My Christian Faith in a “Social Media Fearing” Society

If I ever ended up on a reality TV show, one where they had me living in a house with people of opposing beliefs and lifestyles and habits, I’m not sure there would be enough drama from me to make the episode controversial enough to be considered modern entertainment.

faith family friends sign

There are 2 main reasons for this:

Here’s the 1st reason.

Despite me being concrete on what I believe in and stand for, as my Christian faith is the basis of my existence, my role is not to “convert” anyone who is close-minded to what I believe.

I will gladly share my faith with anyone who I believe is searching for hope; which is what I believe Jesus and His followers demonstrated in the New Testament.

But Jesus didn’t seem to argue with nonbelievers and skeptics.

The people He seemed to really have an issue with were the people of His day who believed they already had their golden ticket into Heaven, but who weren’t willing to truly surrender their hearts to God’s will for their lives; which typically involved simply loving their neighbors as themselves.

(Apparently though, it’s not that simple; otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this today.)

Therefore, I feel I have no business in arguing with a “non-believer” of Christ, the Messiah; whether it’s a person of a different religion, or a skeptic of religion, or someone who simply doesn’t participate in religion whatsoever.

I feel that if my faith is not evident through my attitude and actions, words alone definitely won’t help the situation.

From a secular (and marketing) perspective, what good is a professing Christian on a reality TV show if he or she isn’t willing to argue, lose their cool, and demonstrate the opposite of Jesus’s mentality? The hypocrisy of Christians sells.

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But if a Christian is actually helping others overseas to get access to clean water, that’s apparently not worth prime time advertising dollars.

I feel the media is quick to give pedestals to the most opinionated and argumentative professing Christians, which helps make the rest of us appear as fools.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I fully accept my title as “fool for Christ’s sake,” as the Apostle Paul puts it.

But what if there were more examples of… I guess I could simply say… level-headed, nonjudgmental Christians in the media?

I don’t think America is really accustomed to that.

Here’s the 2nd reason I don’t think I would make for a controversial enough episode in a reality TV show:

I would quickly and openly admit I am not perfect.

There’s a stereotype that Christians are the most judgmental people; that they think they are “holier than thou.”

If I was on a reality TV show, the 1st thing I would proclaim to the other people in the house was that I definitely, absolutely do not believe I am better than anyone else.

I would share with them that my understanding of the Christian faith is not that we are people who think we are perfect.

It’s quite the opposite. I know for a fact I am far from perfect and therefore have no right to judge anyone else. Instead, I depend on God’s grace not only for eternal salvation from my imperfect state of being, but also for constant salvation from my greedy, selfish mindset.

I believe we are all sinners in need of God’s grace. I’m simply in the same depraved state as everyone else.

Our society (on both sides of the fence) places so much value on the morality/immorality of homosexuality, as the controversial topic only further divides America in its own civil culture war.

I remain publicly mute on the topic, because I’d rather focus on the things listed in the Bible that I personally struggle with every day:

Like pride.

And greed.

And gossip.

(Those are items people tend to overlook in the New Testament the moment they see a reference of homosexuality; even when those things are listed together with homosexuality in the same verse.)

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Our society actually places a high value on gossip, in case you haven’t noticed.

What should be a shameful thing is instead worshiped.

Let me be clear: While our society is divided on homosexuality, we love gossip.

In actuality, gossip is condemned in the Bible; the whole way throughout the book.

But it’s easier for us to question the things in the Bible that only some people relate to, like homosexuality… while the more identifiable issues to the mainstream, like pride and greed and gossip, are virtually excused.

So if I was in a reality TV show, my role would be to help other people alongside me. For example, if I was placed in a house with self-proclaimed slobs, I would help them do their dishes every day before I would allow myself to lose my temper with them.

Granted, I would still fear my scenes could be edited to be taken out of context, packaged into bite-size morsels, so convenient to be blasted all over Twitter- making me out to be the judgmental character I most wished to disassociate myself from.

