Thursday, March 31, 2011

(lent) 21


name of British singer Adele's sophomore album.

legal age in which alcohol can be legally consumed in America.

name of a variation of basketball in which individuals play against each other in attempt to get 21 points.

number of points needed to win at Badminton.

number on the side of the car driven to victory at the 2011 Daytona 500 by rookie Trever Baine.

name of the 1950's game show in which a corruption cheating scandal occured. The events were made into the 1994 movie Quiz Show.

grams is the weight of the soul, according to research by Duncan MacDougall, generally regarded as meaningless.

Century for which we are now living. (also the name of a popular real estate company: Century 21)

Vintage 21 is the name of a church in Raliegh, NC. At one point, this church redubbed audio over parts of old 'Jesus' movies.

In the Spring of 2003, Vintage21 had a four week series on Jesus Christ, taking a deep look at what He said and did. It was difficult at times to get past our preconceived notions that had been developed by staunch, starched Sunday School classes of old. This is a satirical look at what some people think Jesus is like. Thank goodness He's not.

these videos instantly became internet sensations.
Vintage 21 Jesus #1
Vintage 21 Jesus #2
Vintage 21 Jesus #3
Vintage 21 Jesus #4
Vintage 21 Jesus (remixed: Jesus & Taco Bell)

Thank goodness Jesus is anything but the stereotypes we may have of him.
He is the real thing.
We need not make him a pushover or blond haired and blue eyed or American even.
Jesus was the Word in flesh. and he moved into the neighborhood, lived among us and showed us the Way. all we need is found in Him. but we need not change him to fit our needs... it is us that needs changed... or perhaps we'll become the stereotype...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

(lent) 22


the atomic number for Titanium, which happens to be what Lieutenant Dan's 'new leg' was made out of.
Forrest: You got new legs. New legs!
Lt. Dan: Yeah, I got new legs. Lt. Dan: Custom-made titanium alloy. It's what they use on the space shuttle...

the maximum number of regions in which a plane can be divided by 5 circles.

number of players on the pitch for a soccer game (11 on each side)

number of players on the field for a football game (11 on each side)

the number of bones in that make up the human head. (8 cranium, 14 face)

the nick name of a .22 caliber rifle.

Catch-22, a book by Joseph Heller.

number of stars on the Paramount Pictures logo.

length, in minutes, of a typical American situation comedy (minus the commercials).

the age in which our mental ability peaks.

number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet.

number of chapters in the Revelation of John, the last book of the New Testament.

while on the cross, one of the seven says spoken from the mouth of Jesus was from Psalm chapter 22.

so many random statistics. so many things to consider... to remember.
how will we be remembered? as a person who added to the betterment of the world?
or as a statistic?

we all go through struggles in this life. we've all felt forsaken... forgotten.
but no matter how many times we forget our place in this world; no matter how many times we neglect God; no matter how many times we go our own way rather than the way of Jesus, He still remembers us.

on the cross he remembers us.
on the cross he unites us.

when we claim repentance and live righteousness, not only then are we remembered - but our sins are forgotten.

Christ on the cross, abandoned. alone. remembering us. before we were a mere gleam...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

(lent) 23


the number on Michael Jordan's jersey for the betterment of his career, the most popular basketball number of all time.

as in, The Number 23, a 2007 movie starring Jim Carrey and directed by Joel Schumacher. It was Carrey's first thriller and has a 61% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie deals with the 23 enigma which refers to the belief that most incidents and events are directly connected to the number 23, some modification of the number 23, or a number related to the number 23.

number of times Julius Caesar was stabbed.

According to the Blink 182 song 'What's My Age Again' "nobody likes you when you're 23".

chapter in the book of Psalms which is the most quoted, most memorized.

1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

23 (Shepherd): a video vignette you can watch [click here]

are you satisfied? what compels you? how do the trials of life affect your faith?
the Good Shepherd, Jesus, satisfies all of our needs. When we are satisfied, we are compelled to tell others. may we strive to follow Christ's life, modeled for us...
in John 21, Jesus commands Peter to 'feed his sheep'. Broken, defeated Peter (who had denied Jesus 3 times on the night of his arrest and crucifixion) embraces the second chance - setting in to motion a monumental change in his life.

