Che-che-check It Out

Go to Ryan's blog to check out the latest "Picture of the Week." I'm featured in it.

Is that the gayest thing anyone has ever seen? Have you seen gayer? If you have, please don't tell me about what you've seen, just affirm our manliness.

"The Revolution"

Well, I've wanted to make this more of a place to share my life, not just photography. But of course I want to incorporate some kind of visual imagery because I don't want you to get bored. Today I finished "The Revolution." Its a book about the 12 most pressing social justice issues. Clean water. Gang violence. Women's rights. Fair trade. Hunger. HIV/AIDS. Capital punishment. War and peace. Torture. The environment. Human trafficking. Poverty.It does not just talk about them, however. It also gives ways to get involved in making positive, lasting change. It is a great book for those who are wanting/looking for ways to get involved but don't know where to start. Each issue is a different chapter is a different essay by a different author. All of the authors have some kind of involvement in the issue they are writing about.
Here are some great quotes throughout the book:
"A pessimist, they say, sees a glass of water as being half empty; An optimist sees the same glass as half full. But a giving person sees a glass of water and starts looking for someone who might be thirsty."
-G. Donald Gale

"Feeding the hungry is a greater work than raising the dead."
-Saint John Chrysostom

"Every human being is worth more than the worst thing they've done. All life has dignity- guilty life too."
-Sister Helen Prejean

"The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons."
-Fyodor Dostoevsky

"If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito."
-Betty Reese



My stomach just ached for India.
Thats all.

Heaven Revisited

I realize I failed to address what happens when a person dies. And to that, I would say when someone dies their soul is taken into the presence of God. But, I also believe there will be a 'reuniting' of body and soul because God is holistic. Humans are integrated beings. So souls will go to heaven, but the actual heaven where all believers will be for actual eternity, I believe that, will be earth. I don't actually have too much to say about this because it is kind of a gray area.


Shalom and Heaven

Well, recently I've been thinking about a couple things. I've kind of been mulling them over in my head. The first thing I've been thinking about is the shallowness of the English language. As I've read Rob Bell and listened to his podcasts, I've noticed something I love in them. In both his books and sermons he always takes you back to whatever Biblical language that he is looking at. In realizing this, I have come to the viewpoint that English, as a whole, is shallow. Meaning there is very little depth in our words. To show this, I want to focus on a certain Hebrew word. Shalom, though we might make jokes about it such as, Shalom in the Home, it holds a deep meaning, which is beautiful. Shalom means much more than peace. Rob Bell writes (talking about the woman who reached out and touched Jesus, to be healed):
But I don't think the physical healing is Jesus' point here. I think it is what Jesus says to her as they part ways.
He says to her, 'Go in peace.'
The word Jesus would have used for peace is the Hebrew word shalom. Shalom is an important word in the Bible, and it is not completely accurate to translate it simply as 'peace.'
For many of us, we understand peace to be the absence of conflict. We talk about peace in the home or in the world or giving peace a chance. But the Hebraic understanding of shalom is far more than just the absence of conflict or strife.
Shalom is the presence of the goodness of God. It's the presence of wholeness, completeness.
So when Jesus tells the woman to go in peace, he is placing the blessing of God on all of her. Not just her physical body. He is blessing he with God's presence on her entire being. And this is because for Jesus, salvation is holistic in nature. For Jesus, being saved or reconciled to God involves far more than just the saving of your physical body or you soul - it involves all of you.
God's desire is for us to live in harmony with him - body, soul, spirit, mind, emotions - every inch of our being.
Do you see how beautiful shalom is?
Number two on my list of thoughts is heaven. I'm not exactly sure where I want to start. Well, first off I'm not sure I believe the idea heaven is going to be in some other realm. Though the this is the thing you are taught, if you've grown up in the church. You've probably even been taught, at one point or another, that you should accept Jesus to go to heaven... and I won't even go there because that would be a long post, which would tear that thought/idea apart. I moved away from that thought years ago, and for awhile my analysis of the subject lent me to saying it would be a place where we would be in God's presence, which is true to an extent. However, I believe it would be true to say heaven will also be God in our presence.