After all, I fear that in some regards, as we live in a time when the Internet has become the modern day Tower of Babel, we have learned to fear social media (and its potential backlash) more than God Himself.

At the same time, isn’t it safe to say that we as a culture even worship social media, as well?

It’s sad, but that concept helps me better understand the concept of both worshiping and fearing God; though at first it seems like a paradox.

In a reality TV show setting, I would consider myself as a “competitor” in a contest, whose agenda was to prove that Christianity is serving others; not judging them.

Christianity is about demonstrating love, by being patient and kind and understanding and forgiving.

If we dumb down Christianity to “heaven or hell” or “traditional marriage or gay marriage” or “Republican or Democrat”, then I feel we’re not talking about the same faith Jesus taught His followers.

It seems that would be a compromised and ultimately misleading version of the very Gospel we are called to share with our “neighbors”…

Now, the question is, would an American audience buy into a concept so revolutionary… that serving others, not judging them, is what faith in Jesus is all about?

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Buck Denver Asks… Why Do We Call It Christmas? DVD: Family Friendly Review

This past Saturday evening we had a “family movie night”… we saw the Buck Denver Asks… Why Do We Call It Christmas? DVD.

Why Do We Call It Christmas?

It is made by the creator of Veggie Tales, Phil Vischer, so you already know that it’s a quality production.

Not only is it high quality production, but it is also very informative, as well as funny.

My son’s favorite part was the blue flying squirrel. Of course, there are also robots and pirates!

Buck Denver Asks... Why Do We Call It Christmas? DVD: Family Friendly Revie

The Buck Denver Asks… Why Do We Call It Christmas? DVD does a great job of giving answers to the questions about the traditions of Christmas that most of us have never got around to asking or looking up:

  • Why is it called “Christmas?”
  • Why do we celebrate on December 25th?
  • What year was Jesus really born?
  • What do Christmas trees have to do with Jesus?
  • Where did Santa Claus come from?
  • Which came first – Christmas or Hanukkah? And which one did Jesus celebrate?
  • What are the “12 Days of Christmas?”
  • How does the name “Emmanuel” explain the real meaning of Christmas?

The humor is aimed at adults as well as kids. I feel that had this been a Disney production, the jokes would have contain innuendos.

But with the Buck Denver Asks… Why Do We Call It Christmas? DVD, I feel the humor is instead a capitalization of “awkward moments.” The puppet characters are more relatable and lifelike because of it.

I’m not sure that it’s being marketed this way, but in addition for home entertainment, this DVD would make a perfect and extremely addition to your church library.

In fact, I would even say it would make an essential addition.

 Why is it called "Christmas?" Why do we celebrate on December 25th? What year was Jesus really born? What do Christmas trees have to do with Jesus? Where did Santa Claus come from? Which came first - Christmas or Hanukkah? And which one did Jesus celebrate? What are the "12 Days of Christmas?" How does the name "Emmanuel" explain the real meaning of Christmas?

I noticed that this the Buck Denver Asks… Why Do We Call It Christmas? DVD is very “Catholic friendly.” I know that might sound like a strange comment, but it’s evident to me that this DVD is not simply geared towards Baptists, as I feel a lot of “Christian entertainment” is.

Though I’m not Catholic myself, I sort of feel like Catholics get the short end sometimes in regards to being marketed to alongside Protestants.

However, the approach and narrative in this DVD includes Catholics in the same boat as Protestants; in that we all are believers and followers of Christ, as our spiritual salvation.

With all that being said, even if you are not a religious person, instead even the biggest skeptic, I still believe you would find this DVD to be enlightening.

If nothing else, you’re going to learn answers to questions you’ve probably always wondered, but never asked, about how the ways we celebrate Christmas actually goes back to the birth of Christ.

And one lucky reader (in the U.S. or Canada) will win a free copy of this book today…

Just be the first person to post on the Facebook wall for Family Friendly Daddy Blog (not a private message), asking me, “Did I just win the Buck Denver Asks… Why Do We Call It Christmas? DVD?”

If you’re the first person to do so, I will respond by saying yes… After that, I will follow up by getting your address to give to the publisher so they can send you your won copy!

