One of my first responsibilities in the new ministry was to facilitate a "commissioning service" of sorts last night for the eleven women we have just sent (this morning) for two weeks of service to Bulgaria.
FYI here is the text of an eMail I just sent out to our prayer partners. Oswald's been doing this a lot lately (I think I said that yesterday!) - yesterday he spoke to us about intercessory prayer.
That guy's timing is astounding...
As I write this Gwen, Stephanie, Pat, Jen, Sue, Donna, Kathy, Tonya and Sarah should be commencing their decent into Toronto, where Cathie and Nel will join them and the team will be complete. Then, God willing, they are quickly on to Frankfurt and Sofia for total flying time of roughly 14 hours.
Over the next 2 weeks I will forward on to you any news I receive from Bulgaria. Remember - no news is good news, and last year we did not hear from the team for roughly 1 week, until they finally worked out their communication bugs.
Regardless of the frequency of their communication to us, our role is to pray for them.
Last night at the home of Doug and Dorothea we had a great time of worship and blessing. I'm not sure how many people were there, but the house was filled.
As "senders" we were challenged by the words of Oswald Chambers:
"Do you find yourself thinking that there is no one interceding properly? Then be that person yourself. Be a person who worships God and lives in a holy relationship with Him. Get involved in the real work of intercession, remembering that it truly is work - work that demands all your energy, but work which has no hidden pitfalls. Preaching the gospel has its share of pitfalls, but intercessory prayer has none whatsoever."
And so they have the hard part, and we have the easier role. We committed to "raising ourselves up to the point of getting the mind of Christ regarding the person for whom we are praying", as opposed to just "throwing our petitions at His throne and dictating to Him what we want Him to do."
We shared several verses focusing on the theme of anointing:
1 Samuel 16:13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power.
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Luke 4:16-21 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
Christ was reading from Isaiah 61. That chapter has 11 verses - one verse for each of the women on the team. And so they each read a verse (and we read for Cathie and Nel.) We read from The Message, which says:
Announce Freedom to All Captives
The Spirit of GOD, the Master, is on me
because GOD anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives,
pardon all prisoners.
GOD sent me to announce the year of his grace--
a celebration of God's destruction of our enemies--
and to comfort all who mourn,
To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,
give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom,
a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.
Rename them "Oaks of Righteousness"
planted by GOD to display his glory.
They'll rebuild the old ruins,
raise a new city out of the wreckage.
They'll start over on the ruined cities,
take the rubble left behind and make it new.
You'll hire outsiders to herd your flocks
and foreigners to work your fields,
But you'll have the title "Priests of GOD,"
honored as ministers of our God.
You'll feast on the bounty of nations,
you'll bask in their glory.
Because you got a double dose of trouble
and more than your share of contempt,
Your inheritance in the land will be doubled
and your joy go on forever.
"Because I, GOD, love fair dealing
and hate thievery and crime,
I'll pay your wages on time and in full,
and establish my eternal covenant with you.
Your descendants will become well-known all over.
Your children in foreign countries
Will be recognized at once
as the people I have blessed."
I will sing for joy in GOD,
explode in praise from deep in my soul!
He dressed me up in a suit of salvation,
he outfitted me in a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom who puts on a tuxedo
and a bride a jewelled tiara.
For as the earth bursts with spring wildflowers,
and as a garden cascades with blossoms,
So the Master, GOD, brings righteousness into full bloom
and puts praise on display before the nations.
We chose that translation because of the great floral metaphors, as the theme of our evening was roses which are so plentiful in Bulgaria. The evening culminated in the anointing of each of the women with rose oil, which was brought back from Bulgaria last year. One by one we named each member of the team, anointed them, laid on hands and prayed. There was laughter and tears as we blessed them and sent them out to be Christ's fragrance to the world.
As they travel today pray for good health, for safe travel and for Christ's spirit of unity to take hold and gel among these eleven missionaries.
Thousands of the U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq are carrying concrete symbols of their faith, according to military chaplains...
Even many of those who have fallen away from their faith upbringing or have never participated in a religious community readily grab New Testaments, daily devotionals, inspirational calendars, patron saint medals, crosses and rosaries that are available to troops at military processing centers across the United States.
"At least 50 percent take something, maybe more," said Lt. Col. Donald Lindman, an Army Reserve chaplain assigned to Fort Dix, N.J., a deployment center for National Guard and Reserve personnel in the Northeast, including the Washington area.
The intimate ties between soldier, family and God were evident this week when the mother of Spec. Shoshana Johnson, an Army cook who was taken prisoner near the Southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, told a television audience that she is certain her daughter has her rosary with her and is praying regularly.
From The Washington Post.
While we were away for a couple of days I pulled out Hearing God again. (One of the things I am looking forward to now that the move is behind us is getting through this pile of new books I've got.)
I'm about two thirds of the way through this updated version of an earlier book by Dallas Willard. As usual, he drives right through to the heart of the matter. Under the heading Christ's Faith As My Faith he talks about those who even after they came to faith in Him did not share His faith.
It's an interesting notion. As an example he looks at the disciples in the boat in the middle of the storm.
They roused him, pleading, "Master, save us! We're going down!" (Matthew 8:25)
And Christ's reply:
Jesus reprimanded them. "Why are you such cowards, such faint-hearts?" Then he stood up and told the wind to be silent, the sea to quiet down: "Silence!" The sea became smooth as glass. (Matthew 8:26)
They irony of that exchange was lost on me until Dallas pointed it out. They had great faith in Christ - that's obvious as they went running to Him for help. They knew He could save them.
So why were they scared???
They had faith in Christ, but they did not have Christ's faith - His faith in God.
Faith in Christ and love for Christ - they sound great, but they do not demonstrate Christ living in me.
"Our additional life, though it is still our life, is also God's life in us: his thoughts, his faith , his love, all literally imparted to us, shared with us, by his word and Spirit." p. 157
Father... if it's really "no longer I that liveth, but Christ that liveth in me", then I want to reflect that by taking on more of Christ's character. I thank you for living in me, now humbly I ask you to live through me. I want the world to see you in me... not just hear about you from me.
I just caught the last couple of seconds of Oprah interviewing one of the "imbedded journalists" (I can't even say that with a straight face) from CNN. I can't think of the guy's name, but he's one of the "famous" ones. She asked him about being scared, how often he slept, what he said to his family when he was able to talk to them, what he had for dinner, etc.
The transmutation of TV is just about complete. I fully expect to start hearing about the "ratings war within the War". And remember - you heard it here first: The next Survivor will be in Iraq. And I'm only half kidding about that.
We live on the 4th floor now. I wonder how big a mess my TV would make if I dropped it off the balcony. Could be kind of cool...
Is it a church plant?
No. It is a gathering of a bunch of sinners who are looking at new worship forms once a month and nothing more.
Are you affiliated with anyone?
