Monday, November 12, 2012

A Calling

I have a friend in Northern Ireland who runs a ministry called Project Evangelism.  He is an amazing man by the name of John Moxen.  He has been doing ministry there for about 40+ years.   He has spent his entire ministry working through the strife and animosity between Catholics and Protestants in the area.  He has outlived the hatred and destruction and has a ministry that is respected and effective.  He says that he has never asked for money or for things, but God has provided what he needs through other people and other means.

I have tried to do my ministry this way, but I have been most unsuccessful.  For those who may or may not know I am a support raising missionary.  I am currently serving as the campus minister on the campus of Widener University in Chester, PA.  (for those of you who do not know where that is. It just outside of Philly (or Philadelphia for you who still don't know.))  Widener is a private institution with an enrollment of 6,600 students, and within those 6,600 students there is only one Christian student organization.  That is the small group called LOGOS.  I am the teacher and guide to these students.

LOGOS started with one student who wanted to change her campus.  With her help we gathered several more.  As of 2012, we have 15+ students actively participating in faith life on campus and sharing their faith with their fellow students.  There is still much work to do much that needs to be accomplished.  As I said there are 15 students actively involved.  There are 6,585 that are not.   I know I cannot reach them all, but I can sure try.

the Students of LOGOS
The problem is, and the reason for this particular blog is that recently I have hit some financial setbacks.  Let's face it, this economy is tough and it ain't getting better.  I understand this, but I know that my God has not abandoned me and my ministry is worth continuing.  The problem is I cannot do it without asking for help.  If you have read this far in the blog please consider supporting me in my ministry.  I am issuing what I call the
2:2 CHALLENGE.  It is a means for me to raise my support and to let the world know what I need to survive the next year and semester.  This is how it breaks down:

I have two categories that I need help in.

 First one is monthly support.  I am looking to raise $2,000* in monthly support.  That means I need people to pledge an amount of money to send in monthly to the North American Mission Board earmarked to me and my ministry.  You would become my monthly partners in the work that God is doing on the campus of Widener University.  Although I would love it if someone could do the whole batch alone, I am hoping and praying for many people to join in and help.

That's 
20 people @ $100 dollars a month
10 people @ $200 dollars a month
50 people @ $40 dollars a month
100 people @ $20 dollars a month
200 people @ $10 dollars a month*

It is not that outlandish of a request.  This money will allow for the continuation of a growing and flourishing ministry on the campus.



The second part of the 2:2 CHALLENGE is for those people who cannot commit to monthly support, but want to give something.  I am also trying to raise $2000 in one time gifts*.  Again I am not asking for all of it from a single source.  The same breakdown as before applies no only with out the monthly comittment. It is a one time gift of $50, $100, or $200 or whatever the Lord lays on your heart.  This money will help me catch up on some bills and provide meals for me and my students and will help fund a much needed trip to South Carolina to see my family and connect with some ministries down there and do some more one on one fund raising.

I do not ask for money very often, and this Challenge is only the beginning of what is needed.  I was raised that you worked for what you get.  I am working hard doing the work of God on the Campus.  I am seeing lives changed, students finding the value in the word of God, connecting to missions, and uniting with a form of church that is both missional and functional.  Many are incountering the Word of God for the first time and are coming to a faith that encourages them and challenges them to reach out beyond themselves.  I am working and asking the Lord to provide.  Perhaps he has called you to help with that provision.  I have included a link to my online giving account.  That will take you to a page that will give you more information about me and my ministry.


Answer the 2:2 Challenge online giving


Please click on it and see what it is all about.  Please pray and let God lead you.  Please consider supporting this ministry.

If you need more information or want to talk to me email me at theolobster@gmail.com or find me on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/hrkelley

thank you and Shalom
Michael Hair Kelley
the Theolobster

*Every contribution is made through the North American Mission Board and is tax deductable.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Christian Reality TV? the next evangelist


In my patrolling of the internet and Facebook, I stumbled upon an interesting series called the Next evangelist. I am not sure how I feel about this particular series. For those of you who do not know, and I am sure that there are many out there, this series is a venture of the Christian community into the world of modern reality television. (I use the phrase modern because if you think about it Christians invented reality TV when we began airing church services on networks, but I digress, that is another topic I have yet to flesh out.) Anyway The Next Evangelist is promoting itself as a way to find the next great national speaker and evangelist comparable to Billy Graham and Martin Luther King Jr. I kind of like the concept, but still am not sure. (This coming from the guy who presented an idea similar to this in jest during several conversations, but I called it Last Preacher Standing.) I see potential good things that may come out of this and I see some troubling sticking points.

One of the Good things I see is that someone has acknowledged that there is a need for a strong voice in this world for Christ, and is trying to do something about it. The voices of King, Graham, Sunday, Edwards, Wesley, and other great men and women of God are fading fast from the public ear. They have become relegated to quotes in books, sermons, and random pointless facebook postings. Their words have been diluted by our culture and often misused and misquoted. Instead of calling the people to repentance, they are cut and pasted to make us feel good about ourselves. There is a need for the voice of God to be heard again on a large scale. It needs to come from some source that the people will actually hear and listen to. I think we have several preachers on the public scale who don't say what needs to be said and hide the Gospel in a story and a smile, or they have said what needs to be said in such a way that they have become a nuisance a caricature of what a true evangelist needs to be. Usually filled with anger and wrath of God yet missing the passion and love of God. So yes there needs to be a voice that speaks loudly and with authority to call the world to repentance.

Another Good thing is that the founders of this site are trying to draw attention to the social problems of this nation. A post on their facebook page says: "One of our goals with the show is to address the big problems we see in our society...the ones nobody wants to discuss." There are many ideas as to what these big problems are, and they are right, there are a lot of things that the church has handled wrong and other things to which it has turned a blind eye. So much so that the world thinks that we don't care about certain issues and are an annoyance concerning others. It may be good to show the church that it should be caring about the world around it and should see things through a different perspective.

Now for the possible problems with this approach. These are simply some questions that come to my mind when I place some serious thought on this subject:

1. Will this approach be viewed by the world and the church as a satirical commentary saying that those Christians are once again taking something that was created and popularized by the world and trying to jump on the bandwagon for attention and credit?

2. Is a competition really the best way to achieve their goals? I have seen competition shows, and the prize is not as important as winning. For instance the Bachelorette becomes less about forming a lasting relationship with a beautiful woman and more about beating the rest of the guys and shaming them. My problem is will the message of the Gospel get lost in the egos and personas of the preachers who are preaching the Gospel, and this event becomes more about the participants trying to outdo each other to eliminate their "competitors," ignoring and using the masses of people who need to hear the Gospel for their own edification.

3. Is this Spirit led or human led? Is this how God will choose the next prophet for this country? God has done stranger things and have chosen lesser men in more unique ways. I think of Amos the farmer, Jeremiah the priest, Hosea who married a prostitute, David a shepherd, John the Baptist who lived like a wildman, Peter a fisherman, Paul who was set to kill all Christians, Matthew a tax collector, and the list goes on. Time and time again God chose men in unique ways to do what needed to be done. Is this just another one of those ways?

Regardless of the good things and problems, I am going to keep my eye on this venture called The Next Evangelist. It may be that God has a plan to do something great with it, or it may flop and never become more than an idea. We shall see.



Until next time
Shalom
the Theolobster

check out their website and see what you think:

Saturday, April 7, 2012

40/40 Day 40 Twas the night before Easter...

Twas the night before Easter
and all through the church...

That does sound like a good opening to a poem.  Perhaps I will write it someday, but not today.  Tonight we are preparing to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. Tonight is technically the last night of Lent and tomorrow for all of you who have put off something is the day you can celebrate having done it and you can eat your carbs, your sugar, carnivorous meals of meat and poultry.  You no longer have to deny yourselves caffeine and coffee, and all sorts of things that we have put aside for spiritual renewal.  That is of course if you want to.  It is also the time for those of us who have taken on something for Lent to take a break and a respite from doing whatever it is.  That is of course if you want to.

