>> www.joshburnham.me

This blog has been moved from this .blogspot address to another blogging platform. You can feel free to click around and read what's here, but for any new content, please check www.JoshBurnham.me.


Do you know what today is?

It's Halloween.
Happy Halloween.


Where’d the money go?

Crowder Band

I’ve been looking forward to the new David Crowder Band release for a while, and I just picked it up the other day. They continue to be playfully quirky and deeply reflective (which isn’t always an easy combo to pull off). I’ve listened to the cd through a couple times already. They definitely get a theme of life, death and a fulfillment and completion of God’s glory and grace. By the way, I’m digging the bluegrass stuff on there. Way fun.

Brian McLarenI also bought a couple of new books I’ve heard quite a bit about lately. A Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLaren (who apparently decided to go with a comprehensive subtitle), and Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. Both seem highly recommended and highly controversial. I’m working through McLaren’s first.

That’s all for now. More on Monday!


What about repentance or salvation?

This is sort of a follow up to my previous post

The question "What is sin?" seems to naturally lead to questions about how things like 'repentance' and 'salvation' fit into the picture of faith.

So, what about repentance or salvation?

What does repentance look like? Is it making reparations for past sins or saying, "I'm sorry." or simply not repeating mistakes (sin?) in the future? And is that a choice we make or one God's Spirit in us makes? Who initiates repentance, us or God (the Holy Spirit in us)?

And, who initiates salvation, us or God? What would be a definition of salvation? Is the common concept of salvation too limited?

I'll stop there for now. Loaded, I know. Sorry. (but not really sorry...)


A few other loose ends:
Tony Campolo
I’m getting ready for the NYWC in Nashville in a few weeks, and Tony Myles has been blogging about his experiences in Pittsburgh recently. He included a summary of Tony Campolo speaking. Lot’s in there… I’ll share some of my thoughts on this soon.

I think I underestimated the White Sox going into the World Series. I picked the Astros in six games. Guess that’s what I get for being a fan of a NL team and not really watching the ‘other guys’.

Office cleaning has been swell. My Frankenstein project is almost complete. Before-&-After pictures coming soon…

Technorati tags: , , , ,


How would you define sin?

In the B&NU book discussion of Rob Bell’s book Velvet Elvis, the question was posed:

How would you define sin?

As you might imagine, this kicked off a number of responses from people from different religious and theological backgrounds. Here are a few of the responses (edited for length):

-This question was asked when I was in seminary in a phd level class with a biologist professor. One student explained that anything that causes harm, pain or suffering to another is a sin. To which the biologist replied there is no such thing as pain, it is simply a cultural conditioning. After much frustration in trying to be as logical and level headed as possible, the British brother who prided himself in detachment and not being pulled into the emotion of a discussion finally lost it and replied, if I put my cigarette out on you face, that would cause you pain and that would be a sin.

-The philosopher Cornelius Plantinga defines sin as any culpable disturbance of shalom. Culpable meaning it was intentional. Shalom being the peace that God intends for the world. (see his book Engaging God's World)

-I guess I'd fall back on "estrangement from God." I would say that estrangement from other human beings and from the creation as a whole follows from estrangement from God; we cannot, I think, have true fellowship with one another or the creation if we do not ground our fellowship in God's grace, nor do I think that we can enjoy fellowship with God and not begin to see the signs of restoration in our fellowship with each other and the world.

-I’ve heard ‘sin’ comes from the Hebrew (and I'm no Hebrew scholar) word meaning 'miss the mark'. It evolves out of the notion of a target and the centre is the bull's eye. The archer tries to hit the bull's eye but doesn't quite make it or he/she sins. Missing the mark. As I live my life I find many times when I've just missed the mark in relationships, choices, actions, words, etc.

-Wouldn't sin be defined as anything that stands in between us and God? Sin in its nature separates, right? In Genesis 3, we see that Adam and Eve hid in shame from God. The sin naturally separates. Can you imagine not wanting to be in the presence of God? So imagine you are Adam or Eve, spending time in direct fellowship with God. Would you really not want to be with God if you had the chance? But there sin separated them from even wanting to be in fellowship with Him. That is pretty amazing.

-At this point in my walk I would describe sin as: anything that takes one further away from the life and character of God.

