As many would agree, we live in a time where it is quite common for people to feel as though they lack purpose and direction in their lives. Day by day, people seek ways to fulfill material (and otherwise) desires that are never fulfilled -- desires for power, money, happiness, companionship, knowledge and wisdom, etc. How often is it that one ever comes across someone who would honestly claim to be fully complete, filled with joy, and having complete clarity and direction in decision making? I feel that the reason for this is because there is much confusion about what truth is.

The purpose of this blog is to allow people to come to a place where thoughts and ideas about truth can be openly shared without persecution or restriction of any sort. Furthermore, it is a place where ideas should (and hopefully will be) shared only with good intentions- intentions to help others understand life better and to offer clarity concerning confusing topics. This is not a place to prove one's intelligence, put others down for a lack of intelligence or understanding, or to attempt to force one's views on others. With all hope, this blog will be a place where people are set free from despair and confusion, and where people can become unified in one truth.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Paradox of Bittersweet

In the past few months, I couldn't help but feel that every last thing in life is somehow bittersweet.  The things that we ought to most enjoy are the most difficult things to do (i.e. denying ourselves daily to serve others or take up our crosses).  The things that we ought not to do are so sweet on the surface, but they bear the bitter aftertaste of shame, guilt, sorrow, etc.  I couldn't seem to get over this paradox for a long time, until I read "The Reason For God," by Timothy Keller.

In one of his chapters, entitled "Christianity is a Straightjacket," Keller addresses how many people are unwilling to accept the Christian lifesyle, because it seems like it is merely a list of "do's" and "don'ts."  In other words, it seems to be a lifestyle that only restricts one from enjoying all of the "good things" in life.  He addresses the same issue in his final chapter, called "The Dance of God."  When I first read that chapter title - especially considering that it was the finale of the book - I thought he had gone soft on his audience;  I thought that he was going to talk about the Christian life like it was just some blissful, "happy-go-lucky" experience.  I completely misjudged that title.

As Keller goes on to explain, "the dance of God" is the phrase that he uses to explain the Trinity of God.  It is the state of being that God is, has been, and always will be, in which the three persons of God are in constant, joyful submission and service to each other.  It's not that service is (as some would define it) a giving up of your happiness or well-being to pursue someone else's.  Rather, the service itself (the giving up of one's personal desires) is in and of itself a joyful experience and lifestyle.  Because God is always in a full, complete enjoyment of existence through the avenue of service, He created us in His image to enjoy life in the same way.

When we sinned, we did not just make the mistake of breaking an arbitrary rule made by God.  It was so very much more than this.   We broke ourselves away from community with God.  Stop and think about that concept for a minute: 

Community with God...  One-ness with Him... Experiencing a small reflection of what it feels like to be God...

When put that way, the irony of the serpent's lie in the garden is much more evident.  He said that we would be like God by disobeying Him, when in actuality, it was just breaking us infinitely further away from experiencing one-ness with God.

We could be experiencing God fully every day by giving our personal desires up to see Him glorified, and in doing so, experiencing the fullness of life.  Instead, we chose the path of sin, which broke away our community with Him.  So, to address the topic stated at the beginning of this article, it's no wonder that I (and probably many others) feel caught in the paradox of life feeling bittersweet.  That's exactly how the devil works; he lures us in with sweet bait - bait that hides the nasty, sharp, rusty hook underneath.  We have continued to feed the same lie to ourselves, ever since.  We tell ourselves that giving up our personal desires is going to harm ourselves and take us farther away from enjoying God, when in actuality, it is the complete opposite.  The giving up of ourselves to glorify God and those created in His image is what brings us closer to experiencing and enjoying Him.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Trip to Haiti

Recently, I had the opportunity to go on a short-term mission trip to Haiti.  Here is a brief summary of some of the events that took place and the things that I learned.

Starting with the flight to Haiti, we saw Cuba out the window and a bunch of sand bars. Then, as we flew over the island of Haiti, I saw a bunch of resorts on the coast and was thinking "doesn't look so poor to me"... until we flew another few miles and I started looking at thousands of houses with no roofs on them, massive dry beds from floods and erosion, and a tiny airport with no planes accept for the one that we were in. My heart sank a little.

When we got off the plane, we were bombarded with people forcing acts of kindness (like carrying our bags) with hope of receiving a tip, men hitting on the ladies in our group with hopes of marrying them and leaving the country, and a police man was back-handing a man who was on his knees begging for mercy. As we started to drive away (with about 17 people crammed into two cars), we noticed that the traffic in Haiti is complete chaos. There literally is no order on the roads -- no stop signs or street lights (with the exception of about three in the entire capital city), no lines on the roads, and no restraint from driving head-on at people coming the opposite direction. I guess the guy driving us lost his mirror on the way to the airport.