Tonight is the last blog I have to do in a row.  I don't have to schedule time in my day to blog whether it be in the evening which has been my habit, or the morning which has been my intention.  However, the habit has been formed.  I will want to blog.  I need to blog.  I will limit my blogging to a minimum of one or two a week and possibly more if the spirit moves.  I have learned through this that I can express myself online and that there are some people out there in the world who will read it and not comment directly to me.  Some have given me "likes" on facebook and have agreed with what I have to say.  So this is a valuable habit and growth point for me.  That is what Lent is all about, adding valuable habits and room to grow in you walk with Christ.

As I sit here typing my last blog of Lent, I am reflecting on the apostles, and what they must have been feeling on that Passover Saturday.  They had just witnessed the death of their Messiah.  Oh the questions and doubts that were going through their minds? They knew that they were safe from being touched or killed on that Sabbath day, but what would the next day hold?  Would the Romans be looking for them?  Would the Sanhedrin want them dead as well?  What was going to happen to them?  Was Jesus really the Messiah?  If so then why is he dead?  What do we do now?  Everything they had lived for and were chasing after was now gone.  They sat and were probably in despair this day, and they could do nothing about it.  It was their Sabbath.  It was Passover.  They were limited on where they could go and what they could do.  All they could do is wait.

We know the end of the story.  We know what tomorrow holds.  We know what Easter holds.  They did not. We must remember that when the world seems darkest and everything is blowing up in our face. God has read the end of the story.  He knows what tomorrow holds.  He has seen the empty tomb and He has seen light at the end of the tunnel and it is not a train.  It is HIM.  So tonight rest in the peace of God and know that He has it all under control.

Shalom
The Theolobster

Friday, April 6, 2012

40/40 Day 39 Concerning Good Friday, Easter Eggs, and Veggie Tales

Today is the 39th blog.  Today is also Good Friday.  As a church the Foundry hasn't always done events well. We have always had problems connecting people to the next event or getting them to come through the doors of the church. We have tried several techniques of meeting the same people, talking to the same people, inviting folks from the same area, having the same type of events that attracted people the first time.  They have not always worked.

This week we have finally have some success in connecting people to our programs.  One person in particular, was the campus safety guard at Widener who was posted at the corner of fraternity row which was next to the Lathem Hall which was where we had our Redemption program.  He spent a majority of his time that night listening to our program, and watching the presentations.  He connected with us and we connected with him.

Today we had our annual Good Friday Easter Egg Hunt in Hepford Park. .  This event brought about a hundred or more families, (I am not sure if anyone actually counted).  It was an amazing event with photos, 1800 plastic eggs, and the Chic-fil-a cow.   We had invited the Security Guard, John, to bring his son and family to join us and this morning he showed up.

Well this afternoon we had a movie and a lunch. We invited the kids that came to the Easter Egg Hunt to come to the movie.  We had lunch provided by Chic-Fil-a, and the movie was Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie.  We had about 50 people including kids, families, and students.  Among this conglomeration of people was John our Campus Safety friend and his family.

Easter Sunday we are having a pancake breakfast and worship.  We invited John and family to join us.  Let us hope he comes.

There are a lot of things we can do to affect and minister to the community.  We can do a big event every now and then.  We can provide occasional blessings for them, and we can have minor contact with them, but these are only dressings of the wounds of life, or just casual contact.  These may reach people eventually and plant seeds of truth and love, but it is in the everyday and more than casual contact that we actually reach people.  It is about forming friendships and community.  The church was built by Jesus and his Disciples in friendship and relationship.  The people Paul reached were done through relationship.  We have to make true and lasting connections with people.  We have to go to where people are and invite them into our family and our lives.  That is what we are doing with LOGOS, and what we are doing with John.  We will continue to try to do this with the rest of the community.

I pray that we will learn from our successes and our failures.

Shalom
Hair
The Theolobster

Thursday, April 5, 2012

40/40 Day 38 Maundy Thursday

Today is Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday whichever you wish to call it.  As I have said before, I do not come from a liturgical background, and I do not have a tradition of celebrating any of the days of Holy Week.  However I have recently participated in several services centered around this Maundy Thursday idea.

The first was several years ago.  The concept then was to commemorate and teach the arrest, betrayal, and death of Jesus.  There was no Good Friday service at this church nor a community Good Friday service.  I am not sure that they do that in the south. This service sparked emotions of despair and hopelessness.  It was designed to leave us with the feelings that the disciples and apostles must have had on the day that Jesus was arrested and killed.  I am not sure if that is right, but it was one of the most powerful and thought provoking services in which I had ever participated.

In my current church setting we began discussing the Passover meal that Jesus and his disciples ate.  For several years we talked over the images of Christ in the Passover meal.  We learned that the Jewish feasts all predict and image Christ's coming and sacrifice, from the spotless lamb, to the blood on the doorpost, to the matzah that is made with holes and stripes and is broken.  Even the juice/wine and the cups have special significance and meaning.  It is a celebration and a commemoration of the plight from Egypt and the death, burial and Resurrection of Christ.

Tonight we had a full Seder service (my first one).  We did the whole meal and interjected the Christian symbolism into it.  We talked about what it meant and what it means.   We will continue to do this and celebrate it.  I am waiting to take the next step.  I would love to sit in on and participate in an actual Passover meal with an authentic Jewish family who know all of the secrets, rites and rituals and who perform them as they are meant to be performed without explanation.  While what we did tonight had its merits and was well accepted and informative.  I think an actual Passover meal would be an unique and powerful experience.

One more note about tonight.  Our church, The Foundry Church in Wallingford, PA,  has many different ministries going on.  We have several Bible studies that happen at the church as well as on Widener Universities campus, and not all of the people come together or even meet.  There are some people who only come to Tuesday nights at the church.  There are others who only come on Thursdays, while others we only see on Sundays, and the college students only come to things on campus or are directed to them.  Tonight we had people from all portions and parts of our ministries.  We had about 30 people with representatives from all our ministries.   It was a true representation of our church and good view of what the Church and body of Christ is all about.

Anyway the point is no matter how you commemorate this day.  Whether it is with a dark ominous and foreboding service, or a family seder meal, or just a worship service, this day is a day that deserves notice and a day that sparked the change in the world.  Remember that Maundy Thursday leads to Good Friday which leads to Resurrection Sunday!

Shalom
Hair the Theolobster

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

40/40 Day 37 Intentions and Perspective

What I had intended to do this passion week was to talk about the individual days of the week and what had occurred in the life of Christ during on that day.  It would have been an interesting study and something I may do next year about this time, but some things have come up personally that detoured my thinking and wrecked some of my mental perimeters.  

I am not ready to go into all the details, nor am I going to talk about it in my blog or online until all the things have worked out, but recently my life had one of those dramatic and sudden shifts.  It is interesting how life has its slow and getting comfortable times then everything happens at once.  These curves and paradigm shifts don't always come with a warning, or the warnings are subtle and indirect and often cloudy, but when they do come they force you to rethink how you have lived your life thus far and what you need to adjust in the new situation. The good changes....Hold on.  I don't think that I can categorize them in simplistic forms of good and bad.  There are multiple layers.  For some changes are good for others, but not so much for you or they aren't necessarily bad, but seem that way.  It could all just be perspective and context.  Some are neither good nor bad, rather can be described as sudden lateral shifts.

Anyway the ultimately positive ones bring rushes of ecstasy and panic, while the extremely negative ones bring moments of fear and trembling.   The one I experienced this week brought with it a flood of emotions including confusion, betrayal, fear, uncertainty, frustration, and my old friend loneliness.  All of these things derailed me mentally and brought me to my knees.  I fussed and cussed at God about it and all of these things and questioned Him why it had happened so suddenly and how am I going to survive this, and in His own way God answered.

