothing new there. And neither was the recounting of the crowd's insistence on Barabbas being released and Jesus being crucified.

The eye-popping moment for me wasn't in this main text, but in a footnote: "Note the possible wordplay and irony here: Bar-abbas means 'son of the father,' while the people reject Jesus, who truly was the 'Son of the Father,' that is, the divine Son of God."

Truth is...there's no new theology here. This is just a point of interest that as the people were saying "Give us Barabbas! Release the son of the father!" they were rejecting the true son of the heavenly father. How often have we rejected the very thing we wanted/needed the most, because we failed to recognize it when we had the chance?