As we drove down the road, we saw buses that had paintings of Jesus and other Biblical figures on them, but it hardly meant anything when we saw the scantily dressed women on the other side of the buses. I guess Jesus is used as a more of a good luck charm there, rather than their actual savior. He's just one of many spirits/deities that they attempt to appease, along with any number of other superstitious signs and acts that they learn about from their witch doctors.

However, this trip was really not at all negative. These were just the shocking things that stood out on the first day. The rest of the trip went really smoothly, partially because we were sort of sheltered from the culture during a lot of the trip. The house we were staying in, as well as the two adjacent orphanages that we were working on, had large walls, gates, and security guards. It was good for our safety, but I couldn't help but feel that we were missing out on the true Haitian experience at times.

Anyway, the rest of the week consisted of working on various projects, like remodeling bathrooms and kitchens, painting walls, cleaning and organizing things, cooking, etc. We also cleaned out a pool, so that we could have a baptism ceremony on the first Sunday. That part of it was extremely encouraging, because about ten people got baptized and actually (hopefully) recognized Christ as their savior and the one true God. It was good to see some light and hope in Haiti after some of the things we saw on the first day, assuming that these people were genuine about their faith. I've been told that a lot of people come to even the Christian churches for the wrong reasons there (imagine that), like finding American spouses.

During the week, I found myself working on a lot of projects with the girls on the trip, because I wasn't manly enough to do half of the projects that the guys were doing. A lot of the stuff the guys were doing also required a lot of skills that I don't have (like welding, plumbing, and electrical work). Anyways, the reason I point this out, is because I think God was really changing my heart about being a father in the future. For the past few months, I had been considering just disciplining myself to be single for the ministry. I was even lacking the types of desires that I used to have about marriage and was quite content in my "singleness." However, when one of the orphan girls (named Eevee -- see my profile picture) spent the day with my friend Hannah and I in the kitchen, my heart started to crumble. Eevee is a four year old girl who had three other orphan friends, all of which were adopted in December. Without her friends, she lost a lot of self-esteem and confidence and was pretty shy to begin with (or so I'm told). My friend Hannah had to work on something in the kitchen, so she asked me to hold Eevee for a few minutes. After looking into Eevee's eyes for about a minute, there were all these indescribable thoughts and feelings going through my head. I wish I could explain them, but essentially, I think that God was giving me a glimpse into the future by having me work with so many women and children that week. In other words, I became a softy. I just can't imagine going the rest of my life without being a father now.

Toward the end of the trip, we went outside of the city which we had been staying in. The culture is entirely different when you go into the outskirts, the villages, and up in the hills. We took a hike to a waterfall that passed through sort of a village-type area in the hills of Haiti. The people in the hills were especially joyful, despite having nothing but scrap metal houses and their farms. However, they were still very aware of their own poverty. One man ran out from the bushes, set his baby on the ground near a couple of girls on the trip (hoping that they would take him in), and retreated behind some trees. The girls were shocked and sadly had to ignore the child, because if they showed any interest in him at all, then the man would expect us to take the child with us. I didn't actually witness this part of the trip, but I was told about it.

Anyways, I think that pretty much sums up the key points of the trip. I might think of more later. The only other thing that comes to mind, is that, when we flew into the states, the difference of wealth between our country and theirs finally struck me. We flew into Miami and saw miles and miles of street lights, skyscrapers, etc. At the airport, our leader gave us $26 dollars to cover the next three meals during our various fligts. I felt like the biggest jerk in the world knowing that the average Haitian makes about that much in a month. I was going to waste that much money on a few hours of my life, when they're working hard and begging for a fraction of that per day to feed their families.

I am happy to say that Christ was working mightily on my heart during this trip, as well as the rest of my team and many of the Haitians, too. I was especially thankful to see the amount of unity that was in our group, despite none of us having anything in common with each other.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Deadliest Weapon (Part 2): Concerning the Misconceptions of Foul Speech.

During this article, I would like to address a specific implication of American Christianity's mode of legalism as it applies to speech. Hopefully this article will be both thought provoking and edifying to those who read it.

Quite frankly, the issue at hand is that we have allowed legalism to rule so much of our lives, that we have actually created an exact (or nearly so) list of "bad words," as though one's heart is judged based on their word choice, rather than on their faith or obedience to God.

