Alan Creech and friends have been talking with Dallas Willard over the last few days. As many of you know Dallas is one of my favorite "heroes of the faith", and I've been challenged by some of the brief comments that have been posted from the group.
From Dallas' web site...
My Prayer for Each of You
That you would have a rich life of Joy and Power, abundant in Supernatural results, with a constant, clear vision of never-ending life in God's World before you, and of the everlasting significance of your work day by day.
A radiant life and death.
|Scott Niedermayer brings Stanley Cup to Cranbrook firefighters
CRANBROOK, B.C. (CP) - NHL defenceman Scott Niedermayer brought the Stanley Cup to his home town Saturday as a morale booster for the hundreds of fatigued firefighters who have been battling a nearby wildfire.
So here's the rest of the story. I said I was in a rut in my last post on Thursday, and didn't have much to say. (Thanks for the encouraging comments, everyone.) Well, I spoke too soon.
Our neighbours in the suite next to us moved in a few weeks ago, and we haven't met them yet. (It's amazing how long you can go and not see anyone in the building!) I saw a woman walking in the other day who was very pregnant, but that's about all I know.
Well, Thursday night I was fried and went to bed early. A while later I woke up to a lot of yelling and noise (which is not uncommon... and is something else we're trying to adjust to after living in a house for 10 years.) Still later I heard more noise and decided to get up and investigate. I went out on the balcony, saw the lights on next door... and heard a baby crying! I think they had a home birth!
Congratulations... now can you keep the noise down?! Just kidding. Sort of.
I spent the day today working contruction in Whistler, and I'm going back tomorrow. 2 days in a row - I may not make it! I have a profound respect for people who do this type of work all the time. It is hard, hard work. But I love it.
As you can tell, I don't really have anything to say today... other than to say I feel closer to God tonight than I have in a while. I've been in a bit of a rut. Thinking about the present and the future, with a healthy dose of the past mixed in can do that for you.
Tonight though - things are good. And God is good.
We are here because of Grace because of Love
We are here because of You because of You
You are here because of Grace because of Love
And You are here because of You because of You
You fill our hearts with more than we
Can hold inside and so we sing
Beautiful Savior Wonderful King
Beautiful Savior Wonderful King
Oh, beautiful sound the joy of Heaven here
Oh, wonderful sound love of Heaven now
Oh, beautiful sound the joy of Heaven here
Oh, wonderful sound love of Heaven now
Oh, beautiful sound the joy of Heaven here
Beautiful Savior Wonderful King
Beautiful Savior Wonderful King
(PS. Read some of The News from the Band. This is some of the funniest stuff I have ever read.
PPS. New album out in a few days!)
As described by Sojourners, the Baghdad Bulletin "is committed to covering the issues surrounding the redevelopment of Iraq after Saddam Hussein's rule. It is a non-partisan publication whose only tenet is that the presence of a free press offering a forum for all sides is an inalienable human right."
I'm not sure who is behind it, but its another source for news, anyway.
Above all, we need to pray that God will spare us the ultimate
humiliation of discussing him in ways which deny his mystery, his
freedom, his infinite openness and his incredibly suffering love.
The Right Rev. David Jenkins, Bishop of Durham (retired)
Another great thought via Bob Carlton (although I think we bring the humiliation on God when we reduce him to something we can put in a box... or a book.)
Here's a rather frightening article:
We Have Ways of Making You Talk
The United States figures it can get plenty out of the newly captured Chemical Ali. But how? And are these 'interrogation' techniques being readied for American citizens?
I actually wasn't going to post this, because I'm getting tired of being painted as an anti-American liberal. But it's actually (in my opinion) a fairly balanced piece.
What's going to stop an impatient soldier, in a supralegal location, from whacking one nameless, dehumanized shopkeeper among many?
Not the law, certainly. But should we complain? These American interrogators have worked their magic on some of the very bad actors in Al Qaeda, which is one reason the United States is a little safer today than it was two years ago.
But there are some real problems with all this. First of all, as a Lebanese torturer - er, interrogator - of my acquaintance once told me, the real challenge comes if someone is telling the truth: "How do you know?" And what if that truth doesn't fit with what you really want to hear? And what your bosses really believe - really know in their souls to be the truth? What if, for instance, there really are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq because they really were destroyed to keep United Nations inspectors from finding them? The United States now has captured 37 of the 55 most-wanted Iraqis in the famous pack of cards. That's what all of them are saying, and lesser-known scientists have told the same story. Yet still the WMD beat goes on.
The means of making people talk, even relatively benign means, become problematic when you don't actually care what they say.
To me that would be a huge issue. What if the truth is actually contrary to what I believe? If I have some much emotional currency invested in my version of it, how could I adjust to a different reality?
