Israel, Day 3: A Roman Siege, the Northern Kingdom, & Hanging Out in Syria


I am back from Israel-Palestine, but the effects of this trip are still lingering with me, both emotionally and spiritually (and physically). I still want to share this trip with all of you. My time in this land will be popping up in many thoughts, reflections (and pictures) from here on out on this blog, but first, I want to keep documenting the basic schedule and images of what we did during the trip.

One key thing to remember about this trip was that it was not a vacation or tourist time. It was part of an “Intercultural Immersion” seminary course. Throughout our weeks here, our guides and professors repeatedly brought us to these moments of dwelling with the “Living Stones” of Israel-Palestine, and not just being enamored with the Dead Stones of ruins and biblical history.

This means that, in the days to come, you will see me write about our times hearing speakers and learning lessons about the Israel-Palestine conflict, as well as time we spent at sites that have little to nothing to do with “Bible stuff”, but have a deep and visceral place in the minds and culture of contemporary Jewish and Arab peoples.

Continue reading


Israel, Day 2: Christian Pilgrims, Jesus’ Home, and…I’m on a boat!

Both wifi and wakefulness are hard to come by on this trip. My body is still trying to get used to being 7 hours off. Anyway, my biggest lesson on this day was a small, but profound one: I’m having to repaint the mental images of the entire BIble in my mind.  Israel is in the Middle East, right? The Middle East is desert and barrenness, right?

Wrong. I can see why this was the Promised Land. It (so far) has been nothing but lush and beautiful. We’ve yet to see sand anywhere. If this were a movie, the overall color palette would not be a dry, arid yellow, but green, grey, and black. It lush and rocky. The beaches are gravel-grey, not yellow and sandy. It is beautiful. Hopefully my pictures can convey some of this. On this rainy day, we spent it around the area around Northern Galilee.

Starting tomorrow, we will be staying with Palestinian Christian families in their homes in Bethelehem, and we’ll likely not have much access to internet and modern conveniences. Don’t know when I’ll put another post up (I’m already a day behind in writing! We had a crazy day today!), but keep up in your prayers, and enjoy the pictures. Continue reading

The Story of Repentance: believing vs. achieving

Van Gogh-Sower with Setting SunThis post is part of my 2013 Lent series: Reflections on Repentance.

I almost titled this post “theology in the service of real-life”.

The last time I wrote about repentance, I talked about the difficulties I have with some of the ways people in the Church talk about repentance. I then started researching the topic. And as I did, I found some amazingly helpful realizations about this in the Bible.

So today, I just wanted to take some time and explore this topic throughout the entire story of the scriptures. Hopefully, we can come to some conclusions about what repentance means for us today, and perhaps even some answers to our previous concerns in the last post.
Continue reading

a homosexuality post-script & conclusion

Most of last week on this blog was spent discussing some recent “conversations” about the Evangelical church’s relationship with the homosexual community. I first addressed conservatives, and then progressives (as well as some thoughts on the “willful persistence in sin” comment I hear from conservatives a lot). This week, we move on. But not yet. In response to some of the ways people have responded to these posts, I felt I needed to write this.

In conclusion to it all…

These posts I’ve written got a lot of circulation around the web (and to those who commented/posted links, I thank you), and so for anyone that runs across them, I want to make something clear:

It might seem odd that I’ve typed far more words and dripped more sarcasm in attacking the more conservative side of this issue, all while ultimately agreeing more with them at the end of the day. In the end, even with all of my many theological and social disagreements, I cast my lot with them, even though I know most of them would not have me.

These posts, hopefully, have been written in the same spirit as Mark Noll’s blistering attack on Evangelical anti-intellectualism, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, which he calls “an epistle from a wounded lover”.
Continue reading

Artist John Singer Sargent on the Advent {5}


“Being made man, I am maker of man, and redeemer of what I have made. God in the flesh, I redeem body and soul.”

“On the cross is the figure of the dead Christ, with the figures of Adam and Eve, typifying Humanity, kneeling on either side. They are bound closely to the body of Christ, since all are of one flesh, and each holds a chalice to receive the Sacred Blood. About the feet of Adam is entangled the Serpent of Temptation. Above the arms of the cross there is inscribed in Latin “The sins of the world have been redeemed.” At the foot of the cross the Church is symbolized by the Pelican feeding its young, while around it doves symbolize the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit.”

Read a full description of the pieces here. Find the official website for the commission here.


Continue reading