Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Favorite Christmas Albums

The Christmas season is upon us once again. And part of what makes the Christmas season so special is its music. Since there are so many different Christmas albums out there these days, I thought I'd share my three favorite to help any of you who might be looking for a little bit more variety. Here they are:

1. A Very Rosie Christmas, Rosie Thomas
Favorite Song = O Come, O Come Emmanuel

2. Very Merry Christmas, Dave Barnes
Favorite Songs = Christmas Tonight and The Christmas Song

3. Silent Night, Red Mountain Church
Favorite Song = Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Some Thoughts on the Kingdom of God

One of the many theologians that students love to love here at Fuller is John Yoder. Until recently I haven't read much of him, but glad I finally did. I recently read an essay entitled The Original Revolution. It was rewritten from a sermon he preached in November of 1968. The bulk of the essay is talking about the (wrong) ways we typically deal with injustice in the world. Yoder says that we are either too passive, we use violence to stop violence, we retreat, or we remain in the world but segregated from it. The way of Jesus brings a new way of living together where we incarnate our values in the way we live our lives among the world, all because we are expectant of the coming kingdom (or rule) of God.

Towards the end of the essay, he talks about a danger in evangelicalism of confusing the benefits of the kingdom with the kingdom itself. I thought it was spot on and worth sharing:
"Protestantism, and perhaps especially evangelical Protestantism, in its concern for helping every individual to make his own authentic choice in full awareness and sincerity, is in constant danger of confusing the kingdom itself with the benefits of the kingdom. If anyone repents, if anyone turns around to follow Jesus in his new way of life, this will do something for the aimlessness of his life. It will do something for his loneliness by giving him fellowship. It will do something for his anxiety and guilt by giving him a good conscience. So the Bultmanns and the Grahams whose 'evangelism' is to proclaim the offer of restored selfhood, liberation from anxiety and guilt, are not wrong. If anyone repents, it will do something for his intellectual confusion, by giving him doctrinal meat to digest, a heritage to appreciate, and a conscience about telling it all as it is.

So 'evangelicalism' with its concern for hallowed truth and reasoned communication is not wrong; it is right. If a man repents it will do something for his moral weakness by giving him the focus for wholesome self-discipline, it will deep him from immorality and get him to work on time. So the Peales and the Robertses who promise that God cares about helping me squeeze through the tight spots of life are not wring; they have their place. BUT ALL OF THIS IS NOT THE GOSPEL. This is just the bonus, the wrapping paper thrown in when you but the meat, the ‘everything’ which will be added, without our taking thought for it, if we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness!”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What does it mean to fear God?

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I've been reading a book by Ellen Davis called Getting Involved With God: Rediscovering the Old Testament. I'm really enjoying the book, as each chapter continues to provide great insight into certain stories and books from the Old Testament.

The latest chapter I read was on the book of Proverbs. She makes several good points about what wisdom is really all about (namely that wisdom is never abstracted from goodness and how we live our lives), but what stuck me the most is her thoughts on the fear of God. Proverbs says that the fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom. Davis points out that Proverbs consistently "upholds fear as a healthy and necessary disposition toward God. That in itself is to modern readers one of the most offensive things in the Old Testament." So why are we usually so offended by this? What does it mean to fear God?

She says that fear is something we feel in our gut when we come upon the power of God. She continues,
From a biblical perpective, there is nothing neurotic about fearing God. The neurotic thing is not to be afraid, or to be afraid of the wrong thing. That is why God chooses to be known to us, so that we may stop being afraid of the wrong thing. When God is fully revealed to us and we 'get it,' then we will experience the conversion of our fear.
I really like the way she explains this. I am often afraid of the wrong things, mainly being afraid of what people think of me. I desire a healthy fear of God that makes silly fears like that disappear.

I love the way she ends the chapter:
The time comes in every life--and more than once--when we are personally confronted with the power that spread out the heavens like a sequined veil, that formed us out of dust and blew breath into our lungs, that led Israel through the Red Sea on dry land and left Pharaoh's whole army floating behind. If we can experience that power close up and not be gripped in out guts by the disparity between God and ourselves, then we are in a profound state of spiritual slumber, if not acute mental illness. 'Fear of the LORD' is the deeply sane recognition that we are not God.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Time lapse video of Pasadena City Hall around sunset

I created this video on a fun new iPhone app. Super cool.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Thousands of Starlings Dancing in the Air

Last week, because of a blog post by Abraham Piper, I became aware that there was a bird called a starling. I think they are now one of my favorite birds because when a bunch of them get together, they do things like this:

Piper quotes Time Magazine as saying:

No one knows why they do it. Yet each fall, thousands of starlings dance in the twilight above Gretna, Scotland. The birds gather in magical shape-shifting flocks called murmurations, having migrated in the millions from Russia and Scandinavia to escape winter’s bite. Scientists aren’t sure how they do it, either. Even complex algorithmic models haven’t yet explained the starlings’ acrobatics, which rely on the tiny bird’s quicksilver reaction time of under 100 milliseconds to avoid aerial collisions—and predators—in the giant flock.