The 99.

December 29, 2012 Leave a comment

I’ve learned that not all porn stars are abused and violated and destroyed by their time in the industry. There is a 1% at the top consisting of super stars. These stars have some control of what they do and who they do it with. However there seems to be a necessary 99% to support the elite 1. I’ve heard people refer to this 1% to justify the 99. It’s almost like saying a certain 3rd world country is devastatingly poor while some one responds in argument against such a claim pointing to a government official that exploits the people and is rich. “No, see this guy is from wherever and he’s got plenty cash!” WAKE UP!

Bill Margold said in a documentary, “What we give them in the adult entertainment industry for a brief shiny moment is immortality, validation and credibility.”
Prior to making that statement he refers to them as “overage juvenile delinquents in what I refer to as the play-den of the damned-which is the adult entertainment industry.”

Margold, unfortunately is referring not to the 99 percent, but to the 1. Porn is a scary place.

I want to analyze what the industry gives to the overage juvenile delinquents. for a brief moment, immortality.
immortality is forever. There is no brief immortality. brief immortality is merely a delayed death. He’s talking about some false sense of invincibility and control. That is not the case. It is not immortality that porn offers ‘them’. Instead they are offered reproach, at every level, from the scripted fiction to the treatment off camera to the lifestyle outside of work. Every level is a manipulation of the emotions of both men and women seen in porn that provides a surface level of, at best, acceptance. At worst: isolation; in truth: violation and destruction. I don’t want to be dark or scary, I only want to tell the truth.

For a brief moment, Validation & Credibility.
Again I must say, brief validation & credibility is only prolonged reproach.
Later in the same documentary Margold says, “No matter how sanctified they are they are still seen as whores, and it’s getting worse and worse.” Also, Nina Harley, who is in the porn star hall of fame and is still active in porn says, “Christianity says, “I love you, I forgive you, come home now and I will not push you out… I don’t shame you. I love you. You’re welcome here”- Sign me up!” While Harley herself has not “signed up” with Christianity for such validation, she makes a strong point. What then is truly validating: being seen as a whore or being loved? I also do not want the power of this argument to be dispelled in the mind of any anti-Christian reader, and so I wish to add that Harley’s comment of the validation Christianity offers highlights the absence of such validation from the adult entertainment industry. Christianity offers these things where porn not only fails to offer, but is fundamentally incapable.

Again I don’t want to seem dark, scary or violent. I purposefully do not post a lot of things about the porn industry so as to not be condemning. Often the more racy comments are quotes from people still active in the industry. However, I do want to be honest.

So now we come to the first step to ending the abuse of porn: offering alternatives. Most men and women in porn are there because there is a profound lack of meaningful alternatives concerning income. Most of them get out of the business because in porn there is a profound lack of any other edification or sustainacnce that the industry offers. While our culture might not be able, or willing, to just give money away to at risk men and women, we are able to make them feel valuable- with or without a dollar. That’s the first step. First we offer edification that porn cannot. Value porn ‘talent’ as human beings more than just a pretty face, large rack, and big penis. Value them as human beings. That is one thing I really have enjoied about activist groups and documentaries about porn. The activist groups have a real sense of caring for the people involved in porn, and the documentaries I have seen have depicted them as people. If pornstar wishes to give their money to charity I cannot say if it is morally right or wrong for the charity to accept. However, I can say that the pornstar will not feel like a valued or even accepted member of society. Why then would they leave porn where they are accepted? …just a thought.

Next we need specifically moral institutions to stop being assholes. I’ve heard it said that for every negative comment someone recieves it takes 7 positive comments for them to be emotionally unaffected by the negative one. I doubt that is an exact science, but the idea does warrant some a moment of reflection if not merit. For every asshole fanatic with a picket sign that says whatever demeaning thing about porn and the people involved there needs to be 7 fanatics edifying them as people.

