Jokes in the Sermon?

I was talking to a friend last night and shared a proposition with him that I plan to write on at a later date. Tonight though, it’s awfully late and I don’t really feel like deep philosophy and theology at the moment, so I shall stick with a basic look at a text. I was telling him my idea that I hadn’t really thought about much before, but I was seriously thinking about now. That is the idea that God is funny. I don’t mean that in a mocking sense. I mean that in a serious and honorable sense. God is that which brings delight by being who he is.

I told my friend that I believed the Bible contains jokes. I mean that in a positive way the same way a good speaker such as a preacher will often mix jokes in with his message. It keeps the audience in a good mood and aids for the retention of what is being said. You can hear a joke just once and remember it well.

This will also mean we have to alter our modern conception of Jesus. I’m not speaking about that which is found in the creeds. We dare not abandon orthodoxy. I’m speaking about the Jesus in the media. If there’s one thing I just can’t get into, it’s biblical movies. They are usually entirely dry and boring. (In fact, my favorite scene in Luther is when he talks about 18 of the 12 apostles being buried in Spain, the joke part!)

Do you really see Jesus like that? Do you see Jesus as this purely solemn guy who walked around and never cracked a smile? When you think about him speaking as you read the gospels, is he always speaking in a monotone? Is all he knows in the area of theology and the Scriptures? If so, I ask you to abandon that view for awhile.

I took my friend to Matthew 7 with the plank in the eye passage. I reread that passage last night. I’d like you to think of Jesus smiling as he delivers this sermon and think of him fluctuating his voice or winking playfully into the audience or using expressive gestures to show absurdities. Much of Jewish humor was by exaggeration. Keep that in mind.

Picture Jesus talking about that example first. He’s made his point about judging and then he expounds on it. Grant me some paraphrase here. It sounds like he’s saying “Just look! You want to go to your brother while he has a speck in his eye and you,” and I picture him here holding his hands out in front of his eye as far away as he can as if to hold the plank. “have this loooooooooooooooooooooooooooong plank coming out of your eye!” You can just imagine the audience laughing. “Get that plank out of your eye! Then you can help your brother!”

Then he tells us not to give dogs what is sacred or throw pearls to swine. It’s a “Duh!” moment. Surely the Lord had to say that with delight. You can read the passage an think “Well obviously, I wouldn’t do that.” That’s Jesus’s point. This is so obvious that you wouldn’t miss it, and yet you do it every day!

We are told then to ask and it will be given. Knock and the door will be opened. Seek and you will find. Let me state something else obvious here. How else will you be given something unless you ask for it? How else will you get the door opened unless you knock? How else will you find unless you seek? Jesus is still using humor.

He then speaks about if your son asks for bread will you give him a stone or if he asks for a fish will give him a snake. He basically says, “A good father won’t do that will he?” Of course not! Obviously! Yet this is still Jesus’s point. You don’t approach God the way you approach a father. These fathers here are evil even and they give good. Have a little trust in the Father. Don’t you think you’re being silly?

He later gives an example of false prophets. Really think about this description he’s giving. They come like sheep but they’re really wolves. What a play this is! One can just picture the image of a sheep being replaced by a wolf. How do you know the real ones? Grapes don’t grow from thorn bushes nor do figs grow from thistles do they? Obviously not! Again the point! Good trees produce good fruit! Bad trees produce bad fruit! The obvious is the humorous!

He closes by teaching the parable of the two houses built. Think about the humor there. Obviously a house built on sand won’t make it! The absurd example makes the point. One can picture Jesus imitating the wind blowing and gesturing to indicate that one house stands while the other tumbles down.

All of this in what is said to be the greatest sermon of all.

Yes my friends. Our God is a God of humor. I encourage you as you read the Bible, read it with new eyes. This isn’t meant to be a boring book. It’s an enjoyable one. It’s not all fun and games of course, but there is humor hidden therein. It’s just waiting to be found. Now how do you find again? Oh yes! I remember! Seek!

