Monday, April 3, 2023

Knowing Jesus

The other day I was watching an episode of The Chosen (one of the better adaptations of the Gospels to television), when I noticed myself watching the character of Jesus very closely--trying to notice how he used his words, his mannerisms, how he responded to various situations. Two thoughts followed. First, I had to remind myself that what I was seeing on the screen was a human interpretation of who Jesus is and that I needed to be careful of putting this "image" in place of the real Messiah. But, secondly, I remembered what I had learned about 1st century Jewish discipleship, how a disciple would try to imitate his teacher in every way--and suddenly, for a brief moment, I felt like I could relate. I wanted to be able to watch my Messiah, consider His every move, sit at His feet as He taught, and learn to walk as He walked.

But, then there was the question. How can I do that when He is not here physically with us anymore? I can't watch Jesus at a party to see how He interacts with the guests. I can't observe him arguing in the public square about contemporary issues. I can't follow Him on the road as He travels from town to town, healing the sick and teaching about the Kingdom. I stand here 2000 years removed from His time on earth. And I am saddened that I cannot know my Messiah in the way that the first disciples did.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Before You Are Baptized...

…it’s important that you know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s a bit more involved than simply getting dunked under water. In the waters of baptism, you are entering into a story, taking on a new identity, dying to self that you might live to God. In this space, God transforms you, recreates you, fills you with His Spirit. And as you rise up out of the waters, you will find yourself surrounded by a new family bound together by the love of Christ.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Why Lent? (3 Reasons)

Usually the first reaction I get when I mention that I observe Lent is “Isn’t that a Catholic thing?” The answer is no; Lent is also observed by Orthodox Christians and several Protestant denominations.

The second question might be, “Why?” After all, I’m a Messianic. We’ve got our own set of holidays already (ones that are actually mentioned in the Bible). Why venture into the Christian calendar? I’ve got a few reasons. Let’s take a look.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

The Bible (For Kids!)

One of my first priorities in training my children in the faith is to immerse them in the stories of Scripture—especially The Story of Scripture. Theology and commandments are important, but ultimately it’s the stories that kids will latch onto. They’re easy to remember because our brains are wired to think in narrative (as an anecdote, I’ve noticed when quizzing my daughter on her history lessons, she struggles with the facts; but when it comes to the stories of these ancient cultures, her eyes perk up as she retells the events back to me). Stories hold incredible depths of meaning. And, really, they’re the primary way God has chosen to speak with us. Think about it. The majority of the Bible is not law or theology. It’s story.

Consider how Mark begins his book: “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” When Mark sets out to lay out the Gospel, he does not do so by laying out a list of propositions or a road to salvation. He tells a story. The Gospel is a story—one of how God took on flesh, submitted unto death on a cross, defeated death and paid for sin, rose from the grave, ascended to the right hand of the Father, and is coming again to judge the living and the dead (c.f. the Apostle’s Creed).

But, I digress. This is supposed to be a post about some of the tools I use to help immerse my children in those stories, namely children’s Bibles. There’s a lot of choices out there when it comes to children’s Bibles, and despite being somewhat of a collector, I’ve not tried them all. But, I can share with you a few favorites I’ve come across as well as how I use them. For me, I have three main functions I try to fill with children’s Bibles.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Pray (Letters To My Family)

What kind of legacy do I want to leave my family? What character and vision and story do I want to instill in them? That is the inspiration behind this series of letters--an attempt to set down and share in words the values I hope to lead them in by example.

Alongside reading the Gospels (and the rest of Scripture) I would encourage my family to pray. These two activities go hand in hand. Each one on its own can feel a bit like a one sided conversation; together is sometimes as close as we can get to dialoging with God (though it may often seem a bit disjointed).

I will admit, this one is a bit harder for me to write. I'm not the best at praying, nor do I really understand how it works. Some days it feels like I've gotten into a rut, repeating the same words day after day almost mindlessly. Other days, I don't know what to pray or I just forget. I often wonder what prayer means for the God who knows everything. I suppose there are two or three things that I hold onto to anchor my belief in prayer.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Virtue in the Pursuit of Truth

A question that I've been pondering over the last several years is how do we create an environent in which ideas proliferate, the best ideas rise to the top, and the worst ideas fade away. It has to be a free marketplace of thought lest good ideas be suppressed (and bad ideas forced). That's a foundation--but it's not enough. We've seen that even in the free exchange, some really bad ideas can get quite a following. In this age, misinformation can often run rampant. So, what do we do?

Alisdair McIntyre suggested the concept of virtue as being those qualities that are necessary for success in a practice. I think we can apply this to the realm of dialogue and debate. External controls will always be inadequate and potentially dangerous. What we need is to instill the internal controls of virture in ourselves in order to become the type of people who have productive conversations leading to truth. This raises the question, what are those virtues? Here I provide a few of my suggestions:

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

A New Name!

Seven years ago when I started this blog, I sought input from friends on the name. Among some of the ideas I put forward were "Noggin Toaster," "Hopeful Heretic," and "Yearning for Home." At the end of the day, "Hopeful Heretic" proved to be the most popular--though not without a significant dissenter. A friend cautioned against labeling myself a heretic, referencing G. K. Chesterton's thoughts on the word. I considered the objection, but decided to go forward with the name. It proved fairly catchy and for a long time I was happy with it.

Fast forward to today. My faith has evolved since then. I've been rediscovering orthodoxy, learning the Christian roots of my faith. I've opened the Book of Common Prayer, tasted the Lord's Supper, walked the seasons of Lent and Advent. I've been introduced to Christian scholarship both ancient and modern and traced the fascinating history of our religion. I still have so much to learn, but this I know: I no longer wish to label myself a heretic. I am a Christian through and through.