Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Faith Vs. Deed pt. 2

I feel like a lot of Church's are only concerned with getting people "saved". Once you confess Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior then you're good to go. But really, this is only the beginning. If we're so concerned with getting people saved (not that we shouldn't be) we should also be concerned with helping them in their walk with Christ now that we've helped introduce the two. The question remains: Now that i'm a Christian, what do I do now?

Thus, the dilemma. You already believe so what are you going to do?

According to Rabbi Feintuch, this is not the case in Judaism. But in Christianity if the chief concern is salvation and you've got that on lockdown, what's left?

You then read on past the Gospels and Paul begins to shape the church's foundations like the holy spirit, grace, and free will. Paul many many many times discusses that "the law" leads only to sin and death.

More soon....to see what my buddy Adam Caldwell has said on this subject check here

Monday, January 30, 2006

Deed vs. Faith, pt. 1


I've made several posts about recent discussions taking place in my class "Religious Roots of the Holocaust". Our instructor wisely asked a Rabbi to come in and speak with our class three seperate times about Judaism so we would have some idea about the historical and theological backgrounds of Judaism.

Those three class periods were probably some of the best time i've ever spent in college.

It's prompted me to really think about the differences about Judaism and Christianity. Now, there's all sorts of things to discuss, admitedly. One of which i've already touched on (see The Messiah). But one of the distinctions between Judaism from Christianity is the way one's faith and one's actions are connected.

Rabbi Feintuch explained to us that in Judaism when you follow the Torah (the law, THE most important thing in Judaism) you have the obligation of Mitzvot. Mitzvot means duty. It's what you do. There are two kinds: Ethical Mitzvot and Ritual Mitzvot.

Ethical Mitzvot deals with your relationships with people. This would be things like not stealing, not slandering, not coveting, etc.

Ritual Mitzvot revolvs around your relationship with God. Dietary restrictions, Observation of the Sabbath and other holy days would be just a few examples.

There are 613 laws which comprise the Mitzvot of the Jews. How strong you adhere to them is usually an indicator of "what sort" of Jew you are: Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform.

So the focus of Judaism is how you observe Mitzvot. God has given his people these commands, this code, this ethic to follow. Thats it. When the Rabbi was asked "Why follow Mitzvot?" He simply replied: "Because God said so."

I like that phrase, "Because God said so".

You then become concerned not really with 'what you believe' but rather 'what you observe'. The question is not 'what is your opinion on evolution' but rather 'do you rest on the sabbath'?

What you believe is not nearly as important as what you do. Whereas in Christianity, especially the more 'evangelical' type first and foremost is what you believe and often times I feel like one is left to fend for themselves.

More soon.....


There's a new razor coming out. This might not be big news to most, but I keep an ear to the men's facial hair industry, having a vested interest myself. We've been through the Sensor, Sensor Excel, The Mach 3, the Mach 3 Power, and now....Fusion. (I'm not counting all the razors that were pretty much the same only a different color, ex: The Mach 3 Turbo which is silver)

We've also seen the Schick Quatro. If you're in Spanish class like me you could probably guess from the context clues that this razor has 4 blades, to one-up the Gillette Mach 3. This prompted a SNL parody-commercial with a razor with 16 blades, pretty hilarious. Unless i'm mistaken sure it's on the Best of Will Ferril vol. 1 DVD.

Anyways, I saw the commercials for the Gillette Fusion. I'll admit, I was intruiged. So I went to the website and checked it out. FIVE BLADES. FOR THE LOVE OF BLOOD CLOTTING FIVE BLADES!

Folks, it's simply gotten out of hand. According to many federal regulations, this new razor could be considered a weapon. The way I see it, it's just two more blades to pierce my sensative skin.

So Gillette, I applaud your innovative spirit but it's getting ridiculous.

I know there's at least 3 other dudes who will probably read this that have maintain facial hair. Your thoughts?

Here's the site if you'd like to peep out the fusion for yourself.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


I've been investing my arteries in Chipotle for years, should've invested my money too!

Chipotle. Best restaurant ever. Period. No debate.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Messiah

Alrighty folks, here's the deal: Today was Rabbi Feintuch's last lecture until the end of the semester. It was great! After each class period we have this online forum thingy where the teacher posts a question and then we all have to respond for a grade, here is the question and my post from the day. Thought you might like to read it, and perhaps it will spur some thought for you as it did me. I realize since you weren't in the class that it won't be quite as meaningful, or make as much sense maybe.

