Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Something Different

So I know that this is a little out of the ordinary for my blog, but I found this and couldn't help but post it....I hope you enjoy.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Walking in Truth

While I do not always agree with Way of the Master and their approach to sharing the gospel, this audio clip that they put together was excellent. This is a sharp contrast between the message of American Christianity that is so prevalent in our day and the message of the Bible that is so often lost and even criticized by many people in the church.

Many Christians have allowed our minds to be filled with the messages of this culture and the influence of humanist psychology. So often I allow myself to get lost in the nice and fluffy messages that our culture gives, the band-aids that allow us to gloss over the true, deep, and pervasive problem of our heart. So often I fall prey to believing that its enough that people are "getting better", that their life circumstances have improved, that they are living a more fulfilling life. These things are good, I want to help people and to see them in the right frame of mind, but I also pray that they might be broken before God so that he might restore in them that mind and heart that is his own, because I know that otherwise these things are completely worthless.

May we know our Bible so well that we are not taken captive by the winds of "knowledge" that blow to and fro around us. May our hearts be more set on Christ than on what is comfortable, nice, or easy to hear and understand. May we allow ourselves to be troubled by this God of the universe, remembering that it is He who made us and not us who make Him. May we stop creating for ourselves a god, fashioning what he looks like and how he should act, and instead look to God as He is. May we return to a fear of the Lord, a holy reverence for His Majesty.


Another good note on the topic can be found here.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

More Social Psychology

Here's more from my study of power through the framework of Symbolic Interactionism. This section may need some more editing because it is still fairly wordy, basically the whole point is that power is negotiated through interaction. The one theory that I present focuses on the power one has in assigning labels to another while the second theory focuses on the power that one has in choosing who can assign labels to them. If you're not interested in this stuff, then don't read it :]

The main difference between Identity Theory and Labeling Theory can be seen in the focus of the individual who is the subject. In Symbolic Interactionism an individual's role in the situation is seen as being based on the reflected appraisals they receive from those around them. According to Identity Theory, however, the individual doesn't passively accept these assigned roles but rather actively seeks those who will positively regard their identity, hence giving them positive reflected appraisals. Thus identity theory focuses on the individual as an active creator of their identity who seeks out those who will affirm their self-perceived identity. (Jackson et al.) Labeling theory, on the other hand, simply focuses on how the individual responds to labels attached to them. In labeling theory, then, the individual is not as active in choosing their identity, rather, they conceptualize themselves as a significant other by looking at themselves through the labels others have attributed to them. (Adams et al 2003; Matsueda 1992) In summary, identity theory looks at the process by which individuals seek out those who will give positive reflected appraisals of their identity while labeling theory looks at the process by which one can influence others' identity through the use of labels. This relates to power because identity theory gives insight into the power that an individual has in creating their own identity by selecting the contexts in which they interact and how they interact in hostile contexts. Labeling theory, on the other hand, gives insight into the power that people have over others' identities, especially in the formative stages of those identities, through their interactions with them. Either theory by itself gives an incomplete view of the picture, because both of them paint one person as passive and the other as active, but when taken together these two theories portray two actors on a stage, both actively negotiating the definitions of situations and roles to which the other must respond.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Gospel in Poetry

Excerpt from "Christ's Victory and Triumph Part III. Christ's Triumph Over Death"

And yet the Son is humbled for the slave,
And yet the slave is proud before the Son:
Yet the Creator for his creature gave
Himself, and yet the creature hastes to run
From his Creator, and self-good doth shun;
And yet the Prince, and God himself doth cry
To man, his traitor, pardon not to fly:
Yet man is God, and traitor doth his Prince defy.

Who is it sees not that he nothing is,
But he that nothing sees? What weaker breast,
Since Adam's armour fail'd, dares warrant his?
That, made by God of all his creatures best,
Straight made himself the worst of all the rest:
If any strength we have, it is to ill;
But all the good is God's, both power and will:
The dead man cannot rise, though he himself may kill.

A tree was first the instrument of strife,
Where Eve to sin her soul did prostitute;
A tree is now the instrument of life,
Though ill that trunk, and this fair body suit:
Ah cursed tree, and yet O blessed fruit!
That death to Him, this life to us doth give:
Strange is the cure, when things past cure revive,
And the Physician dies to make the patient live.

