Friday, August 24, 2007

According to this news article redheads could be extinct within 100 years. But I believe that we will one day rise from the ashes to rule the world!! (Hah, hah....)

Actually we redheads are a beautiful breed and if we really are endangered then steps should be taken to prevent our extinction. We should be given numerous government financial incentives to encourage us to breed, and the world should value us adding more colour to the gene pool, which is in danger of being dumbed down.

Don't take us for granted or one day you will sadly mourn our loss. After all I hope you are not folically prejudiced.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Not another eschatological theory

I usually laugh and cringe every time I see contemporary eschatological books. I too hold eschatological theories in my doctrine, but I try to keep them as simple as possible. To tell you the truth, it kind of ticks me off when people spout their eschatological theories with such confidence that they are right.

For years people have argued that the European Union which was founded by ten nations (apparently ten horns mentioned in Revelation), would be the re-emergence of the ancient Roman Empire and therefore the seat of the anti-Christ. People have also argued that the Roman Catholic church is the Great Whore Babylon referred to in Revelation.

Well, today some one put a new book into my hand. This may sound narrow minded of me, but I am not going to waste my time reading it. The enemy apparently is no longer the European Union, but instead a coalition of 10 muslim nations will rise up to become the seat of the anti-Christ. The book makes it really easy to have a "safe" enemy. We no longer have to confuse ourselves with having a European enemy (which frankly is just too close to home for comfort), now we can happily hate the muslims instead.

The author (who I can't even bothered naming and do not wish to personally berate- rather I have pity for him), apparently finally worked out his new theories after (you guessed it) September 11, 2001. This was the missing link in his theory and now he could see that an Islamic prediction of a Mahid who is supposed to convert the world to Islam, will actually be the anti-Christ.

The first problem I have with all of this conjecture is that it does not foster love in our hearts. In his theory, the Great Whore of Babylon is actually Baghdad itself (how convenient). Instead of reaching out in love to muslims, now we can justify our fears and treat them like the enemy in a coming, inevitable, biblically justified war. But the bible actually teaches that the battle we fight is not of flesh and blood and that our enemy is not to be found amongst people, but is the devil and his fallen angels.

The second problem I have with theses eschatological theories is that people like to think that Jesus is coming back really soon (in their life time) because we can see all these things unfolding before our eyes in the news every day. Isn't it funny that during the Cold War the Soviet Union used to be the big enemy and eschatologists used to talk about Russia invading Israel. Then as world events change, people come up with new theories to fit the headlines of the day. Their theories give people the excuse of thinking that Jesus is coming back really soon, therefore we don't actually have to do much more to take his gospel to the nations. (If he is coming back soon, then they must have already had their chance right?). Wrong.

When Jesus actually took the time to give his eschatology he was careful to explain that the gospel must first be preached to all nations and THEN the end would come. There are still over 6000 unreached ethnic nations in the world. And sorry to say it, but the church is simply moving too slowly for that task to be finished in our life time. This is not a lack of faith but simply stark realism. You only have to look with your own eyes (and I have) to see how some nations are in a very dark grip to know that it is actually going to take time. There are no instant microwave fixes for this one, sorry.

I have been learning that God has a deep heart for his lost children, the nations of this world. The story of the fall in Genesis actually is completed at the tower of Babel, when the nations are scattered. This was the rock bottom consequence at the end of the fall. So if the nations being scattered and leaving God is the consequence of the fall, then the nations returning to God is the completion of salvation on earth. God deserves to settle for nothing less. As Habakkuk prophesied "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Glory of God, as the waters cover the seas." God deserves nothing less than complete glory in his earth, and he is perfectly entitled to wait as long as he wants until this world chooses to glorify him.

I am not denying that bad things happen in this world and that despots set themselves up against God, look at Robert Mugabe for goodness sake. But God is sovereign and he is not bound to bring Jesus back early because a couple of selfish muslims flew planes into buildings 6 years ago.