While writing this I think there’s maybe some action that needs to take place before hand so that any of the aforementioned ideas are possible. People need to be seen as people. When I see my dad I don’t think ‘teacher!’ When I see my cousin I don’t think ‘minister’. When I see my best friend I don’t think ‘musician’. Maybe when we see a porn actor we shouldn’t think ‘porn’. Clarity: professions are essential to the goings on of people. Clarity: people can change professions and still be people. In the end our hearts need to change. For the Christians out there you need to see sin as defeated on the cross and men and women are no longer bound by sin. Induldge me, if you would in the following parable. There was once a family in prisoned for generations for a terrible crime. The offense was so ancient that no one remembered through the generations what it was, though there was no question that it was trecherous. There was boy born in this prison state who’s father was born in the prison and who’s father before him was born in the prison. The boy knew no other wolrd. All of life was sleeping uncomfortable on the floor- though he would not descibe it as such for he knew not of comfort. All day he worked hard in the prison doing many laborous tasks- but he did not know it was hard work for he never experienced ease or rest. The few hours he was not working or sleeping were spent in a small room barred and separated- but he did not know separation because he had never experienced tongetherness. His stomach longed for food, and groaned thoughout the day for just a bite- but he did not know he was hungary for he had never been full. Oppression was normality. One day the prison was no longer able to function and was closed. All the cells were opened and no guards were there to hold the prisoners any longer. The oppression was ended and all were free to leave. The boy confused and unable to fathom a life outside of the prison was found months after the prison had closed staying in his cell. He slept on the same uncomfortable stone floor, worked the same long hours, and ate the same small portions. When asked why he did not leave and enjoy his freedom he responded feebly, for he had only known the basic speech to communicate to the guards in compliance with their orders, “I sleep, I work, I eat. What is freedom?”
There is freedom. Everytime you see someone in sin what you see is a freed child of God that has not left the prison. Instead of screaming hatred at them perhaps we are to show them the open door, the meaning of it, and explain the love of God to them. Perhaps we are not meant to hate the isolated for being isolated, but rather show them togetherness. Maybe I’m just full of feel good words and idealism. I like to think there’s some truth in what has been written. Let me know your thoughts, I promise you, my mind is malleable.

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The Disciples Became Apostles (pt II)

December 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Back in July I wrote a blog post titled The Disciples Became Apostles. Since then I have studied this verse with a few friends, and recently a friend told me a specific vision dealing with this verse. I there’s more to the story than my original post, and rightly so, as this blog is a journey of the heart and mind of God of which the end I have not arrived.
Let’s see the text again, this time in the ESV:

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews,Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” John 20:19-23

Jesus is cool. I think he’s the only guy that could have disciples following him with high expectations, die on a cross leaving them scared poop-less and then come back and start saying weird stuff that seems to contradict what he’s been telling them for the last 3 years and somehow still have followers 2,000 years later. When I studied this out with Seth we came to a pretty cool conclusion. While writing this I’ll try to work a different angle on the same material. Please be patient if I’m redundant.
Jesus imparts the Holy Spirit to his disciples in verse 22. This is important to remember when reading verse 23. Often times we separate Jesus’ teachings and try to make sense of each one when really they work together to achieve a bigger truth than can be conveyed with one teaching. I’m thinking specifically of parables, but the same is true for everything else, including this verse. When Jesus says “recieve the Holy Spirit” and then says “if you…” The “you” he’s speaking to is one full of the Holy Spirit. This means that when full of the Holy Spirit (divine discernment) one has authority over reconciliation.
What should also be noted is that forgiveness is contional. A good question is what is the condition for forgiveness. I can try to answer, and probably will soon, but I will for the sake of this post say that if the Holy Spirit is working within a person, the divine discernment of the Spiritual will reveal the state of the soul of the person in question.
I would like to reference Young’s literal translation, again: “if of any ye may loose the sins, they are loosed to them; if of any ye may retain, they have been retained.” In my experience reading a tricky verse in a literal translation in sentence structure and words I am not well versed in helps me to understand the meaning of the scripture. Reading the Young’s translation for me, emphasizes the sin as being forgiven or not forgiven and not the person. My commentary would read like this: “If of any ye may loose the sins, the sins are loosed to them; if of any ye may retain the sins, the sins are retained.” I’m not quite sure how this is significant but I feel that it is. Perhaps it separates the sins from the person, that they sins are not the person- though they have been retained. It makes the person redeemable, even though the sins are irredeemable.