Are you ready for that second chance? feeding sheep is the 1st step.
[watch 'Sheep']

Monday, March 28, 2011

(lent) 24


furlongs = one league

carat Gold = pure gold.

name of the popular action/suspense TV show staring Keifer Sutherland, in which ever episode is one real time hour of a full 24 hour day.

number of chapters in Homer's Iliad.

number of chapters in Homer's Odyssey.

number of chapters in the Gospel of Luke.

number of major and minor keys.

the number of hours in a day.

the number of a car in the NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES owned by Hendrick Motorsports. The car has been driven by Jeff Gordon since its introduction in 1992.

the number of bits a computer needs to show 'true color'.

name of the song by Switchfoot [listen here]

Twenty four oceans
Twenty four skies
Twenty four failures
Twenty four tries
Twenty four finds me
In twenty-fourth place
Twenty four drop outs
At the end of the day
Life is not what I thought it was
Twenty four hours ago

Still I'm singing Spirit take me up in arms with You
And I'm not who I thought I was twenty four hours ago
Still I'm singing Spirit take me up in arms with You

Twenty four reasons to admit that I'm wrong
With all my excuses still twenty four strong

See I'm not copping out not copping out not copping out
When You're raising the dead in me
Oh, oh I am the second man
Oh, oh I am the second man now
Oh, oh I am the second man now

And You're raising these twenty four voices
With twenty four hearts
With all of my symphonies
In twenty four parts
But I want to be one today
Centered and true

I'm singing Spirit take me up in arms with You
You're raising the dead in me
Oh, oh I am the second man
Oh, oh I am the second man now
Oh, oh I am the second man now
And You're raising the dead in me

I want to see miracles, see the world change
Wrestled the angel, for more than a name
For more than a feeling
For more than a cause
I'm singing Spirit take me up in arms with You
And You're raising the dead in me
Twenty four voices
With twenty four hearts
With all of my symphonies
In twenty four parts.
I'm not copping out. Not copping out. Not copping out.
24 hours. you can be a new man... a new woman...
the dead in us can be raised.
if we proclaim the Spirit number one, us, number two.

that's a life worth living.

become second. let Christ reign.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

(lent) 25


cent piece. the most commonly used coin among U.S. currency.

day of December in which we celebrate Christmas.

Hour. as in 25th Hour. a Spike Lee movie starring Edward Norton who has one last day of freedom before serving a seven year prison term.

name of the Greatest Hits album of George Michael, featuring hits from solo career and his time with Wham! Make it Big (Wham!) was the top album of 1985 while Michael's first solo recording Faith was the top album of 1988. His greatest album (which paled in comparison in popularity) was Listen without Prejudice vol. 1, released in 1990.

The number of points needed to win a set in volleyball under rally scoring rules.

The per-second frame rate of the PAL video standard. NTSC video has 30 frames per second while film is 24 frames per second.

the verse in John 11 where Jesus talks about belief, faith and life... true life. Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying."

chapter in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus talks about sheep and goats. read it here. [matthew 25 from The Message translation] it's worth your time... worth digesting. chew on it and let it resonate...
sheep go to heaven. goats go to hell. a great song and video by Cake. [view it]
are you a sheep or a goat? a sheep listens to the Shepherd. a sheep does what he is told to do. according to Jesus what does a sheep do?
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.'

'Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'

according to Jesus what does a goat do?
I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.'

'Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.'

it sickens me as i reflect on my life, that i've too much acted like a goat, rather than a sheep.
Jesus gives this stern warning... this stern message. but in my experience - i've witnessed the church (by-and-large) ignore it. i've seen political parties draw battle lines over this (how we treat the poor, needy, foreigner, etc.). but with Jesus, there is no gray area.

it's black or white.

serve and be a sheep. a follower.

ignore need and be a goat. a wanderer.

i don't want to wander any more.

may our actions be worthy of Christ's mandate found in Matthew 25...