So my eschatology is quite simple, "the gospel must first be preached to all nations and ONLY then the end will come." This is not going to happen before this silly terrorist game is long behind us in history. In fact I predict it is actually more likely that the muslim world will turn to Jesus. And I really don't have time for another cosy, selfish, western Christian theory.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Another top 100

I wanted to come up with my top 100 songs of all time. This was too big a task to contemplate. Anyway, I went into iTunes and started rating songs, it was taking long with nearly 4000 to go through. So I skipped many that were not high in my favourites and just rated the best. From those best I checked how many times I have played that song in the last couple years. So this may not be my top 100 songs of all time, but what I have been listening to for the last couple years. As you can tell, there are two problems- a) I haven't found anything new to listen to in the last couple years that thrills very much (partly my age and partly that I am so out of touch living in Siberia) and b) it is grossly over represented by one band (sorry if that bores you).

1 Where the Streets Have No Name U2
2 Here I Am Send Me Delirious?
3 All This Time Delirious?
4 Now Is The Time Delirious?
5 Jesus Take The Wheel Carrie Underwood
6 Straight Lines Silverchair
7 Wash Over Me Live Vineyard Worship
8 Can You Hear Live Vineyard Worship
9 Home Among The Gum Trees John Williamson
10 Golden Age Midnight Oil
11 Beauty Live Vineyard Worship
12 Miss Sarajevo (Live from Milan) U2
13 And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda John Williamson
14 The Adventure Of Jesus Various Artists
15 Beautiful Day U2
16 Vertigo U2
17 I Heard the Angels Singing Eric Bibb
18 Capricornia Midnight Oil
19 Miracle Drug U2
20 All Because Of You U2
21 Every Day Vineyard Music
22 Alone King's X
23 Rescue Me Vineyard Music
24 City Of Blinding Lights U2
25 Mercy U2
26 Speed Of Sound Coldplay
27 Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own U2
28 Walk On U2
29 Doesn't Remind Me Audioslave
30 Only 19 John Williamson
31 Fix You Coldplay
32 Hole Hearted Extreme
33 All because of you U2
34 Kite U2
35 I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For U2
36 More Than Words Extreme
37 Yahweh U2
38 Ave Maria (Jacknife Lee Mix) U2
39 Angels Wish Steven Curtis Chapman
40 Bullet The Blue Sky U2
41 Come Now Is The Time To Worship Brian Doerksen
42 Ave Maria Soundgarden
43 If God Will Send His Angels U2
44 Rain Down Delirious?
45 Am I Ever Gonna Change Extreme
46 Black Hole Sun Soundgarden
47 Sabotoge Beastie Boys
48 Over My Head King's X
49 Even Here You are Vineyard Music
50 Kingdom Come Coldplay
52 Majesty (Here I Am) Delirious?
53 Sell My Soul Midnight Oil
54 Only The Strong Midnight Oil
55 Yellow Coldplay
56 Black The Sky King's X
57 Progress Midnight Oil
58 Holy is the Lord My God Vineyard Music
59 Black Flag King's X
60 Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music Larry Norman
61 Blue Sky Mine Midnight Oil
62 Kosciusko Midnight Oil
63 Black Star Radiohead
64 After All These Years Silverchair
65 Awaken The Dawn Delirious?
66 Did You Feel The Mountains Delirious?
67 With You Delirious?
68 Black Capricorn Day Jamiroquai
69 The Difference (In The Garden of St. Anne's-on-the-Hill) King's X
70 I Wish We'd All Been Ready Larry Norman
71 Why Dont You Look Into Jesus Larry Norman
72 Read About It Midnight Oil
73 Dreamworld Midnight Oil
74 Back On The Borderline Midnight Oil
75 Anthem For The Year 2000 Silverchair
76 New Year's Day U2
77 "40" U2
78 Jesus' Blood Delirious?
79 I'm Not Ashamed Delirious?
80 King King's X
81 Karma Police Radiohead
82 Ana's Song (Open Fire) Silverchair
83 Acrobat U2
84 Sunday Bloody Sunday U2
85 Cynical Extreme
86 Fear Not Galactic Cowboys
87 Hungry (Falling On My Knees) Kathryn Scott
88 Beds Are Burning Midnight Oil
89 Hercules Midnight Oil
90 Sleep Now In The Fire Rage Against The Machine
91 Mysterious Ways U2
92 I Will Follow U2
93 All I Want Is You U2
94 Like A Song... U2
95 All I Need Vineyard Music
96 Everything's Not Lost Coldplay
97 Dogman King's X
98 I am the Six O'Clock News Larry Norman
99 The Great American Novel Larry Norman
100 Stars of Warburton Midnight Oil

