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Archive for March 2009

Back on the wagon

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So I’m hopping bak on the diet wagon. I’ve been off it for some time now. Not sure why I lost steam. Probably because I was initially so successful, I guess.

Anyway, it starts officially today! Phase 1 for 1 week, then Phase 2 until I hit my goal weight (175-180).

Phase 1 = no sugars, no breads or pastas or cereals, no fruits, no alcohol. Basically just lean meats and veggies.

Phase 2 = reintroduce breads/pastas in moderation and only whole wheat/whole grain, most fruits, still no sugar.

You, my faithful blog community, are my accountability right now.

Weighed in today at 210lbs. Up about 5lbs from when I started slacking…

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March 30, 2009 at 2:59 pm

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“At the Cross”

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I think this is my new favorite song…

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March 24, 2009 at 2:43 pm

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Blog Stats

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So, I recently registered another blog – Breadcrumbs – which contains devotional thoughts, practical theology, etc. Shortly after creating that blog, I discovered that WordPress has a “Blog Stats” tool, which tells you how many people have viewed your blog, what, if any, was the referral source (i.e. Google, Hotmail, etc.), what, if any, links were clicked from your page, which posts are the most popular, etc. Last week, I had 8 hits in one day (the same day I announced the blog). After my most recent post, I got 6 hits, and I was sad.

It made me realize something, if only as an anectdote (since I am still obsessed with the stats). I’ll tell you what that is in a second…

I watched Mulan the other night for the first time. It was pretty good. My favorite element of the movie was the way they really succeeding in showing how Eastern culture emphasizes and values the honor/dishonor code, especially since it is rather foreign to American/Western culture. I realized that American culture measures success/failure, not so much honor/dishonor, and because of this, especially from a Christian perspective, we can easily lose sight of what it is we ought to be striving for. Success and failure are very measurable – we have numbers, and dates, and percentages, and averages, etc., to measure our success or failure. But honor is much harder, if not impossible to measure. Yet I think the scriptures are far more concerned with the issue of honor than success.

Now to bring it full circle…I’m obsessed with my blog stats because they are measureable, and they tell me how popular my blog is (ha! that’s funny). I have found myself thinking about ways I could make my blog more popular. Why? So I can encourage and bless more people? No! So that I can feel self-assured in the fact that I am awesome enough, and important enough for people to want to read my blog.

I think churches have a tendency to do the same thing. They can tend to get focused on numbers – How many people attended last week? How many visitors did we have? What came in from the offering? How many people signed up for that event? Yet if we were truly honorable, we would be wholly concerned with helping the people we have, encouraging the people who actually showed up, rather than desperately trying to figure out how to get the non-shower-uppers to walk through the doors…

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March 24, 2009 at 2:03 pm

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Out of the saddle…

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Told Catalina United Methodist that I wanted to remove my name from consideration for the position there. It was the right decision…

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March 22, 2009 at 1:34 am

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Confessions of a reluctant Pentecostal…

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I’ve been feeling a bit dissatisfied with the church I’ve been attending. I feel sort of bad for being dissatisfied, but there it is. I decided to begin visiting other churches. I totally don’t want to be a “church shopper,” but it is also important for me to find a church where I feel I connect with the Sunday service.

So, I visited a new church on Sunday. Faith Christian Church. There’s a few La Frontera peeps that attend there, and that was what really drew me. I had a hunch that this was a more Pentecostal church, but I wanted to visit and see for myself. So I did. It was. But it wasn’t a Wierd-a-costal church. It was pretty tame, actually, in comparison to many churches I’ve attended. There were a lot of things I really liked about the church. But on with the actual point of this post…

I am a reluctant Pentecostal. What that means for me is that from a theological perspective, I am pretty much squarely in the Pentecostal camp. But from a practical perspective, I am less Pentecostal. Put another way, I generally believe what other Pentecostals believe, but I generally don’t like what Pentecostalism looks like. Allow me to be categorical:

