a few words on Faith By: David Landrus

Song: Explosions in the Sky – Last Known Surroundings
Post:

everything is derivative, everything except one

Cause and effect, one situation to another, and that my friends is how babies are born. When thinking of existence in all of its wondrous expanse, the details of why and how get very jumbled up. This is why many prefer to not think about the “deeper things”, or sum everything up and happily call it random chance or dumb luck. This, I know, is a simple solution that at the surface seems harmless, but when you don’t care to count the details many things you wish not to happen arise out of ignorance.
I believe there to be a solution though. Faith.
As stated in Hebrews 11:1-3 NLT
1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
2 Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.
3 By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.
The first thing I find interesting in this translation is that Faith is the combination of hope and confidence.
Today hope has become a very weak word, lacking much of the desire that it originally commanded.
For instance, if you were to tell a friend heading home for spring break, “I hope you make it back safely”.
Now, it is understood that you will not see them again until after they have traveled may hundreds of miles. And through their traveling of these numerous miles you will not be able to see to their safety first hand. So this leaves the question, are we really certain of their safe return (do we have confidence) or do we just hope that dumb luck will land them back into your company one day.
Enter Faith.
It gives us sureness. But where does sureness come from? Perhaps a promise, and from whom does this promise come? And if so, why does this promise give us assurance. There are many times that I promise my friend that I will meet up with him for coffee, but when push comes to shove, sometimes it doesn’t always work out. But the truth of Faith shatters all of these doubts, as verse three comes roaring in.
By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command.
One command, one Word, one God.

everything is derivative, everything except One

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Tim Tebow is to classy, so I’ll trash Bill Maher — By: Charlie Westerman

My last column was about Tim Tebow. Maybe some of you are sick of hearing about him all the time.  If that’s the case, you might want to grab a trashcan or a doggy-bag if you plan to keep reading this; because it’s going to start with Tebow, build up to Tebow, and finish with Tebow. Tebow. Tebow.

I grew up in a Christian home.  My mom told me as I went off to college that I needed to go out and decide for myself if I believed it or not.  In the end, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to pursue a relationship with Jesus because I realized that truly being a Christian wasn’t about following a checklist of religious rules.

No. It’s not about a religion, it’s about relationships; your relationship with God, with yourself, your family, friends, time, money, Facebook– you name it.  I’m really pretty piss-poor at living a relational life, but at the end of the day I somehow still want to get better at it.

I tell you this not to try and cram anything down your throat, but I think when a lot of people hear the words ‘Christian’ they immediately associate it with words like —conservative, Republican, judgmental, ignorant, close-minded, up-on-a-high-horse, boring.

They think of names like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Joel Osteen and Fred Phelps.  Personally, I think I speak for the majority of Christian’s when I say Fred Phelps needs grace almost more than anyone.  He perverts the Bible in order to gain personal power and unleash his anger.

The point I’m trying to make is that almost all Christians that mainstream culture knows about, are very extreme and often don’t even truly believe in the core teachings of the Gospel.  That’s why Tebow has caught on like a honey badger on Youtube.  He does believe and faithfully try to live a life that’s accountable to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Contrary to what his own Pastor said, Tebow doesn’t believe he wins football games because God “favors” him.  He knows God is much bigger than sports.  Tebow wins because he works hard, he’s positive and encouraging to his teammates, his actions match up with his words, and therefore he is a leader people are willing to follow.

Of course this is speculation, but I would bet that when the camera shoots to Tebow praying on one knee before kickoff, he’s not asking God for a Broncos win; he’s asking God that whatever the outcome of the game is, that he (Tebow) would have glorified God and shown the powerful love of Jesus in anyway he could.  If the answer to that prayer involves him beating the Steelers for the Broncos first playoff win since 2006, then I’m sure that’s more than okay with him.

Bob Costas said in a story on NBC that even if people don’t believe the same as Tebow, his beliefs should at least be respected.  I think it’s ironic that profound Atheist Bill Maher has ragged on Christianity for being judgmental, close-minded, hypocritical etc.