I began to reflect on past events and paradigm shifts that occurred throughout my life.  I began to think about all of the times that I was freaking out about one thing or another.  I began to talk them out and feel the old feelings I felt in those times, and I heard God's silent voice whispering,  "I took care of you then didn't I?"  I said "Yes."  He said "Don't worry I'm going to take care of you now." (almost exactly what I felt I heard Him say) "Just do what you need to do and follow me." (what may be implied.)  So the wind has shifted, the tide has turned and once again I am depending on God for the future and adjusting my life to compensate for the shift.  He hasn't failed me yet.

However, I would like my old friend loneliness to go away and never come back.  He and I don't get along so well.

Shalom
Hair
the Theolobster

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

40/40 day 36 REDEMPTION

It is almost 11:30 at night.  I am tired and have yet to see my home.  So I will attempt to be brief.

Tonight was our concert on the campus of Widener University that we call Redemption.  (the concert is called Redemption not the university.)  Opening the night was the Forge's house band Fourth Man Furnace.  They did an excellent job and the sound was awesome. Matt Miazga, the lead for Fourth Man, led us through a tale of struggle and redemption in his music. It was interesting to see his journey reflected in song and many people identified with it.

The next performer was Bryan Easter.  He is a math teacher from Bakersfield, California.  I am not 100% sure how we got him to come to our event, but we knew people who knew people who knew him.  If you have a chance to hear him in concert then go and do it.  He is pretty good and I am glad we now have a friendship with him.http://bryaneaster.com/wordpress/

David Weiss was the featured speaker and truly set the theme for the night.  He told a story through paintings and drama about a wealthy art collector who had a son who died in Vietnam.  A buddy of the son gave the art collector a painting of the son.  When the man died and the art was auctioned off the portrait of the son was the first painting to be sold.  When it sold the auctioneer packed up and left.  People were wondering about the rest of the priceless art.  The auctioneer said "He who takes the son gets it all."
http://amokarts.wordpress.com/
This season of Easter and Lent is about redemption.  It is about freedom from sin and restored relationship with  God and all that it took and takes to do that.  Don't forget that among the hustle and bustle of kids looking for Easter eggs, Passion plays and Cantatas, jelly beans and chocolate bunnies, and portraits of families in their Easter best.  It is all about freedom.


Thanks to all who came out tonight and to all who participated in making our Redemption concert the best one we have had.  God bless and Good night.

Shalom
Hair
The Theolobster.

Monday, April 2, 2012

40/40 Day 35 Palm Sunday remembrances

yesterday was Palm Sunday.   It is the day we celebrate the beginning of Holy Week, also known as the passion week.  It is the last week of Lent and this is the first of the last six blogs for the 40/40 challenge.  I know that this weekend I was silent.  I was stewing over topics and resting my mind.  There are a lot of things that have occurred in my life at this time of year.

7 years ago on March 29, my stepfather Thomas E Jarvis Sr was violently taken away from us in a boiler explosion.  He had just called my mamma and told her that he loved her as he did every night that he worked.  He then went to answer an alarm on the boiler that was sounding.  The boiler exploded and he was the only casualty.

Tom was a good man.  He married my mom my senior year of college and made her happy which had not happened in a long time.  I knew she was happy because she only complained half as much as she did before she got married.  Tom also was a positive influence in my life.  He wanted to see mine and my sister's lives improve and would have adopted me as his own had I not been graduating from college that year.  (I was too old.) He was Pop Pop to my niece, a friend to my brother-in-law, and a role model to me.  He was a Marine.

Last year around this time there was another loss in my family.  My Grandmother Inez Stevens lost the battle to cancer.  She turned 86 on April 8th and was buried several days later.  I remember flying down to South Carolina and attending her funeral which happened to take place on Good Friday.  The significance of that moment was not lost on me.  I was burying my grandmother on the day we commemorate my savior's death.  I may have been the only one in my family to see the connection.

Anyway I did not mean to bum you out with this blog.  I do not dwell to long on death.  I only remember and celebrate the ones whom I have lost, and rejoice that one day I will see them again. So may God bless you with a long and happy life and may you cherish the ones you love daily.

Trusting in God's love and Grace
Shalom
Hair the Theolobster

Friday, March 30, 2012

40/40 day 34 No Ordinary Man

Something was said at church tonight that I have heard before and partially agreed with, but through careful consideration I have changed my opinion about.  The statement was along the lines that the Apostles were ordinary men from ordinary circumstances who did extraordinary.  I agree with this idea in most cases.  Then they added Paul into this mix and called him ordinary.  This is where I have to steer away from the agreement factor.
Paul was no ordinary man.  He was primed and ready to reach multiple people on multiple levels.  He was a person with connection points to all aspects of the world of that time.  He was able to speak Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Aramaic.  He was a Pharisee who was taught by Gamaliel who was one of the most respected people and teachers in the Pharisaic tradition.  He was keenly aware of his surroundings, could use aspects of other cultures, Greek poetry, philosophy, and culture to preach in any situation the Gospel of Christ.  He was allowed in synagogues, he was a practicing Jew who followed Jewish purification rights and rituals, and he was natural born Roman citizen.  He made friends of business people, religious people, and politicians.  He was able to cause a riot with only a few words and calm an angry crowd with a wave of his hand.  He commanded respect by his person, and contempt by the power in his words. He understood the freedom from the law in Christ, and the personal social and cultural restrictions people must place on themselves.  He knew what it was to hate Christians then Love all people.  

Reading through the book of Acts one cannot say that Paul was ordinary.  He was anything but.  He was extraordinary and perfectly designed to reach the people of the world in which he lived.  It is almost like God knew what He was doing when He chose Paul to change the world.  There was no better candidate.

If you don't believe me read the book of Acts.

Shalom
Hair the Theolobster

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

40/40 Day 33 Early Reflection

okay so it is day 33.  Or this is the 32nd blog in my 40/40 challenge (it all depends on which math you are using and how you count the days of Lent.)  I am not sure about what I am supposed to be learning or what habit I am supposed to be picking up.  The two days I took off, I felt weird that I should be writing something.  Although Sunday was fine and I did rest on that day, Saturday I had some extra time and thought that I should be blogging or something.

This has also stretched me creatively.  The days that I had nothing to say, I had to come up with something.  Sometimes I have hit these things out of the park.  Other times it has flopped majorly.  I also learned that I do have opinions on certain topics and my passions can get stirred (referring to the previous two days' topics.)  I also found out that it is not necessarily a bad thing to share those opinions.  Other people may agree with it and are waiting for someone to say what they wanted to say but didn't.  I know that I have at least 8 more days and this is an odd time to get reflective on you, but this is where my mind is right now.  

I must admit that I have been tracking the views.  I don't know exactly who is reading this, but I know that an average of 15 people have read each one.  most of them come from the US, but some folks in Europe have read and enjoyed.  I haven't gotten many comments so that makes me question, but hey no comment is a good comment, or so they say.

Anyway just thought I'd ramble for a few minutes.  Thank you for letting me ramble.  I hope that you are having a great season and that whatever you have given up or taken on has been a life-changing experience in which God has taught you something.

Shalom
Hair the Theolobster

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

40/40 day 32 My last word on the subject

After my last blog I am sure that many things have happened.  For those who have left me,  I will miss you, and I say thanks for traveling with me this far.  For those who have just joined me, welcome to this journey of mine.   For those who are still with me, thanks for hanging with me.

I am a firm believer in the love and grace of God. I preach it. I teach it. I rely on it, stand in it, and am consumed by it.  The Love of God is the reason why I am a Christian, it is what saves me, protects me, provides for me and convicts me when I am wrong.  It is my duty and obligation as a child of God to share this love that has changed my life with the world.  In the broader sense and to the individual people of this world.  God has called me to love my neighbor, my family, my God and my enemy.  I cannot choose who to love, I have to love those who hate me, those whom I don't like so much, those who are like me, those who are different, in essence there is no one that is beyond the realm of God's love and no one I should not share that love with.