In conclusion, as much as from The Disciples Became Apostles pt 1 I realized that being ‘sent’ by Jesus meant carrying the weight of His message, and the responsibility of being a good steward of the gospel thereby making forgiveness from Jesus alone and only extended to the world though the apostles, I have now realized that being ‘sent’ with the Holy Spirit places all the more responsibility on the apostle to be a good stewared of the gospel, and the responsibility of forgiving resting the divine Spirit of God. I think I just wrote a runon that rivals Paul.
Thanks for reading, share your thoughts.

Categories: Uncategorized

Snoop Lion?

November 29, 2012 Leave a comment

So I was excited when I heard about Snoop Doggy Dogg doing Regee. I am a big fan of Regee music and love to see the way other music styles are influenced by Reggae. Snoop of course has been influenced by Regae from the beginning, but now I it was promised an unwitheld transformation of Snoop’s style into the Regae genre. There are other things I was not excited about. One of them was Snoop’s claim of reincarnation (using Bob Marley as a marketing technique). But I did not know how genuine this transformation was, and is, so I’ve done some digging.

First off, Snoop Dogg has not changed. During an pressconference with Tiff about the new documentary “Reincarnated” many times Snoop denies that he has changed. No where in my search have I see any kind of transformation. He is unappologetic about his morally/spiritually questionable lifestyle. “Gangbanging”, producing porn, general shitty attitudes and the like are unaccounted for in his transformation. He actually afirmed many times “I am still the Dogg” and “I will continue playing my older hits” and talked about turning on and off this new Snoop Lion. In conclusion the reincarnation of Bob Marley in Snoop and his transformatin into Snoop Lion is a marketing technique and a good one, but ultimately a lie. It’s a lot of cute word play to say he’s now making Regae music, and that is all. There is no new person or new anything.

So why am I posting this? I believe in the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. Jah is the Rafatari name for God encompasing the Trinity. The name accepts the God of Christianity, also adds to it, and apparently changes that God to something other than the God of Christianity. The God of Christianity truly changes and transforms people. When Snoop Lion was asked something to the affect of how this change of music affected him, he basically said this change was given to him that he was not making a change by his own will. He also says that transitioning to Reggae is doing what he wants. He cites his “want” as motivation for everything he’s doing recently. It seems from these statements that the only thing fueling his change is hiw own will. I have to question this. This is not the work of the Spirit. The Spirit does work when we are in agreement with him, but we would be different. Our wants become different when met with the transforming power of God. Snoop calls his change something given to him and also a descision. When the Spirit works it changes us, and those changed decide to follow that change. Snoop had it the other way around, so it seems. That he decided to make this change and then he was given it. Moreover when we are faced with the transformative work of the Spirit we do not continue to live the life we used to. We die to the self and live a new life in the Spirit no long doing the things of the flesh (our former lives).

I want to know what you think about these things. What do you think about Snoop Lion’s move into Regae music? The Reincarnation of Bob Marley? What do you think of Snoop Dogg’s past? Should he apoplogize for the former sins in light of his reincarnation/transformation? Do you think that being Snoop Lion means an end of Snoop Dogg? And what do you think of the transformative work of the Holy Spirit?

Aug 28 – Sept 8

October 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Two months have passed since I’ve blogged. As I told you in my last post I have embarked upon a media fast, along with a ton of other endeavors tied to the same discipleship program. I have one week left of this fast, but am clearly being a bit leanient with myself. I don’t really care too much to explain the complexities of the fast or the fruit that has come from it, in any specific way, at this time, but rather wish to share with you my various journaling ideas in a rapid fire procession. I will write through the month of September. Near the end did not journal as frequently, and thusly will end after 9-8-12. Enjoy.

8-28-12
“Lord, let me listen to you,. Open my ears to your word. Put a desaire in me to seek your voice, to hunger and thirst for your counsel… I feel defeated and naked like a city without wallsGrant me grace and protection. lead me not into temptation while I am vulnerable. I know my weakness. Send prophets to my  side to aide me. Send angles to tend to me lord. Wrap me in your arms. God, put me in time out like a child; turn me from the harm of my own ways.”