(Now that i've had the opportunity to listen to an expert and faithful follower in Judaism i'll begin to share my experience on this here blog, probably late this week.)

The Question:
Rabbi Feintuch discussed Jewish expectations of a messiah. How has his remarks influenced your own thinking of the concept of a messiah and why the vast majority of Jews rejected Jesus as fulfilling their expectation of a messiah?

My Response:
The Rabbi pointed out several very important aspects of the Jews expectations of the Messiah, both historical (someone to lead them out of Roman captivity) and theological (a man, not an incarnation of God since God is indivisible).

From what I’ve understood from the Rabbi Judaism is very literal in its interpretation of the Torah. I mean, you're talking about a Religion where one could debate the tearing of toilet paper and keeping the Sabbath. A Christian view of scripture can be much more open when it comes to how scripture is read. This is one reason Christianity gets into so much trouble.

Did his views alter my ideas about what a Messiah is? In a word, no. I don't want to be disrespectful or dismissive. I have made it a point to LISTEN to the Rabbi and not always be quick to weigh in with my beliefs immediately. But, since this question prompted it, here we go:

Earlier last week the Rabbi spoke of Jacob wrestling the angel. He said there was room for interpretation regarding what actually transpired on the riverside that night. Was Jacob wrestling an actual angel? Did this represent some inner struggle? Maybe it was just a robber and represented Jacob proving himself as a worthy leader? There are a VARIETY of angles.

To me the same is true with the Messiah. The bible speaks of many prophecies about the Messiah, I think to REALLY develop an answer one needs to be familiar with some of them, not just listen to 20 minutes of lecture, from an expert no less, but there is more to the story:

Genesis 49: 10, the Messiah would descend from Judah, Luke 3: 33.

Psalm 22, read it. The author describes many aspects of crucifixion which Jesus invoked in Mathew 27: 46

Isaiah 7: 14, The Messiah would have a miraculous birth and be called Immanuel: see Matthew 1: 18-25

Isaiah 11: 10 says that the Gentiles will also seek the Messiah, "from the root of Jesse". Jesse=David's father, Jesus=Descended from David

Read Luke 1: 67-80 that speaks of Jesus fulfilling the role of the Messiah.

Daniel 9:25-26:
25 "Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree [a] to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, [b] the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens.' It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two 'sevens,' the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. [c] The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.

So, the anointed one will be cut-off and then the city and the sanctuary will be destroyed. Sounds like the crucifixion of Christ and the subsequent destruction of the temple to me.

Zachariah 9: 9- Jesus fulfilled this by entering Jerusalem on a donkey, hardly the image of a mighty conqueror.

Malachi 3: 1, 4: 5- Jesus was indeed preceded by John the Baptist.

Ok, I am finished with the various copying and pasting of passages, there's many more and lots of people that explain them way better than me.

Do I aim to impress anyone who reads this with my vast biblical knowledge, absolutely not, I don't claim to be the master or Bible Trivia Champion. All I am trying to show is that depending on how you view the Torah could alter your views of a Messiah.

I believe Jesus himself was not speaking in strict literal terms, for example:

"All right," Jesus replied. "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." John 2: 19....sorry, maybe I wasn't done posting scripture...

Was Jesus going to get out there with his hammer and bust out the ol' carpentry skills? No, he was talking about himself being crucified and rising again.

So I believe that Jesus was the Messiah because he said he was, and that all of human history is dependant and defined by his resurrection.

If this isn't true, than everything I believe is crap. Crap crap crap. But you can't just say Jesus was a nice guy who prophesied about God, a good observant Jew who was a little to zealous or misunderstood. No. As Josh McDowell says, he was either Lord, Liar, or Lunatic. Meaning, he was lying about his status as the son of man, he was crazy and didn't know the difference anyways, or he really was who he said he was. But Christ's message is inseparable just as the Jews believe God is inseparable. You cannot divorce some of Christ's teachings from the others.

Plus, let's get into the problem of a Messiah for Jews NOW. If they're all scattered throughout the world, what are they to be liberated from? Being servants of the West? I feel like the strict literal interpretations lose their teeth because now the historical context is gone.