So in saying that, it bothers me when I see Christians and preachers and pastors specifically spewing hate rhetoric.  It bothers me when preachers take on causes simply to make their name greater than it is.  Sure they cover it up with words like justice and righteousness.  However, under these words and in their eyes they lies the secret words judgement and retribution.  In essence I have seen men of God looking to take the law of God into their own hands.  They are out for blood, or someone is out for blood and they are fueling the fire.  They may speak the love of God, but they live for the wrath of man.  They may embrace and wear the name of God, but wish that their name is great.

Was there an injustice done?  Yes.
Am I sad that someone died?  Yes
Do I think there is a race problem in America?  Yes
Do I think that the guy needs to answer for killing someone?  Yes
Should he do some jail time?  Yes
Should he die?  Maybe maybe not
Should we be the ones to judge?
Should we let this be the case that tears this country apart?  If we are not careful men and women of God, it may be.
Is that an extreme question to ask?  Yes and No,

Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." Matt 5:9

We must find ways to preserve peace.  We must find a way to rectify this situation and bring peace to the families involved.  We must find ways to set our pride aside and join this world in solving the problems of race, not with violent sounding speeches that make people angry and full of hate.  Not with rallies that create amped emotions.  Not with a mob mentality or the death of an offender.

Maybe the answer is simple.  Respect for people as individuals regardless of color and creed.  People of all races, social classes, and denominations coming together to  pray and know the Lord our God.  It requires us setting aside ourselves and realizing that we are no better than any one other person, and not seeking glory or our name in lights.  Then maybe we can be peace makers and be called sons and daughters of God.

I'm just one beggar telling another beggar where to find the bread.

Shalom
Hair
The Theolobser


Monday, March 26, 2012

40/40 day 31 STOP JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS!!!

Okay so what I am about to say may not make me popular with the masses out in the world.  It may cause some people to stop reading my blog, or worse, but I am tired of people over-sensationalizing events and making them into more than they should be.

What I am referring to is the recent shooting of Travyon Martin.  This has blown way out of proportion.  People across the country are rallying and protesting because a young black kid was shot by a white man.  Okay so I admit, I hate to hear about a kid getting shot and killed.  It grieves my spirit that a child so young has lost his life in a senseless and violent way, and I wish that it never happened.  However the world (and by world I mean the political activists and media) have jumped to all sorts of conclusions based on emotionalism and personal insult.  It is almost as if they had nothing else to fight against, that they overlook all of the details of the encounter and decide that George Zimmerman, who will never have a normal life anymore,  is a racist who saw a black kid in a hoodie and decided to shoot him.

I just want people to think about this:  George Zimmerman was captain of his neighborhood watch.  The neighborhood watch patrols the neighborhood and looks for anything  that makes the neighborhood unsafe and endangers the people in it. They are keyed into anything that does not belong or has not been there before.  What Zimmerman saw was a kid that was not part of his neighborhood wandering down street acting suspiciously.  Zimmerman called the cops. There was an altercation and Zimmerman got a broken nose and Travyon was shot dead.

Zimmerman was doing his duty as captain of the neighborhood watch.  He was trying to keep his community safe, and report things that were not normal.  Why he had a gun with him I don't know, but he did and was licensed to carry it.

However because Martin was a black kid, Zimmerman is now a racist, and Travyon Martin is being hailed as a hero and symbol of the white man stereotyping a black man. A martyr in a war that should over by now. Although he had some shady instances in his not so distant past.  He was suspended from school and not living with his parents.  Also it is more than likely that he attacked Zimmerman first, but that is pointless according to the media and other activists.

I am sure if Travyon was a white kid, then George would have done the same thing and he may have been hailed as a good citizen that protects his family does his job and maybe he would have gotten a commendation.  Or if Zimmerman was a black man then there would be no comment about it whatsoever, and it would have been swept under the rug.

So I just want to tell everybody out there to CHILL OUT!  Travyon wasn't shot simply because he was a black kid in a hoodie.  He was followed because he was in a place that he did not belong acting like he did not belong there and acting like he was up to something.  Zimmerman was doing his duty by following and reporting.  He was shot because he attacked someone!  Let's also not forget that all of the details of the confrontation have yet to be released.  Until they do I will watch and pray. I ask that you do the same and withhold judgement until all of the facts have been revealed. Pray for Travyon's family, Pray for George Zimmerman, Pray for the idiots who have jumped on the racism bandwagon that they will not go too far.  Pray for our country that this does not turn into a Rodney King riot situation again.  Pray for Florida.  Pray for America.  PRAY PRAY PRAY.  Pray that when the truth comes out that it will be heard and not be ignored due to over-sensationalism and hurt pride.

Shalom
Hair
The Theolobster

PS> This is why I hate blogging.  Now the whole world knows how I feel about this.  Popular or not there it is.

Romans 12:18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.



Friday, March 23, 2012

40/40 supplemental Days OFF

Okay so I am tired.  This week has been hectic tiring, exhausting.  I organized a cookout, did a Bible study and today I took a mission team around Philly.  I learned two things.  One is you can't see all of Philly in one day, and you shouldn't even try.

I also learned something that applies to this blog session.  According to the rules of Lent, Sundays don't count.  I wish I had known that before I started.  If I continue on the path I am on I will finish my 40th blog a week before Lent is over.  So i am taking this weekend off.  No blogs until Monday.  Tomorrow and Sunday will be busy so I am not taking the time to blog.  I owe myself 7 days.  This blog doesn't even count

Shalom
Hair the Theolobster

Thursday, March 22, 2012

40/40 day 30 Headline: Change in Economy Causes Riots

Anyone who has read through the book of Acts can see that Paul definitely has his ups and downs in ministry. There are times when people accepted him and praised him for the things that he could do.  Sometimes he was even thought to be a god.  Other times there were stonings, beatings, rioting, trials and miscellaneous other problems and persecutions.  It is interesting what the catalysts for these persecution events.  Sometimes it happens to be a group of Jews angry with what Paul was saying, but a couple of events involved Paul's preaching disrupting the financial status of the community and the people.  
person of interest in cause
of riots.
2 examples of this.

Acts 16:16-24  Paul and Silas are wandering around Macedonia preaching and teaching.  They are getting along with people and making nice with several people in the marketplace especially Lydia who sells purple.  Well there was this one young lady who had a spirit of divination and was making money for her masters.  Well she was following Paul and Silas around telling the people that they were messengers of the most high God.  Out of annoyance and being bothered Paul looked at the girl and said to the spirit

 "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!" 

Well the evil spirit did come out, and the girl could no longer tell the future.  Her owners "saw that their hope of gain was gone."  They had Paul and Silas arrested, beaten and thrown in jail.

Fast forward to Acts 19:21-49
Demetrius was a silversmith who made idols for the people of Ephesus. Mostly of the goddess Artemis, the goddess of the hunt and the patron deity of Ephesus.  Well he was scared about the teachings of Paul especially the ones surrounding the concept of not worshiping idols and gathered other tradesmen to do something about it.  They were afraid that people would turn to God and stop buying idols and in turn started rumors about Paul saying that he spoke against Artemis.  Well the gathering of angry people commenced and soon the entire city was up in arms for many reasons.  Of course the Bible says "...most of them did not know why they had come together."  (19:32b.)  

There are many reasons that people have problems with the preaching of the Gospel.  However they disguise their true problems with some uberspiritual sounding reason or some theological in-discrepancy. However the root problem is something less spiritual and more personal.  In these cases the reasons were economic and fiscal.  These people were in danger of losing money.  Their pocketbooks and their way of life was being threatened.  We will forget the fact that other people's lives were being improved, the main problem was that money was involved.  (we will not even go into the story of Simon the magician who tried to offer money to Peter and John for the ability to lay hands on people and have them receive the Holy Spirit.)

