Wednesday, October 31, 2012

An Oktoberfest of Holy Posts!

For those of you who only care about the stuff other people liked, here are the most popular posts for last month followed by my five most popular posts of all time.

October Posts

Oct 2, 2012

All-time Posts

Aug 10, 2012, 5 comments

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Starving Fruit Picker After Harvest

How miserable I am!
I feel like the fruit picker after the harvest
    who can find nothing to eat.
Not a cluster of grapes or a single early fig
    can be found to satisfy my hunger.
The godly people have all disappeared;
    not one honest person is left on the earth.
They are all murderers,
    setting traps even for their own brothers.
Both their hands are equally skilled at doing evil!
    Officials and judges alike demand bribes.
The people with influence get what they want,
    and together they scheme to twist justice.
Even the best of them is like a brier;
    the most honest is as dangerous as a hedge of thorns.
But your judgment day is coming swiftly now.
    Your time of punishment is here, a time of confusion.
Don’t trust anyone—
    not your best friend or even your wife!
For the son despises his father.
    The daughter defies her mother.
The daughter-in-law defies her mother-in-law.
    Your enemies are right in your own household!
As for me, I look to the Lord for help.
    I wait confidently for God to save me,
    and my God will certainly hear me.

- Micah 7:1-7 NLT

Micah certainly felt like he was alone. He took a stand for God and now feels like no one is following. While that may feel depressing, know that God's backing is superior to any earthly support you find on your own.  -- Note on

That feeling in your gut

Feeling alone is a painful thing. Sometimes it can feel like your life is the butt of a You're so stupid... joke. Kind of like the beginning of this passage: You're so stupid, you can't find anything to eat in the middle of a free buffet. Clearly, Micah came to the conclusion that he was the only one who believed in God & took His words seriously. When your opinion is not the popular opinion, it makes you feel like you've been taking Mugatu's crazy pills.

Et tu, Brute?

The poor guy even started to grow weary of his own family. He questions his best friend & wife--the people closest to him. I tend to bounce a lot of my ideas off my family as a barometer for my eccentricity. We never argue, but I can definitely tell when my thoughts stray from the mainstream. Sometimes I feel lonely. Sometimes I try to agree. Sometimes I simply chalk it up to the process that God is taking me through.

The language of feelings

I love how the NLT presents this passage. It is clearly a piece of poetry, where the poet laments his potentially exaggerated feelings. This section would fit right into the Psalms of David, where he imagines himself sitting at the gates of hell. Was he really knocking on the doors of Sheol? No! Is Micah really the only person who believes in God in the entire universe? I doubt it.

Our sensitive parts tend to run away from us sometimes. We feel like everyone & everything around us is corrupt & self-centered & we are the only generous people around. Know that we are not. Know that you are not the only person who is faithful to God nor are you the only person who feels like they are alone.

Also remember that God desires our honesty. He didn't strike down Micah for being a self-absorbed little cry baby. He didn't blow up David for his pity parties. God was even lenient towards Job during that ordeal. Perhaps these feelings of loneliness were intended to draw us closer to God. Perhaps we are supposed to develop intimacy & trust as we cling to Him & He proves to be faithful.

More Reading

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Road to Heaven 2

Many Roads Lead to Heaven

Yesterday I began a discussion on the Christian Experience of conversion. I noted that there are many forms (many roads) but several key aspects (landmarks) that must be present for conversion to take place. I understand that the title of this mini-series was scandalous--that was calculated. Hopefully this caused someone to consider these topics in a new way.

The landmarks we covered in the previous post were as follows:
  1.  Realize you are broken (sin)
  2. Realize you are the problem (it's not someone else' fault)
  3. Realize you are headed for disaster (death)
  4. Realize you need outside help (you can't go alone 
And now we conclude the journey.


5. Realize the perfect substitute has been delivered (Jesus)

We went through 4 whole landmarks on our own, & that has gotten us nothing but depression. But enter Jesus--God's perfect substitute--& suddenly the narrative changes. We have that strong swimmer to save us from drowning. We have that medical professional to rescue us from our cardiac arrest. We have a perfect God who conquered death for us.

6. Realize that faith in Jesus serves to transfer your experience to His cross (believe)

We have been talking a lot about personal experiences, both good and bad. Know that there is nothing you do that is too ugly for God to beautify. Know that every experience can be transferred to the cross. Know that His righteousness will be transferred to you.