Update: A winner was found within just a few minutes of this post going live. The giveaway portion is now complete.

“Did I just win the Buck Denver Asks… Why Do We Call It Christmas? DVD?”
  • Family Friendly Daddy Blog
  • Family Friendly Daddy Blog Yes, Tamera Ballard, you sure did! (Just send me your mailing address and I’ll make sure the agency gets it out in the mail in the morning Thanks for reading!

    “Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: ‘Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising’):

    Many thanks to Propellor Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

    Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

How Race and Religion are Connected and Why Isaac and Ishmael are behind It All

This is me in a video I made for you, which explains all this in a 5 and a half minute video, in case you prefer that over reading the 1378 word blog post below it, which I wrote 7 years ago.

Meet your great-grandfather Isaac.  Or Ishmael.  Or maybe even both…

How do you determine who ethnically is a “white person” and who is not?  Are Jews considered to be white?  What about Greeks and Italians?  And though Central and South Americans typically have tan skin, why is it there something about them still seems sort of white, as opposed to a person from India or China? These are some of the “side effect” questions that will be answered as I explain my theory on the origin of race and religion.

No, this theory doesn’t start with Adam and Eve.  Nor does it start with Noah and his family repopulating the world after the Great Flood.  It starts 20 generations after Adam, and 10 generations after Noah, with Abraham (the father of the Jewish and the Arab people), being promised by God that he would have a son in his old age.  After waiting and having no sign of this coming true, Abraham’s wife Sarah convinced him to sleep with their Egyptian maidservant Hagar, in order to have a son to carry on the family lineage.  At age 86, Abraham goes with his wife’s plan (like the way Adam ate the fruit after Eve convinced him to) and has a son with his maidservant- the son is named Ishmael.  However, 13 years later Abraham’s wife Sarah gets pregnant with a son, as God promised, and this son is named Isaac.

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dharma

Abraham eventually sends away his maidservant Hagar and his son Ishmael into the wilderness (Genesis 21:14), and raises Isaac his as true first-born son.  Today, thousands of years later, it is through Ishmael that Arabs and Muslims link their heritage through.  Accordingly, Jews and Christians trace through heritage back to Isaac.  Now we are in the meat of my theory.

As generations passed and both families migrated from their Middle Eastern homelands, the descendants of Ishmael moved south and east- to Africa, Asia, and America (becoming the Native American Indians in North America and the Aztec Indians in Central and South America).  In fact, the angel of the Lord told Hagar that Ishmael “will live east of all his brothers” (Genesis 16:12).  Meanwhile the descendants of Isaac moved north and west- to Europe, Russia, and eventually to America (killing off, running off, or marrying the Native American Indians).

Notice how today the countries that are represented by the descendants of Ishmael are generally practice religions that do not involve the Judeo-Christian God (worshipped by Christians, Catholics, and Jews) but instead are tied Hinduism, Animism, Taoism, Buddhism, Communism (Atheism) and Islam.  And of course the descendants of Isaac are matched to the Christianized nations: For example, Scotland is mainly Protestant, Ireland is mainly Catholic, and England is mainly Anglican (Presbyterian).

Almost 2,000 years ago thanks the Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys to preach Christ where the Jews had already settled (in Europe, specifically the Mediterranean areas) and also the birth of Christianity as a whole, the countries that were already familiar with the Judeo-Christian God were basically the first to get introduced to Jesus as the Messiah.  As far as all the Ishmael-descended areas, like modern day Africa and Asia that were less familiar or not familiar at all with Christianity, they were not and have not typically been as generally open and accepting to “our God” as Isaac’s descendants.

The Ishmaelese Middle East

Ishmaelese Africa

Ishmaelese Asia

I do believe that whether or not a nation (or individual person) is a descendent of Isaac has much to do with their religion, race, and culture.  However, there are obviously exceptions.  One of them is Russia, which had been mainly Christian up until the point of its embrace of Communism.  Another exception is African-Americans, whom most identify with Christianity, as opposed to most Africans living in Africa.