Something Exciting Around Here

Some of you are going to think I’m unusual for this. (As if you didn’t have enough reason to already think that I’m unusual.) I carry my digital camera with me to church if I remember it. I have one of those things where I can hang it around my neck. I also visit the church library every Sunday to see if they have anything new in and make recommendations if need be. (Churches. Please support your libraries)

The librarian today sees my camera and asks if I’m planning to take any pictures. I tell her I’m not. I just like to take my camera when I go somewhere. I never know if something interesting will come up. To which she responded in a questioning voice, “Something exciting around here?”

And that statement stuck with me all day.

Why is it that it seems so amazing to think that something exciting would happen? I still have this contention that you could make a major motion picture out of anyone’s life and it would be interesting. I have many friends who are into the series 24. I’ve never seen it, but I bet you could make a real-time TV show of anyone’s life and it’d be interesting. (Well, maybe not when they’re asleep, but if you could get into their dreams then….)

As I write about that, I wonder why I don’t even consider sleep exciting. That is the body rejuvenating itself after a long night. There’s something odd to that. As one who has been in enough surgeries, I find it amazing that I can enter a state like sleep and be cut open and not even feel it. (Although darn it, I sure felt it when I woke up!)

It seems like we should realize our lives have more adventure than we realize. Perchance if we all started thinking of them as adventures, we’d enjoy them more. We can chide people for “playing games” but could it be God is the best at playing games? This life is the adventure that he has designed for us. Yes. The consequences are serious, but every game has consequences.

Isn’t there excitement everyday? What goes into the colors that you see? The world could function in black-and-white, but it is not. It is full of color. We could have food without taste and it’d still be nutritious, but it has taste. What of the joy of several emotions? We could be made like robots with no emotions, but we are allowed to experience joy, happiness, and love.

Ah Love! That is the big one! I can recall one time truly being in love with a lady and I certainly know it was a joy. While I miss it, I do not regret the time in love. Love is such a great joy. It didn’t have to be that way. Animals reproduce without love and I think it seems only dolphins have intercourse for pleasure. God made it different for us. Why? Why are Proverbs 5:18-19 and Song of Songs in the Bible? Could it be God wants us to see how exciting this gift is?

What about simple entertainment? My Sunday afternoons are relaxation time. I only have the internet for MP3s at that time. I’m listening to them and playing for the moment, Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. God didn’t need to have any of those around, but he does.

That even gets me thinking further. We’ve all seen people who don’t have one or more of their senses. Have we been thankful for ours? It seems it isn’t until I meet someone who is deaf that I really appreciate my ability to hear. It seems I don’t learn to appreciate sight until I meet someone who is blind. Dr. Paul Brand works with leprosy patients in India who can’t feel pain due to problems with their nervous system and writes about “the gift of pain.” That is a book title of his. He thinks it’s wonderful that we can feel pain and don’t have to worry about mutilating ourselves because we feel nothing. He even tried to create a synthetic pain system once and couldn’t do it! What do we do? We complain and whine if we stub our toes!

As I write, I get thankful that I have the ability to write and to think out these ideas, and I’m all the while honing it. It is truly a gift. Maybe you have one that you can sing or paint or play a musical instrument well or something of that sort. Give thanks for it as well. It is exciting.

Thus, I believe I have found many exciting things just in my ordinary (or not so ordinary) life. I believe I shall stop for now though for if I keep going, I will never reach the end of this blog. You want more things though? Here’s an idea. I’ve got the ball rolling. You go out and find them yourself now.

Shining Like Stars

I was talking to a friend last night in another state (I mean physically. Not the state of sanity in relation to mine of confusion) and he was talking about apologetics. He was echoing some of the sentiments I’ve echoed in feeling like he’s often alone in the apologetics endeavor and then going into an Elijah moment. (For this friend, I would also like to say that you rock. I’m glad I know you and you’re an awesome guy and hopefully we’ll see each other again soon.)

Many of us can relate to that. I can often go into my church service and see the people and think “I’ve been taking the intellectual bullets for you all week. Have you noticed?” I’m not saying I do it for a reward or the praise of men. I really don’t. It’s simply the right thing to do and I remind myself of that many nights when I’m up late talking to someone in need. I just simply look and wonder if I am all alone at times. Apologetics, sadly, can be a thankless job. To be blunt, it seems any position in ministry can be a thankless job.

