Friday, November 19, 2004
Friday, October 29, 2004
Personally I'm not convinced that it matters who's president. I honestly don't believe that either Bush or Kerry (or any of those other folks on the ballot) will make a significant difference in the future of this country or the world. Because I believe that western culture is over the hill, morally speaking, and is on an irreversible slide into the abyss.
Which is not to say that I think we should give up and quit trying to make a difference. I just think that any difference will be made at on a small scale or on a personal, one-to-one level, not on a national or state level.
So I'm considering exercising my right to not vote. Jimmy has some interesting thoughts, not about not voting, but about why christians shouldn't care who's in office. As he says, "The church wouldn't give damm if it was good at being the church."
I wrote most of this last Friday, 10/29. I wasn't ready to post it, but intended to. And in the course of the weekend I talked about what I wrote with a couple of people, and got some flack. Which I expected.
So for awhile I considered not posting it until after the election. But, this is what I believe. I'm not trying to convince anyone, just stating my opinion. So if you strongly disagree with me, that's ok. With any luck, I won't say anything about politics for a looong time. I'm sick of the whole mess.
Thursday, October 21, 2004
I've heard myself, and lots of other people pray for God to bless us, or someone else, and I've come to believe that's a silly prayer. Actually, a prayer prayed in ignorance, and maybe even in sin at times.
Did you see the movie "Twister" with Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton? Toward the end they're in a small shed as a very large tornado passes over. The special effects of the movie were great; the shed is sucked up from around them and then the wind builds until their bodies are pulled up off the ground- they're barely hanging on to some pipe and it looks like they're going to follow the shed up into the sky.
Praying for God to bless me is like standing in a tornado, or a hurricane, and asking for wind, or rain- there's already more there than I could possibly imagine or understand- more power, more of His Glory- and I am in the midst of God's blessing every moment of my life!
God blesses me from the moment of conception until I am in His eternal presence- actually long before my conception- "...In Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them."
So why do I ask God to bless me? Because I forget, and because my spiritual vision is so very weak. I don't need to ask God to bless me, I need to ask Him to show me what He's already done, and what He's doing even now. If I knew the fullness of God's blessing on my life I would be overwhelmed, stunned to silence, in awe.
Paul's prayer in Ephesians says it best: "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe."
That hope, those riches, and that power, are here in my life, for my use, now!
I know you bless me every day Father, every moment I live. Open the eyes of my heart, so I may recognize and join in what You are doing, and give You glory.
Monday, August 30, 2004
As most of you are aware we had a major hurricane pass through just a short time ago. Lots of damage, loss of life. There are areas, the places that were worst hit, that still don't have power back. Not many, and I am not trying to criticize anyone- It's just a fact of life that hurricanes can do amazing amounts of damage.
And today my family began to take a serious look at Hurricane Frances. It's not supposed to be here until Saturday, but if you looked at the projected path you'd see where it black line crosses the right coast of Florida? That's just a few miles south of me.
The problem is, as we were reminded with Charlie, that no matter how good the science is (and it's pretty darn good these days), there's still no way to absolutely tell were that great mass of water & heat is going. Charlie was expected to hit the Tampa area. Thousands of people evacuated to Central Florida, Orlando. Charlie decided to jig at the last minute, and Tampa got through with very little trouble. But all those people that went to O-town walked into the path of a major hurricane.
SO, the problem is deciding what to do. We could leave- close up the house, pack a few things and go, um, ha-ha. Yeah. Well, I've got two kids in Tallahassee. So north & west. That's far enough inland that we should be fairly safe.
But nobody will know for sure until the last minute. And to me, strictly my personal opinion, that makes the whole thing a crap shoot. If I lived on a barrier island, yes, I'd get the heck off of it and get inland. But I'm about five miles inland, with pretty good drainage. There's always the potential of wind damage. But there's the potential of wind damage almost every evening this time of year.
As I write this there is a family crisis going on. Another storm, right here, right now. So my priorities are taking a jig, and I'm going a different way than previously forecast. Ciao-
Saturday, August 28, 2004
In far more important news- a new ministry of Faith Fellowship Church is getting ready to go. And the website is up & running as of this evening. The web content is still a bit thin, & there's lots of polishing to do, but Body Builders now exists in cyberspace.
