Tuesday, September 29, 2009


One of the things I've learned about myself, living on my own, working a job with overly flexible schedules, its that I shouldn't watch or read mentally stimulating stuff after 10pm. Mainly because I can't sleep after it. I just go back and forth in my mind for a long time about why the author/director said what he was saying.

Tonight the guilty party was "Religulous," a documentary by Bill Maher about the promotion of "Doubtism." It's basically what I expected. I dont know many people who watch his show (seriously...does anyone order HBO just to watch his show? I hope not). In some stretches, he was good natured and likeable. In others he was a jerk, picking fights with truck drivers in intellectual battles, obviously able to make them look foolish (actually if not for the fact that they were really nice to him, despite their rough dispositions and backgrounds in gangs, etc).

Other expected things in there: Religion is fantastical, its intolerant, it will ultimately end an otherwise straight-pathed human race. Even something like his family history and experience in church was predictable (culturally Catholic/Jewish split family). He grew up making deals with God, hoping to gain personally even up until he was 40, and then finally gave up hoping there was a God.

Maher certainly is no Michael Moore in his persuasiveness, but of course the editing and the soundbites from the wackos on there were pretty entertaining. Especially from the guy in South America claiming to be the returned Jesus, yet who misunderstands that the 2nd coming isnt just being related to Jesus' bloodlines.

This movie keeps me up, not because it really caused any doubts in my mind and not because he hit me with something new that I hadn't already worked through. But the line that remains in my head is his line at the end, and really, his thesis of the film, that "Doubt is humble."

Humble?? HUMBLE?? At first I couldn't believe it. It made me want to mail him everything I have ever read on humanism, the Renaissance, secularism and the foolishness of Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao and the millions of worshippers of these men who they groomed, trained, indoctrinated to follow suit and gain power. I wanted to show him that religious wackos arent the only ones who take advantage of people who have insufficiencies, to show him documentaries on Communism in China and Southeast Asia. How an anti-religous culture murdered millions of their own people.

But when he said the line about being humble, it really got me thinking. Clearly the reality is that when we refuse Jesus' plan and his Word, we show great arrogance. But I think this film shows an "out of the closet" version of what much of post-modern America believes. I'm not saying that I liked this movie or even respect it or that anyone should buy or support Maher. But it was a poignant reminder to me that our culture is so lost in doubt that some no longer wrestle with it, but now worship doubt. It's uber relativism worked out to a radical end.

I really wish more people could read Total Truth and The God Who Is There and How Shall We Then Live? Then we could see how "religion" isn't the only thing that changes our slants. That the Renaissance and humanism makes us want to be our own gods and to ignore mankind's failures. But I know it won't happen that way. That these high level books have to be made transferable by us who hope to see college campuses changed by the Gospel. Ultimately to see students faces unveiled before a God who is there, despite whatever humble doubt exists.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Few Good Men

Today it hit me again how unbalanced ministry can be. Sometimes everything goes right and you see tons of fruit. Sometimes it all falls apart. That is the balanced part surprisingly.

But with International Ministry it seems like its a little hard to find guys to be involved. I've been praying ever since our first leadership retreat with Bridges and seeing myself as the only guy in the room of about 20 who was younger and male. It seems to be a hard sell, since international ministry in the US is more on the "nurturing" side of things. Naturally that lends itself to more ladies being involved, wanting to get coffee, share feelings and experiences and going to aerobics classes with these foreign friends. I've really enjoyed it so far and its really not girly...it's just what may be a false perception.

No, you probably cant hang out in the same ways as you could if you did ministry and it might be a little harder to joke around in the same ways with them. But International students have things that the average UNC student don't. Like a work ethic (I'm comparing them to myself in college). And like a perspective outside of life in the States. So it ends up being great talking with these guys who have a ton to offer me as a guy whose job it is to minister to them!

This is meant to be a thinly veiled recruiting ploy to get some guys who may be secretly reading this to consider reaching out to some awesome international students and joining us with Bridges! Or if you are a girl and know a guy who spends too much time playing Guitar Hero and needs something to do...hit me up! We're just looking for a few good men...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Who is Jesus?

Tonight we are having our first International Undergrad Small Group in Cobb Dorm. I'm at the same time nervous and excited about it. Nervous because I haven't done anything quite like this in English in a long time and feel like I don't communicate very well sometimes. Excited because I get a chance to have a lot of fun with International students in a smaller setting and because I've seen the Lord use myself and others who aren't naturals produce ripe fruit, seemingly by accident.

