Tuesday, November 28, 2006
One of the great highlights of the evening was that my daughter had communion for the first time. I was serving communion so I did not get to be right with her when she took but her mom walked her through the whole thing. I know that she is still little but it is totally awesome to see her taking steps to draw closer to Yahweh. I am so proud of her.
It was a great evening. One that I will remember for a long time.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Does he actually move within this world like we Christians claim he does?
Will he actually help people overcome addictions?
Does he truly set us free from our sins?
Does he really want to be in relationship with us (a real relationship)?
Is he actually always with us?
Does the Holy Spirit really empower us to live godly lives?
Does he guide us?
Does he really answer prayers?
Does he give spiritual gifts to all Christians?
Does he heal people?
Does he work miracles?
Does he actually discipline us when we do wrong?
Does he make us new creatures?
Does he grant wisdom?
If I follow him will I find a life that is worth living?
Is God real and will he do what he says he will?
We know that the Sunday school answer is yes. But do we really believe that? Do we really live it and pray it? Do we testify about this?
Thursday, November 23, 2006
The first was the term ‘missionary’ I feel that this term needs to be redefined. Too often we view people that we send to a different culture and most specifically to a different country as the only missionaries. (On a side note I wonder if this is why some of our inner city missionaries have a hard time raising money. They are not far enough away.) This type of definition allows us to believe that we do not have to as active in sharing our faith because we are not actually missionaries. If we send someone to
The second term that I threw out was ‘family’. Now our table did not really get a lot of time to discuss this (actually on all the questions we would just be getting going when Lyn would tell us time was up). I believe that if we are going to be a ‘caring church’ we are going to have to get a bigger picture of family. When I said this someone else who was not from this community looked up and said “Oh. You must have moved into this community as well.” Family is often viewed as one of the primary care giving units. If you have family then you will be cared for. (Now I know that this is actually often wrong and that care is more than just showing up for a couple of family holidays. But this is the preception.) But if you do not have family where do you get your care? Families are tight knit groups that do not allow other people to really enter into them. In fact in many families if you are not born into it you will never really be part of it (even if you marry in). (Another little side note. This is why I do not like the term ‘church family’). The bible calls us to have an expansive view of family. Conversion is really a move from our biological families to the family of God. If we are going to care we are going to have to actually see other Christians as our real brothers and sisters.
These two things family and missionary need to be held together. If we are solely focused on missionary than often we are just after people to pray the sinner’s prayer and not real discipleship. If we get too focused on family than we need never see a need to reach to those who are outside of the family and invite them in.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Then at our table Steve (who I love because he drops tuff questions on the table) asked if we need to care for ourselves better than the world will see and come. In other words our love and support for each other would be the testimony. I want to say yes but…Too often I have seen groups become so inner focused that no one else can get in. I actually see this all the time in bible studies. They love and support each other and their group is really strong and good but they will not reach out. The call is will we love and support the least not just those who are like us.
Steve also stated that we should get back to basics. We have ministries for everything when what really needs to happen is that we just have to do it. We need to love each other not just have a bunch of ministries that give some kind of care. It is every person's responsibility to show love and care for their nieghbours, friends, family, enemies and strangers. When we live like this we will be a 'caring church'.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
God is moving in our community and all we can do is say thanks.
Just over a month ago our community was approached by MCC to sponsor 4 refugee families. With only two days decide one of the churches (Seeds) stood up and said that our community will take this on. It was a total step of faith. They believed that this is what God was calling our community to do and they believed that he would supply what was needed. In fact their faith went even beyond this. Within days as we began plan for the arrival of these families they stated that we were going to have to consider what to do with the left overs that God was going to provide. In other words they were not expecting God to just supply the need, they were expecting God to provide so generously that at the end of the process we were going to have sit down and say what do we do with this stuff. That was just over a month ago.
Today three of the families arrive. And God has worked through his people to supply what was needed with left overs. We were meeting today and someone stated that all we have to do is ask and God provides what is needed. For example on the weekend we set up the apartments that people would live in. There was lots of everything however we were missing some beds. A couple of people were discussing what to do. They decided that before going out to buy beds they would wait and see if God would provide. I do believe it was that day that someone donated that beds that we needed. Well we still needed a mattress. So it was decided that on Monday we go and buy a mattress. However before that could happen someone dropped off a brand new mattress. And today I got another call from someone with a mattress (who I have to tell that we do not need it). This story has played itself out over and over again in the month.
God is good. And the people in this community have been responding to the call of God. As I stated at the beginning all we can do is say thanks God and thanks to his people who obey.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
One line really stood out for me. In verse 2 David says that the people who get to live with Yahweh speak "the truth from his heart."
So often when I have read this verse I have just focused on the word truth. As Christians we actually get very worked up about defending the truth. We write books, argue, debate on TV about truth. Looking at my shelf I have books and books that are claiming to write the truth (even though some of them disagree with each other). We are worried about people wandering from the truth. Now I am not saying that these things do not have some value (some more than others). But this verse says that they speak the truth from their heart.