Friday, August 17, 2007

My top 100 movies

I have always wanted to rate my all time favourite movies but I could not be bothered spending the time looking them all up on the internet. Then facebook came along with an application for rating movies. I have rated over 2000 movies now (many of them with a simple click of "not interested") and come up with my top 100 movies of all time.
The list is obviously not exclusive. Maybe your favourite is not in my list because I have not seen it, or because I simply think it stinks. Let me know if your favourite movie is not in the list, and if I haven't seen it I will try to.
I have reserved the 5 star movies for the absolute best. So I have probably rated the movies more harsly than some. Think of the list a bit like the top 100 singles, some have dropped down lower over time in my estimation.

Here's the list.

5 Stars
1 The Passion of the Christ
2 Braveheart
3 In the name of the Father
4 Alive
5 Dances with wolves
6 The Man without a face
7 Hotel Rwanda
8 Schindler’s List
9 Apocalypto
10 Life is Beautiful
11 Billy Elliot
12 Finding Nemo
13 Unbreakable

4.5 stars
14 Seabiscuit
15 12 Monkeys
16 Searching for Bobby Fischer
17 Jerry Maguire
18 The Castle
19 Ben Hur
20 The Sound of Music
21 Driving Miss Daisy
22 The Lord of the Rings- Fellowship of the Ring
23 Spellbound
24 Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
25 William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
26 Little Miss Sunshine
27 Children of Men

4 Stars
28 Saving Private Ryan
29 The Hurricane
30 The Power of One
31 Radio
32 Ned Kelly
33 Men of Honor
34 Remember the Titans
35 The Rookie
36 The Dish
37 Wondrous Oblivion
38 Das Boot
39 The Last Samurai
40 The Matrix
41 Blade Runner
42 Minority Report
43 The Abyss
44 Fight Club
45 The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
46 The Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers
47 The Bourne Identity
48 Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith
49 Run Lola Run
50 Fiddler on the Roof
51 Good Bye, Lenin
52 One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
53 The Fifth Element
54 The Sixth Sense
55 Princess Mononoke
56 The Gods must be crazy
57 The Shawshank Redemption
58 Kenny
59 The Fugitive
60 The Bank
61 Contact
62 Kingdom of Heaven
63 Seven Years in Tibet
64 Bend it like Beckham
65 Mrs Caldicot’s Cabbage War
66 Traffic
67 Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

3.5 Stars
68 Star Wars
69 The Matrix Reloaded
70 Gladiator
71 Ghost in the Shell
72 The Matrix Revolutions
73 The Aviator
74 Whale Rider
75 Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
76 Mad Max
77 Babe
78 Stargate
79 Catch Me if you Can
80 Runaway Jury
81 Field of Dreams
82 My Big Fat Greek Wedding
83 Erin Brokovich
84 Enemy at the Gates
85 Artificial Intelligence
86 I am Sam
87 The Man Who Sued God
88 Lawrence of Arabia
89 O Brother Where Art Thou
90 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
91 Napoleon Dynamite
92 World Trade Center
93 50 First Dates
94 What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
95 Brother Bear
96 Bruce Almighty
97 The Incredibles
98 Shrek
99 Chicken Run
100 Edward Scissorhands

Friday, August 10, 2007

This has to end now!