Friday, March 25, 2011

(lent) 26


number of letters in the English Alphabet.

number of red suited cards and black suited cards in a deck of 52.

Number of visible cubies in a Rubik's cube = 26

seconds, per solar year in which the Gregorian calendar errs.

the Hebrew practice of Germatria (the calculation of the numerical equivalence of letters, words, or phrases, and, on that basis, gaining, insight into interrelation of different concepts and exploring the interrelationship between words and ideas.) states that the Hebrew name for God (Yod, Heh, Vau, Heh or YHWH) is 10 + 5 +6 + 5 = 26

Age in which Joe DiMaggio hit safely in 56 straight games, Joe Namath correctly predicts victory in Super Bowl III, Barbara Streisand wins Best Actress, & Albert Einstein presents his theory of relativity, and relationship between matter & energy: E=mc2.

verse in Genesis chapter 1 where God creates man.
"And God said, Let us make man in our image,
after our likeness: and let them have dominion
over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl
of the air, and over the cattle, and over
all the earth, and over every creeping
thing that creepeth upon the earth."

number of miles in a marathon.
which reminds of Paul's writing to the Corinthians. perhaps he was a runner.
24-25You've all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally.

26-27I don't know about you, but I'm running hard for the finish line. I'm giving it everything I've got. No sloppy living for me! I'm staying alert and in top condition. I'm not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.

(1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

numbers. awards. creations. accolades. and at the end of the day, what do we gain?
there is a better reward. if we keep our eyes fixed on that which is eternal and if we give it our all and are prepared and ready, we will not miss out.

but don't make 'missing out' your only reason and/or motivation for following Christ. do it because the Spirit compels you. do it because that is what we were created to do. do it because you have one life. what will you make of it? how will you live? how will you love? how will you embrace grace? how muddy will you get for following the Messiah?

run hard. give it your all.
may others see your example and run along side you. may your training be your witness.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

(lent) 27


age in which many legendary rock and roll musicians died. Robert Johnson, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, Richey Edwards, and Kurt Cobain all perished at this young age.

number of concertos composed by Motzart for piano and orchestra.

the number of outs (per side) in a regulation baseball game.

the number of amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

verse in Mark chapter 10 in which Jesus says "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."

chapter in the gospel of Matthew which tells the story of the crucifixion of Jesus.
it starts with the Pharisees putting the finishing touches on their plot to kill him. Then a bound Jesus is paraded to Pilate, the Roman governor.
Pilate gives the people a choice of whom he should pardon, Jesus or the criminal Barabbas. The people shout 'Free Barabbas."
What followed was brutal. beaten. whipped. flogged. stripped. humiliated. crucified. killed.
and the hopes and dreams of all of mankind died with him.

but he didn't stay dead.

but that's a story for another day.

he didn't die in vain. he didn't throw it all away. there was a purpose and a meaning and a reason.

may we strive to remember and to connect with that purpose and meaning and reason over this time of lent.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

(lent) 28


Days Later. a British zombie-horror film directed by Danny Boyle in which a deadly toxin infects the mass public. the destruction of London follows as those infected become rabid savages.

means 'power' or 'energy'. according to ancient Hebrew numerology.

verse in Psalm chapeter 68 which says 'Summon your power, God ; show us your strength, our God, as you have done before.'

The number of letters in the Danish, Swedish and Arabic alphabets.

the number of dominoes in a domino set.

verse in Matthew 11 where Jesus gives hope to the tired and burned out. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (NIV).
The Message translation of that same verse reads "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

i'm tired a lot. Let's face it, life in the church can be tiresome. life in general is tiresome. maybe we're so tired and work out and utterly exhausted because we have yet to learn the unforced rhythms of grace. have we fully grabbed a hold of that?