A bunch of us have been preparing for this for quite awhile. Ministry of this type has been on my heart for 12+ years, with lots of stops & starts along the way. There was a time, 9 or 10 years ago, when I wanted to got into a ministry training program in south Florida. There's not much I've ever wanted more in my life than I wanted that. And God very clearly & very definitely said, "NO."
Which really hurt. I mean, God's supposed to put His desires in my heart, to become mine, right(I'm not interested in arguing theology with anybody today, so don't waste your time)? And what could possibly be wrong with wanting to help people that are hurting?
Well, timing for one thing. Turns out God's timetable did not coincide with mine. The next several years were...interesting. And if you know me & mine, you understand. So when a good friend asked about a year ago if I would pray about being involved in this, I wasn't interested. The years between "I want this more than anything," and the present, left me with no desire to minister to anybody, no confidence that I could, and unconvinced that I had anything to offer.
Basically, I agreed to pray only out of respect for my friend. And it took some time to get to the point where I thought it was a possibility, and some more time to begin to get excited about the idea. And now, with our Sept. 21st kick-off date fast approaching, I'm feeling unprepared, & ill-equipped, but willing. And I suspect that's the important part.
Fortunately we are not going in as teachers, but simply facilitators. As Reid says- I'm just trying to tell another hungry person where to find bread.
One of the things that has really scared me, and still concerns me, is what kind and how much of a commitment I'm supposed to make to someone. Don't misunderstand- I know very well that I can't fix a person. That's God's domain, entirely. But, well, let me try to explain it this way- I once heard a person, a leader of a support ministry, say "We will walk with you through this, whatever it takes." But they didn't. They maybe went as far as they could handle, & maybe as far as God meant them to go. But in saying they would stay, whatever it takes, & then not doing so, they wounded someone, pretty significantly.
I suppose the lesson from that is to be sure I only commit to what God wants- there are times when you have to let people go- but that was a tough way to learn.
But enough for tonight. I've been in front of this keyboard for about 7 hours today, & it's past my bedtime. So goodnight one & all, & I'll let you know when, if, the google bucks start rolling in- Hmm...
(By the way- if you read this and wondered why it's all one big block- if it still is- apparently blogger is messing with my formatting again. Don't know what the deal is, I usually write in paragraphs...and the search bar appears to have magically appeared at the top of the page...where's my MONEY?)
Friday, August 13, 2004
Here's the thing, see- there's a lot of things I like to do, and a lot of things I want to try. And then there's a lot of things I need to do, to support the things I want to do. Like work. And then there's all the stuff that goes with being a productive & acceptable member of society- not even gonna' get into that list, although that's what's really been on my mind lately. I'm learning (or trying to learn, or being taught, or whatever your particular theological spin prefers) to live my life for God rather than for what I think everybody arounds me wants. Sounds pretty basic, but it's not so for me. For instance, that's why I haven't written anything here for so long. I got to a point where I felt like I had to write something, but either didn't have the time or the inclination to do so. Then I felt like I had to do something, and the worse that got the more I resented the whole thing.
Now I know that's all kind of absurd, but it's my life & there's a lot of absurdity here. Sooo- I'm not saying I will and I'm not saying I won't- but I'm not walking away from this yet. And if you're still here, go look at the rest of the pictures- that's what this was supposed to be about, anyway. (Edited just a bit- I think I rambled but I don't care. Why in the world would anybody read this mess anyway? This post brought to you by bluegrasscountry.org. Bet you didn't know I like bluegrass, huh? My daughter bought me the sound track to O Brother Where Art Thou? Good stuff...) (Oh yeah- if you click on the pics you'll get a bigger version-who's storing these things anyway?)(Oh, and...aww never mind!)
Thursday, August 05, 2004
Monday, August 02, 2004
Monday, July 12, 2004
Thursday, May 13, 2004
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Thursday, May 06, 2004
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
In the meantime if you're the sort that likes looking at pictures of people you don't know, here's a couple of links you might enjoy- pics- more pics-
It's interesting looking at strangers pictures. I wonder about their stories, what shapes their lives, and how they deal with life.
