Monthly Archives: March 2009

House of Blues

My son plays the piano, acoustic guitar and electric guitar.  Here he is performing at House of Blues in Dallas, TX.  The music school he goes to helps the kids organize bands and then gets them booked at different venues where they get to play one song.  It was fun. (He’s in the white tshirt)



Stuff That Caught My Eye…

Five Reasons KINGS could help rebuild NBC’s Empire at TV (btw – I really enjoyed the two hour pilot and am looking forward to the next episode)


Time Magazine created a list of 10 ideas that are impacting the world right now and #3 on their list is New Calvinism.”   It has created at lot of buzz.  Go to beauty and depravity (Eugene Cho’s blog) for a good conversation. 


 The InternetMonk (Michael Spencer) has an article at The Christian Science Monitor “The Coming Evangelical Collapse”   and it has sparked a lot of online conversation.  The article started as a three-part series of posts on Spencer’s excellent blog (internetmonk)…the entire discussion is well worth reading.

 ***************************************** is hosting an online quiz called “Belief-O-Matic“. Answer 20 questions about your views on God, salvation, the afterlife, etc., and they’ll tell you which religions are most congenial to your beliefs.

Ellen is tweeting on twitter


I am a big Ellen DeGeneres fan was very excited yesterday when I found out she was on twitter.   (here’s her profile)

I started following her immediately, which was just 23 hours after her first update.  I tweeted her and remarked that she had been twittering for 23 hours, had posted 7 updates, was following 3 people and had 23,000+ followers.  She immediately sent out an update asking for everyone to get as many people as possible to follow her as she wanted to see how many followers she could get by the time she was on Leno last night.  As of today she has 60,000+ followers. Oh – and she and Leno talked and joked about twitter during his show. If she continues to update I think she could be a fun person to follow. 

If you want to see other celebrities I follow check me out on twitter here. Follow me and I will let you know when I discover more new and interesting twitterers.

Mary and Martha: A Story About God’s Radical Hospitality

In honor of International Women’s Day, uber-blogger Julie Clawson has invited faith bloggers to post something about the impact women in the Bible have had on the kingdom…on each one of us.

The story of Mary and Martha that is told in Luke 10:38-42 has often been a problem for me.

The story begins with Jesus and 72 of his male disciples entering a village where a woman named Martha lives and has a home. Luke tells us that Martha opens up her home to Jesus and his companions; and then at some point becomes irritated with her sister, Mary, for sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to what he is saying instead of helping with all of the preparations that need to be made for this large group of men. Martha is so put out by the situation that she goes to Jesus and says to him “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (which, btw, seems like a perfectly reasonable request to me) And Jesus replies, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Do what?? What in the heck was Jesus thinking? Why didn’t he tell Mary to get up off her lazy you know what and get in there and help Martha? Is Jesus exalting Mary over Martha? Does he mean it is better to be contemplative than to be actively serving? That doesn’t exactly jive with some of the other stuff that he has said about being a servant!

At this point, someone usually teaches a lesson about how important it is not to get so busy that we forget to spend quiet, contemplative time with Jesus. And while I think that is a good lesson I have a feeling we may be missing the point of what Jesus is talking about.

You see, I think what has to be addressed is that both Jesus and Mary were committing a social taboo. Women could serve men, but it was inappropriate for them to join in with the guys the way that Mary was doing. Women weren’t supposed to be taught by Rabbis or sit in the room with a bunch of men discussing the Torah. So I think it would be a logical assumption to think the people hearing this story would have been much more shocked about Mary assuming the role of a religious disciple than her not helping in the kitchen…and that is what I think Jesus was referring to.

I believe, as usual, Jesus was turning things upside down and inside out. Just like that, Jesus liberates Mary from her socially defined status of inferiority and marginalization. And by following Jesus, not only was Mary transformed, but the world she inhabited was transformed.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this was just about women’s rights. I believe it was bigger than that. It seems that through Mary, Jesus is denouncing social, political and religious structures that do not practice God’s radical hospitality – the sort of hospitality that overcomes injustice and is grounded in love and mercy and compassion. I think Jesus was saying Mary had boldly chosen to take hold of this justice he had offered to her by allowing her to join him and his disciples, the justice was hers now and he would not take it away from her. I would even go so far as to say Martha saw what was going on and wasn’t being honest with Jesus about what was so upsetting to her – perhaps she wasn’t even aware of what was causing all the anxiety she was feeling. Of course Jesus obviously knew what was upsetting Martha and that explains why he answered her the way he did. He knew Martha was being the voice of the status quo that resists change, even “just” change.

The lesson in Luke 10:38-42 is not that reading the bible or praying is superior to cooking a meal or cleaning house. The lesson is that as followers of Jesus we are not only invited to partake of God’s radical hospitality but we are called to practice it by seeking justice for those in the margins, challenging discrimination wherever we see it and transforming our relationships so that they reflect the love of Christ.

PLEASE NOTE:  After I wrote this someone made me aware that there were probably some women among the 72 disciples mentioned at the beginning of the story.  That is certainly possible as Jesus was known for going against the norm.  Although that piece of info is important it does not mean that it was common or socially acceptable for women to do such things.