So give it a look, and if you still want to call me names when you're done, well, that's what comments are for.
...The questions rolled around for a while then went wherever mind chatter retreats to when peace seeps in. Incredulity went off with the chatter and a sense of what awful fear must drive the need for certainty and how difficult it truly is to live the question, any question, but especially the one of living as Christ did, forgiving as He did in humility.
Go read the whole thing.
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned how a client of mine brightened my day and helped me realize the preciousness of life by her amazing attitude in the face of some pretty serious health issues. Well... She did it again!
So, posted with her permission, this is the email that Susan sent me this morning in response to my inquiry about how she was feeling.
(PS: If you are moved by what she wrote, please don't hesitate to post a comment because she will be reading them!)
How sweet of you to ask! It is going slow but positive. I can't believe the summer is almost behind me...I'm already looking forward to next summer when I'll be healthy! I do believe that I am cancer free now...I just feel it inside and it's a wonderful feeling. The powers above were not wanting me just yet, I have too many things to do and people to help.
Don't take life for granted...it is far to precious. I'm sure you hear those words all the time, but you are now talking to someone who almost visited the other side....they wanted me but I wasn't ready. Always remember..."Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans"!
Well, I bet you didn't expect a speech! Have a wonderful day! Thank you for asking about me!
Is it any wonder I love my job? These are the people I get to hang out with everyday!
Our "fire" attention has been focused on British Columbia, but our friends south of the 49th have been having a bad time as well during this freakishly dry summer.
Eight Oregon firefighters die in crash
Last Updated Sun, 24 Aug 2003 22:41:22
VALE, ORE. - Eight firefighters, all of them younger than 23, died in Oregon Sunday on their way home from fighting a wildfire.
Lest we forget.
Priest in sex abuse scandal killed in prison
Geoghan serving sentence for molesting boy in 1991
Saturday, August 23, 2003 Posted: 6:39 PM EDT (2239 GMT)
(CNN) -- John Geoghan, a defrocked Roman Catholic priest and convicted child molester, died Saturday after he was assaulted in prison, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department of Corrections told CNN.
A sad end to a sad situation for the priest. No end for the victims, I would assume.
Tens of thousands flee Kelowna fire
Last Updated Sat, 23 Aug 2003 11:09:25
KELOWNA, B.C. - A massive wildfire burning in British Columbia's southern interior has forced one-third of Kelowna's population from their homes and placed more on alert.
About 30,000 people have left their homes in the Okanagan city. Another 8,000 people are on a one-hour evacuation notice.
This is unbelievable. A week ago nobody was talking about Kelowna being in danger. Yesterday, some of those being ordered out had received no warning.
We need rain.
(photo via Bene Diction)
Our next door neighbours have 16 month-old twins and the little boy, named Adam, had three Grand Mal seizures, which I am told are pretty serious. They took him away in an ambulance and he is spending the night at Sick Kids hospital with his two parents, who will no doubt be up all night watching him take every breath.
So tonight, as Toronto is lashed by a thunderstorm, our thoughts are with that little boy who had a real tough day and his parents who had a day from hell.
|This situation is getting worse by the hour.
Please pray for rain.
It's time for a wildlife roundup of sorts.
Back in uptown Toronto rumour has it our friend Robert was seen on his street tonight, mesmerized - a tear trickling down his cheek - watching 2 raccoons climb his neighbour's tree.
Back here on the Left Coast, Sue and I have been observing a strange phenomenon the last 2 or 3 days. From our balcony (we live in Raven Woods) we've been watching some very large splashes out in the Burrard Inlet. At first I thought it was just salmon jumping, but when we get a boat in the picture as reference these splashes are huge. It's unlikely a whale or dolphin would work themselves so far up the inlet. I think there are seals feeding on the running salmon. Very cool.
Oh yeah. And yesterday on the way home from the Deep Cove office I ran over a rat on Dollarton. I'm going to be OK, but the rat has seen better days.
That's it for now.
"I'm for the children and stuff."
- Arnold Schwarzenegger, responding to questions from the media about his plans as governor of California.
PM urges Liberals to support gay marriage
Last Updated Wed, 20 Aug 2003 12:14:31
NORTH BAY, ONT. - Jean Chrétien told Liberal MPs Tuesday that the courts have left them with no choice but to accept sex-same marriages.
OK, please hear me on this: I'm not getting into the issue. Enough has been said about it already and I have absolutely no desire to go down that road.
What is troubling to me is that first line of the story. Apparently the leader of this country now believes the courts are in charge.
find out more at indieallies.meetup.com
Some of you have been staring at this thing for a couple of months now. What's the worst thing that could happen? You go and meet a few people who think like you (For Pete's sake, you know that doesn't happen every day!).
So sign up already.
