December 17, 2006

Time for Nostalgia

TMNT

I 'm not gonna lie, I'm excited.

Ragamuffin Gospel

"Perhaps the real dichotomy in the Christian community today is not between the conservatives and the liberals or creationists and evolutionists but between the awake and the asleep. The Christian ragamuffin acknowledges with Macbeth: 'Life is but a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more.' Just as a smart man knows is he stupid, so the awake Christian knows he/she is a ragamuffin.

Although truth is not always humility, humility is always truth: the blunt acknowledgment that I owe my life, being, salvation to Another. This fundamental act lies at the core of our response to grace.

The beauty of the ragamuffin gospel lies in the insight it offers into Jesus: the essential tenderness of his heart, his way of looking at the world, his mode of relating to you and me. 'If you really want to understand a man, don't jus tlisten to what he says, btu watch what he does."

Advent Sunday 3


John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” “What should we do then?” the crowd asked. John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.” Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.” The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ. John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them. —Luke 3:7-18, NIV

What does it mean that God came to earth? The universal became local for the purpose of being universal. Makes sense?

This morning for Advent I taught on election, Abraham, Israel, tribal gods, and mission. How do those things relate you ask? We need advent. I think we need it now more than ever for the sheer fact that the god in America, "in God We Trust" is not the Almighty, High God. This mysterious being who belongs to no, but belongs to everyone.

I think election has become something that is misconstrued in our modern theological systems. I believe election is for the purpose of mission. Both Abraham and Israel were chosen, not for themselves, but for the world. We as Americans like to do the same thing that Israel did, put God in a box (hence the pic). By claiming that God is on our side, and that we are in a place of privilege we are making God less than who he is. This was a huge problem for Israel. They would become inward focused, believing that God chose them for the purpose of honor and privilege. This is a huge problem, because they were not chosen for themselves.

The church has this problem too. We forget that we are chosen, elected, not for ourselves. Neither are we in a place of privilege, but rather we are chosen for the purpose of mission. We cannot allow ourselves to get so wrapped up in our world, worrying about our spiritual growth, reading our bibles, prayer in our prayer times. We must remember that how we love others is how we love God. We are elected for mission. When we are not living for mission than we are not allowing God to be who he truly is, we are making God a tribal god.

December 16, 2006

Sacramental Mustang, The Story Continues

I know its been a while since I've posted on the Mustang's progress, but here's a little snippet. I thought I had the car almost done, it was starting up (although it took a few tries) and running. The idle and throttle response were both off, so I thought all that it needed was a little tune.

Well, it seems that it just went down hill more and more. It quit working very well, electronic things started to go haywire. After some testing, I've decided to replace the entire wiring harness. My dad had the computer/engine harness, which I've had for some time now that is in nice condition but I didn't put it in because it didn't interface with the other harness that is in the car. So I went to the junkyard and pulled the dash/driver side engine harness that would interface with the one my dad gave me.

Right now, I've got the new computer/engine harness in and am taping it up to make it look nice and protect it. The absolute hard part that I'm not looking forward to is installing the dash harness. I already have the dash pulled and have begun to pull the old harness. Its scary, that's for sure. I'll post a pick of the wiring harness, it looks like quite a mess.

If this harness does not fix it, and some local guys can't help, then I'm just going to take it to Waco and get the shops up there to fix it. Pic's are coming.

December 12, 2006

The Truth Behind the Absolute

So, what is real? I ask myself this often. Why? Well, because there was this time when I fell in love. Deeply in love, with a Godman. I lost who I was, I didn't care, and all I did was follow. By no means was I perfect, not even in the Saint sort of way, but I had heart. Then came along something binary to faith, a system. This system stole my thoughts, hijacked my core. This system was foundational Enlightenment thinking. Everything was provable, because everything rested on 1 single perfect absolute truth.

The problem? The problem rests in the fact that the need to know everything, especially spiritual and Godlike, consumed me. I became so wrapped up in this Enlightenment, modernist thinking that I lost myself to something else. I forfeited myself over to something that I thought was greater, but what I didn't realize was how forsaken and limiting this was. I thought absolute truth existed. I mistook God, my love, for another. I left my first love, a relational God, for abstract truths in the forms on conceptions and single know all statements. Rational Logic, damn it, damn it to hell. Okay, maybe not entirely, not in the most foundational, modernistic sense maybe. In the sense that any one thing can be so scrutinized and studied to be known perfectly and absolutely, as in absolute truth.

I know where I am going with this. I'm treading on thin ice, almost on water itself (and we all know only one dude, well two have done that). I officially renunciate truth in the most absolute form. No, I did not say that I renunciate truth, I only do so in the most foundational, absolute forms of it. I renunciate the life-stripping, soul-damning forms of this way of thinking.

If my thoughts are convoluted, I apologize. What I mean to say is that truth exists, but we as finite, created beings have no right in knowing truth completely. Why? Simply, because God is truth. Truth is like God in that it can only be experienced in a limited form. Yes, truth can be experienced, not only can it be, but it is. Truth is not an abstract, conceptional thing out there, but a relational being in here. We live with truth, experience it, and relate to it.

Here's an analogy to clear things up a bit. We, in our most modernistic, Enlightenment ways of thinking, like to think of truth as a picture. If we study something hard enough, and objectively enough than we can know the truth of it absolutely. The end result is that our ideas of truth become a picture of reality, no faults, just a picture resembling (if not exactly duplicating) the scene of truth.

Instead of a picture though, I like to think of truth as a blueprint. If you've ever seen a a blueprint than you'll know what I'm talking about. Blueprints do not reflect exact reality, but only a part of it, the part that is focused on communicating. We need blueprints that'll work together to make a complete picture, to paint a whole, at least the best we can picture it. Assuming truth as a blueprint means that we allow the fact that we are subjective and no knowledge is known outside of our own experiences. Thus, we do not hold the single WAY of knowing life or truth, but we have a blueprint of knowing it that must be used alongside other blueprints to know better. There is no single harbinger of truth. Rather, relationally truth works together to paint portraits of reality to the best we can know it. Sometimes our portraits are widened upon accidental findings, think of many modern experiments and discoveries, and sometimes truth is revealed, i.e. God's means of Scripture and men known as prophets or the Incarnation.

Jesus points to the fact that truth is not absolute when he says that "I am the way, truth, and the life" Jn. 14:6. Truth is hardly something to be known, but experienced. Jesus is not an abstract concept, but a personal being to live with. No one has claim to this truth, but God.

So what is real? What is real is that no absolutes exist, even the absolute that I stated just now that no absolutes exist. Maybe, I'll continue this thought later, but for now I rest my case. Discuss, and know that I'm hardly a heretic, but simply a Christ follower.

December 11, 2006

Advent Sunday 2


In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene—during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“A voice of one calling in the desert,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
And all mankind will see God’s salvation.’”
—Luke 3:1-6, NIV



Advent brings both a sense of hope and hopelessness. There exists this extraordinary hope that God is making himself local, so that he may be received universal. The hope of preparation marks this time, that the child of God will soon be here. Christ is coming. At the same time I find a deep sense of hopelessness. How can we prepare for the arrival of such a thing. I think when we live out a dualistic spirituality, focusing solely on the hope of heaven, and the coming deliverance of God than we lose this hopelessness. When we are living with the world, suffering and seeing suffering, fighting and causing injustice than we have to ask ourselves, how do we prepare this place for God? It seems a bit hopeless, but then again God still came, didn't he?