[This is where anything could happen]
If you are a follower of Christ, you should know that soon after the world's creation, humans forfeit humanity/the earth over to the rule and reign of the devil and his demonic powers. This is very obvious if you would just watch five minutes of the news. This is important to understand, when looking at the whole subject because it is the opposite side of the spectrum. Now, I believe heaven, and also hell, is not only in eternity but also now. Especially from a believers standpoint, we need to understand that eternity is not somewhere off in the distance but right now. Jesus tells us to pray 'your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.' Here and now. Therefore because of this, heaven can be brought to earth anytime.
Heaven can meet earth.
But as I said, there is an opposite side to the spectrum. This means hell can also be brought to earth. Iraq, civil war in Africa, HIV/AIDS around the world, and the list goes on. But in the here and now view of heaven Christians are called to war. Paul writes, 'For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.' Simply, our battle is not against people (thus, I would say, demonizing our enemy to make people want to destroy and fighting them would be a sin), but rather our battle is against the powers that make terrorists hate or the authority that allows racism, not a racist. Because of this, I believe we, as Christians, are to find where hell is on earth and bring heaven there [Dr. Greg Boyd], bring God's kingdom... on earth as it is in heaven.
The last bit of heaven I want to talk about is the heaven most think about when the subject is brought up. Bear with me because I am not sure I can present this thoroughly or do it justice. The last two chapters in Revelation talk about the new heaven and earth after everything had been restored. Redeemed. Reconciled. John starts the chapter saying he saw a new heaven and earth because the first heaven and earth had passed away. No more sin, death, tears, pain, mourning. This doesn't mean that God zaps the earth and creates a new one. It just means God finally fulfilled his promise of restoring the earth. This could get us in a discussion about the environment, but this post is already long enough. The whole chapter is about the New Jerusalem.
John says, "I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,' Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.' He who was seat on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!'"
From this verse, we see God's kingdom and will is coming to earth. And he is dwelling with us here, on earth. Heaven and earth collide. Beautiful. God will be dwelling with his people. Not, his people will be dwelling with God. Throughout history, we have seen God's passion to be with his creation. Walking in the garden with Adam. Dwelling in the tabernacle. Coming down on Mount Sinai. Dwelling in the temple. Coming in flesh and blood as Jesus. The Holy Spirit dwelling in us. It is clear God wants to be with us. Thus, he comes down from heaven, brings it to earth, and makes earth his new dwelling place, heaven. Heaven is here. Heaven is now. Heaven is for eternity. Heaven is all things restored to God's will.
After all, God called the earth good in the beginning.
Beautiful, isn't it?


Finally, A TV Show To Spend Time On

I don't watch much TV anymore. There is less than a handful of shows that I watch, and they consist of 'The Office,' 'Man vs. Wild,' and baseball. But, recently, I came across the TV show 'Flight of the Conchords.' It features two New Zealanders who move to New York City to try to make it big with their band. Their band is comprised of Bret on guitar and vocals, and Jermaine on guitar and vocals. It is very funny in a dry, subtle way. The first thing that came to mind when thinking about what I would compare it to was the movie 'The Science of Sleep.' It may be similar, it may not be. That is for you to decide. You can find this show on HBO, so I'm figuring most of you won't be able to see it. However, on iTunes, HBO has a 'Flight of the Conchords' podcast and you can download the first episode for free there. It really is funny, but I think most people won't appreciate its humor. This is a good show to view in the midst of 'The Office' break. Check it out, or not. Its up to you.
Also, I forgot to mention that they break out into songs about twice an episode. And its pretty darn funny.


Great Inventions

Well, others might have titled a post like this "the 4th" or "4th of July." You will see no such titling on this post. This post is all about giving credit to where credit is due, and I'm giving the credit to the Chinese. The Chinese invented fireworks in the 12th Century and since then they have exploded all over the globe (no pun intended). However, these were taken on the 4th of July, do not get me wrong. So this goes out to all 1+ billion of you guys. Thanks for letting our 4th be brighter.

San Diego

Well as some know, I was in San Diego last week. It was a good time of relaxing with friends and family. I was definitely glad to be back this week though. I know it has kind of taken me a little bit of time to get around to this but that can be attributed with me not being in the mood to blog. Also, pressuring me to blog doesn't make me want to blog either (you know who you are). You just have to allot me enough time to get around to it.


To Come

Well, I have had a craving to blog. I don't really have anything that cool to post right now but that is why I am posting. I want to say that in the next week I will be posting pictures from past travels such as Chile and Mexico. I'm excited to look through old pictures and re-live the experiences. I also will post pictures from my week in San Diego. So, if anybody actually reads this, get ready for some good stuff... hopefully.