Others have said that we would be skeptical of a man who might appear and prophecy a 3rd coming. First of all, the second coming was not an invention of the early church, they were Christ's words. If we want to get into the authenticity of scripture then we'll be here the rest of our lives. So it's not just out of sheer convenience that Christ would predict his own return, it's out of truth and the fulfillment of God's plan that was started with the Patriarch's and the house of Israel. One of the strengths of Christ's teachings are that they are radical, as are his claims about himself.

I do not want to be a ranting Christian who is a bigot. I respect The Rabbi deeply. But I also will proclaim what I believe as he proclaims what he believes. The good news is that I am not reliant on his approval or anyone's approval who will read this. The Rabbi and I are both seeking the same thing: Closeness in our walk with the Lord. I believe that this is fully realized in Christ the Messiah.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Um, the Rabbi couldn't make it to class Tuesday....So we're having our conclusion (sp?) of his presentation tommarow. I'll keep everyone posted.

On a side note, i'm in two, count em' TWO P.E. classes this semester. One of those is weight training. If anyone wants a good laugh come to Clingenpiel about 9a.m. on Tuesday or Thursday. I'm gonna stick it out though. I AM A STRONG MAN!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, January 20, 2006


There is one thing I wanted to put up real quick, sorry my posts have been somewhat erratic.

I stayed after briefly to express my thanks and interest to the Rabbi, and I asked him about Reform Judaism, of which he and his congregation are a part. But, being a good protestant boy I used the word: Reform-ed; reformed.... I used the past tense.

He pointed out to me, graciously, that it was Reform Judaism. As in, not completed. He said "Once you start to think you have it all right, that's when you are wrong." That quote is not verbatim, but you get the idea.

WOW! Instead of putting the verb in the past tense, which indicates a finite completeness, they use the verb in the present tense to communicate an ongoing process. Very cool.


School pt. II

So, today was our second class period of Rabbi Feintuch's presentation. His first day he outlined his three main areas of exploration of Jewish thought for us: God, Torah, Isreal. So the first day he talked about God and started getting into the Torah. Today, he focused mostly on the Torah and started getting into Isreal, so Monday will finish the trifecta.

I've been thinking a lot. A lot. I decided today to make a especially concious effort to simply LISTEN to the Rabbi. Not to immediately compare everything to my religion, my faith. It is tempting to start formulating defenses or developing arguments for the contradictions I was instinctively hunting for. This was not the time to form comparisons, it was a time for absorbing. You can't really engage in dialogue if you're not willing to listen.

I really am proud to have been in that classroom today. The Rabbi's sharing with us has meant a great deal, not only to me one of "the church boys" on campus, but to pretty much everyone in that room.

I took four pages of notes, which if you know me IS A RARITY. So i'm really looking forward to having some good stuff for ya'll real soon! I promise!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Spongebob Gets Sued

Litigation in this country is so ridiculous. If you care to see what inspired this rant, check out the article here.

A woman is sueing Kellog Food and Nickelodians parent company Viacom because they advertise junk food. She claims that both Kellog and Nickelodian influence her children to make unhealthy lifestyle choices, like eating fruit snacks. FIVE YEAR OLDS LOVE FRUIT SNACKS. I love the spokesmans comment:

A food industry-backed group defended the companies, saying the lawsuit assumes that parents can't turn off televisions, have no control over the food they buy and can't make their kids go outside to play. "Going out on a limb here, perhaps her (Carlson's) kids want these foods not because of ads, but because they're children," said Dan Mindus, spokesman for the Center for Consumer Freedom.

Exactly. Why can't parents accept responsibility of what goes into their children's minds and bodies? This lawsuit is so representative of a culture that passes the blame and looks to capitolize with a courtroom settlement.

I'm gonna go eat some corn pops and drink some grape soda now.


I ACTUALLY LEARNED SOMETHING AT SCHOOL TODAY. I'm in a Religious class called: Religious Roots of the Holocaust. It promises to be an intriguing and at times controversial course. We've just started so i'm sure they'll be more posts to come concerning this.

However today we had a Jewish Rabbi come in and talk to us about Judaism. It was great. I was exposed to ideas I had read about, but never really heard from someone who believed them.

Today I engaged in dialouge with a Jewish Rabbi. If it were not for school and this course, this might have took a lot more time to happen, if at all. So college is not all completely in vain.

Yossi (that's the Rabbi's name) with be making two more presentations this Friday and next Monday. In all fairness, i'm going to post SEVERAL things about what he's said to us, but I want to 1. hear him out and 2. ask his permission.

Here's the website of the only Synagogue in Columbia, Congregation Beth Shalom.