December 6, 2006

What is really Real?

Lately I've been in a dark place mentally. It's like a fog as receded into the inner place of my being that prevents me from really seeing what is real. In turn, this blindness has effected my core, and I feel relegated to think only the thoughts of those around me who have paved the way to where I am today.

Creativity becomes stifled, memory clings to little, and my mind becomes so wrapped up in the really real that the only place I find comfort is sleep. Even as I type I feel the horizon dim ever so slightly, so that thoughts violently shake against my foundations to burst forth.

I long to be my own, to find my voice in the wilderness. The dark cloud is elusive, and object or being that has accompanied me for too long. I find that my pilgrimage into knowledge and the reality that surrounds me helps. This is part of the fog, reality, knowledge, and the pursuit of it all.

The fact that I'm straddling two worlds, a modern and postmodern and living in a mostly modern world deafens me to gather the sounds of reality into a coherent package or picture that I can carry along with me. I'm torn and retorn, cast and drawn in.

This place mentally that resides inside of me, the dark place has light that dances around the fringes breaking hope onto my path. When my head hangs low and I frailly fumble in the darkness, I find myself close to Reality, the really Real. Truth, reality are not abstract vapors to somehow gather into glass jars, but alive and near. It is in the lowly that I find myself, because it is in the lowly that I find God.

As my head is forced into my hands because of the blur, God is there. As I wrestle to find myself, God is there. And as broken as I am, God is there.

December 3, 2006

Advent Sunday 1


'The days are coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah

In those days and at that time
I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David's line;
he will do what is just and right in the land.

In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it will be called:
The LORD Our Righteousness.'

Jeremiah 33:14-16


Well, this is the first time I've ever really been excited or involved much with the church calendar. I'm teaching through the Advent season to help prepare our hearts for Christmas. By preparing myself mentally and spiritually for Advent, I've had a much more positive outlook on Christmas. I find the holiday to be more Sacramental than just buying gifts, decorating, and watching lights.

Advent is the beginning of the Christian calendar, extending four weeks before Christmas. Like I said, its a part of the Christian calendar used to prepare our hearts for the coming King, both in birth and eschatologically.

I taught using the Old Testament reading from the lectionary, Jeremiah 33:14-16 quoted above.
Advent is marked by anticipation and waiting on the coming Lord. Our modern churches are so steeped in doing and going, because the assumption is that we have everything we need. This is God's earth, and we work in his Kingdom. The only way we can be successful in God's bidding, is by first waiting, not going. How else can we be prepared if we do not listen to the Father God.

Israel, as a nation, was very acquainted with waiting. Even here in Jeremiah, they must wait for their Messiah. To prepare their hearts, though, is was not a passive waiting, but a time to prepare themselves for the King. Jeremiah 7 speaks of their need to repent of all the wicked things Israel was doing and all the just things they were not.

So, this is our call during the advent season as we wait. We must prepare ourselves by repenting. This is an appropriate response for the arrival of a king. Clear the way! Here he comes!

November 30, 2006

Two Movies...

We've recently watched two movies in our house that I think I'll recommend. The first is just for entertainment's sake, Superman Returns. I think someone could use this movie to teach youth group lessons, because there seems to be some Christ imagery. This may have been intentional by the writers and producers, but I don't think so. This movie is just a testament to how our culture lives in the spiritual and understands the lingo. Anyways, its a good movie.

The second movie is a must see, I think. Al Gore's hit documentary about global warming An Inconvenient Truth. I have a hard time when people that this stuff isn't real, that its just made up propaganda. Granted, we have only been studying our climate for a short time relative to the expanse of time, but the fact that our human population is so huge and has grown so much in just the past 100 years...4 billion people shows that the earth is going to be effected by our actions.

This movie is scary to a certain point, although I have a hard time buying into it completely, but nevertheless I think Gore is right when he says that this is a moral issue.

November 20, 2006

Joe's Soundtrack

So, here’s how it works:
1. Open your library (iTunes, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that’s playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don’t lie and try to pretend you’re cool and no disclaimers allowed.

Opening Credits: Leave Us Alone- Joseph Arthur
Waking Up: Kick Out the Jams (Live)- RATM
First Day At School: Breathing Air Again- Robbie Seay Band
Falling In Love: Frosty the Snowman- Burl Ives
Fight Song: Sacrifice- Tree 63
Breaking Up: Shaft- Incubus
Prom: Sassafras Roots- Green Day
Mental Breakdown: Immenso- Andrea Bocelli
Driving: Can't Stand Losing You- The Police
Flashback: On My Way- Grits
Getting Back Together: Lay It Down- The Benjamin Gate
Wedding: Rewind- Pillar
Birth of Child: 3 Libras- A Perfect Circle
Final Battle: You Are- Todd Agnew
Death Scene: Big Enough to Hold Me- Waterdeep
Funeral Song: Let the Good Times Roll- Ray Charles
End Credits: Eugene's Lament- Beastie Boys

via lucas, via seth.

November 14, 2006

Mustang, no go

I thought Sacramental Mustang was almost ready to go. I've been driving it a little around the apartments to tune it in. The throttle is still not responding right, but yesterday as I was tuning it, all went to hell. Maybe it's not that bad, but still. I lost all fire, the engine turns over but won't fire up. When I went to check it out, I tried to turn off the engine, but it just thought it would keep running. I TOOK THE KEY OUT, and it still kept trying to turn over. I had to disconnect the battery for it to stop. So, just as you thought I would be posting me driving the car, we'll have to wait.

And the results are in...

I recently finished my paper and presentation over Luke 22:35-38, which you can read in the below post. I settled down on one conclusion, although I think there exist two possible and strong interpretations.

Interp. #1:
Jesus is trying to prepare the disciples of the impending danger and hostility that they are about to face, because they will be viewed as transgressors for following Jesus. Although, this is not the best interp, I think that Luke may have had this in mind when writing his gospel to the gentile community which was receiving hostility from many different angles, Jewish Christians (not real harsh), Romans, and Jews (pretty harsh).

Interp. #2:
The disciples are betrayers of Jesus, and this question, answer device reveals their hearts. Jesus is quite ingenious in asking the disciples and then commanding them to get swords, because they reveal that they have already lost faith in his earlier commands from Luke 9 and 10 to take nothing with them on mission. The fact that they already have swords means that they are treacherous. This theme of treachery fits well with the 3 preceding pericopes which all fit together with similar elements and also form a farewell speech.

Why would this be important for first century followers of Jesus? These men who have following Jesus bettrayed him by preparing themselves for violence. As the times erupt with violence with teh destruciton of hte Temple, Christians will be forced into a hard place. The correct reaction is not violence, and Luke wants them to know this.

How badly we need this message. The correct reaction to violence is not violence, but rather a different way. The Christ way of the cross. Sounds unfamiliar, sounds unAmerican, but it sounds biblical. We as a Christian church need to pick up this devotion to Christ so that we can have the kinds of hearts that will not prepare for violence, but rather prepare for grace.