A variety of thoughts. So, how about you? How would you define sin?

Technorati tags: , ,


What if ... ?

What would you do then?

I hope they never find out that lightning has a lot of vitamins in it, because then do you hide from it or not?

(a deep thought by Jack Handy)

Technorati tags: , ,


What’ll ya’ have?

Where I live, there is currently a pretty heavy debate about alcohol. There is a referendum to allow local establishments to serve alcohol ‘by the drink.’ As it is now, restaurants are allowed to serve beer and wine, but this would allow local restaurants to serve liquor and mixed drinks. I’ve been trying to listen to several voices and opinions, and am beginning to get an idea of where I stand on the issue. There are a couple of different perspectives.

One side of the story argues that this opens the door to increased local commerce. Allowing such sales would open the possibility to getting restaurants like Red Lobster and Applebee’s. This would not only create jobs, but would also encourage local spending. This would generate more local revenue, and … well, that leads to other positive economic stuff.

The flip side of the coin says that this is a vote on morality. Were the community to open it’s doors to serving alcohol in restaurants like this, there are a whole host of problems that would accompany the change. There is the increased likelihood of alcohol abuse, driving under the influence of alcohol, and the other ‘evils of drinking.’ We, then, have a moral responsibility to discourage these situations by voting against the referendum.

People go back and forth, arguing and rebutting basically these two points. “This will lure more industry to the area.” “This puts an unnecessary temptation out there.” “People are drinking anyway, in backyards and dirt roads (though I don’t know many who enjoy margaritas down some dirt road), so this just allows it to be regulated and sold in restaurants.” “Will this lead to bars opening downtown?” “You can’t legislate morality.” On and on and on…

A few things stand out to me. Some of the people I’ve heard speak out the loudest on the issue drink alcohol themselves. I have a hard time understanding how someone who is downing a six-pack Saturday afternoon on the golf course reasons that people shouldn’t be allowed to have a drink at dinner Friday night. And many of these same people who argue against allowing some of these chain restaurants into the area eat at these places in other nearby towns.

Locally, this is being built up as a religious vote. One of the local churches is very outspoken on it’s wishes that it’s members vote against the referendum, calling into question the devotion and faith of someone who would allow this.

I’m interested in trying to land on one side or the other by voting time early in November. What do you think?

Technorati tags: , , ,


Who’s Invited?

Ryan Bolger, a professor at FTS, has this post on his blog. I thought his ideas were well put and do raise some questions.

As someone on staff for a church in rural middle Georgia, the Sunday morning worship gatherings are viewed as the primary program for ‘outsiders’ to come ‘in’. Ryan’s reasoning that “a focus on the church service as [the primary] connecting point perpetuates the idea that following Jesus is about going to church” is well put. For many around here, what is done on Sunday mornings IS church. His concerns about some of the perceived barriers that show up in typical, traditional American churches are also legitimate.

So how should church services be handled in regard to ‘outsiders’? To what extent is an ‘outsider’ considered in the planning of a worship service? Should someone who doesn’t know God –or even think there is a god– be expected to want to participate in a meeting that’s about celebrating that God? ( Is that like crashing a birthday party just because you saw balloons on the mailbox? …odd.)

Technorati tags: ,


Where have you been?

It has been a fairly busy few days, and posting regularly is still a dream of mine. In the mean time, here are a few random thoughts:

-I've done it. I bit the bullet and dove in head first. I've cleaned my office. Still putting the finishing touches in place, but the filing system has been revamped, the trash is gone, the stacks are gone, the piles are gone... Before / After photos to come soon.

-Interesting article about
DIALOGUE from a Chuck Smith Jr. from Relevant Magazine courtesy of Mike Devries.
David Crowder Band
-Heard a bit of the new
CrowderBand CD from a friend and am anxious to make that purchase. I'm still blown away by that crew.

-I'm all signed up and paid up for the
NYWC in Nashville this November. Let me know if you're going to be there and perhaps we can connect.

-There is some interesting conversation going on about Rob Bell's new book,
Velvet Elvis, through one of Barnes & Noble's discussion groups. I'll continue to share in the coming days.

Blogging again soon.

Technorati tags: , , ,


Is doctrine flexible?

