Saturday, December 20, 2014

Created Good

Jan Brueghel: The Younger Creation of Adam
A fundamental aspect of how we see the world around us and how we understand Christianity stems from how we understand who we are. What is our nature as humans? If we were created by a good God why is there suffering? 

Christians for centuries have been trying to answer these questions. Many of the voices in Protestantism about human nature come from theologians around the time of the reformation. You may notice that people like John Wesley and Rob Bell have a very different perspective than your average evangelical Christian. Their theology is strongly influenced by a 3rd century theologian named Irenaeus whose work laid the foundation for the beliefs the church would grow on. There were many different sects who claimed to follow Jesus' teachings that were far from what you or I believe about God, and Irenaeus wrote directly confronting those groups and in doing so laid out a convincing perspective that continues to have appeal even today. Irenaeus had this concept that we were created good and that makes all the difference. Below is a paper I wrote attempting to explain this concept in some depth. I hope you are able to see truth in it that you have known with your life, and that you can see aspects of things you hear in a Methodist church, or even in Rob Bell's books/videos.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

IOU Conference - Kingdom Calling

The Following are the Sound Cloud hosted audio recording from my Keynote addresses at the IOU Conference for University aged students at Frontier Lodge in Quebec CA.
*The recordings were done with an iPhone*

The theme for the weekend was Kingdom Calling. The Sermons each built on each other to answer the questions of:
What is God's Kingdom Like? 
What is My Role Within God's Kingdom?

-Part 1-
This message sets the foundation by looking at Deuteronomy 6 and 17

-Part 2-
This message focuses on the Covenant relationship between God and humanity.

-Part 3-
This message transitions to Jesus' parables describing the Kingdom of God

-Part 4-
This message is about responding to God's Call on your life

Monday, August 25, 2014

Why Shakeology Isn't A Normal Meal Replacement Shake - What I've Observed In The 1st 2 Weeks My Wife Has Used It.

In the name of complete transparency I will start off by saying that my wife is newly associated with Team Beach Body, as a Coach. The links used in this post are tracking links in which it is possible for her to receive a commission for. However, that is not my motivation for writing this, we hold a similar affiliation with Advocare and I have never been tempted to write about it. 

You may have noticed that I have been a bit absent from blog posting this summer. The drop off in posts happened when my wife Kim gave birth to our second son on June 25th. George and Jordan are just under a year and a half apart and our hands have been full. Having one kid is difficult and two under two is a bit of a workout. 
My Excuse for Blogging Less.
When my wife and I began dating in May of 2007 she was a full-time coach. In fact she had 2 coaching gigs, one at McMurry University, and for competitive cheer at Beamers. On top of all that working out she did with her athletes she was a regular at Golds Gym and particularly loved Les Mills Body Pump - the owners of Golds were regularly asking her to consider teaching the class. She was full of energy, full of life and you could see it in the way she walked and talked. She was healthy, really healthy. Its one of the things I loved about her, how she took care of herself. At the time I was still in very good shape myself having been a cross country and track athlete and health was a quality I valued. 

Fast forward 7 years and here we are. My wife just spent 2 1/2 years either pregnant or nursing and still has a few months to go in nursing Jordan. Needless to say, her body has not really been her own for some time and it had believe it or not effected her. Many who know her have always and still saw her as a high energy individual who does more than most people with a smile on her face. Its like she never stops... and it is true she doesn't.  However, she has not had the same bounce in her step or emotional energy that comes from being as healthy as she was when we started dating. 

I mean, it is a normal thing to have different energy levels and declining health when you compare 25 to 32 years old. I know that for me 20 to 27 has been really difficult on my health and fitness. On top of that, having a miscarriage followed by two kids in such a short amount of time is bound to have an impact. In general we are a fairly healthy couple, we try to eat fresh and healthy foods and take the boys/dog on walks down by the lake, we have even done workout programs together. Life still had its impact on our health and waistlines. 

My Observations:
Just over 2 weeks ago my wife tried a sample of Shakeology to see if she was going to have an allergic reaction to the non-commercially grown mushrooms. Good news is that she had no reaction. She decided to purchase the PiYo Challenge pack that comes with the workout program that mixes Pilates and Yoga together, and a one month supply of Shakeology. She decided to become a coach in order to get a discount (Get a 25%discount on all future orders by becoming a coach) so that instead of $160 plus shipping and tax, the challenge pack as a coach was only $153 after shipping and tax. Considering that a month supply of Shakeology is normally $132 after tax, and PiYo is normally $72 something after tax means she got a considerable discount ordering them together. 

In the past two weeks I have noticed in her a significant change in her energy levels. That bounce in her step is much closer to the way it was 7 years ago, virtually turning back the hands of time in the ageing process. On top of the renewed energy, she has dropped 4 lbs and 6 inches (2 off waist, 1 of hips, 1.5 off each leg) in 2 weeks. I am really quite proud of how well it is working for her. 

Thinking about it now I am wondering when I can muster up the guts to start a challenge myself. I have several pairs of pants and a few suits that I haven't been able to wear in over 2 years that would certainly be wearable if I could have even close to the same results Kim has had. 

My experience:
I have sampled Shakeology and must admit that I have also tried to use other meal replacement drinks in the past attempting to fit in those suits. The biggest difference I can remember is that with Shakeology, I was full. In all seriousness I usually finish a meal replacement and find myself looking for second breakfast 15-20 minutes later, yet with Shakeology I was only able to finish half and I didn't get hungry until 2 PM. The people that make it must have guys in mind when they created the product. 

Favorite part:
The most exciting part of this whole thing to me is it feels like my wife is becoming herself again. She is healthier and happier every day. Its one thing to have energy from a 5 hour or similar (temporary) energy drink, its another for energy to build back as health increases.

If life has gotten to your energy or your waistline perhaps you should give it a try, there is a money back guarantee so what have you got to loose? Answer: excuses.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

No Room For a Christian Pacifist

The world has been in quite a bit of turmoil this summer. From commercial planes being shot down in the Ukraine, to Schools being bombed in the Israel/Palestine conflict. Here closer to home there has been significant uproar about immigration with regard to the refuge children and the number of deportations. Recently a group of faith leaders and activists including a few pastors from here in north Texas, protested outside the White House and were arrested for their civil disobedience. Most of my life I have been conditioned to avoid entering into such significant debates and taking sides. Perhaps you have been too. Last year at seminary some of our reading challenged me to rethink my stance of pacifism in avoiding big questions. Below is a paper I wrote about it, be prepared it is a bit of a polarized argument. (I think I got a B on it)