And then there’s the “half breed” nations that make up Central and South America.  For the most part, their blood is mixed of Indigenous Americans (Native American, Aztec, etc.) who migrated from Asia through modern day Alaska, and European lineage from those who “discovered” America.  So in essence, the inhabitants of modern day Central and South America are half Isaackian, half-Ishmaelese; though they have accepted the religious beliefs of Isaac’s descendants (largely Catholic).  Read more about this here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indigenous_peoples_of_the_Americas

Yes, I did just now make up and use the words Isaackian (to describe the descendants of Isaac who are prone to believe in the Judeo-Christian God) and Ishmaelese (to describe the descendants of Ishmael who typically do not).  And now that you hopefully understand what those terms represent, I will begin using them frequently.

What started much of this thought process was when I recently began “Climbing the Family Tree” and realized that so many of my ancestors had last names that are Jewish (Schell, Klaar, Ullman, Wiseman, Vite) yet there is no solid proof that I actually am- only family rumors and tradition.  If I assume that none of the people in my family tree were Jewish, well, still, I have Jewish names in my family tree.  So that got me thinking, Jewish people and “white people” are essentially the same thing, coming from the same common ancestors.  Whereas someone who is Japanese (Ishmaelese) wouldn’t have last names in their family tree that would resemble a Jewish last name.

So going back to one of the questions I asked in the beginning, are Jewish people considered to be white?  Yes.  Though their homeland is Israel and though they are a Middle Eastern people group, they blend in with us Americans so well.  And that’s part of my fascination with pointing out which celebrities are Jewish.  Half the casts of Friends and Seinfeld are Jewish (The Ethnic Backgrounds of the Cast of Friends and Seinfeld) as well as The Wonder Years (The Ethnicity of the Cast of The Wonder Years), but the fact that most of us don’t know which ones are or aren’t shows that despite most of us being a mix of European blood, those Middle Eastern descended Jews are still our cousins.

Of course ultimately, it doesn’t matter which of us descended from Isaac or Ishmael or how much blood we have of either (I’m around 12.5% Ishmaelese); it just predicts the tone of our skin and our traditional religion, according to my theory.  By no means do I see the Isaackians as superior to Ishmaelese for the fact that I myself worship the Judeo-Christian God.  But what I do recognize is what God himself proclaimed to Abraham regarding Isaac and Ishmael:

But God said, “No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son and you shall call his name Isaac, and I will establish my everlasting covenant for his descendants after him,” (Genesis 17:19).

“As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold I will bless him, and make him fruitful and multiply him exceedingly.  He shall become the father of 12 princes, and I will make him a great nation,” (Genesis 17:20).

What’s most important from those verses I just quoted is that God promised to establish his covenant through the line of Isaac.  In other words, the savior of the world would come in the form of a Jew.  Not to mention that the Isaackians coincidently would hold the responsibility of sharing their God with the Ismaelese- that’s why Christian missionaries exist.  That’s why Christianity is now the largest religion of the Ishmaelese country of South Korea, for example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Korea#Religion

We all have the same great-grandparents at the tops of our family trees.  I try to imagine how different the world would be if Abraham wouldn’t have had a son with Hagar, if he just would have waited another 13 years for his own wife to become pregnant.  But he jumped the gun and changed the course of history (for him, it was the future) forever.  Though if he didn’t, I wouldn’t exist, being that my grandmother is Mexican.  Not only would I have not written this and you wouldn’t have read it, but there wouldn’t have been any of this to write about.

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jewish

LOST Recap: Season 6, Midseason- “Ab Aeterno”

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.

After going on a LOST recapping hiatus since this season’s premiere episode, I came out of hiding to praise the job well done of the long awaited Richard-eccentric episode.  I feel so relieved, excited, and passionate about LOST again.  Because the show has finally stepped back into its former mystique while at the same time taking a giant step forward.

It’s not that I wasn’t a fan of the flashes-sideways.  They were cool.  I liked learning where the characters would have ended up had things gone differently.  But after a few episodes, the game started getting stale.