Giles Fletcher

Thursday, April 22, 2010

How to Read Poetry

Excerpt from Introductory Essay to "Sacred Poetry of the Seventeenth Century including the whole of Giles Fletcher's Christ's Victory and Triumph.....In Two Volumes"

"It is an error that the purpose of poetry is to merely afford an elegant pastime, or to supply a pleasing but aimless excitement. This mistake, so fatal to the just influence of some of the noblest effortrs of the human mind, we may expect to find prevailing in an age distinguished at once by the love of pleasure, and an eager devotion to the affairs of life. The delicate slaves of luxury, contented with the stimulus which animated verse applies to the imagination, and the edge it imparts to the sensibility, willingly rest here in their appreciation of its worth: the enjoyment, and still more the application, of what lies beyond, demands an exertion of the higher faculties of the mind to whish they are unaccustomed, and which they therefore decline with disgust."

- R.C.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Look What the Lord Has Done

So ever since I came to West Chester one thing that struck me was that there are over 4 Christian groups on campus but they never really interact. I've been praying for unity between the groups for 3 years now and its been awesome seeing God put things together. I can't even begin to tell you of all the ways, the most prominent was a "meeting" that occurred in the student union in October when the leaders of the 3 largest groups on campus just "happened" to all meet up at the same time. It was completely unplanned, but there was a guy telling another person about his vision to see God unite the campus groups, so I butted in and said that I had the same vision, and next thing you know there's 9 of us there all talking about this and praying for together.

Fast-forward 6 months and we were working on putting together the first meeting with all the groups at once. It was originally scheduled for last Monday, so I took off work, but then there was trouble securing a room so the date changed to this Monday. I had a dilemma, though, because I work until 9 but the meeting started at 8, and since I had already taken off last week I couldn't take off again. So I was just going to show up late to the meeting, around 9:15 instead of 8...but then I found out Friday that I had an RA meeting at 9, so I just wasn't going to make it to this worship night.

Today, then, I found out that the RA meeting had been pushed back to 9:30. So I was thinking about all this stuff and realized that I hadn't told people that I wouldn't be there at all, because some of them were expecting me to be late, so I was thinking about telling them and I was going to say, "I really wanted to go, but stuff keeps coming up and the doors are closing. I don't always think closed doors mean we should stop trying, sometimes they're a test of dedication, but I've tried everything I can and it just seems God doesn't want me there." I was thinking about this as I was walking to work and I was going to text it once I got there.

So, I walked into work, and Sean said, "The grills not working." (There's a convenience store and a grill and I'm really there to help man the grill.) Apparently yesterday "someone" ripped a hole into the propane tank so there wasn't any propane for the grill. So I called Karen, my supervisor, and asked, "Do you really want me working since the grill is closed?" She said, "I'd rather not, but I figured I'd give you the hours."

So basically, a date change, room change, and hole in a propane tank later, God worked it out so I could be at the meeting. It was awesome, seeing all those people together praising God, seeing people there that I've seen around campus and never had any clue that they were believers, praying together for God to reach the campus for him. But I think that for me, the greatest thing, the coolest thing about the whole night, was that I wasn't supposed to be there. Everything that we do is only by the Spirit and the grace of God, but sometimes its easy to forget that, so it was nice to have a night like tonight where God could refocus me and remind me that its not by might, nor by power, but by His Spirit that we will prevail.

Power Within Situations: Warning - This Post May Make You Think!!!!

Another person and I are leading a class in a 45 minutes structured discussion tomorrow. Her topic is violence against women and I am analyzing power through the theoretical framework of Symbolic Interactionism (SI). This is my opening statement, I'm opening with the question for them to lightly discuss and then I'm diving into the theory. I thought some of you might enjoy reading and thinking about this and I would love to hear your reactions/thoughts. My big question, though, is does this all make sense? Am I explaining it in a way that is understandable?

How would you define power, either institutionally or interpersonally? What causes someone to have power?

According to Symbolic Interactionism power is the ability to define the situation, define others' roles within a situation, or to reject the definitions imposed upon oneself. SI looks at all social structures and social actions as interactions between individuals in which all parties involved play the part of an actor and an observer. In other words a person does something, as an actor, and then they observe the situation, their own actions as well as the actions and reactions of others, this then leads into their next social action. The observations and actions that people make are in the context of the definition of the situation and the understanding of one's role within that situation, and these definitions and roles can change at any point throughout the interaction.

