Monday, March 31, 2008


Having spent a wonderful four days in Kentucky, I finished out my spring break among friends and family in Battle Ground, Washington. I love going home. I love the town I grew up in. While I was home I lounged around my parent's house, I went out to eat with friends and family, I watched a friend's ice hockey game and I went to a wedding.
As I did these things I thought of a conversation I had with a friend at Asbury Seminary a couple of years ago. We were talking about Tolkien and the philosophy behind his The Lord of the Rings. I liked what my friend, Daniel, had to say about it. He said that the point of The Lord of the Rings was not the adventure. It was not about being out in the world, achieving notoriety or personal greatness. The point was that The Shire was worth fighting and dying for. Those simple Hobbits, going about their simple tasks, living their ordinary lives was the real point of Middle Earth, not the slaying of dragons or taking the Ring to Mt. Doom. The older I get, the more I come to embrace this kind of thinking. It's not that the adventure doesn't appeal to me. But if I didn't have a place to call home. If I didn't have a hometown filled with people I love and people I have a hard time loving, filled with the best and worst memories of my life, filled with all kinds of broken people who God died for, the adventure would be meaningless. So maybe I don't completely agree with Daniel that adventure is not at all the point of The Lord of the Rings. But without the Shire, I think the adventure would have been empty and selfish.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Glories of Asbury

Well, I spent a wonderful first half of spring break in Wilmore, Kentucky with possibly the coolest group of people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. It was great being back on my old stomping grounds of Asbury Seminary's campus, seeing many familiar and many not-so-familiar faces. I got to meet with my old professor, Dr. Jerry Walls who was kind enough to give me a CD he produced of Charles Wesley hymns done in various genres in honor of Wesley's 300th birthday. I got to attend chapel in Estes on Tuesday and hear Asbury's president, Dr. J. Ellsworth Kalas, preach an Easter sermon. One of my favorite things at Asbury was hymn-singing in Estes Chapel as Albin Whitworth played the pipe organ. I was not disappointed on Tuesday as we sang "Christ the Lord is Risen Today," and "Up From the Grave He Arose."
I was in a Bible study with these guys during my two years at Asbury.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A White Easter

He is Risen! For the first half of my spring break from Loma Linda I've returned to my home-away-from-home in Wilmore, Kentucky where I spent two years at Asbury Theological Seminary. I spent a blessed Easter with old friends at my old church, St. Patrick's Anglican. It was a wonderful service with a baptism the way a baptism should be. I especially enjoyed the preaching from Father Peter Matthews. It was a short message but it was one that confronted the reality of death with the stronger reality of the Resurrection. The day became even more interesting when last night it began snowing hard here in the Bluegrass of Kentucky. It only snowed for a while and there wasn't much more than a trace of accumulation but it was the first "white Easter" I had ever seen.

In his message Fr. Matthews talked about the unnaturalness of death. He talked about how the very center of our beings cry out against this reality we all must face. Fr. Matthews didn't preach that we should somehow embrace death as a natural part of life. He said that there is a reason why death seems so wrong to us. That is, we were not made for death but for life. In his message he quoted this poem from Dylan Thomas:

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Which Cross do you believe in?

The old cross slew men; the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it.
–A. W. Tozer
HT - T19

Sunday, March 16, 2008

All Glory, Laud and Honor

Happy Palm Sunday! As I got ready for church today and enjoyed the processional and liturgy I was reminded of Palm Sundays I celebrated as a child at our little Methodist church in Battle Ground, Washington. For some reason Palm Sunday was always one of my favorite days as a child. I remember Palm Sunday commonly being one of the first sunny or slightly warm days in the cold, rainy western-Washington spring. Perhaps God was showing his grace to all of the many church members who would be parading around their sanctuaries, waving palm branches that day. Another cherished memory of Palm Sunday involves the spear-like palm fronds that our church would always use. I remember regularly getting into trouble with my brothers as we turned our palm fronds into weapons to whip one another with as the good kids folded their palms into nice little crosses. I think another thing a I really liked about the day was its uniqueness. There is something unique about a bunch of reserved business-like people walking around a church waving palm branches.

Undoubtedly as a child, I liked the festive nature of the Palm Sunday service. When I got older I began to appreciate the irony of the day, that this celebration of Jesus with cries of "Hosanna" would shortly turn into the Passion of Christ, with cries of "Crucify Him!" Today in our service, as part of the liturgy, we joined in with the crowd, saying, "Crucify Him!" When we say this we express an important truth. That we are just as guilty as those who crucified our Lord. That it was not the nails that held Christ to the cross but our own sin.

I still love Palm Sunday. I love that it is a festival of Christ's coming to the city. I still long to see Christ welcomed with cries of Hosanna and the laying down of palm branches. But it is not only a day of festivity but also a day of the cross. Ultimately there can be no festivity, no real joy, without the cross.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

...I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true...

"If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motion of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true... and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms"

-JBS Haldane
Quoted during a lecture on neuroscience and free-will at Loma Linda University

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Chrysostom's advice for Insomniacs

Wonderful advice from the "Gold-mouthed" Father...

Almost all of us at times find ourselves unable to sleep at night. We lie awake during the dark, silent hours. This rarely happens when our hearts and souls are at peace; it usually happens when we are troubled in some way. For this reason do not curse for your lack of sleep. These times of wakefulness have been sent by God as a sign that something is wrong, and as a period for reflection. So when you cannot sleep, allow the thoughts that lie deepest in your heart to rise up to the surface. Often these thoughts are a reproach, telling you of a sin you have committed or an act of charity you failed to perform. If you have already confessed and made amends for these past failures, then you must assure yourself that God has forgiven you, so that you can sleep in peace. But if you have not confessed and made amends, then you must confess at once, admitting to God the precise nature of your sin, and asking forgiveness. Then you must plan how the following day you can put right your wrong. You might be so troubled that even then you cannot sleep. But do not worry: your mind and body will eventually sleep when your soul is at rest.

- St. John Chrysostom