Money has always been an issue.  It has always been connected to spiritual things, or it has been the underlying issue in spiritual debates, in discussions of tithing, who makes the decisions in a church, which church gets what, and what religion rules a certain area.  The bottom line is when Jesus enters the picture everything changes including and especially the economy.  

Anyway that is just something to get you thinking.  I hope it works

Shalom
Hair
the Theolobster.

40/40 day 29 mission team and coffee

Today was another good day.  This morning the mission team, Chuck and I did a coffee outreach at a train station.  It was wet, nasty and we didn't see a whole lot of people.  We did not have a large group manning the table, but we had a lot of folks who were prayer walking Swarthmore College.

Afterward they returned to the church and dug trenches, shoveled soil, and several other things on the church grounds.  Thanks to this team we have a light in our shed, motion sensor lights outside, soil that was delivered for a garden that hasn't been built yet shoveled, our neighbor's yard was cleaned, we got 1500 Easter Eggs filled for our upcoming Easter Egg Hunt, we made contact with over 20 something students at a cookout, we prayerwalked 2 campuses, passed out hundreds of flyers, and several other things that I don't even know.  Who knows what the impact of this team will be.  We have made many new friends and some lasting partnerships with our fellow Christians in our neighboring state, OHIO.  May God bless them and give them safe passage home.  They have 2 more days.  Please pray that they will have safety and success Thursday and Friday.

Until tomorrow
Shalom
Hair
the Theolobster

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

40/40 Day 28 A long Day of ministry.

Okay so today is day 28.  They say it takes 28 days to form a habit.  Is blogging a habit for me yet.  well, I am tired and I want to go to bed.  I was greasy, had a long day today that started with me leaving the house before 7:30 am and returning home around 10:00 pm.  I have an early morning tomorrow starting at 630am and I almost went to bed without blogging.  I am blogging now at 1123pm.  So maybe it is a habit. (maybe)

soularium cards www.mysoularium.com
Today was an awesome day.  This week a mission team from Wright State University in Ohio has been ministering with us.  Today they came onto the campus of Widener.  This morning we met for our usual 730 prayer time. It was me, two Widener students and 18 Ohioans.   It was amazing.  The team had been prayer walking since 700am.  So they beat me there.  They also came back the campus and helped with a ministry table talking to students and leading them through something called Soularium.  (no time or energy to explain wat that is.  Google it)  They also prayer walked and hung out in various places inviting people to a cookout that we had this evening at 5:30-8pm.  We ministered to I don't know how many students, staff, and neighbors.   It was a most successful event.  When asked about numbers I can not tell you, but I can say that I met Becky, Alex, Chris, Stephanie, Michelle, Martin, Bonny, Bill, Richard, Donald, Samantha, Jim, Russell, Ashley and many other people.  We talked to them, we sat with them, we fed them, we laughed with them, we invited them to join us and we helped them.   It was a successful ministry day.  Maybe some of them will come back an join us at our Bible study.  Maybe not, but we at least have crossed paths once, and will again.  We'll see what happens.  As for now I am tired.  I'm going to bed.

Shalom
Hair
The Theolobster

Thank you Wright State Mission Team.  God bless you.

Monday, March 19, 2012

40/40 Day 27 A movie about suing Satan...Could be interesting.

I have to deviate from my projected course and go on a little bit of a rant.  I am sure that you won't mind.  I just watched the movie "Suing the Devil."  At the Foundry Church we have an independent film night where we show independent films from young film makers. I don't know what happens normally, and I understand that we don't normally show a "Christian" movie, but I think with the hype and the press surrounding this movie, we made an exception. (and by we I mean the people who run this ministry). The Foundry church is an arts oriented congregation and have many filmmakers that cross our paths.

Well anyway Let me discuss the good points.  First of all the premise of the movie is decent.  A young law student is tired of seeing bad things happen in this world and in his life.  He blames Satan for all of the evil in this world and decides he needs to do something about it. So he starts a lawsuit to sue the devil.  (that much you could probably ascertain from the title of the movie).  Well, the unexpected happens (more so to create a plot than to make a statement) a man who claims to be Satan actually shows up to defend himself.  He has with him a team of lawyers to win this case.  Great concept.  Malcolm McDowell plays Satan and does a descent job.  Also Corbin Bernsen and Tom Sizemore also make appearances in this movie, increasing the acting caliber a little (at least in name recognition.)  And Rebecca St James also makes an appearance in the film.

This movie lives up to almost everything I expected from a Christian movie.  It tried hard to be relevant and make a unique point.  However, it also tried to make several other points while it was on its way.  I am not sure what it was saying or to whom it was saying it.  It wandered all around the evangelical Christian doctrines of free will, the nature of evil, the origin of Satan, and the spiritual war between good and evil without landing firmly anywhere.  The acting was bad to say the least with the exception of a decent speech from McDowell, and Bernsen played his small part rather well.  The editing was choppy and the plot did not make sense.  As I said everything i come to expect from a Christian movie.  The only thing it didn't have was a deep Christian gospel/salvation moment, or a rapture event at the end (sorry for that spoiler (not really, but it was nice to feign an apology there)).

I am waiting for Christian movies of quality.  I would love to see a Christian movie that has good actors, a decently written script, impeccable directing, and some killer special effects. I understand that Christian directors and filmmakers need to pander to some religious patrons who are spending money to produce something and they have to add certain elements that are expected to be there.  They probably need a Gospel presentation or a rapture event to make producers happy, and to present a movie that might lead someone to Christ, but what they end up making is low quality uninteresting films that people are disappointed that they spent time and money to watch.  We as Christians claim to serve the creator of the universe.  We claim to want to give God our best, but we end up only giving Him what we think will save people.

The Bible says this:
"Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to the Father through Him."  Colossians 3:17

"Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

We should be giving God the best.  We should strive for excellence in all that we do including our art and our movies. We must ask ourselves Is God happy with our mediocrity?  Is God glorified with our poorly done movies or is He happy that we made something for him?  Does God expect more from us on this front?  I know I do. 

 I am still seeking a good quality Christian movie, and I hope that one day I will find one.  "Suing the Devil" was not that movie.  The search continues

Shalom
Hair the Theolobster

Sunday, March 18, 2012

40/40 Day 26 Sunday moment

For those of you wondering, I did preach tonight.  It was decent.  I will talk about it tomorrow.  So for tonight I will post this lovely video of the Maccabeats.  Enjoy.









Shalom
Hair the Theolobster

Saturday, March 17, 2012

40/40 day 25 What am I going to preach tomorrow?

It is the end of a long week,  we have a mission team from Ohio at our church this week.  I have to preach a sermon tomorrow night to a crowded room, and I have nothing.  We just finished the book of Ruth, so I have no plan for the next two weeks.  Here I am wasting time on the computer playing video games, and blogging and I still got nothing.  I have prayed, looked up lectionaries (which I don't normally preach from) and have scoured the internet for good ideas (or bad ones at this point)  and it comes down to this.  In 19 hours I will be in front of 30 people who are expecting something awesome from the Lord through me and I got nothing.

I must admit I did waste some time on YouTube seeking inspiration and saw some awesome Jewish artists, the Maccabeats, an acapella  group doing some interesting songs about Jewish feasts, Micha'el Ben David who has a unique style and sound and Liel Kolet who just did a beautiful song entitled Elohim Sheli which roughly translated is My God.

I know that these are Jewish artists, but they are singing about my God too.

Anyway I will leave you to enjoy the video from youtube, and I will go and seek the Lord about my sermon topic or scripture for tomorrow night.