8-29-12 [finding my finances lacking and rent bing due in 4 days]
“Lord, teach me to rely on you. I don’t know why I’m asking for that when you’ve thrust it upon me. I suppose I should ask you to help me find success in it. God I want only you. You’re the only thing that matters to me…
“God lead me to jagged rocky places that through me you make smooth stones. God, I want your peace. Increase Lord. Increase in peace. Let our peace captivate those near me.”

9-4-12 [In reflection of an endeavor to praise the Lord with every word]
My endeavor to make every word praise is better called a struggle… I’m reminded of Proverbs 28:1 “The wicked flees though no one chases him but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” It’s not a struggle if I’m failing without even trying. The converse saying about the righteous does not comment on the result of boldness. Is victory assumed or is the mere fact of being bold a victory in itself?”

9-5-12
“Lord you escaped me today. My mind left you as I began work and did not return until just now. Let every word be praise, make every word worship. Let ever my tongue be silent but to call on the name of the Lord, let my Spirit be still but to glorify your name.

9-6-12
“God I am angry. I’m so pissed off… Is this righteous anger? Is this from you?… Lord, let me both a voice for the voiceless and and ear to them. I have a fear that the homless of Denton will feel rejected, but won’t they be? I fear that Christians who say, “you may not have free____” because someone is homless will destory the homless person’s ability to have freedom in You [God]. I fear that satan is winning [a specific Christian event]. I fear that Christians will say “we’ve done enough” or “some, is that not enought?” I fear we will learn to give, until we face sacrifices… Ifear living an Acts lifestyle will be discouraged. I fear that my friend will go hungry and be bitter in the face of rejection… I fear that worship will be cold and forced and uncomfortable. I fear that teachings will become stale. I fear that the Way will be sugarcoated to make it easy to swallow and easy to follow. I fear that the paths “to be made level” will instead be circumvented. I fear that God will say, “Away from me, I never knew you” I fear that Peter’s writings will perish, and the gospels, and the rest of the New Testament, then the Old. I fear the bible will not be the basis of our lives, nor the the guuide to our discission making. I fear that one “free ___ if…” will scar. Just one. I fear. Is not Love with limits merely a different form of hate?”

9-8-12
“God, I grow weary. I lose heart. My attention span is short, my fervor is weak. My emotions are absent. I simmply am not overwhelmed by love. I miss you… I long for you. My heart began to yearn just now, all of my body aches and my very being needs you! All of a sudden I begin to hunger for you and I am fed! The simple ache for you is also the remedy. It is a consciousness of you. Ah! You fulfill in the very need of fulfillment thank you! Please, stay and enjoy this crappy cup of coffee with me.”

Categories: Prayer

Today I’m chea…

August 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Today I’m cheating on the media fast. I’ve embarked on an 18 week journey through the Well House of Prayer that is an 18 week discipleship training. There are a few commitments that must be kept, some daily, or nearly daily. First we meet every Saturday morning at 8am for some teaching. Also, we are fasting from media- internet (with exceptions) non-christian music, movies, video games, that kind of thing. We also are journaling. And one of my favorite things is exercising our faith. We do this by practicing the presence of God. What that means is to be aware of his presence, because he is here, and focus on our relationship to him. There are different ways we do this, we walk with him, speak with him constantly. Sometimes in faith God holds my hand. It’s in the simple gestures that communicate so much affection that I run into God.

Anyway, the point of this post is not to talk about ADI, arise discipleship intensive, but to talk about my summer. This is now the second summer I have not been at Thousand Oaks Youth Camp- if it even still goes by that name. I want to go back. Not for any camp session, those were fun, but just to be there and watch the sunrise like I have so many times before and thank God for the love he showed me there, and thank him for how far he’s carried me. I think the winter of 2008, at the top of a particular hill looking out toward the sunrise on a terribly overcast day is the first time God spoke to me. Not the first time he communicated, but the first time he was direct, and clear. Or perhaps I should say it’s the first time I was listening.