It's less than six months since we moved to Vancouver from Toronto. We left a lot of good things behind, but the list of reasons why it's good to be living on the West Coast is a long one.
Somewhere on that list is this:
+ It's great to be able to see Barry Bonds do what he did to the baseball to end tonight's game LIVE, instead of having to wait for the highlight reel tomorrow.
Hey - I'm not saying it's high on the list, but it's there.
Jared's been struggling after a "Close Encounter of The Modern Kind" (see "In Reflection...). .
I've been out on the balcony reading The Emerging Church, and came across a great quote that I thought was appropriate.
In speaking to modern church leaders who are having a tough time dealing with post modern ministry, Dan says: "God will continue to use you in great ways to reach those who think like you do. But there are other ways to think." (p. 61)
I wish that it was always that simple, but that's a great word for those who may not be comfortable with what we're talking about.
My original post on The Passion still gets the odd comment. The comments went through the name-calling phase, the wacko phase, and the kiss-and-make-up phase. Along the way I almost deleted it a couple of times.
I must admit I'm getting tired of hearing about the movie, and it's a long way from being released.
Here's a fairly negative but detailed piece. I'm starting to get a bad feeling.
Thanks to Sarge for the link.
Ozzie and I have lost touch over the last several weeks (months). Today I decided to look him up, and "bang", he had something for me:
Come to Me . . .
God intends for us to live a well-rounded life in Christ Jesus, but there are times when that life is attacked from the outside. Then we tend to fall back into self-examination, a habit that we thought was gone. Self-awareness is the first thing that will upset the completeness of our life in God, and self-awareness continually produces a sense of struggling and turmoil in our lives. Self-awareness is not sin, and it can be produced by nervous emotions or by suddenly being dropped into a totally new set of circumstances. Yet it is never God's will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in Him. Anything that disturbs our rest in Him must be rectified at once, and it is not rectified by being ignored but only by coming to Jesus Christ. If we will come to Him, asking Him to produce Christ-awareness in us, He will always do it, until we fully learn to abide in Him.
Never allow anything that divides or destroys the oneness of your life with Christ to remain in your life without facing it. Beware of allowing the influence of your friends or your circumstances to divide your life. This only serves to sap your strength and slow your spiritual growth. Beware of anything that can split your oneness with Him, causing you to see yourself as separate from Him. Nothing is as important as staying right spiritually. And the only solution is a very simple one—"Come to Me . . . ." The intellectual, moral, and spiritual depth of our reality as a person is tested and measured by these words. Yet in every detail of our lives where we are found not to be real, we would rather dispute the findings than come to Jesus.
|In light of the destruction across the province this is nothing more than a minor inconvenience... but now what am I going to do for exercise?!|
I just posted a shot of me interacting with the local wildlife in Peru last year to my fotolog.
Well, I don't know if he will be a Christ-follower or not but there is one more Christian in the world today...
|Adam was baptized this afternoon. I am always moved by the welcome extended by the community when it opens its doors to a new member and this time was no different. I am not a believer myself but his mother is quite devout and this is one of the most important days of her life. Whether or not you believe, the warmth and good feeling created by the ceremony is very moving.|
I must admit to shedding a couple of very manly tears as my son underwent his first rite of passage.
I'm running IE 6.0, and all of a sudden I don't seem to be able to view .png files. I get the old square with the red X through it.
I cleaned up a while ago with HijackThis, and wonder if I deleted a necessary file by mistake. Can anyone shed any light on this?
Pray for our friend Lisa's parents who received an evacuation order in the middle of the night.
"Hi praying friends - I just got a call from my parents (2:00 am PST) and they ave been ordered to evacuate their home. They have no idea how close the fire is and are feeling very stressed. They will be driving to a community about 20 km down the road and waiting there. They have packed up their RV van and one of the vehicles, but aren't sure whether they have enough time to go back to get the other vehicle.
At times like this, you realize what is valuable - lives and memories.
Please, Lord, keep the residents and their pets safe from the dangers of the fire. Be merciful and soothing to all that are feeling scared and vulnerable. Help those people who need to evacuate to keep a clear head and clear priorities. Be with all the people in this province who have been so dreadfully impacted by the devastation of these fires. Please keep the fire fighters and all those involved with these fires safe and healthy.
UPDATE: Bene Diction has posted on this with much more eloquence.
UPDATE: Just got an email from my folks. They are safe in Kamloops at a friend's house. No news yet about the fire. Guess it will all depend on the wind.
UPDATE: Just talked to my dad. They're fine and are off to register at the disaster place. If possible, they are going to get the other car and some more stuff. No news about the fire. I guess there are just too many fires to report on.
Apparently The Big Guy didn't like my recent swipe at Macs.
He's switched. Who knew?
(Link from Jon.)