No... kind of. The Worship Freehouse is not affiliated with anyone at all except for those who are apart of it. That being said, many of us have strong ties to local churches and different religious traditions so we aren't going to do things that compromise the core beliefs of the Christian church but outside of that, we are all cool with coloring outside the lines.
Who is your pastor or leader?
No one. We have an intentionally flat structure. We have a treasurer because someone more organized than most of us needs to keep track of the cash. Other than that we have the web guy and someone to co-ordinate with the Jazz Bassment (who are a cool group of people), and someone to make sure we have soft drinks at our planning meetings. Hardly a management team. We make decisions as a group as we will be the ones that will be carrying it out. It works well for us.
What's your long-term vision?
Don't have one that I know of. Next question.
What does Spiritwood think about you being involved in the Worship Freehouse?
They are cool with it. I have worked at Lakeview for a couple of years, have had summer jobs, and am now working with PrairieFusion. Lakeland is a church of jack of all trades. Most people in my church are really good at several things so maybe they see it that way.
Why are you meeting in a bar (gasp) instead of a local church?
We didn't want to go to the suburbs and there were no downtown churches that really wanted us or had the right kind of space. A couple of the downtown Saskatoon churches would have felt empty with 600 people in them. The Jazz Bassment was the right price and is kind of a cool spot to hang out in. That and they seem to really be looking forward to us being there.
That sounds awesome!
Jesus was matter-of-fact: "Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, "Go jump in the lake'--no shuffling or shilly-shallying--and it's as good as done.
Henri has some timely thoughts for us today, given all the war/peace, liberal/conservative, etc./etc. controversy of late...
Living Faithfully in an Ambiguous World
Our hearts and minds desire clarity. We like to have a clear picture of a situation, a clear view of how things fit together, and clear insight into our own and the world's problems. But just as in nature colors and shapes mingle without clear-cut distinctions, human life doesn't offer the clarity we are looking for. The borders between love and hate, evil and good, beauty and ugliness, heroism and cowardice, care and neglect, guilt and blamelessness are mostly vague, ambiguous, and hard to discern.
It is not easy to live faithfully in a world full of ambiguities. We have to learn to make wise choices without needing to be entirely sure.
I would say that this world qualifies as "ambiguous". Indeed, part of the problem arises, I think, when some say it is not ambiguous, that the proper path is very clear. That to me is simplistic, short-sighted, most of all "worldly" thinking.
As I said in someone's comment section yesterday we will probably never know while stuck in this present world. We may have our opinions and our defenses of them, but let's not presume that we are right, which implies everyone else is wrong. (And yes, I realize that is a very "postmodern" position to take... I can't help it.)
UPDATE: As is often the case Ozzie gives us a corollary to Henri today:
A higher state of mind and spiritual vision can only be achieved through the higher practice of personal character. If you live up to the highest and best that you know in the outer level of your life, God will continually say to you, "Friend, come up even higher."
You could consider this the "evolution" of the path of Discipleship, although Ozzie uses the word "elevation" (which works for me because it's the name of one of my favorite U2 songs.) This is a relatively new revelation for me in my life. I used to believe coming to faith was the finish line - now I know it's the starting line instead. I find myself "benchmarking" my life, and trying to discern how God has changed me from one point in my life to another.
Here's an awkward challenge if you're up to it: We have before us two Gulf wars, about 12 years apart. Have your attitudes towards conflict, peace, politics and Christ changed from one to the other? In other words has God "elevated" you?
If not, I would suggest that was cause for concern.
Mark Priddy has posted a wake-up call for those of us (me) whose library and calendars are filling up, but whose lives and communities may not be changing sufficiently to reflect this new found knowledge.
God has graciously given us many voices in our generation, Willard, Wright, Newbigin, Fee, Foster, Peterson and so many more. We are truly indebted to their work, but our life's work is not just to be well read, or to have the next great gathering, like I said...don't get me wrong that is all good, but not at the expense of forming vibrant communities of the holy spirit, not at the expense of shaping and forming kingdom communities for the sake of the world. We must live our lives in the context of community, caring for one another deeply. We need to endeavor to help shape communities of a new social order, communities who represent the love and compassion of God, communities who are deeply involved in the concerns of our neighborhood and society. We must announce redemption to the world that has discovered its fallenness, healing to the world that has discovered its brokenness, and to proclaim love and trust to the world that knows only exploitation, fear, and suspicion.
Check out the complete post - it's worth it.
Thanks to Alan Creech for the heads-up.
God of all peace, who wills for every child, every person, wholeness and justice; in the midst of war and violence, we pray for peace.
We pray for all who carry the responsibility of decisions in the current tensions between the United States, its allies and Iraq.
We know some by name, and there are many whose names we know not.
Grant, O God, to those we name and those we cannot, an out pouring of your spirit of peace; and a new vision of your loving purpose for political and delegated authority.
All: Your Kingdom come, Your will be done
We pray for the United Nations and all who work to sustain its purposes of peace with justice, and those commissioned to work in Iraq as weapons inspectors.
Grant, O God, an outpouring of your spirit of courage; and a new vision of your loving purpose for our fragile world.
All: Your Kingdom come, Your will be done
We pray for the people of Iraq, the United States and its allies; that children may be valued,
that the oppressed may be freed, that the voiceless will be heard.
Grant, O God, an outpouring of your spirit of love, a new vision of your loving purpose for every human life.
All: Your Kingdom come, Your will be done
We offer our prayer in great hope that peace with justice will be achieved because it is your will. In doing so, (leaving self behind and taking up our cross), we make our decision to love others better than ourselves, to give others life and hope whatever the cost.
All: Your Kingdom come, Your will be done
As is often the case the posts I really want some feedback on get passed over for the more "controversial" issues.
Do me a favour and go back to Hold On Loosely, and let me know what you think.
Well, I just returned home from a couple of days away talking about the future of our ministry and some last minute preparation for the upcoming trip (Sue and 10 other women head for two weeks in Bulgaria on Monday), to find Greg's comment on my previous post. (That, and the Tony Campolo post have got some of you riled up. Just keep it clean.)
I had an idea. Why not eMail Darren and lets talk about an appropriate response?! As I teleported over to the Living Room to get his eMail address, I found that he had already responded in a beautiful way.
Thanks for the lesson in grace, Darren.
A warning: If you don't believe that God loves Palestinians and Iraqis too you aren't going to like it.
I tell you what: before you read it pray for an open mind. Pray for a little bit of Jesus' heart. Then, if you still feel like it, come back and tell me all about how he's a liberal, etc. etc. etc.
Today's my first attempt at getting some kind of a routine going here in our new home. I actually set the alarm today, got up and spent some time in The Message. I'm working my way through Mark.
To Enter God's Kingdom
"As he went out into the street, a man came running up, greeted him with great reverence, and asked, "Good Teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?"
Jesus said, "Why are you calling me good? No one is good, only God. You know the commandments: Don't murder, don't commit adultery, don't steal, don't lie, don't cheat, honor your father and mother."
He said, "Teacher, I have - from my youth - kept them all!"
