Showing posts from December, 2015

New Year's Resolvings

I am not one for new years resolutions, partly due to the fact that I can never keep them. But 2016 will bring some pretty big changes in my life, ones that I will have to prepare for immediately. Below are three broad goals that I hope to achieve in the new year: 1. Get organized. I have a mild case of "Pack-Ratism" where I naturally accumulate crap. I'll clean my room on Monday only to observe it on Friday flooding with: clothes, mail, books, and half scribbled papers scattered about. Let's face it, I am a slob. And I have been fine with being a slob thus far in my life (its just been me), but increased responsibility coming in the new year (and a wife) may require me to change some bad habits in this department. What I need to do is create a system where the moment something touches my floor or my desk, I immediately place it either in a filing cabinet or in the fire place. Floor must be clear and desk must be clear. Getting organized will also require a scrupulous…

Christian Gullibility

I confess that I am often a skeptical Christian. Sometimes I see people “accept Christ into their heart” or make a public profession of faith, and I doubt their sincerity. Sometimes I hear young children say that they just became a Christian and I feel hesitant to celebrate their new found salvation. Did they really understand? Sometimes I mentally prepare for the worst long term outcomes, thinking to myself: "Come back next year, and we will see if you really meant it." This may be due to the fact that I have seen many kids “profess faith” only to fall away later. I have clapped my hands when people were baptized, only to later see them leave the church and make a mess of their life. Is it not merited that we should all have a bit of skeptical caution before we celebrate quick professions and sudden heart change? In my doubts and cynicism, I think of what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:6, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always …

Runner's Cadence

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” –Hebrews 12:1-2
I hate running. I ran track in High School, and since I was not fast enough to be a sprinter, I ran distance.
Sprints are the easy races. All that is required is an explosive burst of energy and the race is over before it began. Quick and painless. Distance running is conversely long and painful, and tends to be a lot more boring than the sprinter’s events.It involves not only endurance, training, and mental toughness—but something called a runner’s cadence.
One of my coaches told me in preparation for an 800 meter race to “sing your song.” What he meant by that was for me to find a…

Falling Off the Horse with Trump

As a general rule I like to avoid politics on my blog, but today I made an exception.

Martin Luther once said that human nature is like a man who fell off his horse on the right side; and upon getting back on the horse he then proceeded to fall off again on the left. This might better be known as overcorrection or over-compensation. We mess up "big time" on one extreme and then violently turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction while confirming the same destructive result in the process. Human nature tends to extremes.

The problem with overcorrecting is that: In both situations you fall off your horse. And this is the mistake many Conservative Republicans are about to make with Donald Trump.
I am as tired as anyone with post modern America's love affair with this "tolerance" nonsense. Millennials (my generation) in particular have grown into a generation of hyper-sensitive toddlers who cry whenever anyone opposes our foolishness. If someone dares speak of…

My “Force Awakens” review *With Spoilers*

My “Force Awakens” review *With Spoilers*

As a traditionalist wary of changing the beautiful past, I was skeptical going into theater to see Star Wars The Force Awakens last night. Having been burned before (I still have not picked up the pieces from that animated Hobbit prequel to my beloved Lord of the Rings classic) it is understandable that I would be critical when change comes to great things of the past.

Though I was never as invested in Star Wars as I was with Lord of the Rings, I was still invested. Star Wars is after all a legendary series with light sabers, lasers, space travel, and eastern religion. Who would not like that? Exactly. Everyone likes Star Wars and I am no exception to everyone.

But it was more than the “newness” that made me hesitant for the much anticipated film. George Lucas had stepped down and Disney had stepped in—not maybe my prescribed recipe for success. The cherished characters had now become really old, which always brings challenges to any resurrected …

Book in Review: Dead Wake

Dead Wake is a sad story brilliantly recounted by Eric Larson of the sinking of the Lusitania, released on the hundred year anniversary of the tragedy. The book reads well throughout and really picks up steam at about the half way mark. In "Dead Wake" Larson lets the accounts of people who were there do the telling of the story, keeping his narration fairly minimal. This breaths life into an account that could easily have been a dry narrative.