I might actually have to see this.
If I ever grow up I want to write like the Real Live Preacher.
Check out Superball Spirituality - one of his best.
Regardless of the cause (American or Canadian!) events like this are opportunities for people to bring out the best in themselves. At the risk of sounding like a nutcase, its at times like these that if you look closely (and disregard the looting), you can see glimpses of The Kingdom. I believe that.
MSNBC has some great images here.
As long as this doesn't turn out to be anything sinister, its a warning that a system that is held together with gum and electrical tape can't handle the load any longer.
I've been sorting through some of my photos and have put a couple of them up on my fotolog. I can only do one a day though, so it's slow going!
Note to self: Go buy that digital camera, lazy-ass!
B.C. health officials investigate flu-like deaths
Last Updated Thu, 14 Aug 2003 12:30:19
VANCOUVER - Health officials in British Columbia are looking into the deaths of five people last week of a flu-like illness at a nursing home in the Vancouver area.
Uh-oh. I think I've seen this movie before.
I'm reminded of something that Dallas Willard said in one of his books:
Our world is in need of someone to come and set things right.
I try to be bigger than this, really I do. Being human, though, sometimes I give in to the temptation. Forgive me.
With that said...
Nothing can match the zeal of the convert. That may account for the way in which The Washington Post, after a year of naive credulity and saber-rattling enthusiasm leading up to the war on Iraq, has now taken the lead in seriously seeking the truth behind the Bush administration's claims in support of its war.
The latest example of this is Barton Gellman and Walter Pincus' encyclopedic article this weekend which should finally put to rest the nonsense about Iraq's purchase of the infamous aluminum tubes.
If I was American I'd want to know. Heck - I'm Canadian and I want to know.
Continue to pray for this family as Jennifer moved on to the next, glorious phase of her eternal existence yesterday. No more pain! Yet now Mark and Micah start the process of living without wife and mother.
By Brian Krebs
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 12, 2003; 10:15 AM
A fast-spreading Internet worm detected Monday afternoon is infecting thousands of computers worldwide and is expected to cause headaches for business and home users running the Microsoft Windows operating system.
Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels he is 'finding his place in it,' while really it is finding its place in him.
I just received one of the funniest eMails I've ever seen. (No Lisa, not that one. Your reputation is intact... for the moment.)
This one is from our friend Robert:
Holy cow, did I just bugger up my kid's room.
If Saddam was the butcher of Baghdad, then I am the butcher of Adam's room.
I tried to put up a shelf and left more holes than in the plot of Gigli...
I kid you not, 18 holes! I'm thinking of renaming his room Augusta and
telling Denise there are no women allowed so she won't see it! That's my only hope.
Who am I kidding? I am dead, man! Dead!
Talk to me preacher boy! 'Cause I am in need of some fast redeeming...
Just had to share it.
Most of the time I don't like to start where I am at. I would rather start where I wish I was if I had started when I should have.
It's time to get back to some of the comments left on The Least.
I was intrigued with Jared's comment in reference to Mark's "Buddhist cousin".
...maybe it is better to introduce her to the person of Christ, and allow him to transform her in her Buddhist culture from the inside out, rather than ask her to denounce her culture, and inherit ours.
Jared's thoughts reminded me of a story that Steve Bell told during the Shifting Realities conference back in February. I've forgotten some of the details, but see if you can get your head around this.
Steve's grandfather was a missionary (Baptist, I think) way back when in Nepal (or was it Tibet?). In his village they told the story of a woman who had been banished for some reason I can't recall. In that harsh environment banishment was an automatic death sentence. However over the years there were hints that perhaps someone was living alone in the mountains around the village: a glimpse of movement here or a trace of a campfire there. As the years turned into decades the legend grew, and a visit from this wild woman was the threatened punishment of children who didn't do as they were told.
And then one day it happened. Off in the distance a small, bent figure appeared approaching the village. As the figure got closer it became clear who it was, and as children ran, streets cleared and doors slammed the woman who had been sent away to die alone over thirty years before collapsed in the middle of the dirt road.
The villagers were very superstitious and wouldn't go near her, so Steve's grandfather took the frail woman in and ministered to her. She told him she knew she was very close to death and only wanted to see the village of her birth one more time. She held no anger or resentment toward the villagers who had condemned her.
Steve went on to tell how his grandfather shared with this woman about Jesus, as she lay dying. As he spoke a smile came to her face, as if she had heard the story before. When asked, she said, "That is the Buddha I have worshipped my whole life - I just didn't know His name.
I love that story, but I have no doubt that it may make some people "uneasy".
