All posts by dcaldwell23

Barbershop Theology (Introduction): “I Give You My Word.”

I grew up in Apache, Oklahoma. The air there is thick with Oklahoma culture; tribal Pow Wows, local rodeo hands, Mo Betta western wear, grazing cattle, sweeping wheat fields, Friday night football and salt-of-the-earth people.  These things describe my childhood home.

My dad was the town barber. As the shoe-shine boy and floor sweeper I spent hundreds, probably thousands of hours in Caldwell’s Barber Shop of Apache.  I learned to appreciate community and I met a lot of wonderful characters. It seems like yesterday and at the same time it seems like another age.

In my dad’s shop, and around the town, I saw a lot of business deals, from renting pasture and horse deals all the way to car trades and services to be rendered. The transactions were typically hinged on a final understanding:  knowing whose word to trust and when bovine excrement was in the mix. And I learned that a man was “as good as his word.”

In the beginning was the Word – the Gospel of John

Even before time and existence the Word is. The Gospel of John, in poetic form, unveils the declaration of eternal reality. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. This passage does not refer to “In the beginning” of all time and created existence. It refers to what is without beginning, the Infinite; In the beginning God . . .

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,

(and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,)

full of grace and truth.

If you want to touch truth, if you want to inhale grace, you have to take God at his Word. That phrase, “dwelt among us” is particularly a part of the disclosure of God. It refers pitching his tent, coming into our midst to abide.

Nelson Mandela noted, when we speak to someone in a language he understands, we reach his head. If we talk his language, we reach his heart. God spoke our language when the Word became flesh.

Continue reading Barbershop Theology (Introduction): “I Give You My Word.”

Simple Sabbath: Anthems, Cheeleaders and Downs…and Ups

Opportunity

What a great opportunity! You must be doing something right in your career if you are asked to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl.

February 6, 2011
Sunday –I put away the book I have been reading as my wife pulls the home-made pizza out of the oven. It’s Super Bowl Sunday at my house. It is getting close to pregame hype and kickoff. After a brief panic — “Ahggg, where’s the remote?” — I go old-school and turn the television on MANually.

Christina Aguilera singing the National Anthem at Super Bowl XLV.

Nestling into my spot on the couch I am good to go. I have pizza, drink and smugly think, I don’t need no stinking remote, I’m watching all the commercials. (Yes, I have bad grammar in my thought life.)

And now singing our National Anthem,” I hear the public address announcer’s voice, “Christina Aguilera.” Two things go through my mind:
1. Hey, they shoulda got that Youtube, homeless guy to introduce her, that would be cool;
2. Oh, so that’s Christina Aguilera.

She starts singing and I quickly conclude, oh yes, she’s waaay better than me. This pizza is good.

“Don’t get any of that on the couch,” I hear a familiar voice from the kitchen say.

And then, whoops! What? Did she just… I think she messed up. FUMBLE! Another bite of pizza — nice recovery Christi, I muse, and for a brief second or two I feel badly for her. Bless her heart, thats gotta be tough. You know she feels just terrible.

As I reach for another piece of pizza I see the Facebook notice lighting up on my Blackberry. People seem to have opinions about our Anthem and Aguilera. Since I am viewing remote-less, I juggle my pizza and phone to read the comments. The early opinions seem to be that she is now the worst person on the planet. Ouch, tough crowd.

“Are you using a napkin?” that same lady in the kitchen asks.

Continue reading Simple Sabbath: Anthems, Cheeleaders and Downs…and Ups

Simple Sabbath: The Kingdom of God

Luther in Worms

When Martin Luther stood confidently before the Diet of Worms in 1521, he was emboldened by his devotion to the Word of God. Luther lived much of his early life oppressed by the guilt and burden of religion. But a careful reading of God’s Word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit offered him freedom. Luther achieved liberty by faith in Jesus Christ. His voice sparked the Protestant Reformation. Yet, Luther faced an almost certain death unless he would recant and soften his position on the authority of Scripture. His response was this:

I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe.

Here I stand; I can do no other, so help me God.

Some 450 years later, another Martin would initiate a fire of change in America. Martin Luther King, Jr. became an iconic figure of the Civil Rights movement. Dr. King preached nonviolence in a war against segregation and discrimination. He was committed to non-retaliation; he preached the merits of love and a passion for peaceful, civil disobedience. And the backlash was intense – Dr. King was sharply criticized by both blacks and whites. He was beaten and struck with bricks; his house was bombed, and ultimately he was assassinated.

Both Martin Luther and Martin Luther King, Jr. suffered persecution as they prompted and promoted change.  But it was not only they who suffered—men and women who chose to follow these great leaders suffered consequences for their commitments to truth and justice. They understood that to share a leader’s vision meant that they might share in his persecution as well.