November 5, 2006

Lukan Theology

I'm preparing a paper for Scriptures 3 covering the puzzling and perplexing passage preceding the passion, directly after the Lord's Supper in Luke 22.

Verses 35-38

35Then Jesus asked them, "When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?"
"Nothing," they answered.

36He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37It is written: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors'[b]; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment."

38The disciples said, "See, Lord, here are two swords."
"That is enough," he replied.


If you have any thoughts, interpretations, or whatever you want to offer up, write me up a 15 page paper, or just leave a comment.

November 3, 2006

Sacramental Mustang

Well, it won't be long now, I can almost taste it (or is that exhaust?).

I think the idle is fixed and set, so the car is almost ready to go. I found two problems, of course, that needed attention before I can go get the flowmasters welded on. First, the power steering pump was dead. Therefore I got a new,, and without thinking I got the wrong year. Ford changed power steering line connections in 90 or 91, and I ordered an pump for a 93, but my car's an 88. So, I pulled that pump and got a new one made for my year. I also upgraded to a better pump. I fixed that today, and it looks like there is no leaking for now, but I'll have to keep my eye on it.

The other problem is that the brakes need to be adjusted. I think when I switched the master cylander from 88 to 95, I didn't adjust the pushrod in the booster to be long enough. Now, I don't have any brakes, except a little at the very bottom of the brake pedal stroke.

I really want to get the brakes fixed this week and be driving, but that may be wishful thinking. Tuesday of this week, I have 3 book reviews and normal homeowork due, then on Thursday I have to finish my huge exegetical paper for Luke, take a test, a have read an entire book for missions.

October 24, 2006

Brand New

Well, this summer I bought a new Optima Battery for a good price. I guess it had been sitting for too long, and it didn't work. I called Optima, went to Autozone, made the manager mad because I wouldn't let him put me off, and ended up with a brand new battery.

Right when I thought I had wasted money and would have to buy a new battery for the second time, I got this for nothing. Sweet deal.

I ordered my Cold Air, will put the headlights on, and hopefully be driving Sacramental soon.

October 21, 2006

Is Reformed Alternative Reality?

One of the fastest growing traditions among younger evangelicals right now is the reformed movement heralded by spokespersons like John Piper, Al Mohler, and Mark Driscoll. My friend Lucas has some good thoughts, which have got me thinking too about why the reformed tradition is catching so much momentum. One of Lucas' ideas is that Calvinism is strong because we live in a pluralistic society therefore a close-system religion is powerful. You don't have to listen or worry about anything else when you have all the answers, which 5 point Calvinism seems to do for evangelicals by providing answers for everything.

Here's my thoughts on why the reformed tradition has grown in strength for younger evangelicals. As the church, we live in a parallel and alternative reality to that which surround us. We are parallel in the sense that we live in the same world where we go to work, eat, sleep, send our children to school, and such. As a missional community though, we are to be different. The difference is our reality is shaped by a different narrative which takes its forms in song, sermon, community, ritual, tradition, doctrine, and beliefs that allow us to understand our reality so that when we face the alternative reality of the world, we can live counter-culturally.

Within our churches though, we find that our worship is informed and baptize by world. We've allowed culture to shape our ritual and song. This is why I think the reformed tradition is so strong. Within the reformed church you don't have to live alternatively, because your doctrine is very defined. Therefore, alternative reality takes shape in belief, but not practice. It's then easy to succumb to the "world's values of materialism and experiential consumerism, of narcissistic self importance, and personal taste, of solitary superficiality, and of ephemeral satisfaction (Dawn, A Royal Waste of Time, 335)."

Any community that desires to delineate itself and live a substantively different life from larger society must surround itself and maintain its own language, customs, habits, rituals, institutions, procedures, and practices that uphold this alternative reality. In this manner, the alternative life is nurtured and and encouraged in the face of pluralism. I think younger reformed evangelicals are doing the same thing that people in the emerging church are doing by looking at the church and seeing that it has failed to live in an alternative reality and thus lost all impact. Instead of reinventing the church for a pluralistic world though, the reformed movement allows for Calvinistic language and its alternative reality to effect itself in dogma. Orthodoxy is once again king, and orthopraxy is only secondary.

We must define and live in our alternative reality by knowing our story and practicing our rituals. It is easy to live in a tradition that has defined itself so narrowly and only reaches back 350 years. This is not an indictment to all reformed churches, but only an explanation of my viewpoint of why Calvinism has grown so strong as of late, especially among the younger materialistic, democratic, narcissistic generation that is my own.

October 20, 2006



And it starts! I finally got some time to put into the Mustang, and got it started. It was the fuel injectors, so after a rebuild and clean up fuel delivery is on par.

Couple things:

1. No Mufflers (therefore, the sound is not muffled...duh!), so its loud. I think my neighbors hate me.

2. No Idle. The idle air valve has been sitting for 10 years, so I'm thinking that's the problem. Also, the new throttle body needs to be adjusted. I have to keep on the throttle, and it's really not drivable until that's fixed.

3. No power steering. The pump has been sitting for over 10 years too, so it's probably shot. I definitely won't be driving it until the power steering is fixed.

4. There's some other minor things that need to be done (headlights, alignment, battery, mufflers) then I'll be driving Sacramental around.

I wasn't expecting the power steering to be out, and I was hoping that the Idle Control would be fine, but no. Oh Well, here we go again. At least it starts! Enjoy the video, Sacramental sounds sick.

October 19, 2006

Tallskinnykiwi on house church

Green Apple Mac



Make sure to watch the video...

And if you feel guilty about owning a Mac, (and we all know you'll never get anything else) make up for it by visiting here.

And just to package creativity and being green. sitting on trash.

Baptizing the Imagination

A recent article from the leadership blog hit on an important aspect of Christianity for leadership, discipleship, and for basically all aspects of life.

Discipleship usually focuses on two main realms: knowledge and skill. The problem with these two areas is that they can only go so far. Usually, both knowledge and skill come in the form of a boxed set, a model. We force people to move from model to book, or soup kitchen to homeless shelter. This isn't conducive to life though. Discipleship then becomes smothered by activity and life that is not centered on programs.

However, knowledge and skill based models, while necessary components of spiritual formation, both miss the imaginative aspect of the human spirit. And by ignoring the intuitive capacity of the mind the church has essentially surrendered people’s imaginations to the pop secular culture without a fight.
People are filled than with knowledge of God and how to "go" serve him where programs have been created.

Those filling the pews every Sunday may be full of information about God, and they may be expertly trained to obey God, but without an imagination enraptured by God they will be powerless to live the life he’s called them to. They simply cannot imagine living any differently than the culture around them
This may be my most recent kick here lately, but I do beleive that the church is in desperate need of imagination, not more discipleship or service projects. Imagination in itself is an act of worship and discipleship, and it is the only way life in the Kingdom can be sustained.

Evangelicals and African Commentary

Christianity today has listed the top 50 most influential books for evangelicalism. Some are scary (Left Behind, Purpose Driven Life), but some leave hope for us all (The Divine Conspiracy, Mere Christianity, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, Cost of Discipleship).