Again, here are Jared's thoughts:
Maybe the epitome of global evangelism is Christ changing all cultures from the inside out, and those cultures coexisting and sharing with one another their own limited beauty and perspective of that mystery(the way they "know in part", and realizing it is limited); not us advocating ours as the way to meet Christ until we've dispelled the diversity in the world with our perverse sense of Manifest Destiny.
Any thoughts? (I know we're wandering away from the original question, but so much good stuff came out of the comments that I want to explore it all!)
If the U.S. wants to help Iraqis, it must help them the way it helped Germany and Japan, because to help Iraq is really to help 1.3 billion Muslims. Iraq will teach these values to the entire Islamic world. Because Iraq has both Sunnis and Shiites, and it has Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen...
If it succeeds here it can succeed elsewhere. But to succeed you also need to satisfy people's basic needs: jobs and electricity. If people are hungry, they will be easily recruited by the extremists. If they are well fed and employed, they will be receptive to good ideas...
The failure of this experiment in Iraq would mean success for all despots in the Arab and Islamic world. [That is why] this is a challenge that America must accept and take all the way.
Sayyid Iyad Jamaleddine,
Iraqi Shiite cleric
New York Times, August 11, 2003
Over at Backyard Missionaries Andrew Hamilton has been asking questions about just what an emerging church pastor/missionary does. After stalling for a while I finally started to comment. My comment turned into an epic, though, so I decided to post it here.
I've been thinking about your question for a couple of days now. I've avoided leaving a comment because I'm not really in your shoes, but I have some thoughts on the subject, so here goes...
Sue and I talked about this a couple of days ago. I spent a good part of the day working in "my office" in Deep Cove. (I posted on it a little). My "office" there is a park bench, and I sat there with my backpack full of files and books, saying hello to anyone who walked within earshot of me.
Deep Cove is an interesting place. It's a very unique little village within the larger context of North Vancouver (which is a unique area within the larger context of Vancouver). It's basically comprised of one tiny "main street" about 2 blocks long, with small shops and cafes, and the rest is residences. There are large multi-million dollar homes right on the water with their own private boat docks, and smaller places which many young people share. Deep Cove is at the foot of Mount Seymour, a popular local snowboarding mountain with countless bike trails. It's also home to a world-famous mountain bike store. (The North Shore is known around the world as an extreme mountain bike hotspot. Anytime the area is mentioned in magazines they also mention Cove Bikes.) Finally, there's a kayak rental place on the water. All this is crammed in within a couple of square kilometers. Sorry about the background, but the detail is important. I think everyplace is unique.
So that's the context I found myself sitting in as I surveyed the world from my bench. Over near the park there were lots of kids playing under the watchful eyes of their young, upwardly mobile mothers (and/or nannies). There were a few tough looking characters on Harley Davidson's, all decked out in their gang's "colours". I laughed at the tourists awkwardly trying to keep their kayaks from flipping over in the calm little bay. In and around lunch time something interesting happened. Out of the stores came a steady stream of young people on their lunch break. Most of them headed down to the water where I was, staked out a claim on the grass and had their lunch. Boarders, bikers, and mystics, with lots of interesting hair, tattoos, piercings and black make-up. (I should have mentioned that the North Shore is a "dark place", with a large "new age" population ranging from hippies to witches.)
As I sat there, Hamo, I thought of your new friend - the guy parked at the bar of the strip club. How many friendships could I initiate if I became a "fixture" in Deep Cove? I'll bet if I sat there for the next six months I could get to know a lot of people. And as we got to know each other I imagine we'd talk about what our interests are, and what we do. [Here's the make-believe part] The last thing in the world I would call myself is a "pastor". I'd say something like "I'm part of a group of friends who are exploring what it means to follow God", or something like that. And when the opportunity arose I'd invite them to come along sometime and check it out. But only when it arose - no forcing it.
Here's the other half of the story: You already have a group of people that comprise your community. Four, eight, twenty - it doesn't matter how big it is; that's a community right there. As I listen to church-planting types I still hear echoes of the old "church growth" mindset. We're not really successful until we've added to our number. I think, in some ways, they need to lose that "evangelism" focus (if you'll pardon the term) and see the community that's already right in front of them. And then if God draws people to your perch on the park bench you can add to that number as appropriate. In the meantime, go ahead and lead the group on that journey. As people come in from the park, they're going to want to see you doing your thing, and not get slotted into some program for "seekers".
These are unfinished thoughts, but hopefully you get the idea. Is this "pie in the sky" stuff? Maybe. Am I being naive? Absolutely! Does this sound like a community - a mission - I would like to be a part of? Definitely. (How patient would a denomination be in supporting it? I have no idea.)
So as you move into your new community, get a backpack, find a park bench, take a deep breath... and relax.
Great quote from C.S. Lewis today:
'Welcome, child,' he said.
'Aslan,' said Lucy, 'you're bigger.'
'That is because you are older, little one,' answered he.
