Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Fun of Faith

Thursday night, Glen and I are going to an event at Biola University, "Can a Christian Be a Darwinist? A Theistic Evolution Debate." I can't wait! I love this kind of thing. This presents a great opportunity for me to think through what I know of God. I like big questions. I LOVE big questions. It makes my faith walk alive and joyful. Rob Bell, a pastor in Michigan, paints a great word picture (actually two) that present my perspective.

Rob Bell expresses some awesome thoughts on faith in Velvet Elvis: For some, faith "is a wall of bricks. Each of the core doctrines for [some] is like an individual brick that stacks on top of the others. If you pull one out, the whole wall starts to crumble. It appears quite strong and rigid, but if you begin to rethink or discuss even one brick, the whole thing is in danger...Remove one, and the whole wall wobbles...I affirm the historic Christian faith, which includes the virgin birth and the Trinity and the inspiration of the Bible and much more. I'm a part of it, and I want to pass it on to the next generation. I believe that God created everything and that Jesus is Lord and that God has plans to restore everything...the brick wall becomes the sum total of beliefs, and God becomes as big as the wall. But God is bigger than any wall. God is bigger than any religion. God is bigger than any worldview. God is bigger than the Christian faith."

He uses word pictures of building a brick wall or jumping on a trampoline to compare different perspectives on personal faith in God. The trampoline mat represents God and all that He is. The springs represent our doctrinal belief and understanding of God as humans. "Springs hold up the mat -- but they aren't God." A spring helps "us understand, but they are a means and not an end. We take them seriously, and at the same time we keep them in proper perspective." We can take a spring out and look closely at it, talk about it, probe it, and ask about it. The spring bends and moves. A spring is connected to the mat in a strong way with plenty of room to move and adjust. Those springs bring us to a "fuller, deeper, richer, understanding of the mysterious being who is God."

The point that I enjoy is that faith is more of a trampoline than a wall of bricks for me. As Rob Bell says, " brickworld: you spend a lot of time talking about how right you are. Which of course leads to how wrong everybody else is. Which then leads to defending the wall. It struck me...that you rarely defend a trampoline. You invite people to jump on it with you...I am far more interested in jumping than I am in arguing about whose trampoline is better. You rarely defend things you love. You enjoy them and tell others about them and invite others to enjoy them with you."

So I know longer avoid the questions. I hug them. For me to truly follow a living God, I need questions and my faith has room for them. I need to look closely at "springs" any chance I get. A question reminds me I don't have all the answers. Questions open the door for me to see beyond myself and focus on a big God. There is more to know. Central to a healthy faith for me is the gift of questioning God. I am polite, of course. Permission to question grants me freedom. And joy in my faith follows. I love the "I was just wondering, God..." moments in my journey. It keeps me thoughtful of the mystery of God.

Rob Bell continues..."a trampoline only works if you take your feet off the firm, stable ground and jump into the air and let the trampoline propel you upward...and so we jump and we invite others to jump with us, to live the way of Jesus and see what happens...[faith] becomes less and less about talking, and more and more about the experience we are actually having."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Another bridge contest

I built and broke another bridge this year. It was very similar to last year's but was a bit crooked to start. It was .45 oz and held 20 lbs before breaking, to give me 5th place and a $25 gift card to Best Buy, among other things.

From Bridge Contest 09

Cycling anyone?

I just read Armstrong's comments about Landis returning and riding in the Tour of California. It will be a couple of interesting days when the Tour starts in Sacramento and Davis. I am excited about participating. Seeing Levi, Floyd, and Lance all racing here in California is a real treat. Anyone else what to be here for the first two days let Beth know.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Visit to The Master's College

After attending Whittier High School for more than 3 years now, this whole Christian college thing has been quite refreshing. How is it that I get a personal email from someone in the admissions team from a college that only has my basic information because of an online college search site? Oh yeah -- that's because they don't have 55,000 freshman applicants each year like UCLA. How is it that I get an email from another Christian college who just wanted to ask me how I'm doing and say, "I just wanted you to know that we were thinking about you today"?

At the Christian college fair at Whittier Christian High School, I was treated to a very pleasant and personal conversation with an admissions representative from The Master's College who had remembered my name from an email I sent to one of his coworkers. (And that when Biola's desk was swarming with prospective students.) This same person telephoned me every time he received something from me in the admissions process, such as a transcript or application (and sent letters in the mail anyway), and told me when my acceptance letter had been mailed. He even recognized me when I arrived on campus this Monday for "Mondays @ Master's".

Really the only thing I didn't like about the visit was the beginning. After signing in, collecting name tags, a campus map, other papers, and 2 books written by the TMC staff, we headed for chapel, which was in the gym. (What? Chapel in the gym? At Whittier Christian School we had the church auditorium to use, and at Whittier High, we use the lavish 2400-seat Vic Lopez Auditorium quite flippantly!) Okay, I guess the gym is an okay place for chapel. But I don't easily excuse music in a chapel service that is so loud that my ears demand the earplugs that are in my pocket.

Next was the class visitation, so I sat in on Introduction to Hebrew 2. We had a campus tour to look at buildings and learn what goes on inside of them. By this point, I had noticed that there were many bikes all around campus, mostly on bike racks. One staff member told me that there was a main place everyone keeps their bikes, but those with the more expensive bikes keep theirs in the dorms. The lunch I enjoyed is catered by Bon App├ętit in the cafeteria. After lunch, Mom and I listened to TMC students talk about why TMC is far superior to the other schools they've attended (one girl said this is her third year of college and her third college). That brief sentence didn't properly describe it, but by this point, there was no question in my mind that I wanted to attend The Master's College beginning Fall 2009. (And I'm not talking about the bike sentence.)

I observed unmatched kindness to us visitors by individual students, who saw to it that we knew where we were going and weren't lost. There were others who, upon seeing our name tags, asked us where we were from, and other such questions that you know I am hardly wont to ask others. I did not observe super-people; I observed people filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18).

That is what I meant by my comment about TMC's score being not perfect, but exceedingly high.

Next, I need to graduate, and maybe apply for 3rd-party scholarships that demand essays. Of course I don't know how to write anything between 3 sentences and 5 pages in length, so that might be a challenge.

Aidan is walking

Aidan is walking all over our house. Makes his visits more of an adventure.

So How Was the Visit, Daniel?

Daniel...I believe you went to Master's College today? Or maybe not until the end of January. Anyway, once you've visited the campus, please blog your impressions and what your next steps might be. Thanks.