More importantly, I think, is this commentary coming out of Africa. I really think Western Christianity needs to listen to the voices of Christianity in the 2/3's world. Here are Scot McKnights salient points
  • Commentary on the whole Bible, every single verse. The only problem I see is that the authors are all educated in America and Europe, so I wonder if they write with Western motifs.
  • Essay cover a wide variety of subjects: scripture, translations in Africa, environment, debt, democracy, homosexuality, persecution, principles of interpretation, etc.
  • Specialized essays: cultural issues, dreams, female genital mutilation, AIDS and HIV, initiation rites, refugees, tribalism, widow inheritance, etc.
  • This commentary is written from a conservative evangelical viewpoint, thus it will be the equipping this generation to grapple with orthodoxy in their own context. In a way I hope this commentary is not at all defining, but only a starting point. The reason is, is that I believe we need some heresies, at least heresies against the Western church to be effective Christ followers in the new world, in the 2/3 world.



October 10, 2006

OUCH!

This site may make you blind or roll around on the ground while frothing.

Thank you for yet another tasteless and just plain bad Christian web site.

So what?

Yesterday, I was able to speak with someone else who attended Catalyst who is not in seminary. Here's a thought he had. After listening to speakers like Donald Miller and Rick McKinley, he said that he agreed and could get on board with what they were saying, but "how is that any different than what we are already doing? How is it different than our local missions, mission trips, etc" "I agree with them, but so what? What am I supposed to come back and do?"

I think this may be an example of a need for creativity. There exists a big difference between someone like Rick McKinley and John Maxwell. The difference is that Rick strattles much more if not fully stands in the p0stmodern paradigm of reality. This "so what" question addresses the narrative that was used by some of the speakers.

After Shane Claiborne of the Simple Way spoke, a person questioned him and basically asked him, "how can I be like you where I'm at." Of course these were not his exact words, but it was the jist of what he was saying. Shane said something to the effect of don't be like me, be like Jesus.

This is the problem, we need models, not stories. When we are trained to fight against creativity we need someone to tell us, "so what." Can we live without someone telling us so what? If so, what will that look like? Narrative, story, and no "so whats."

October 9, 2006

Pains of Creativity

After returning from Atlanta and the conference (Catalyst) I've had some time to reflect. Many of the subjects that were presented were interesting, but the usual presentations you would expect: culture, neo-church, passion, etc. More than anything, I wish some one would have presented over creativity or imagination. Some of the speakers hinted at this subject, but no one really fleshed it out. But then again, what was I looking for? or exactly what would they talk about?

I think more than anything, we as a church, especially ministers and leaders are in a crisis of imagination. Here's the problem though, we live in a culture that fights against imagination. We have television, magazines, education, jobs, titles, and roles to stand in or participate in. No one is allowed to fight against the structure, otherwise they are considered as a bad student or terrible employee. Instead of giving people grades or ultimatums, what are we to do?

As leaders, I don't think we begin with this question, but rather how do we cultivate creativity and imagination in ourselves? Something that I noticed at the conference was many people were looking for the model to take back to their church or how they could be "Shane Claiborne" or "Rick McKinley" to their church. Something that Rick said that has struck a cord in me was about Donald Miller. He said that Miller really is not all that much different than those in the crowd, except he "found his voice." This is what I need, my voice, the person I am to be to minister and live in the Kingdom of God.

October 5, 2006

Catalyst Day Two


Well, I meant to post some more up yesterday, but there has been no internet until tonight. Last night, did not deal so much with leadership, but mostly it dealt with culture and such issues in the church. I really enjoyed Rick McKinley, the author of A Beautiful Mess and Jesus in the Margins, and pastor of an emerging church at Portland, OR called Imago Dei. I think enjoyed him because he was funny. For the most part there's been nothing new. Everything that's been said I've read or learned along the way.

Today, at the actual Catalyst Conference was set up very differently. The best speakers I've heard so far have been a guy from the International Justice Mission. Besides that John Maxwell, Andy Stanley, and Jeff Foxworthy...yes that's right, JEFF FOXWORTHY...at Catalyst, a Christian leaders conference. It was awesome. We got preached to by a redneck! The next greatest thing of the day was Dave the Horn Guy. Check him out, it was probably one of the most entertaining things i've seen in a long time, thanks Dave.

I must say, I'm tired. It's been good, but it's been hard to care or put myself into this because I'm tired. Overrall though, it's been good.

October 4, 2006

Shane Claiborne

A week or so ago, I quoted Keel, "We are in a crisis of imagination." Again, this idea and desperate need for imagination inthe church came up in Shane's session. I've grown accustomed to reacting against things, the church institution, structures, powers, religion, or whatever, but now that I have the "don't's" can I have the "do's."

An idea I really like is how in their community that have a relational tithe. This is how the community takes care of the health needs, or whatever needs in the community. The amazing thing is when a need arises, it's met immediately. 10,000 dollars worth of damage? No problem, the church took care of it for anyone and everyone.

Again, this took imagination. We need in the church imagination to creatively BE the church of the kingdom IN the world. Creating the vision of God's desire in the world, and as easy as this sounds, it's not. It's difficult, and I believe very because we've been trained inside of the University, the schools, our churches to be uncreative, to sit and listen, and to conform to models that have been set up by modernity. I pray that the Church in America recaptures Jesus adn waht it means to follow, simply follow Him and nothing else.

Catalyst Begins


Finally, after travelling for 15 hours we have arrived here at Catalyst Leadership Conference. Yesterday, we drove into Birmingham, AL and stayed over at Holiday Express, and today we arrived at Atlanta, GA for this sucka. Wed, Thurs, and Fri will be continous sessions of leadership.

Today the first session we are in is led by Shane Claiborne, the founder of the Simple Way and author of The Irrestibable Revolution.

So far after driving for too long it has been pretty good. Hopefully the sessions will all go pretty well. After this I think we are going to listen to Lauren Winner, than Rick McKinley.

October 2, 2006

Dr. Ruth Ann Foster

Please pray for Truett. Waco Tribune's Obituary for Dr. Foster.

"Dr. Ruth Ann Foster, one of the two founding faculty members of Baylor University's George W. Truett Theological Seminary, died Thursday, Sept. 28, in Hewitt after battling cancer. She was 59.

Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday, Oct. 3, at First Baptist Church, Waco. A memorial service will follow at the same location at 1 p.m. with the Rev. Julie Pennington-Russell, pastor of Waco's Calvary Baptist Church, officiating.

A native of Ashland, Ky., Foster joined Truett Seminary in 1994, along with fellow founding professor, the late Dr. A.J. (Chip) Conyers. She came to Baylor from Manor Baptist Church in San Antonio, where she had served as minister of education. Before that, she served as an adjunct instructor in the department of religion at Texas Christian University from 1984-91.

As associate professor of Christian scriptures at Truett, Foster taught New Testament, Old Testament, New Testament Greek and biblical interpretation. She also supervised ministry research for candidates in Truett Seminary's doctor of ministry degree program.