Jesus looked him hard in the eye - and loved him! He said, "There's one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me."
The man's face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go."
I've always been fascinated by this passage, and I love the way The Message puts it. I don't believe it's about money, necessarily. (Although money receives a special mention by Jesus here. Of all the things/stuff that could prevent us from achieving The Kingdom, money is a big one.)
"Jesus looked him hard in the eye" - read his mind, if you will. What was the thing that this man was holding on too tightly to? Family? Safety? Others' opinions? Status? Oh, with him it was money. So that's what Jesus zeroed in on.
And why did Jesus do that? Because he loved him! Jesus wants us to be citizens of The Kingdom - it's not something we have to fight him for. This isn't something we have to wrestle an angel for, best two out of three! Jesus skips over the "works" the man boasts of. "Yeah, that's nice. You keep The Commandments. But's what's holding you back from The Kingdom?"
This is very telling, given all the conversation out there around the issue of The Kingdom. I like the heading of this passage - To Enter God's Kingdom. I don't think it's just semantics. The man asked about eternal life, and Jesus answered about The Kingdom. I think one is part of the other, but they are not synonymous.
At the risk of being labeled a heretic, maybe Jesus is saying, "Yeah, you've got the eternal life thing down, but don't you want to be part of The Kingdom, here and now? If so, let's talk about some stuff you need to deal with."
Jesus... what am I holding on too tightly to? Please show me.
OK... I apologize in advance.
Check out this Swedish site and link to Bush och Blair.
(Thanks to Dave Rogers for the link).
There are very few people who realise what God would make of them if they abandoned themselves into His hands, and let themselves be formed by His grace.
St. Ignatius Loyola
(I stole the quote from Kairos. Thanks)
OK, so I'm on a role...
Pastor's Forum, where apparently "Christian leaders help each other to grow a healthy church" had this post on January 29th:
As international events run their course over the next few weeks, it's important to remind our international guests that this site is hosted, provided, and used primarily by Americans. Whether or not you agree with U.S. decisions over the next few weeks, please refrain from anti-American/anti-Bush/anti-ally statements or posts. Statements of that nature will be dealt with quickly. This is the only warning you will receive.
There may be some statements of that nature by our American posters, but that is a national family matter and we will process it without outside help.
Then on March 20th the administrator "clarified".
When things blow over and the dust settles, the warning will be taken down because it will no longer be necessary. Until that time, while I appreciate the expression of your concern, the post will continue to stand.
Not sure whether to laugh or cry with this one.
Just doing a little surfing this evening, and I came across Dave Roger's reflections on Media and War.
The broadcast and cable news outlets seem to be rubbing their hands in glee with dramatic graphics, constantly rolling tickers and live videophone reports from "the front." Will we one day see it all again as syndicated programming on TVLand?
In my comment I wondered out loud if TV will ever be the same. What happens when you combine "reality TV" with "embedded journalists"? Perhaps you get blown up off the island?
Time to take Owen's cue and get rid of the idiot box while there's still time...
I promised myself I wasn't going to write anything about the war. Today, tomorrow... forever if possible. Then I came across this on Jordon's blog and decided to "borrow" it lock, stock and barrel.
Leighton Ford addresses three questions on the War with Iraq... Brian McLaren forwarded the following email:
THREE QUESTIONS ABOUT WAR WITH IRAQ
A LETTER FROM LEIGHTON FORD TO YOUNG CHRISTIAN LEADERS
Shortly before Christmas I was invited with a few other religious leaders to meet with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other officials to discuss terrorism and Iraq. One official explained "If we are going into conflict with Iraq we need the moral support of the public."
Although I appreciated being invited to the session, I left troubled. Certainly Saddam Hussein has wrought great evil against his own people and others, greater perhaps than most of us realize. Yet I was not convinced that the connection between Iraq and terrorism was clear enough to justify war.
In the weeks since I have wrestled with the question of this war, and its moral defensibility. I had thought of writing an open letter to the president. But he has more than enough advice! So instead I write this to you, as young pastors, evangelists, and mission leaders to ask you to confront honestly and prayerfully three questions that we who follow Jesus should be asking of ourselves and those we lead.
Question #1: What is the moral justification for a "pre-emptive" war? I am not a pacifist, although I deeply respect my friends who are. There are times, I believe, when force must be used to oppose evil. As the apostle Paul taught, rulers are given the "power of the sword" from God to "execute wrath on the wrongdoer." Yet Paul's words must be held in tension with those of Jesus who told his disciples, as they were pulling out weapons to fight off those sent to arrest him, "Put up your sword. All who take the sword will perish by the sword." Former President Jimmy Carter surely had it right: "War may sometimes be a necessary evil, but it is still evil." The problem is still that of the human heart. Sin distorts our decisions and motives and our ability to see and execute judgment purely. All of us can too easily find ways to "justify" our actions. Thus some moral criteria for a "just war" and not only the claims of "realpolitik" must be our guide. This is why across the centuries thoughtful Christians have sought to weigh the pros and cons of any specific conflict in the scales of so-called "just war" theory"; e.g., that war must only be waged as a last resort, to protect the innocent, to restore justice, avoiding as far as possible injury to non-combatants, and with grounds for believing that limited military action will prevent greater evil. What, then, justifies a pre-emptive or "preventive" war? This takes the ethics of war to a new level, and demands a higher and clearer standard. Unless military power is used with a clear moral clarity we set a precedent that may come back to haunt us and the world. Suppose that a year from now India wishes to justify a pre-emptive strikeagainst Pakistan, fearing that Pakistan may provide weapons of mass destruction to Kashmir rebels (or, vice versa). On what moral grounds will the U.S. and other nations be able to challenge them? It seems to me that a preemptive war is justified only when three conditions are met: First, that injury is threatened to a third (innocent) party Second, that there is clear intent and demonstrated preparation to attack Third, when it can be shown that waiting would greatly magnify the risk In a democracy we must trust our elected leaders to weigh these issues. Yet we may also require, if they want our "moral support", that they provide a moral and legal basis for a pre-emptive war. It may be that in a world of violence force will sometimes be needed to stop tyrants, and protect the innocent. But such actions must always be for the sake of justice, never for vengeance, and justice be tempered by mercy. If, then, we are called to be merciful, do we not have a moral imperative to prepare to practice mercy? How will we wage war mercifully, when Saddam Hussein may deliberately move his military forces right next to civilians? How will we plan to make peace? Must we not be clear about our intentions now?
Question #2: What effect will war have on fellow believers in other parts of the world? We often forget that in the Middle East and the Arab countries there are not only Muslims and Jews, but fellow followers of Christ. How will a war affect them? A friend who heads a major Christian ministry in that part of the world recently e-mailed to say: We pray with all our hearts that by the time you receive this ... war with Iraq will have been averted. From our perspective, war against Iraq would have devastating repercussions in the region - not least of which is a serious undermining of the message of the Gospel. The reason for this is that Arabs are interpreting war against Iraq as Christian aggression against an Islamic nation. This false perception is so deeply ingrained among most Arabs that it undermines any perception of Christianity as a message of love and peace. As my friend says, the perception is false. Yet it is real to those who hold it! And we have a responsibility to manage perceptions, and not just deny them. How would you respond to my friend? How do I respond? I can only let him know that I am praying that war may yet be averted, and other means found to deter Hussein. And, if not, then we must pray that the war will be as limited as possible, that civilian loss may be minimal, and that in any post-war rebuilding Christians will be able to join with many others to minister to the hungry and hurting people of Iraq, and especially to the children!
