Quit Tithing. Give!

Fact check: is tithing ever commanded for New Testament believers? The answer is “no.” Does that mean tithing is bad? No, it just means we are not morally obligated to give 10% of our income to church. 

Now some of you are thinking, “Darn heretic doesn’t want people to give to God.” Others may be thinking, “Thank goodness, now I can keep that 10% for myself.” Well, if you are thinking either of those things (which you may very well not be), you’re wrong. See, tithing is easy. Almost anyone can survive on 90% of their normal income, and for most people that 10% will not impact much of anything. God, though, never goes the no-impact route. Jesus’ callings always change lives.

See, consider that whenever Jesus spoke on the Old Testament law, He didn’t simply set it aside. Instead, He exposed the true meaning and raised the bar even higher than the letter of the law, while at the same time preventing the legalistic abuse of the law. This is what He does with tithing. No longer are you (merely) required to give precisely 10% of your income to God, for that is far too simplistic, but you are commanded to give radically, generously, and self-sacrificially. The law said, “Give this percent.” Grace says, “Give until you can’t give anymore.” 

Need proof? Let’s look at the New Testament on giving.

Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Matthew 5:42

Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Luke 13:33-34

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

Acts 20:33

And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.

2 Corinthians 8:1-5

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:7

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Hebrews 13:16

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

James 2:14-16

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?

These texts, combined with other teachings such as not “looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Phil. 2:4), show us that Jesus intends for us to be radically generous. As believers, we ought to sacrifice our goods and money for three things (as I find in the texts):

  • The functioning of the church
  • The welfare of fellow believers
  • Ministry to unbelievers

In most cases, we give 10% which mostly accomplishes the first purpose. Yet our call is much higher. Give, give, give, so that no fellow believers will be in need, and so that the needs of those outside can be met towards their salvation and the glory of the transforming Kingdom of God. It takes more than 10% to do that, so just give. Don’t worry about the numbers. Give all that you can. If you can’t live without every last 10%, give whatever you can afford, and if you really can’t afford to give anything, seek the aid of your church so that they can be blessed by ministering to you through giving. After all, “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” Oh, and does all this mean you should never spend money on your own desires? Far from it! Money is like all other blessings in life: to be enjoyed gratefully by you, used in ministry for others, and dedicated to glorify and serve God. So glorify God!

Stop Thinking Like a Gnostic

You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.

C. S. Lewis

Or not. The above quote was supposedly said by C. S. Lewis, one of our favorite theologians of the modern age. The sentiment is echoed all over the place in Christianity. People complain about their bodies and long for the day that they will be free of them in Heaven. When people sin, they excuse or minimize their sin by saying that they didn’t mean to do something, but their passions or instincts got the best of them. People who struggle with body image are always reassured that the body doesn’t matter, but what’s inside counts. The promoted idea is clear: your body is not really you, just a temporary shell. Your soul is the real you, and you may even be better off without a body.

This is not Biblical.

They say that your body is not really you, just a temporary shell. Your soul is the real you, and you may even be better off without a body.

While I could go on for a long time on why this is wrong, I’ll focus on two points: Gnosticism and resurrection. First off, such a strict division of body/soul does not come from the Bible, but from the ancient heresy of Gnosticism. The Gnostics were a cult who came from the early church. They believed many problematic doctrines, but one of their core distinctives was their view of the physical and the spiritual, or the material and the immaterial. Matter and flesh, they believed, came from an inferior, perhaps evil, creator, whereas spirit and soul came from the true God. For this reason the body was seen as at best irrelevant and at worst an evil obstacle to salvation. The spirit, on the other hand, was considered the true and good self by which salvation could be attained through enlightenment. The difference between this Gnostic view and the “you are a soul and have a body” view is mostly only semantics.

The problems with this approach are numerous. For one, this kind of thinking is what led to the heresy that Jesus was not completely human, or only had the appearance of a body. Yet John calls them deceivers who “do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh” or (as the NLT puts it) “deny that Jesus Christ came in a real body” (2 John 1:7). Jesus was God made flesh. Another problem is that this leads to one of two major moral errors in Gnosticism. On one hand, some felt that if the body was irrelevant to salvation, then we can do with it anything we please and not defile ourselves. Others, however, thought that if the body is so much less than spirit, then we should deprive and ignore our bodies, practicing strict asceticism at best or self-mutilation at worst. Yet these conclusions, as wrong as they are, follow rather naturally from such a deficient view of the body.

