Just when you think you've heard it all and seen it all someone comes up with this novel idea:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=QOyLtjEGupc

What can I say exept, Jesus wept” (Joh 11.35).  I hope you did not lose too may neurons from watching that toxic trash!  The real “hell” here is enduring this 2 minute+ video!  And as if the video were not atrocious enough, there's a book by the same title to go with it (it's on sale @ amazon.com; it has one review, 1/5, the person wanted to give it a “0” but the scale only goes down to “1”).  

Well, my main concern is not so much with the foolishness of this message as with this message making Christians—and Evanglicals in particular—look foolish.  I wish that the folks who put out this stuff would identify themselves with some other deity.  Scripture teaches that in heaven there will be no “...cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and...liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21.8).  Surely, “raving spiritual lunatics” are implied in that list somewhere.

My chief concern, however, is with my Christian brothers and sisters in denominational communities which use this video and accompanying book as a cause to refute the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.  Now, if you're not familiar with this phrase it means “Scripture Alone.”  It was one of the five principle tenets of the 16th century Reformation.  It simply means that Scripture alone is authoritative.  In other words, some folks—singularly or in groups (e.g., councils and synods)—may have some very good and wise things to say, but only the writings from Scripture are the word of God.

For instance, I am a fan of Father Ernesto Obregón, the Orthodox priest who, like me, is from Cuba.  In a recent blog titled “A somewhat logical result of the Protestant Reformation” he includes this video and argues that,

Videos, such as the one above, are helpful in reinforcing the necessity of accepting the witness of the Early Church Fathers. When one rejects the Early Church Fathers but tries to retain Holy Scripture, one runs into an untenable set of discrepancies that can only be handled either by denial or by solutions such as the one above.

With all due respect to Father Obregón, I would argue that nut jobs who pervert the Scriptures can just as easily pervert the writings of the Church Fathers and the rendered opinions of the Church Councils (most of whom/which I agree with, by the way).  Therefore the issue is not so much an inherent danger in personal interpretations of Scriptures as it is nut jobs.

Scripture interprets Scripture,” argued John Calvin, for “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3.16), and also “no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation” (2 Peter 1.20). 

In other words, those who believe in Christ and that the Scriptures are the word of God, and who sincerely and carefully study it will consistently get it right.  Nut jobs, on the other hand, will always get it wrong.

God bless!

CalvinCuban

 

 

 

 

 

I loved watching The Bucket List back in 2007 when it was released.  Directed by Rob Reiner, written by Justin Zackham, and starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, it tells the story (fictional) of two terminally ill men as they set out on an adventure to fulfill a wish list of things they want to do before they “kick the bucket” (hence the phrase, “bucket list”).

Well, my “bucket list” is short and generic and can be summed up in the first half of Philippians 1.21, “For to me, to live is Christ…”  I want to serve Christ by serving my immediate family, my church family, and my humanity family for the remainder of my days on earth (I’ll blog about this at a later time).  My “post-bucket list” (i.e., stuff I want to do after I die) can be summed up with the second half of the same verse, “…and to die is gain.”  Imagine Revelation 21.1-8 revealed before our eyes for the first time!  What an inexpressible joy that will be!  I am especially exhilarated by v. 4, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes.There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  I am moved.

So, I have made a post-bucket list.  And whereas we are limited by time and resources to fulfill our bucket list, our time and resources will be limitless to fulfill our post-bucket list.  You see, eternity is forever (duh!), meaning that you can spend an eternity doing anything you desire, and then another eternity doing something else, and another, and another…and still have an eternity of eternities left over for an infinite number of other things.  And as far as resources are concerned, well, let us remember that God is omnipotent and that we are His heirs.  And without sin, it will all be good!  What an awesome God we have!

I said I have a post-bucket list—only ten items, for now (it is sure to grow infinitely large once I’m there).  And since I will be able to “parallel process” in heaven, it should not be a problem to do more than one thing at a time (actually, we should be able to do an infinite number of things at the same time). 

