"Thanks and thanks again to Him who offers to the man whom the sorrows of life have assaulted and left naked–offers to him the fig leaf of the Word with which he can cover his wretchedness." -Søren Kierkegaard

“10 Shekels and a Shirt”

Posted in Theological by matt on Thursday, November 20, 2008

I know I’m letting my preacher-kid roots show a little here, but I’ve decided to post one of my favorite sermons for you guys (Da has a few that blow this one outta the water, but I’ll let you hear them later). This is probably the most influential thing (people aren’t included in the ‘thing’ category, mind you) from my time at Baylor. I remember one time in Penland Hall – a Friday night, I think – when the fellas and I were huddled around Jon’s computer listening to this sermon as it kicked us square in the teeth (repeatedly). Yup…we were so awesome back then that we had to listen to sermons on Friday nights just to give other people a chance to catch up in cool points…ya…

It’s 51 minutes and 15 seconds, so allot yourself some time if you intend to listen. I usually try to avoid being ‘that guy’ who recommends lotsa stuff to others, but this sermon is just goodstuff. I already made my smallgroup listen to it a couple years ago and I think they enjoyed it (?), so hopefully it’s beneficial for you, too. I’ve provided a couple different links, so hopefully one of the two will work, though I make no promises w/ my technical savvylessness. Just click ‘open’ and it should upload and play for you. And gimme some feedback if you decide to listen!

Ten Shekels and a Shirt


Kids and the Bible

Posted in Questions For You, Theological by matt on Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I take a 40 minute walk home from work almost every day. Frugality and a touch of hardheaded laziness kept me from purchasing a gym membership, so I justify it by traipsing all over the city. It’s easier on the joints than running, right?…shudup…

Anyway I spend these walks thinking; classes, new Thai phrases, people, and other things tend to keep me occupied as I dodge motorcycles and wipe sweat.

Then I get home and you’re forced to read it!

So today’s topic is about kids and the Bible. I remember a debate my small group had last semester as to how parents should teach their children Truth. Now, I realize the hilarity of a bunch of naive college kids (who don’t have kids or even much experience with kids) discussing the raising of children, but we had the conversation regardless.

The group’s question can be summed up in this way: “How should the Bible be presented to children?” The two basic perspectives were as follows:

1) The Bible should be communicated simply and carefully. Children are developmentally sensitive and certain parts of the Bible should either be carefully worded or avoided completely. Parents are obligated to protect and nurture their children from the harsh realities of Scripture until they’re ready to handle them on their own.

2) The Bible is straight-forward and should be communicated directly. It’s true that some parts may need to be avoided until the child is older, but the Bible should not be dumbed-down for the sake of easy acceptance. Taking away the sharp edge may provide a temporary sense of safety, but the Scriptures will inevitably become dull.

So my questions are, “Is there a balance between these two?” “How do we protect the child without developing a pansy?” and “What does the Bible itself teach about the instruction of children?”

There ya have it. You can probably guess which way I lean, but I’d love to hear thoughts. I posted this under the category of “Questions” hoping I’d get some answers.

So all you adults who usually just visit this site for the pictures, I want your wisdom!

Tagged with: ,

Suicide, Bonhoeffer, and Johnny Cash

Posted in Music, Theological by matt on Friday, April 18, 2008

In small group last Wednesday we talked about Mark 8.31-38 where Jesus talks about being a true disciple and carrying a cross. Before discussing the passage itself we watched the Johnny Cash cover of the old Nine Inch Nails song “Hurt”. The song is considered to be Cash’s epitaph as one commentator called it his “apology to God”. Regardless, it’s my favorite Johnny Cash song. Here it is if you’d like to watch:

I love the line, “You can have it all, my empire of dirt. I will let you down, I will make you hurt.” Powerful stuff coming from an old man who’s had a lot of ‘success’ and made a whole lot more mistakes.

So after we’d watched the clip and reread the passage we ended up discussing the meaning of that classic Christian t-shirt verse, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” But, being the impulsive twit that I am, I made a slightly overblown shock value statement. I said that Christ’s call to “take up your cross” could be understood today as him saying, “take up your guillotine” or “carry your electric chair” or (and here’s the worst) “take up your firing squad”. Then I said that Christ essentially calls us to a spiritual form of suicide.

For the sake of my conscience and a correct perspective (hopefully) I’d like to recant and restate all of that. Last night I was reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer‘s The Cost of Discipleship and he talked about this exact verse. I’ve got mad respect for this bro. He says,

Self-denial is never just a series of isolated acts of mortification or asceticism. It is not suicide, for there is an element of self-will even in that. To deny oneself is to be aware only of Christ and no more of self, to see only him who goes before and no more the road which is too hard for us. Once more, all that self-denial can say is: ‘He leads the way, keep close to him.’