I realised this morning that I've been depressed to some extent since late March. It bothers me a lot because the several months previous to that were some of the best of my life. And I don't know what happened.
The good Doctor's thoughts today stirred this up further. Quite frankly, I don't get God. I don't understand why He does what He does (feel free to throw in who, where, and when, if you like). I really appreciate Job, except that we know how Job ends, but have no guarantee of the same for ourselves (I apologize if I'm not speaking for you; I claim editorial prerogative. And since I'm depressed anyway, I don't really care what anybody else thinks. One of the few advantages to being depressed).
Hmm. Lost my train of thought.
Oh yeah- I'm depressed.
One of the things I do when depressed is try to escape. I've had a variety of venues- reading is a good one; As a teenager I spent more time reading than any type of interaction with reality. My favorite subject matter was science fiction of all most any type. I've read almost everything Heinlein wrote; towards the end his stuff seemed to be mostly a rehash of everything else he'd already written. Same thing with Steven King- I've read probably 90% of what he's written, and I've pretty much quit him entirely. Except for the Dark Tower, of course.
Another one, that really messed me up, was sexual fantasy. I got so involved with pornography that it pretty much controlled my life for a long time. Almost lost my marriage because of it.
One of my current favorites is playing spades online. I can spend hours playing. I call it a hobby to help justify it. Ha.
Well, I'm going to quit rambling for a while. Maybe I'll get back here today, writing seems to help.
Oh, and I'm still officially on hiatus, Reid.
Sunday, April 25, 2004
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
2 a : an interruption in time or continuity
Ok, between my wife working fulltime & going to school fulltime and me trying to keep up with everything else, there just hasn't been a good opportunity to put the effort in here that I'd like. So for about three weeks I plan on not doing anything. After that my wife should be done with school, and maybe things will ease up a little.
In the meantime, I highly recommend all of the blogs to your right. Excellent thought goes into each.
Friday, April 09, 2004
Wednesday, April 07, 2004
The Difference Between Hymns & Choruses
An old farmer went to the city one weekend and attended the big city church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was.
"Well," said the farmer, "It was good. They did something different, however. They sang praise choruses instead of hymns."
"Praise choruses," said his wife, "What are those?"
"Oh, they're okay. They're sort of like hymns, only different," said the farmer.
”Well, what's the difference?" asked his wife.
The farmer said, "Well, it's like this - If I were to say to you:
‘Martha, the cows are in the corn,' well, that would be a hymn. If, on the other hand, I were to say to you:
“Martha, Martha, Martha, Oh, Martha, MARTHA, MARTHA,
the cows, the big cows, the brown cows, the black cows,
the white cows, the black and white cows,
the COWS, COWS, COWS are in the corn,
are in the corn, are in the corn, are in the corn,
the CORN, CORN, CORN.”
Then, if I were to repeat the whole thing two or three times, well that would be a praise chorus."
By coincidence, the exact same Sunday a young, new Christian from the city church attended the small town church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was.
"Well," said the young man, "It was good. They did something different, however. They sang hymns instead of regular songs."
"Hymns," said his wife, "What are those?"
"Oh, they're okay. They're sort of like regular songs, only different," said the young man.
"Well, what's the difference?" asked his wife.
The young man said, "Well it's like this - If I were to say to you:
'Martha, the cows are in the corn,’ well, that would be a regular song. If, on the other hand, I were to say to you:
“Oh Martha, dear Martha, hear thou my cry
Inclinest thine ear to the words of my mouth.
Turn thou thy whole wondrous ear by and by
To the righteous, inimitable, glorious truth.
For the way of the animals who can explain?
There in their heads is no shadow of sense,
Hearkenest they in God's sun or his rain
Unless from the mild, tempting corn they are fenced.
Yea those cows in glad bovine, rebellious delight,
Have broke free their shackles, their warm pens eschewed.
Then goaded by minions of darkness and night
They all my mild Chilliwack sweet corn have chewed.
So look to that bright shining day by and by,
Where all foul corruptions of earth are reborn.
Where no vicious animal makes my soul cry
And I no longer see those foul cows in the corn”.
Then, if I were to do only verses one, three and four and do a key change on the last verse, well that would be a hymn."