The difference between this Gnostic view and the “you are a soul and have a body” view is mostly only semantics.

The other main problem with the view that the body is secondary to the soul is resurrection. See, the resurrection is the hope of Christianity. Because Jesus died, but was raised to life everlasting, we also can be sure that we who trust in Him will be raised as well. This is not a mere spiritual restoration: it is the renewal and resurrection of our physical bodies. Paul explained well the importance of this. When there were some in the Corinthian church denying that we will be resurrected, Paul declared that if there is no resurrection, then Christ was not raised, and if Christ was not raised we are doomed and lost in our sins. This shows that the resurrection of the body, which is supposedly just a container for the soul, is core to Christianity. And if the body’s resurrection is core to Christianity, then the body cannot be dismissed as “merely” anything. The beginning of the new creation in eternity will be the resurrection of the body, after which we live physically on a renewed creation forever.

There is one more issue I would like to raise about the importance of the body to human nature. When Jesus became a man, He took on a body, lived in a body, and died in a body. In fact, the death of Jesus’ physical body is the event which sealed our redemption. If the body is not essential to human nature, then Jesus could have incarnated without a body and done His mission in spirit. That Jesus took on flesh to become a human means that we need flesh to be human. In fact, Paul himself says as much when He writes of the hope of the resurrection body. He says that while we are in “this tent” (our mortal bodies suffering from the curse) we groan and are burdened, for we do not want to be “unclothed” (without a body) but be clothed with a “heavenly dwelling” (a resurrection body). For the problem with our bodies now is not that they are flesh, but that they are mortal and suffer the curse. Yet human nature is meant for a body, one which is immortal and free from sin. This is what is coming.

If the body is not essential to human nature, then Jesus could have incarnated without a body and done His mission in spirit.

Now I realize there are some who would object on the basis of the war between the spirit and the flesh. After all, Paul says this: “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live” (Rom. 8:13). Doesn’t this mean that your physical body is corrupt and that your spirit/soul is pure? Not really. For the acts of the flesh are “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like” (Gal. 5:19-21). While many of these are body with the body, they are all rooted in the heart, and some of these only take place within. Thus the flesh as Paul speaks of it against the Spirit is not the human body. What the flesh actually means is debatable, but it doesn’t mean human body by itself.

To conclude, let’s drop the Gnostic silliness. You are a body and a soul. Your body without your soul is dead, and your soul without your body is unclothed. God made us to be both. We cannot ignore the body, but must let our body and soul serve as instruments with which to glorify God. For we will be raised forever, to live bodily with Christ.

Oh, by the way, it is a myth that C. S. Lewis said the above quote. Thankfully.

Don’t Joke about Chuck Norris…Except a Little

  • Chuck Norris once sneezed while on the Atlantic. The result was Hurrican Katrina.
  • Chuck Norris buys his cereal at Home Depot.
  • A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, Chuck Norris made his power available psychically. The Jedi called this the Force.
  • Thor’s hammer was forged by Chuck Norris.
  • Chuck Norris frisks airport security.
  • Chuck Norris can strangle you with a cordless phone.
  • The original plan for Hiroshima and Nagasaki was Chuck Norris. The President decided to go the humane route.
  • Crop circles are Chuck Norris’ preschool art projects.
  • The devil once sold his soul to Chuck Norris.
  • Chuck Norris invented texting while he was driving.
  • Chuck Norris can do a wheelie on a unicycle.
  • Chuck Norris gives Life lemons and lemons make him lemonade.
  • Chuck Norris can use Flash on an iPad.
  • Chuck Norris once tapped Captain America’s shield to get a feel for it. It shattered into 365 billion pieces.
  • Chuck Norris fools April.
  • Chuck Norris can text on a landline.
  • Chuck Norris beats rock, paper, and scissors.
  • Chuck Norrs can win the 4-minute-mile in 3 minutes. Underwater.
  • Chuck Norris once took the Cinnamon Challenge with a pound of cinnamon. The cinnamon coughed up blood and died.
  • TNT was originally developed to cure Chuck Norris’ indigestion.
  • Chuck Norris uses a lawnmower to shave.
  • Chuck Norris puts his pants on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us. Then only difference: then he kills people.
  • Santa asks Chuck Norris for presents. He gets death.
  • The Coke secret ingredient is Chuck Norris’ approval.
  • Chuck Norris can flush the Super Bowl.
  • Chuck Norris once entered a maze, and the maze got lost.

