Showing posts from May, 2006

Devotional Thoughts: The Third Mary

Looking at Matthew 26:6-13. This is the story of a woman who anoints Jesus with a beautiful jar of expensive perfume.

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The incident is also described in Mark 14:1-9. Luke 7:36-50 also has an anointing but some of the details are different such that commentators believe that passage described a separate story. John 12:1-8 also relates this beautiful picture of devotion and provides the additional details that Martha served, Lazarus was reclining at the table and that Mary is the one anointing Jesus. Martha, Lazarus and Mary are brothers and sisters and good friends of Jesus.

Mary, the mother of Jesus is well known throughout the Christian era. Mary Magdalene has been getting a lot of publicity because of the Da Vinci Code. In traditional Christian circles, Mary Magdalene is recognized as the first person to see the resurrected Jesus. The third Mary, the one in this episode, is Mary of Bethany, the sister to Martha and Lazarus.

Devotional Thoughts: Why would anyone want to kill Jesus?

Am looking at Matthew 26:1-5 this morning.

Jesus had concluded his teaching on the "end of the world as we know it."

He returns to a theme he has touched on a few times before: his expectation of death on the Cross.

The leaders of the existing power structure knew it was risky to try to kill Jesus. Since it was the time of the Passover, Jerusalem's population may have swelled to five times is normal levels. Jesus was gaining quite a bit of attention. The crowds might object if they tried to take Jesus in public. Thus, they planned to seize Jesus quietly.

We often have a picture of Jesus in our heads of Jesus with the little children and some little lambs giving out encouraging sayings. I'm sure that is a real picture of Jesus but obviously not a complete picture. I mean, if that was all Jesus was, why would anyone want to kill him? Why kill a harmless nice guy who is nice to the little kids?

The quest for the "authentic" Jesus has to face at least two i…

Politics: Soaking the rich may feel good but ...

Saw this item over at Virginia Postrel's blog.

She cites a report about how the richest in California pay A LOT of taxes: the top 3% of income earners accounted for 60% of the taxes.

It may feel good to "soak the rich" but this dependence on this relatively small group of tax payers means tax receipts can rise and fall a great deal on their fortunes.

Postrel also made these observation about taxation upon illegal immigrants. Sales taxes and property taxes can capture some of the economic activity of illegal immigrants. Income taxes do not generate revenue from illegal immigrants as they are paid "off the books" and don't get taxed.

Devotional Thoughts: 2nd Coming - just do it

Looking at Matthew 25:31-46, the famous separation of the sheep and goat passage. To read about amazing sheep and goats, check out this page from the San Diego Zoo.

When does this happen?

Verses 31-33 says, But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

I suppose the preterist might say that this has already happened or is happening now. They would say that proclamation of the Gospel is causing a separation among the peoples of the earth. Those who have taken a hold of the Gospel in their lives are being transformed into those righteous ones which are commended.

If there are any preterists reading this blog out there, I'd be curious to hear if that is how you view this passage.

On the other hand, this event could be a futur…

Culture: The Da Vinci Code and Sexual Mysticism

The movie is out and it pulled in $77 million in its opening weekend.

Tonight, I'll be heading off to hear a talk that tackles a different angle on the Da Vinci Code phenomena.

Here is an excerpt describing the lecture:Indian philosopher Dr. Vishal Mangalwadi will suggest that Dan Brown’s blockbuster novel, The Da Vinci Code, has the potential to turn the eccentric fringe movement of sexual mysticism into a mainstream phenomenon. Brown condemns the biblical story of the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and in its place offers the "APPLE" of secret "knowledge" (Gnosis) to help men and women realize their divinity through sexual union. Many teachers and gurus in the last century have promoted sex as a path to mystical Enlightenment. But The Da Vinci Code teaches "sacred sex" not on the basis of Pagan, Hindu, or Buddhist philosophies but by invoking the authority of Jesus - albeit a Gnostic rather than Jewish Jesus. Many Christians have responde…

Devotional Thoughts: 2nd Coming - what did you do while I was gone?

Am looking at Matthew 25:14-30.

This passage is very familiar to anyone who attended First Chinese Baptist Church and heard the teachings of Dr. Timothy Lin.

I attended that church during my formative early years in my Christian journey and this passage is seared into my being.

Here are some of the key things in this passage that have stuck in my mind:

(1) Some people might complain, well, the master only gave that guy one talent and the others got two or five! See Matthew 25:15.

The New American Standard Bible translation is a very literal translation so the notion of a talent is not meaningful to us today.

According to the New International Version footnotes, a talent is worth $1000. The English Standard Version says a talent is twenty years worth of wages! This is a clear case of how our distance historically and culturally from the events comes into play in understanding the Bible.

One thing is clear though, it isn't a small sum of money like a few bucks. It was a sum sufficien…

LA Scene: 2006 LA Times Festival of Books at UCLA

A few weeks ago, went to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at UCLA.

I was in the stand-by line to hear "Current Interest: The American Identity" with moderator Ronald Brownstein and authors Caitlin Flanagan, Chris Hedges and Joe Klein. Unfortunately, the room became full and a whole line of us were turned away.