I asked my friend to consider his job and mine. Many people come to see us every day and few of them would know that we are apologists. In some ways, it is like living with a secret identity. I find that kind of cool in some ways, but kind of saddening in others. The point though is that it can seem like we are just tiny specks.

However, I also consider that while those people that approach me don’t know much about me, I in turn don’t know much about them. Maybe there are some that I worked around today who are apologists as well. Maybe my friend had someone come to him who was a minister and he knew nothing about it.

I then told my friend to turn to Philippians 2. This is one area where I think we who take Scripture seriously can make a mistake. There is that great passage there that talks about the deity of Christ and we can get so caught up in that part of the chapter that we forget that there are other parts to that chapter. We can do this with many other places in the Bible. Have we ever, for instance, considered Romans 9 without thinking first of the Calvinism-Arminianism debate?

Philippians 2 though speaks of us as stars shining in the universe. I asked my friend to consider how big the sky was and he said it was quite big. We could consider it practically infinite. I asked him then if we could compare the Earth and the sky. The Earth isn’t infinite of course, though neither is the sky, but from our perspective, both can seem such. The Earth has so much for us to explore.

Philippians 2 tells us though that we are like stars in the universe shining. I like that metaphor. I look at the sky at night and it’s so black, but then there’s that glimmer of light. It’s a star that can’t be quenched by the darkness. Those stars are light years apart, but they sure seem close from our perspective.

I ask my friend then and I ask you as well to look at our world here. It might seem like we’re alone, and at times I do feel like I am, but we are not. There is the company of our friends who are fighting the same battle. I’ve said before that not all of us are apologists. I’m thankful for my counselor types who are just standing alongside me cleaning up any wounds I receive. Remember that in King David’s court, there was an official position identified as the friend of the king. Our friends should receive no less honor.

My friends, if you are fighting this fight, fear not. You are not alone. Go out and shine. Light up the world for Jesus Christ.

Before we ask why we’re here

Often times in the discussions of philosophy and theology, one question that comes up is “Why are we here?” I think this is a question everyone should ask of themselves at some time. However, as I pondered this question recently, it occurred to me that I never see a prior question being addressed. That question is “Who are we?”  or maybe even “What are we?”

It seems that if we want to know the purpose of a thing, it might help us to know what that thing is first. I could find a tool with a wooden handle and a top with a blunt end and a pronged end and wonder what that does. If I am told it is a hammer, I will then think “A hammer is used when building with nails” and can then understand the purpose of the tool that I hold.

Yet it seems that while we know what many things are in our world, we don’t really know what we are. Are we cosmic accidents just wandering along on this journey of life condemned to die a pointless and meaningless death? Are we parts of God who have forgotten our divinity and need to be reabsorbed back into the divine? Are we creatures created in the image of God? What are we?

Notice that how you answer this question will also change how you answer others. If man is an accident, then there is no reason to value him. He is only good as a tool. It is what he does that matters and not who he is. This can easily lead us to utilitarian ethics that will deny the value of man. This is what is going on when a baby is aborted because it’s “inconvenient.”

The same could apply if we are parts of God forgetting that we are divine. If that is the case, then we need to act like it. We can be the ones who are determining good and evil for instance. We will approach the world differently if we believe that it is all an illusion or that it is all divine.

If we are created in the image of God though, then we will see that our purpose is to reflect that image. If we are Christians, we will see that this is done by walking in the model of Christlikeness. (Well, hopefully we will see that.) We will see our fellow man as one who bears that image and based on that, he is one to be respected.

We will also see that morality has a basis. It is rooted in the triune God and that our ethics come from the love of the Trinity. Each person of the Trinity values the other person for who they are and not what they do. In that regards, I am to value my fellow man the same way.

I also see who I am. I am not an accident. I am a wonderful person that uniquely bears the image of God. I am made to walk as Jesus did and in the end, I will walk beside him for all time. I have been made as the crown of God’s creation and I am to live my life to give him glory.