You may not believe me, but try using any one of society's list of "cuss words" in the context of the church body, and just see how well it sits with the people. You don't really have to try this to know that it's true In fact, you probably shouldn't for the sake of avoiding being a stumbling block to them. However, let's say that you did try this. You may find that, even if you use one of these words in the context of trying to encourage someone (for example: "You're the nicest f@!#ing person that I know, and I wanted to let you know how much I care about you."), they will ignore everything else that you say in the conversation because of one simple word that we have deemed as horrible. Furthermore, they will not even consider where your heart is in saying this.

What is even worse is that one can have a horribly harsh attitude when speaking to someone, but they will be pardoned as pure in speech because they have not employed any of the technically "bad words." For example, "Why haven't you finished this one simple task that I asked you!? Was it really that hard!? I've never met someone so lazy in all my life!" They never technically "swore," but I really don't believe that "swear words" are the issue at hand here. Let's see what God's Word has to say about our language.

In Paul's letter to the Ephesians, specifically in Chapter 4, versus 29-32, he wrote: "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you."

So, as you can see, God instructs us to use our speech in a way that not only avoids bitterness, wrath, etc., but instructs us to specifically use our speech for necessary edification. Obviously it is not a matter of which technical words that we are using. One can not defile language with words, but with the heart behind them. As The Gospel Accord to John, chapter 4, verse 24 states: "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." When Jesus said this, he was speaking to a woman who was obsessed with the idea of her status with God being based on where she worshiped, what heritage she had, her social status, etc. Jesus told her this to get her to realize that it is the state of one's spirit and heart that define one's relationship with God, rather than our physical actions. Of course I realize that most physical actions are a reflection of the heart - don't get me wrong - but in and of themselves, words and actions can not be sinful.

In conclusion, the reason I say all of this is not to justify being able to say swear words. In fact, I would actually recommend avoiding them when possible, since, due to society's misunderstandings, these words could easily be used against Christ's testimony. However, I also don't think that we should by any means condemn people for using these words. Moreover, I am upset over this issue, because we have strayed away from the purpose of our speech. We should be focused on using our language to, as stated earlier in Ephesians, to edify each other, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Our goal in life is to be proactive for the kingdom, not just deactive against the enemy's. If we spend all of our time condemning people for wrongs that we're not even able (or allowed) to judge them for, we will never take the time to observe how our actions can be used for God's glory, and we will never overlook the small problems in life to see the larger ones at hand.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Deadliest Weapon (Part 1 - revised): Concerning the Misconceptions of Worship

The first issue that I would like to address in 'The Deadliest Weapon Series' (see introduction to The Deadliest Weapon for context) is the average American Christian's view on worship.  We have allowed ourselves to be terribly deceived on this topic.  For whatever reason, the word 'worship' is nearly always used to mean praise music.  Why is this?  Quite honestly, the Scriptures scarcely (if ever) use the word 'worship' in the context of music.  Music is frequently used in the context of such topics as: praise, adoration, motivation for (or triumph after) battles, joy, delight, thanksgiving, and many others.  Worship can often include some of these topics (though probably not the topic of battles, since all war is a ramification of, or response to, the fall), but the point here is that worship is so much more than just these.  

Worship, as described in the Bible, always involves and requires a pure heart, communion with Christ and His followers, humility, service, and most importantly, sacrifice!  

The reason I say this is not to point out that worship and music can not be related.  Rather, what I am saying is that they are not synonymous, and that worship should involve so much more than just singing or playing instruments.  Dr. Lee Campbell speaks clearly and powerfully on this issue:

"This [worship] is a much richer concept than mere corporate singing and praise once each week for 20 minutes - an event that could occur without any actual worship going on at all." (

In addition, my intentions in this article are not just to abolish the misconceptions of worship in its most common use of the word, but to establish what worship is and to promote what God's Word has to say about worship.  

In order to worship God, we must properly understand the purpose and definition of worship.    The purpose of worship is the same purpose for all of life -- namely, to recongize the one true God's existence, to give Him glory and credit for every last aspect of nature (and everything else) that has been given to us, and to give back all that we possibly can to God with a pure and reverent heart.  Again, this means having communion with Christ and His followers and humility.  It also requires devotion and a committed, growing, healthy relationship with (and view of) God.

I think the essential problem with today's mode of worhsip is that we settle for giving hardly any effort to God, other than the effort of standing up from our chairs or pews to sing a few songs that someone else wrote for us, and we shamefully call it worship.  Again, there is nothing wrong with music, and it can definitely be a great way to express our adoration for God, as well as a method of giving God glory and credit.  However, perhaps a more appropriate name for it would be praise music; not worship.