Then he tweets things like “Wow, Jesus just f****d #TimTebow bad! And on Xmas Eve! Somewhere in hell Satan is tebowing, saying to Hitler “Hey, Buffalo’s killing them.” This was after Tebow’s loss to the Bill’s last month.  The first mainstream Christian that comes through not showing any of those characteristics Maher despises so much and he proceeds to judge and be close-minded about Tebow (which also makes him a hypocrite).

Everyone has a right to love or hate a sports figure. That’s one of the fun things about being a sports fan.  But I hope Tebow-haters will truly ask themselves the question: why? And if they still hate him, that they would at least respect him.  Because I’m betting he would genuinely respect you.

A Reflection On My Previous Life Chapter, Part Two: The art of becoming genuine

By: mOUNTbRENDON

I was talking to one of my best friends the other day on cold walk back from a UW basketball game. One of the things I love about this friend is how similar our minds work. We frequently have philosophical discussions where we spend the entire time genuinely agreeing with each other. One would think that this would this sort of conversation would only be used to reaffirm each one another’s believes. Instead, this allows us to bounce off each other’s ideas and expand on our own. In a weird way, it allows us to challenge each other.

During this walk, we were both talking about faith, and what we believe. Each of us has found it difficult to believe what we believe. To struggle with where the church is today and to have such a hard time loving Christians (as silly as it is), while still believing in Jesus and considering ourselves, in fact, Christian.

We seem to be caught in this middle ground, where we have a hard time admitting our faith for fear of being judged as an irrational, cheesy, member of the modern day church. It has become extremely difficult for us to be open about our faith because we feel that, for the most part, modern Christianity has tainted the life of Jesus, rather than glorify it. We struggle with the fact that something so good, so sacred, and so holy, has been turned into a product. But that is another discussion entirely.

As I look back over the fall semester, I really realize that I learned the importance of honesty and what it takes to be truly genuine.

I think that the common denominator for all genuine people is that they never have anything to hide. They acknowledge their mistakes, but they are not ashamed of them. Most importantly, they don’t have secrets they feel the need to keep hidden from everyone else, which allows them the freedom to be open.

And open people inherently encourage other people to open up in some way themselves. They are willing to admit when they mess up and when they are struggling with a certain temptation and want to take all the steps necessary to move past it.

The other day, I was having trouble deciding over the morality of a certain action to take. I could not seem to be able to convince myself one way or the other, which, for better or worse, is often an invitation for me to take the riskier option. Once I started doing something else and turning my attention away from that decision though, as it often does, the answer came to me.

It made me realize that if an action would be something that you would be tempted to lie about to the people/person you love the most in 5-10 years, then you should most likely do the opposite.

For example, when forced to decide whether or not you should have sex with someone, think about if it is something you would want to lie about to your future spouse. It does not mean that you would actually lie about it, or keep it hidden from him/her, but it does mean that it is something that would cause you to want to do so.

I find that, for me, it is easy to convince yourself to do something that is questionable if you are only accountable to yourself. “If it ends up being a mistake,” I would tell myself, “than years from now I can face myself for having made it.” If you think about the other people in your life years from now, however, you are not just accountable to yourself. If it is something that I would want to keep hidden from the people I care most about, than it is not a mistake worth making because I could either hurt those people in some way, or I could keep it from them and allow myself to slip from a life of honesty.

Therefore, I want to be honest about my faith, especially since it is such a large aspect of my life.

During the fall semester, I took a Bible and Archeology class. This forced me question a great deal of things concerning the legitimacy of the Bible. I nearly gave up. I nearly surrendered my beliefs. But somehow, I was able to find peace in my beliefs and therefore expand and refine them.

(Say what you want about Rob Bell, but he was a large influence on me during this time thanks to his book “Love Wins.” It is not a book about universalism. It is a book that played a large part in, for lack of a better term, saving my faith. And I know that I am not alone in this.)

And so, I decide to “come out,” if you will. I realized that I have not been honest about my beliefs to a lot of people. I have kept them hidden out of fear of judgment, and of being misunderstood. I want people to take me as I am, not as a part of something I am not.