Until tomorrow
Shalom
Hair the Theolobster

40/40 day 24 St Baldrick's Day

Today was the St Baldrick's day celebration at Widener University.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, St Baldrick was not a real person.  It began as a fund raiser for the treatment of childhood cancer in 1999.  To celebrate people shave their heads on St Patrick's day to identify with people, especially children who are fighting and suffering from cancer. The people who were to get their head shaved would have raised funds and donation support from other people.  So Baldrick is a juxtaposition of the word bald in place of  pat in Patrick.

Today had me cringing when I watched young female students get their heads shaved. I had no problems with guys getting their head shaved, but some of the girls had beautiful hair.  However it is important that women realize and identify with this loss, or at least that is what they say.  Watching the emotions and the decisions that were made today was curious.  Girls were asking others for advice, struggling with internal issues from what parents would say to what future employees would say, to how they would feel personally.  A lot of stuff is tied up in a woman's hair.

This decision making comes up in many circumstances.  However it all comes down to asking a question when it comes down to making a decision between doing something or not.  Which will you regret more doing or not doing something?  This question can only be answered by you.  Ultimately you know yourself and you can either not do something and regret things for the rest of your life, or go to the place, do the thing, talk to the person and have an adventure and see what happens. (yeah I said that amazing how that phrase keeps popping up.)

I had one student who was sure she wasn't going to do it, but felt like she should.  She asked me if I was disappointed.  I told her that I supported her in anything that she did. That is the point of St Baldrick's Day.  Support.  She would have regretted not cutting her hair more than she would have cutting her hair.

to quote John Carter "Go. Find a cause, fall in love, write a book..."
See what happens

Shalom
Hair
The Theolobster

Thursday, March 15, 2012

40/40 day 23 To Blog or not to Blog, to Post or not to Post

There are many things that are going through my mind tonight as I sit down to blog.  (the least of which is that blog is a funny word.)  I started this journey with the intention of building the habit of letting the world know what I am doing and what I am thinking.  I acknowledge that there are hundreds and possibly thousands of people out in the world who think that what they have to say must be heard by others.  I have never been one of those people.  I usually reserve my voice and hold my opinions until I deem it necessary to speak. I like to fall back on the proverb that it is better to remain silent and have people think you are a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.  Now I am publishing a blog.  I am in essence putting out for the whole world to see my opinions, my theology, my actions, and my ideology.  I am publishing my faults, failures, successes and sentiments for all the world to see.  (someone in Russia is reading this.) Then to top it off I connected a couple of these to my sermons on YOUTUBE.   Now bear in mind I am not seeking self glory or praise for what I am doing.  I would rather let things progress in my ministry and life and tell you about it person to person, or not at all.  I don't want to let the world know what I am doing.  This is what I must overcome.
Also what worries me about teaching and posting opinions is James chapter 3 verse 1:
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, because you know that we will be judged more strictly.

This verse scares the bageesus out of me.  God's word said that God will judge me for the things that I teach other people.  The things that I put out there and tell others and treat as what should be known and followed, God will hold me to even more strictly and severely.  (This came up in our weekly Bible study and caused much discussion.)  My life must be free from the blemish of hypocrisy and be covered in the cloth of truth and integrity.  Even more so since I am charged with the teaching and training of many college students, and now the ones who read this.  

I understand that in the past 23 days I have been blogging like a madman.  I have also been posting like a madman.  I believe the purpose of a blog is to be written and read.  So thanks for bearing with me for these 23 days, and I beg you to bear with me for the next 17.  I will be posting less after that. 

So let us all who blog be aware that the things we say will be held against us.  That is not to say that we need not to blog, but let us make sure what we say is backed up with what we do.  
Until next time
Shalom
Hair the Theolobster

40/40 day 22 LOGOS Student Ministry is born

I suppose I have delayed this long enough.  This week the good news came.  Logos has officially become a student organization.  Last night was our first officially sanctioned club meeting.  I got this news from an officer of the SGA.  I have not received much else in the line of news, but I am waiting.  It took about two years to get to this place.  There are some people who credit me, but I cannot take any of the glory.  It started with Pastor Chuck Kieffer starting as a chaplain at Widener.  Then it turned into a weekly worship service on campus.  Then it morphed into one student wanting more than just a service and desired a student organization and Bible study.  One by one students and other individuals found their way to the group.  Some were invited by myself, others were collected by fellow students.  One by one we got enough people to form a group.  Then we finally found a faculty adviser.  Then we formed a constitution.  We jumped through all the hoops and found a toehold as a student org.

I have to tell the story of our student president.  While Ashley D, the first student previously mentioned, was about to graduate and leave, our current president was starting as a freshman nursing and ROTC student.  She was a large part in inviting people to the Bible study.  One day as I was relaxing in the Interfaith Center, she came in upset that due to a medical issue, she was being kicked out of the ROTC.  Fortunately we had a semester missionary position open and provided her with a stipend and some health insurance.  She has been busy doing the leg work  necessary to help LOGOS become an official Student organization.

I owe the credit for this to Ashley D, Chuck Kieffer, Bettina, Ashley N, Kevin, Elizabeth, Rachel, Andre, Carl, Viraga, Ryan, Michell, Sara, Chris, Maggie, Kayla, Sam, Autumn...  Most of all I give the glory to God Almighty.
It is by the power of God we have a Christian Student Organization known as LOGOS.

Shalom
Hair
the Theolobster

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

day 21 REDEEMED!! Tell someone!

Some times when you preach all of elements are just there.  Not necessarily the structure, but rather the spirit, the text, the audience and the preacher.  This is what happened  Sunday night.  I was preaching on the final Chapter of Ruth and struggling with some of the content.  However once when I got to the point everything clicked.

The book of Ruth we saw that Ruth and Naomi were in need of redemption.  they were two worthless women who valued each other. They were widows with no children and Ruth was a Moabitess.  She had so many strikes against her, but her kindness and her search for redemption for Naomi and herself paid off.

Boaz was introduced as the kinsman redeemer.  However, chapter 3 introduced the fact that there was another redeemer that was closer to them.  This was the cliff hanger.

When I began to look at this allegorically (where one character or item in the story represents something else)  things started to click.  We started with Ruth and Naomi who represented us who are in need of redemption.  We are totally unable to save ourselves just as Ruth and Naomi were unable to redeem themselves.  We have this sin nature that hinders us and causes many negative aspects in our lives.  We are hopeless and unworthy.

Then there is this nearer redeemer who represented the Law.  God set forth this system that we were to follow in order to find redemption.  It showed us how to live and sacrifice the right animals in order to be saved and set right in the eyes of the Lord.  However, this system was incomplete and did not work so well in the long run.  There was little love in the law and the consequences for not following the law were grave. The wages of sin is death and if we are guilty of breaking part of it we are guilty of it all.  It was an incomplete method of redemption.  The other redeemer when offered the the land to redeem was interested, but when offered Ruth was turned off.  There was no love for Naomi or Ruth.

This is where Boaz comes in.  He loved Ruth.  He was out to not only Redeem her, but take her as his Bride.  He was excited about this opportunity and did all that he could to make this possible.  He is an example of Christ. Jesus Loves us and does not want to see us suffer in sin and its negative consequences.  He decided to go beyond the letter of the Law and Redeem all of humankind.  For Good! Completely!  He wants to Completely RESTORE US AND BRING US INTO A RIGHT RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM AND GOD!!!!  THAT IS WHAT HE CAME TO DO!! and when you come to Him you can say:

I AM REDEEMED!
       I AM REDEEMED!!!
            I AM REDEEMED!!!!

It is at this point of the sermon I began to get excited and it translated into the congregation.  I got happy and was overwhelmed by the spirit of God to express it.  At one time I think I "Whoo"ed!  It was awesome.  Later someone said that I looked more holy on stage.  I don't know about that.  They credited it to my hair and my shirt.  I credit it to the work of God.