I Invite You to Speak (Please?)

If you have not noticed, at the top of my blog is a link that says “Friendly Discussion.” If you hover over it, you will find a handful of different categories. I have created these pages so that people can talk. If you have thoughts, questions, debates, or anything else, you can post them on these discussion pages. Unfortunately, they have not received any attention so far. This saddens me.  🙁 So I implore you: if you have anything at all to say about any of the topics I have (“General Discussion,” “Christian Living,” “Theology and Apologetics,” “TV, Music, and Media Mayhem,” or “Silliness”), then post away and start a discussion! I would love to hear your thoughts. If you don’t speak, I will lose my will to live and for this reason eventually leave my wife a widow.

Why Does the NIV Leave Out Verses?

Almost everyone in church has heard this at some point. Someone who refuses to use anything but a KJV Bible has told you, “The NIV leaves out verses, taking away from God’s Word!” Your immediate response may have been scoffing, but perhaps later during a sermon or Bible study you noticed something like 1 John 5:7-8. For the KJV says:

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

But the NIV says:

For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.

“That’s odd,” you think. Then later maybe you were reading the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 and were confused to find this:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Matthew 6:9-13 (KJV)

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV)

“Oh my goodness!” you exclaim. “Crazy Brother Bob with the angry beard was right! The NIV does leave out verses. They’re changing God’s Word!”

Crazy Brother Bob with the angry beard was right!

Okay, you may not have responded so drastically when and if this happened to you, but perhaps it did raise some doubt and questions. And that makes sense. As Christians, the Bible is our authority. We believe it to be God-breathed and the source of all truth needed for salvation. So if a translation of the Bible is messed up, that is a serious issue for us. If a Bible as popular as the NIV is subtracting from the words of God, we have to confront it.

NIV leave out verses

Fortunately, this is not the situation. If you do not already know this, I’ll explain the basic history of the Bible and how this leads to our modern translations, and their differences.

The Bible is actually 66 books, and they were written over a period of at least 1,500 years by over 40 people from various walks of life. There were original authors, editors, and copyists who produced the first generation of each book of Scripture. For the Old Testament, these books were written mostly in the Hebrew language, with certain portions in Aramaic. The New Testament books were written in Greek. The final book of the Bible was written sometime before AD 100.

If a Bible as popular as the NIV is subtracting from the words of God, we have to confront it. Fortunately, this is not the situation.

The next stage in development was copying. The Old Testament books were consistently and carefully copied by Jewish scribes for millennia. The rules they placed on copying Scripture were so strict that two copies of Isaiah, each written around a thousand years apart, were found to be 95% identical, with the remaining 5% mostly consisting of spelling variations and slips of the pen. However, the entire Old Testament is not in the exact same situation. Every book has a different history of copying. The matter is complicated by the Septuagint (LXX for short), a family of Greek translations of the OT that appear about 200-300 years before Christ. Ancient Greek and Hebrew were radically different languages, and so the LXX shows several translation issues and others differences, including sometimes even entire verses or passages, from most Hebrew manuscripts.

Then there is the New Testament copying. This was very different from the process for the OT books. In the early church, distribution was essential. They were determined to spread the Gospels and the writings of the apostles to every church as quickly as possible. This is both helpful and detrimental in understanding the original NT texts. On one hand, the vast number of manuscripts gives us a solid foundation for determining what the NT books originally said. On the other hand, the rapid and urgent copying led to many copyist mistakes and variations between manuscripts, thus leaving us with the difficult task of figuring out which reading among manuscripts is original.

[The NT copyists] were determined to spread the Gospels and the writings of the apostles to every church as quickly as possible.

