Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Real Face of Jesus

I caught the show on the history channel one Sunday, and it was a remarkable broadcast. I’d never hear of the Shroud of Turin before watching “The Real Face of Jesus.” The show was incredibly detailed and unbiased. They laid down a lot of facts and history, but it allowed the viewer to make the decision. On the other hand it leaves many unanswered questions.

Does the shroud contain the true image of Christ? I do not believe that it does.

Here are my reasons:

  1. PERFECT ACCURACY: Usually, if something sounds too good to be true, it is. The image and blood stains are too perfect. Anyone who has studied the Bible would know exactly where to put the blood stains in a forgery.
  2. CARBON DATING: Carbon dating placed the shroud in 1260 – 1390. This was the same
    time the shroud enters historical record. This tells us that it was forged and publicized in medieval
    Italy. There are those who believe the sample was contaminated. So, why not take another sample and test it again?
  3. MATCHING FORGERIES: True. No paint was found on the shroud. That’s because no
    paint was needed. The method of forging the shroud involves wrapping a body, applying solution, and painting it with human blood. All of these materials would have been available in medieval
    Italy. An Italian artist even confessed to creating it.
  4. FIRST CENTURY LOOKS: The Shroud of Turin bares the image of a man who is over six feet tall. If Christ were six feet tall, he would have towered over everyone around him in First Century Israel. The man in the shroud also had long hair. Israelis kept their hair short. It is a common misconception, but there you have it. The Son of God would have looked like a common Israelite.
I may not believe that the shroud is genuine, but I do believe it can be used for good as long as it was meant to enhance worship to the Lord. It can also be used as a teaching tool. It illustrates the method of which Christ was wrapped and buried, so we can clearly see what it would have looked like. However, if people worship the cloth itself, then it is nothing more than an idol. As an idol, it is as dangerous as the bronze serpent mentioned in Exodus.

For Exodus states, "He did what was pleasing in the LORD’s  sight, just as his ancestor David had done… He broke up the bronze serpent that Moses had made, because the people of Israel had been offering sacrifices to it.”

We must remember that the Shroud of Turin is just a piece of cloth regardless of its authenticity. It does not increase or decrease my own faith in the Lord, nor should it affect the faith of others. I find nothing more than an intriguing piece of history. Relics hold doubt. Keep your focus on the truth of Scripture. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

R.I.P.D. - Moving on isn't easy.

Police Officer Nick is basically a good man with a heart to serve his city and a dedication to his marriage. However, like everyone else in the world, he is flawed. He allows his partner to involve him in theft. For that, he’s branded a dirty cop and faces severe judgment when his partner murders him.

It’s because of this that Nick has difficultly letting go of the injustice done to him, even as he’s given a second chance before his judgment. It doesn't take long for his thirst for revenge to overcome the rules. He becomes more absorbed in investigating the cause of his death than doing his job, which gets him into trouble. Nick is not the only one who struggles with moving on. His new partner, Roy, also carries the pain of his unjust death disabling him to trust any new partner.

Not only must Nick accept the events of his death and free his wife to carry on, but Roy must also learn to trust Nick well enough to work effectively with him. They finally manage to work together when the fate of the world is threatened by a hostile take over. Their teamwork is what enables them to stop evil and save the world.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

The Lord made us a communal species. We need human connection; we require assistance every now and then. We must remember to keep in mind to charitable and trustworthy to one another. How else are we supposed to send an effective message of Christ’s love if others cannot trust us?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11 - My Account

Nahum 1:7-8 says, "The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him. But he will sweep away his enemies in an overwhelming flood. He will pursue his foes into the darkness of night." (NLT)

It was a warm Tuesday morning in Turlock, California when I received news of the World Trade Center bombing. As I was tying my shoes in my final task of getting ready for school, the last thing I expected to happen was my youngest brother bursting through my bedroom door screaming that the twin towers had been bombed. But it did. Forgetting my shoe laces I followed my brother into the kitchen where I found the rest of my family huddling around the radio in pure, silent shock. We stayed there listening to the news for as long as we could uncertain of what would happen next.

I was filled with uncertainties for the next half hour. What would happen to the buildings, when would they be able to extinguish the fires, how many people were hurt, who was responsible? My questions were answers in first period when my teacher got the call. It was her husband informing her that the towers had collapsed. She announced the news to the class immediately, and before anyone had the chance to react she proceeded to deliver a speech I will never forget.

It wasn't hate speech against the people responsible. It wasn't conspiracy chatter against the Bush administration. It wasn't even anger at God for allowing this to happen. What she gave us a life lesson that lives with me to this day.

It is important to keep your cool in time of crisis. You can't solve problems in the middle of a break down. It may be difficult to control your emotions, especially during a terrorist attack, but it will be worth it in the long run as long as you keep your head. Rationality over emotions. Otherwise, you get an earful of conspiracy cries and Revelation quotes. Control your emotions; don't let them control you.

For Jeremiah tells us, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?  But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” (NLT)

My heart goes out to the victims and their loved ones. What happened on 9/11 was outrageous and horrifying. I pray they may finally find closure now that justice has been served. Don't forget to keep them in your own prayers. A person can never fully recover from a loss. They need as much prayer and support they can get.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Miley Cyrus - Sex sells.

I'm not exactly sad to say I missed the MTV Video Music Awards in August, but I certainly heard about it the next day. Both the internet and news broadcasts can't seem to get enough of Miley Cyrus these days. To be honest, I can't wait for this to blow over.

"Miley Cyrus on drugs" is one of the top searches on Google.

Her music video of "Wrecking Ball" is a top video on YouTube.