Interesting isn’t it? Once we know what we are, it is easy to understand why we are here. If we are accidents, well who asks why an accident is here? It merely is. There is no higher purpose behind it. If we are deity ignorant, then our goal is to remove our ignorance which will focus largely on ourselves. (This is why in India, you don’t really help the poor. That messes with their karma which in turn messes with yours.)

If I am created in the image of God though, then I know why I am here. I am here to glorify God and I do that best by doing what John told me to do. I do it best by walking as Jesus did.

Making A Difference

 (Writer’s note: Due to a connection problem, I had to wait til this morning to put this blog up. Let’s hope tonight things are normal.)

In Final Fantasy VI, the world enters a time of ruin and the party of do-gooders is split up. One girl in the party awakens and she is guided along as she finds everyone else including a man named Setzer who is in a state of dejection after seeing the world and wants to give up. The girl, Celes, tells him though that before the world entered ruin, he was the strongest fighter there was and nothing stood in his way and he faced death head on. He doesn’t like the way the world is? Then do something about it! With those words, Setzer gets back his strength and joins the party who ends up doing just what Celes said. They save the world.

In Final Fantasy X, the party is fighting to gain a power to defeat evil, but then they find that the idea of defeating the evil for good is a myth. They refuse to give up which means that they have to fight past the one they thought would help them the most. The hero Auron gives this speech then:

“Now! This is it! Now is the time to choose!
Die and be free of pain or live and fight your sorrow!
Now is the time to shape your stories!
Your fate is in your hands!”

I love that speech. Why? Auron knows the truth. You have great sorrow now and you can die and be free from it. Or, you can choose to live and fight it. Your stories are being shaped and how they will turn out at this point is up to you. Are you going to be the hero of the story or the victim? Are you going to conquer the world or let it conquer you?

I suppose this is one reason I love games so much like this. They have the people changing the world and you’ll rarely find that it is the super types that do such. It is usually in the Final Fantasy series ordinary people. If they have any powers, they usually wrestle with great doubt or other internal difficulties. For instance, Tidus, the hero of FFX, is a champ at the popular sport in the game of Blitzball, but constantly hears his domineering father saying “You can’t do it!” and criticizing him in his mind.

What’s the point? Each of these characters does make a difference. Yesterday, I wrote about changing the world. The truth is that we all change the world every day. We all change everyone’s world we meet (And in many ways, everyone else through who they meet) and we all change our world everyday. We are becoming more like Christ and enabling others to do so, or becoming less like him and hindering them from doing so, and that should make many of us pause to think. It certainly makes me pause.

The question is not will we make a difference. The question is “What kind of difference will we make?” When we leave this world, we would have left it for the better or for the worse. Some of us will be like Setzer at the start and say “I can’t make a difference. It’s a lost cause.” For that, we need people like Celes and Auron.

Yes. We need people who will be honest. It’s not a lost cause. It’s a dangerous cause and it’s a tough cause and the battle won’t be easy, but the battle can be won because it has been won. We can take this fight anywhere. If we believe the gospel, we should believe that we can take it anywhere and it will make a difference.

If only we had adventurers like Paul, and let’s be clear, Paul was an adventurer. I am convinced that if we really had a video game based on a character playing as Paul and having to face the dangers he faced, it would be a best-seller. Paul’s life was filled with danger. Why’d he do it? Because he believed the gospel could change the world. Look at his letter to the Romans. He wants to carry the gospel to the far ends of the Earth. Spain was no simple task. This was a man who was staying around the Jerusalem area to deal with the “Christian threat.” Now he wants to travel the world.

These people do exist. You can find many of my type known as apologists who are going out into every area out there and making a difference because they believe the gospel is true and can change lives. They may go to other countries where Christianity is not warmly received or to university settings where secularism reigns or on the internet in the midst of the common man or to some other places of dreadful opposition, like family and work. (For any concerned, I do have a Christian family but for those who don’t, these can be the hardest people to talk to.)

Why should we go though? Because the gospel is true. We can live our lives in confidence of the message of Christ. The more we believe it, the more we will live it and tell others that we believe it. When we do that, imagine the difference that we can make. How can Christ make a difference in the world though if we never go forth with the good news?