Every time I hear news from Zimbabwe it just gets worse and worse and worse. The world stood by and did nothing when there was genocide in Rwanda. That was a rapid genocide. Mugabe is committing slow genocide in Zimababwe and the world is doing nothing once again. There are no excuses now, because he has been in power for nearly 30 years and everyone knows how evil he is.

Back in 2005 I met a pastor from Zibabwe. He told me how hard things were then and how much persecution they faced from the government. But he also told me that people were responding to the gospel hand over fist as they were just so desperate.

Mugabe has very effectively closed down all of his political opponents and people are all very scared of imprisonment for saying a word wrong. Inflation is now at 3500% in Zimbabwe. They just printed a $200 000 note, but I doubt that very few people are allowed to have one.

Yesterday we attended a prayer meeting and heard very alarming news from people living in Zimbabwe. The government have now made it illegal to "hoard" food. There is virtually nothing left on the shelves in the shops. One man was arrested and dragged away from a shop in handcuffs for buying four packs of toilet paper. People now have to queue for up to three hours to withdraw a maximum of $22 USD. Three million Zimbabweans have already fled to South Africa as refugees and more are leaving all the time.

Recently there was a terrible cult leader president in an Asian country which shall remain unnamed here. We prayed that he would either turn to God or that God would remove him how ever he saw fit. Within weeks the president was dead. That was God's prerogative. Once again I am not saying that Mugabe should die, but I am saying that he has to go. Zimbabwe is way past due. South Africa are sitting around doing nothing as this news article from 2 hours ago shows.

We prayed fervently for the very literal and present salvation of the Zimbabwean people. Either South Africa needs to intervene, or the West needs to intervene or God needs to intervene. But the evil despot has to go now! Please beseech God for this to happen very soon.

And ah, the ridiclous ICC should ban Zimbabwe from playing in the upcoming 20/20 cricket world champiionship. Any money awarded to Zimbabwe ends up directly in the hands of Mugabe and continues to prop up his regime.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

What is evangelicalism?

The problem we face today comes from contemporary definitions of words (noticed how I strayed away from "modern" as in modernsim?).

The correct etymological definition of evangelical is someone who believes in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. By that definition, I am an evangelical. Evangelion is the Greek word, which means gospel, the good news.

My problems arise with the culture of many churches within modern evangelicalism. But I am struggling to find a word that clearly defines this culture. I suppose it can only be best described through common experience. Those who have that experience will know what I am talking about, the rest will be completely confused.

Suffice it to say, many evangelicals have strayed from the roots of the reformation. So, then I would have to say, yes I am a neo-evangelical according to this wikipedia definition. On the same note I am also a post evangelical.

For those who are worried let me reconfirm that I am an evangelical, but that much of the sheltered culture annoys me.

Monday, August 06, 2007

I'll have some of the mystery thanks

Mystery. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? As we embark upon a postmodern age, it is not only a good thing, but an essential in the make up of our spiritual experiences. I do not wish to give a systematic outline of why mystery is a good thing, that would defeat my purpose. Let me satisfy the evangelical urge of some and quote some scripture so that I can prove that I am on the right path. (Isn't it wonderful how we can "prove" so many things with scripture.)

Isaiah prophesied: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him." St. Paul goes on to explain that the Spirit of God has revealed these things to us, but that we can not understand these things with out the Spirit of God. St. Paul often talks about the "mystery" of the gospel.

No doubt throughout the ages there have been many who have been guilty of dogmatism and who have exploited Christianity for their own power quests. Due to in most parts, the separation of church and state, the quest for power is not as great as it once was through Christianity, and so the dogmatism is not as strong as it has been in history. Although, it must be said that dogmatism certainly exists today, and people still use Christianity as a means to their power quest. Jesus told us that we must serve one another. Therefore any leader must be a servant not a power monger. What a shame it is that there are so many power mongers. "You must speak in tongues," "why were you not at church on Sunday?," "It is a sin to smoke or drink," are just a few of the modern day dogmatic requirements that exist within conservative churches. For someone to maintain their grip on power then the rules must be clear, so that they can outcast people for stepping outside the neatly defined boundaries.