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
This is what I did today-
Up at 6:30, to kiss my wife & send her off to work. Did the dishes I was supposed to do last night & cleaned the kitchen, fed the critters.
Had a quiet time- I've been using the prayer in chapter 10 of Waking the Dead as a guide for a few weeks. Reread some bits of the book to refresh my mind, spent some time in prayer for family & ministry team.
Checked my email & had some breakfast, emailed Mike Bishop (see below).
Headed out for the day with my Bible & camera. Dropped off some paperwork at the Social Security office, stopped by my sister's house. Got some early lunch & headed for the cemetery.
Stopped along the way for some pictures.
A ditch in an industrial area-
across the road-
I try to take pictures of what I see- sometimes it works, sometimes not. Some weeds-
I like cemeteries. They're peaceful; they draw out my awareness of God's presence. I've always enjoyed wandering through them, reading headstones, wondering about the stories that go with them. My wife & I occasionally had a date at one before we were married- there are some very large cemeteries in the Chicago area, with long roads/paths that are nice for bike rides.
It took me about ten minutes to find my parents plot. When I realized where it was, I was about ten yards away. As I walked toward it I had to stop a moment- catch my breath, & realize this was going to be more powerful than I expected.
The past week has been so emotional; I guess I figured the worst was behind me. And then I sat on the grass in the middle of the cemetery & cried for a while.
Some of the most beautiful & most tragic parts of any cemetery are the children.
There is a lot of pain & sadness here- I hope there's a lot of joy as well.
After reading this through several times, I realized someone might go away with the wrong impression- there is pain & sorrow, grieving still, but there is a whole lot of joy & peace as well. In fact, the joy & peace far out-way the pain & sadness.
I've been reading several bits and pieces about the Emergent Church movement, and the contrast it has with other movements in the Church, primarily Evangelicalism. What follows is a slightly edited email I sent to Mike Bishop after reading & commenting on a post he made, & receiving a reply from him (you should really read his original post & our comments to get the context of this):
Frankly, I'm not overly fond of Rick Warren's writing. I was part of one of the 40 day groups with The Purpose Driven Life- I made it about 15 days. I had so many arguments with what he said & how he said it that I finally gave up. And I left the group because I couldn't add anything positive to it. I have also looked at the Celebrate Recovery program that Saddleback started and have lots of problems with it as well.
And Brian McLaren is fairly new to me- I have only been aware of and reading his work for about a month. That's true of the entire Emergent movement (? I still don't know quite how to refer to it).
But two things have impressed me greatly as I read about this "new thing" and read the comments and ideas of people that seem to support/embrace it-
The first is not new at all. There seems to be a lot of "get rid of the old ways- because they are the old ways." Whether the reference is to Traditionalism, Evangelicalism, Modernism (and there seems to be little differentiation); the main idea seems to be "out with the old, in with the new." Which has been repeated over & over again throughout time. One of the strongest & most recent examples is the mess of the Sixties. Another would be The Reformation. Yet another would be the beginnings of the Church. Which, of course, points out that not all change is bad, and there are certainly times when radical change is necessary. But even in the founding & establishing of the Church there was the need to embrace and include the positive, healthy portions of the past. I don't see much of that in what I have encountered so far.
The second thing- "What exactly is God doing different..." I don't think you really mean God is doing something He's never done before (please let me know if I'm wrong- that would be a significant theological concern). God has always "...challeng(ed) people to become people who love God, live in his kingdom, and live simple lives for the sake of the world." Yes? And if we take into account culture, well, culture changes with time & location. What is culturally relevant here & now may not be in a few years- or in another country. Scripture has to be read with an eye toward culture. Missions must be approached with a keen understanding of the culture they're trying to reach. As culture changes, God will adapt His church to reach it, to be involved, to engage it, whatever the form. Rick Warren looks at The Passion of the Christ and sees an immense opportunity to reach the culture God has called him to. Brian McLaren looks at the same movie and sees an opportunity- but not one that is going to make a significant impact on the culture that God has called him to. God has raised up a part of His Body to reach the new. But He is also maintaining a part of His Body to continue reaching the old. And although the methods may appear different, the foundation is the same.