Below is a condensed look into my religious beliefs and conclusions and some of my philosophy on life. Because I want to be honest about them and I want to be as genuine of a person as I possibly can be. I do not want to have secrets.

I believe in God. I do not know what he looks like, how he sounds, or even how he works. Not at all. But I believe in him.

I believe that the Bible is a representation of God. It is not a perfect representation. In fact, it is filled with anachronisms, mistakes, misinterpretations, etc. But it is also filled with Truth. That is my belief. I don’t think we should hang on every word of it, but we should read it and let the stories impact us how they will.

And I believe that Jesus Christ, the Jesus represented in the Bible, is God’s son. I acknowledge that he is not the only person to have claimed to be the Son of God in history. There was Dionysus, Hercules, and even Alexander the Great. However, Jesus is the only of these who sacrificed himself for the sins of mankind and the only one to have conquered death. He is the only one who brought grace into this world and I believe that, even if it has been altered through human pen, his message, at its core is the best possible way of life if done right.

In the words of C.S. Lewis, “either the man was and is the Son of God [who he claimed to be]: or else he was a madman, or something worse.”

I do not believe any of this because I was raised in a church.

I believe this because I have struggled with it like a pedal bike struggles up a steep slope, but with obstacles like road blocking logs and crazy people yelling strange insults…or something.

The point is, I have spent most of my college career wrestling with religion and pin pointing its faults as well as its advantages. Call me cynical if you will, but I haven’t accepted everything I heard from someone just because he/she attended seminary.

I took classes where professors argued against Christianity and I took classes where professors didn’t care either way. I attended churches and Christian organizations that fueled my cynicism and that caused me to further question the state of modern day, Americanized Christianity. But I never questioned that there is something infinitely bigger out there than humankind. I have never questioned the unexplainable.

Though I understand why it is like this, this is one thing that scholars, particularly secular Biblical scholars do not account for in their studies.

The unexplainable. The fantastic. The miraculous. The divine.

In a classroom setting, I think that is fine to a certain extent. But this has to be acknowledged. Despite the strides science, philosophy, math, etc. has made in the past one hundred years, there is still plenty in this world that cannot and probably never will be explained.

For example, what makes music good? Why do certain note and rhythm combinations sound good to some people and bad to others? Where does creativity come from? How can people create things that, while making some abstract sort of sense to them, they still cannot coherently explain?

I believe that God is found in situations like these. And that is why I believe in God.

Because of this, statistics cannot explain his existence. And I am fine with that. He is beyond that kind of thinking.

I could probably write a book about my philosophies on this stuff, so I am going to cut it short there. This, in a nutshell, is what I believe, or at least part of it and this is because I have challenged myself to question them. I am perfectly fine if other people believe differently. I do not think it is worth the argument.

But I came to these conclusions because I did not refrain myself from taking a particular class because I knew the professor would say bad things about my beliefs. I understood that, if my beliefs were worth holding on to, then a little questioning and a little controversy would not take them away and vice versa.

Instead, the questioning, the controversy, and the overanalyzing have only made them stronger.

I think that there comes a point in mot people’s lives when they have discovered what it takes to live a good story, whether it is too late or not.

And I think that the more you put yourself out in the world and the more you face situations that require tough decision making, the quicker you will make that realization, and therefore, the better chance you have at living a great life as opposed to just a good life.

And I think that I have discovered what it takes for me because I have put myself out there and challenged every fiber of my being. I have faced situations where I had temptations to fall and didn’t fall. And I have faced situations where I fell. But I learned that the more I was in those situations and the more I made the correct decisions in those situations – the more I was able to look back with pride on my reactions to tough situations – the better person I became and the more I learned about life.

This semester, even though I had to learn the hard way, I learned the privilege I have to live life. It is something that is sacred, and I do not want to screw it up because this is my only opportunity to live a great story and the only opportunity I have to improve the overall story of human existence in some way, no matter how small.

And so I am challenging myself from here on out to follow through.

To not waste this life that I have been so graciously given.

To make the most of every opportunity.

And to not settle for just good, but to push myself to be great.

And I hope and pray that you do the same.