Lo-fi faith meme

So, it looks like I've been tagged with another one of those crazy meme things. In case you're wondering, it's pronounced mēm, and is defined as:

A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.


Anyway, this one was started by Shawn Anthony who then passed the baton to Natalie Jost, who in turn sent it along to me. Not wanting to be a party pooper, here are my answers to questions about faith and scripture:

1: List three words that describe your faith.

  1. Larry
  2. Moe
  3. Curley

(Sorry, couldn't resist…)

  1. Genuine
  2. Inquisitive
  3. Cynical

2: Describe a belief you are certain about and one with which you struggle.

Jesus is God, took on human form, and came to save the world from their sins. He died the most cruel and ironic death at the hands of those he created as the Word of God. Yet he still lives today, that we would not have to suffer eternal seperation from a God who made us and loves us all, if only we would ask for him to come into our lives and accept that he is the Savior.

As far as a belief with which I struggle: I'm not really sure why any churches baptize infants, aside from the history of traditional superstition that has grown around "fire insurance" for babies. While there are plenty of examples in the Bible of Jesus welcoming kids into his presence, all of the examples of actual baptism are with adults. For instance, Jesus was baptized when he was 30. That being said, I am all for baby dedication and community effort.

I think that if you are old enough to understand that baptism is a public display of an inner action, you are old enough to be baptized. I was at one United Methodist service in which the pastor actually said of a baptized infant: "We thank God today that Mary-Sue has chosen Jesus as her Lord and Savior." I'm sorry, but if the baby cannot yet control its bowel movements, I hardly think that the cognition is there for more life-changing decisions.

3: What is your mission in life?

My mission is to be a pawn. Awhile back, I read a book about the missionary Jim Elliot. His most famous quote is: "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." I think of it like this: In a game of chess, all great players know that they will lose a few pieces. That is inevitable. Usually, it begins with a pawn. Jim Elliot was killed by the very people to which he went to share Christ's love. Years later, Jim's dad was able to embrace the man who had killed his son, and tell him he was forgiven. I think that Jim's attitude was awesome: By his life and death he was able to give glory to God.

When I was at Asbury Theological Seminary, I was inspired by something said by the newly inducted school president. Dr. Jeff Greenway said this: "There is no limit to what you can do for God, if you do not care who gets the credit." I think that's so true, and saw far too much clamoring for title and recognition when I was at seminary. I just want to be effective, and do the absolute highest quality work I can do, for God's glory. If it's not about reaching out to real people, then we are all just wasting our time. This does not mean we have to be anonymous, rather that we should not be seeking the spot-light.

4: Describe one thing that interferes with authentically living out your faith.

At the core, aside from God working in my life, I am a selfish person who wants my own way. Paul talked about this in Romans 7:14-25, regarding taming our inherant carnal nature in order to focus on eternal matters. For instance, I hate getting cut-off in traffic, and the first inclination is to react negatively, but that is not what the Lord would have us do as believers.

5: What is your favorite story from the Hebrew Scriptures? Why?

I really enjoy the story of Elijah and Elisha, as recorded in 2 Kings. It is a great model of mentoring that I feel is missing in most local churches today. Somewhere along the lines, we lost sight of this being about people, and it became more about politics and titles. For more on that, read this post.

6: What is your favorite New Testament story? Why?

I really like the story of Peter in Acts chapter 3. There was a crippled man begging for money at the entrance to the temple called the Beautiful Gate.

But Peter said, "Silver and gold have I none; but what I have, that give I thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." And he took him by the right hand, and raised him up: and immediately his feet and his ankle-bones received strength. And leaping up, he stood, and began to walk; and he entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. - Acts 3:6-8

I think that is such a great example of how Jesus can change people's lives. We sometimes beg for that which we do not truely need, when really God wants to change our lives in ways we never expected. Trouble is, there are many false prophets out there who claim to be of God, and use the name of Jesus in their "healing" ministries, only for their own financial gain. Beware those that promise healing, yet promote an agenda of selfish motives.

7: Describe a meaningful action you took because of your faith.

I guess you could say that applying for and going to seminary was a meaningful action. I think I was a bit too naive about it though. If anyone reading this is considering going to a seminary, do so with the knowledge that people are still people, no matter where you go, and that you will have to make sure to keep both yourself and others honest about motivations for ministry. It is too easy to slip into an "us and them" mentality, thinking that you are somehow a special snowflake, or a super-Christian. Remember that nobody is so important in the Kingdom of God that they are irreplaceable.

Another meaningful action is that my wife is back in her home country of Estonia, helping to plant a Bible college. Unfortunately, some of the doctrine being spewed is of the name-it and claim-it variety, condemning people who have not recieved healing for their lack of faith. This is a logical paradox, because how is someone supposed to have more faith the next time around? Regardless, she is being faithful to her promise to help her own people. In case anyone wants to read more about that situation, read this post.

8: Does your faith differ from that of your parents? If so, how?

I think that while we have the same faith, I am perhaps a bit more brash and slightly less cautious. You could call it youthful exuberance or just all-out foolishness. I think from my heart, which sometimes is to my detriment, whereas my father is was a pilot and career military man. Despite differening personalities, we both believe in Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

9: Who or what was most important in the development of your faith.

Without wanting to sound too sappy, I would have to say it was my mom. She prayed for and continued to love me during my crazy rebellious years. I have many memories of getting ready for bed, and seeing my mom sitting in the living room reading her worn leather-bound Bible. I think this is a trait she inherited from her mother, who also loved to read the Word. I can still remember waking up to my grandma pounding on a kitchen pan, saying "Rise and shine, give God the glory glory," to which I replied "Argh, at this hour of the day, I don't think even God wants to hear the glory glory yet!"

10: Pass it on! Tag at least two other religious/faith bloggers.

I would like to hear what my online friend Yannick Lyn Fatt and my real-life seminarian friend David Brooks have to say regarding these questions.