And don't even get me started on the news stations. Every single day since August 25th.
Miley Cyrus - this. Miley Cyrus - that. May I see some real news, please?

It is true that Miley Cyrus' behavior has become nothing short of erratic. Let's face it: she's not sweet, little Hanna Montana anymore; she's a grown woman who's trying desperately to hold onto her career in a sex-obsessed world. Hanna Montana isn't going to keep her image alive. Sex will.

So, here's my ultimate question: Why is everyone so surprised?

I have a theory: it would have been one thing to act sexy on the stage at the VMA's. Miley went a step further. She acted nutty. I don't know what men think of her performance. For me, there was nothing sexy about it. Maybe she failed because of her inability to dance. Maybe it was that hideous haircut. Maybe she intentionally failed. Whatever the intention, the fact remains that she was successful in getting fifteen more minutes in the spotlight. In fact, she was more than successful.

Everyone is talking about Miley Cyrus. We've given her exactly what she wanted. Here's my concern. The more we react to her behavior, the more she will behave this way. Fortunately, the media does not stay on a story for too long. In another week or two some other celebrity is going to do something stupid, and everyone's going to occupy themselves with that for a few weeks. And so on.

I'm sure many believers out there are slandering the poor girl for her sudden change. Personally, I feel sorry for her. She's grasping at straws in order to keep her name relevant. It's the story of every child star to either fade into obscurity or go out of their minds. My hope always lies on obscurity. I can't even begin to understand what it feels like to live under the eyes of the masses. The pressure must be crushing.

Let us take this moment to pray for these celebrities to find peace through means other than drugs. Let us pray that they realize their potential away from the cameras. Let us pray that they break free from Hollywood's impossible expectations. Let us pray they find salvation! Amen. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Two steps forward, one step back.

My heart goes out to the Senior Pastoral staff of Freedom House Church tonight. After the backlash of a racist email sent to their volunteers from Pastor Makeda Pennycooke, they are sure to lose members. What is also likely to suffer is their strong reputation of its acceptance of all races.

In Pennycooke's attempt to protect the bottom line, she damaged it catastrophically. She allowed her insecurity and self image to get in the way of doing her job, which is to spread the word of God through love and acceptance. Instead, she spread the message of deceit, racial profiling, and the love of money (which is the root of all evil).

In Matthew 7:12, Christ teaches us, "Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets."

This verse is commonly known as the Golden Rule. It wraps up all the commandments in a neat little bow. It sums up God's expectations for his followers. Put simply: treat other people the same way you want to be treated. I wonder if Pennycooke had this within a hundred miles of her thoughts when she wrote that email to the members of her congregation. Would she have liked her superiors telling her to hide in a corner because of her skin color? I highly doubt it.

Not only has she damaged the reputation of Freedom House, but also damaged the reputation of churches everywhere. I wish that churches wouldn't have a heavy business approach. All I've seen come from it is a small congregation and damaged lives. What horrifies me is the amount of attention the press has paid to this incident. Then again, the press only seem to care about stories where the church screws up. This email is one of many negative stamps on the Christian church. With every church caused incident in this country my job get more difficult.

I wish I could say this behavior in the church surprises me, but sadly I've seen it before. Church politics sicken me.

HOWEVER, let us not forget the virtue of forgiveness. Freedom House Church's pastoral staff have issued several apologies. Mistakes were made in a moment of weakness. It happens. What are we if not human? Can any of us say we've never said something regrettable in a moment of weakness? I know I can't. None of us are perfect.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Lost Medallion

“A true, great king will find the courage to serve others,” says our story’s king of legend.

The Lost Medallion is unlike any children’s film I’ve ever reviewed. It is jammed with action, island exploration, treasure hunting, mystery, and magic. When I was a child, I played adventure games with my friends and siblings very similar to this plot.

This film spoke to my inner child. It speaks to the inner child in everyone. The child who yearns to be taken seriously by adults. The orphan who yearns for family. The bookworm who wants to be valued for her knowledge. The adventurer who wants to discover something valuable. The shy girl too self-conscious to confess her love for her friend. Most of all, it teaches our children what it means to be a true leader.

Christ says in Matthew 20, "Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (NLT)

It is very important for our children to understand effective leadership. A good leader is a servant to both the Lord and his/her people. Without the people’s best interests in mind society is doomed. The Lost Medallion can teach children not only to become good leaders, but also how to recognize one. That way, come their first election, they can know a good candidate from a bad. Or they’ll know if taking a job is worth the misery of dealing with a mean boss. All these things and more are essential to the education of our children.

I loved this film. Period. So many back stories. So many lessons. So much adventure. I hope more follow. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Happy Labor Day

Labor Day is a national holiday to honor American workers for their contribution to society. Every first Monday of September is given back to the people for rest. At least, government employees get today. For those private employees who do not get a day of rest, let us take a moment to appreciate them. Go to the store or a restaurant today, take a minute to tell the service worker that you appreciate him/her.

I would also encourage you to think of the unemployed. There are many people who wish they could work, who want desperately to make a contribution, but they can't. I not only think of them, but I also pray for them. For three years after graduating college I was one of them. 

Colossians 3:23 says, "Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people." (NLT)

I love this verse. It reminded me for those three years that I should still work hard despite the absence of a paycheck. If these hard times have taught me anything it is this: Take any and every opportunity the Lord puts before you, because you never know where opportunity will lead you. 

Proverbs reminds us of this: "Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty!" (NLT)

This may not always mean the profit of money, but those rewards are much more meaningful. The Lord blesses hard workers. Let us not confuse the status of worker with the status of employed. Unemployment is no excuse not to do your share. We should all pitch in to make this world a better place.