Question #3: what war is most worth fighting? At the end of the day I have tried to look at our world not as a "religious leader", but as a grandfather. My wife and I have four precious grandchildren, ranging from a college freshman to a little girl just learning to turn over in her crib. How will our decisions as a nation affect them? and the other billions of children in our world? The greatest risk may not be from Hussein, but from what would happen in the ten to twenty years after a war, in attack and counter-attack, in anger and revenge. I do not want our grandchildren to grow up in a kind of global northern Ireland! I also ask myself: what about the money? War with Iraq will cost anything from fifty to a hundred billion dollars or more. Is that the best way to spend these billions? to build a future for our own grandchildren and others? Yet there is another war, one well worth fighting - the war against HIV-AIDS in southern Africa and much of Asia. In the long run the HIV-AIDS pandemic is a greater threat than Saddam Hussein. If the war against AIDS is lost this disease has the potential to destabilize entire continents, and much of the world. President Bush has committed fifteen billion dollars over the next several years for the fight against AIDS in Africa. Yet this is only just a beginning. The Secretary General of the United Nations has said "With ten billion dollars a year AIDS can be globally controlled in ten years." This is a war that can be won! I thank God for President Bush's leadership in this commitment. But I am hoping that he and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair (who a year ago called for a global "Marshall Plan" to wipe out AIDS) will with all the authority of their offices build a "coalition of the willing" in this war. War with Iraq will end many lives. War against AIDS will save tens of thousands of lives. So let's ask ourselves, and our leaders: which war is most worth fighting? There's still time to seek an alternative to war. Consider this: a church in Boulder, Colorado is encouraging people to put a cup of rice in a sandwich bag and send it to the White House with a note that says "If your enemies are hungry, feed them. Romans 12:20. Please send this to the people of Iraq." In the mid 50s famine ravaged China while the US and China were at odds over threats to the islands of Qemoy and Matsu. Such a "rice campaign" took place then but not until much later was the effect known. President Eisenhower met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to consider US options and twice the use of nuclear weapons was recommended. Each time Eisenhower turned to an aide to ask how many little bags of rice had come in. When told they numbered in the tens of thousands, Eisenhower told his generals that as long as so many Americans were asking for the US to feed the Chinese he certainly wasn't going to consider using nuclear weapons against them. (The story is related by David Albert in People Power: Applying Nonviolence Theory) If I had the ear of the President I would want to say: Mr. President, please: keep the pressure on Saddam to disarm. Please: feed the children of Iraq. And please: lead the war against AIDS.
Some good questions there.
Todd Hunter has been getting a lot of air play from me lately.
I've just read through his latest thought on, well, all sorts of things. Leadership, servanthood, missing the point, etc. Check it out here.
Once line caught my attention:
Am I "poser" because I talk about things I cannot yet live?
Man, if I couldn't talk about things I cannot yet live I wouldn't have much to say.
O my soul, bless GOD. From head to toe, I'll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless GOD,
don't forget a single blessing!
He forgives your sins--every one.
He heals your diseases--every one.
He redeems you from hell--saves your life!
He crowns you with love and mercy--a paradise crown.
He wraps you in goodness--beauty eternal.
He renews your youth--you're always young in his presence.
GOD makes everything come out right;
he puts victims back on their feet.
He showed Moses how he went about his work,
opened up his plans to all Israel.
GOD is sheer mercy and grace;
not easily angered, he's rich in love.
He doesn't endlessly nag and scold,
nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn't treat us as our sins deserve,
nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children,
GOD feels for those who fear him.
He knows us inside and out,
keeps in mind that we're made of mud.
Men and women don't live very long;
like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,
But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly,
leaving nothing to show they were here.
GOD's love, though, is ever and always,
eternally present to all who fear him,
Making everything right for them and their children
as they follow his Covenant ways
and remember to do whatever he said.
GOD has set his throne in heaven;
he rules over us all. He's the King!
So bless GOD, you angels,
ready and able to fly at his bidding,
quick to hear and do what he says.
Bless GOD, all you armies of angels,
alert to respond to whatever he wills.
Bless GOD, all creatures, wherever you are--
everything and everyone made by GOD.
O my soul, bless GOD!
Psalm 103:1-22 The Message
Thank you, God!
(Thank you, Eugene!)
Nothing else to say.
Just wanted to tell someone.
I've been thinking about community lately, as have a lot of other people. Now that life is getting settled (somewhat... still lots of "stuff" to sort out) I've been thinking about the new community we find ourselves in, what that will look like, what that will mean for us, but more importantly for those pre-believers we encounter.
Alan Creech had some good thoughts on the same issue a couple of days ago:
I'm frankly more concerned about the overarching "problem" of how we go about becoming the transformed people of God that we were created to be on a daily basis. I was thinking about that this morning - how does our little community "get there"? Are we "doing" enough to really be transformed into His image? Are these the wrong questions?
Many, too, are thinking about what it means for us, as Christian Communities, to be "on mission" - or to be "missional." Jason and Todd are publicly struggling with this question. It needs to be struggled with. They're asking good questions. I'm not sure totally what the answers are - we will come up with different ones I'm guessing, many of us. My basic answer is that our "job" as the church is to be a vehicle of transformation. I think that means that these communities we are a part of are the context in which we become like Jesus. So, we should be about that - about what belongs to that job. And as we are about that business, we are in the world with people who are not on that journey, and we are loving them and by that, we are inviting them to come walk this journey with us.
William Saletan has an intriguing look at the changing face of war, and some suggestions on how the anti-war movment needs to change along with it. I think he goes a little too far in making this new theory sound too clean and antiseptic, but it's very interesting none the less...
If you're an anti-war protester or politician, this theory of warfare should change the way you think and act. Your efforts to generate resistance to the war before there is any evidence of killing, much less atrocities, contribute to the political strength of the enemy regime. You encourage uncertainty about the war's outcome, increasing the likelihood that the regime's soldiers will fight and die. You make it more difficult to separate the regime from its people. You frustrate the tipping and bring on the crushing.
Check it out here.
(Thanks to Andrew Jones for the link.)
Oh yeah, I've updated my eMail Me link with the new address. I've done it "cryptically" in the hopes that the finehornywives won't track me down. You'll figure it out.
The Slacktivist has a great review of GWB's well publicized evangelical grounding. (After all, The prez consults Ozzie every morning, although I have it on good authority that he's not linking to it from this site.)
