Wednesday, November 25, 2009
As for me on this Thanksgiving, it won't be like the rest. I didn't think what I am about to describe is a big deal, but the more I talk of it, the more I see the horror in the eyes of the listener and thus a little bit of concern jumps in my heart as well. This Thanksgiving my family has decided to skip the whole home-made aspect of Thanksgiving and instead let a nice eatery do the cooking and serving.
The advantages are obvious: Apparently it ends up cheaper (despite it being around 20 bucks a head), and the time for preparation, serving, and cleaning immediately turns to zero.
But the bigger picture....Usually Thanksgiving is a 4-6 hour affair complete with all the semi-masculine males hovering around the television to watch my faithful Lions get massacred in a game of football, then comes the overly crowded kitchen with people offering to help but only a few actually doing anything. And then comes the food and the journey that entails....and then the complements, and then the coffee to wake us from the tiring effects of the tryptophan. There is such a tradition about the whole mess, and it's lovely....
And this year we are throwing it all to the wind in order to not be so busy and to save a few bucks...We are selling our dearest holidays now to the monster of capitalism which promises more time and relaxation for us, but for the price of money and our endearing souls....
And while I complain and complain about how some tradition is not what it used to be and how Thanksgiving will never be the same, and I lament the loss of a certain nostalgic mood of the dinner, I quickly remember...it's not even the dinner. It's the family...and we still have the family. We still have the money to afford this dinner. We still have the faithful losing Lions to watch on the television.
My Goodness, if there is one downfall about the cynicism of my generation (myself included), it's that we don't realize and appreciate how good we have it. So on that note, whatever the circumstances tomorrow, let's enter the evening with a violent joy excited about what we do have and be quick to remember to not lament what we may have lost. Happy Thanksgiving!
Posted by Joel Riley at 11:15 AM
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Jonny Lang's new CD is out! It's a live concert, which if you've ever attended one of his concerts, you know is a treat.
He's one of the most remarkable guitarists in the world. So if you like contemporary blues, don't miss it.
Plus, you might be surprised at the lyrics in some of his songs. They might fit into your local church service.
Tour schedule here.
Preview the CD here!
Thursday, November 19, 2009
The Advocate in Baton Rouge has a meaty article on the UPCI's recently elected General Superintendent David K. Bernard:
“I’m proud of my French and Cajun and Louisiana roots,” Bernard said during a recent telephone interview. “I hope (Baton Rouge area friends) pray for me and hope they can support someone who has their values and can lead in this office.”
Bernard said he will also have to curtail some of his writing, but he is still focused on a doctoral dissertation in New Testament from the University of South Africa. Its short title, he said, is “The Monotheistic Deification of Jesus.”
“I’m examining, ‘How did the early Jewish Christians see Jesus as God when they were so monotheistic?’” Bernard said. “They wouldn’t believe in a different God, so how did they come up with this concept that Jesus was more than just a man in the context of their strong, monotheistic beliefs?"Photo used from the excellent CarlosHernandezPhotography.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
My dear mather and I have been co-writing on Collideoscope over a subject near and dear to us, and that is the subject of Atlanta West Pentecostal Church winning the Verizon-sponsored How Sweet the Sound competition for 2009. It is a competition to find "the best church choir in America." Go here if you would like to hear a great run-down of this amazing story and simultaneously understand the rest of my post.
There were one or two choirs I didn't actually understand the words, and they were very energetic, so the audience wanted to praise God with 'em. But it was tough.
There were one or two choirs that I definitely wanted it to be OVER and/or wanted to fall asleep to.
There were a couple of amazing choirs that I admired based purely on technical skill. There was a certain director in the second half of the 11 total choirs who made me tired just looking at him. Don't get me wrong; our church choir director, Brandon Frazier, is totally on the ball. But this guy was giving it 250%, and that choir followed his every move.
Anyway, Marvin Sapp is definitely my favorite. After he said that whole, "I'm gonna come to church one Sunday, and Imma slip in the back, and I'm just gonna allow some yokes to be destroyed offa my life from this ministry"; yeah, he's awesome.
As they began to sing, the place was already on its feet. From the first a capella note, the Lord stirred every heart. Here's the link to the video! And man, with every soloist calling out God's praises, and the difficulties I knew choir members had been through in the past weeks, I knew a breakthrough when I saw one. I mean, those judges could barely talk, they were so in the Holy Ghost! I later heard of people staying until midnight praying in the Holy Ghost. People walked up to Pentecostal folks not even from our church and insisted they know where we were from and what was going on with that choir!
I didn't know any of that at the time; they should have given us more room to hoot-n-holler. The whole place like to gone up in flames, if you'll excuse the mixed grammar.
Anyway, as Donald Lawrence paused an eternity before telling us who had won the National 2009 How Sweet the Sound competition, I was leaning forward off my chair [flirting with gravity's bad side, I might add], whispering/screaming to myself, "SAY IT!!!!" Good news for Mr Lawrence, he said it, and we all jumped up and screeeeeeeeeamed. Half in tongues. It was awesome. "Atlanta. West. PENTECOSTAL. CHUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURCH!"
Posted by Shohna Neumann at 2:50 PM
It seems many in our culture are obsessed with beauty these days. It is my humble and inexperienced opinion that humans have always been so. We are in awe of the beautiful and lovely. We are attracted to something pleasing to the eye or the ear. We gravitate toward what we see as beautiful. People around the world spend millions of dollars and countless minutes arranging themselves, creating a pleasing surface. Depending on the culture, we lose or gain weight to become the accepted type. Men take steroids; girls go on diets, and sometimes, it's the other way around.