If what I just said doesn’t make immediate sense, start at the beginning. Say that Paul sent the Greek letter of Romans to the church at Rome, who then copied it and sent it to the other churches around. These churches in turn made more copies, and as time progressed more and more copies were made. At some point the original letter was lost or destroyed. Now, if you were to collect all of these copies, you would see that some have unintentional errors, some have intentional alterations, some have added notes, some are incomplete, and some are part of collections. Now, the majority of this variations (which are called “textual variants”) are simply matters of spelling or obvious slips of the pen. However, some are more prominent, such as phrases, verses, or even a couple of paragraphs.

This is the case with every book of the New Testament (and also with the Old Testament, but the details are very different). So to deal with this, we have what is called “textual criticism.” This is the work of finding out based on copies what the original texts of something said. For example, some texts with Romans 8:1 say this: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Others say, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Others include “who walk not according to the flesh” but do not include “but according to the Spirit.” So which reading did the original manuscript of Romans have? Well, this is where the science of textual criticism comes into play. Textual scholars analyze external evidence (age, number, quality, and origin of manuscripts) and internal evidence (context, author style, length of variants, etc.) to determine which reading is most likely the original. In the case of Romans 8:1, most scholars agree that the shorter reading (“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”) is the correct one.

Textual scholars analyze external evidence (age, number, quality, and origin of manuscripts) and internal evidence (context, author style, length of variants, etc.) to determine which reading is most likely the original.

This is where many of the differences between the KJV and the NIV emerge. See, the KJV was translated in the 1600s. At this time, the best Greek New Testament of the day was based on a handful of late manuscripts (that is, manuscripts which were copied over 1000 years after the NT was written). These represent most of the NT manuscripts around. These manuscripts are part of the Byzantine family, because they come mainly from the area surrounding Byzantium (now Istanbul). However, since then a number of other manuscripts have been found. These are much, much older (and so closer to when the NT was originally written), and are found mostly near the Egyptian city of Alexandria. These are therefore called Alexandrian texts. In general, Biblical scholars today believe that the Alexandrian manuscripts are more reliable, mainly due to their old age and (according to many) more likely readings. The NIV, then, is based mostly on reading from Alexandrian manuscripts, while the KJV is based mostly on readings from Byzantine manuscripts.

One of the major differences between the Byzantine and Alexandrian manuscripts is that Byzantine texts are usually longer than Alexandrian ones. This is the case, for example, in Romans 8:1. It is also the case in Matthew 6:13. In the case of 1 John 5:7-8, the KJV reading is only found in a couple of medieval manuscripts. Most of the time, when the Byzantine readings are longer than the Alexandrian readings, the scholars find the Alexandrian readings more likely to be correct. For this reason the NIV is sometimes “leaves out” verses or phrases compared to the KJV. However, since the Alexandrian manuscripts are more likely to represent the original text, it is more accurate to say that, where the KJV and NIV are different in this way, the KJV has extra content, verses and phrases that were at some point added to the text either by accident or on purpose. So the reality is that the NIV does not leave out verses so much as the KJV (or rather, the Greek texts from which the KJV New Testament is translated) adds verses.

One of the major differences between the Byzantine and Alexandrian manuscripts is that Byzantine texts are usually longer than Alexandrian ones. For this reason the NIV is sometimes “leaves out” verses or phrases compared to the KJV.

All this is not to say that either version is unreliable. While the KJV does often seem to have extra content, and in some places the NIV probably is wrong, none of the errors in either are very significant. In fact, overall the estimated reliability of our current constructions of the New Testament text is over 90%. That’s an A, folks. Most of the differences are minor (such as “Jesus Christ” instead of “Lord Jesus Christ” or “Bethany” instead of “Betharba”), and even the bigger ones (such as John 7:58-8:11 or Mark 16:9-20) do not affect any critical doctrines, or have much impact on any doctrine. So be assured that your Bible is reliable, whether KJV, NIV, HCSB, ESV, or NLT (by the way, all of the versions made since around 1900 are like the NIV in this regard). All of these and others represent the Scriptures God gave us faithfully. God has kept His words to us in a form pure enough to save and sanctify us, all for His glory. Amen!

Learn to Forget You Exist

God never demands as little from us as we are comfortable giving Him. We are always called beyond the normal and the natural to a higher life. The Biblical way of being human is especially challenging and especially rewarding. So what does God ask of us? Kill yourself. Forget you exist.

Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

Matthew 10:39

Jesus tells us that we find our lives by losing them, and that the way to lose our lives is to try to find them. But what does that even mean? How do we save our lives by losing them? How does finding our lives cause us to lose then? Well, let me bring up two more verses.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31

Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Philippians 2:3-4

Throughout Scripture, similar themes dominate ethics and instruction. The Sermon on the Mount repeatedly emphasizes denying your own glory, rights, and dispositions. But why? Is there virtue in not being happy? Does Jesus teach self-denial for self-denial’s sake? Of course not!

Jesus teaches love.

Love means forgetting yourself to embrace others.

Now I’ll back up and explain what I mean. Much has been written about love in Christian literature, but I would like to give a really basic definition of love for my purposes here: love is actively uniting your heart, mind, and will with another person. Time fails me to show the importance of unity to Christian life, or the deep connections between love and unity, whether philosophical or Biblical, but I will provide you with a list of references to peruse at your leisure (Eph. 4:4; John 13:34, 17:21-23; Rom. 14:17-19; 1 Cor. 1:10, 12:12, 12:13; 2 Cor. 13:11; Col. 3:13-15; 1 Thess. 5:13).

Love is actively uniting your heart, mind, and will with another person.

Instead of trying to summarize the vast Biblical support for my definition, I will give some basic examples on why this makes sense. When you love someone, their sorrow makes you sorrowful. Their joy gives you joy. You are concerned for their concerns and well-being. What they feel becomes what you feel, and what they think about becomes what you think about. So you find that you have unity of heart and mind. I believe this is a core element that makes love love.

Now, here is where I go back to my main point, namely that love means forgetting yourself to embrace others. See, if you’re busy feeling for others, thinking about others, and concerning yourself with others, something interesting happens. You disappear. Think about how many people you know who you care about at all. What if you loved them all for real, enough to make their feelings, thoughts, and concerns completely your own? While imagining this scenario is certainly difficult, one thing is certain: you would not be very worried about yourself.

If you’re busy feeling for others, thinking about others, and concerning yourself with others, you disappear.

See, most people have a problem. We either think too little of ourselves or too highly. Unfortunately, the solutions proposed by our culture (whether our secular culture or Christian culture) often miss the point. If you think too little of yourself, you are told to remember that you have worth, you are loved, you are beautiful, and you have a purpose. If you think too much of yourself, you are reminded that you are a sinner, you are not worthy of God’s grace, you are no better than anyone else, and you are puny compared to God.

Both of these approaches to fixing people’s self-image have one problem in common: they are concerned too much with self-image. The real solution is to stop thinking of ourselves. What Jesus taught—radical love—involves the (bear with my word choice) abolition of introspection. To put it another way, when we love people (and God) like Jesus tells us to love them, we will have no time or inclination to think very much about ourselves, whether good or bad thoughts. And the best part is that we won’t miss a moment of it. When we are loving so deeply, we will never stop and think, “You know, I wish I was focusing more on my feelings and needs instead of all the people I love. Then I would be happier.” If you forget you exist, you can fill your mind with the Kingdom of God, your family, and everything else that is worth thinking about.

We either think too little of ourselves or too highly. The real solution is to stop thinking of ourselves.

In fact, from this point we find the essence of authentic, Biblical self-denial. We are not giving up our own pleasures because that makes us more holy or more useful to God, but we forget about our own problems and concerns because our hearts and minds are set on the feelings and thoughts of God and other people. While on one hand this is a painful work which involves resisting the self, on the other hand this kind of life leads to more joy and freedom than before. Our self-denial as believers is not hostility toward self but leaving self on the back burner to joyfully fill our lives with God and others. For there is one truth we can know from all those who have lived long lives: happiness is never found in fixating on yourself, but found in living beyond yourself. So Christian self-denial even sets itself apart from the asceticism of other religions because it creates true joy, not just numbness, vague enlightenment, or escape from reality.