Friends. We’re making a difference right now. We all are. Wouldn’t it be great if at the same time, we were making one for Christ?

 

Changing the World

Some of you might be surprised that I’m a camera hog in many ways. I just like the camera. I enjoy seeing my name in places. When I went to this wedding and I saw the list of bridesmaids and groomsmen and saw my name among the list of groomsmen, I smiled. I was pleased to be recognized as a part of this event. I also liked being announced at the reception.

I think that part of it is making the mark. Some of us like to leave some reminder that we were somewhere. We want people to remember us when we’re away. No one wants to be a “remember him?” Everyone would really like to have left the world a better place. The saying has been attributed to Ronald Reagan of “When you were born, you cried, and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a way so that when you die, the world cries, and you rejoice.”

I think many of us grow up with that dream. I know I definitely did. I wanted to do something great for the world. There is no place in my heart for the common life which we all seem to live. We all seem to go through life as if our only purpose is to make money so we can pay the bills and continue the human race down to the next generation.

Isn’t there something in us that yearns for more though? For those of us who are Christians, don’t we look at the world at times and think that there’s something dreadfully wrong? We know God is in control, but we also know that the world is not the way that he intended and that he has called on us to make it better.

Part of us at that point seems to think that we can’t do much. Why do we let that happen? Why do we let the world cower us? Especially since we are followers of the one who overcame the world? Do we not believe him when he says that greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world?

Yes. We can. There is that drive in us. We need men and women to stand up today and do great things. You think you’re small? You’re not. Go look at many of the video games and movies and TV shows today and the literature in fiction. Who is it that is often chosen? It is the ones the rest of the world most often looks over? Isn’t this the same in 1 Cor. 1? The foolish shame the wise? The weak shame the strong? It’s not saying that foolishness and weakness are good things but that those the world gives those titles to are the ones that end up shaming them.

Also, remember that you’re not alone. You do have Christ of course, but you will also have friends on the journey. If friends would team up more and work together for the cause of Christ, they could do more to change the world. We don’t really see our potential in our friends’ lives enough though.

This is where preaching the gospel to ourselves comes in handy. Once we do it to ourselves, we can better convey it to the world. The world needs to hear it. The world is counting on you also. God didn’t give this ministry to angels. He gave it to people and that includes you and I.

Tonight, I suggest you rekindle that fire. Go out there. Change the world. Make a difference. Let it be that you get to Heaven with an awesome crown. Who wants to walk across the gates in shame? No. Walk across knowing that you made an eternal difference and then get set to hear “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Laughing and Prayer

I was at the Bible Study group I’m at tonight and we’d had a good time of fun fellowship and discussion after which we had our closing gathering of prayer requests and prayer. I thought of the change that we had just gone through though from the fellowship to the time of prayer and had a question come to my mind.

“Why don’t we laugh during prayer?’

Now some of you might think I’m disrespecting prayer. I’m not. I’m thinking of what I wrote in my blog article called “Go Play.” If we are to live a life of enjoyment in the presence of God, then being in the presence of God would include prayer. Since that is so, why don’t we laugh during prayer?

There is a story of a Puritan who heard one Puritan praying and saying in the prayer, “Hey Lord. Let me tell you a joke.” I believe this must have been a serious man of prayer for he truly believed God was hearing him and wanted to know about every part of his life. If you enjoy something, will you not thank God for it? If you can share a song of praise to God, why not a joke? He knows the punchline? Pshaw! We can enjoy jokes we know the punchlines too as well.

God is the God who gave us the gift of laughter and surely he laughs more than any of us. Who takes more delight in the creation around us? Is it us or is it God? We could even ask who takes more delight in a Christian couple getting married in purity? Them or God? Who takes more delight in the birth of a child? The parents or God? The answer is obvious, but at the same time, unbelievable in some ways.

If this is the way that it is though, then surely we should laugh more. It seems when we approach the disciplines in our walk of faith, we seem to enter a high and serious mode. Yes. We should have reverence, but I don’t believe reverence equals boredom. I believe we should boldly approach the throne, but I also think we should have no problem playing at the foot of the throne. Parents often delight in watching their children enjoy themselves in appropriate ways. Why not God?

