Monday, December 28, 2009

Windy City

I'm off in a few hours to visit one of my favorite cities:



If you don't know where that is, it's Millennium Park in Chicago! I've been to Chicago in August, September, and March... just never in the dead center of winter! Please pray that there will be no major delays and that my Southern California-weathered self won't get killed in the cold. In case you were wondering just how cold this city can get:



Mind you, that's without factoring the lovely wind chill. I think yesterday the temperature in Chicago read 20 degrees but said it "felt like" -1 degree because of the wind. Oh joy!

For all my fellow bloggers and friends that read this, have a very happy last week of the year 2009 and happy new year!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

House of Bread

Micah 5:2, "But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days."

בֵּֽית־לֶ֣חֶם or Bethlehem, literally means house of bread. While it may not have been all that influential during the days of Micah the prophet, this town will forever remain significant as the birthplace of the Messiah.

I will leave you with one final song as we cap off this advent season, 'O Little Town of Bethlehem.'


O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

For Christ is born of Mary
And gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love
O morning stars together
Proclaim the holy birth
And praises sing to God the King
And Peace to men on earth
Peace to men on earth

O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born in us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel
Our Lord Emmanuel

O little town of Bethlehem
How still
O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Snow + Hope

While the East Coasters are probably busy shoveling snow off their driveways, I sometimes wish we had snow here too... (They'll probably disagree with me...) One cool picture I saw (HT: Big Picture)



I'm gonna be in Chicago for most of next week though, so I guess I'll get to see snow for a little bit. Let's hope for no major delays... Meanwhile, let me leave you with a quote from my current reading, Surprised by Hope:


"...because of the early Christian belief in Jesus as Messiah, we find the development of the very early belief that Jesus is Lord and that therefore Caesar is not. This is a whole other topic for another occasion. But already in Paul the resurrection, both of Jesus and then in the future of his people, is the foundation of the Christian stance of allegiance to a different king, a different Lord. Death is the last weapon of the tyrant, and the point of the resurrection, despite much misunderstanding, is that death has been defeated. Resurrection is not the redescription of death; it is its overthrow and, with that, the overthrow of those whose power depends on it. Despite the sneers and slurs of some contemporary scholars, it was those who believed in the bodily resurrection who were burned at the stake and thrown to the lions. Resurrection was never a way of settling down and becoming respectable; the Pharisees could have told you that. It was the Gnostics, who translated the language of resurrection into a private spirituality and a dualistic cosmology, thereby more or less altering its meaning into its opposite, who escaped persecution. Which emperor would have sleepless nights worrying that his subjects were reading the Gospel of Thomas? Resurrection was always bound to get you into trouble, and it regularly did."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Please have snow...

Next up on some Christmas songs for you to listen to: the great Oscar Peterson along with Jack Schantz.



Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I'm yours?.....

I'm studying for my Ephesians final, but had to share this with you... pretty good guitar skills for a little guy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happiness.

γὰρ εὐδαιμονία κάλλιστον καὶ ἄριστον πάντων οὖσα ἥδιστον ἐστίν.

Happiness is at once the pleasantest and the fairest and best of all things whatever.
Aristotle, Eud. Eth. 1.1214a


On my way home today, I listened to a bit of N.T. Wright's lecture at Fuller Seminary earlier this year, and I have to say, so far, very good. He talks somewhat about Aristotelian perspective on 'happiness' (εὐδαιμονία) and proper biblical understanding of ethics toward attaining real 'happiness.' He does a good job of attacking the postmodern worldview that has placed such a high value on 'authenticity out of spontaneity' while simultaneously disparaging any real moral efforts. He also talked about the US Airways Flight 1549 and how what has been deemed a "miracle" by the public is also likely the product of careful training and experience of the pilots themselves. Some nuggets of wisdom from the good Bishop:


Our culture prefers effortless spontaneity with occasional divine intervention in emergencies, rather than working with God on developing the muscles which will meet those emergencies with a God-given second nature which appears spontaneous, but is in fact the result of thinking and choosing and practicing.