7. Realize your GPS is new (you're under new management)

This is the final landmark, & it serves as the gates to your destination. This final step should be a natural process from the previous steps. Scripture refers to it as bearing fruit. Now that Christ's righteousness has been transferred to us, we should lead lives that are pleasing to Him. He has fixed us, so we should not do the same broken things we couldn't help but do before. We have a new positioning system with greater points of interest. We should live it out in our own setting & live the best life we can until we are perfected in glory.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Road to Heaven

Many Roads Lead to Heaven

I have heard that phrase more times than I can remember. About 3 of those times were actually from real people who truly believed that to be the case. The rest of the time, the facetious claim that many roads lead to heaven was made by preachers who tried to illustrate how ridiculous it was to believe in such a thing. We are all saved in the same way they would proclaim, Jesus said he was the way they would quote, and We must all kneel at the foot of the cross they would declare. The Christian experience seemed very cut and dry. The Christian experience was not ubiquitous.

But the more I consider it, the more convinced I am that there may be many roads to heaven. The Christian experience is not ubiquitous--what I experience in a conservative Miami, Fl. assembly is not the same as an Anglican in England or a Baptist in Honduras. I know people who are converted drug lords. I know people whose families have been Christians for multiple generations. Their paths to Christ were all different!

Have I Sunk Into Relativism?

Far be it from me! I am only speaking the common sense which we all know but never want to admit. We tend to get comfortable in our own Christian Traditions & loose sight that there are other Christian Traditions which are equally as valid as our own. Christ can be translated into many languages.

Therefore, while there are many roads to heaven, there are a few landmarks that we must cross. Think of this like a map, where you can choose the interstate, turnpike, US road or backstreets to get where you are going. There are certain towns that you must get past before reaching your destination. (By the way, note that this is a metaphor for the spiritual journey. As a metaphor, it is not absolutely perfect & must break down at one point or another.)

Here Are the Landmarks

1. Realize you are broken (sin)

This is the first step to restoration--admitting there is a problem. How do you come to this realization? Maybe you went to prison & realized it there, maybe you got a spanking at the age of 4 & realized it then, maybe you saw someone torture a kid through high school & you just knew it was not right. The mechanism is not important, the revelation is. You are a broken person. There's something desperately wrong with your life as it now stands.

2. Realize you are the problem (it's not someone else' fault)

Now that you realize you are broken, it's time to find out who broke you. A lot of people stop their journey before getting to this landmark. We all know people who play the victim all the time: It's her fault that I am like this / If my parents were more loving / Blame (insert family member, pet, global warming). The time has come to admit that I am broken because of my own selfishness. I do bad things because I think they are going to make me happier or better or sexier. I do them because I want to. It's my fault.

3. Realize you are headed for disaster (death)

I'm not OK, you're not OK, but that's OK! Right? Not exactly. This is where Christianity begins to exert a distinction from other religions. There are plenty of religions that acknowledge evil in the world. There are plenty of religions that cross the first two landmarks. Some of them bypass the third--judgement. Christianity posits that if a soul sins, they cannot be in the life-giving presence of a holy God. Therefore, there is absolutely no alternative than death. If you have already come to the first two conclusions, the third is a corollary which cannot be avoided. You either accept it or deny it. Sin is a cancer in your body, and just like cancer it does not care whether or not you realize it's there: it's killing you.

4. Realize you can't go alone (you need help)

If your problem is that your are broken as a person & you were the one who got yourself into the problem in the first place, how could you possibly think that you can save yourself? The fourth landmark states that you need someone stronger than you to pull you out of your hole. Does this seem unfair to you? It does to many people. However, when you consider other examples of one person saving another, you will realize that this is commonplace. Consider the drowning woman, she needs someone who is either a) on dry ground b) on the dry deck of a boat or c) a much stronger swimmer than she is to save her. She cannot save herself. Consider also the man in cardiac arrest. He is completely unable to regulate his own heart. He needs the medical professional to work towards stabilizing his condition. That's a close approximation to our sin condition, except the sin condition is a bit more hopeless.

To be continued...

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Economics of Marriage

What is this?

In my recent podcast: The Wisdom Extraction, I discussed the following topics:
  • Half Marathon Training with compression leggings.
  • My Wife's Wisdom Extraction (& the awkward nature of communication via social networks)
  • My graduation to Starbucks Green-level Rewards Membership
  • A quote I heard from David Brooks on marriage.
I took the quote & analyzed it, not from a politically conservative perspective but from an ethical Christian one. The quote is as follows:
"You have to encourage men to get married before having kids--and give them enough money to make them worth marrying!"