In May 1998, Baylor named Foster an Outstanding Faculty Member in a tenure-track position. In spring 2000, she was awarded the "Professor of Choice" Award by the Truett graduating class of 2000.

"Ruth Ann is the last of the founding faculty of Truett and as such had a special place in all our hearts," said Truett Seminary Dean Paul W. Powell. "She was a perfect blend of toughness and tenderness in dealing with the hard issues we faced in our beginning years. I affectionately called her 'Mother Superior' because of the love and respect I had for her. Truett has lost a scholar, a cheerleader and a dear friend."

"Ruth Ann loved students and was beloved by all. We will sorely miss her wit, grace and passion for teaching," said Dr. David E. Garland, associate dean for academic affairs and The William M. Hinson Chair in Christian Scriptures. "Some of us who were at her bedside toward the end will always be touched remembering our last laugh together even as death was looming and our last prayer together expressing our faith that death will be the last enemy to be defeated."

Two members of Truett's first graduating class in 1997 remembered Foster as woman of great grace, who could hold her own in any debate, and a faculty member who took on the role of pastor to students.

"When the other professors took interims and preached on Sundays, Ruth Ann preached and pastored the students," said William D. Shiell, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Knoxville, Tenn. "She did not need a pulpit; she used her desk and her classroom to exhort us in our callings. Yes, she could hold her own against every Calvinist, closed-minded, anti-women-in-ministry student she taught. But she handled every confrontation the way Bonhoeffer prescribed in 'Life Together' - with honesty, grace, poise and candor. And she showed each student how to disagree and still remain friends with some of the very people with whom she debated."

Shiell attended Truett Seminary, when classes were held at First Baptist Church, Waco. He said the faculty, staff and fellow students from those early days hold a significant place in his heart and in the seminary's formation.

"The glue that held us together was Ruth Ann Foster," Shiell said. "She leaves a legacy that we should all emulate."

Matthew W. Cook, pastor of Second Baptist Church of Little Rock, was another member of the first class of students at Truett. Cook said he will "forever be grateful to God" for Foster's scholarship, ministry and most of all friendship.

"The first class was a bunch of pioneers, far too sure of ourselves and our own ideas, and I suspect we could have gone in a thousand different directions, but a gentle, loving, and delightfully friendly faculty pulled us together and headed us in the right direction, toward ministry in God's church. Ruth Ann was the very embodiment of that loving, gentle, friendly spirit," Cook said.

"Ruth Ann was also a fierce guardian of the original vision of the seminary - a place of high expectations, of both high intellectual and spiritual standards, but also a place that was intimate and tightly knit," Cook added. "I pray that her passion for the place will live on in others. I know it does in me."

Laura A. Cadena, a 2001 Truett graduate who currently serves as missions partnership relationship manager with Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Global Missions, said the passing of Ruth Ann Foster is a great loss for the Truett community.

"Ruth Ann approached life with grace, humor and poise," Cadena said. "As a member of the founding faculty she was instrumental in building the Truett community. Ruth Ann was a minister to alumni and students, and she exemplified the life of a minister by nurturing our callings and investing in our lives."

Foster earned her bachelor's degree in theology from Clear Creek Baptist College in Kentucky in 1978, her master's of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1982, and her doctorate in religion from Southwestern in 1989. In addition to teaching, Foster served as a faculty adviser for the Truett Women in Ministry group. She also was a frequent speaker in Texas and beyond, teaching Bible conferences for churches and the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and leading Women's Retreats throughout the state.

Foster published articles in a number of periodicals, including "Mary the Mother of Jesus" in the Biblical Illustrator, a chapter Introduction and Commentary on 1 John in The Woman's Study New Testament, "Dangerous Waters of Justice and Righteousness: A Study of Biblical Justice" in Christian Ethics Today, and a book review for the Journal of Church and State. She also wrote the Life and Work Sunday School lessons for the Baptist Standard.

In 1996, Foster participated in a three-day seminar and symposium on Global Stewardship at the invitation of Christianity Today. The results of the seminar, which brought together biblical scholars, theologians, sociologists, economists, environmentalists and others was published in the September 1996 issue of Christianity Today.

She served on the editorial board of the Review & Expositor, and was a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion.

Foster is survived by her mother, Alice; a nephew, David Foster of Ashland, Ky. and his wife, Annette; a great niece, Beth Foster; a great nephew, Jeremy Foster; a cousin, Connie Marshall and her husband, Roger, and her life-long best friend, Jane Kerns and her husband, Ken, of Lexington, Ky.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Dr. Ruth Ann Foster George W. Truett Theological Seminary Endowed Scholarship Fund at Baylor University, Box 97026, Waco, Texas 76798-7026."


September 26, 2006

Tim Keel quoted...

We are in a crisis of imagination. We run to Barna for information, but there are people, visionaries who are seeing this stuff 5 years before Barna’s writing about it.
“The problem is we have people so well discipled in technique duplication.
We go out and find the experience, then reduce it to a model, then supplant the model into techniques, then market it. What has happened is that pastors have begun to lose their ability to live specifically in a place, know themselves, know their church, know their neighborhood, and to be able to discern God’s spirit already ahead of them at work and then to respond to what’s going on. And so it’s not as if leaders have got to be able to have all these capacities in themselves. What they have to do is to have the ability to have the freedom and grace to create an environment where those things can exist, and it’s not easy. Because you want to control it, and you can’t do that. Control kills creativity.”

For any church leader the kind of leadership described above is not easy and pretty scary. First, it is obvious that Tim is reacting against the leadership of buying ministry in a box. One word that Keel uses for leadership, especially for himself is intuitive.

W
hy intuitive? Something largely important that I see in the emerging church is the stress on the Holy Spirit. I don't necessarily mean speaking in tongues or healing. What I mean is that as a community and leader of Christ we must be able to look out into out communities and see where God is already working.

One problem we face in churches is ministry. Ministry has become an idol for many. Why do we have youth ministry, evangelism, hospital, visitation, etc ministry? For many, we do these things out of "just because." Just because we have always had it, or some church in California does this ministry, "so should we."

Where does ministry come from? Certainly not from the outside. Rather ministry occurs fluidly out of community. When a healthy family has a crisis, do they have to form committees to solve the problem? No, but the problem is still ministered to. From Community flows ministry.

Therefore, we must gather as a community of Christ followers and look into our communities to find where God is already at work in HIS creation. Instead of forcing a ministry onto people, the minstry flows out of the creative imagination of the community.

A shift in reality?

I often take the postmodern shift for granted. I forget that it's an actual shift in reality. I want to cloth the paradigm of modernism with the language of postmodernism and called it real. The problem is, I admit, I'm not creative enough. To live in a new reality requires language to describe reality.

A few weeks ago, I had the oppurtunity to interview Tim Keel. I hope to get some more ideas that came out of our conversation. I wanted to wait after I had chewed on some of these ideas. I really appreciate Jacob's Well and Tim Keel in taking that initiative in our culture to be the reality of Jesus followers in this shift.

I'll admit it, Tim Keel is my Emergent Hero for the time being. What a cool cat! I really enjoyed the time I was allowed with him. Here's some things that have come out of this conversation. DISCLAIMER: Whatever I write, does not reflect Keel or Jacob's Well, since I had to interpret what we talked about, and am writing from my perspective with my thoughts.

