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Brett Favre – the Biggest Issue

August 8, 2008
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OK, so we’ve all heard about Brett Favre’s return, which makes me feel less old.  We’ve heard all sorts of things about this.  However, I noticed the biggest problem with this situation today.  This is something that will effect a huge percentage of NFL fans across the country.  What is it?

Simple.  Madden ’09 has Brett Favre on the cover, in a Packers jersey.  And now, Favre has made that useless less than two weeks before the release of the game.  For a game that curses people on its cover, Favre has certainly struck back by making the game look silly.  Also, chances are that Favre is on the Packers in the release version, and it will have to be updated (granted, that’s peanuts these days, but still a bit embarrassing).  

Now, an important question will be answered.  Can a player be jinxed if Madden gets the cover wrong?  This will be the question to answer this NFL season.

You Only Live Once?

August 5, 2008
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One of the ways you can gauge a culture is to see what truisms they use.  The proverbs and sayings of a people both preserve what people think is wisdom from throughout the ages, and the ones that get used the most can be used to show what nuggets of advice people are giving each other.  It is very important to evaluate the cultural things you are steeped in, to see if they are conveying the worldview you believe in, or if you are subtly undermining the things you claim to believe by what you tell yourself and others about your life.

One of the sayings that I plan to cut out of my thinking and vocabulary is the phrase “You only live once”.  It seems harmless enough.  We typically use it when trying something new that seems out of character, dangerous, or embarrassing.  After all, the thinking is that we only live one time, so we may as well make the most of it.

First off, this saying is conveying something of our naturalistic culture.  When we communicate that we only live once, so we should do such and such and not avoid it, we are communicating that we believe that this life is all there is.  There is nothing beyond this life, or at least, there is nothing beyond this life that is going to be any fun, so why not go for it now?

This sentiment is utterly unbiblical.  As believers, we DO live more than once – at the end of the age, we will be resurrected into new bodies that will inhabit a new earth.  Everything the Bible indicates about the new earth is that it is going to be an earth, and that we will have a life on that earth.  In other words, we live more than once.  Not only that, but the next life is one without an end!  We will have an eternity to experience thrills that we never dreamt of in this life.  This thought that we should get in all the living we can now before this life ends is a lie – we have an eternity after this life to live!  

Of course, this doesn’t mean we should just spend this life waiting around for the next one.  God has many things for us to experience in this life as well.  However, to state that this life is all we have, so we had better live it to the fullest is not a biblical thought to convey, and as Christians, we should not express this sentiment, for we know there is another life worth living that is coming to us.

Santa Claus, Gnostic

July 25, 2008
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Merry Christmas in July, everyone! I figured I’d honor this special occasion by considering another figure from American mythology – one who many of us believed was real for a few years of our lives. That’s right, I’m talking about Santa Claus.

Just about every American knows who Santa is – he’s that lovable guy that brings every good kid presents. However, I think that Santa has a lot in common with a first century heresy as well – that’s right, Santa is a Gnostic!

How do I figure? Well, lets review the basics of Gnosticism. Gnosticism is a heresy that teaches that to obtain salvation, you must know the secret wisdom, or Gnosis. Once you know this, you will be able to do what it takes to obtain salvation.

Now, what do we tell our kids about Santa? Basically, we tell them that Santa brings them presents every year (this is the secret, or the key to the wisdom). In light of this, kids should be good. They should do what is right, and this will unlock salvation (in this case, presents).

This pernicious influence has poisoned our children for years. No wonder Gnosticism has such cache in America! We have induced them into the cult from an early age! We must stamp out this Gnostic influence, and return to Christmas as it was intended! Down with Santa! Down with Gnosticism!

As I said, Merry Christmas in July everyone!

Awesome Road Name of the Day

July 21, 2008
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On my way home from Lancaster for my brother’s graduation party, I took a different way home than usual.  This way was more direct than my other two ways, one which involves driving around Baltimore to the beginning of I-70, and the other which has me overshoot my house only to drive back to it once I get to Frederick.  So, I took a way down through Hanover, PA.  Besides my discovery of a place selling gas for $3.79 a gallon, which I took full advantage of, I also found the best road name ever.

Random Ridge Road.