A perfect example of these things is a classroom. You walk in and there is a framework that you act within. This is a classroom, you are to sit down, at a certain point a professor will walk in and start to teach the class. Now imagine that you enter a class midway through the semester and all of the students are sitting at their desks. Your definition of the situation from previous experience causes you to expect that your professor will walk in about 3 minutes before class, get ready, and then lecture. Your role, and the role of your fellow classmates, is to sit and wait. Now imagine that 3 minutes till the start of class your professor isn't there. You may start to wonder why and perhaps come to the conclusion that they got stuck in traffic on the way, or maybe they had a meeting that ran late. Your definition of the situation has just changed, and your actions within that definition may change as well. You may pull out a book to read until the professor gets there, or you may get frustrated that class will start late, or you may lean over to the person next to you and see if they know what's going on. After 3 minutes class should now be starting. At this point, one of the students in the front of the classroom gets up and says that your professor will not be coming to class today because something came up and that they, this student, will be teaching the class instead. You now have an alternate definition of the situation presented to you, as well as an alternate role for someone in that situation. You have a choice now, will you accept their definition and role or will you reject it? If you sit and listen, then that person has now exerted power over you by forcing their definitions onto you, but if you get up and walk out because you don't want to hear a lecture from a fellow student, then you have exerted power by rejecting these definitions.

Now, obviously this example is made to starkly display the concepts, but if you start to see life in this way you realize that there is something to it. Many people have criticized SI because they say that it can only handle concepts related to everday interaction, such as the above example, but this can also help us to understand institutional power. Consider laws, they are nothing more than definitions of situations and of roles within those situations. But you see, power is not just forcing definitions onto others, it is the ABILITY to do so. So one is in power when they have some advantage that others do not that allows them to change others definitions, and even enforce those definitions. This leads us back to the topic of violence, because it can be seen that often violence is an attempt to get someone to do something that they don't want, or to maintain one's own definitions when others have rejected them. Violence is a form of power, an ability to project one's own definitions of the situation and other's roles within the situation, used in every day interaction.

You Pay No Attention To WHO They Are

This morning Pastor Jeff preached on Luke 14:1-14. In this section Jesus talks about humility, having a right view of oneself, and sacrificial giving, caring for others even though they can't repay you. (Jeff also talked about love and compassion, but that is outside the scope of what I'll explore here.)

So, tonight I sat down to do my devotions and read Matthew 22:15-22 and found the Pharisees' testimony of Jesus in verse 16, " are a man of integrity and you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are." Now, the Pharisees acknowledged these things in order to then pressure Jesus with a question about paying taxes. The interesting thing, however, is that Jesus responds in accordance with how they have described him. Rather than pointing right away to Caesar and who he his, his position, instead he asks for a coin and who's inscription is on that coin. In a way Jesus was saying, "If you came across a cow and it had a brand on it, would you not return it to its rightful owner? If you came across a child and it carried the resemblance of a certain neighbor, would you not return it to that neighbor? Well here is something with the inscription of Caesar, so just as you would with any other man, return this to Caesar if he asks for it."

So here are some thoughts that came out of this. In order to act out of humility, in order to do the things that Jesus talks about in Luke 14, its not that we seek out those who can't repay us. The tendency is for us to think that Jesus is saying we should only help those who are poor and needy and that we should hate the rich, but Jesus is getting at something much deeper. I think the Pharisees hit it right on the head when they said, "you pay no attention to who they are." Jesus paid no attention to WHO someone was, but only saw that they were a person. He healed the children of rich synagogue rulers and centurions, as well as widows and the poor. He dined with the religious, the rich tax collectors, and the lowest of the low who were sick and poor. If we want to be like Jesus we cannot simply look for those who are poor and hurting, rather we must see that all are equally poor and hurting and only then can we treat each individual rightly.

We must come to the point where we can see, talk to, and care for our boss in the same way that we see, talk to, and care for that employee that we just had to lay off. And where we can respect, cherish, and love that employee in the same way that we respect, cherish, and love our boss. Where one's prior achievements and rank in life do not change how we talk to them or treat them, in fact, we need to come to the point where when we see a person we don't even pay attention to WHO they are, in the social sense, but rather we need to see them as a person and treat them as such, not expecting anything in return, not doing it for glory or fame, not doing it because that person deserves it, but doing it because it brings glory to our Father who is in Heaven and because we know that by so doing we are doing his will and his work.

May it be said of you that you are a person of integrity who is willing to speak the truth of God no matter how contrary to common beliefs it is. May it be said of you that you are not swayed by men, that you have no fear of men, because you pay no attention to who they are. May you become blind to the things that this world deems important and may your eyes be opened to what God sees important. May you not see this world as a hierarchy, a chain to be climbed, but may you walk forward in love and compassion, climbing if that is where God wants you to go, or descending if that is where God wants you to be. May you serve those around you sacrificially, whether they be in a coma or with a terminal illness, or whether they are the CEO of a huge company or the biggest client your company has. May you learn to love as Jesus loved, not in response to who it is you are loving but because of who you are and who you have been loved by.