Here's some language of the new reality that was used: missional imagination, ministry and evangelism are byproducts, intuitive environmentalist (leaders), ministry is one of the greatest idols, and metric measurement by Christ aroma and God story.

September 22, 2006

Satisfied in God?

With a title like that you knew what was coming (maybe)...John Piper.
Here's a good list, I think, on how to direct people or congregants into worship and satisfaction in God. Thanks Resurgance.

1. Love God will all your heart and soul and mind and strength in the presence of other people. It is contagious.

2. Love other people from the power of God's grace. That is, show them the beauty of Christ through his love for them in the way you love them.

3. Tell stories about those who were ravished by the beauty and glory of God. It seems that true narratives of peoples' experience with the worth of God are very awakening.

4. Describe God's value—his treasure—in lavish terms.

5. Teach the people how to pray for the transformation of their own hearts, that is, teach them how to pray with the psalmists, "Incline my heart to Thy testimonies and not to getting gain."

6. Model for the people extended meditation and reflection on the word of God. Most people do not know how to take a word or phrase or sentence of scripture, commit it to memory and roll it over again and again in their mind and look at it from different sides and ask many questions about it and apply it to different aspects of their life and think of analogies of it in their mind. But it's precisely in this cogitating that the juices in the fruit begin to flow down and awaken the taste buds of the soul.

7. Show the people how to find specific, particular promises in the Bible to savor. When Paul says in Romans 15:13, "May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in believing . . .", he is pointing out that joy and peace rise up as we trust in God's precious and very great promises. So people need to do more specific searching for promises and then hold them in their minds and dwell on them as they go through the day.

8. Pray for your people that their hearts would be softened and made tender and more susceptible to the beauty of Christ.

9. Help your people to turn off the television. Few things in our culture are more spiritually numbing than the television. Even the so-called "good" shows are by and large banal and low-minded and anything but cultivating of a rich, deep capacity to enjoy God. And when you add to that the barrage of suggestive advertisements that accompany virtually every program, I do not wonder why so many of our professing Christians are spiritually incapable of experiencing high thoughts and deep emotions.

10. Point the people to God-centered biography. The struggles and the triumphs of Christians who have known the glory and greatness of God are very engaging and awakening.

11. Show the people how to transpose their joys in natural things into joy in God. Here's what I mean. Even the most joyless person seems to have one or two things in their lives that make them happy. It might be their family. It might be the night sky in the north woods. It might be fishing. Help them to make a transposition, that is, to take the line of music called "joy" in their soul and transpose it up from the natural to the supernatural by an act of faith in God as the one who created the family or the night sky or the fishing. Help them see that all the things that are truly delightful in this world, which awaken pleasures in their hearts, are gifts of God and are reflections of his character and his goodness. If they are capable of delighting in natural things, then by the grace of the Holy Spirit they may be capable of transposing those very joys into a higher key and thus discovering joy in God.

12. Call the people for confession and renunciation of plaguing sins that make them feel inauthentic and block true affection for God.

13. Teach them about the necessity and value of suffering in the Christian life and how it is not worth comparing to the glory to be revealed.

Love Is Not Against the Law

What a way to end the album. It seems that Webb is redefining love in a revolutionary way here. Love is not against the law. Should Christians worry about legislating morality, or should we just love like this:

(Vs. 1)
politics or love
can make you blind or make you see
make you a slave or make you free
but only one does it all

and it’s giving up your life
for the ones you hate the most
it’s giving them your gown
when they’ve taken your clothes

it’s learning to admit
when you’ve had a hand in setting them up
in knocking them down

(chorus)
love is not against the law
love is not against the law

(vs. 2)
are we defending life
when we just pick and choose
lives acceptable to lose
and which ones to defend

‘cause you cannot choose your friends
but you choose your enemies
and what if they were one
one and the same

could you find a way
to love them both the same
to give them your name

That is all.

Please, Before I Go



I think there are two songs specifically on this album, I Hate Everything (But You) and this one, that are love songs written for Derek Webb's wife.

like an addict to his fix
so am i to your sweet lips
the wife of my youth, my drug of choice
This is something I think our culture and world needs to know, that there is a drug worth seeking. Love can be so sweet and like nothing else, but instead we seek so many other fixes when all we really need is that other person across the room doing the dishes, sleeping next to us, or just plain putting up with us.

listen or get the album for nothing

September 19, 2006

In God We Trust

What usually comes to mind when you here this phrase, "In God we trust?" Money, or maybe the "christian right or duty" to have the slogan on it's median of exchange. A national icon of who we are and what we are supposed to protect as "American Christians" (the emphasis being on American, not Jesus).

Although, he is using a slogan of national identity here, Derek Webb is trying to get our faith to reach beyond that in a God who we can trust beyond ourselves.

in God we trust
even through our great presumption
in God we trust
even though He favors no nation-state
in God we trust
even when the blessing is a curse


There is so much truth in this song that we as a church need to take to heart. Christians, in America especially, need to grapple with this idea that our country is not some theocratic state or something that we need to make our own. Our trust should go beyond legislating a nation around our agenda, but into a relationship of covenant and trust that goes far beyond and breaks political boundaries.

Well, it looks like I missed step, and Lucas and I are back on track together. You can read his ideas and listen to from his blog, myfourwalls.com.

September 16, 2006

Zeros and Ones

This song could very well be the reason and logic behind why Derek Webb is giving this album away, though I think he deserves to be paid for his prophetic voice. Either way you get it, the point is, get it!

i’m in love
oh i love what i can convince you of
‘cause i’m a prophet by trade
and a salesman by blood
now i’m dying just to be
a filtered, sub-cultural version of me

September 14, 2006

My Enemies are Men Like Me

I'm excited. First, I'm excited that I finally got a post up before Lucas...he's quick. Second, this must be one of my favorite songs off this album and overall right now. In a day of war and Christians backing it with theological agendas we need Jesus. We need to listen and understanf what is means to prepare a table before our enemies, to love our enemies.


Not only are his lyrics strong in this song, there is a short audio clip from one of the greatest Jesus followers in the last 50 years...MLK Jr.

I try to think in practical terms, "what does it look like to follow Jesus by loving our enemies?" Well, certainly, we do not teach purity by way of fornication, so what do we teach about our faith when we back violence and war?

i have come to give you life
and to show you how to live it
i have come to make things right
to heal their ears and show you how to forgive them

because i would rather die
i would rather die
i would rather die
than to take your life

how can i kill the ones i’m supposed to love
my enemies are men like me
i will protest the sword if it’s not wielded well
my enemies are men like me

peace by way of war is like purity by way of fornication
it’s like telling someone murder is wrong
and then showing them by way of execution

when justice is bought and sold just like weapons of war
the ones who always pay are the poorest of the poor

September 13, 2006

A Consistent Ethic of Human Life

This is the only song with no words. The instrumental makes me think of birth, but then the question is, "What's next?" Political parties fight over abortion and welfare, and much more.

All of Mockingbird is about this question of what do we do with life. We must fight for life and stand against senseless abortions, but we must still care about that life after it's been born. Education, medical care, oppurtunity, family, etc must all be addressed in a consistent ethic of the kingdom.