'Not because you are?'
'I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.'
Prince Caspian (The Chronicles of Narnia)
NEW LEFT BEHIND SERIES MILITARY THRILLER IS NOW AVAILABLE
From the creators of the blockbuster Left Behind Series comes
Apocalypse Dawn, the first book in the new thrilling Left Behind
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Sergeant "Goose" Gander of the US Army Rangers.
The Earth's Last Days: The Battle Begins
A new parallel series to Left Behind!
With events escalating in the Middle East, U.S. First Sgt. Samuel Adams "Goose" Gander is in a vulnerable situation at the Syrian/Turkish border—and in his faith. The odds are against him and his men—and God seems strangely silent. But the real action begins when the rapture occurs!
From the good folks at Christianity Today. 'Nough said.
Time for a quick break from contemplating the meaning of truth, etc. As I said earlier I'm going through the CD rack and playing some stuff I haven't heard in a long time.
Those of you who aren't Canadian may not be familiar with Kim, or his predecessor band Max Webster. These tunes bring back all sorts of memories - great summer music, great driving music - everything you wanted out of high school! In my digging I came across this site encouraging us to nominate Kim for the 2004 Canada's Walk of Fame.
It takes about 30 seconds, and as I said in my nomination it would be a crime if Kim isn't recognized as the Canadian rock icon that he is.
So go nominate him!
find out more at indieallies.meetup.com
OK - here are some reactions to, and thoughts generated from, some of the comments from The Least. I hope these will generate some more of the same.
Several people brought up the example of The Rich Young Ruler. As I've said before that guy is one of my favorite characters in the Bible. (I have a thing for the ones whose names we don't know: The Thief on The Cross, The Women at The Well, etc. You know - the ones who are named by their circumstances.) As I sat in my office and thought about that, I came up with a new thought on the interaction between Jesus and "TRYR". I'll try to flesh it out as I think out loud here.
Kevin's comment really made me think:
My first thought is that it's a flawed question born out of the greed of our culture. There were a few men who asked that question of Jesus. To one, Jesus said to sell all he has and follow. To another, Jesus said to leave his family behind and follow.
Being a disciple is not about some magic formula that allows you to go to heaven. It's not about making it easy and removing all the stumbling blocks so everyone can get in...
First, let me reiterate what I said in my original post. I'm not asking the question because I'm looking for some sort of plea bargain into Heaven. (Sorry - I was watching Law & Order last night. Good show.)
I stand by my original assertion: this is a question we may expect to hear in the postmodern age we live in. But Kevin has prompted me to expand that idea. I think that "the church" has already answered the question - without it being asked - and the answer ain't good.
Let me see if I can make some sense here. Kevin seems to link the idea of being a "Christian" with being a disciple. I don't doubt that was the original plan, but I think we've lost that one along the way. Way back in December (when I was a rookie blogger!) I quoted from Todd Hunter's article A Tale of Two Gospels. (Sorry, the link to the article seems to be dead now.) Check this out:
"Thus, if we view the gospel to be, "say this prayer so that when you die, you can go to heaven," it will naturally lead to one way of doing church. Cradle to grave programming to warehouse people until they die is usually what follows. This view makes discipleship optional, something serious Christians might do.
The effects of living in a wrong story are devastating to our churches. Countless thousands of well-intentioned pastors are left to try to disciple people who have no intention of ever seriously following Jesus or practicing their religion. The church is in serious trouble when discipleship (apprenticeship to Jesus) is viewed as extracurricular or optional."
I think Todd has nailed it. Some view Christianity as simply that - redemption so we go to Heaven. And if that's the case, haven't we, in effect, answered the question ourselves?! Sitting on my park bench today that one hit me like a brick.
Don't worry, Kevin - I didn't miss your point:
Being a disciple (and disciple making is what the church is called to - not just conversions) is a life altering process that takes everything you are and have and returns something far, greater - life.
Agreed! If we truly meet Jesus and choose to follow Him (not just believe in Him but follow Him, with all of the implications of that action), then the question becomes moot. But getting someone to that stage may take a while.
Deep breath. I'm just noticing that this is turning into an epic, and we all know nobody reads long posts. Maybe I'll leave it there, and address some of the other comments in further posts.
In the meantime, any reactions to this one?
|I'm writing from my Deep Cove office again. (For the uninitiated my deep cove office is a park bench. The rent is good and the view can't be beat!)
Here I get the unique combination of the sights, smells and sounds of the ocean and the mountains, all right in front of me like some kind of 3D post card. There's no doubt about it - we are very blessed to be living here. I've spent the last couple of hours doing some "real" work, and now I'm thinking about the blog.