(I always wanted to end a really long written work with a sentence ending in a preposition.....)

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Another quote from "Tortured for Christ" by Richard Wurmbrandt.

"God is 'the Truth'. The Bible is 'the truth about the Truth'. Theology is 'the truth about the truth about the Truth'. Fundamentalism is 'the truth about the truth about the truth about the Truth'. Christian people live in these many truths about the Truth, and because of them, have not 'the Truth'. Hungry, beaten, and doped, we had forgotten theology and the Bible. We had forgotten the 'truths about the Truth', therefore we lived in 'the Truth'. It is written, 'The Son of man will come in the hour when you do not think and on the day you do not know'. We could not think anymore. In our darkest hours of torture the Son of man came to us, making the prison walls shine like diamonds and filling the cells with light. Somewhere, far away, were the torturers below us in the sphere of the body. But the spirit rejoiced in the Lord. We would not have given up this joy for that of kingly palaces."

While I think that this could easily be taken too far to say that the Bible and theology are bad (and certainly at times throughout history people have gone there, one example is the Quakers) I think that there is still a significant amount of value in these statements. Obviously the Bible and theology are good and necessary, but I have also known individuals who, in their knowledge of the things of God did not know God.

May you desire God more than you desire knowledge and 'truth'. May your heart burn for God as in a dry and thirsty land. May you find yourself filled with God through Scripture, and with the will of God through theology. May you find yourself on a quest to know 'the Truth', to be set free, and to rise above the things of this world and dine with the Savior in Heaven.

Friday, April 16, 2010


by: Nathan Good

The music flows softly,
Through the window pane.
The music flows softly,
Through the sprinkling rain.

Spring is here,
It’s in the air.
Spring is here,
We have no care.

The music flows softly,
Like spring in the air.
The music flows softly,
Like us, with no cares.

(I'm not sure when I wrote this but it was definitely before 9/2007)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I haven't had a chance to blog for a little while. There was a week that I went solid all week long and put some solid time into blogging, but then I realized that it was interfering with writing to Dana, so I backed off a little bit. I have over 15 drafts saved that I could post, but they seem to have no context so I haven't even been doing that. Since I don't have any real solid thoughts to post I decided to post some questions I'm currently mulling over in my mind instead.

So the past two weeks have gotten a lot busier. I really like to take at least an hour a day to pray/read the Word, really just time to be still and know that God is God. Time to just be in the presence of my savior, lying silently and communing in my heart with my God (Ps 4). But, as I've gotten busier I haven't had that time. I still pray, as I go through my day I talk with God, but I haven't had as much time to meditate on Scripture. Interestingly, when I don't read my Bible every day it becomes a lot harder to draw Scripture to mind. When I'm in the Word everyday I can quote different passages, even things I haven't read in a while, but if I stop for a week it all seems to leave. Is this bad? I've been in the place where this goes on for months and I know that that is a problem, but what about a few weeks? By not regularly taking that "time aside" with Jesus am I missing something in that relationship? I'm still walking with him, I'm still living my life in light of my relationship with him, I'm still seeking to overcome sin and live in the Spirit, but there's not that concentrated time with my Father. I struggle to know when and if this is wrong or bad and when and if this is right and good. Interestingly, in the past two weeks I have shared the gospel with more people than I did for the past 6 months and I have given out more New Testaments than I have given out in years. This is not because I've been actively seeking people out, but God has just been giving me opportunities. So is this just a period, just a phase of my walk, is God just using me and relating to me differently than normal, am I where I am supposed to be?

I don't know the answers to all these questions. What I do know is that I have a power dwelling within me that is like the working of his mighty strength that raised Christ from the dead. I know that He will not stop until he has completed the work he began within me. I know that I am not dead but alive. I know that I have a peace and joy in the Lord that I sometimes don't even experience when I am taking regular times of uninterrupted communion. I know that I am reaching out and sharing my faith, or rather that God is giving me opportunities to share. I know that if I am walking in the wrong direction God will gently and kindly bring me back. So for now I walk, I even run, through my life, chasing the goal of being more like Christ, for now that means doing school, friendships, and jobs to the best of my ability, and I pray that some day soon I can slow down and enjoy more of that time of concentrated fellowship with the One who loves me more than any other could.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Praying Your Sins

This is an excerpt from "A Praying Life" by Paul E. Miller. I would highly recommend reading this book whether you have a strong prayer life or struggle with prayer. In other places he talks about prayer being enjoying the presence of God, having conversation with God, simply communing with God (as if you're sitting down to dinner with someone), focusing on God rather than focusing on the prayer itself. So keep all of this in mind as you read the following excerpt.