When we were planning what to talk about the first three weeks, we thought that this week we would just try to make it supremely fun and talk about Jesus as the Son of God this week. But that is a big, heavy topic. The more I think about it, the more I think it's hard to grasp what that means unless you have lots of degrees from Bible schools or at least have a background of reading the Bible for years. Lots of people in history were considered a "son of god" ranging from Caesar to Herakles to Alexander (can't call him "the Great"...he was a mean, ruthless, selfish son of a...well you get the point). But they were ALL called this because it was a SELF-ASCRIBED title. People just went along with it to either suck up and leech off their great power and influence or because they were afraid of getting whacked by the centurian or the personal phalanx.

For Herakles (aka Hercules to the Romans), it was a fact of him being mad strong and people just assuming he was from Zeus. But you know that no one actually ever saw Zeus descend from Olympus and say, "Hey everyone, this is my boy. I like him a lot. So dont mess with him. If you do I'll put a lightning bolt in your skull." It was just figurative. We know this because a) its universally accepted that Greek gods were not that powerful b) didn't care about humans c) only used man to profit personally. I think Herakles liked all the attention and the babes that flocked to him (SEE Xena Warrior Princess on UPN for the evidence) so he just went along with the lie. Or maybe he was delusional and thought that he had a crazy dream and truly believed he was a son of a god. But no one else is recorded as a witness to that.

Not like the scene we see in the New Testament in the Gospel according to Mark. Unlike Greek and Roman Myths, the New Testament, although debated often, has universal acceptance among scholars who study it that Jesus was a real person, who existed from around 6 BC-27 AD as a Jewish man in Palestine. Even atheistic scholars would say that Jesus lived and breathed and had a big following of people that would later influence the whole world. More than anyone who has ever lived and breathed.

So when "a voice from Heaven" (Mk. 1:11) says, "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased" the implications are extensive. You don't see the jealousy of the Greek gods among each other and those who claim to be gods on earth. You don't see the politics of Caesar's similar personal claim. Just a God proclaiming before "the whole Judean countryside and ALL THE PEOPLE OF JERUSALEM" that this Jesus is valid and is endorsable as his own Son.

Now it could be possible that Mark just made that up like all the Greeks and Romans wanting to have some bones thrown their way by their egotistical ruler. But the fact that he lists so many other people as being present to see this tells me that this book would've been voided on credibility unless there actually were tons of people to see that event. (Side note: historians and scholars also know that John the Baptist existed at that time and was killed for following Jesus...even the non-Christian ones...If his baptism party in Galilee hadn't existed you gotta think people would've cried heresy). This is why Jesus' claim to be the Son of God is so unique.

Anyways, I hope that these things we talk about tonight really allow the students who come and me to better understand who Jesus is. I hope we can really connect on some things with each other as we talk about these things for about 10-15 minutes.
I recently saw that episode of "The Office" where Ryan the Temp helped office oddball and creep, Creed Bratton "create" a "blog" by simply opening up a Word document for him on his computer. The whole intent was so that the world would be spared from Creed's crazy/delusional/scary thoughts and blog posts. It made for a pretty comical scene until I realized something. Strangely it just donned on my that my brother had done the same thing to me years ago and that it was possible that my old blog, "Daniel's blog" may have never made it to the interwebs.

As I investigated further, I realized I had been duped and decided to actually start letting everyone else in on some things going on with my life, now that I have friends who are getting all married and moving away. Also since I have some friends on 2 different continents from my time in Asia, it might be a good way to stay in touch with them as well...well aside from calling them or emailing them directly.

Anyways, a word to those who dare read. Unfortunately I wont be posting any baby pictures unless they are someone else's baby or unless I decide to adopt. Which has always been a funny thought to me. What if I just adopted some 12 year old kid? How would society react? Would I be able to handle him beating me in video games? Would I try to dominate him in sports like I would with my brother back in the day? Would I be tempted to sell the rights of this strange adoption to a movie agency? (I think yes). But I digress...just know if you are looking for pictures of cute toddlers, this is not the blog for that.

What you can expect are some hard-hitting ministry updates, stories from around my house of 4 mid-twenties men all of whom are male models (ok, not really, but its in our 5 year plans), and maybe if I get emotional, some sort of inspirational stuff I steal from John Piper or his friends and can pawn off as my own thoughts. And maybe some embarassing pictures of me being taunted by my 12 year old adopted son after he beats me in Madden.

Thanks so much for those of you who pray for me! Thanks also to those who read this whole first post!