Sunday, December 18, 2005

Do Athletes Really Mean It?

I was watching the Heisman Trophy Ceremony last weekend when Reggie Bush from USC was accepting his trophy, he won by a landslide, I might add. I was encouraged that he thanked God first of all. He thanked his parents second, and included in this was that he was thankful that his parents were Godly people. I got to thinking that God has become remarkably trendy recently. God is the popular one to thank these days for whatever reason. Many athletes are very open about their relationships with God. However, some of these same athletes are the last one we would expect to be Christians. I cannot comment on Reggie Bush or his reputation. Terrell Owens has made comments about God. His actions are certainly far from Christian. Non-athletes who are in showbusiness are guilty of this as well. Kanye West claims to be a Christians and even raps about Jesus in his music. Yet his moral and social actions certainly do not reflect Christ, including actions like premarital sex and profanity. There are scores of others. And there are certainly many celebrities who do live the life of a Christian. But is it good for so many to be ackowledging God when their lives do not add up to the example we should be living? No one is perfect, but the life God calls us to is a radical one. How are we as Christians to respond to this trend?

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Aslan: An Accurate Portrayal of God's Character

I have read and enjoyed the Chronicles of Narnia. I have read The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe several times. I have seen the movie that has just come out featuring all of our favorite characters from the land of Narnia. As I recollect of it all I must say that my favorite aspect of the literature is the portrayal of Aslan as the God character in the series. Allow me to outline a few points of why I like Aslan as an accurate metaphor for God.

1. Aslan is a Lion. I find it very interesting and appropriate that Lewis chose a Lion to represent the God character in his literature. Despite the obvious comparisons, the Lion as King of the jungle, Jesus being called the "Lion of Judah", the Lion being strong etc., there are some other characteristics I like to ponder. For instance, I think of a Lion as fierce, yet attractive. A lion is an animal that you would love to pet, wrestle with, or feel its mane, but you wouldn't dare! The Lion is far too fierce. However, Aslan allows the children to touch him. He is approachable, which seems to be backwards. This is similar to God, who is incredibly powerful and one would think not approachable by mortal flesh. Yet he is gracious and allows us to approach Him.

2. Aslan has an Intimidating Look. Lewis describes Aslan in the books as being so intimidating that one can hardly look him in the face without trembling. I am reminded of the story where Moses desires to see the Glory of God (Ex 33:18-23). The Lord tells him that no one can see the face of God and live, but he will cover Moses with His hand and he can look at his back when the Lord passes by.

3. Aslan, Like God is the Quintessential Example of Meekness. Meekness, which is power under restraint, is an undervalued and underexercised virtue in our world. Aslan portrays this characteristic nicely. Wrapped up in the strength and ferocity of a lion is the gentleness and compassion of a loving father. He displays the ultimate in meekness when he allows the witches men to tie Him up and shave him. Lewis even comments that with one swipe of his huge paw he could destroy them all. But he chooses not to fight, but to be the sacrifice. I am reminded of Jesus, who "being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!" (Phil 2:6-8)

In closing, I think it is good to continually search for ametaphore that characterizes God's goodness, even if all are bound to come up short. Examples like this, if nothing else, give us yet another reason to ponder the amazing character of God. May Aslan, and others, always turn us back to worshiping our Creator.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Who Are These "Wise Men"?

Of course you have seen them. They are the three tall old guys towards the back of the nativity scene that sits on your shelf. There is always one with dark skin, there are always three, and they are always present beside the crib...rather, manger of Jesus. But who are these wise men really? Scholars suggest that the biblical connection of these men dates back to the Exile, when Daniel is placed in charge of Babylon and "all its wise men" (Daniel 2:10, 48). These men were astrologers and great thinkers of their day and were perhaps instructed by Daniel about the God of Israel and the Prophesied Messiah that was coming, as he was their superior. There is a good chance that Daniel's influence and faithfulness to God in a pagan and foreign nation is the reason that we see these wise men, also called "kings" or "Magi", worshiping Jesus.

Nonetheless, grandma's old nativity set certainly has some inaccuracies it must work out. For one, they followed the star to Jerusalem from the east, and then to Bethlehem, a journey which probably took them years to complete. Thus, we would never see Wise Men and shepherds worshiping side by side as is so commonly seen (note: Matthew records Magi, Luke records shepherds, so there is no biblical claim that they worshiped the Savior together). Actually, the Greek word (I am not an expert in Greek, but I have friends who are) used to describe Jesus in Luke with the shepherds present denotes "baby", whereas the word describing Jesus in Matthew with the Wise Men is closer to "child". Thus, there is a good chance Jesus was several years old when the wise men dropped in. In addition, we have no way of knowing how many Magi were present. There could have been three or a dozen. We often assume there were three because three gifts are mentioned, though the true number is anybody's guess. As far as ethnicity, they would have most certainly been Persian, thus having olive colored skin and middle eastern features. In the end, we know for certain that men of wealth called "Wise men" visited Jesus and worshiped him and brought him gifts (which is also probably where the custom of gift giving at Christmas originally comes from). Pretty amazing that such men would worship a baby in this way. They must have known there was something special about this kid. He certainly was one extraordinary baby.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Some People Give All Christians a Bad Name

Some professed Christians and Creationists beat up a Kansas University professor Monday because he had recently made headlines for speaking out against Creation. You can view the article here. Isn't that just what Christianity needs? What morons to think they are doing any good but by acting out in violence in such a way. This situation is reminiscent of the Crusades, which are perhaps the deepest and ugliest scar on the world of Christendom still today. I believe strongly in Creation, but others are going to disagree and they have that right. That is what makes this America. If "Christians" like these would use their brains (if in fact they have them) to engange Evolutionists in peaceful discussion, they would go much farther in advancing their ideas and their faith. They leave it to the rest of us who proudly bear Christ's name to fix the broken image they have given us. My prayer is that every non-Christian who hears of this story will think of ten good experiences that they have had with Christians, rather than focusing on this obvious misrepresentation.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Cardinals Miss Out on Burnett

Former Marlins Fireballer A.J. Burnett signed a 5 year, $55 million contract today with the Blue Jays, passing on his favorite team from his youth, the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cards hoped to land Burnett and add him to the Carpenter-Mulder duo and making it one of if not the best first 3 in baseball. As of now, the Cardinals rotation appears to be Carpenter, Mulder, Suppan, Marquis, and rookie Anthony Reyes. However, the Cardinals were hoping to trade Jason Marquis for help in the outfield, which now looks like it will not be possible. The only option, assuming they do not pick up another starter via free agency or trade, would be to bring up rookie Adam Wainwright as well, but this is unlikely as the Cards would not want to start two rookies in the rotation. The small chance remains that Matt Morris will decide to stay in St. Louis, however this seems unlikely as well as it is unclear if the two parties are even discussing options. In the following weeks the Cardinals lineup and rotation could still see some changes. As of now, though, this fan remains optimistic, for Walt Jocketty has always been known for smart deals that help the club.

Forecast: Narnia Movie Will be Huge

Peter. Lucy. The White Witch. Aslan. All of the delightful characters will be on board for the first movie in the Narnia series, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The movie opens Dec. 9th and, from the looks of the previews, seems to be very well done and an accurate portrayal of the book. This movie, having some very obvious biblical metaphors, will be the second hit christian movie to come out in the last couple years (The Passion of the Christ being the first) that seek to show the power and money available to christian media. Be sure to check this flick out opening weekend in order to boost the box office score. If the movie is half as good as the books, we are all in for an amazing ride.