Yes, I get it.  James and Miles would have been buddy cops.  Ben and Dogen would have known each other through a high school.  Kate would have still ended up helping Claire.  Jack would have meet Locke and offered to help him gain his mobility back.  (And I’ve read an interview with one of the writers that said Hurley and Libby have a baby together in an upcoming flash-sideways.)

The first half of this season, to me, has felt more like a group of forsaken bonus episodes.  I feel like last night’s episode was the first real episode of the season.

Last May when I did my Season 5 finale recap, I predicted that Richard came to the island as a Spanish explorer in the 1600’s and was killed by the Smoke Monster.  So I was a little off.  He was a Spanish slave in 1867 from the Canary Islands (Spain) who became shipwrecked on the island.  I also predicted that the whole premise of LOST was a game between Jacob and the man I still refer to as Esau.  It now clearly appears that is indeed the case.

On a side note, the actor who plays Richard, Nestor Carbonell, is a Spanish-Cuban American who does not actually wear eyeliner, despite popular assumption.  He just has really thick eyelashes.

While some Losties are disappointed that the six seasons of the show have all led up to a moral chess game between two spiritual beings, I think it’s the only plot that the series could have that is grandiose enough to pull this all together.

Because just like real life, when all it’s all over with, it will be apparent that we were all participants in a sci-fi story alongside a spiritual war.  Yes, our life matters and is real, but ultimately we have a spiritual audience watching us and even influencing our personal decisions.  Brilliant.

Read “SCIence + FaIth = Sci-Fi” http://wp.me/pxqBU-1N

As for who and what exactly Jacob and Esau are, here is my guess.  Jacob is an angel and Esau is a demon.  Here is why they are not God and Satan.  When offering to grant a wish to Richard, Jacob says he can not raise the dead nor absolve Richard’s sins.  God would be able to.  But as an angel, Jacob is restricted by what God allows him to do.

Jacob’s gift of everlasting earthbound life is interesting.  It keeps Richard from going to hell, but makes his earthly life a form of hell by keeping him trapped on Earth while still not reuniting him with Isabella.

“Ab Aeterno” (the name of the episode), which is Latin for “since the beginning of time” or figuratively “since a very long time ago”, was by far the most blatantly Christian episode to date:

Richard learned to speak English by reading the Bible and carried around his wife’s cross necklace.  When Richard was shown to us in the prison, he was reading the 4th chapter of Luke which tells about Jesus being tempted in the wilderness by Satan to turn the stone into bread (the lust of the flesh), to worship Satan in exchange for the domain of the world and all its glory (the lust of the eyes), and to attempt to commit suicide knowing that God would save him anyway (the pride of life).

This concept was later reiterated in 1 John 2:16- “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”

I wonder if this was intentionally (and loosely) played out with Richard through the episode:  Esau granted Richard the lust of the flesh when he freed him from his chains and gave him food and water.  Hurley enabled the lust of the eyes to Richard through his vision of Isabella.  Jacob granted Richard the lust of the pride of life by giving him earthly eternal life.  That could all be a coincidence, but maybe not.

In other Christian elements, Jacob asked the priest, “What can I do to earn God’s forgiveness?”, which is a pointing towards the need for God’s grace.  Also, there was the use of the word “sin” by Jacob when he quoted Esau, “Everyone is corruptible because it is in their nature to sin”.  Explicitly New Testament Biblical.

So far, Jacob has not yet been able to prove his case to Esau, that a person can ultimately choose good over evil.  He continues to bring people to the island to find someone who will be his representative of righteousness (symbolizing followers of Christ), since Jacob himself refuses to force his will upon anyone.  And of course that’s another obvious reflection of God and his relationship with humans: The granting of free will.

Esau/Billy Joel

As for my predictions for the last half of the season:

Ben Linus: I stand by my belief that he is ultimately good.

The Smoke Monster (Esau): It is a “soul train” that collects the spirits of those it kills, so that it can take the human form of them once they are dead.  Sometimes it “takes pictures” of their good deeds when it flashes the light at them to decide whether to collect them (by killing them) or keep them alive, like it did with Eko in the first season and with Richard back in 1867.