I was reading in 1 Peter 3 a while ago, and it mentioned a Pentecostal verse if I've ever heard one: [speaking to women] Don't let your beauty consist of outer adornment, such as a great hair-do or pretty jewelry or fashionable clothes. Instead, let your beauty come from the unfading beauty of a meek and quiet spirit - this is a jewel of great price. Submit yourselves to your husbands, as Sarah did, calling Abraham "Master". [Obviously, I'm paraphrasing.]
Proverbs 31 -- "Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord, she is to be praised."
Posted by Shohna Neumann at 4:21 AM
Sunday, November 08, 2009
Posted by Joel Riley at 4:08 PM
Friday, November 06, 2009
It seems that these days, anytime we hear about children, ie HAVING children, it's bad stuff. They wreak havoc. They cost tons of money. They won't listen to you. They're not grateful. They take up all your time; you have no time left to do hobbies or relax. They're disobedient and unruly and embarrassing when you take them out in public. In short, they're stinkers. And expensive stinkers at that.
And yet the Bible calls children "a blessing from the Lord." "Happy is the man who hath his quiver full of them" and "he will not be ashamed when he standeth in the gate" [when he has a wise child] and all that stuff.
So where's the disconnect? Even Pentecostals are having less and less kids. You've seen it: 2-3 kids, max, for most people. Any bigger of a family is just "too much to handle". In fact, a lot of young couples are reluctant to have even one child. Because they know that kids take over not just your life, but your time, finances, and sanity.
So my question is, if the Bible assumes you'll have tons of kids and says that, in fact, having kids is an amazing blessing any way you cut it, why does it say that? And why is no one listening?
Posted by Shohna Neumann at 12:46 PM
Thursday, November 05, 2009
However, I thought entry #10 was pretty cool: The introduction of the googlebot, a metaphorical overlord robot that personifies Google as a robot that connects two different worlds (the internet and the individual).
And this Googlebot was painted on a mural at one of their data centers (see picture above).
Posted by Joel Riley at 11:33 AM
"Christian faith 'is inherently and irreducibly pluralist.' As he explains, 'The diversity of the Christian faith is not, as some approaches to church and theology might seem to suggest, a problem that needs to be overcome. Instead, this diversity is part of the divine design and intention for the Church as the image of God and the body of Christ in the world. Christian plurality is a good thing, not something that needs to be struggled against and overturned.'".....
Seems like an interesting hypothesis...in short, our understanding of Christianity is incredibly finite and small. Christianity in it's essence is the sum of all it's parts (thank you Maya Angelou). Or to put it as Carl Jung would have it, the human conscious (or in this case Christianity) should not be deduced through the individual, but rather should be viewed through the collective unconscious of the different Christian beliefs as a whole.
Which means if Franke were to critique Apostolics it would probably look something like this, "Thank you for your inspiring view of Christianity. While you are right to maintain your beliefs in your form of a salvation formula derived from Acts 2:38. However, you must keep the bigger view of other Christian denominations and their beliefs that they think are just as true as yours as part of the bigger redeeming process of Christ" (or maybe I just put a bunch of words in his mouth)......
Which if true is really weird, because if there is one mode of salvation, then you are obligated to deduce that the other offered forms of salvation are incorrect and salvation cannot be achieved through them. In this regards post-modernism may be the absolute enemy of the absolute declarations of salvation of apostolics and similar denominations.
I myself will raise my hand and say the postmodern academic environment definitely left it's imprint on me and much of my worldview....I especially agree with this Franke quote:
"Christians committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ should not acquiesce to the cultural relativism that gives up on the notion of ultimate or transcendent truth. But we must also resist the temptation of espousing a notion of truth that makes an idol out of our own conceptions, assumptions, and desires as though they are not subject to critique."
However, Franke does not and cannot (in his dogmatic post-modern belief) resolve the fact that many differing Christian beliefs are in direct contradiction in each other, and both cannot be right. If beliefs are in contradiction, it is an either/or conclusion we must make.
Posted by Joel Riley at 10:56 AM
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
I'm a Mom. A pretty low-key Mom, unless you arouse my protective instinct. You don't have to be a Mom to despise the crime and cruelty of child sexual abuse and rape. Do not even those words raise up inside of you a rage against any who would perpetuate such a heinous thing?
How the Saudis Deal
Apparently the Saudi courts have the same reaction, because they have upheld a ruling to have a five-time child rapist beheaded and crucified.
I know many folks, both Christian and non, do not believe in the death penalty. My understanding of the Bible convinces me that it is justified in certain cases. What do you think?
Monday, November 02, 2009
This article was in my inbox this morning when I checked my email. The article talks about what the Assemblies of God is teaching about the infilling of the Holy Spirit these days. The comments at the end are somewhat disturbing.
I sometimes take for granted being raised in a family/church where receiving the Holy ghost with its accompaning evidence was taught and encouraged. I want to state for the record that this experience in God is life changing!
Sunday, November 01, 2009
I friend of mine sent me a link to an article on LarkNews which is a must-read for a good laugh. Essentially the rapture happened in 2005, but only two people had a correct enough theology to make it....very Onion-esque.
Kind of reminds me of the age old question of if a tree falls in the forest but no one is around to hear it, does it make a noise....
Posted by Joel Riley at 2:01 PM