The weather has been incredible. It hasn't rained in weeks, which is so unusual for the lower mainland. It's not all good news, though. The entire province is under a state of emergency because of the forest fires that are raging in the Interior. The devestation has been terrible. Some of these folks have been through this before, so it's a nightmare revisited for them.
The impact has been felt all over. Yesterday was my day to work in Whistler. (Again for the uninitiated I now work construction one day a week for my good friend Rob. Right now he and his crew are building a multi-million dollar vacation home in Whistler.) The fire hazard is rated at EXTREME, and as a result fire officials in the village have implemented some drastic measures. Until further notice all heavy construction must cease by 1 pm. That means no heavy machinery, no chain saws, etc. - basically nothing that generates heat or could cause a spark. Construction crews are then responsible for keeping someone on "fire watch" for at least one hour after work stops. We're currently forming the walls of the house by hand, so the restrictions don't really impact us too much right now.
As I've mentioned before the development going on in Whistler is incredible - especially with the Winter Olympics coming in 2010. These measures impact hundreds of workers, and I'm sure the delays will eventually cost millions of dollars. In spite of this its amazing how cooperative people are being. Everyone is very focused on the potential danger. I wouldn't want to be caught flicking a cigarette butt anywhere around here. Vigilante justice can be swift and severe!
Speaking of working construction let me just say its incredible how much damage you can do with a hammer if you swing it hard enough! I'm typing a little slower today with my left index finger all bandaged up.
Finally, I've been mulling over the great comments generated by The Least. The conversation has been challenging, and I've had some further thoughts on the subject. I think I'll muse on all this in another post, so please stay tuned.
I finally fixed my sitemeter so I can see my referral data. (I've also added extreme tracker so I've got data coming out the ying-yang). Nothing funny to report on search engine referrals, but there's always hope.
That got me thinking, though. Being the vain animal that I am, I googled "Mike Todd", and it turns out I'm #2, next to this guy, who is clearly much smarter than I am. Poking around a little I came to this quote:
I've never been poor, only broke. Being poor is a frame of mind. Being broke is only a temporary situation.
quoted in Newsweek 31 Mar 1958
As I kid growing up in the 70's I learned all about Mike Todd. A big Hollywood producer, husband #3 to Liz Taylor, killed in a plane crash, yada yada yada. I'm sure you can picture it: as I'm introduced to my parents friends they would pinch my cheek and give me one of the above snipets of information. I think by about age 8 I had heard it all. One woman told me he was the only one Liz ever really loved, but my theory is his plane went down before she could get around to filing the divorce papers.
So that's my claim to fame. Here's your challenge: Find a quote by someone with the same name as you!
Even though for some reason it's taking me forever to get through, I'm really enjoying reading The Emerging Church. In fact you might say I'm excited about it. Who knows where that might go?
Through out the book there are sidebars with quotes from people like Rick Warren, Mark Oestreicher, Brian McLaren and Sally Morgenthaler among others. Here's a quote from Mark that blew me away, because I've been thinking about the same issue lately:
A friend of mine who plays a key role in a large evangelical youth gathering designed to teach teenagers how to share their faith recently asked me, "What's the least someone can 'do' and become a Christian?" I wasn't sure how to respond. (Sure, I know the "believe in the Lord Jesus Christ" answers.) We've focused on "doing" for so long that we've truly distorted Scripture through out tweaked modern grids. My friend followed up with, "Okay, then what's the least someone can believe to be a Christian?" Once again, I hesitated.
Yup, I still believe salvation comes only through Jesus Christ. But does a little dose of Buddhism thrown into a belief system somehow kill off the Christian part, the Jesus-basics? My Buddhist cousin, except for her unfortunate inability to embrace Jesus, is a better "Christian" (based on Jesus' descriptions of what a Christian does) than almost every Christian I know. If I were using Matthew 26 as a guide, she"d be a sheep; and almost every Christian I know personally would be a goat.
Don't get me wrong. I haven't been thinking about this because I'm looking to squeak through and get bell-curved into Heaven. I want everything that God intended - the Kingdom that Jesus talked about, and the church has largely forgotten about.
But I digress.
This is one of "those" questions in modern evangelicalism that we didn't think about, because we had no answer for it.
So now I'm asking. I want your input. What do you think when you read that blurb? These are questions that I'll bet Billy Graham was never asked. But we might be. How do we respond?
I was getting pretty pissed this afternoon as I watched the markets get pounded following good economic news this morning.
Then I spoke to a long-distance client who told me that during emergency surgery last week, she died... twice. They brought her back twice.
She explained that she thought the cancer she has lived with for the past 18 months had given her "perspective". She said she had been wrong and that dying (twice) gave her an appreciation for life she had never known before. She was not angry about her fate and said the pain she currently feels is a testament to the fact that she is still breathing. I hung up and didn't complain about the shitty markets the rest of the day.
