Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mini Expeditions: Abandoned Oddities

(photo credit: creative commons)

If you really know me, you will know that I love exploring abandoned things. My hometown (Lockport, NY) is a haven of old warehouses, factories, and secret trails into the woods or along the canal. As a kid, my friends and I would always go exploring!

 These photo-articles were super fascinating and I thought I would share with you!

Top Ten Interesting Ghost Towns Around the World

Abandoned Castles, Chateaus, and Mansions Worth a Visit

Deserted Europe: 20 Hauntingly Abandoned Buildings

5 Abandoned Stations of the NYC Subway

Abandoned Theme Parks Abroad (Open for Exploration)

Top Ten Interesting Abandoned Places

7 Spectacular Abandoned Hotels, Hospitals, and Churches


Have you ever explored abandoned places?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Doubt Versus Humility

There is a growing camp among irked evangelicals that loves to promote the "humble doubter" label. A friend posted a link to a CNN article on Facebook recently, and here I provide a sort of  half-response/ pondering..

Here is the article: Why I Believe in God by LZ Granderson

Here is my response:
" the claim of having definitive answers about an infinite being. But true faith does not require us to have all of the answers." 

"Faith, as it relates to spirituality, isn't knowing something others don't know -- we call that a secret -- but rather belief in something that can't be empirically proven or disproven." ..OK...

"To truly be a person of faith one must accept the fact there is no tangible evidence there is a God. If such evidence existed, we wouldn't need faith." 

No tangible evidence? What about Jesus Christ? THE WORLD? The universe? Humanity? The drive that humans have to worship something greater? 

The discussion of doubt emanates from God himself? That what is basically being said here:
"I believe the discussion itself is divine." 
That's a little chincy and unbiblical to me. God calls us to have faith, not to dabble in doubt.

"To admit doubt removes the arrogance of certainty prevalent in so many evangelical Christians and atheists alike and replaces it with the humility"
I think there is a big mistake in the doubt / humility argument, and a big misinterpretation. Doubt does not equal humility. Saying that you do not know something when you don't, or making it clear that you do not have every single answer is humble. I would even possibly say that doubt is a perverted or twisted humility to fellow man. We need to be humble before the Lord (James 4:9-11), and he has told us to be faithful and persevere.

When you just look through the Bible, we see Jesus acknowledging doubt. That is a lesson for us: it is unhelpful to just cast a deaf ear to someone's legitimate concerns. But he always responds this way:

"If you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' it will happen." Matthew 21:21

"O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" Mark 14:31

"But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." James 1:6-8

With this in mind, there are many other concerning things about this article. Many, many other concerning things, so much so I am terrified that this person has been going to "church" for years and has no idea about his theology- his being a pick and choose mushy one.

We must remember the call of Titus to have mercy on those who doubt, while also holding to solid Biblical teachings.

What do you think?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Good Friday Hymnsing

Yesterday was Good Friday, a day that we remember the wonderful work that Christ did for us on the cross of calvary. He took our punishment that we deserve in order so that we could be made righteous and adopted into God's family. For a second I was wondering why it was called "Good Friday" as the thought of a man being slaughtered  for my behalf seems morbid, but then someone reminded that it is in fact the BEST news of all. We are saved from the wrath of God that we deserve and we are given life, which we do not deserve. YES!

Some people from our church decided to have a "Hymnsing." Now if you are not familiar with what that is, basically it is a time where you gather together and worship Christ through song. There are many ways in which this can be done, but the focus for ours was the local church gathered to praise God in thanks for His work on the cross. Many of us had not participated in a hymnsing before, and I think we were partially influenced by an article that we read on the Resurgence blog titled "Is a Worship Service More Like a Concert Hall or a Banquet Hall?"
Niki and I hosted it at our apartment, and it was really great as Joel lead with his guitar and we sang hymns that were focused on the cross. We sang about 14 songs all together mixed with times of prayer and scripture reading. I was both refreshed and gripped as we sang together about how great our Lord is. Some of the hymns we enjoyed were "It Is Finished," "Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder," "Jesus Paid It All," "Man of Sorrows," and "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross." I think and hope we are going to make this some sort of annual Good Friday service.

Here is a little video from Isaac Wardell about hymnsings. Check it out.

Bifrost Arts from josh franer on Vimeo.

"More and more people show up to church and expect to have a worship experience delivered to them, instead of showing up to church expecting to sing together."

Is your church more of a concert hall or a banquet hall?
"For congregations that are struggling with how to bridge the gap.... it is important to urge congregants not to think of  the worship service as a concert hall where they come to receive something, but to think of our worship service as a banquet hall, where we come to participate in singing together."

check out the other articles in the Isaac Wardell series:

Liturgy, Music, and Space

What Kind of People Are We Forming With Our Worship?

