Conquerors

November 12, 2007 - One Response

To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God (Ephesus).

The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death (Smyrna).

To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that one one knows except the one who receives it (Pergamum).

The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earten pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my father (Thyatira).

The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life (Sardis).

The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God (Philadelphia).

The one who conquer, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne (Laodicea).  

 

I am NOT FOR SALE

October 30, 2007 - 4 Responses

notforsale.gif

Two things you need to know about Smitty right now:

#1. He has worn the same shirt for a month and a half – and will continue to do so until November 10th (for the record…he always wears an undershirt).

#2. He was duct-taped to a light pole yesterday for two hours – hands behind his back and around the pole – mouth taped shut.

Why?

Consider these numbers. 27 million slaves exist in our world today…in the year 2007. Slave trade generates $32 billion annually (it will soon overtake drugs and arms trafficking). MORE slaves are in bondage today than were bartered in 4 centuries on the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Each year 800,000 to 900,000 HUMAN BEINGS are bought or sold. Nearly 200,000 people live in slavery at this moment in the US…an additional 17,500 new victims are trafficked through out borders each year. Over 30,000 additional slaves are transported through the US on their way to other international destinations. 80% of trafficked persons are female; 50% are children. 1,000,000 children are FORCED to sell their bodies every day in their global sex trade. 

On November 10th, Dr. David Batstone will be the featured speaker at the Not For Sale Campaign event at NorthEast Chistian Church. Dr. Batstone is a professor of ethics at the University of San Francisco, and he is a co-founder of Business 2.0 Magazine. After realizing that two of the employees at his favorite resturant in SF were illegally trafficked into the states, Dr. Batstone embarked upon a couple of years worth of traveling and research to find just how prominent the issue of human-trafficking was around the globe. His results, as you can tell from the numbers above, were astounding. After this realization, he felted compelled to write a book (Not For Sale) – but not only that, he wanted to attempt to make a God-sized dent in this issue of social injustice. 

We are on the starting line of this movement right now. Dr. Batstone, along with recording artist Justin Dillion, is touring the nation doing faith-based events to raise awareness and support for this issue. After mobilizing the faith-based community (which Batstone is convinced must be the starting point), Justin Dillion will tour the same areas, screening a rough cut of the “rockumentary”, The Concert to End Slavery. Bands involved in this effort: The Fray, Moby, Nickel Creek, T-Bone Burnett, and many more. The third and final stage of this movement will invole a “club tour” where Dillion and the bands involved with the documentary will perform in the clubs of these cities. 

The first event of this three-part tour will be held, free of charge, on November 10th at 7:00 pm. It will be a 1 1/2 – 2 hour program where Batstone will present a spiritual and social “call to arms.” Dillion will also perform and they will show parts of The Concert to End Slavery. You need to put this on the calendar…now. 

Go check out the campaign website… www.notforsalecampaign.org

This is why my shirt stinks and I was taped to a light pole.  

Join the movement.

     

  

                                                                                                                               

Huddles

October 8, 2007 - 3 Responses

If you are an American Evangelical…

watch this clip…

twice.

Francis Chan on Football

It Matters

September 25, 2007 - 5 Responses

I love Scripture. I don’t love it enough, but I’m starting to experience this deep longing for it. It’s kind of like when I’m away from my wife and son for more than a couple of days. Until we’re reunited, I don’t breathe as deep as I normally would. Maybe it’s more like a clove cigarette addiction – tension and anxiety builds between encounters because you know there is a fresh stick waiting on you somewhere. Insert another ridiculous metaphor. The point is….that with each step I take in the wilderness, trying to catch up with the glory of God, I develop a deeper and more intense obsession with the pages. It blows my mind that Will Smith’s inventor is published. 

I wish I knew the language of God. Take my word for it, it’s definitely not English…and probably not Spanish. It doesn’t matter though because finite tounges wouldn’t be able to utter a syllable of it anyway… so I would settle for Greek and Hebrew (the original languages). But until I learn them, English is my only ticket into the mind of Yahweh. So…I’ll be content with English, but I will not tolerate inaccuracy.

Check out these two passages…one from a paraphrase (“thought-for-thought” or “dynamic equivalence”) and one from a literal translation (“word-for-word” or “essentially literal”):

New Living Translation (thought-for-thought):

           “Such stupidity and ignorance! Their eyes are closed, and they cannot see. Their minds are shut, and they cannot think. The person who made the idol never stops to reflect, “Why, it’s just a block of wood! I burned half of it for heat and used it to bake my bread and roast my meat. How can the rest of it be a god? Should I bow down to worship a chunk of wood?” The poor, deluded fool feeds on ashes. He is trusting something that can give him no help at all. Yet he cannot bring himself to ask, “Is this thing, this idol that I’m holding in my hand, a lie?”