Jesus says to us "I will not lay anything heavy on you." That's a promise i'll gladly cling too.

may we learn to live freely and lightly as we keep company with Christ.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

(lent) 29


amount of years it takes for Saturn to orbit the Sun.

amount of days of a typical lunar cycle.

the number of days in February on leap years. Leap years occur ever four years. In case you forget when the next leap year will be, it is the same year as the Summer Olympics and the United States Presidential election.

the day in March, 1937, in which my dad was born in a home near the Railroad yards in Crestline, Ohio.

number on VH1's 100 most Shocking Moments in History in which John Lennon, of the Beatles, proclaimed that they were 'bigger than Jesus.' (watch)

verse in John chapter 20 in which Jesus says: "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

are you blessed today? do you believe despite not seeing? do have faith that is bigger than music or politics or the things of this world? from where does true faith derive?

Monday, March 21, 2011

(lent) 30


seconds to Mars. a band in which actor Jared Leto serves as lead singer.

Rock. a tv show developed by and starring Tina Fey. also, the address of NBC in downtown New York City. 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

Highway route that runs right through Massillon and Canton, Ohio. Called the Lincoln Highway.

the smallest sphenic number.

atomic number for Zinc.

the minimum age for U.S. Senators.

The number of tracks on The Beatles' eponymous album, commonly known as The White Album

age in which Jesus began his public ministry. His first public miracle recorded in the Bible took place at the Wedding at Cana (John 2). Mary, his mother, asked him for assistance when the celebration ran our of wine. Jesus took something sacred and great and made it even greater, turning water into wine.
when we truly encounter the living Christ, good things become great.
Do you realize?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

(lent) 31


number of hours it took Alex Roy to drive across the United States, from New York to Los Angeles, setting the transcontinental driving record.

the number of flavors @ Baskin-Robins ice cream shops.

The code for international direct-dial phone calls to the Netherlands.

The number of days in the months January, March, May, July, August, October and December.

verse in Luke chapter 5 in which Jesus says "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick."

verse in Acts chapter 16: "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household."

Friday, March 18, 2011

(lent) 32


gb. as in gigabytes. common amount of storage found in the iPod touch and iPad. 45 million iPod touches have been sold. 10 million iPad's were sold in 2010.

number of completed piano sonatas by Beethoven.

number of leather panels that make up a soccer ball.

maximum number of teeth inside the mouth of an adult human.

the freezing point of water (in degrees Fahrenheit)

number of years 'Peter Rabbit', a horse, lived inside the city limits of Hickman, Nebraska before being 'evicted' because of an ordinance against having livestock in town. The eviction caused an uproar and divided the community.
"I feel bad for the poor horse. He's probably going to die soon anyway," said Jamie Cox, who manages the town bar, Sadie's Place. Hickman, with a population of just over 1,000 residents, is no longer a 'one-horse town.'

uniform number worn by 193 NBA players since the inception of the league.

verse in Acts chapter 2 in which Peter proclaims 'God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.'
we are all witnesses. what an amazing statement of truth.

what do we witness?

beautiful music?
amusing stories about the heartland of America?
random basketball statistics?

for seven years, the people of Cleveland were witnesses to the self-proclaimed king of basketball, LeBron James. t-shirts and banners read 'We Are All Witnesses.' for seven years, fans of the Cavaliers 'witnessed' greatness.
and then he left town.
it didn't take long for Cavs fans to 'forget' all that they had witnessed.

we witness a plethora of great and mighty things each and every day - but do we remember and proclaim our encounters with Jesus?

are we witnessing or missing Jesus each day?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

(lent) 33


number of weeks in which a baby, in utero, has almost fully developed lungs.

amount of days the Israel-Hezbollah War lasted in the summer of 2006. The conflict killed at least 1,200 people, mostly Lebanese citizens, and displaced approximately one million Lebanese and 300,000–500,000 Israelis.

speculated age of Jesus when he was crucified. for much of his ministry, he did not have a home - but traveled from place to place, teaching, healing, ministering & discipling.