What are your favorite ways to spend Good Friday? Do you have a favorite cross centered song?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Only Complete Realist


“A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is.... A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. Christ, because he was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means - the only complete realist.” -CS Lewis

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

National Poetry Month

While I am no connoisseur of poetry, I do enjoy it quite a bit. I actually have a poem of mine printed in one of those International Poetry Society books, and I won a county wide contest for a poem I had written. This love for poetry was also fostered by my high school English teacher Mrs. Attfield. She would pick the best poems for us to read and we would think through them line by line, my mind fully engaged and almost excited at the task.
Anyways, this is National Poetry Month! (who knew?!) I figured I would enlighten you with some delicious mind candy.

First of all, you should sign up HERE for a Poem a day to be sent to your email for the month of April. Sorry it is already halfway through the month. But there is still time!

Request the cool poster from this month for FREE.

National Poetry Month activities at the Providence Public Library

HERE  is a small collection of some poems I have written.

Below is a great poem for all single people. Good stuff:

And now for one of my all time favorite poems.

Much Madness is Divinest Sense
 by Emily Dickinson (1830–86).  Complete Poems.  1924.

MUCH madness is divinest sense
To a discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness.
’T is the majority
In this, as all, prevails
Assent, and you are sane;
Demur,—you ’re straightway dangerous,
And handled with a chain.

What is your favorite poem? Do you read poetry often? 
I would love to dig up some deep theological poetry, so if you know some authors, please share!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Urban Garden Paradise: It is Time

This weekend I was basking in the glorious weather, when I realized that it was time. Time to begin cultivating my urban garden paradise this year!

Saturday I spent time digging in the dirt and cleaning out my containers of any debris from last years plantings. I mixed up the dirt between containers to give the dirt a more rounded nutrient base. I also found out that the containers that I created last year had rotted out through the winter, and so I had to get rid of them :( Sad times. But now I will be on the lookout for more alternative planters. Niki and I saw these really cool cement block planter wall, but we do not have any where to put something this big.
image from

My friend Melissa bought us some radish, carrot, squash, and marigold seeds. I planted the radish seeds on Sunday, because they are the only ones that can be planted outside right now, because of the temperature and time of year. I hope to also plant tomatoes, cucumbers, beans of some kind, basil, and cilantro. While unveiling my planters, I saw that the blueberry bush my friend Casey gave me last year was totally green and growing as well! That is exciting and  I cant wait until we get some berries from that!

Last year I did a lot of composting, but this year I am still unsure where I will be living so I might not be able to take that route (I doubt the campus residence halls would be in favor of my composting in my room). But I would encourage anyone who is doing their own garden to compose. It is a helpful and healthy way to feed your plants, reduce waste, and cut down on chemical fertilizers ending up in land fills.

Ive been using this really helpful guide from the University of Illinois called Watch Your Garden Grow and it basically has helpful information about planting veggies, including when to plant, spacing and depth, care, harvesting, common problems and even recipes!

I would also recommend these websites for more information about back yard gardening/urban gardening:

Do you have any resources to share? Are you going to be growing a garden this year?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Book Review: Mere Churchianity

Mere Churchianity is a book for those who have left the church “to find Jesus.”

Now, Michael Spencer does have a lot of good points. But sadly, for every “YES” that I wrote in the margin, there was a equal, if not greater number of “I think he has this wrong here.”

Growing up in somewhat of a “church culture,” I did relate to many of his examples: the youth group massacring Dairy Queen, studying the bible with little interest in seeing how it pointed to the gospel, the dangers of being culture shaped more than Christ shaped. Those are all very true things that go on in many churches.

“Behind the Jesus Is Here sign there are too many narcissistic competitors in what has rightly been called the “worship wars,” a consumerist competition to draw a bigger audience into a fog of Jesus-lite entertainment.” Sad, but horribly true in some instances.

“Many Christians like to spend time with those who mirror themselves.” True, and not an example of the Gospel.

But Spencer makes a mistake. He chooses to look to disgruntled people to set the agenda, instead of the Scriptures. More than once he talks about the people who are not Christians, but surely know a thing or two about Jesus- we should listen to them. Should we? Should we listen to the people who have no idea about Christ as they tell us that our church services are too long, the music is too old fashioned, the prayers are too intense, yadda yadda yadda. It is with this ideology that many churches has taken a seeker sensitive approach- letting the nonbelievers set the agenda in regards to ecclesiology, polity, and church community and theology. Hardly a biblical concept.

Spencer is right about the spiritual bankruptcy of some churches. But again, he fails to give the correct answer. It is not because of the misdirected brand that is being promoted- though that does play a part- it is because of sin. People are unsatisfied with what the Bible says about how we are to live as Christians in church because of sin issues.

I fear he throws the baby out with the bathwater by the end of the book. Through the whole book, I just wanted to grab Spencer and say “but it doesn’t have to be this way!” There are biblical churches that love Christ, love each other, and love the gospel. There are churches that read the scriptures and teach rightly, and carefully examine their theology. While it might be a wise decision to leave A church because it fails to pursue Christ, it is a lazy self seeking mistake to leave “the church” altogether because of some disgruntled ideas. 

You would be ten times better off reading “Why We Love The Church” by DeYoung and Kluck for some solid ecclesiology.

“I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”.