English Standard Version (word-for-word):

          “They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it is burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

Don’t be afraid to read the whole chapter to get some context. But my point is that these two passages, if you cannot already tell, say two different things. Specifically, take notice of the first and last sentences. Of course, we are working under the assumption that Isaiah is referencing God when he uses the pronoun “he”. In his commentaries, Calvin believes that we can successfully assume that “he” does, in fact, reference the Almighty (his rationale is pretty compelling).

Please allow me to proclaim the gravity of this issue. Studying a translation that paints an accurate portrait of God is of colossal importance. Though I do agree with John Piper when he says, “God is willing to bless anything that approximates His regulation“, I know he would agree with me when I say that our Father cannot be misrepresented. Regarding the above passages, the ESV tells me something about the Creator that the thought-for-thought translation fails to communicate (for whatever reason).

Recently, I sat down with a friend who informed me of A.W. Tozer’s translation preference. Funny, huh. A mutual friend of ours sat down with the legend for a brief moment and had the opportunity to extract a bit of wisdom. Apparently, Tozer the Bulldozer (my affectionate nickname for him) has learned eight different languages so that he could study the Word of God in each one of them in hopes of gaining a deeper glimpse into the glory of God. I’ve barely mastered English. Tozer has also studied every accessible English translation. Anyway, the man knows his translations, and if you’re familiar with his works, the man obviously knows his God. He said that of them all, he prefers the ESV. Compelling.

The following is an abridged timeline of the English Standard Version’s lineage:

  • 1611 – King James Version 
  • 1901 – American Standard Version (kjv revision)
  • 1952 – Revised Standard Version (kjv & asv revision)
  • 1989 – New Revised Standard Version (rsv revision)
  • 1975 – New International Version (brand new – no lineage)
  • English Standard Version (Crossway bought rights to the RSV and fixed it)                                                                         

Verses with significant difference:

  • Romans 1.5
  • Romans 3.20
  • Romans 13.8
  • Hebrews 6.1
  • James 2.12
  • Romans 8.35

Though I am covinced that translation does matter, do not let this issue plague your thoughts for long. I urge you all to be wholly consumed with the utterances of our God, regardless of translation. 

Soli Deo Gloria!

From Rome to Yuma

September 11, 2007 - 7 Responses

yuma.jpg

I left the theatre at about midnight and raced to the closest computer to record my thoughts before hours of sleep, a host of dreams, and a fresh morning with new responsibilities worked to choke out all insight and vision. Alone for the past two hours, I was mesmerized by Russell Crowe and Christian Bale’s 3:10 to Yuma.

I have never been a fan of westerns. I have never seen a John Wayne film. I saw Tombstone for the first time, a month ago. But for some reason, the publicity for 3:10 to Yuma sucked me in like an eight-pound Oreck. I admit… the drawing power of Crowe and Bale together on screen is enough to open my wallet, no matter what the genre, but the western dynamic that brought Maximus and Batman together is what truly intrigued me. I put the release date on my calendar before I even knew the plot. Before I dig into my official review (of course, without giving away too much), let me sum up the experience with the following statement:

It was May of the year 2000 when I last remember being this excited about a film.

At that time, I remember thinking that no one could ever, even if all the stars in all the galaxies alligned, unleash a performance like Russ Crowe did in the Oscar-winning blockbuster, Gladiator. Well, someone did. In fact, it was the same person (which is not as ironic as first believed) – with the help of a man who has been on fire the past couple of years (The Machinist, Batman Begins, The Prestige). This film and their performances blew my mind. I didn’t want to leave the theatre.

Russel Crowe is breath-taking in this film. Whether he is a commander of the British Navy, a seasoned Roman General, or a near cerebral-superhuman, he morphs into a character that makes you forget you just paid to be entertained with fantasy. Quite honestly, I believe that Crowe might just be considered the greatest actor of our time when it is all said and done. Try to argue with his resume…go on…try. Don’t get me wrong, you can most assuredely argue for the likes of Denzel, Leo, J.D., and even Tommy Hanks, but I will still take the versatility and raw power of Crowe’s characters at the end of the day (and don’t forget that he is about to drop another nuclear bomb on the industry alongside Denzel in November). But in this film, he plays a character that I am still trying to figure out – a ruthless, self-absorbed outlaw / suprisingly compassionate hero. And like in his other films, Crowe again show his uncanny ability to drop monumental dialouge that makes my testosterone dance.

Whoa… let us not forget the compelling performance of protaganist, Christian Bale. He is the father of two boys and a rapidly-declining ranch…who has permanent wounds to both body and spirit. One of the reasons I flipped over this film is because of the emotional dynamic between Bale and his on-screen son. As of July 13, 2006, movies with deep-seeded, father-son issues strike a cord within my spirit that no other movies can touch. Films like John Q, Pursuit of Happiness, and even animated projects like Barnyard, send me to uncharted, emotional dimensions. Bale knocks one out of the park as he attempts to leave a legacy for his sons. Redemption. Honor.

Also, I thoroughly enjoyed the physical scenery and lanscape, which nearly screamed louder than the actor’s performances. The final scene and climax was particularly special with regards to the setting intricacies – a beautiful harmony of cold and arid conditions helped to set the tone for the film’s final descent and crescendo.