So, here’s my post-bucket list:

  1. Worship God 24/7 (yes, yes, I know there’s no time in eternity—it’s just a number for the sake of reference), free of any distraction and compulsion to sin;
  2. Listen to God 24/7 as He tell me of His love for me, that is to say, how He redeemed me in Christ, sanctified me by His Holy Spirit, and resurrected me on the last day by the same awesome power by which He resurrected His own Son; as it says in Ephesians 2.7, “…in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus”;
  3. Review all of history (every detail, every instance, in every place, across all of time) and fully understand why God willed what He willed;
  4. Related to #3 above, learn of all the details of Creation, and which one of the numerous creation theories (e.g., literal six-day, historical creation, theistic evolution) was closest to reality;
  5. Converse with everyone there (given my propensity to be loquacious, that alone may require several eternities), including the angels; in particular, I’m curious to find out which incognito angel/s I’ve entertained (see Hebrews 13.2);
  6. Study every planet, sun, and every other heavenly body there ever was, every life form there ever was, and every subatomic particle there ever was;
  7. Derive (or discover, rather) a “theory of everything,” that is come up with the elusive theory that explains the interaction between gravity, electromagnetism, weak forces, and strong forces, and to include general relativity and quantum mechanics;
  8. Memorize the Bible in every tongue ever spoken, every translation ever made, and every transcription of the original Hebrew and Greek ever transcribed;
  9. Prove that Calvin was right, and then tell everyone else there—for all eternity—that, “I told you so!”; and
  10. Find—and be able to recite from memory with 100% accuracy—the entire set of prime numbers along with all the digits of pi and e.

And that’s just the warm-up act, of course.

 

God bless!

CalvinCuban

Happy Valentine's Day to my church family!  I had intended to write about the historical St. Valentine or some historical romance, you know, typical Reinaldo stuff.  But then I received an email from John Hopler, Executive Director of Great Commission Churches (GCC, the association of churches of which we are a part), which was sent to all GCC pastors.  In it there was a link to a video which illustrates the true meaning of selfless love better than I could ever say it.  Anyway, here it is,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=GH5n9lVZcM4

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.  May the love of Christ fill us with faith, hope, and yes, a great deal of love (1 Corinthians 13.13).

God bless!

CalvinCuban

 

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=KamHen9sTtU

That was a flash mob in the city of Sabadell, Spain, in the region of Catalonia (borders France on the Mediterranean side) playing the 4thmovement of Beethoven's 9thSymphony.  It's a tune most folks are familiar with.

I love Beethoven’s 9th Symphony—all four movements but especially the 4thmovement (in keeping with our abbreviated culture, I’ll henceforth refer to it as “4MB9”).  It is a moving (no pun intended—this time) piece of music, downright exhilarating, often exhausting to listen to.  Some folks mistake the 4MB9 as a Christian work, even a hymn.  This is not true, however; although he wrote some Christian music under commission by the Catholic Church, Beethoven was only nominally Catholic, seldom attending the mass, and not particularly religious. 

Beethoven’s 9th Symphony was actually a tribute to “Ode to Joy” (“Ode an die Freude”), a German poem written in 1785 by the German poet, playwright and historian Friedrich Schiller, enthusiastically celebrating the brotherhood and unity of all mankind.  The poem is set to music during the 4th movement (as seen in the video).  It is a humanistic poem, not anti-Christian in and of itself, but proclaiming and exulting man in his own right.  Most folks are more jamiliar with Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee, a poem written by Henry van Dyke in 1907 with the intention of musically setting it to the famous “Ode to Joy melody of the 4MB9.  You might say it Chritianized the humanistic  “Ode to Joy.

So, what does this have to do with Psalm 8?  Plenty, actually.  The astounding beauty of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, coupled with the fact that Beethoven wrote it while being totally deaf, reminds me of how God said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule…” (Genesis 1.26), what theologians refer to as imago Dei, the “image of God.”  And even if it’s not a Christian work, still, I think of how God the Creator gave man creative abilities, this too, is part of imago Dei.  Scripture speaks to this in numerous places, but nowhere clearer than in Psalm 8.

For the choir director; on the Gittith. A Psalm of David.
1O Lord, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth,
Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!
2From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength
Because of Your adversaries,
To make the enemy and the revengeful cease.
3When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
4What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
5Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!
6You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
7All sheep and oxen,
And also the beasts of the field,
8The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,
Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
9O Lord, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth!

Note that vv. 1 & 9 are the same.  This chiastic structure is meant to say that it’s all about the majesty—and glory—of God!  We were created to serve Him and to bring Him glory.  David looks up and marvels at the greatness of the heavens and then exclaims, “What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?”  Good question!  Why would God care so much for us?  But He does, exceedingly so.  So much so, in fact, that He created us imago Dei, and although we will never be God, we share some of His attributes, including the ability to create beautiful things.