And further down the page…

If our Christianity has ceased to be serious about discipleship, if we have watered down the gospel into emotional uplift which makes no costly demands and which fails to distinguish between natural and Christian existence, then we cannot help regarding the cross as an ordinary everday calamity, as one of the trials and tribulations of life.

For Bonhoeffer, taking up your cross is the ultimate form of commitment, or discipleship. It means embracing the suffering and rejection that Christ experienced and allowing him to lead you into a similar experience of your own.

Ha ha, if only I could rewind and say this instead of the goofy stuff I actually said at small group…

My Blog’s Title

Posted in Theological by matt on Monday, March 3, 2008

I just realized that I haven’t even given an explanation for the quote at the top of this site. Well, being the diligent student worker that I am, I was browsing the inter-web for more info on Søren Kierkegaard (my current man-crush) and I tripped across this little quote. Some other girl has a Blogspot site with this same quote, but I decided I would just bite the bullet and be a copy-cat. I went on to read a few other interesting quotes, but this one stuck with me over the next few weeks and I even ended up scrapping the former small group plans and using it at the last minute.

For me, this quotes’ initial richness of meaning was found in the sheer fact that Kierkegaard said it, but I quickly became more interested in the truth behind it than the person saying it. Here S.K. is using an allusion to the fig leaves in Genesis 3 to thank Christ for covering our shame. The text is as follows:

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.'” Genesis 3.6-10

Here is the idea that, after rebellion, the inclination is to cover ourselves and hide our shame. I find it particularly ironic that the first thing to condemn Adam and Eve was not God, but their own conscience. Their recognition of guilt the loss of innocence led them to dress like the lost boys and hide from God. God didn’t immediately materialize and backhand them both across the face, He came seeking fellowship with them. But they were condemned by their own shame.

So human history progresses with this simple pattern: God provides boundaries, we break them, and someone (or some animal) must absorb the pain and punishment – someones gotta pay. God finally steps in and finishes it by absorbing everything and offering a covering that not only removes shame and guilt, but provides us with the best robe He’s got and welcomes us into a blissful inheritance.

May we praise Him who has covered us completely! He is worthy of our every endeavor as we walk fully clothed and live to show others how they, too, can be clothed.

A Question of Need

Posted in Questions For You, Theological by matt on Thursday, February 28, 2008

 I am convinced that the whole (note the naive, sweeping statements here) Christian faith can be understood in progressive terms. By this I mean we don’t pray a prayer and then *POOF* we’re fully glorified and aren’t lacking anything, but rather, we are constantly in process. Sanctification is the fun word.

 But for this little process to work there is a concept that is absolutely crucial: need. If we don’t really believe we need God’s grace then the Gospel won’t take root in our hearts and our lives won’t be changed. You see this pretty often in the many impotent churches associated with the Evangelical community. We see and hear about what God’s dramatically done for everyone else and feel as though there’s something wrong with us. So we try as hard as we can to really believe that we’re nothing apart from His grace. Some days our motives are pure, but much of the time we’re just going through the motions hoping to conjure a need so grace will seem a little more real in our lives.

 But it doesn’t work, and we end up burnt out and convinced that Jesus doesn’t work.

  So the million dollar question is, “How do we grow the understanding our own need?” I’ve asked this of my small-group, and I’m asking it of anyone who happens to stumble upon this little rant-of-a-post.

 If the entire universe really is created to show us how small we are and how badly we need God then why do so few people I know believe it? If the Law of God was put in place to show us that we aren’t able to keep the rules then why do so few people admit it? And, what’s worse, why do so many people who say they believe it live as though they don’t? Aren’t we depraved? Are we not hopeless without Christ’s faithful obedience? I believe so.

 I suppose this train-of-thought will eventually arrive at irresistible grace and the idea that God must call us before we can really die to self and live to Him, and I’d rather not go there. The question my friend Emily asked last night was, “Well what is it that we need from God? What does He provide us that He doesn’t provide non-Christians?” At first we may think this question is silly, but it was so beautifully honest that I couldn’t help but give it consideration. Unfortunately I found trouble finding an answer. It’s when we take simple thoughts like this one for granted that we become unable to share our faith with others in non-Biblical terms. So we’re unable to explain our own personal need and God’s provision, yet we can talk a lot about T.U.L.I.P. and the different soteriological systems put forth by dead theologians. I stand guilty.

 So how would you answer Emily? What do you need from God? What does He provide His people with that He doesn’t provide for others?