September 12, 2006

Doctoral List

Thinking of Doctorate work after seminary? Me too. Here's a good list of where to start looking by Reno, which can also be found at Generous Orthodoxy ThinkTank from my side bar.

Rich Young Ruler

Is there a reality of following Jesus? What does that reality look like?

Mostly, I think we can say that reality looks like Jesus' greatest commands: love God, love neighbor.

Sometimes that entails a lifestyle of love. Then what is this lifesyle I'm talking about. Is it not enough to just be saved? A call to be a Christian is a call to follow our Lord, who died and resurrected. So then, let us die so that we may allow other and ourselves to be resurrected.

Here's the lyrics for today's song off Mockingbird. I felt that all of them should be posted this time, because they talk about this life of love that is easily overlooked in our American culture of rights and affluence.

(vs. 1)
poverty is so hard to see
when it’s only on your tv and twenty miles across town
where we’re all living so good
that we moved out of Jesus’ neighborhood
where he’s hungry and not feeling so good
from going through our trash
he says, more than just your cash and coin
i want your time, i want your voice
i want the things you just can’t give me

(vs. 2)
so what must we do
here in the west we want to follow you
we speak the language and we keep all the rules
even a few we made up
come on and follow me
but sell your house, sell your suv
sell your stocks, sell your security
and give it to the poor
what is this, hey what’s the deal
i don’t sleep around and i don’t steal
i want the things you just can’t give me

(bridge)
because what you do to the least of these
my brother’s, you have done it to me
because i want the things you just can’t give me
Listen.

September 11, 2006

I Hate Everything (But You)


Derek Webb's songs, if you can't tell, are often love songs. The hard thing is figuring out whether he is singing to his wife or the church. I think on this track on Mockingbird he is singing about his wife.

In his words:

it’’s been one of those kinds of days
and i feel so out of place
and i hate everything, everything
i hate everything but you


Anyone who has been in love knows what it's like to have someone in whom no matter how badly the day has fallen apart, you still find your bearings. What its like to have a refuge in your lover.

What I like about the song is its distinctive human quality. I hate everything (although I probably shouldn't), except you, my love, my wife.
Check out Lucas take on it here.

September 9, 2006

Sacramental Update

Well, it's almost time. Yesterday I put the exhaust on and new throttle body. All that's left is the distributor, plugs, and plug wires. I ordered my headlights last night too.

Check back and it should be running soon!

YPAP

Young People As Prophets that is.


Criticizing Joe Osteen

When it comes to Joel Osteen, main stream Christian evangelicals don't seem to know how to talk about him. Many despise him, but is it for any reason other than his fame and wealth. I certainly believe so, and Bob Carlton does a good job of articulating some criticism against Osteen. Here's what he concludes with in summary:

1) As presented in his books and messages, Joel Osteen isn’t an evangelical. He’s a motivational speaker.
2) No matter what his personal or occasional doctrinal statements, Osteen’s books and sermons are absent the Gospel message.
3) The vast majority of Osteen’s message is simply advice for being a better person- the antithesis of the cross and the Gospel.
4) The MSMs attention to Osteen as a successor to Billy Graham should be loudly opposed by every pastor, preacher, teacher, leader and blogger in evangelicalism.
5) The promotion of Osteen by publishing interests is an outright detriment to the cause of Christ in the name of making money.

You can read all of his thoughts at internetmonk.com.

September 8, 2006

PostSecret Breaks Me Sometimes

This is what makes me want to question homosexuality and the Bible.

Discover PostSecret if you haven't yet.

A King and A Kingdom

According to my Itunes, this is by far one of the most played songs on my list. A King and a Kingdom is definitely one of my favorite songs off this Derek Webb's Mockingbird.

Why? I truly believe this song is prophetic, it speaks directly into my life and so many other American Christians.

It's so easy to confuse faith with politic, especially as much as religious terms have been thrown around by both Democrats and Republics, especially thinking of the Bush administration.

Then I think of all the fourth of July and Memorial Day services I've been to in churches where this country was placed so high and possibly even glorified. Derek sings,

"my first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man
my first allegiance is not to democracy or blood
it’s to a king & a kingdom
"


The church in America needs to capture what it means to live and be citizens in the Kingdom of God, and make that more important than any nation or politic.

If you don't own the album yet, get it free!

Also, read Lucas thoughts on this album too.

September 7, 2006

A New Law

Today's song, A New Law, can be heard here and read here, bought here or get it for free here (or posted on here).

This is the first single that I heard from Mockingbird, and it made me buy the album. This songs speaks to me in so many ways, because I came from a fundamental background. Instead of allowing people to responsibly live in the freedom of Christ, we form "do's" and "don't's" for Christians to follow. Why? It's easy and controllable.

So many people in the church do not care about how faith and Jesus intersect into the political, economical, artistic, national, and war policies of the world. Rather, comfort is found in a new law formed around other agendas that just are not kingdom principles.

EDIT: I wanted to add a little something. I typed the above in class, so I was hurried and missed some thoughts.

The end of his song brings hope into my heart, when he repeats, "do not be afraid." It's time to give up this law righteousness, this legalistic mindset, this new law; and step into grace and freedom. Yes, it will be hard and giving up control is almost always messy, but do not be afraid.

Hello Kitty TailPipes?

Lucas sent me this pic, and even though you'll never see this on Sacramental Mustang (or any of my cars), I thought this would be a great ricer upgrade for all you Hello Kitty Fans.

When?

AKMA has a good chronology of church history for quick reference:

Fall of Jerusalem 70
†Clement of Rome 100
†Ignatius 107
Pliny-Trajan correspondence 111
Bar Kochba Revolt 135
†Polycarp 155
Montanus begins preaching New Prophecy 156
Justin's Martyrdom 165
† Irenaeus 200
Septimius Severus' Persecution 209-211
†Clement of Alex 215
†Tertullian 220
†Hippolytus 235
Decian Persecution 249-251
†Origen 253
† Cyprian 258
Diocletian's Persecution 303-312
Edict of Milan 311
Council of Arles rules against Donatists, 314
Council of Nicaea 325
† Arius 336
† Anthony 356
Apollinaris elected Bp of Laodicea 361
†Athanasius 373
†Basil 379
†Macrina 380
Council of Constantinople 381
†Gregory of Nazianzus 389
†Gregory of Nyssa 395
†Ambrose 397
†John Chrysostom 407
Fall of Rome 410
†Jerome 420
Nestorius begins preaching against the Theotokos 428
†Augustine 430
Council of Ephesus 431
†Cyril of Alexandria 444
Tome of Leo, 450-ish?
Council of Chalcedon 451
†Benedict of Nursia 543
Gregory sends Augustine to England 597

Missions in America

who would ever thought, we need missions here in "Christian" America, right? well, I do and wish I had the money to go out to California for just two days for this training event, which is in partnership with Forge out of Australia. Forge is the missional network that Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost write so much about in The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission For the 21st Century. As a matter of fact, both authors of the book will be there. Road-trip anyone?