From our heart not from our head. We love to talk about the truth in our heads. But do we speak about the truth that is in our hearts. My head may tell me one thing but my heart may tell me another. Sometimes I know all the right words and answers but there is still a sense of doubt within my heart. Do I speak the truth of the doubt within my heart? Do I express my feelings?
Being in a Mennonite culture I have come to realize that we do not speak about what we feel. If we have a problem we just do not show up. Instead of speaking from our hearts and telling what is wrong in the church (for fear of offending people) we just change churches.
Yet to live with Yahweh we have to speak the truth from our hearts. We have begin to express our feeling to each other. Does this mean that we may offend people? Yes. We do need to have some tact I believe. Not just unloading on anyone and everyone.
On the other side is the reality that we have become ready to hear people speak the truth from their hearts. Our hearts sometimes feel really crappy stuff. Sometimes our hearts are filled with doubts and questions. Sometimes our hearts are confused. Can we allow people the freedom to speak these things?
Monday, November 06, 2006
But even with all these difficulties people are still using the term emerging church. So has to mean something. But what?
Well I am going to express my understanding of the emerging church. (I am sure that I am going over simplify some things, misrepresent other things and even fail to even mention some important things. But it is important to express something, if nothing else to generate discussion). Now there are certain assumptions which I think are characteristic of the emerging church. They are: missional, embracing questions and experiential.
The church has a mission to the world. This is not something that the emerging church has recently discovered. We have known this all along, right from the very beginning of the church. Jesus gave us the great commission and told us that he was sending us out into the world. And the church has lived this. There are the great missionary movements, the Billy Graham crusades, seeker sensitive churches, evangelism training and so on. There are a couple of things which make the emerging church missional focus somewhat different.
First, as Michael Moynagh states, “Emerging church with a mission heart is different. It does not start with a pre-determined mould and expect non-churchgoers to compress in. It begins with the people church is seeking to reach, and asks 'What might be an appropriate expression of church for them?'” (http://emergingchurch.info/reflection/michaelmoynagh/index.htm)
The emerging church has the belief that what we do is shaped by our culture, language and assumptions. In other words church as we know it is a cultural expression of our understanding of the Bible. Since we are called to reach people in different cultures church will look different in these different cultures.
A second possible difference in the missional focus of the emerging church is who does mission. We have often believed (or at least practiced) that the professionals do mission, we stand in the background and support. We send out full time missionaries, hire full time ministers. When it comes to evangelism we bring our friends to hear a professional speaker and then have a stranger to council them. The emerging church is emphasizing that we, all us, are on a mission. We are all missionaries, we are all ordained (by the Holy Spirit) ministers. Mission is not for the professional, mission is for the church.
A third focus in its missional understanding is that the church is here for the world. The emerging church believes that we are to bring heaven to earth. Just as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Another aspect of the emerging church is its willingness to embrace questions and live in mystery. The emerging church does not believe that it has everything together. It views itself on a journey to discovering Yahweh.
The emerging church is actually very skeptical of anyone who claims to have it all together, to have all answers. The emerging church does not believe we will ever be able to arrive at all the answers (at least on this side of the grave). Our minds are too limited to fully grasp and understand Yahweh. Therefore the emerging church believes that there will always be an element of mystery in our faith, an element that we cannot completely explain.
Since the emerging church does not believe that we have it all together they believe that we can learn from other people. Practically this means that the emerging church embraces many different denominations. They believe that every denomination has something to offer.
The emerging church is not interested in just knowing about Jesus and God they want to experience him. They are not interested in religious rules they want to live in a real life giving relationship with Yahweh. Faith becomes viewed as a dance. The goal of a dance is not to have obeyed all the rules. It is to embrace the music and the passion of the dance. Rules can provide a structure but they cannot provide heart.
So when the emerging church gathers together they are not interested in just talking about God (though that does happen) they want to experience God. Practically this means that a worship service can possibly be more interactive than a typical service.
The emerging church believes that as people we have a desperate longing and hunger for God and spirituality. A God and spirituality that is not just believed but is experienced.
This is a very brief overview of how I understand the emerging church. What do you think?
Thursday, November 02, 2006
This month is National Novel Writers Month. Which simply means that you are encouraged to write a 50,000 word novel this month. The entire point of it is to get people to write. The philosophy behind it is that we often over edit ourselves. We begin writing something but then we get very critical of it. We try and edit it but never really get any where. So we just do not write. However in trying to write a novel in one month you do not have time to stop and edit what you are writing. In fact you are guaranteed to be writing absolute junk. But if we start with the assumption that what we are going to write is totally awful then we can actually write. Then when it is written and finished we can edit it.
So I started writing yesterday. I have a ruff idea of a story but nothing very firm or detailed. My story is going to have grow and develop as I write. Well I hope you find the time to write this month. Enjoy!