Paul said "To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. (1 Cor. 9:20-23)"
I suspect I'm not telling you anything you don't already believe. Interestingly, I consider myself very Evangelical, but I think the intent of Emergence is wonderful. Necessary. Definitely part of where God is going. And I have lots of problems with Evangelicalism- I think it's isolated a lot of wounded, hurting Christians. I was/am a part of that group. And God is leading me into ministry, through an Evangelical Free church, to minister the same comfort with which I have been comforted.
I guess my point overall would be that as God moves in an additional (not new, or even different) direction in our culture, we need to be careful to discern what did and didn't work previously, and hold tight to the good. And trust God, because He will do His work.
Friday, March 26, 2004
Thursday, March 25, 2004
Not to be depressing, but I then ran across these articles on the Supreme Court proceedings concerning the phrase "Under God" in the Pledge, and a well stated commentary on the farce of the recent Methodist church trial of a lesbian minister.
I think this reflects the direction our country is going. But we are still responsible for speaking the truth as long as God allows us. Regardless of the popularity or general consensus of the issue.
And I think we need to be very careful as Christians to continually seperate sin from sinner. None of us are condemned- but none of us are innocent either; and calling our sin a "lifestyle" or some other claptrap is very dangerous.
Thankfully, we have a Merciful God.
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Anyway, I spent the day at Epcot last Wednesday as a chaperone for my son's science class. Got to take a few pictures. If you're interested->
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I've been having a rough week or so, and the last 3 days have been particularly difficult. I've been reading Waking the Dead and some of the difficulty has come from what I've been learning, but not all.
I sent out a prayer request this morning to some friends- I knew I needed some support. And after that God gave me a big wallop of insight, that I suppose in retrospect should have been more obvious. The first anniversary of my father's death is approaching- March 30th. I was reading a bit of Waking the Dead, and God gently pointed out that that was at least part of what I was reacting to. I talked to my wife a bit and she reminded me that this coming week was also the worst of the process of watching him die- and then I talked to my sister awhile, and that helped a lot.
After my mom died, a year ago January, my dad decided he didn't need to live any longer and decided to quit taking all his medication (heart & diabetes) and stopped eating any solid food. He pretty much confined himself to his bed. Over the next 10 weeks he lived on Sprite. We (my wife, sister, & brother-in-law) spent as much time with him as we could, and watched him deteriorate. In the last few days he was sleeping more than he was awake. He would be asleep and stop breathing for as much as 45 seconds. And when he started breathing again we realized we had been holding our breath, waiting for him to breathe.
He got to the point where he couldn't talk any more, and then slipped into a coma. Shortly after that he died, early on a Sunday morning.
Grief is an amazing thing. Everybody's is unique, I suppose. I think I did most of my grieving for my mom at her funeral- and I don't think she's had the lasting impact my father has. I was mad at him when he died- I agreed to let him go the way he chose (not sure I had a choice there) but I was really pissed during and afterwards. I think he wasted the end of his life. I think he was very selfish and self-centered in what he did. I think it reflected a lot of his life. I also think that he didn't have a clue about what he was doing.
I think if anyone had ever told him that he was being selfish, or causing his children anguish, he would have been very surprised and hurt himself. He loved us as much as he knew how. I know some of his background, the way he grew up, and it was very hard, tragic in some ways. I know God blessed me a great deal through my father, and that he gave as much of himself as he knew how and was able.
There has been a lot of healing, but there is more needed I'm sure, since we get so much of our concept of God from our earthly fathers- even the best of them are flawed. Thank God, He wants us to know the truth.
Another thing that God has been working on in me this week is being open. I have had some sin in the past that had me in bondage- it was stuff that caused me shame, and in my pride I thought I could handle it on my own. Those, of course, are some of the greatest lies satan can get us to fall for. But God has been putting a hunger in me for deeper relationships with other brothers & sisters in the Lord, and is drawing me into a fellowship with a small group at church. I'm really excited about it, as He put that desire in me & is now fulfilling it. They are a tremendous source of encouragement & strength.
Thanks for the prod, Reid-
Saturday, March 13, 2004
"Why is America so eager to retreat from (it's) principles? Why is America eager to dismiss the authority of God? If we dismiss God, then we dismiss the inalienable rights He has ordained and the equality He has declared. Without God, “justice” changes with the winds of the day. People do whatever they wish. We see this later, in the time of the judges-- In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit (Judges 17:6). Without moral authority, judgments will be based solely on the influence, status or usefulness of the person.