Check out the other participants in this synchroblog:

Julie Clawson on the God who sees
Steve Hayes on St. Theodora the Iconodule
Sonja Andrews on Aunt Jemima
Sensuous Wife on a single mom in the Bible
Minnowspeaks on celebrating women
Michelle Van Loon on the persistant widow
Lyn Hallewell on women who walked with God
Heather on the strength of biblical women
Shawna Atteberry on the Daughter of Mary Magdalene
Christine Sine on women who impacted her life
Susan Barnes on Tamar, Ruth, and Mary
Kathy Escobar on standing up for nameless and voiceless women
Ellen Haroutunian on out from under the veil
Liz Dyer on Mary and Martha
Bethany Stedman on Shiphrah and Puah
Dan Brennan on Mary Magdalene
Jessica Schafer on Bathsheba
Eugene Cho on Lydia
Laura sorts through what she knows about women in the Bible
Miz Melly preached on the woman at the well
AJ Schwanz on women’s work</a?
Pam Hogeweide on
teenage girls changing the world
Teresa on the women Paul didn’t hate
Helen on Esther
Happy on Abigail
Mark Baker-Wright on telling stories
Robin M. on Eve
Alan Knox is thankful for the women who served God
Lainie Peterson on the unnamed concubine
Mike Clawson on cultural norms in the early church
Krista on serving God
Bob Carlton on Barbie as Icon
Jan Edmiston preached on the unnamed concubine
Deb on her namesake – Deborah
Makeesha on empowering women
Kate on Esther
Doreen Mannion on Deborah
Patrick Oden on Rahab
Scot McKnight on Junia
Beth Patterson on Esther

Is belief in Jesus the only way to get to heaven? Part 2




Wow – I know I don’t have very many people reading my blog but I thought someone would comment on my last post – but I am new to blogging and still learning so I am going to assume I took the wrong approach and I will try again…


As a Christian one of the things I have been thinking about during the last couple of years is the Christian belief that salvation is through faith in Christ alone and only those who have faith in Christ will be saved and have eternal life in heaven.  Everyone else (with maybe some exceptions, like infants/children or mentally challenged persons) will go to hell and be eternally punished.


Now let me throw a couple of things in here at the beginning so we don’t get too sidetracked.  I am opposed to the idea that the main reason to become a follower of Jesus Christ is to get a ticket to heaven and think that is a whole discussion in itself.  Also, I am aware there is a whole discussion to be had about understanding what heaven and hell are and believe there are a lot of different ideas worth hearing.  But, I am thinking I cannot be the only person who is struggling with the idea that anyone who does not believe in Jesus Christ is going to hell.  Don’t misunderstand and think I need you to convince me or need you to come here and “witness” to me.  I do have faith in Christ alone and I am a committed follower of Jesus Christ.  I am wrestling with the idea that people who don’t believe in Christ are going to have to endure some sort of eternal punishment.


Here are some of my thoughts:


Why would God limit salvation?  If Christ’s death on the cross was sufficient and paid the price for all then why aren’t all granted eternal life? I understand knowing Jesus has a lot of benefits but I don’t understand that not knowing Jesus would limit the effectiveness of his work on the cross.


One answer I get regarding my question about limited salvation is that I shouldn’t ask why God isn’t doing more but I should consider we don’t deserve to be saved and we should just be thankful and amazed God would offer a way for anyone to be saved.  In other words:  “Why would/should God save anyone at all?


But, that answer (or question) doesn’t help me.  I believe with all my heart God loves all of his creation and I don’t think love has much to do with deserving.  When I love I don’t say: “I am going to or not going to do this or that for this person because they deserve or don’t deserve it.”  When I love I do loving and good things because I love.  I can’t imagine that God loves the way I believe he does and at the same time believe he has an attitude that says “they don’t deserve it but I will offer one narrow way for them to be saved”.  I don’t think God has that attitude and I believe he even calls us away from such an attitude.


Then there are people who quote scriptures to me.  For instance, I might be told John 3:16 is the answer.  But when I hear John 3:16 I don’t hear anything about those who do not believe in Jesus.  Or I might hear John 14:6 in which Jesus says he is the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through him.  Again, I don’t hear Jesus saying if someone doesn’t believe they will be eternally punished.  That verse may make me believe Jesus (who he is and what he did) provides access to God – access which would not be there otherwise, but it doesn’t make me believe

someone must do something in order to gain that access.  Analogies are always lacking but just to give you an idea of how I am thinking consider that unless I turn on the light switch my child (who can’t reach the light switch) will not have access to light in the room he/she is in.  The child does not have to do anything – they don’t have to ask, they don’t have to believe (in me, or electricity, or the light switch, or anything).  I have a way to make the light accessible to my child and think it is a good thing and so I do what is necessary to make it accessible and  “ta da” they have light.  I know the analogy can be torn apart but I am not using it to convince you, just to help you understand my thoughts.  I am wondering why it is unbelievable (according to scripture) that what Jesus “did” took care of the “thing” which

was separating humanity from God and now no one will ever live eternally separated from God.


In addition to all of that there are scriptures like 1 Timothy 4:10 (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.  This scripture seems to come right out and say Jesus is the savior of “all”.


I could go on but I would really like to hear your thoughts and beliefs (or even any of your own questions you wrestle with).

Is belief in Jesus the only way to get to heaven?


Before you proceed let me encourage you not to get upset or feel you have to convince anyone of anything here – the idea is to explain your beliefs/thoughts/questions and to listen to the explanation of someone who sees things differently than you do and engage with each other in a kind manner.  Now – proceed reading…

When you read the following words:

 Christianity, Jesus, God, Salvation, Heaven, Hell 

which one of the following questions resonates more with you? 

Why would God limit salvation?  


Why would God save anyone at all? 

Now – in connection with the question you would most likely ask,

how do you explain/understand the following verses? 

1 Timothy 4:10 (New International Version)

10(and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.

John 3:16 (New International Version)

 16“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 14:6 (New International Version)

 6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.