This could be something that makes prayer so hard also. We can treat it as a drudgery that we are not to enjoy. I disagree. We should enjoy it immensely. We should laugh freely as we can with our closest friends. We can take great joy in that we are coming to the one who loves us the most and is listening to every single word we say.

Joy is the serious business of Heaven and laughter does a heart good like medicine. If we believe prayer is to change us, we should approach it as we want to be changed. We should come to God and laugh with delight at who he is. God is most definitely not boring. We could even say God is funny in a holy way. It would not be because we mock him, but because we delight in him so much.

Tonight, or the next time you pray, try something. Laugh. Tell God a joke. Sing a funny song. If you want to, just look at yourself and think of how much he loves you and laugh. That’s gotta bring a smile to you.

Maybe even to him as well.

Flightplan

Before I write this, let me say that my Trekkie friends did make it clear to me that Spock ws not a doctor ever in Star Trek and that yes, he could sometimes show emotion. I have edited the Spock reference to Mr. Spock in the last blog. What can I say? I did admit uphand that I am not a trekkie, but thanks to my trekkie friends for pointing that out.

On to today’s blog though.

I have returned from my vacation and in order to get to and from my destination, I flew. I had only flown twice before on a plane but this time, I was not nervous about it. My fear of flying in a plane is pretty much gone.  Flying is something that really casts a spell on me though and I figured I’d write about that.

One thing I noticed is that because I’m a guy, I could react differently. On my flight there, I was seated next to a lady and her husband and I had the window seat. As the plane took off, I was looking out the window in amazement and I turned and I saw that for this moment at least, the husband was looking as well.

That’s something about us guys. For us, this plane is simply a big toy and we delight in seeing this toy go up. No matter how old we are, many of us turn back into children again at this point in the flight. How many of us played with toy planes when we were younger and relive that some when we fly in real ones?

The flight though is the main thing. You look out of your window and you see the world down beneath you and it is so incredible. You look out and you see the clouds and you can’t help but marvel. They seem to be structures in the sky. I thought of how the Bible speaks about the Father from whom all fatherhood came. I wanted to speak then of the builder from whom all building came.

I looked at those cloud structures and thought that our greatest sculptors and architects could not begin to compare to the work of God. You know you can’t do so, but at times, you could just get out and walk on those clouds. They seem that real to you. At times, you can look down on them or across at them depending on where you are and think you’re seeing a landscape of snow.

The Psalmist said that the Heavens declare the glory of God and Paul spoke about creation speaking of God’s existence. I thought of the Psalmist mainly being on a plane sometime and looking at the Earth and saying “And yes, the Earth itself also declares the glory of God.” Let us not lose wonder at the heavens, but let us remember the wonder of the ground beneath our feet.

Yes. There is something enchanting about a plane flight. There’s a wonder in thinking of what has been created over time. With the invention of a plane, not only do we get good transportation, but we also get to experience the glory of God in ways the ancients didn’t get to.

Perchance, we should respond by glorifying him even more.

Calling Mr. Spock?

I’ll go on and disappoint several of you. I am not a Trekkie. I have only seen two episodes of Star Trek in my life. However, I think that the idea of Mr. Spock is well known. For those who know even less about it than I do, Mr. Spock is a character that is purely rational and does not possess emotions. I am sure this is true generally. Maybe some Star Trek buffs might want to point to times Spock does show emotion I don’t know about. If so, fair enough. I write today about the personality type that is represented by such.

I will also not disappoint in telling you that I am an intellectual. However, I tend to be more emotional than most people realize and my emotions can carry me away and take my rationality hostage. That happens more times than you would realize. I realized it was happening some yesterday at my friend’s wedding and has been happening in knowing that day was coming closer.

It really gets a guy like me thinking. I am sure that if we all used our minds and our rationality, we would all be Christians. Why is that? Because rationality is that which conforms to the truth and Christianity is the truth. Thus, the more rational we become, the closer we get to the truth of God. When we become irrational, it is at that point that we deny the truth of God.