The American justice system has its problems to be sure. Sometimes the wealthy get away with murder. Sometimes people are unjustly punished. But no system in the world makes a greater effort or goes to greater expense be fair. There are reforms to be made. There are improvements to be sought. But removing God would not be one of them."
(The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.Words of Faith (c) 2004 Jeffrey D.Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation ofthe source for non-profit purposes.)
Monday, March 08, 2004
Speaking of Ruislip, if any of you happen to be family you might want to look at this-
Like some peace and quiet. My home, with 6 kids, 5 of whom are teenagers, 2 cats, and one large dog, is not a place that is calm by nature. Usually, quiet occurs between midnight and 6 am. And that would work for me except for the lack of sleep that would result. Combined with a hectic schedule, it's hard to catch that combination of conditions that I prefer.
So it is often the case that when something passes through my mind that I want to write about, I won't have the conditions I seem to need. And when I do reach that point of quiescence (one of my favorite words- I once read the wrapper on a popsicle that claimed it was "quiescently frozen." Which, I suppose, means it wasn't dragged, kicking & screaming...) I will likely have lost the original train of thought, probably the very idea that started it. "I know there was something back there, somewhere..."
Lack of time, noisiness, interruptions- all these things can trip me up. And I wonder why I even bother. After all, if God wanted me to write something He'd give me the time, right?
But I've also been reading about spiritual warfare, about how satan comes only to steal & destroy, and I wonder if this is related somehow?
Now as a case in point, since I started writing this I've had to stop to print some school papers for my daughter, and answer a couple of phone calls. I have to keep re-reading what I've written to figure out what's next. If anything.
I'm not unfamiliar with spiritual warfare. But I'm not well-versed in it either (unintentional pun, sorry). And I will admit my thoroughly Western predisposition- it's all rather uncomfortable. Which doesn't make it any less of a reality.
I'm not coming to any conclusions here. And my lunch break is technically over. So I guess this will go back into the pot to stew awhile longer. Hmm...
Friday, March 05, 2004
1 from each of the following countries-
Taiwan, Province Of China,
And 1 that is totally anonymous. Hmm...
So He told me I was feeling this way because things had been so busy- not bad busy, just a lot He had me doing- and now the busyness was over and it was time to rest a bit. I headed for work, still tense and unsettled. At which point God told me to be late for work and go walk on the beach for awhile.
Yeah, I know- that's kinda' hard to believe. It took me a few minutes, too. But He was very insistent. So I drove out to the beach, took off my shoes and socks and rolled up my pants, and went for a walk. Wiggled my toes in the sand, walked in the surf a bit (brr, still), talked to the seagulls. Then He took me down a ways to a rock outcropping that the surf was washing around. I stood on it for awhile and we talked about how the rock was like His Spirit- how I could see parts of it, but I didn't know everything about it; how I could stand on it and the waves might get me wet but couldn't knock me off; how it held so many things together; how it sustained life.
So anyway, it was time to go. And that fixed the problem.
Some of this is from my break-
*Something I've been re-learning. A still, small voice that I have to be still and quiet to hear. Hmm...
Thursday, March 04, 2004
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
The other day I was reading something that led to something else, etc, and wound up, by way of John Bradley and Jason Clark reading a letter by Brian McLaren, and an interview with him as well. Brian is someone who has put a lot of thought into what's being called by some, the Emergent Church, and has the respect of others who have done the same.
Now, I don't know anything about emerging or emergent or whatever. In fact, I had never heard of any of it until I started this blog , and started reading others that seem to have similar interests. As best I understand, the intent of the Emergent church is to bring the Gospel to a post-modern culture; post-modern being a reference to the moral stance of 21st century culture. I think.
I was, uh, bothered, by some of what I read in both the letter and the interview. It seemed to me there was a lot of negative criticism toward the traditional, modern, & postmodern versions of the church.