Now my question is: why won't I remember this tomorrow when the markets crap out again because of the ordinary results Cisco reported after the close tonight?
I suspect the answer is that sometimes life causes us to focus on the moment and miss the big picture. We must strive to maintain perspective. It is a challenge because there is no pause button in our lives. We get so wrapped up in the minutiae of our daily lives that we don't see the splendour that is life.
I am going to work on that.
|I've already mentioned my "broad" musical tastes once or twice. We've been here almost 5 months, and I'm just getting around to sorting out our CD collection.
Today I'm listening to Men Without Hats! Ah, memories...
We are, all of us, never-ceasing spiritual beings with a unique eternal calling to count for good in God's great universe... In creating human beings God made them to rule, to reign, to have dominion in a limited sphere. Only so can they be persons.
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
April 16, 1953
This is stuff that matters. Pray for these friends most of us have never met. And think about what it even means to pray for them.
For some time now I have subscribed to Fred Peatross' GraceAwakening email newsletter, and have been consistantly blessed and challenged by his insightful writing. Here's one that really reached into an area I've been thinking a lot about lately.
GraceAwakening (August 2, 2003)
Let's Go Outside, Where Jesus Is
Ministry in the emerging culture will require a faith that is willing to get out of the boat and risk getting soaked in the process of doing something unprecedented; even downright miraculous. Out of the boat thinking is especially important these days as God actively pursues His world outside the church.
I was never big on ministry within the confines of a church. Teaching, worship committees and staff meetings have their place but the best place to share in God's work necessitates we get out of the boat and into the streams and waves of our culture. In the Message, Eugene Peterson paraphrases Hebrews 13:13 as, "...let's go outside, where Jesus is, where the action is..." (Hebrews 13:13)
I'm celebrating the idea that God is more active outside the church than in the church. His purpose for the church has always been to equip His people to be His agents in a world where He moves in its film and arts, AA meetings, the inner cities, the public schools and hospitals. Yet the one hundred years of institutional emphasis has seized leadership's task of teaching, equipping, embodying, and helping Christians understand the need to take their life out onto the road where the missing live.
Jesus incarnated His culture. You could find Him on a hillside, at a wedding feast, walking with the outsider along the road—always out of the boat. There was a place for the temple in Jesus day, but Jesus never stayed long enough to lead a Saturday morning clean-up crew. Fixed buildings never confined God to a place on a Jerusalem mount. He was always out on the road.
When I ponder God's identity I have to conclude that He would have detested the thought of being confined to a building with the ninety-nine found sheep. Yet the compartmentalization of life, so common in western society, has given Satan the one tool he needed to connect the Sunday and Wednesday assembly with "the main event" in a disciple's life. Christianity has been bound, confined, and limited to worship leaders, ministry leaders, pulpits, power-point, classrooms, and buildings. The unspoken motto of the modern era church is "build it and they will come."
Stepping out of the boat means we replaced our preoccupation with church and step out into the fringes of the mission field looking for missing persons. If the minority (20%) can do all the church work, then maybe the majority (80%) can focus on serving the people God is (actually) seeking—outside the boat.
|Cruising Jonny Baker's blog today led me to Banksy.
I am in awe of anybody with any artistic talent.
I often wish I could draw or paint. It's such a unique gift in my mind. Leave some people in a room with a little paint and white space and you get the Mona Lisa. Leave me in the same room and you get... the same room. I am envious!
Of particular interest is graffiti and stenciling. I think I like it because it combines visual creativity with my need to "comment" on the world. Anyway, take some time to go through the Banksy site. Small Ritual has some photos posted from Banksy's 'Turf War' show, London July 2003.
(Adding Jonny Baker to the Fellow Travelers Roll. I have no idea why it's taken this long.)
Here's part of the comment I left him:
You, unfortunately, make people think. Most people don't want to think. Thinking is dangerous. Thinking may lead to questions, and some questions may not get answered, or, even worse, may generate more questions. And life with a whole bunch of unanswered questions is, for the cowardly, unnerving. When someone raises their head and starts to say "Hey, what if..." these cowards jump on them in the vain hope of keeping their world "intact". The downside is that life without questions is dull, boring, antiseptic and so much smaller than it was meant to be.
God is not afraid of our questions. He's not afraid we're going to come up with one that He can't handle.
Thanks for making me think and question.
Peace to you and Wendy.
"This moment contains all moments."
The Great Divorce
I like this because it combines the idea that there is purpose in "right now" - there is no need to "wait" for whatever we are being "prepared" for, with the notion that we are our story. As I've written before, so many of us spend our lives trying to erase our story, when it's the combination of our experiences that God plans on redeeming, and using for His glory.
Very cool. What do you think of the "story" aspect?