I’m taking part in an online discussion at Barnes & Noble with Rob Bell about his new book Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith. It just began Monday, so it’s early in the conversation, but some interesting themes have popped up already.

In the book, Rob writes about doctrine and belief being more like flexible springs of a trampoline rather than rigid bricks in a wall. He discusses how our thoughts about God grow and change over time; the Truth doesn’t change, but our understanding of Truth does.

Doctrine is typically viewed as a set of immutable statements to be accepted as truth.

Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian FaithThe Hebrew people, as they sought to know God, came to understand truth as unfolding; a developing, growing understanding of how things really are. This is different from our typical Western view of truth being a static, unchanging principle. Ray VanderLaan has some great reading about this at followtherabbi.com.

I don’t remember if Rob Bell referenced this in the book or not, but I’ve heard of how the Jewish rabbis used to think of the Torah like a cut gem with many faces. As the gem is turned and viewed from different angles, the light reflects differently from the many faces. As we seek to know God, we’ll grow in our understanding of who He is. We may stand on a previous understanding (from Paul, Luther, Wesley, Bonhoeffer…) and take those ideas further. Isaac Newton put it this way: “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants." We may even discover something ‘new’.

Let me try an example as I think this through.

In elementary school I learned multiplication. Practiced reciting my two’s tables and five’s tables and did the finger trick with the nine’s tables until I knew the answers. As I moved through middle school and high school, I came to see how multiplication actually worked and what it meant for compound interest and linear functions and graphing… In college, multiplication had become a natural mathematic tool for me to use and went on to using that understanding in my calculus classes and for differential equations… Multiplication never changed. I just understood a little more deeply how it works and what it does and how it impacts so many other areas of mathematics.

Like Rob Bell wrote in the book, doctrine isn’t the point. “They help us understand the point, but they are a means and not an end. We take them seriously, and at the same time we keep them in proper perspective. … The springs aren’t God. They have emerged over time as people have discussed and studied and experienced and reflected on their growing understanding of who God is.”

Technorati tags: , ,


Who's number one?

Today’s a good day.

“Why?” you ask. Well, I’m glad you asked, because I plan to tell you.

This weekend marked the end of a long road, the completion of an arduous journey, the culmination of an epic battle. This weekend marked the end of the “2005 ‘Boro League Fantasy Baseball” season.

And not just the end of the season, mind you. For me, it became the crowning moment of my seven month crusade to become ‘League Champion.’ Yes, you read that correctly. Yesterday, I went to sleep a mere mortal of a man, and this morning I awoke ‘League Champion’.

Finishing the regular season barely above .500, AB’s PigInnerds (that’s the team’s name) entered the playoff’s in arguably one of the worst positions as the number five seed in a six team playoff.

AB's PigInnerds are 'Boro League Fantasy Baseball ChampionsThe PigInnerds scraped by in the first round against the Trinity 3-n-1’s by picking up a stolen base, a win, and four strikeouts on the last day of play, tying for those categories, edging the 3-n-1’s with a final score 5-4.

The following week saw the PigInnerds face off against the dreaded Fighting Barones, the regular season winner and number one seed. It was a tough week that got ugly at the end. Falling behind early in the week, I had to pull a major coup of the pitching staff to make up ground, and had 20 starting pitchers take the mound that weekend. However, it was Jimmy Rollins’ triple in the seventh inning (and Bobby Abreu’s 0-for-3 performance) that assured the batting average category and sealed the victory, 6-5. [note: Bobby Abreu was my number two draft choice, traded mid-season to the Fighting Barones for Manny Ramirez, who had a .385 avg. that particular week… thanks again Dan.]

Making it to the final round was prize enough, but it became a lot like those potato chips or crack… I got a taste and just couldn’t quit! The Goose Keepers, number two seed in the playoffs, had to be beat. Again, this seemed to come down to the final hours of the weekend, but we rallied behind a bevy of talented closing pitchers, the Jimmy Rollins hitting streak, the powerful bats of Manny, Richie Sexson, and Lance Berkman. With a final score of 6-4, the PigInnerd became the ‘Boro League champions!

The AB’s PigInnerds. That’s who’s number one.

ps- we’re currently 0-and-4 in fantasy football. that’s just good enough for dead last.

Technorati tags: ,