Some say that Beethoven’s 9th Symphony is the greatest music ever written.  I disagree.  Yes, it’s great music, indeed, but greater still is Handel’s Messiah, which is most definitely Christian music.  It is based on passages from the King James Bible, so no one can argue it’s not “Scriptural.”  What is most amazing to me is that in 1741 at the age of 56 (twilight of life back then) Handel composed the entire oratorio in 24 days—all 53 pieces constituting nearly 3 hours of music.

 

In particular, I find the Hallelujah Chorus the most moving.  It is said that by the time he got around to writing the Hallelujah Chorus Handel looked up at the ceiling and, like Stephen in Act 7.56, “saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”  Whether that’s fact or hallucination I do not know.  What I do know is that this musical masterpiece is a glory to God.  Today, whenever the Hallelujah Chorus is performed everyone stands up, a practice which began in 1743 during the London premiere when King George II, so moved by the Hallelujah Chorus, stood.

The words, taken from Revelation 11.15 & 19.6, are simple.  Here they are (sans repetition):

Hallelujah!
For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
The kingdom of this world
Is become the kingdom of our Lord,
And of His Christ,
And He shall reign for ever and ever,
King of kings, and Lord of lords,
Hallelujah!

So, here’s another flash mob at a mall doing the Hallelujah Chorus.  Don’t forget to stand!

 

God bless!

CalvinCuban

 

 

In a time when companies are forced to warn us of the most obvious things in order to avoid—or lessen the judgment—of a lawsuit, I must say that nothing much surprises anymore. Take for instance the following warning labels:

  • Recycled flush water unsafe for drinking”– on a toilet at a public sports facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • This product not intended for use as a dental drill”– on an electric rotary tool.
  • Not intended for highway use”– on a 13-inch wheel on a wheelbarrow.
  • Do not use for drying pets”– in the manual for a microwave oven.
  • Caution: Remove infant before folding for storage”– on a portable stroller.
  • Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly”– on a child-sized Superman costume.
  • May be harmful if swallowed”– on a shipment of hammers.
  • Caution: Shoots rubber bands”– on a product called “Rubber Band Shooter.”
  • Warning! This is not underwear! Do not attempt to put in pants”– on the packaging for a wristwatch. (I must say that I find this one quite disturbing)
  • Caution: Hot beverages are hot!” – on a coffee cup.

This last one was the result of a lawsuit, “Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants” here in Albuqueque back in 1994.  The jury awarded the plaintiff $2.86 million for third-degree burns suffered in 1992 (she placed the cup of coffee between her legs in the car and the rest, as we say, is history.  Somewhat wisely, the judge reduced the amount to $640K and the matter was settled for, presumably, less than that amount.  This lawsuit is considered by many to be the most frivolous of all time—that is, until today.  Note the headlines:

Homeless man sues parents for “too little love

The story in The New York Post is of Bernard Anderson Bey, a homeless man, 32 years old, from Brooklyn, NY, who “…claims he never got enough affection or support from parents Vickie and Bernard Manley” and is suing them for $200,000.  Specifically, he is asking the court to force his parents to mortgage their home, buy a Domino Pizza franchise, and hire him and his five younger siblings.  A sister claims he is “crazy” and “a pathological liar.”  His father doesn’t claim him—at all (says he is his stepson, not his real son).  Sad.  This is so wrong on so many counts I don’t know where to begin!  Hopefully the jury in this case—assuming it gets to trial and is not summarily dismissed, as it should—will be stricken with a case of common sense.  You can check out the story @ http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/unloved_son_bid_for_cold_heart_49Qs0N4J1b9BmYLwcOoy3N?utm_medium=rss&utm_content=Local.

God bless!

CalvinCuban

PS: Both Mr. Bey and Mr. Manley should be sentenced to eating 12 large “everything” Domino’s pizzas (each) in a period of five minutes; that should cure Mr. Bey's appetite for pizza and afford Mr. Manley some bonding time with his son.  Yes, he is his real son; when he married his mother he became his dad, too.  Had he given him some fatherly love” perhaps the kid wouldn't have turned out so rotten.