The summer of 2010 was amazing. I got the opportunity to go to Colorado and serve the homeless there. I realize now that I didn’t do much for the homeless. How could I? And wether they were housed or not seems irrelevant now. What I did in Colorado was meet friends- people made in the image of God, and I saw them as they were in God’s eyes, or at least tried to. In Colorado I learned to follow the Spirit. I’d heard about that growing up in church, but we never really talked about it. I thought following Jesus and being guided by the Spirit was all about living a pious life. It’s not. NOT AT ALL! But I learned about just sitting and listening to God, and then doing. Being reckless and unreserved and willing at a moments notice to follow the impulse of the Spirit.

The week after Colorado I went to Thousand Oaks. I was the First Aid Coordinator’s Assistant. So pretty much I counted out and handed out pills, and helped anyone who got hurt. It was awesome. But I didn’t really have a lot to do. What I did was important, you know, can’t screw up some kids medication, but it didn’t require a massive amount of time like being a counselor would. So I spent time doing activities with the campers, and working in the Kitchen and reading the word, and praying out by the lake. And in those moments of prayer I pleaded to be led by the Spirit. In short, I was and learned some things that if I was willing to run recklessly out in the night and make myself present that I would have never learned. At once God strengthened my faith while man murdered it. I was crushed that week, but God drew me near to him and turned me into an intercessor before I even knew what an intercessor is. He also gave me an affection for the lake, taught me to forgive, and to be in reverence to him.

I suppose I write this to say I won’t get over Thousand Oaks. I don’t want to move on, and think it would be foolish to have any desire to. But, I’m somewhere else now. and it’s sweet. I’ve spent the entire summer between Highland Village and Denton, with only a short trip to San Angelo for my brother’s wedding. I feel good. I’m not closer to God than I’ve ever been before. It seems like that something people say after they experience something like Church Camp or a mission trip. I’m not. But I’m completely invested in God. I’m present, and he’s present. Lord, make us one.

Higgs Boson, “God Particle”, & The Bare Necessities

July 5, 2012 2 comments

Today the research from CERN’s Large Hadron Collider was announced to suggest the existence of the Higgs boson. It’s kind of difficult digging through all the articles online because the certainty of the boson to be the Higgs or not varies quite extremely. Some quotes from notable scientists say it is the Higgs others say it’s a boson and whether it’s the Higgs (or something very similar) isn’t certain. What I think is more important than what it is exactly or not is what the implications are for the advancing our understanding of the world around us and how that relates to the existence of God.When talking about theology and science I do not wish to defend

my god, necessarily, but rather attempt to reconcile our understanding of the natural world to the possibility of a God. This is mostly because followers of science tend to jump on new discoveries in biology, physics, astronomy (and whatever else they can) to say that a god(s) is no longer  necessary. These people however, also claim that God was no longer necessary after the microscope and also the telescope. If they truly believed that why would then claim that this new discovery is what proves the lack of necessity for a god(s)? Just look at the Facebook quote status and comments below:

I thank the Person who wrote the post for repeating what has been said for quite a long time. In that time I don’t think the influence of religion has gone extinct (though I know that’s not the way he phrased it). I am quite sure that in a few years the face of religion will be very similar to what it is today, and Christianity may be smaller or greater in number, but will be truer, whatever that means- quantum mechanics are quite naturally irrelevant to the existence of God.

Well, let’s get back on track with the Higgs boson. A boson is a subatomic particle, like quarks, gluons, photons, electrons… you know em’. There are two types of subatomic particles- fermions and bosons. The difference in definition, from my understanding is that bosons have whole integer spins and fermions have half-integer spins. The two groups differ in properties, but as I hardly understand I would suggest further reading for any information. What I can tell you is the Higgs boson is the name given to an idea that is a possible explanation for the existence of the clumping-together of particles. What the Higgs boson creates an invisible forcefield through which passing subatomic particles that would otherwise be massless gain mass. Necessary for atom formations and essentially all material beyond the subatomic level.