Much has been made of President George W. Bush's evangelical piety. The president's faith is difficult to discern from the substance of his ethical decisions, but it is crystal clear when one considers the approach he takes to such decisions.
The evangelical strain in American Christianity is suspicious of intellectual systems and tends to be primitivistic, ahistoric and, above all, visceral. This intuitive, sentimental approach to ethics is seen in populist evangelical slogans such as "What Would Jesus Do?" (a formula first proposed in the novel "In His Steps," by Charles Sheldon -- whose Social Gospel agenda remains largely ignored by those wearing "WWJD?" bracelets).
Bush's near-constant talk about "hearts" (his own and others) is a classic example of sentimental, intuitive evangelical ethics. For the president, as for many evangelicals, feeling trumps thinking when it comes to deciding the right thing to do. Bush's gut-level decisions can be jarring to those unfamiliar with this sentimental ethical approach. He seemed utterly disinterested, for example, in Vladimir Putin's position and actions toward Chechnya -- all that mattered was for him to meet the man personally, and look into his eyes/soul to judge that "Pooty Poot" had a "Good Heart."
The dangers of such an approach are obvious. All considerations of consequence and outcome (including respect for the potential of unforeseen consequences) become secondary to the matter of intent. For Mr. Bush, if someone has a "Good Heart," his intentions are pure and he can do no wrong.
Read the whole piece here.
I'm reminded again how dangerous a little religion is.
With or without religion good people can behave well and bad people can do evil;
but for good people to do evil - that takes religion.
Here's a quick thought before I get back to unpacking. (We're almost there!)
As I've said before we purged a lot of our stuff before leaving Oakville. Or... at least we thought we did. Part of our problem with getting things organized here in the condo is the fact that we simply have too much stuff. So, it will take a while longer before we get this stuff put away, and distributed to others.
Sue and I will be working with Global Action Ministries Canada (no web site yet to link you to... yet!), and in 10 days we will be sending a group of 11 women (including Sue) to Bulgaria to minister to women.
(I'll take time later to explain more about this ministry, but for now I'll say it's a ministry to women, not a women's ministry, if you know what I mean.)
Last night we held a meeting with 9 of the 11 women, and 4 of the husbands. As the women met in the next room, the four of us prayed and talked together. One of the things we talked about was "stuff". It turns out all 4 of us had either already sold, or was in the process of selling property as part of a downsize/simplification process.
Stuff is a distraction from what God wants us to do. Stuff stressed us out as we moved and struggled to put the condo together.
There's something to all this.
Real quick - I noticed my clock was off on my last post. We moved in yesterday (18th), and today we are dealing with the aftermath. Despite our pre-move purging, there isn't room to sit down right now!
The good news is the cable guy just left, and we are up and running!
Tomorrow morning at 8 am the moving truck should be at the condo, and the next chapter begins. I said to someone earlier today in an eMail that I didn't really get to process my Emergent thoughts. As soon as I got home, it was right into move-mode. I feel I need to catch up on that.
I think things will be crazy for a while. On Thursday we'll start talking about what our roles are to be in this ministry, and where we go from here.
What an adventure to follow Christ!
From our friend Henri today...
We all are bruised reeds, whether our bruises are visible or not. The compassionate life is the life in which we believe that strength is hidden in weakness and that true community is a fellowship of the weak.
And with that perhaps we get an inch or two closer in our search for true community.
One more for you before I get another cup of coffee. Thunderstruck looks good, and I was blown away by a lot of the quotes down the right side of the screen.
Here's a couple that caught my eye.
"Well, you know, I am not a very good advertisement for God. So, I generally don't wear that badge on my lapel. But it is certainly written on the inside. I am a believer. There are 2,103 verses of Scripture pertaining to the poor. Jesus Christ only speaks of judgement once. It is not all about the things that the church bangs on about. It is not about sexual immorality, and it is not about megalomania, or vanity. It is about the poor. 'I was naked you clothed me. I was a stranger and you let me in.' This is at the heart of the gospel. Why is it that we have seemed to have forgotten this? Why isn't the church leading this movement? I am here tonight because the church ought to be ready to do that.
--Bono in response to Thunderstruck's question about how faith motivates his activism, asked during a press conference at Northeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky
(You know anything by Bono is going to catch my eye!)
"Drinking beer is easy. Trashing your hotel room is easy. But being a Christian, that's a tough call. That's rebellion."
The London Sunday Times
(How did I find this site? They were ranked right after me on WLW!! Hey - by linking to them here they'll move past me!))
Sue, put the coffee on... it's going to be a long day.
I know it's getting a little old, but I've just come across DJ Chuang's great synopsis of a lot of the post Emergent comments out there. I have another 40 pages of notes from the conference that I still need to go over once we get "settled", so I reserve the right to say more about it later!
Our friend Soren Kierkegaard has something to say today on our favorite subject:
"There is, namely, an infinite chasmic difference between God and man, and therefore it became clear in the situation of contemporaneity that to become a Christian (to be transformed into likeness with God) is, humanly speaking, an even greater torment and misery and pain than the greatest human torment, and in addition a crime in the eyes of one's contemporaries. And so it will always prove to be if becoming a Christian truly comes to mean becoming contemporary with Christ. And if becoming a Christian does not come to mean this, then all this talk about becoming a Christian is futility and fancy and vanity..."
Here it is... The Last Christian Links List You'll Ever Need to Look At. Ever. Brought to you by Mike and Philip
Seriously, a great collection of resources. (Thanks to Andrew for the link).
And the theme continues...
have these stores gotten worse in the past few decades?
i ask this because i walked in and was repulsed by what i saw there. christian candy and "Bars of Judah" (fancy god-labelled granola stuff) and fortune cookies with scripture inside. veggie tales action figures and puzzles and games and christian coffee and dumb bumper stickers and keychains and row upon row of stupid kids stuff.
it was sickening. i stood in the middle of this huge room, surrounded by godstuph and i wanted to weep. i was furious and disgusted and horrified and broken-hearted all at the same time.
i wanted to tear it all down, to rip it to shreds, to stop it. i wanted to run up to the people and shake them and scream, "don't you see? don't you see? this isn't it! this isn't it!!" it was everything wrong with the church, everything wrong with trying to market jesus, market testaMINTS and godly lemon drops and christian chocolate, trying to wrap the gospel, the passion, the life, god without limits into something tantalising and tasty and understandable.
isn't the wonder of god, of jesus, that they are beyond our understanding? isn't the mystery part of the story? isn't the unknowing part of what makes it so beautiful?
Somebody please make it stop.
Well, we just heard from the moving company. Due to the avalanches it looks like we'll be living in Pete & Jen's living room for a few more days. We were originally scheduled to be moved in tomorrow, but now it looks like Monday or Tuesday before the truck makes it to Vancouver.
(I'd consider changing the name of this blog... but it's already taken!)
Before you read this post, make sure you read Up With Church below...