Larson does a great job of allowing the reader to get emotionally connected to the story. I felt the excitement of the passengers as they boarded the great steamer. I felt the terror of the mothers once the torpedo struck. I felt animosity towards the contradictory nature of the U-Boat Captain Schwieger. I even felt a degree of confusion regarding the British lackadaisical response to the Lusitania entering a zone that they were assured from intelligence had the U-20. Was a conspiracy a foot to draw the USA into the war? No one knows th…

Re-Imgaining Legacy

In a transient world, we chase the permanent. A craving for lasting significance is rooted in every human's heart. We know we will not be here long, so we desire to leave a legacy. We want to be remembered.
Which is why I was surprised by the statement Abby Wambach made upon retiring. Wambach retired just a few days ago, and in the recently released Gatorade advertisement (watch here), the former women's soccer star said: "Forget me." 
Not the usual: "cherish the golden moments," or "remember the heights I took us." Simply "Forget me."   
To me and my culture's ears this sounds strange, and rightly so. "Forget me" goes against the self preserving fiber of our beings. We know all too well those former athletes that incessantly harken back to the "good ole' days" when they "changed the game." Worn down ex-players and celebrities, like broken records, repetitively tout their memories and statistics, desper…

Will you go too?

“After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, ‘do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” -- John 6:66-69

This passage in John 6 is a defining point in Jesus’s ministry. Thousands upon thousands were flocking to the controversial Rabi. The ever-massing crowds that thronged about his feet were enamored with His miracles: water into wine, the healing of a lame man, and most recently feeding the 5,000. The people had been enjoying the ride, relishing the show, and even getting some free bread along the way.

It was all going great, until Jesus started talking about feeding on human flesh. It is true. Claiming to be the "Bread of Life," Jesus said, "Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.&qu…

The Dangerous Case of the Cool Christian

“Cool” is a cultural construct—and a relatively amorphous one at that. The reason my mom will not let my dad where white socks with sandals is because the requirements of “cool” fluctuate rapidly over time (though perhaps socks with sandals were never cool to begin with). Different cultures and subcultures always have some coolness standard; and though ever changing, society determines what is cool and what is not.
The “Cool Christian” is not a new phenomenon. Though he or she can come in all shapes and sizes the Cool Christian is always relevant one. Relevant is something that is “appropriate to the current time, period, or circumstances; of contemporary interest.” This modern and relevant Christian: knows the world, talks like the world, and immeres himself in the latest trends of the world. He wears the latest non mainstream clothing with his signature haircut—which, if he so desires, can be paired with chic dark rimmed glasses and a meticulously manicured beard. Generally talented…

The Plural Me

This marriage thing is going to be hard. My whole life I have lived thinking about me--making decisions based on me. I do ministries because I am gifted to do them. I like to keep a quieter profile because I do not like to tell everyone about me all the time. I engage in activities that I enjoy for no other reason than because I enjoy doing them. This has been how Daniel Harris has lived for the last 23 years. The singular self-- and it has been a pretty good ride.
But that is all changing soon, and it is hard. I am getting married to a girl that I love very much, and she is a little different than me (which is a good thing). She has a lot of hair. She laughs a lot and laughs loudly. She likes to tell stories about her day. She loves people, adores children, and dislikes animals. She likes to dance and she likes to have fun—and I think she enjoys embarrassing me in the process. She likes to be active. She likes to be in the game. Did I mention that she is also really pretty?
She is goin…

Book in Review: Theology of the Reformers

This is a fabulous work from Timothy George. Theology of the Reformers is clear, easy to read, and incredibly scholarly. George overviews the beliefs of five reformers: Luther, Zwingly, Calvin, Simons, and Tyndale--a daunting task given the multitudes of volumes manufactured by them collectively. Nevertheless George is succinct and summarizes each individual brilliantly.