"Instead of being frozen by your self-preoccupation, talk with God about your worries. Tell him where you are weary. If you don't begin with where you are, then where you are will sneak in the back door. Your mind will wander to where you are weary.
"We are often so busy and overwhelmed that when we slow down to pray, we don't know where our hearts are. We don't know what troubles us. So, oddly enough, we might have to worry before we pray. Then our prayers will make sense. They will be about our real lives.
"Your heart could be, and often is, askew. That's okay. You have to begin with what is real. Jesus didn't come for the righteous. He came for sinners. All of us qualify. The very things we try to get rid of - our weariness, our distractedness, our messiness - are what get us in the front door! That's how the gospel works. That's how prayer works."

Friday, April 2, 2010

How Can We Know We Are Saved?

(Facebook Note - July 20, 2009 I must note that there are many men much more worthy than myself who have undertaken the task of writing or speaking explanations on this topic)

I had a friend ask me, "How can we know we are saved?" So I decided to write out how I believe that we can know. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on what I have written and whether there is anything that I left out.

2 Corinthians 13:5-10
2 Peter 1:10-12
James 4:4-10
1 John 1:5-10
Romans 7:4-8:17 (specifically 8:16)
Ephesians 2:8-10
Hebrews 11:6
1 Peter 1:13-23

So, after considering all of these passages about our salvation, there is one word that comes to mind, and that word is "Change". James 4 says that if we are friends of the world (things of this world are more important than God) then we are not of God. He seems to say that we are born of God if we are humbled or broken. Or WHEN we are humbled and broken. Indeed, Psalm 51:17 says that the sacrifice of God is a broken and contrite spirit. So when our hearts are broken is when God lifts us up in Christ. And 2 Cor 13 seems to take this a step further when he says that they are to test themselves to see that they are in the faith. Then he says that the Corinthians will find that Paul is in the faith and that he is glad when he is weak. This weakness seems, in some way, to point to him being in the faith.

There is another side to this all, however, because Eph 2 says that we have been saved by grace, through faith, and this not of ourselves (pointing once again to the fact that faith only comes from God and we therefore can't choose to be saved. Eph 2:10, however, points to the fact that we must choose to live for the good works we were created for. Although its not necessarily us choosing, but rather us naturally living in the faith that God provides (James 2) or living by the Spirit (Rom 8) which would seem to say that even living for God is not a choice, but the effect of the faith he has put in our hearts. The choice is only what we see. That was a long bunny trail...) So we are saved by faith, so if we are saved we have faith. So what is faith? Hebrews 11:6 says that faith causes us to believe that God is and that he is the rewarder of those that seek him. So, do you seek God? If you believe that he is the rewarder of those that seek him, then you will seek him, which means that you have faith, which means that you're saved. This along with other things, because we must seek through Christ, as he is the way, the truth, and the life. So what we see is that our seeking of God is proof of our salvation, which leads us to the next thing.

If we are saved we will live for God. (1 Peter 1:13-23, 1 John 1:5-10, James 2, 1 Peter 2:24) So are you living for God? I'm not. So am I saved? This leads us to Romans 7 and 8, which is where the final answer is spoken. Do you desire, deep down in your heart, to live for God? Do you struggle with where you're at and do you have a desire to move closer to God? Do you....want God? More than anything else do you deep down inside, after you've set everything else that piles up aside, do you desire to live for and love God? According to Jeremiah 17:9 "The heart is decietful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Is a heart that is yearning for God deceitful? Is a heart that desires to live for God beyond cure? No, this is a heart changed by the Holy Spirit, which is our deposit for the day of redemption. Which leads us to Romans 8:16 "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children". If you have the Spirit in your heart you will know it. There will be change. You will be seeking God. Not perfectly (Romans 7, 1 John 1) but you will be seeking God and trying to live for Him. There will be a progression forwards. And when you start to slide backwards the Holy Spirit will remind you that you are not your own, that you were bought with a price, and that you MUST live for him (1 Peter 1:13-23, 1 Peter 2:24).

So in the end, how do you know you're saved. You know it. Deep down inside God is your desire. You are living, not according to the sinful nature, but according to the Spirit (Romans 8). And the Spirit is testifing with you.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Hallelujah, What a Savior!!

I read this after my post from yesterday and it is almost on the same topic and helps bring much clarity. It is long, but I would highly recommend that you read it. Not much new truth, but good healthy reminders.

(Just to be sure you have it, here's the link)