December 17, 2006

Time for Nostalgia


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!