I so want to live on that road.  I have so many questions.  Does the ridge just randomly appear out of nowhere?  Did whoever name it keep referring to the ridge as “you know, that random ridge up there”?  Does the ridge move randomly?  Why on earth does it have that name?  Too bad its no where near work, church, or parents.  Oh, well.

American Mythology and the Wild Wild West

July 18, 2008
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I’ve been thinking about American culture lately, and my thoughts turned to mythology.  I’ve been thinking about the stories that we are told as Americans that are more than just history stories.  This is something that we don’t think about much.  As a nation without a common national religion, we don’t tend to have religious myths, or at least unique ones, because of the different faiths we welcome in this country.  However, as I was thinking, America has several stories that have taken on mythic proportions.

Much of the American mythology takes place in the Wild West.  Even the name suggests adventure and intrigue.  In our tales of the West, we really don’t tell the history of how we settled the west, but we tell the stories of lawbreakers against law enforcement.  Our stories of the west are about order becoming triumphant over disorder – about American law being established, and our country extending out to the sea.  The interesting part of this is you typically have a lone lawman, who isn’t a paragon of virtue himself – he just happens to be more virtuous than the dastardly evil gang leader and his thugs.

Another important aspect of the West is the Cowboy.  This fellow comes along with his cowboy hat (which everyone wears in the west), atop his horse.  He’s the picture of a loner.  He tends his herds with only two or three other men – they stand up against the wilderness (not to mention against a lot of cows that they have to control).  Both of these myths play into our American individualism (as most of our myths do – it’s pretty important for us that we are the ‘can-do’ people).  We like our heros a bit rough and imperfect, and we also like to think that in the end, most people are pretty good regardless and we can trust our law enforcement to the rough and questionable characters.

We Are Now Free!

July 11, 2008
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You need to watch this video about the release of Ingrid Betancourt.  

Ingrid Betancourt is someone who was held hostage for over three years.  Here, she talks about the moment that she discovered that, rather than being transported by her captors to another location, she had actually been picked up by the Columbian army, and was now free.  

She describes a feeling of amazing joy upon discovering her freedom – she screams, and celebrates, and is amazed.  How much more should we be amazed at the freedom that Christ purchased for us!  He saved us from a much greater bondage – a slavery to sin, an inability to free ourselves from the power of sin and death.  Only Christ could make the rescue, and it required much more than impersonating our captors, as Betancourt’s rescuers did.  No, Christ had to die to free us from the consequences of the sin we love so much.  Because unlike Betancourt, we weren’t unhappy in captivity.  We loved it, and left to ourselves, wouldn’t have wanted it to end.  But God changed our hearts, so that we now DO want him.  In fact, Christians now take their joy in God, and no longer love their sin.  So we should rejoice, because we have been rescued at a great cost, and God has shown great mercy and kindness to us.

Job – A Mediator

July 9, 2008
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The Bible is full of mediators if you start looking for them.  These are people who speak to God on the behalf of others.

The Biblical character Job is associated with intense suffering and pain.  While this is the most important part of his story, there are other themes in the book of Job as well.  One of them is Job’s capacity as a mediator, which we see both before and after the central crisis of the book.

Beforehand, Job prays for his children and makes sacrifices on their behalf.  Job assumes the role of mediator on behalf of his children, interceding to God for them.  He even sacrifices for them, giving an offering to God on behalf of their sin.  This is a foreshadowing of Christ, who was our the sacrifice for our sin.  Just as Job loved his children, and was delighted to make sacrifices on their behalf, so God loves us, and was happy to offer his Son for us.

At the end of the book, God asks Job’s friends, who had assumed wrong things about God, to get Job to make a sacrifice on their behalf.  Here, we see people who have sinned being asked to offer their sacrifices to God through a mediator.  This is a powerful picture of what is to come.  We do not come straight to God, but we come to him through the mediating efforts of Christ Jesus.  Only with Christ pleading his sacrifice for us do we get to stand before the Father forgiven.  What an amazing God – to give us a way to stand before him!  Our God has asked us to go to Christ to seek forgiveness, as he asked Job’s friends to go to Job to seek forgiveness.  In both cases, he heard their cries on the basis of Christ’s sacrifice.  May we praise God today for his mediating grace in our lives – to appoint someone to seek God on our behalf!