So, what are some examples of worship, you ask?  Well, God graciously gave us a great list of them through his commandments.  Here are a few that come to mind:

>Evangelism (mark 16:15 and Acts 1:8)-- an act that includes great sacrifice, dedication, and the proclamation of God's glory.  It can even involve sacrifice to the extent of losing all pride, earthly riches, selfish desires (like pursuing a career of choice), or even one's life!  Of course this would require having communion with Christ and humility before Him, because only Christ can accomplish this work.

>Discipleship (Matthew 28:18-20) -- this includes giving up the much desired time for other pursuits, in order to train someone in the truths that God teaches and in the disciplines that God requires of us.  Would this not count as worship?

>Church fellowship/involvement -- this requires sacrifice by humbling ourselves enough to confess our sins regularly and by building each other up through God's Word.  Would this not bring glory to God's name as we bear testimony of the the Holy Spirit's work of unifying the body?  Wouldn't it also bear testimony of Christ's promises of love, the establishment of justice, and more?  Which brings me to my last example...

>Living a Christlike life (John 1:7) -- if bearing the testimony and reputation of God Himself in a world so filled with skepticism of His very existence is not a form of worship, then I don't know what is.  Would this not require a growing relationship with Him, dedication, and the greatest sacrifice of all?

These are only a few of the obvious, fundamental forms of worship.  I'm sure you all could think of more by simply taking to time to ask God how you can use the spiritual, mental, and physical gifts that He has already given you to give back to Him.

I don't wish to make this article any longer, except to ask for you to consider these things carefully and to respond with any comments or questions that you have.

The Deadliest Weapon (Introduction)

Disclaimer:  This series of articles will probably be more applicable and relative to Christians than for skeptics thereof, but feel free to read them anyways.  

In the many years that I have been a Christian (though I am yet still young), and in the time that I have spent fighting for the one integral truth, I have hardly come to know anything more deadly than American Christianity.  What I mean by this, is that American culture has so deeply permeated our thoughts with extrabiblical (or even abiblical) opinions, tradtions, and private interpretations of scripture (see 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, regarding the divisions caused by private interpretations), that our views on God and His Word are horrifically distorted. We scarcely even look to God's owns Words to form our thoughts on Him.  Because of this, I would like to commit my time to addressing a few (if not many) of the ramifications related to this pressing issue through a series of articles which are to follow this introduction.

I hope that you find these articles to be helpful through thought provocation and through serious analysis of your faith and beliefs.  Please, please, please leave your thoughts, questions, comments and grammatical corrections.  I want to hear feedback from you all.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


If you have any doubts concerning God's existence or know of others who are, I strongly recommend that you read this insight from Keith Roberts.  I found it extremely helpful.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

On the topic of: The Greatest Commandment and Satan's Attempt to Destroy It

Recently, I felt as though my life had been drastically heading in a downward spiral. Though I chose to put myself in places where I would be most likely to grow (like working with people that have mental disabilities and ministry positions), I often times forget that places like that will have many challenges along the way. Specifically, lately, I have been so concerned with trying to resolve the ever-growing problems in my life and have been failing to even consider the needs of others (which, ironically, is the entire reason that I'm interning as a minister -- to serve).

I talked with my room mates about these things last night, as well as how my priorities have been horribly rearranged. It turns out that they had been going through some similar struggles. Since we concluded that none of these problems could be resolved on our own, we cast our cares upon God. Consequently, I believe God gave me an answer just moments after waking up the next day. I realized that I had been neglecting the two greatest commandments of all time. Even our Lord Jesus Christ, our own Creator, emphasized these commandments during his time on Earth.

A man asked Jesus:

36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
37 Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

How could I neglect something so clear, simple, and obvious? I was failing to realize that the single most important thing in all of life is to love the Lord with every fiber in our beings (afterall, it's the very reason that we were created). The rest easily falls into place when you can realize this. If one loves God, one will naturally want what is best for His glory (namely, to offer all of the love, sacrifice, and glory that He created us to give) and will not care what is best for one's self. Since God is omni-benevolent (a word which hardly even scrapes the surface of God's infinite, unconditional love), He even continually and faithfully allows us to witness the peak of human existence and joy through Him, even when we aren't faithful to Him.

Strange, isn't it? The answer to finding full happiness and joy in life is actually to completely divert your attention from yourself and to love God and the rest of His created ones.

When I consider Satan, and what we can know about his nature, it makes sense that I was feeling down and rearranging my priorities in devastating ways. He would do anything to prevent ministry and worship to God from happening. He gets us into the habit of thinking that we have problems that need to be solved before anything else can happen. However, what God says about this, is that we should cast our cares on Him and that we should not be concerned about our needs. We ought to trust Him for these things and spend more time focusing on Him and reflecting His glory to the world. He will take care of the rest if we are faithful to keep these things in mind.