Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ciao! Come va?

I'm in Florence, Italy. Our summer project team arrived here on Tuesday at 2pm (Florence time, which is 8am Eastern Standard Time) after an all-night flight from Boston.

This is my third time here. Life is often ironic. In High School I was a Latin student for four years. Latin students had the privilege of going to Italy Junior or Senior year, but when my turn came I didn't go. In a class of about 25, I was one of only two students who stayed home. As I remember, I didn't really have the money and my parents weren't keen on the idea. Honestly, I don't even remember being upset about it. Now, almost a decade later, I'm leading summer missions trips to this place. Who would have thought? Certainly not me. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

It's Still Thursday If I Haven't Gone to Bed Yet

When I started this blog, I committed myself to updating it every Thursday. Two weeks later and already I almost broke that commitment. Earlier today I convinced myself it was okay to skip this week's post because of Milan Summer Project prep, but at 11:30 tonight I changed my mind. This blog is supposed to force me to write, and if I stop following-through this early on it will only become easier to skip other weeks in the future. I don't want that to happen.

So here it is. A post.

(Why am I speaking like I have an audience? Only Jenni reads this.)

Following-through on commitments reminds me of the story of Jephthah (Judges 10). Jephthah led the Israelites in battle against the Ammonites. Before he went to battle, he made a vow to God, "If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD's, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering."

So Jephthah goes to battle and devastates the Ammonites. Sweet, sweet victory. Then he goes home and his only daughter greets him with dancing and tambourine-playing. Uht-oh.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

If Calvinism is True, Was I Predestined Not to Like It?

Recently, a friend of mine was telling me about an experience he had on a summer missions trip with a ministry for college students. As was standard procedure for the ministry, students were sent out in pairs to start conversations with people and to share the Gospel. During one of these excursions, my friend happened to be paired with a student who was very passionate about Reformed theology. After the two shared an overview of the Gospel with a man who decided not to embrace it, the Reformed student said to my friend, “I don't know how you can have peace right now if you don't believe in the sovereignty of God. I have peace because I know God is in control of that man's salvation, not me. If God wants him to get saved, he'll get saved.

If I had heard a statement like that several years ago, I might have nodded my head and smiled in passive (albeit halfhearted) agreement, but I just can't do that anymore. At the risk of being divisive, I'm going to come out of the closet and admit it: I don't like Reformed theology. 

Of course, I should be careful to define what I mean. I actually agree with the vast majority of Reformed theology. It's just the parts that get the most press that I don't like. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

For Those Who Talk About "The Gospel"

Is the “good news” that... 

(1) Somehow, because of what Jesus has done, we now have the power we need to live righteously?


(2) Somehow, because of what Jesus has done, our inability to live righteously no longer condemns us?

Or is it these two things in equal combination? Perhaps something else entirely?

What do you think?

It Actually Isn't About Rob Bell. Yet.

My name is Ryan and I am a Christian.

What do I mean when I say “I am a Christian”?

Well, for starters, it means I believe certain things. It means I believe there is a God, and by “God” I mean an intelligent, personal, uncreated being who willed all things – both material and spiritual – into existence. I believe that approximately 2000 years ago, this God came to earth in the form of a Middle-Eastern Jewish carpenter. In the language I speak, he is known as Jesus. I believe he performed miraculous healings, taught in baffling parables, claimed divine authority, and was the fulfillment of centuries-old prophesies regarding a King and a Kingdom. I believe he was crucified to death, laid up in a tomb for several days, and then miraculously raised to life.