Back? OK. My friend Pete sent me an eMail yesterday from work. (Sue and I are currently camped out in Pete & Jen's living room!) Pete has started to explore some of the issues we've been talking about here, and he's had some great questions about postmodernity, the future of the church, etc. And, he wrote this eMail before reading any of my posts from yesterday (for example, Tastes Great - Less Filling). This is exactly what I'm taking about; God is trying to tell us something...
Is Today's Church Like Disneyland?
As you know, I just booked the family vacation to Disneyland yesterday and it struck me. Is today's church more like Disneyland and less like the church Jesus intended?
We pay our 10% admission fee and we are entitled to unlimited rides and entertainment.
Some of the rides are thrilling and we want to go on them again and again. Some rides make us uncomfortable. These we just want to get off of as quickly as possible. We are entertained by music and drama but only sit in the audience and never really participate.
People put on costumes and try to make us feel good. These entertainers even go to Disney U to learn how to entertain us. They spend time rehearsing an act or show.
We can even go to the concession stand and grab a coffee, buy the latest souvenir or get tickets to upcoming shows.
The problem is, we leave the park and discover it wasn't real.
We wonder: Who are the people inside the costume? When can we go back to escape what is real?
So how do we remove the fences and gates and make it "real"?
Looking back at most of my posts from the last 2 days it seems like I've been on a church-bashing rampage. Sort of strange, too. There's definitely a common theme, but the different posts came from different thoughts, places, experiences and people. It wasn't intentional... it's just the way it happened (and will probably continue to happen).
Like Todd Hunter I'm not down on the church, I'm up on it. I've shared my recently constructed personal mission statement here before...
To explore and communicate radical faith while serving the community of Christ-followers.
While I'm still sorting out exactly what that means in a practical sense, I know it definitely means working within the context of "church" - whatever that is.
Just wanted you to know.
Todd Hunter is doing it again. He's stretching my brain. Todd's chewing on some comments from Dallas Willard around the whole issue of "community". I'll throw in the word "authentic" because you often see them together...
"Let me be quick to say that neither Dallas (who by the way, I don't officially speak for) nor I are "down" on the church; we are "up" on it, living our whole lives in service to it. These meetings are not "bad" or "of the devil" or any such non-sense. We merely need to honestly ask ourselves if we believe such religious meetings are what God intended as the primary markers of authentic Christ-followership? I know virtually no one would say they are, but nevertheless, they are the de facto markers of Christianity in the USA. Today, "meetings" may be religious-social equivalent of Jewish circumcision."
Dallas Willard also blows my mind, in a good way. And Todd sounds like a guy who is helping me to pick up the pieces and reconstruct my mind. Thanks Coach.
(This one is a little long... sorry)
A little while back I said that I thought stress was a demon. Let me explain myself with a story of the last week or so.
As we fly towards Vancouver (I wrote this on the plane yesterday) we are heading for our 6th home. We've been married almost 11 years - and we lived in one place for almost 6 years! Considering we do it so often, I HATE moving. Don't get me wrong - I love change, but it's the transitions in between I can't stand. And even the best, flawless, no-damage move is still a major pain in the butt.
Anyway, here's the story.
Last Wednesday I had a major service done on our Nissan Pathfinder. We've sold our car in order to become a one-vehicle family, so I wanted to be sure that the Pathfinder ("the truck") was in good shape. One of the many things I had done was have a new key made, as mine had been broken for some time.
Thursday morning the movers came to pack, so I went to move the truck on to the street. (Thursday afternoon someone was coming to pick up the truck to ship it by rail. They were due anytime from noon to 3 pm).
It wouldn't start.
I kept trying (with different keys) and finally got it going. I drove it around the block a few times, stopped and started it a few times, and left it on the street.
At 11:50 I went to try it again because I had a bad feeling.
It wouldn't start.
OK - by this time I'm a little stressed. I ran back into the house and told Sue to call the pick-up company and postpone while I figure out what to do. (She tells me I was a little crazed). I called the dealership and told the service guy if I could get it started I was bringing it in. I messed around with both keys (old and new) and finally got it started again, but now my security light was on. I called the service guy back and asked about the light and keys. He told me I was supposed to get BOTH keys reprogrammed at the same time, and by trying to start it with the old key I had messed up the whole security system!
(I realize this is dragging on... I'll try to speed it up.)
The long and short of it is I made it down to the dealer, a little stressed to say the least, and walked in on a fight in the service department. The service guy who hadn't known that both keys needed to be done at once was yelling at the courtesy shuttle driver, who was yelling back. The guy who did know about the keys started yelling at the guy who didn't. The guy who didn't started yelling at the guy who actually programmed the key, saying he should have told him. That guy started yelling back, saying he should have known.
I didn't yell at anybody but I was ready to blow a blood vessel. Come on, people - I'm trying to move across the country here!!
To finish off the story (because I know you're curious) the keys were reprogrammed and the security system reset in about 15 minutes, and I got the truck home in time to be picked up. (Where it is now I have no idea. Somewhere between there and here!)
You've seen what I'm talking about, haven't you? I'm talking about real stress, tension, whatever you want to call it. When it's so thick you could cut the air with a knife. When that happens I think of evil.
I think evil knows when the blood pressure is rising, and it swarms to it like flies on you-know-what. But worse than that, it fans the flames, raises the temperature and sits back and basks in it. I think I saw it when I walked into the service centre. I saw it in everyone's eyes. I think they saw it in mine.
That's frightening. I have a new respect for James when he says Be slow to anger.
I have a new appreciation for the consequences.
Because last Sunday was our "last Sunday" before moving, we went to our "new" church (now our old church) at 8:30, and our "old" church (now our old, old church) at 11. Our parents still go there, we have alot of friends there including the staff, so it was nice to get back to say goodbye.
As I've mentioned before, my good friend Steve who is a pastor at our old, old church, came with me to Emergent. He was asked on Sunday to give some short comments from the pulpit on the experience. Keep in mind he serves a church that is undergoing "change" right now, and has some issues with it.
I thought he did a great job of summarizing the issue for people who may not even be aware that the world is changing. He was very blunt about the church becoming completely irrelevant to the culture around it if they didn't take notice and adjust.
He summarized it with the best line I've heard in a while.
The church needs to become less Christian and more like Jesus.
(BTW, check out The Meeting House's site right now for some great quotes on "religion".)
At the risk of sounding all self-aggrandized, I thought Ozzie had some good things to say, today of all days...
Peter began to say to Him, "See, we have left all and followed You"
- Mark 10:28
Our Lord replies to this statement of Peter by saying that this surrender is "for My sake and the gospel's" (10:29). It was not for the purpose of what the disciples themselves would get out of it. Beware of surrender that is motivated by personal benefits that may result. For example, "I'm going to give myself to God because I want to be delivered from sin, because I want to be made holy." Being delivered from sin and being made holy are the result of being right with God, but surrender resulting from this kind of thinking is certainly not the true nature of Christianity. Our motive for surrender should not be for any personal gain at all. We have become so self-centered that we go to God only for something from Him, and not for God Himself. It is like saying, "No, Lord, I don't want you; I want myself. But I do want You to clean me and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I want to be on display in Your showcase so I can say, 'This is what God has done for me.' " Gaining heaven, being delivered from sin, and being made useful to God are things that should never even be a consideration in real surrender. Genuine total surrender is a personal sovereign preference for Jesus Christ Himself.