How to get it

Just click on either of these links to subscribe to the podcast in your favorite application:

More Reading 


Baldwin, A.; Brooks, D. (WNYC Radio). (2012, October 8). Here's the Thing. Retrieved from iTunes.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Adding Actions to Words

On Real Love

I know so many Christians today who talk & talk about love, but never do anything to show it. 
They know the doctrines of love & sing songs about it, but they fail to add actions to their words.

That's not biblical love. 

Real love doesn't just sit on a church pew. 
Real love has hands. 
Real love has feet. 
It hugs the widow & comforts the orphan. 
It gives to the poor & defends the downtrodden. 

Real love moves you to action. 

That's the love Jesus showed you & it's the love you can show others.

-- My Sunday School Teacher

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Breakfast Reprieve

Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore.The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yard from shore.

When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread. “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said.So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.

“Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish.This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead. 

After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”

-- John 21.7-15 NLT

A Universal Favorite

I don't know anyone who hates breakfast. Oh, I know plenty of people who skip breakfast or don't have time for breakfast. I even know a lot of people whose favorite meal is supper or lunch. But nobody hates breakfast. IHOP is as popular as it ever was! Breakfast is in.

Not only is breakfast tasty, it's healthy. Everyone knows your brain does not function without fuel--you can't think without breakfast. In addition, nutritionalists insist that a healthy metabolism needs breakfast in order to get going. Without a good breakfast, your body assumes that it's starving and tries to hold on to calories.

Jesus' Breakfast

Jesus liked breakfast too. In the above passage, he was the provider of a breakfast reprieve. After a long night of work (& a prolonged series of emotional events) the Disciples really needed some comfort. What could be more comforting than bacon & eggs? Waffles... but I digress.

Jesus brings comfort (comfort for your people) to Peter specifically. Sometimes we feel like Humpty Dumpty. Sometimes we feel like a cracked egg which cannot be repaired. Sometimes we feel too lost or ruined for his grace. But we're not. If anything, we are ripe for grace.

Over and over again, Jesus calls us to dine with him. He says Come to breakfast, I've got everything heated up for you. Won't you come to him while it's still warm? Nobody likes their eggs cold.

More Reading

A Brighter Tomorrow
God's Goal For Humanity
Carry on, My Wayward Son

Thursday, October 4, 2012

God's Goal for Humanity

Sacrifice to God is a broken spirit. Yet, God desires obedience rather than sacrifice. Therefore,  God doesn't want us to sin & be broken.

Daniel Roberts

Sacrifices to God

According to Psalm 51:17, the elements that God must have in a sacrifice are brokenness and contrition. Without those elements, a sacrifice is worthless and offered in vain. God does not like it. But why does God require that our hearts be broken when offering sacrifice?

A sacrifice would not be needed if man were perfect. Sacrifice is the end result of failure, pure & simple. We realize that we are incomplete & destined for ruin if God's grace were ever torn away from us. Our failures are shameful to think of, our sin is detestable. If we don't realize this, then we are missing the entire point of sacrifice. Sacrifices are not good things we do to balance out the bad things--this is not Christian Karma. Sacrifice draws attention to our deficiency & ultimate doom.

It is no wonder that God does not delight in sacrifice.

Better than Sacrifice

In 1 Samuel 15:22 God shares a secret with Saul, Israel & (ultimately) the world: God would rather move away from the whole sacrifice thing. But there's only one way to do that--obey God every time.

When we obey, we keep ourselves from sin. When we keep ourselves from sin, there is nothing to remember with a sacrifice. There is no brokenness or contrition, there is only open, free fellowship. While this goal is immediately negated by real-world practicalities, the fact remains that this is God's goal for humanity.

God does not want man to remain a broken creature. He does not want us to hide in our shame like we have been doing since Eden. He wants us to stand before Him boldly & openly, with nothing to be ashamed of.

And He created a way to accomplish that.

More Reading

A Brighter Tomorrow
Taking Hold of Eternal Life
Hope to Carry on

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Football's Here!

Run a Post Route

Statistics with the most read posts in September (best month so far!) followed by the all-time list. Did you get to read all these articles? If not, here's your chance!

All-Time Posts

Aug 10, 2012, 5 comments
Jul 26, 2012, 6 comments
Dec 20, 2011, 1 comment
Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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