However, what bothered me most in both articles, was that McLaren asked lots of questions without offering any answers. In fact, in the interview, he seemed to back way off what he said in the letter, without offering any solid answers to the questions presented to him. Kind of like he was above being questioned and you had to accept what he said because he said it.
Now, I can't claim to be very familiar with McLaren. And I don't like feeling this way about a brother in Christ. So I knew I needed to either get more input, or let it go entirely. My life is incredibly busy these days, so I figured that although I was curious, I had to let it go- felt that that was what God would have me do. And I felt peace about that.
Enter Reid, stage right. Ha. He sent me to one of my most trusted resources- Christianity Today Online. A very Traditional, Evangelical bulwark. To an article by...drum roll please...Brian McLaren! There goes God, messing with my box again.
Well, the article at CT helped a lot. Answered some questions and helped me have a better perspective of McLaren. I think we have some very similar views, but we use different words. I did, and still do, consider myself very much 'traditional' church, but I agree with much of what McLaren says in the CT article. And as I've had time to think about the whole thing, it seems to me that in spite of differences in terminology- language- we still have the same goal: to live the Gospel as God leads us.
I know God gives a variety of gifts. But there are also varieties of expressions of those gifts- each person has hands and feet, but I'll bet my hands and feet are distinct from yours. All of us are equipped to do the work God has for us, whether the style is ancient, traditional, post-modern, or futuristic. And we are all part of the Body of Christ. Maybe that's the point.
Monday, March 01, 2004
Maybe part of the reason worship was so incredibly good yesterday, was that God was preparing my heart for the movie. The songs we sang made me aware in a new way that Jesus is my life- that is, He is living His life in me.
And a line from one song- "i'm lost without you", really hit me because as I said to my wife, "I am so not lost!" It's a great thing to know.
I talked to my kids before we went. I wanted them to be aware of a few things- to know that though the movie was based primarily on the Gospels, there was a certain amount of artistic license taken. And that there were some details here and there that are conjecture- there is so much in the details that no one knows- but that the overall story was accurate, and faithful to the truth.
I also wanted them to understand this as best they could- Jesus died for us. The entire reason for His life was His death. I think Mel Gibson's intent was to imprint on us how great the cost, the payment, Jesus made for my sin. How He suffered. The horror of what He endured, and how He took on Himself the punishment I deserved.
And yet, with this incredible depiction of His physical suffering, the greatest cost was something that the movie could only give a hint of. The greatest cost of my sin was that, as Jesus took my sin upon Himself, His Father had to forsake Him- Justice demanded it. That is a price we can't comprehend- to be cut off from the presence of God. I believe there is a physical aspect to hell, but I also believe that the worst part of eternal condemnation will be an utter isolation. And that is something, most thankfully Lord, I will never know.
If you haven't been yet, I recommend that you arrange to have some time afterwards to reflect. The words to describe my reaction, my feelings- it is very difficult, but it was an experience I am very grateful for. Maybe that's the best way to say it- it was very difficult to watch, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
Sunday, February 29, 2004
Good Morning- It's almost 9 am & I'm still half asleep- I took a bunch of kids to Winter Jam last night. Audio Adrenaline, Todd Agnew, New Song, ReliantK, & a couple others. Got to bed at 3. I was seriously considering skipping church, but I've about talked myself into going. I'm really wiped out, but I love church. I look forward to corporate worship so much; it's really helps me recover from the stress of the past week, & prepare for the week to come. So I'm gonna' go get dressed & take my coffee with me. I'm going to see The Passion tonight with my church as well. Ciao- I took a bunch of kids to Winter Jam last night. Audio Adrenaline, Todd Agnew, New Song, ReliantK, & a couple others. Got to bed at 3. I was seriously considering skipping church, but I've about talked myself into going.
I'm really wiped out, but I love church. I look forward to corporate worship so much; it's really helps me recover from the stress of the past week, & prepare for the week to come.
So I'm gonna' go get dressed & take my coffee with me. I'm going to see The Passion tonight with my church as well.
Friday, February 27, 2004
My mom & my mother-in-law died within a couple hours of each other a little over a year ago. My wife was with her mom in Chicago (we live in Florida), and the hardest part of that day was telling my kids, the second time, that grandma had died. I still cry over the memory.