Modernism brought with it a thirst for discovery and a thirst for knowledge. Embedded in this thirst for knowledge was the world view that man is capable of understanding all things and explaining all things. Science in itself is a wonderful thing, it can actually be used as a tool to expand our appreciation of the mystery. But it was the modernist approach to Science that was so dangerous. Modernists started to come out with "logical" arguments against the existence of God. Logic is a funny creature. A rather intelligent Science teacher that I know in Saskatchewan can "logically" prove that the earth is flat. Logic can be used to argue many things. I think logic works best within confined parameters. So due to the rise in the logic of modernism, a new expression of Christianity arose: Evangelicalism. The evangelical church felt compelled to explain everything in the Bible and to have a logical answer to every question that the Darwinists and Atheists came up with. Evangelicalism reduced Christianity into a science. Systematic theologies were written and the gospel was watered down into four "spiritual laws."

Recently I read a very refreshing book called "Searching for God knows what" by Donald Miller. His thesis is very simple: God created us for relationship, that relationship was lost and now he invites us back into relationship with him again. Donald Miller takes the time to describe the kind of relationship he thinks Adam and Eve would have had with God in the garden, and how desperate it was for them when this relationship was lost. Now, humans try to seek all of their approval from others and do ridiculous things to gain the approval of others. God is simply wanting to give us this approval himself. (Yes, you are right, this in itself is not particularly mysterious at all.) Everyone in life seems to be stuck in a big high school popularity contest. Donald Miller also takes the time to explain how harmful it is to reduce Christianity to a series of bullet points. He very clearly points out that someone can believe all the bullet points to be true, but never have received God's invitation for relationship.

Modernist Evangelicalism has reduced the gospel into bullet points and removed all of the mystery, that St. Paul talked about. The means to becoming a follower of Jesus are very neatly mapped out within evangelicalism. This is sad and has put God into a box. It has also created many other dangerous trends. There are many cliched pat answers to so many of life's most perplexing questions. One of the things I like about post modernism is that there is no pressure to find the answer to all the questions. I personally have the faith that God holds all the answers, but whether I need to know them all or not, is less important. I am content with some mystery in my life.

There are many people today who are on a quest for mystery in their spiritual search. Some of them were even once Christian believers, who found the trite cliched answers too much to stomach and sadly have been turned off by Christianity. To remove the mystery from Christianity is to send people away to find mystery within other religions, be it Islam, Buddhism or new age spiritualities.

God is an awesome and mysterious being. Yes, he became accessible to us as Jesus, and communicated to us the simplicity of faith that is all we need. He spent a lot of time telling us that he wanted us to "know" the father, and that he would leave the Holy Spirit with us to help us to know the father. But do we really want to know the kind of father that we can understand in 5 years at theological college, or wouldn't it be better to have a relationship with a heavenly father that will continue to reveal mystery after mystery to us throughout our own individual lives and the ages?

Religion is a sin. It panders to the human desire that we can achieve our own spiritual fulfillment and salvation. There can be a lot of false religious mystery that can be very attractive to people. This also explains why people wander into different spiritualities in a post Christian world.

God invites me into a relationship with him. In embarking on this relationship, I do not think that I will ever fully understand God. "Is God dangerous? Yes but he is good." (To quote C.S Lewis.) I find it comforting and refreshing that I am still at the very beginning of my relationship with God, that there is still an endless horizon of mystery and adventure in front of me, and that I am untangling myself from some of the dogmatism that has surrounded me in my life.

I hope God is a mystery to you. He is supposed to be. if he isn't then have another look.