Now, having said all this, I must clarify that I do not mean we can do nothing we enjoy ourselves. It is most certainly right and good for us to have our own hobbies and passions. However, even in these, we are made to think of ourselves last, and love them, knowing that they also are God’s gifts to us. Do you like to read? Then read, and don’t worry about how good of a reader you are or whether you should read more or less. Do you have a passion for art? Then engage in it fully, losing yourself in the human creativity that God has gifted to us. Whatever you enjoy and whatever you do, be willing to deny yourself in pursuing it, because the good things of life are gifts of joy, ways God expresses Himself and His love to us. In denying ourselves even to pursue our passions, we find greater fulfillment because God has provided for us richly all things to enjoy. We just get in our own way! Every moment I spent thinking about me is a moment I could find greater fulfillment in by thinking of my wife, my God, or my hobbies. The same goes for you. If you forget you exist, even your hobbies will be more pleasurable.

Every moment I spent thinking about me is a moment I could find greater fulfillment in by thinking of my wife, my God, or my hobbies.

To conclude this all, remember that love, love as Jesus taught it, means finding ourselves outside of ourselves, first in God, second in other people, and finally in the things we enjoy. When we deny our tendency to self-center, we find greater joy, greater godliness, and greater life. So learn to forget you exist. Lose your existence in pursuing love for God, others, and passions. Once you’ve forgotten yourself, you won’t even know what you’re missing (because you really won’t be missing anything!).

Oh, and last of all, pray for me so that I can live like this too!

Yes, This Is A New Year’s Resolution Post

There are few things more expected from a blogger than some kind of post for a major holiday, including New Year’s. Also usually expected is a post about New Year’s resolutions, especially from people who blog about personal stuff.

Most people don’t follow through on most of their New Year’s resolutions. In fact, I’m pretty sure jokes abound about not making a resolution because you actually want to accomplish something. I have a theory, though. I think one of the main reasons that people don’t follow through is that they make their resolutions far too ambitious. It seems that most people resolve to fix all of/most of/the biggest of their life problems. That’s admirable, but such changes often take many years, or happen imperceptibly. So those kinds of resolutions rarely work out like people want.

This is why, this New Year’s, I’m making a really simple resolution: read. I’ve always enjoyed reading, and have always been somewhat of a reader. Lately, however, I have not been reading like I used to. I’ve let my electronics and laziness get in the way. This is a shame, because not only do I enjoy reading, but reading is good for me. It sharpens my mind, edifies my spirit, expands my knowledge, and engages my imagination. God has made me to read, and I thrive in living that out.

So my New Year’s resolution is to read more, read a bunch like I did in days gone by. In fact, I think I’ll start by reading through the whole Bible, as I saw suggested to reader-y types like me on The Gospel Coalition Blog. I pray God will use this to edify me and bind me nearer to Jesus. I think I’ll make my goal to finish by the end of January.

My advice to everyone else: if you want to make a New Year’s resolution, make it simple. Start with something basic, and pray God works with it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be spiritual. God owns your whole life. Choose any part to make better. I believe God blesses that.

Happy New Year’s!

Constrained by a Bow Tie: The Bondage of Eccentricity

Last Sunday I did something I haven’t done (at least willingly) in months. Many months. To anyone else, what I did would be incredibly insignificant and likely unnoticeable by quite a number of people. To me, though, I was making quite a step.

Last Sunday I went to church without my bow tie.

If you don’t know me, you may well be thinking, “So what?” (Or, perhaps, “Wait, you usually wear a bow tie to church? *cough* loser *cough*”) If you do know me, you still may be thinking at least, “What’s the big deal?”

Continue reading “Constrained by a Bow Tie: The Bondage of Eccentricity”

Who Thought It: Is the Doctor Still a Dark Hero?

I originally wrote this for Doctor Who TV, and it has yet to be published (update: was published on 12/7/13 here), but I decided to post it here as well.

One of the most common criticisms I’ve heard about the (IMHO) utterly fantastic Day of the Doctor was that, in undoing the Doctor’s destruction of Gallifrey, the Doctor has ceased to be a complex dark hero. He is now, according to some, simply a hero, the kind of fairytales.

Is this charge true? Has Moffat singlehandedly undermined or destroyed the darkness of our beloved Doctor in a mere 90 minutes? If you didn’t catch on from my wording, I am skeptical. Here are three major reasons why I feel the Doctor is still dark enough to be a deep, complex hero.

Continue reading “Who Thought It: Is the Doctor Still a Dark Hero?”