The List:  Jacob touched 7 potential “saviors of the island” back in their past including Kate (as well as Locke, Hurley, James, Sayid, Jack, and Sun/Jin), but for some reason Kate’s name wasn’t written on the cave ceiling when Faux Locke took James there: Kate somehow disqualified herself.  Also, no one knows whether it’s Jin or Sun that is on the list because only their last name shows up- but I predict it’s their kid instead, not either of them.

The Flashes-Sideways:  Not what actually happens, only glimpses.  The island is reality.

I will close with a few other quotes from the season so far that really stood out:

“I am not a zombie.” -Sayid

“John Locke was a much better man than I’ll ever be and I’m sorry I murdered him.” -Ben Linus

“I’m the smoke thing.” -Faux Locke (I like this name for him best because it rhymes with “Mohawk”.)

Read LOST Recap: Season 6, Episode 1- “LA X” http://wp.me/pxqBU-vo

When History Becomes Folk Lore: At What Point Does Abraham Lincoln Become as Hard to Believe as Abraham of the Old Testament?

To some degree, when enough time goes by, the credibility and “realness” of a once-living person or actual event diminishes.  I was born 4 months after John Lennon died.  There’s no doubt in my mind he existed- I own most of the Beatles’ albums and my favorite song of his is “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”.  However, I was never alive while he was.

But going all the way back to Abraham Lincoln, there’s less information available.  None of us were alive while he was.  Books are written every year about this interesting American hero, yet ultimately anything new we can learn about him is educated speculation.  He becomes more of a mystery as time goes by.  Did he truly derive from English Jews, as some believe?  Was he really 6’ 4”?  Despite his large stature, is it true that he had a high, squeaky voice as some historians have written?

Now go all the way back to over 2,000 years ago to the life of Jesus.  Even most atheists admit that he was a real person who actually lived.  What’s up for debate are his claims to deity and the miracles the Bible states that he performed.  If Christ had lived even 100 years ago, perhaps many people would find it easier to believe in his claims.

Go all the way back to King David and King Solomon.  The Bible records all kinds of details of their lives.  At what point in time do skeptics stop believing in historical accounts? How much does the religious association affect the credibility of their lives, when seen through the eyes of skeptics?

And if we truly rewound the history of time all the way to Adam and Eve, how many people would still be on board as far as believing they both were actual people, and not a symbolic duo representing the origins of mankind?

Time fades the mainstream belief of actual people and events, at least a little.  Once a person dies or a historical event occurs (September 11th, for example), the timer begins.  The more time goes by, the more romanticized or fantasized the person or the event becomes.  Whether or not there is written evidence.  Key example, the events of the Bible.  Or if a more recent event needs to be cited, the Holocaust.  It sickens me that there are people out there who doubt it actually happened.  Despite the video footage that is available.

For many skeptics of Christianity and the Bible, Adam & Eve and Jonah and The Tower of Babel are just moral stories.  Only as real as fairy tales.

I think the exception to the rule is the invention of video cameras.  It’s hard to deny the existence of something we can see and hear, despite it happening before our own lives began.  (Though as just mentioned, some deny the Holocaust.  And there are still plenty of old timers who believe that the 1969 moon landing was a hoax.)  But the historical content of my religious beliefs were not recorded on camera and can not be found on You Tube.

A hundred years from now, we won’t be here anymore.  And that is sad.  Our lives are most relevant to others while we are still alive.  Because a hundred years from now, what proof will be left of us other than our own ancestors?  What good will we be to some random stranger?

That train of thought leaves me with no option but to believe in a life after this.  Not only to believe in it, but to seek it out.  Not only to seek it out, but to know why exactly my religious beliefs are the most believable, the most secure, and most importantly, the only truth.  And by that point, it’s not simply a religious belief, it’s faith.

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on history, why not read my perspective on being a dad?  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog” by clicking on the link below:

dad from day one