Brushing In the Shower

Has anyone else ever tried brushing their teeth in the shower? It's changed my life. As someone who was plagued with toothpaste stains for years, the shower is a worry free environment! Just remember to watch where you set it, as a dropping of the toothbrush could be devastating. I'd probably still use it but most humans would not.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Tights, Marlon Brando, and Jesus Christ.

Recently I recieved a Bust Buy gift card and naturally, I didn't want to wait to use it until I needed something. I had my eye on the Superman DVD box set for some time, so I got it. I have had the Superman theme stuck in my head ever since. I remember watching the movies with my Dad when I was quite young. If anyone has seen Superman II then you can appreciate my early memories of trying to crush the hand of my Dad when he would lower his voice and say "Kneel before Zod!" For some reason, having loved the movies as a child allows me to look past the many flaws and overall cheesy factor as an adult.

Superman: The Movie features the origin of the man of steel. When Jor-el's planet is in danger of being destroyed he sends his only son to Earth, saying: "They can be a great people, Kal-El — they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way." (By the way, Marlon Brando played Superman's father, and was paid a record 3.7 million dollars for two weeks of work....I even watched the special features, I digress.)

But wow, what a great quote! Immediately my mind started piecing the metaphore together between Superman and the story of Christ. The whole giving your only son for the sake of humans thing, the fact that Superman is later alienated because he is different, Superman coming to the rescue of a people he cares for, etc. I realized I was getting carried away and it might be a little silly to try and fish for metaphores in movies. I don't really like those books like: "Walking with Frodo: A Devotional Guide through the Lord of the Rings."

But then on the special features section it showed some interviews of the writers and one of them mentioned the many parellels of Superman to the story of Jesus Christ. Suddenly I didn't feel I was superimposing the story of our savior upon things I saw in a silly movie.

But the more I thought about it, I don't think it's a bad idea at all to use film to help illustrate the story of Christ. After all, Jesus talked in parables that were demonstrative of a principal he was trying to make clear. He was relating aspects of people or objects in his parables to the relationship between God and his people.

So is there anything wrong with relating stories that we are surrounded by to a faith we are trying to follow? Nope. If people want to read "Walking with Frodo" and if it helps point them to God then I should not be so critical.

So I will leave you once again with a quote that helped reveal a bit of truth to me, a truth I found while watching a 29 year old movie:

"They can be a great people — they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way."

Well, we have the light and must now go out and be the light.

*Que Superman theme song*

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Fearing God pt. 4, The Exciting but Anti-Climactic Conclusion

Fear of God is not about following a requisite list of rules so that you pass the test to get into heaven. Faith in Christ is about bringing God's kingdom NOW in preperation for AFTER-NOW (?) and striving to live more like him, which is done through thought and deed, but not acruing a list of "spiritual chores" to avoid the punishment.

I believe hell is a real place, I believe that people go there. I don't like it, it's not my job to decide who does/does not, and we're cheapening our faith if we believe otherwise. Salvation is real and hopefully we can show that the path to that is filled with love and obedience, not fear and intimidation.

Hopefully i've given you somethin to chew on. Gimme feedback.


Fearing God pt. 3: The problem with my taking out the trash

See, the problem is that the fear of God should not neccessarily be equivalent to the fear of eternal damnation. I might be repeating myself from part 1 here but to do something because you're afraid is a lot different than doing something because I believe it's the right thing to do.

In other words, I should have done the trash not because I didn't want to be punished but because my Dad asked me to do it. It's tempting to apologize for the lame comparison, but I think it works.

I think if you get caught up in a task oriented life in accordance with a code to escape hell or whatever punishment you're in for a miserable experience. Thats what got the Hebrews and Pharisees in trouble, they became focused on the acts themselves instead of who the acts were for.

I think fear can be a great initial motivator but at some point we have to move past it. Who out there hasn't wondered about their salvation? It's scary sometimes! But with faithfullness comes comfort (not to be confused with a guaranteed bliss or certain propserity).

I think that many times we use fear to "scare people to Christ". Has anyone ever been to one of those judgement houses? Where the church puts on a production as an "alternative to a haunted house" and there's some high school basketball team plane crash or a youth group car accident and we find out who gets in and who doesn't.

Personally, I find these manipulative. I'd rather show someone the blessings of following Christ and being a servant, not scare the hell out of them and the Jesus back into them.