There are just some topics God get's us happy about.  Redemption is one of them.  We are Redeemed and we should be willing to talk about it, sing about it, shout about it, and ultimately tell every one we meet.  So share it and tell the world that you are Redeemed and show them how they can be too.

Until Tomorrow
Shalom
Hair the Theolobster

if you want to see the sermon check out these links

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xExdgmX1HLE&feature=context&context=C4f1463aADvjVQa1PpcFMtY6C1FM-dlJbTi8XXPc0oX-K1gErRBwo=
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hm5JSgaORsE&feature=context&context=C4f1463aADvjVQa1PpcFMtY6C1FM-dlJbTi8XXPc0oX-K1gErRBwo=
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=023EgtGZpDE&context=C4f1463aADvjVQa1PpcFMtY6C1FM-dlJbTi8XXPc0oX-K1gErRBwo=

Monday, March 12, 2012

40/40 Day 20 Halfway there

This is the halfway mark.  The point in time that we celebrate having come as far as we have, but realize that we have equally as far to go.  It is not as bad as it sounds. We simply must muscle through all of the things that are coming in the future.  They aren't much different than the things that we have overcome to get this far.  I am not saying that it will be easier, nor is it going to be harder.  We simply need to tackle them with the same gusto that  perseverance that we had those last 20 days.  We will want to give up, but we must continue forward.  We will wish we never started this journey, but we did that 10 days ago.  We will want time to speed up and get to the end of this journey so we can see what we will be like when we get there, but we must let time run its course and accept that we have not learned all that we need to learn or become what we wanted to become.  We are only half way there.  The rest is a journey that we need to take.  If we did not need to take it then we would not have started it and would have stayed where we were. So let's keep going and let's keep moving forward.

This message was intended for those who specifically are doing something for Lent.  However I hope that it blesses all who read it.  May this experience be rewarding and draw you closer to the Lord.  Be Blessed.

Shalom
Hair the Theolobster

The halfway point
PS I know I said I would talk about yesterday, but I still need to process some things.  I will finish my series on the book of Ruth tomorrow.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

40/40 day 19 A Poetry Moment

It is Sunday and I cannot put my thoughts in any resemblance of an order.  I just had an awesome time at the Forge.  The sermon went well, and the movie afterward was pretty cool, but my mind is a little scattered tonight.  So here is a poem for you to enjoy and remember.  I will talk more about tonight tomorrow.


A POEM
a poem
doesn't have to rhyme
every single time
the word-master said
his face turning red
but ain't it fun
to just read one
that does




It was short but I hope you liked it.

Until tomorrow
Shalom
Hair the Theolobster

Saturday, March 10, 2012

40/40 day 18: RELEVANT FLIX: HEREAFTER

One of the things I intend to do with my blog in the future is to discuss the movies that I watch for Relevant Flix.

First I must explain what that is.  Relevant Flix began officially 4 years ago, but it has it's roots much further than that. Many years ago I watched the movie The Abyss. It was thriller set on the bottom of the ocean where aliens who manipulated water set to terrorizing the people in some underwater lab.  I thought it was a good movie.  Then I saw the director's cut and realized that it was a great movie.  I also realized that this movie was making a point and that it had a message.  I began to wonder if any other movies had similar motives.

Fast forward to after college. I was attending a Bible Study called Engage.  The speakers were doing a series about finding God in unexpected places.  Somewhere the tagline and concept of seeing the sacred in the secular came up.  Also feeding into this was my drama director's desire to start a movie discussion group at his new church, and the multiple uses of movie segments I have seen in youth meetings, sermons, and other Bible studies.  All used to provoke thought on a topic or to illustrate a point.  I began to think that this would be a great idea for a small group.  We could watch a popular movie and discuss it to see what the filmmaker's purpose was and how we can use this film to provoke discussion and thoughts towards God.  There had to be some guidelines set:

1.  Every form of media has a message.  There is something that someone wanted to say and they chose this form to express it.

2.  We must be aware that there is a message and be able to determine what that message is.

3.  God's voice can be heard and His message can be found in all sorts of places.  The things which are deemed as secular may contain a glimmer of the sacred, a sliver of truth.  It is this on which we must focus and be able to use to tell others about the whole truth.

Thus Relevant Flix was created.  It meets once a month usually the Second Saturday at 7:00pm

Tonight's movie was Hereafter.  It was produced and directed by Clint Eastwood.  It gave us a glimpse of 3 people's lives who had some dealings with death.

First there was Marie, a french woman who was involved in a tsunami while on vacation.  She was swept up in this massive wall of water where she died and was ethereally transported to another place of existence.  In essence for a moment there she was dead.   When she went back to France she was not the same.  She was consumed with wondering what had happened to her and what happens after we die.  She began to question and write a book about it.

Then there is a young boy named Marcus.  His twin brother, who was the stronger and leader of the two, dies in a tragic accident.  He feels his brother is still near him and does whatever he can to contact and connect with his lost brother. It is assumed that he is looking for closure and possibly needing to be complete and whole again.

Finally there is George.  George is a man who can communicate with dead people who are connected to the living. He used to make money doing "readings" for people.  However he began to be overburdened with them and consumed by them.  He left that life and has tried to make interpersonal connections with living people without much success.

This movie is light on plot, and the message is vague. It asks the obvious question of what happens when we die? and offers little in the form of a substantial answer.  According to this movie dead people become weightless and can be almost omnipresent.  It is said they can be everywhere all at once.  It also deals with the phonies and odd beliefs people have about communicating with the dead.  The ones Eastwood deals with are strange, and I know he didn't scratch the surface of what is out there.  It seems that this movie only deals with what the popular culture already knows.

I think that the movie Hereafter can be used to begin discussion about what happens after we die.  It does give a descent overview of the popular notion of near-death experiences and communication with the dead, but it does not go into complete details.  The discussion can be moved towards a Christian perspective of death and eternal life.  We talked about being absent from the body and present with the Lord.  Also the discussion of Heaven and Hell came up, as well as the notions of Paradise and Purgatory, Annihilation, and Sleeping.  It can go as deep as you'd like and touch all the theologies and ideologies that you can.  You will not get them from this movie, but it is a good starter.

There will be more reviews similar to this in the coming months.  I will also work on my presentation of these.  If there is anything you'd like to see me address leave a comment.

Until tomorrow
Shalom
Hair (the Theolobster)

Friday, March 9, 2012

40/40 day 17 God chases people?

I love watching God chase people.  I must admit that I have not actually seen this happen very often.  I know that it occurs, but I have never seen it in person.  My pastor tells me stories of how he called out God to prove himself, and God took up the challenge.  Every time he turned around there was a tract that spelled out the Gospel.  It would be there until he read it, and when he did, another one would replace it.  To top it off people would have conversations with him about what he read.  Then he would talk to other people who picked up right where they left off.  (he tells the story much better than I do.)  However his is not the story to which I am referring.

I am in contact with a woman who is a self proclaimed pagan.  Her "religion" focuses on the earth and several other things.  She works with the interfaith center and comes in contact with many people from many different religions including our christian Bible study group.  Added to the whole thing is that she recently entered into a homosexual relationship.  She also has many differing views that are counterproductive to the mainline Christian faith.  She is my friend, and she is being pursued by God.  Here some highlights of the pursuit.

1. First she comes in contact with the Bible study group.  She listens to our conversation and connects to many of the students in the group. She and I have had lengthy discussions about the Bible, my faith, and Jesus.

2. One of our discussions centered around her new girlfriend.  She was amazed at how the students had openly accepted her girlfriend with full knowledge of her lifestyle and choices.  We have accepted her as a person and an individual.

3.  When she moved out of her apartment, she claimed to have had 10-15 people promise to help her.  However the only 3 people to show up were myself, a student from our group and another believer whom she knew from school.  She called us her "God squad."