jersey number of Frenchy Fuqua, the Steelers running back who, in a 1972 playoff game vs. the Raiders, was the intended target of quarterback Terry Bradshaw on a 4th and 20 desperation play at the end of the game. The ball deflected off of Fuqua as he was being hit by Raider defensive back Jack Tatum and was 'caught out of the air' by future Steeler Hall of Famer, Franco Harris. Harris raced down the left sideline and into the end zone for the winning score. The play is commonly known as the 'Immaculate Reception'*. (video)

number of Chilean miners trapped underground after a mineshaft collapsed for a total of 69 days during the summer of 2010.

development. embattlement. extolment. amazement. wonderment.
the Lord is Lord over all the earth. Let heaven and nature sing.

what brings you joy today? for what can you give thanks to God?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

(lent) 34


number of years in which the comic Cathy appeared in newspapers.

age that is considered to be, on average, 'the most expensive year of one's life.'

number of years mother of two, Victoria Rohring thought her children were dead before being reunited through CraigsList. * The children had been taken by their father and had been misled about the whereabouts of their mother.

amount of tsunamis that have hit the California port town of Crescent City since 1934.* the latest came as a result of the earthquake in Japan on March 11th, 2011. Destruction and terror have hit the Asian island nation hard in almost unimaginable ways. (video)

verse in chapter 23 of Luke in which Jesus states: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

the Psalm in which David praises enthusiastically His refuge and strength, God the father.
I will extol the LORD at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
David praised God despite being under great duress. The honesty of David can and should be a source of great encouragement for all Christians. Real. honest. raw emotions. real. honest. raw struggle.
and. yet. he. praised. the. Lord. enthusiastically.

joy. strain. separation. pain. pressure. exuberance. intimidation. tragedy. strong. fervent realism.

the patterns of life. placed upon our shoulders. sometimes willingly. sometimes innocently.

and Jesus took these burdens to the cross and while on the cross, with burdens firmly placed on his shoulders, he struggles to lift up his body in order to breathe. and with a breath he breathes out these words: 'Father, forgive them...' with the few breaths he had before giving up his Spirit, he asked His Father to forgive... them... to forgive... them, those who rejected Him... he asked God to forgive them...
and how many times have I rejected Him? and how many times have i missed it, that He forgives. because of the cross - in spite of His struggle - He forgives... me...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

(lent) 35


millimeter. the size of the most basic film commonly used in still photography and motion picture film making. 35mm film has remained relatively unchanged since its introduction in 1892.

title number of United States code regarding patents.

number of words from the Declaration of Independence in which Thomas Jefferson claimed certain inalienable rights for all American citizens.

“We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”

verse in John chapter 11 which is the shortest verse in the Bible. "Jesus wept."

verse in Mark chapter 3 where Jesus states "Obedience is thicker than blood. The person who obeys God's will is my brother and sister and mother."*

number of miracles performed by Jesus recorded in the Bible.

moments in time; captured on film or on the page. absolute, non-negotiable, non-transferable moments grant us rights and privileges... grant us freedom.
Jesus was real. fully human. fully God.
through Him, we have been granted freedom.
and what does the Lord ask of us? to obey.

Micah 6:8 comes to mind: He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

freedom through sacrifice should compel us to act in such a way.

Monday, March 14, 2011

(lent) 36


ave. waist size of American men

percent of people who reach behind the front row of milk cartons at the grocery store.

verse in chapter 10 of Hebrews which reads "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised."
you have to think this kind of reminder would have helped Jesus, the son of God, the Messiah and eventual savior of all mankind as he journeyed towards his call on the cross.