When fear is used like this, in a more traditonal sense, I think we're missing the point.

Fearing God pt. 2

First of all, yesterday I typed a massive continuation of my last post. It was filled with witty yet pertinent observations but when I tried to post it.....DELETED! So i'll try to not be bitter the second time around but this won't be as good.

So, when thinking about fearing God a couple weeks ago I came up with an analogy, then later I decided that analogy wasn't the best way to think about things. So what i'm going to do is provide my initial analogy then explain why it is garbage. Here we go....

Fearing God to me was a lot like when my Father would ask me to empty the trash throughout the house the night before it was collected. "Adam, empty all the trash and take it out to the curb before I get back from (instert errand/task/meeting here)." Chances are I was probably lying around watching something stupid on MTV and i'd mutter "ok".

Time elapsed and Dad arrived back home with the trash not done. He would be rightly aggitated about me not doing the trash, however I think somewhere deep down he admired my consistancy in NOT doing what he asked in a timely manner.

After a couple cycles of this Dad decided to up the ante a little bit. Suddenly the conversation looked more like this: "Adam, empty all the trash and take it out to the curb by the time I get back or (insert punishment here)." Suddenly, I was much more zealous in my removal of the trash from their various receptacles throughout the house!

To me, doing the trash in a timely fashion was better than the consequences that would follow if I did not. 5 minutes of chores right now is better than having to come home on Friday at 6 or some other inventive inscentive from my Pops. (inventive inscentive could be a really indie band name eh?)

You see my Dad recognized that I was shallow enough to need a punishment to do my cleaning duty. It wasn't enough to do the trash just because he asked, I needed a reason. Because without that fear of punishment I knew I would suffer no consequences and thus really didn't care when the trash got done.

This is how I viewed fearing God. Not exactly deep stuff here eh? But I thought the threat of Hell was enough to get us humans motivated to live right because we did not want to suffer for eternity. Even if it's inconvienient sometimes the Fear of God will propell us to do good things.
Emptying the trash when my Dad asked me=Following God and Punishment for not doing so=Going to hell.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Fearing God pt. 1 or more accuarately titled For the Love of God, or perhaps less accurately titled we have nothing to fear but God himself.

My good friend Adam Caldwell once made a remark concerning my lack of blog entries, saying: "I know you got some deep stuff in there" or something to that effect. Here now, is my effect to spill out one of the things that sometimes consume my thoughts. In an effort to maintain a coherent thought process, i'm going to try and break this up into a couple entries.

When you think of the Old Testament, which some more accurately call the Hebrew Bible, and which the youth at church and others more pop-culture savvy call Episode I, one word that might come up many times is fear: A division is drawn between those who feared The Lord and those who did not. Abraham feared God, even to the point of sacrificing his son, or coming real close. Pharoah did not fear God, and his kingdom was ruined. You could pretty much throw a dart at Leviticus and hit the phrase "fear your God".

When one think of the New Testament, which I don't have any cute nicknames for, one word that many would suggest would be Love. Jesus was all about love. Love love love. But what about this:

Luke 12: 4-6
4"I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. 6Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies[a]? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.

Ah, but later on we read this:

1 John 4: 17-19
17In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19We love because he first loved us.

I've been thinking a lot about this relationship between the Fear of God and the Love of God. I think if we definae "fear" then everything becomes much clearer. When most, like myself, first read the Old Testament passages using the word Fear it has a very negative connotation. I fear being hit by a car. I fear failure. I fear screwing up something when I sing, and so forth. Is God something to be feared?


Consider this definition of "Fear of the Lord" from Easton's 1897 dictionary:

Fear of the Lord: is in the Old Testament used as a designation of true piety (Prov. 1:7; Job 28:28; Ps. 19:9). It is a fear conjoined with love and hope, and is therefore not a slavish dread, but rather filial reverence. (Comp. Deut. 32:6; Hos. 11:1; Isa. 1:2; 63:16; 64:8.) God is called "the Fear of Isaac" (Gen. 31:42, 53), i.e., the God whom Isaac feared.
A holy fear is enjoined also in the New Testament as a preventive of carelessness in religion, and as an incentive to penitence (Matt. 10:28; 2 Cor. 5:11; 7:1; Phil. 2:12; Eph. 5:21; Heb. 12:28, 29).

When we think of Fear like this, a reverence of God which does not feed our apathy and comfort but rather calls us to action then reading those passages makes a lot more sense.