I wandered around the various vendor booths. There were the big tents for Borders and Barnes and Noble. There were many smaller setups for various specialty book shops. I browsed in the Traveler's Bookcase so I could daydream about far away places I could visit someday.

In order to make it to the next panel discussion, I went to the stand-by line 30 minutes before the program, "Unearthing the Roots of Religion" with moderator Cathleen Falsani and authors Jonathan Kirsch, Jack Miles and Elaine Pagels.

Falsani is the religion writer for the Chicago Sun Times is on the right. Kirsch is to her right. At the center of the table is Miles. On the far …

Non-profit of the month: May 2006 - Avenues Pregnancy Center

Its hard work. Its necessary work. Its good work.

In many cases, the news of pregnancy or the possibility of pregnancy is received with great joy and culmination of hope and the result of a loving relationship.

However, there are some circumstances when such news induces anxiety and despair.

Where can a woman go in that situation?

Some women opt for abortion.

However, some women sense that that might not be the right choice.

Avenues Pregnancy Clinics and other groups like them offer pregnancy counseling, community support and service referrals, pregnancy and ultra sound tests, maternity and infant clothes, diapers and nursery items and abstinence and post-abortion counseling.

The Pro-Life movement's quiet heros are the staffs and volunteers of organizations like Avenues.

I have participated in Walk for Life fund raisers over the years and for this month's NGO of the month, I encourage you to join me in supporting a group in your area that has as its mission to help women conside…

Culture: Da Vinci Code Reality Check

Heard Mark D. Roberts on the radio talking about the Da Vinci Code. He was clear and concise on separating fact from fiction. Be sure to check out his web page where he addresses a lot of the frequently asked questions about the book and soon to be released movie.

So far it sounds like the film is not going over too well with the Cannes Film Festival audience.

Devotional Thoughts: 2nd Coming - later than we expect?

Taking a look at Matthew 25:1-13 tonight. It is the story of the Ten Bridesmaids.

The bridesmaids await the arrival of the bridegroom but he is delayed and it is getting dark. 5 run out of oil for their lamps. When they dash off to the store to get more, the bridegroom arrives and these 5 get shut out of the wedding banquet.

Jesus finished the story with, "So stay awake and be prepared, because you do not know the day or hour of my return."

In the previous story, the master returned sooner than the servant expected. In this story, the bridegroom arrives later than the bridesmaids expected.

How then should we be living?

How am I going to be that faithful and sensible servant? How am I going to be like the wise bridesmaids with the extra oil ready for the long haul?

I'll be the first to confess to being an inconsistent Christian.

There are days when I think, indeed, I know God is there. I'm ready to follow Jesus today and strive to be a blessing to everyone I meet! Ca…

Sports: What to do with tickets you can't use

Recently, had some tickets to an Angel game. However, due to circumstances, we couldn't go.

I decided to contact the United States Marine Corp base at Camp Pendleton.

They said they occasionally receive tickets.

Thus, I got the address and sent them off!

If you have extra tickets, please consider donating them to the nearest military base.

For Camp Pendleton contact ...
Community Relations at 760-725-5569
Consolidate Public Affairs
Box 555019
Marine Corp Base
Camp Pendleton, CA 92055

Devotional Thoughts: 2nd Coming - sooner than we expect?

Its been too long since revisiting my blog journey through Matthew.

This morning am looking at Matthew 24:43-51.

The first metaphor (verse 43-44) Jesus uses is a homeowner who get burglarized. The point is simple: you don't know when a burglar is coming. If you did you would have the police waiting!

The second metaphor is a master who leaves his estate in the care of his servants (verse 45). The servant in charge could do a good job (verse 46) and he would be rewarded (verse 47). Likewise, the servant could decide to take advantage of the situation and oppress those under his care (verses 48-49) because he thinks, "My master won't be back for a while." The master shows up sooner than he expects and judgment falls on the evil servant (verses 50-51).

I suppose the passage could be about the fact we don't know when we will die and thus face judgment before God. The other possibility is that it refers to an "end times" moment when Jesus comes back and …

LA Dining: Cafe Angelino

My latest is up over at LAFB.

Cafe Angelino
8735 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048

I love their ULTRA thin crust style pizzas!

@ the movies: United 93

Saw United 93.

I'd say the theatre was 75% full.

The film is supported by many of the family members of the flight. Some of the air traffic control personnel played themselves in the film. Because of these facts and the straightforward recreation of those fateful few hours, I'm recommending this film.

Certainly for sensitive individuals, caution is strongly advised. As for children seeing the film, parents need to exercise judgment based on what they know about their child. My advisory would be 13 and up. I suspect this film could be a starting point for some serious conversations between fathers and sons about the meaning of courage: it isn't fearlessness but the willingness to do what is right despite fear.

Will people go see the film in large numbers?

It isn't the kind of movie you will likely see more than once and some people will not see it just like some people refused to see Saving Private Ryan or Blackhawk Down because of the violence and understandably s…