After my mom died, my dad decided he didn't need to live any longer. He made a conscience decision to stop taking all of his cardiac & diabetes medicines, stopped eating any solids, and confined himself to his bed. Ten weeks later, he died.
When mom died, it was sudden, but not unexpected. When dad died, I knew it was coming, and watched the process intimately, first-hand.
I grieved openly and freely at mom's funeral, and had a lot of closure and healing. At dad's, I was pretty much uninvolved. Looking back at the past year I can see how much more his death has impacted me- in very negative ways. I feel like it's only been in the last couple of months that my life has started to return.
Don't know if there's a point to this story, but I think it helps me in some way to share it. Thanks for the opportunity Jenell, you've blessed me again.
Thursday, February 26, 2004
This morning I read a review- more of an opinion actually- from someone I generally respect concerning movies, but who I would not have guessed might be a Christian. Now, I wonder.
I highly recommend reading the review by Roger Ebert in the online edition of the Chicago Sun-Times, if only for this bit- "The libel that the Jews "killed Christ" involves a willful misreading of testament and teaching: Jesus was made man and came to Earth in order to suffer and die in reparation for our sins. No race, no man, no priest, no governor, no executioner killed Jesus; he died by God's will to fulfill his purpose, and with our sins we all killed him."
If you're not familiar with Roger Ebert, you won't know that he is a very popular and respected critic in his field. His column will be read by hundreds of thousands of people in the Chicago area, most likely seen and heard on his syndicated TV show, and picked up by, potentially, millions via the internet.
And to me, that alone is sufficient justification for the movie.
PS- I have just received links to two more excellent articles concerning the movie and reaction to it, in the National Review Online. They are worth your time.
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
Now that's a great passion. I suspect that Reid would have a hard time considering anything else to be more important. And, I suspect, he would look at me with a bit of doubt if I were to take issue with him.
Which got me thinking, because I do not have a passion for evangelism. I think it's important, but it's not what God has called me to.
MY passion is for the restoration of wounded Christians- those of us who have lost sight of our joy & peace. Those of us who have forgotten, or maybe never really knew, the truth about ourselves, and the truth about the Goodness of God. Those of us that are wondering what Jesus was talking about when He spoke of abundant life.
And I know from experience that I have a hard time understanding why everyone doesn't feel the way I do. "Why can't Ya'll see the pain in all those hearts? And obviously anybody not acknowledging their pain is hiding behind a mask..."
Ok. That was my passion speaking. And sometimes I can't see past the end of it. Sometimes my passion lacks perspective. Yes, there are a lot of wounded & hurting brothers & sisters in the world. And yes, God has called some of us to minister to them. But not all of us. And I have to remember that not everybody is going to share my passion- there may even be some that think there's something wrong with me, because they can't see past the end of their passion.
And that's got to be ok, too. Because it's not my job to make you, or me, into anything different from what we are. It's God's job to change who He wants, the way He wants, when He wants.
By the way, DO you know who and what you are? Do you believe it?
Monday, February 23, 2004
A combination of influences affected my day. They were summed up in a question that was posed in Sunday school yesterday- "Which is greater? My ability to discern God's will, or His ability to guide me into His will? And the thought of "What would my day look like if I got up in the morning, asked God to take control of my day, and then believed that He would do so?"
Well, I guess that would mean that something I wrote in my first attempt here was not what He wanted me to write. Of course, that assumes that I manage to get this posted...
So my day has been pretty good. A positive reinforcement to this adventure. Of course it's not over yet. But so far, so good.
And that is the ultimate point , of course. That God is Good, goodness is a part of the essence of His nature. He can be trusted absolutely. And I can give my entire life and being into His hands with no fear. 'Cause God is GOOOOOD!
Ha, ha. He also has a sense of humor. In the five minutes that passed between the end of the last paragraph and the beginning of this one, my 16 year old son called and asked me to pick him up. Missed the bus (never planned on riding it actually), planned on getting a ride with a friend, but that didn't panout. Sooo, now that I've settled in for the evening, he calls and wants/needs a ride. Funny, God.
But I can still smile and appreciate the irony. After all, a big part of my life lately has been learning to live what I say I believe. And since I said that I gave my day to Him...this too becomes Joy. And Blessing.