Some of you might be wondering what I was wondering last night when I thought about this, and I am still thinking my thoughts out on it. Why did God give us emotions then? If we all were created and God has a desire for us to become a part of the family, why not create us all like Mr. Spock?

The honest truth must be that God wants us to reflect not just his mind but his heart as well. He wants us to have deep and abiding love which is also somewhat emotional. No. Love is not an emotion, but I believe that true love will in some way involve an emotional response just as true hate will.

If so, then it is not only our minds that need to be conformed to the truth of God, but it must be our emotions. Our minds are that which are the tool for finding the truth of God, but it is our emotions that help us measure our response. Do we respond in love or do we respond in hate? Many of us who are honest I think would say that it’s a little of both. If it was totally love all the time, we’d all live much better lives.

I wrote some time ago on feelings and how we overplay. A good friend wanted to be sure of one thing though. We’re not underplaying them as well. They have to be good things. Why? Because we’re not meant to be like Mr. Spock. We’re meant to respond to God in an emotional way rather than simple mental assent. It is a matter of the giving of our whole selves to God. Yeah. Some of us may be more intellectual and some may be more emotional, but each of us is to give our whole selves to God.

However, even if we are more emotional, I firmly believe that emotion is to be subject to reason. Unfortunately, we tend to place emotion above reason and I believe this is a result of overtones of naturalism where we have been forced to become little gods to ourselves and it is we who determine truth and one way we do that is feelings. We need to realize that we have a God outside of us who is determining the truth. (I personally hesitate to say that as I don’t see how truth can be created seeing as all truth exists in the mind of God eternally. There just isn’t much of a better way to say it.)

What do we do then? Do we ditch our emotions? Not at all. We give thanks for them. We just realize they have a proper way to function the same way that our minds do. God does not want us to be Mr. Spock. He also doesn’t want us to be fully emotional as well. He wants both.

He wants creatures that are like himself. He wants creatures that love, and love rejoices in the truth.

To my best friend Rodney on your wedding

This is a very hard blog for me to write. I know you’re not seeing this now and you won’t for awhile, but you also know why this would be hard for me. Today, we saw one of those two days we thought would never happen happen. Now, we await the other one. If the situations were reversed, maybe you’d be wondering also. Yet today, I had a unique happiness for you. I truly am happy for you my friend and you’ve motivated me to search further and the fun at the reception gave for a little while some release from the funk I’ve been in lately as well as a new philosophical insight. I thank you for that.

I’m sure you remember how we met, but I want to say it again, especially so we can have a record here in my blog. I had just started coming to your church and I liked it and I wanted to join. When I came down, you stood next to me. I didn’t even know who you were then but over time, I did come to know you.

Don’t you remember it? Of course you do. The Mormons came to our church that night and you saw me with a couple of other church officials battle it out. You saw me and realized that you could do more. You’d heard me talk about apologetics before, but you didn’t understand my love of it. You did then. You’ve come to learn a lot since then.

We’d be on the PALtalk program also and there, we’d debate Jehovah’s Witnesses. Didn’t we have some fun times together? We got caught up in a lot of messes, but hey, we had fun. Remember ordering our copies of the NWT and the joy we had in going through them.

Remember our watching the Matrix also? We love that series so much. You and I still do the greeting between Seraph and Neo every time we meet. I wouldn’t dream of missing it. We can finish each other’s thoughts so easily. You’ve always been there with me, and I treasure that.

I’m glad you’ve found someone, but we’ve seen each other make bad mistakes in romance too. Heck. We could blackmail each other and I said as much Friday night when I toasted you. We would never dare dream of doing so. Have someone pay me all they want. It is not worth it to blackmail a friend of mine. It’s not that we did anything immoral, but we made some embarrassing choices.

We used to go everywhere to meet women. You know we spent every Sunday afternoon together after church. We’d go to the Sonic and we’d say it was so I could get ice cream and you could get what you got, but we both knew that we were going there to check out women.