Admirer or Follower?

I have been greatly intrigued by the biographies of both of these great men.  Studying the contexts of their lives and the effects of their ministries inspires me.  I am staggered what they endured.  I admire them greatly.  But to be honest, I don’t know if I could have followed them. Why? I am a chicken at heart.  Daily, I pray for the grace to overcome obstacles that cripple my pursuit of truth. I want God’s will. I want to do more than admire the right path; I want to follow it.

The study of the Kingdom of God proposes a question for each person. Are we satisfied to be admirers of Jesus, or are we willing to become followers?  What are the implications of being a fully devoted follower of Christ?

Continue reading Simple Sabbath: The Kingdom of God

Simple Sabbath: The Gospel in an Alabaster Jar

Wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done shall also be spoken of in memory of her. Matthew 26:13

First, a small etymological exercise: gospel – our Old English form of this word is godspell, god (long o) which is good –  spell or story/message, translation of Latin. bona adnuntiatio, itself a translation of the Greek word euangelion “reward for bringing good news.”

The context of our verse is the impending crucifixion of our Lord Jesus. Jesus encounters a woman who pours a very expensive amount of perfume on his head. Jesus tells his indignant disciples that she has done “a beautiful thing.” (see Matthew 26, Mark 14)

By all means, build your life on the gospel. Let’s see a few ways that the perfume incident helps us convey the gospel of Jesus –

1. Jesus said wherever the gospel is preached, the story of this woman should be told. It is a story of passion for Jesus. It is a story of total sacrifice. It is a story of pouring out all earthly possessions to express a heart devoted to Christ the Lord. We must tell such faith stories.  Apologetics, reason, sound doctrine, etc., — all are important as we share the gospel. But few people come to Christ as a result of logic or debate. The power of the gospel is a testimony of faith. Concern yourself less with converting your neighbor; choose, by faith to love your neighbor.

2. The beauty of this moment was the woman’s fountain of passion. Let us ask, “Was this an act of compassion or an act of sacrifice?” Go and learn what this means (see Matthew 9:13).  Can we strive to impress Jesus? Should we offer sacrifices? Some people believe that sacrifice will make them more acceptable to God. But the Sacrifice has already been offered according to the gospel. It was not the woman’s sacrifice that Jesus commended, it was her passion. This woman found Jesus; she found a reason for hope and one who would set her heart on fire.

3. The woman’s social faux pas was her impulse to do something. She seems to have been carried away by her emotions. She let her feelings get the best of her. Nobody told her to do it, something stirred her from within. She forgot to ask a simple question, “What will others think?” While society criticized her, Jesus commended her. (There’s a big lesson for parents and teachers. Can you think of a time when a student let the heart get ahead of the head? The gospel says don’t be so quick to reprimand.)

Continue reading Simple Sabbath: The Gospel in an Alabaster Jar

Simple Sabbath: Apostle’s Creed, Lots of “isms,” and the WHY, not the HOW

What is the Bible? What’s it for?

The Bible is God’s revelation to man. Okay, so?

What is He revealing?

To begin with, the Bible reveals how the world was made, how it was ruined, how it was rescued and how it will be made new. The Bible reveals God’s Word. Every mountain and every molecule is the word of God. He spoke and it is!

Ultimately His Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The Bible reveals Truth and the Truth is God’s glory; His glory is the redemption of man through Jesus Christ. And that’s the Truth, believe it or not.

Ooooohhh wow, deep stuff.  (sarcastic tone  for effect).  Well, yes.

From the Apostle’s Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

This history of the Apostle’s Creed is a worthy lesson. We will not cover it here, but we will contemplate the “first truth”; From Genesis 1 the Creed submits: “God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Here are four musings from Genesis 1 in this Simple Sabbath post:
1.    God’s creation is good. He said so;
2.    God is one and has created from Himself;
3.    God creates everything by His word;
4.    We love His creation because we love Him and are created to enjoy Him forever.

1. A Good Creation:  The Bible reveals Spirit and matter existing with integrity and in unity (it is coordinated, so to speak). The material world is good. There is a marvelous unity in creation. Genesis teaches that the Spirit is present “moving over the surface” or hovering. View this presence as His love and care for creation.
Though Plato has the entire western world distrusting all things material, and would prefer that we ponder the next reality, we reject his posit (dualism – just say no.)  It’s a wonderful world; God created it and said, “It is good.”

Listen, that first miracle wasn’t random. That water to wine thing at Cana was appointed by the Divine. Jesus was dropping his calling card. More than a rescued social event, Jesus sets the stage for the Kingdom of God. He fills those water cisterns with joy…that’s right, joy! … right here and right now.

Continue reading Simple Sabbath: Apostle’s Creed, Lots of “isms,” and the WHY, not the HOW