15 Un-Missional Things

Don't do the things on this list (if you care about Christian mission). This is 15 ways to handicap potential missionaries in the local church list from here.

1. Force them to go through a “missions preparation” program which effectively weeds out the entrepreneurs.
2. Don’t consult with anyone who has ever lived with cross-cultural realities when you design your requirements for those who will be sent.
3. Choose people to oversee your mission efforts who have no experience or understanding of cross-cultural realities.
4. Make missions a “program” instead of seeking to make your church missional.
5. Decide to support missionaries 100% of their budget. It creates marvelous dependency.
6. Have standards that Mother Teresa or the Apostle Paul incarnate couldn’t meet.
7. Require seminary.
8. Make sure they have taught 5th grade Sunday School class as a pre-requisite which demonstrates loyalty to the church.
9. Imbue an ecclesiology that believes the sending church is supreme and missionary entities are appendages.
10. Ignore the concept of leverage and only support “front line” workers.
11. Adopt a trendy and unsophisticated view of missions that only supports those going to unreached people groups.
12. Placate the control freaks and don’t let potential missionaries raise money from anyone in the church.
13. Limit whom they can minister with to your own denominational or creedal group. Perish the thought that they would be contaminated by touching those who may be their neighbors in heaven.
14. Encourage “storehouse giving” so that all their money must come through the church.
15. Convince your congregation that short-term, tantalizing overseas experiences are most effective so that there is little money, prayer or commitment left for the few willing to commit their lives to longer term, incarnational, sacrificial service

The above list is directed mostly at the more modern, traditionalist church. Here is a list of ways "emerging" churches can stifle missionaries too.

September 6, 2006

Where to Start

One of my interests is church planting, and figuring out what it means to be the church in the given context. Here's a good example of a church who went through some ups and mostly downs to figure out that the question is not "how can we be missional, or relevant, or emergent, or purpose driven, but how can we be the church?"

How can we be the church?

Mockingbird

The first track of D. Webb's Mockingbird, seems to speak into the lives of Christians and the church. I think he's talking about how we act like we are so intimate with Christ, yet we lack so much. How we can be content in our lives and secluded from the world, yet feel so close to God.

What is this same old song we are to sing? The redeemed song of a new person living in the reality of God.

Check it out yourself. Lyrics and Listen.

Purpose Driven Dissent


The purpose driven bandwagon has finally passed (for the most part I hope) and the evidence is in the writing. The Baptist Press, who would be the first to jump on board with Warren, have actually posted an article about the harmful effects that the Purpose Driven Model has had on churches.

Michael Spencer, internetmonk, posted his thoughts on the subject.

"Younger pastors reading Warren’s books, hearing success stories and dreaming of what it will be like to turn their church into a hip megachurch like Rick’s have often done some pretty rude, dumb, hurtful things along the way and that story hasn’t been told. I’ve read and heard dozens of versions of the “why we are changing” mantra, and I can understand why a large chunk of traditionalist Baptists have filed it all away in the “just enough rope to hang him” department."

"Megachurches, their super programs, their consumer driven worship, their shallow, free-floating theology and their non-pastoral pastors are dinosaurs. A world-wide, global emerging church that’s too diverse to fit into anyone’s book is the rising tide."

I certainly hope that I'm not just moving with trends, because in my fundamental days (after reading The Purpose Driven Church by Warren) I was all about megachurch and planting a church just like Rick Warren did (I admit that I was a fool). Now, I'm all about finding the voice of the culture and allowing church to emerge within context, and even allow new theology and practice to be shaped by culture.

All I know is that I'm actually glad this has been exposed, the dark side of purpose driven. Not that I have it in for Warren, but I feel it's the model church that keeps Christianity from going deep and actually reaching people. No model can be adapted without giving some flex to the culture to change it and make the model its own.

Thoughts?

September 5, 2006

That Question


"What do you believe about the Bible?"

Anyone involved in ministry or who takes their biblical faith seriously is more than likely to hear this question. What I don't understand are those who say they take the Bible to be completely inerrant and infallible, and only believe in the Bible. What use do these words (ie, inerrant) actually serve in Christian circles? I think more than likely these are political terms, not faith or even biblical terms.

What terms would I prescribe to the Bible? Let it speak for itself...

2 Timothy 3:16-17:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
So many of the questions we try to apply to the Bible when we use words like inerrancy seem to force the literature to speak outside of it's own agenda and purpose. The concern of the Bible is how God relates to creation, and how creation relates to itself:

Jesus said,

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
So, can someone have biblical faith and not believe in inerrancy or infallibility of scriptures?

Just Because It's So Good

I rarely buy music, mostly because I feel like I don't want to buy something that I may be able to pick up later or spend money it. Well, this year, one of the few albums I've bought is Mockingbird by Derek Webb. Here's the deal though, you don't have to pay for it.
FreeDerekWebb.com is the place to get it, for FREE. Derek has allowed this album to be released to the masses at a huge loss to himself . Am I upset at all that I paid for it, since I buy so few albums? Not at all.

This project is so good for faith that I'm going to blog it for the next few weeks, along with my friend Lucas at myfourwalls.net. So, go ahead and download it (for FREE), and check here tomorrow for my thoughts on the first song.

So Close, I Can Almost Taste It

We're only weeks away from hearing that sweet exhaust note from Sacramental Mustang. I've been slowly approaching this moment, checking things, putting on the smaller accessories, and waiting on just a few parts, but within a week the freshly rebuild 306 should feel the fire in it's cylinders. My only worry is that I'll turn the key over and nothing will happen.

I plan on getting the first fire up on video and audio, and I should be able post it for all to see. Then after insurance and registration, I'll drive to a muffler shop (without the mufflers on) and get them to weld it up. After that, it'll need an inspection and I'll be cruising around in my Sacrament.

Then again, I definitely need to order headlights first.

August 29, 2006

Jesus Cursing the Fig Tree

Directly after the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, a very troubling text surfaces. Mark 11:12-25 and Matthew 21:18-22 tell the story of Jesus cursing a fig tree for not bearing fruit. There seems to be some debate whether or not the tree was in season to bear fig, but it seems plausible that it should have had something on it.

I've heard people accuse Jesus of being luny for this act of cursing a fig tree, just because it didn't bear fruit when it was supposed to. Obviously, at face value, this story is nonsensical.

The question that we should ask then is, "what significance, if any, does the fig tree carry in the Palestinian culture of Jesus' day?"

For the nation of Israel, the fig tree symbolized peace and security. Micah 4:4 and Zechariah

3:10 are good examples of how the fig tree signified rest for the nation. Also, the prophets would speak about the destruction of vines and fig tree to warn of hte impending judgement of God on the Israelites, see Jeremiah 5:17, Hosea 2:12, and Joel 1:7 and 12.

The fig tree became a national symbol of peace for the Jewish nation of Israel, so when Jesus cursed the fig tree, he was giving a great object lesson for the end of an era. No longer would Israel be in peace, rather because of such actions as turning God's house into a den of thieves Jesus was declaring that the nation of Israel would never bear fruit again.

A new era had begun. The Jesus movement. The inauguration of the Kingdom of God on earth, and instead of a priestly nation, God's chosen people were now to be his called out ones, Christ followers.