Remember when that church didn’t want me to teach on cults because I hadn’t taken a course? You got so angry. I wasn’t there to see it as I’d left rather upset, but I hear the pastor was upset with you because you were so angry. It takes guts to stand up to a pastor, but you did it for me. I appreciate that.

You were there when I preached several of my sermons. In fact, many times when I preached at my college, you supplied the music. We never got tired of you singing the cartoon song. That’s why tonight during the reception, I asked the DJ to play it for you. I know you cheered when that happened. I know you too well.

You took me on a motorcycle ride one time and I loved it. We had great rides in my car of course where we would sing along to the radio and we had more worship than at a church service. I never sang at church really, but I had no hesitancy around you. Your real love though was to travel by motorcycle.

And those motorcycles sent you to motorcycle school where you learned how to build them. I called you most every Sunday night. Some nights I got busy, but it was always great to get in touch with you. I remember you telling me about meeting this girl and lo and behold, today you married her.

Maybe you saw me some during the service and reception. My getting teary-eyed wasn’t faked. It was one of the most emotional times of my life, but I am thrilled for you. In some ways, it’s hard for me to say that, but I really am. I’m sure you understand. You’re my best friend after all.

Yes. You really are. I have a lot of friends everywhere. I can get on my computer and talk to friends. I can go to work and talk to friends. I can meet old friends from high school and college. You’re the different one though for some reason. I don’t know why, but it’s like our spirits have knitted in that strange way that make me see a lot of you in myself and see someone I can trust.

My other friends are great of course. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. You’re unique though. Someday, I’m going to walk down that aisle also and I want you to be there as well. I want you to be able to celebrate my joy as I have celebrated yours. I’m incredibly thankful that I’ve got to be a part of your life. It took a lot of me to come here to this place to do that, but there was no question of whether I would or not. You’re my friend. You wanted me to be a groomsman in your wedding, and that takes precedence over anything else. Had even Seminary called wanting to meet with me, I would have told them they’d have to wait. My friend needed me.

Tonight, you’re celebrating. I ask that you remember me always though. I’ll be willing to do anything I can to help you out in anyway. You really are my best bud. I can’t seem to say that enough. Bad news for you of course. You even get stuck with me for all eternity. We can spend it looking back.

As I write, those times come back I remember your Dad being in the hospital and you didn’t want to see him alone. Who got up at 4 in the morning to go with you? That’s right. You and I left and we listened on the way to the radio and heard the Christian talk show talking about pet peeves at 6 A.M.

Our pet peeve was people that are cheerful at 6 A.M. We talked about Greg Koukl saying that until his first cup of coffee in the morning, he’s an atheist. We mentioned we were working our way up to orthodoxy. By around 8 A.M., we were probably Jehovah’s Witnesses as we worked our way up. I was there with you though, and there was no question of if I would. My mother found you and I later that day back at my place sleeping at 4 in the afternoon or so. I only know because she told me. We were tired, but it was worth it.

Remember going to the Gondolier restaurant that time and putting our hands on the glass that drove the lady cleaning the windows crazy? Fun times indeed. It’s those little times that are sticking out.  They’re the ones I will always remember. We had a lot of adventures together. We watched both Monk and Smallville as well. I remember we’d cheer when the ladies showed up during the credits.

You’ve seen me at my darkest hours also. You know the secrets I have in my life, but for some reason you like me anyway. I know you’re on your honeymoon now, but I have no doubt if you got a message for instance that something had happened here, and may God forbid that it does, and I was in the hospital, you’d be back immediately. You’re that kind of a friend.

Today is June 16th, 2007 as I write this. I’m thinking about you. I’m happy for you and sad for myself both, but I want you to know that you rock. I want you to know that I will always treasure our friendship that we share and I pray that marriage doesn’t change that. You and I should be friends for a long time.

You spoke about how you don’t deserve so many things you have last night. I looked at you as you said that and thought that I don’t deserve a friend like you. I don’t know why God blessed me so much, but he did. I couldn’t have asked for a better friend to stay with me through it all.

I think you’re awesome. I want you to have a permanent reminder in this blog as well as for the world to know that you, my friend, mean the world to me. May God bless you greatly.