Honestly, 3:10 to Yuma is not an Oscar-type film. But my opinion is that it is a bit more contemplative than people will give it credit for – I found Yuma to be more than mere entertainment. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences I have ever had in any theatre.  

I may never watch another western as long as I live, but I would watch this one again tomorrow… and the next day.

How High?

August 30, 2007 - 8 Responses

flying-gabe-001.jpg

flying-gabe-002.jpg

Very

Poor Trees

August 28, 2007 - 5 Responses

 trees.jpg

Before I record my meditations on the financial situation of trees, I must clear the air with reference to my cheese selection. Contrary to popular belief, I love all cheeses equally. I love the sharp zest of cheddar. I love the smokey goodness of gouda. I even enjoy the deformed pungency of Swiss. It has been said that I blantantly elevate provolone to king of the cheeses. Though mildly tempting, this accusation is blantantly false. Each cheese possesses qualities that are equally pleasing to my spirit. Ahhh, the power of cheese.

Refocus

Because money does not grow on trees… they live in poverty. But what if Father Earth considers sunlight and rain to be a currency? What if He equates the excrement of the woodpecker with the profile of Alexander Hamilton? Then trees would no longer be poor.

I have a vision that one day the leaves of trees will replace greenbacks – What a delightful day for the tree community! Humans would envy their financial situations. Actually…now that I think about it…they would envy trees so much so that they would attempt to strip all the currency from their limbs. Sucess for the greedy humans would be enivitable because even the might oak cannot defend itself. And posing nude or eternity, the trees would once again slip into poverty.

Dang.

Poor, poor trees.           

I am a Mystic

August 14, 2007 - 3 Responses

According to dictionary.com… 

Mystic – (n) 1 of obscure or mysterious character or significance 2 a person who claims to attain, or believes in the possibility of attaining, insight into mysteries transcending ordinary human knowledge, as by direct communication with the divine or immediate intuition in a state of spiritual ecstasy 3 a person initiated into religious mysteries

According to Webster… 

Mystic – (n) a believer in mysticism

Mysticism – (n) 1 belief in the possibility of attaining direct communication with God or knowledge of spiritual truths, as by mediation 2 obscure thinking or belief

With regards to practice according to Wikipedia… 

            Mystics hold that there is a deeper, more fundamental state of existence hidden beneath the appearances of day–to–day living (which may become, to the mystic, superficial or epiphenomenal). For the authentic mystic, unity is both the internal and external focus as one seeks the truth about oneself, one’s relationship to others and Reality (both the world at large and the unseen realm). The mystic’s motivation for such an arduous endeavor appears to be unique to the individual and culture, and sometimes a new religion, order, or sect may be the legacy. Generally approached through the purification processes of prayer, meditation, contemplation (communion with Reality) and a wide variety of other means, the mystic seeks to transcend any constraint to his direct experience of the divine. 

How am I not?

Big Day

August 8, 2007 - One Response

756

Hooray!

The Color of Sales

August 7, 2007 - One Response

The Housing slump notwithstanding, sellers of ecofriendly homes are seeing green. “Our local real-estate market is in the tank, but we’re hiring people left and right to try to keep up with demand,” says David Stitt, an ecofriendly builder in Arkansas. At 340 on the Park, a new green high-rise overlooking Lake Michigan in Chicago, 337 of the building’s 343 units are sold – despite prices from $350,000 to more than $2 million.

“We’re selling expensive real estate in the city of Chicago, and it can’t feel Birkenstockish,” says Kerry Dickson, of the developer Related Midwest. In December, Elaine Cottey and her husband will move into their unit. They like the ecologically correct bamboo floors, the bike room and the 11,000-gallon tank that collects storm water used to irrigate the landscaping. All the right stuff, and it still looks luxe. “It’s a win-win situation,” says Cottey.

Today’s buyers want to save money on energy and breathe air without smelly chemicals in the paint. There’s also the “cool” factor. “There is a uniqueness to a home that has a countertop made out of recycled glass, or flooring made out of salvaged wood, and they know where that wood comes from,” says Jennifer Hattam, green-living editor for the Sierra Club.

The greenest homes embrace native plants, use little water (think low-flow faucets and dual-flush toilets that provide more water for solid waste), require minimal energy and improve indoor air quality. Floors made from rapid-growth eucalyptus trees and countertops made from recycled paper are good for nature – and are “feel-good features,” says Grand Rapids, Michigan builder Arn McIntyre.

There are even green real-estates agencies, such as Green Key Real Estate in S.F. and KJM Real Estate in Beverly Hills, California. “This really isn’t the house of the future. This is the house of today,” says Albuquerque, N.M., home builder Steve Hale. And in this nervous economy, says KJM’s Brian Bradley, “by incorporating green features into your home, you can increase its value and make it stand out in the marketplace.”
*This article taken from the August 6th edition of Newsweek.