Days it took in November and December of the year 2000 for the Presidential election to be certified in the United States.

verse in Mark chapter 8 where Jesus states "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?"
there are many things we might 'gain' in this world. expanding waist lines. fresh gallons of milk from the store. Presidential electoral votes. had Jesus not journeyed to the cross, it would be all for naught. if we don't accept, believe, confess and follow the Christ who lived, died and rose again, then we profit nothing. our soul is traded away.

may lent remind us of what it means to be a follower...
Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for? *

Saturday, March 12, 2011

(lent) 37


seconds. the average amount of time a child sits on Santa's lap.

amount of minutes the jury deliberated before finding Scott Roeder, 51, of Kansas City, Mo., guilty of premeditated, first-degree murder in the May 31 shooting death of abortion doctor George Tiller. Roeder said he killed Dr. Tiller in order to save the lives of unborn children. Roeder was attempting to advance the Kingdom of God through taking a stand against something that he deemed anti-Gospel (abortion) but did it in a manner that is also anti-Gospel (murder). Pro-life is pro-life. there can't be any exceptions.

chapter in the book of Psalms, verse 4 that reads 'Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.'

verse in Luke chapter 1 in which the angel reminds Mary (who is with child with the Messiah, Jesus) 'For nothing is impossible with God.'

life is sacred. all life. this time of lent should remind us that Jesus went to the cross, endured the pain and the shame for ALL mankind.

you are beautiful.

Friday, March 11, 2011

(lent) 38


special. name of a late 70's early 80's band most known for their hit 'Hold on Loosely'
"Hold on loosely. But don't let go. if you cling to tightly, you might loose control."

the number that is most drawn in lotteries.

verse number in Psalm 105: Egypt was glad to have them go— they were scared to death of them.
scared to death... because the Lord had moved. and the slaves (the Israelites) were freed.
For God's plagues caused them to prefer to depart with the Israelites rather than with their lives.

parallel that divides North and South Korea. in 1950, North Korea crossed the line and invaded South Korea sparking the Korean War. 3 million lives were lost.

verse number in John 18 where Pilate found 'no basis' for a charge against Jesus.

hold on. don't let go. put your trust in God, not money or military might. God will give you ultimate freedom. freedom through an innocent Christ who would sacrifice his all for us.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

(lent) 39


the year (as in 1939) in which the Wizard of Oz is released, Lou Gehrig says in his tearful goodbye to the Yankees "Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth." and World War II begins.
Joy. Sorrow. Bloodshed. and the world would never be the same.

a song by Queen not sung by Freddie Mercury, rather by Brian May.

number of books in the Old Testament, written by several authors (26, perhaps), inspired by God.

the sum of five consecutive prime numbers: 3 + 5 + 7 + 11 + 13
3 crosses. 5 loaves of fish. 7 days of the week. 11 loyal disciples. 13 years to build Solomon's palace.

the number of lashes Jesus took across the back on the day of his crucifixion. 40 lashes less one. that's what the Roman law allowed. Roman tradition considered forty lashes to be a death sentence. In Roman times, it was deemed that if a flogger were to appropriately administer a punishment, he should be able to kill a man with forty lashes. Depending on the circumstances, if he failed to kill a man in forty lashes, the flogger would face death. This was to insure that the flogger would not hold back in handing out the punishment. Using this same twisted logic, the Romans determined that 39 lashes shouldn't kill a person so that was the most you could give a person, without a sentence of death by flogging. Seeing how Jesus was to be crucified, the Romans were merciful and only gave him 39 lashes, Or perhaps the flogger was fearful of a death sentence if Jesus survived the fortieth lash.*

a life of joy. turns to sorrow. followed by bloodshed.
and the world would never be the same.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

(lent) 40

(lent begins to day. this is the first of what i hope will be a series simple posts for each day of lent.)

the number of days Jesus spent in the wilderness. he fasted; was hungry and subsequently tested and tempted. he never wavered. (matthew 4:1-11)

the name of the song often used to close out concerts by irish rock band U2, based on Psalm 40. the song and Psalm begin with the phrase: "i waited patiently for the Lord, he inclined and heard my cry."
Lent, like advent, is about waiting... patiently... for salvation to come.

the year in which the Jewish festival of Passover is adopted by the Christians and renamed Easter.

also the year in which the first 'Christian' church comes to Egypt.

the number of years God's people (the Israelites), once slaves in Egypt, spent wandering in the desert after disobeying YHWH. centuries later, their ultimate redeemer and savior would come in the humblest of ways. His ministry would begin by spending, you guessed it, 40 days in the desert. and then the whole world changed...

how does 40 compel change in you?