...the very mention of 'virtue' will make many Christians stiffen in alarm. They have been rightly taught that we are not justified by our works but by our faith. They know that they are powerless to make themselves conform to any higher and lofty moral code, the Ten Commandments, Aristotle, whatever. They've tried it, didn't work, made them feel guilty. Then they discovered that God accepted them as they are, "While we were yet sinners," Paul declares, "Christ dies for us." Whew! So why bother with all this morality? And in particular isn't 'virtue' a way specifically of talking about a self-help sort of moralism?...
(He's being sarcastic here...)


Wright goes on to talk about the proper place of right biblical eschatology in ethics. Obviously, there's much more to this lecture and I think this is probably an adaptation of his research that culminated in two books I'm looking forward to reading in the future: Surprised by Hope and The Resurrection of the Son of God. If you get a chance, do listen to the lecture! I mean, he's a great scholar but that British accent just makes it sound even better...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

3 in 1

Trinity. The word "Trinity" never occurs in the Bible, but it has been well argued elsewhere that this understanding of the plurality of the Godhead is found throughout Scriptures. Anyway, I've heard plenty of times that people often use water as an example to teach the Trinity (i.e., solid phase, liquid phase, and gas phase... but all water). I've also heard people assert that this is a poor way to teach the Trinity because it leads to modalism, which is a Trinitarian heresy that understands Godhead to be expressing itself in "modes" (in our example of water, at one point it's ice, then it is liquid, then it would be gas). Therefore, the wise Christian believes that using water is a bad way to teach the Trinity. I want to propose a new alternative: The person asserting that another person using water as a method to teach the Trinity is wrong, is also wrong!

I was a science major at UCLA and I've learned a little bit about phase diagrams, and the property of water. If you know what I'm talking about, you should be familiar with the picture below:


















If you notice, around the lower left quadrant, there's a point marked as the triple point, and thermodynamically speaking, this is where all three phases can coexist in equilibrium! Of course it is not an easy thing to witness, as you notice the atmospheric pressure is so low that it's almost vacuum-like. However, it does disprove the assertion that by using water, it must favor a modalistic understanding of the Trinity. Not so!

I propose, the next time you want to teach the Trinity, bring a phase diagram with you and I think it'd be alright.

God with us

Finally finished my work! Anyway, in light of the Christmas season, thought I would leave you tonight with a great rendition of one of my favorite Christmas songs, hope you know who the artist is:



O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear

O come, Thou day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to Thee, O Israel
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to Thee, O Israel

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

I know some think Jesus wasn't really born in December, but still... it is a good time of the year, no? Anyway, I'm about to start finishing up my final homiletical project on Mark 14:22-26, but before I do that, I wanted to share with you all a funny story about Christmas.

Around Christmas time, my sermons at church usually get more anti-secular (if you know what I mean) and I often tell my kids that Santa is just an imaginary character. Anyway, a couple years back, one of my old kids came up to me and told me a funny (or disturbing?) story:

Now in junior high school she says: You know, Pastor Mike, you were the first one to tell me that Santa wasn't real.

Me: Oh really? Umm... I see...

Student: Yeah, I remember that Sunday when I went home, I told my mom that you said Santa wasn't real.

Me: Oh? What did she say?

Student: She said you were lying.


Wow.

Join me in my confusion...


I don't really get how Google Wave works, but I guess if you want to 'not-get-it' with me, then just send me a message with your email and I'll send you an invite!



Google is odd indeed. On a semi-related note, check this video out from them, the Google Goggle.



Saturday, December 5, 2009

NTS 2010 out and free!

Just found out that the new issue (Jan 2010) of New Testament Studies is out and it is available for free for everyone. Go check it out! Some articles:

'From John 2.19 to Mark 15.29: The History of a Misunderstanding,' Gonzalo Rojas-Flores
'The Claim of John 7.15 and the Memory of Jesus’ Literacy,' Chris Keith
'Erastus, Quaestor of Corinth: The Administrative Rank of ὁ οἰκονόμους της πόλεως (Rom 16.23) in an Achaean Colony,' John K. Goodrich

And many others.