My Facebook friend as well as other seem to think this disproves -the necessity and therefore the existence of- God. My question is simple: why? This is a simple case of the straw-man argument I see science voyeurs repeat over and over. I have never heard any argument from a Christian or any other theist saying “God exists because the universe needs him to- how else would subatomic particles get together and create matter?” I certainly haven’t heard of any holy book or divinity making that claim. So why does the existence of the Higgins boson disprove anything about the existence of God?

There are a few other things I stumbled upon while doing some [light] research. I thought I’d share these unrelated thoughts.

“It is unclear that it is exactly the boson Higgs foresaw, which by bestowing mass on other matter helps explain the way the universe was ordered after the chaos of Big Bang” from this article.

Is this boson really what we think it is? Theories are based on evidence. This Theory sounds like it is based on what would be necessary to make another theory (the big bang) possible with evidence only to come later. That’s evidence based on theory, and the oposite of scientific method. Now I’m not critiquing the research or researchers or anything, I’m just saying what comes to mind. I am not a quantum physicist, so I’ll leave the big boy talk to the big boys. I do think it is alarming that the properties of this new boson are not yet known but many scientist don’t seem to think it could be anything other than the Higgs. I will be thoroughly unsuprised if it does not have the properties of the Higgs boson theoretical particle. Check out the wisdom of one of the researchers in the discovery of the new boson:

“We know it is a new boson. But we still have to prove definitively that it is the one that Higgs predicted.” Oliver Buchmueller, from the same article as above.

I stumbled across a very interesting bit of commentary between the facts in one article. It stuck out to me because I was researching with the intent of finding anything an actual scientist said about theology concerning the new boson. Instead I found something much more golden to work with:

“Confirmation of the Higgs boson or something very much like it would constitute a rendezvous with destiny for a generation of physicists who have believed in the boson for half a century without ever seeing it.” from this NY Times article.

I love the passion that men like Peter Higgs have. It’s a beautiful thing to read about them, and the hope of confirmation. But isn’t it funny that they “believed in the boson… without ever seeing it.” I find it odd that it’s completely okay for someone to believe in an arcane particle that is theorized only as a necessity to explain the aftermath of another theory of the possibility of some event within the history of the Universe (of course I am referring to the Big Bang Theory). All the while it is absurd in the eyes of some to believe in a deity for whatever reason.

So, what are your thoughts?

The Disciples became Apostles

July 1, 2012 5 comments

John 20:21-23 confuses me. But I also love it- that is until the last little bit. Do you ever read the bible saying “yes! Yes! YES!” and then you read the rest of the section and say “….” That’s my relationship to this little bit of Jesus’ teaching. Even as I’ve started studying it I find myself in the same cycle. The first two verses get me excited, but then verse 23 is still there tripping me up each time. Here’s the text from the NIV:

“21Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.'”

Okay let’s break this down verse by verse. 21 starts by saying ‘Peace be with you’  that could also be “The way of Salvation be with you” or, what I most prefer, “calm down”; there’s a lot of room for interpretation on that one. If you know the context of the story Jesus was just murdered and came back to life. He then went into a locked room where his old buddies were hiding for fear of their lives. What I usually do when I go visit my friends in hiding for fear of their lives is knock on the door and tell them who I am and come in only when invited. Jesus on the other hand just walks straight trough a locked door. Imagine the disciples and how scared they would be to see a 13th person in the room (I’m assuming Mary was among the 11- although I suppose it’s still only 12 because Thomas isn’t there yet). So naturally when they start screaming Jesus says “calm down”. What I think is more interesting is that John records Jesus saying “peace be with you” twice during that encounter, and once 5 verse later. Once when he first comes in, once here in verse 21 and once when Thomas joins the party eight days later.

Jesus sends them in this verse as well. This sending is the mark of apostleship. By sending them he gives them the authority of Jesus as messengers carrying their master’s message. That’s very important. Let’s put it this way if a guy named Gary Bobston comes up to me and says “you’re a great guitarist”, Then I would be flattered and shake his hand and be grateful. If Gary Bobston comes up to me and says, “I’ve been sent over here by Glen Hansard to say you’re a great guitarist” I would fall over and die from joy. That’s the power Jesus gives the disciples here and in John 17:18, and other places as well.