  1. Pentecostals can tend to think they’re better than non-Pentecostals: I believe that the Bible teaches a “second experience” of receiving the Holy Spirit (which Pentecostals call the Baptism into the Holy Spirit). I believe that this experience exists primarily to empower the believer for service in the Kingdom, and to deepen their experience of God. HOWEVER, I do not feel that those who have had this experience are somehow more spiritual than others, or have attained to some higher plane of godliness. I have known many Christians who, not claimining this particular experience, were far more godly and holy and committed to Christ and His Church than those who do claim the experience.
  2. Pentecostals sometimes lack restraint: I am all for freedom in worship. In fact, I feel most churches ought to be more free than they are! Those who gather to worship God shouldn’t feel out of place if they lift their hands, or kneel, or exhibit any other Biblical expression of worship. HOWEVER, many Pentecostals tend to take that freedom to an extreme, and they do bizarre things, or things that draw undue attention to themselves. They tend to take their freedom, and interpret it to mean “anything goes.” I feel worship ought to be free, but utterly reverent, and utterly within the bounds of Biblically defined expression.
  3. Pentecostals tend to be “experienced-based”: I feel it is important for Christians to have experiences in which they encounter God in meaningful ways. Our walk can become very lifeless and dry without those experiences. Usually an experienceless Christian life, is one that emphasizes theological truths. It is more rational, and intellectual.  However, the opposite of a “theology-based” life is equally as dangerous. “Spiritual” experiences, not backed by solid theological truth are, at best, suspect. I have been in a service where people were “passing the Holy Spirit around,” by touching each other. Sort of like “Holy Ghost tag.” This was seen as very spiritual, but to me it was the most ridiculous circus I had ever seen. Sadly, this “Holy Ghost tag” was only one of many ridiculous “spiritual” expressions going on in that service. It was a Pentecostal free-for-all, and not one thing that was happening in this service had any foundation in Scripture. I’m sure for those experiencing it, it was wonderful and profound, but was it really God??
  4. Pentecostals are all about the “blessing”: This is a tough one for me, but it has to be said. Pentecostals tend to be into the whole “Word of Faith”/”Health and Wealth” gospel thing. I’m not going to detail this theology, but suffice it to say that it basically teaches that God wants to “bless” you, and by “bless” they mean that God wants to give you lots of money and to spare you from experiencing sickness and disease. They contort scriptures and take them out of context in an attempt to show that God’s ultimate goal in your life is to “remove the curse,” which includes poverty, disease/sickness, broken relationships, etc. Practically it means that anything negative is “a curse,” and thus is to be rejected and prayed against. By way of example, a church I attended for awhile here in Tucson changed the words of a popular song that begins, “I am not skilled to understand,” to say, “Yes, I am skilled to understand.” Why? Because the former seemed to indicate weakness, it was negative, thus to confess it was sin. So they changed it. Stupid.
  5. Pentecostals are all about the “gifts”: This is probably better suited as a sub-category of the “experience-based” paragraph, but whatever. Since our understanding of the Baptism into the Holy Spirit is that it is given for the empowerment of the believer, we tend to emphasize the gifts in 1 Corinthians 12. Those gifts are clearly supernatural (i.e. healing, prophecy, miracles, tongues, discerning of spirits, etc.), and thus are most easily understood to be the “power” we are to receive when baptized into the Spirit (Acts 1:8). Once again, I believe that every spiritually alive church ought to see these gifts in operation in their services or home meetings or whatever, but most don’t. HOWEVER, to emphasize the use of the gifts to the neglect of an emphasis on the fruit of the Spirit is very grave. One begins to feel that the Holy Spirit’s primary purpose in our lives is to empower us to do miraculous things, when in fact the scripture tells us that He is far more interested in bringing about the character and holiness of Christ in us. Just look at the chapter that follows the enumeration of those gifts in 1 Cor. 12. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” (1Cor. 13:1-3)

Other than the “Health and Wealth” crap, I pretty much stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Pentecostals in their theology, but try to keep a little distance from them when it comes to the way I express my Pentecostal beliefs. I’ll visit this church again. However, though it bothers me to be this way, I am a bit wary as I go, and a little more sensitive to some of those things I have mentioned. I believe that God will lead me to the right church. And I know that whatever church He leads me to will be imperfect, and since I am very imperfect as well, I guess it will be a good match.

Written by jeffrossman

March 17, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Posted in Life, Theology