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

the Rob Bell Attack. when talking is not communicating (or when listening takes a back seat to how right i am)

i stumble a lot. and by stumble, i mean randomly come across various web pages, blogs and articles. i regularly keep tabs open on my computer of articles and whatnot that i will eventually read. i peruse Twitter nightly clicking on links to articles that interest me.

last week i stumbled upon a review to a book by Rob Bell that had yet to be released. the only catch was, that this blogger hadn't been privy to an advanced copy of the book - thus his review was purely speculative. this blogger - one Justin Taylor, questioned if Rob Bell was a Universalist. this set off a chain reaction in the 'Christian' blogosphere. the result gave surefire proof that hot air can be filtered through ones fingertips. so many words of hate spewed forth over speculation.

i don't intend to debate the ins and outs of Rob Bell. i don't intend to debate or speculate what his new book Love Wins is about, either.

what i am writing about is the response... the more than often visceral attack of his character and his theology and the quickness with which one can be condemned to hell, labeled a false prophet and a heretic - all by self proclaimed, self-righteous know-it-alls who claim to be followers of Jesus. that is my debate. that is what turns my stomach.

1) writing about how Bell is anti-Gospel in a manner that is also anti-Gospel is ironic in the worst of ways. you can't expect to be taken seriously when the crux of your disdain is defended by 'he's an a**.' name calling doesn't prove your point or win followers to your side.

2) when you take the time to stand on a soap box and condemn another man as a heretic - neglecting to remember Col. 4:6“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt.” & James 1:19“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak.” makes you a hypocrite. besides, when has shouting ever been a productive means of communication?

3) a proof text out of context is a pretext. shouldn’t the context always be considered? isn't that the fair thing to do? my dad taught me that. i've seen many critics of Bell take a word or a quote or a passage from a book out of the context it was written so as to make it fit into the mold they've already placed him in. what is a pretext? a reason given in justification of a course of action that is not the real reason. that is not the Jesus way. nor is it fair. and using scripture out of context to make it fit into your preconceived ideas is ignorant and irresponsible.

4) since when did different opinions on the scriptures = heresy? theologians, preachers and peasants have debated the Word of God for centuries on end. why so quick to label?

but in today's free expression that is the internet ones words can be shared without fear. we can hide behind the computer screen. thus we feel a bit brave about what we say... yet - i wonder if there is a deep fear, deep within the hearts of those who shout so loud on this world wide web. fear of change? fear that the Good news of Jesus might manifest in differing ways - so that the Gospel might reach the masses, the lonely, the broken, the needy? All things to all men, Paul says.

i might be wrong about Bell. i might be wrong about my opinions. or i might be right.
maybe we spend too much time trying to prove how right we are.

i don't write this with expectation that anyone will change - this is just my self expression. but i do believe - and i think the Words of Jesus back me on this - that in the end, love wins. for Jesus came to save, not to condemn. (John 3:17)

praise God for that. because too many of us waste our time taking care of the condemning part. thank God Jesus saves - because apparently we don't have the capacity to love like that... or maybe we do but we choose to ignore it.

p.s. i appreciated Scot McKnight's response to this latest 'Bell' controversy.
Waiting for Rob Bell 2. i think he takes the high road. others, not so much.

Monday, March 07, 2011

ten things i wish evangelicals would stop doing

ten things i wish evangelicals would stop doing
by efrem smith

10.) Act as if justice is simply a social issue and not a biblical one.

9.) Reduce the Christian life to individualism.

8.) Major in the minors theologically.

7.) Stop saying “hate the sin, but love the sinner” when we don’t do it.

6.) Feel comfortable with segregated church.

5.) Confuse political ideology with biblical theology.

4.) Act as if race, class, and gender are no longer issues to be dealt with.

3.) Avoid prophetic preaching.

2.) Missing out on being blessed by women in pastoral leadership.

1.) Ignoring the biblical mandate of reconciliation.