In verse 23 Jesus breathes on the disciples (most likely Mary as well). Can I be the one to say it? That’s weird. I usually don’t like it when people breathe on me. I find it discomforting and all together unpleasant. However, after I read Genesis 2:7 I get the giggles and a big ass smile on my face: “Then the Lord formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Here scholars all agree that this was Jesus’ symbolism for a new holy creation mirroring the first creation. What trips up the scholars, however is the implications of Jesus’ words that follow: “Receive the Holy Spirit.” This seems to contradict the baptism of the Holy Spirit they receive on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. I personally don’t think so. But merely disagreeing doesn’t mean anything.  So, I’ll share some thoughts. The word translated ‘spirit’ in English is in the Greek actually the word for “breeze” which is used figuratively to mean ‘spirit’ but the word is not a separate thought entirely like it is in English. If we accept a connotative definition of “breeze” to mean spirit it could be translated, “He breathed on the, and said, ‘Receive the Holy Breeze.” a little  bit of dual meaning on Jesus’ part, possibly even a humorous play on words to lighten the mood while still referring to the original creation and being a weird breathing on his friends. I like to think of it as a not so serious moment mixed in the drama. Maybe that’s just because I like a funny Jesus more than the stick up his ass Jesus.

Through all this I’ve been super excited, but then we get to verse 23. In verse 23 Jesus says that when I (reading you as talking to me) forgive anyone’s sins they are forgiven; if I do not forgive them, they are not forgiven. First I want to talk about grammar. When Jesus says ‘they‘ and ‘them‘ is he referring to the people or to the people’s sins? I think that’s an important question. Young’s Literal Translation says “if of any ye may loose the sins, they are loosed to them; if of any ye may retain, they have been retained.” This seems to put the emphasis on the sins rather than the people. Still there’s more grammar discussion to be had. Bob Utley has an online study of John 20. In this study he says “This grammatical construction is a PERFECT PASSIVE INDICATIVE” I think I know what that means, haha. It refers to the act of forgiveness, not the condition. The NIV says “the are forgiven” not “they will be forgiven”. This would make the forgiveness already to have taken place but the reception of the forgiveness to be incomplete. Does this mean that forgiveness is actually contingent on repentance, or acceptance of the forgiveness itself? I would like to says so, but that’s not what the bible says. That’s why I’m stumbling and fighting for this. I want the responsibility of salvation to remain in the individual or even with the opinion of Jesus, but not with a messenger of Jesus. That’s too great a responsibility, as a messenger, and as one in need of forgiveness. So in conclusion: AHHHHH!

Moving on. This is, inevitably, about intercession. Let’s look at John 17:17-19. Here Jesus is praying before he’s arrested and murdered on the cross. ‘Them’ is the disciples and ‘You’ is God the Father. “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you send me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too maybe truly sanctified.” Notice that Jesus here is talking to his Dad about the disciples being like himself. If you read the rest of John 17 that’s all Jesus talks about. He wants his

followers, his messengers, to be like himself and the Father. If apostles (messengers) of Jesus have the same relationship to Jesus and Jesus did to God, then there is a holiness and submissiveness. In that situation the apostles do not forgive based on their own systems of merit, but by Jesus’ standard of grace. We know from the grammar of John 20:23 that the forgiveness is already complete, Jesus on the cross said “it is finished”- whatever “it” may be (reconciliation to the Father perhaps). So then, the messengers are merely bringing the message of love and grace to the world. In doing so they forgive those who accept the word of truth, that sanctity, you know. The disciples, who are no longer disciples (followers) but are now apostles (messengers) treading new ground, they are not forgiving sins. Forgiveness is complete. The apostles are now stretching the forgiving hands of God to the world. I must see them not as men of their own accord living by their own passions, but as Jesus’ messengers, their words carry the authority of Christ, their forgiveness carries the authority of Christ, their doing of justice carries the authority of Christ, and their lives submit entirely to the authority of Christ.
I think that’s just about right. It makes these three verses a whole hell of a lot harder to swallow, as one sent by Christ to extend his work of forgiveness through intercession. It makes me want to rethink my life. I need my life to be submissive to the authority of Christ.