Many today blame the reformation for shattering the universal church of Christ into innumerable factions. Like broken shards of glass, each denomination is severed from the whole and sharp to the touch. This is no doubt an unintended consequence of the reformation. Luther and Zwingly divided over the Eucharist. Calvin detested the Anabaptist schism. And what was originally intended as a correction of the church (from Luther) turned into a full split.

Timothy George however addresses the misconception that the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages was one perfectly unified body. Curialism (for complete Papal authority), Con…

Memento Mori

In his book, Conviction to Lead, Dr. Al Mohler writes about a strange artifact that sits on his writing desk. "A realistic model of a human skull." Why would the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary have a year-round Halloween decoration on his desk you ask? Mohler says the following: "If you look at some of the most historic portraits in the historic tradition, you will see a skull in the painting. This was known as memento mori, the memory of death, which was intended to motivate the subject of the painting to make the most of the time given to him...It is a constant reminder of mortality as essential to the human condition, and an impetus to be aware that every passing day removes one tick from the column marked Future and adds to the column marked past." Many of us do not like to think all that much about death. In the West we are blessed primarily with good health and a life of considerable ease. With an expected life span around 78, we do not…

Beholding with Wonder

Do you remember counting down the days before Christmas when you were a kid? It felt as if nothing could come any slower. Every morning before going on the bus, I remember looking at the gifts in different sizes and shapes, trying to imagine what could possibly be beneath the wrappings. The school days were long in December. The Christmas season was full of anticipation and our lives full of wonder.

Wonder is a precious thing. It is hard to find and once it is found it is hard to keep. As the years pass by, traditions and gifts lose their appeal. Mature minds no longer feel the need to see the world with wide eyes. We tell ourselves that Christmas has come before and will always be back next year. What was once sacred is now commonplace—and that is a real shame. Christmas is not the only occasion where this happens. I ran across this quote in Ronald Bainton’s biography of Martin Luther Here I Stand. Bainton paraphrases Luther’s words: “The trouble with Erasmus is that he is not stupefie…

Seeking the Face of God

This past Monday in my church's young adult "Awaken" Bible Study I was reminded about a subtle but very important truth. The study was over John 6, where Jesus famously feeds the 5,000 by multiplying a boy's paper bag lunch. An incredible miracle was accomplished and the crowd was blessed; But later in the passage we discover that the crowds were coming to Jesus for all the wrong reasons.
In John 6:26 Jesus responds to the crowds earnestness: "Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill." The people were not coming to Jesus because of who he was or what his message proclaimed. They were coming to him in the hopes that they would receive more bread! "Great miracle yesterday, Jesus, could you do it again today?"
In the following verse Jesus tells the crowd, "Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man…

Become Today

When I was in college, I sat down with one of my mentors to talk about my future. I was a senior at the time and, though I was not sure what I was going to do with my life then, (not that much has changed since) I was pretty sure about the man I wanted to become. I wanted to grow in discipline and grow in boldness. I wanted to be someone who was not characterized by the fear of man, but by his convictions.

We all have ambitions and things we desire to become. Sometimes I picture myself--I don’t know, twenty years in the future--as a man who has finally arrived. A man who is bold for the gospel and disciplined in his walk. Someone who has long been freed from the laziness, apathy, and youthful lusts. Though definitely unrealistic, I am sure that you can all relate with me about sharing idealistic dreams of the future.
That is when my mentor told me: "Circumstances will never change who you are. You must become today the man you want to be tomorrow."
Sometimes we think, "On…

Christian Responsibility vs. Christian Suffering

Guns. Guns for everyone or no guns at all? This is the hot button issue at the moment and I see Christians on both sides of the fence. The increasingly frequent mass shootings continue to fan the flames of political debate, but have taken me down a different strand of thinking: Christian civic responsibility vs. Christian suffering.
As Christians we are to be lovers of justice. We are to stand up for the weak and the needy. Micah 6:8 could not say it more succinctly: "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Jesus says in Matthew 22:39 that after loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind--the greatest commandment is--to "Love your neighbor as yourself." This sets the stage for what I will call Christian civic responsibility. As Christians we are called to look after our neighbor, and to not look the other way when evil comes. So in light of t…