Where does Jesus Christ figure in when we have a concern about our natural relationships? Most of us will desert Him with this excuse - "Yes, Lord, I heard you call me, but my family needs me and I have my own interests. I just can't go any further" (see Luke 9:57-62 ). "Then," Jesus says, "you 'cannot be My disciple'" (see Luke 14:26-33 ).
True surrender will always go beyond natural devotion. If we will only give up, God will surrender Himself to embrace all those around us and will meet their needs, which were created by our surrender. Beware of stopping anywhere short of total surrender to God. Most of us have only a vision of what this really means, but have never truly experienced it.
Man, I like what Todd Hunter had to say today...
As for me and my house, I remain optimistic. Lets foment a revolution that leads to the church - the people of God, not a place, event or particularly charismatic person - being all that God dreamed of when he wrote his script and gave us our parts in The Story. Let's maximize all the opportunities inherent in postmodernism, post-Christendom while humbly admitting that we could, but are striving against, falling prey to the threats present in PostM and PostC.
Let's go... I'm getting older...
You and me both, Todd. You and me both.
I just added Pleasure, Possessions and Power by Randy Alcorn (which I read on the flight to Emergent) to my Favorite Articles.
When I was a pastor a couple came to my office and told me they wanted to be able to give more money to the church and to missions. "But we've always had this dream for a beautiful home in the country," they added, "And we can't seem to shake it. Is that wrong?"
I told them I thought the dream of a perfect place came from God. It's just that the dream cannot and will not be fulfilled in this life. Our dream house is coming; we don't have to build it here. In fact, we can't. Any dream house we try building here will eventually be ravaged by time, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, carpenter ants, or freeway by-passes - you name it. And who would want to divert kingdom funds to a dream house on earth if you understand it's going to burn to the ground, with no insurance company left to cover the loss? Instead, why not use your resources to send building materials ahead to the Carpenter building your dream house in heaven?
Writing in 1649 Pastor Richard Baxter said:
"If there be so certain and glorious a rest for the saints, why is there no more industrious seeking after it? One would think, if a man did once hear of such unspeakable glory to be obtained, and believed what he heard to be true, he should be transported with the vehemence of his desire after it, and should almost forget to eat and drink, and should care for nothing else, and speak of and inquire after nothing else, but how to get this treasure. And yet people who hear of it daily, and profess to believe it as a fundamental article of their faith, do as little mind it, or labour for it, as if they had never heard of any such thing, or did not believe one word they hear."
May we joyously believe! And then may we live as though we believe!
Can you see the theme that was developing on the way to San Diego... then confirmed by Dallas (see post below)?????
No wonder I'm hung up on this issue.
(Blogging from our friends' place in Delta, BC. Hopefully the moving truck shows up on Saturday.)
Sitting on the plane today (for 5 hours... Toronto to Vancouver) I wrote out 2 or 3 posts that I'll need to enter soon. Here's a quick comment from my notes on an issue my friend Steve and I were discussing on the flight to Emergent a couple of weeks ago.
Steve didn't recall where he first heard the term...
Practical Atheist: One who says they believe in God but lives like they don't.
We had quite a discussion on the issue. Then, we got to Emergent and Dallas Willard said what he said. I couldn't believe it.
Any thoughts on that one?
I started following this story, so in the interests of full disclosure I should post this too... although there's already a "vigorous debate" going on in the comments to the original post.
A prominent Jewish leader on Friday asked actor Mel Gibson to make certain that his new film on the last 12 hours in the life of Christ does not portray the Jews as collectively responsible for the crucifixion.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said he was concerned because an article to be published in the New York Times Magazine portrays Gibson as a traditionalist Catholic opposed to the reforms of Vatican II.
Thanks to John for the link.
(Blogging from our neighbor's house today!)
Well, we've been living in an empty house since Friday. Thats a lot of fun, let me tell you. No time to blog now - flying out Wednesday morning.
Food for thought: I think stress is a demon.
Think about that one. I'll blog further when I have time.
I can't avoid it any longer. Time to dig the boxes out of the basement and pack up the ol' computer. Please say a prayer for Sue and I over the next week or so as the craziness cranks up and we ship off to Vancouver.
Thanks. Talk to you soon!
Sue and I are chucking stuff out left, right and centre in preparation for the move. The windows are rattling to The David Crowder Band, which I haven't stopped playing since getting home from Emergent.
Back in from shoveling the 2 feet of snow in my driveway, and it's still coming down. That's it - we're moving!
Here's the latest on what is going on in our lives right now.
Friday February 21 was my last day at World Vision, then I was off to Emergent. This Thursday March 6 they are coming to pack up the house (or at least what we're taking), and March 7 the moving truck is loaded and heads west. Sue and I fly out to Vancouver March 12 and we take possession of our condo March 15. The moving truck is due any time from the 15th to the 18th.
All that to say the blog will be going quiet (again) - probably tomorrow night. I may blog intermittently as I get the chance, but it will be spotty at best. We'll need to get the cable hooked up and a new eMail address, but in the meantime I'm miketodd07 at hotmaildotcom.
I'm looking forward to getting the new eMail address. Did I mention the 53 pieces of spam in my InBox when I got back from Emergent? Apparently the finehornywives, the DVD copiers and those people whose company is growing at 1000% and need my help missed me terribly. When the new eMail address is up and running we'll be doing things differently!!
While at Emergent I caught a glimpse of The Story We Find Ourselves In: Further Adventures of a New Kind of Christian (which is the sequel to you-know-what).
Amazon says it's not available yet, but I saw it with my own eyes. I say "glimpse" because the few copies they had in the Resource Center lasted about 4 seconds. I almost mugged someone for their copy but then thought that might not be appropriate. It felt like the right thing at the moment, but now I'm not so sure...
It's almost 9 o'clock and I'm quite certain this "unemployment" thing will be the end of me...
Signs Carried at British Peace Rallies
by CounterPunch Wire
Don't Mess with Mesopotamia
War is SO 20th Century
When Bush Comes to Shove
Brains Not Bombs
George Dubya: Weapon of Mass Distraction
Bombing for Peace is like Screwing for Virginity
Evolve! Get to Work for a non-violent Future
If War is the Answer We're asking the Wrong Question
Killing Innocent People is the Problem, not the Solution!
Save America! Spare Iraq! Make Texas take Him Back!
Who Would Jesus Bomb?
Stop Mad Cowboy Disease
Make Love, Not "W"
There is no Path to Peace--Peace IS the Path
Justice or Just Us?
Tame the Tyrant in the Mirror, Then the One in Iraq
Nonviolence, not Nonexistence
How many Lives per Gallon?