These are just some examples of how God is pursuing her.  God is making it easier and easier for her to know Him.  Even her religious views are bending toward a monotheistic Christianlike image.  She is not there yet, but she is getting close.

Let me dip into some theological lingo for a moment. In college, someone once asked me which came first, REGENERATION or SALVATION?  My answer to this is YES.  Regeneration is making something new. It is a process as I understand it of being changed into the person of Christ.

Both of these concepts are wrapped up in and are necessary parts of Redemption.  It is a change in the status of a person spiritually. It is the release of negative aspects and consequences.   Sometimes salvation comes first and you enter the kingdom then change.  Other times the change occurs slowly then you receive salvation.  God works differently for different people and personalities.

For Ruth, redemption came slowly.  Boaz made it easier and easier for her to come close to him.  She took all the steps in front of her, and came closer to him.  When the time was right and she was in the right place, Ruth finally asked for redemption from Boaz and he promised it to her.  It only took a nudge from Naomi for her to ask.

Our job as believers is to nudge people to ask the question and provide the opportunity for them to ask for redemption.  Sometimes this is harder than it sounds.  Other times it is simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time and having the right answer.  The challenge for us is to be aware of the pursuit and who God is chasing.

Until tomorrow
Shalom
Hair (the Theolobster)

40/40 day 16 Redemption ain't that hard to find

Day 16 already!  Wow! Time flies!

How hard is it to find Redemption?  I mean really is it that hard?  Some people seem to think that it is a very difficult thing to do, or they don't see the need for it, but it really isn't that hard.  I guess it all depends on your theology and your view of God.  Some people see God  as a ethereal entity that is off in the distance somewhere.  Other people see God as this vengeful angry deity that is waiting for someone to slip up so He (or she in some views of him) can strike them down with bolts of lightning.  Still others see God as disinterested and distant than anything that is relevant to this world and its goings on.  There are a few people who identify God as redeemer.

Since I have been talking about redemption, I figured it is time to define some terms:


Redeem
1. Compensate for the faults or bad aspects of (something).
(for my purposes the word bad can be replaced with negative)
2. Do something that compensates for poor past performance or behavior


Redemption
The action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil

It is hard to discuss these words without having some religious or blatantly spiritual tone.  In Christianity, Christ is the redeemer of humanity by saving us from the effects and the dangers of sin.

In the story of Ruth, Boaz is identified as a kinsman redeemer. He was a relative of Elimilech, Naomi's husband, and Ruth's daddy-in-law.  According to the Law of the people of Israel, when a woman is widowed then a male relative from their husband's family, preferably a brother, should marry her and provide offspring so that the honor of the man who died and his line will be preserved.  Boaz was in that position for Ruth.

Although it should have been difficult to reach him, Boaz continually made it easier and easier for Ruth to approach him.  He demanded that she only glean in his fields,  he gave her the opportunity to eat with him. He continually gave her blessing after blessing, and provision after provision.  In Chapter 3, Ruth with the prodding of Naomi positioned herself in a place where Boaz could be found in the threshing room where the wheat was processed (for lack of a better word, and to avoid detailed explanation.) It is important to note that women were not allowed there, and it was a huge celebration.  Well after Boaz was well fed and well liquidated, he rested and slept on the floor.  Ruth uncovered his feet and lay down beside him.  When Boaz awoke and found Ruth there this happened:

9 He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative.”

She simply reminded him of his task and asked for him to redeem her.  She asked for REDEMPTION!! That was it.  She asked from the person who could provide what he was obligated to provide.  Then this happened:

10 Then he said, “May you be blessed of the LORD, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich. 11 Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence. 12 Now it is true I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I. 13 Remain this night, and when morning comes, if he will redeem you, good; let him redeem you. But if he does not wish to redeem you, then I will redeem you, as the LORD lives. Lie down until morning.


He said (and I am paraphrasing for those who did not understand the above):  "Sure why not? Let me talk to a guy, and we'll work things out."

There was no complicated task she had to do, or hoops she had to jump through. All she had to do is realize her need, determine from whom she could receive it, and ask for what she needed.  Boaz made the rest easy.

Redemption is available to us.  It is as near as the request for it.  We simply have to ask God for it. Can it really be as simple as that?  YES!  God doesn't want it to be difficult.  He makes it easy for us to come to Him. He doesn't want us to exist in our state of sin and suffering the bad effects of it.  He wants us to come and know him.

Until tomorrow
Shalom
Hair
the Theolobster.

PS.  I think I fixed that problem with the comments.  Give it a try.
also here is the sermon that goes with this blog. In case you are curious
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ou-WeUsjogI&feature=g-all-u&context=G27764eeFAAAAAAAACAA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWPBjUz01EU&feature=g-all-u&context=G2b16cf0FAAAAAAAABAA

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

40/40 day 15 Value from Above (sermon 2 recap)

Tonight I am sitting here watching a rerun of  NCIS, eating a bowl of microwave popcorn and drinking a Pepsi.  I am doing all this while I am contemplating the story of Ruth.  Yesterday I wrote about the first Sunday in the series and about Ruth chapter 1.  Originally I was planning on limiting my series on Ruth to two sermons.  You know drop the bomb that the famous marriage covenant was first spoken by one woman to another then jump to the story of Boaz and race to then end of the story.  Well this whole concept of valuing people and giving them worth intrigued me. So i wondered how this thought and if this thought carried through the second chapter.  So I followed this with another sermon chasing the same theme.

Chapter 1 left Ruth and Naomi  as two worthless people (according to society's standards).  Granted Ruth's commitment to her mother-in-law gave Naomi some personal value in the eyes of Ruth and her own eyes, society still reckoned them as less and productive members of society.  Fortunately God does not see people the same way that society views them.  See God has placed in the Law certain guidelines in dealing with the marginalized, and the ones whom society looks down upon.

For example (and the one that is most pertinent to this story) gleaning.
Leviticus 19:
9 ‘Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the LORD your God.

Lev 23:22 ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field nor gather the gleaning of your harvest; you are to leave them for the needy and the alien. I am the LORD your God.’”

Deuteronomy 24:

19 “When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat your olive tree, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the alien, for the [p]orphan, and for the widow.
 21 “When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not go over it again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow. 22 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing.

These are the commands of God, and my reckoning Ruth fit into most of these categories.  She was a widow, stranger, and needy.  So she set about to fulfilling her right to glean the fields and provide for herself and Naomi.  As luck would have it, or as God had ordained it, or as she had manipulated it she landed in the field of Boaz who happens to be a kinsman to Elimilech.  The author calls him a man of substance. (BTW I like to think that it was God ordained) Ruth set quietly to work in Boaz's field.

Well the Bible points out that Boaz noticed Ruth and asks about her.  After hearing her story Boaz, a man of WORTH, begins to give Ruth more than he is required to give her.  He tells his men to leave more behind including whole sheaves.  He also invites Ruth to have dinner with him, and tells her to glean only from his fields.  Boaz acknowledges the value that Ruth had placed on Naomi and begins to place value on her.  This time the value given is more substantial since someone who has value according to society places value on someone lower in class and position than him.

This reminded me of my own story.  I was the geeky unpopular kid in high school when I came to Christ. This did not improve my status in the society of high school.  However this guy named Roy was a baseball player.  He was one of the cool and popular guys on campus.  He came to Christ a year after I did.  He joined our group of rejects and elevated our status slightly.  He was not one of the less popular who leaned on each other.  He took me under his wing and helped me become valuable in someone else's life.  He is the one who gave me the name Hair.

The whole purpose of this statement is that the higher your status is in society then your obligation, according to God and the Bible, is to help the ones lower than you.  We are to help them and lead them to a standing in society that is higher than they are now.  In other words look out for those that are smaller than you.  This is our role in the story of redemption.

Until tomorrow
Shalom
Hair (the Theolobster)