Friday, November 21, 2008

"Christian" JUNK

A number of years ago, my friend Tim Costine introduced me to the website called "A Little Leaven." Before you click on the link, let me explain a little about it. This website is a self-proclaimed "museum of idolatry" that keeps track of how the church can veer off of the straight and narrow.

It is a very conservative site, and you probably won't agree with everything they are labeling as "apostate," but many of the things they highlight are spot on.

My favorite portion of the site in particular is the "Je$u$ Junk" section, in which they chronicle the mass of supposedly "Christian" products that all those "Christian" bookstores rip off well-meaning Christian people with. Things like "Christian Tool Sets" (a regular tool set with a Bible verse on the box) , and "Holy Drinking Water."

Today I found my own example of Jesus Junk in an email I got from a local bookstore offering special "doorbuster deals" on stuff as a promotion for the intensely materialistic Thanksgiving/Christmas shopping season.

Here it is: The Daily Bread Basket

I would imagine "A Little Leaven" would add this sort of caption to this item:
Tired of your bread always getting ruined by those unsaved bread baskets? They leave your bread tasting of "filthy rags" and other unsightly effects of the Fall. Well now you don't have to worry about your bread's eternal state anymore! Introducing the "Daily Bread Basket!" This basket has been washed and regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and it has a wonderful sanctifying effect on your bread that will put your mind at ease. We know Jesus said it's not what you put IN to your body that makes you sinful, but why not go the extra mile right?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Protect the Drain

Let the following photo be a reminder to you to protect the drain in your shower.

Get one of those little hair-catcher things, and empty it often. This will prevent catastrophe of the sort I'm about to show you.

Notice that it's longer than the screwdriver.

New To Me!

Say hello to my new (to me) 2007 Honda Element LX!
This might be the coolest car on the planet...

My little '94 Civic had 204,000 miles on it, and it didn't have the roomiest interior to transport gear and instruments and such. I think it will run great until the day it just completely dies. One of my friends back in San Gabriel bought it from me, and he's got some mechanic experience, so hopefully he'll get a whole lotta miles out of it still.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Over the last three years or so, my taste for coffee has grown into a very postmodern, find-value-in-everything type of enjoyment. My friend Peter has very strong about opinions about superiority of certain brands of coffee over others, but he had very little objective information on which to base his value judgments.

Agreed: coffee can come in a variety of tastes as a result of its country of origin, intensity of roast, amount used per cup, and brewing method.

I have to say though, that I have come to enjoy pretty much any cup of coffee that is put in front of me, as long as there is any flavor at all. Growing up, my dad used to always get the econo-tub of econo-grade coffee: Yuban. I don't remember the specifics of his brewing method, but I do remember that what came out was little more than dark water. This is the only instance of coffee that I object to with any amount of conviction. Even that freeze-dried, crystalized stuff they call "instant" coffee can suffice if there's enough evidence of coffee flavor of any kind.

In the same way that the beer spectrum ranges from the "yellow-water" of Corona, to the chewable blackness of Guiness, coffee sports many different faces, and I think it's worth while to look carefully at each:

-Instant Coffee
This is usually what sits in the cupboard of non-coffee drinkers. Like I said earlier, this stuff has the potential to yield a little flavor if enough is used, but most likely, that jar has been sitting untouched in that non-drinker's cupboard for upwards of 83 years; only seeing the light of day once or twice a year when relatives are in for the holidays. Also, I'm not sure I want to know what's involved in the process of taking a cup of coffee and processing it so it comes out as the coffee equivalent of ovaltine crystals...

-Coffee "Tea" Bags
This is a relatively new invention as far as I know. The idea is that a pre-measured amount of ground coffee is stored in a semi-permeable bag, similar to a tea bag. You pour hot water over the bag and let it sit for one minute before proceeding to "dunk" the bag in and out of the water for an additional 15 seconds. As far as I've seen, only Folgers has tried this method of the "one-cup-at-a-time" genre. The pre-measured amount must be in the ballpark of half a tablespoon however, because the end result is only the slightest hint of coffee flavor, and as such, this coffee is best enjoyed black, so all you "I'd like some coffee with my creamer" folks should probably avoid this coffee, unless you really just want a cup of your "mocha-vanilla-peppermint-cinnamon bun" creamer.

-The "Old Fashioned" brands
Folgers, Yuban, Maxwell House, Juan Valdez's 100% Colombian Coffee. These are some of the coffees that have been around since...who knows when. They have survived the Great Depression, and were the front line of America's selection of coffee as the national beverage to further assert their independance from the tea-drinking British. These coffees all taste the same to my pallate, which is probably more due to ignorance on my part, than the fact that most people who make these coffees use just enough to turn their water brown more than give it any coffee flavor. These coffees are found in fine dining establishments all over the country such as Denny's, IHOP, and Norm's.