Make Alternative Energy Not War
How Did Our Oil get Under Their Soil?
Regime Change Begins at Home
No Hitting (held by young girl)
God does not Bless Only America
Rich Man's War--Poor Man's Blood
Has Anyone Seen Our Constitution Lately?
What if God Blesses Iraq?
Let's Try Preemptive Peace
Our Grief is not a Cry for War
If You Are Not Outraged, You Are Not Paying Attention
Honk if You're a Terrorist
Smart Bombs Don't Justify Dumb Leaders
We Have Guided Missiles and Misguided Men
Who's the UNELECTED Tyrant With the Bomb?
Make Tea Not War
Fight Plaque, not Iraq (and the guy was carrying a toothbrush)
(Link from Monkhouse)
Seeing as I'm gainfully unemployed now I'm sitting here in my bathrobe at 8:30am. Kind of cool, actually. In between bouts of thinking through the Emergent thing I'm doing a little surfing. I came across this one through John...
So I'm watching Survivor the other night... like you do... and the Christian lady (there's always a Christian and a Homo -- It's the rules) doesn't dissappoint in completely making all Christians look like horrible ridiculous idiots. Since she succeedes in removing Christ-likeness from her Christianity she will be henceforth referred to as the "xn lady" instead of "Christian lady" (people use it as an abbreviation on many bulliten boards anyway...). Let's recap the show:
1) Her tribe wins the immunity idol and that night she starts talking about how she doesn't want the wooden figure in the camp because idol worship is forbidden in Christianity.
Xn lady, no one asked you to worship it. You're not bowing at it's feet or giving sacrifices to it. Speaking of idol worship though, the only freakin' reason why you're starving yourself and going through this whole experience is to win a million dollars. I'd be a little more concerned with that whole thing instead of worrying about a wooden doll.
2) She thinks the reason that it's raining hard is because the "idol" is in her camp.
Xn lady, you're experiencing hard rain because you're in the freakin' Amazon! Gimme a break.
3) The deaf girl in her camp, who has to be told the next day what was said the night before cause she can't read lips in the dark, says that she thinks the whole "idol" comment is stupid. So then Xn lady goes off on her and gives her a "hand to the face".
The deaf girl!?! You're the Xn lady and you bitch out the deaf girl!?! Your'e the ambassador of Christ and you're gonna yell at the deaf girl!?! Lucky there aren't any lepers around or she'd probably slap them! This deaf girl is being subtley marginalized by the group because she's different and instead of bridging the gap and being her friend, she publicly demoralizes her. Way to go Xn lady...
What really bites my ass about the whole thing is knowing that there's probably a huge group of Xn people out there who feel like God put her on this show and by being a loud mouth bully she's proclaiming the Kingdom of God to all the heathen viewers. I'm sure this Xn lady loving crowd would really be whipped into a frenzy if she actually won the million dollars. It would of course be the Lord blessing his child and revealing His power to the world. But that would raise the question: "What was God doing when the nudist gay man, Richard, won the first year or the incredibly manipulative porn actor, Brian, won last year."
Juxtaposed against the backdrop of my last week I can only emit a big honkin' sigh. I need to find some more ways to distance myself from these "Christians"...
Oh yeah - there was a very public (and very staged) "confrontation" between Chris Seay and Kevin Miller at the Conference. Kevin came across as whiney and small, and Chris as negative and defiant. I didn't find it very constructive but at the very least it was kind of neat to see the people that up until now had only existed in the blogosphere.
In response to the couple of eMails I received... No, I didn't quit blogging!! Sorry about running off and not telling anyone. I forgot to leave a "goodbye note", then got to San Diego only to find that there wasn't any high speed access from the hotel.
See below, and stay tuned for more as I work out this incredible experience "on-line".
I made a disturbing discover while I was at Emergent (although I'm not sure why, or even if I'm surprised. Maybe disappointed is a better descriptor).
With all due respect to my friends back at The Salvation Army, to say that I grew up in a "muted" worship environment would be an understatement. The reality is I don't think we really worshipped. I had to leave to find worship. Maybe it was me, and others are able to truly worship in that environment. Either way, I don't think worship is fostered in that structure. Sorry.
I've started to shake off some of the inhibitions that are born of suspicion and scorn. I'm learning to really worship God, and also to demonstrate that worship – to be joyful when I am in His presence. That means different things to different people, and this introvert will never be the one doing cartwheels down the aisle. But I am starting to loosen up and to revel in the moment, as opposed to worrying what other people would think.
But I digress. My disturbing discovery was that I'm not where I want to be yet. In some ways the gap is widening. My relationship with Christ is so much deeper and more real than it used to be. I want more and more of Him, and when He delivers, I have issues with expressing it. How's that for ironic?!
I will dance, I will sing
To be mad for my King
Nothing Lord is hindering
This passion in my soul
And I will become
Even more undignified than this
Some may say its foolishness
But I will become
Even more undignified than this
And I will become
Even more undignified than this
Some may say its foolishness
But I will become
Even more undignified than this
Leave my pride by my side
It's all for you my Lord
On the positive side, singing this song with 1000 other people jumping in the air helps to break some of the chains.
A whole week without blogging – that's a first since I got started on this crazy path. That wasn't my intention as I left last Monday for the Emergent Convention in San Diego. I had hoped that there would be high-speed access from the hotel and I would be able to write something at night. No such luck.
Maybe that's a good thing. I may not have been able to resist the temptation to come back to my room every night and simply regurgitate my notes from the day. I think I'm safe in saying there is a very strong likelihood that may have happened.
Not that that would have been all bad. 7 hours of Dallas Willard talking about The Kingdom - I thought I'd died and gone to Heaven (no pun intended). I think I took 24 pages of notes with Dallas alone. Listening to Brian McLaren fill in some of the potholes on my own road to postmodernity. Discovering that I'm a Post Evangelical as I sat and listened to Dave Tomlinson. Hanging out at the fringe with Mike Yaconelli, who, while he may be 60 years old, is one of the youngest spirits I've ever met. Exploring spiritual practices with Tony Jones, and deciding that I have been missing something, and that needs to change. Rudy Carrasco and John Perkins talking about justice and the Kingdom. Thinking about new theologies with Doug Pagitt. And Anne Lamott. What can I say about Anne Lamott? Listening to her for over an hour was a sometimes frustrating but always enlightening experience. And throughout the week, The David Crowder Band leading us in worship. That alone was an incredible experience.
I'm not sure how to share the week – I'm not sure I should even try. I feel profoundly changed, which sounds so grandiose and self-centered. And having said that, I'd be hard-pressed to articulate just how I've changed. I have a feeling I need to process a lot of this through. Maybe that's what I'll try to do.
Let me start with the basic premise of Dallas Willard's topic The Contemporary Belief System as Prison, and Jesus the Savior:
We who call ourselves Christians do not believe the basic teachings of Jesus Christ. We are up against a wall of unbelief, and all our problems flow from that fact.
Chew on that for a while.