-The New School
Somewhere along the line, some revolutionary must have thought to themself: "These old-fashioned coffees are a bit on the weakside, but when I put in more grounds, the coffee comes out bitter...I'm gonna find a way to make a coffee so potent that if you set a match to it, it'd explode!" Back in the '70's a batch of these new school coffee brewers was born, and set up shop, most of them, in Seattle, to put alongside their other claims to fame: constant rain, and grunge music. They came up with coffee that was as thick as their flannel fashions, and unknowingly started a resurgence of coffee popularity and prominence. Starbucks, Peete's Dunkin' Donuts, and the arrogantly-named Seattle's Best, are some of the few that have changed the face of coffee forever, and we are indebted to them.

So which kind of coffee is best? As I said, I take the post-modern approach and have found enjoyment in each and every one of the above varieties of coffee. I enjoy coffee with cream and sugar, with those designer creamers, or black as the night. All of them. I enjoy coffee from the percolator, the drip maker, or the beloved French Press (although my cat broke mine so I don't enjoy this method quite as often as I'd like...).

So now you know what to get me for Christmas...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cross Sunday at Crossroads

We recently had "Cross Sunday" at my church. We built a 35 foot cross and put it up in the middle of our worship center. We set up all the chairs in a U-shape around it, and Pastor Todd spoke from the floor in front of it.

We had talked about doing this a few months ago, and this past Sunday worked well, because the scripture passage Pastor Todd was preaching from was Matthew 5:17-20, in which Jesus tells the people that unless their righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and pharisees, they will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

None of us is capable of this kind of righteousness in our own sinful and fallen state. This is the most deceptive lie that Satan feeds to the lost: that if they try hard to live a good life, they might have a "shot" at getting in to heaven; and many people believe that they're doing a good job, and are fairly confident they'll get in because God is supposed to be a "loving God" right?

Nope. The only way we can get the type of righteousness is if we are given it through Christ. That's the ONLY way.

All the worship songs we sang that morning were cross-focused, and we shared communion together. It was a really powerful object lesson, and reminder that we should live our lives with the cross at the center. Click HERE to go to the recap on my worship blog where you can see pictures.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Blogging Lull & Election Day

Things have been quiet around here; not too much catching my blogging attention, but in case you weren't aware, today is election day!

There have been so many people out on the street corners with their signs; I've received a number of "spam" voice mail messages from those "wanting to be my representative" for this or that. Jess and I were wondering if they know that leaving unwanted phone messages is actually detrimental to their chance of getting my vote...

One thing that Jess and I were discussing the other night, and which we have different opinions on, is the whole issue of "equality" that has been promoted as a reason to vote no on prop 8.

I think that this argument of "equality" is irrelevant to the issue.

I am not in any way promoting hate, or bigotry, or intolerance (ironically, I see the most hate coming FROM the no on 8 crowd...). This is what logically makes sense to me:
-God created marriage, and by default, the way he created it became its definition
("Marriage is: 1 man + 1 woman, for life")
-A homosexual couple, no matter how well-intentioned, does not fit that definition
-It is not a question of equality

In my mind, this is like saying
"I would like to be of Asian descent, even though I am of Mexican descent."
When someone tells me "Dude, you can't be Asian."
I would say "Why not??"
They would reply, "Dude, you just aren't Asian, you don't fulfill the definition of what it means to be Asian (ethnic heritage, physical traits, etc.)"

So I would then say "Well, let's just change the definition of what it means to be Asian!"

Am I a victim of inequality because I can't be Asian? No.

This is the crux of the "No on Prop 8" campaign. That it is "unfair, and wrong" to discriminate. They say that it is eliminating a fundamental human right.

Who established this as a fundamental right?

Marriage was established by God, not the government, and this "fundamental right" is in no way discriminatory or unfair.

Again, is it discrimination to tell me I can't be Asian when I truly want to be, and am committed to being?


Jess' disagrees with my opinion and says it breaks down because if a homosexual couple doesn't fulfill the 1 man+1 woman part of the definition, then a couple that gets divorced does not fulfill the "for life" part of the definition, therefore nullifying their marriage completely. Therefore, if we are willing to make exceptions in the "for life" category, we must make exceptions in the 1 man+1 woman. (not that she is pro-homosexual marriage, this is solely in reply to my above argument)

I disagree with this because marriage is based on a choice to submit to the requirements of marriage, and therefore until they are broken, a real marriage exists. If they are broken at a later time, it would then cease to be marriage, but it would not nullify the whole thing.