Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
When I saw the body of Abe his hands drew my attention. They were peacefully folded on his lap. His wedding ring clear for all to see (he was married for 63 years...what an amazing testimony). As I looked at his hands I realized that these hands held the hands of his grandfather (possibly even his great grandfather). That this man walked and held hands with people who lived in the 1800s. He is a link to our past.
Then I saw his young great grandson. Looking at him I realized that this young boy (the lord willing) will hold hands with people who will walk 2100s. He is our link to the future.
We truly are tied to our past and to our future.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Matthew 6:24 - Jesus says "No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth." (New Revised Standard)
Now the context of the verse is very clear. We cannot serve both our money and God, we have to choose. This message needs to be affirmed and taught in our churches. I wonder if I could stretch this verse to apply to more than just money. Jesus does say we cannot serve two masters. God can be our only master, to him and him alone do we give our loyalty and allegiance. Money is one of the masters that makes a claim for our lives. But what are some of the others masters? Addictions (food/drugs/alcohol/pornography), capitalism, democracy, freedom, security, family, possessions, governments, church...
Now when Anabaptists declared that they are citizens of the Kingdom of Jesus. They were making a political statement (not just a moral one). In a sense they were committing treason. They declared that they were not loyal to the government but that they were loyal to God. Now does the bible actually allow us to say this?
Romans 10:9 - Paul says "because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Confessing Jesus as lord is much more radical than is often believed. It is often believed that this simply means saying a prayer and asking Jesus into one's heart (not a bad thing but confessing Jesus as lord is much greater than that). Brian McLaren says, "Sometimes the Greek term kurios [Lord] simply means 'sir', but it is also the term used for the emperor. He is the ultimate 'sir', the ultimate authority, the king of kings, and the lord of all lords. The earliest confession of the earliest followers of Jesus - Jesus is Lord - was not in this light primarily a theological confession of Jesus' divinity, as many today assume; it was a very earthly declaration that Jesus, not Caesar, was the ultimate authority." ("Everything Must Change", page 98)
As an Anabaptist I say a hearty "Amen". Jesus is my ultimate authority.
Of course this raises the question. How as a follower Jesus am I to relate to my government? What is my responsibility to the government?
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Here are the 12 main beliefs that early Anabaptists held to.
1) Disciples of Jesus are citizens of the kingdom of peace
2) Citizens of the kingdom of peace must separate themselves from this world
3) The followers of Jesus should live together as a community of equals under Jesus as Lord and master
4) Disciples are stewards, not owners of property
5) The believing community should be governed by the Spirit of God mediated by its servants – the ministers and teachers
6) Disciples are to live by the sword of the Spirit in building the kingdom of peace
7) The Anabaptists read the Bible as a focused rather than a flat canon
8) Menno Simmons believed that the believing community should serve as an exegetical community in interpreting Scripture
9) Menno Simmons believed that the church can best make decisions on the basis of consensus under the guidance of the Holy Spirit
10) Menno Simmons believed that the congregation should fully participate in church governance as part of the Body of Christ
11) Menno Simmons believed that church members should practice sacrificial servanthood rather than seeking privileged status as God’s chosen people
12) Menno Simmons believed that the people of God should be identified by their discipleship, not by doctrine and ideology
Are there any that you agree with? Any that you think are totally crazy?
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I think this book is right on. But it raises some questions.
1) James says that Paul believes that a ministry is only successful if actually leads to the transformation of people. Is this how we rate our ministries? What are some of the other ways that we measure the success of a ministry?
2) Have we failed if no one is changed? I have often heard that we remain faithful to God and let him take care of the results. Is this an excuse? Or is this true?
3) How do we measure transformation? Paul battles legalism (making laws the mark of spirituality).
Friday, May 23, 2008
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
This manifesto comes out of a need to define what it means to Evangelical. The authors note that the term evangelical means different things to different people. They even state that some wonder if "Evangelical is ever positive, and many inside now wonder whether the term any longer serves a useful purpose." The authors believe that the term Evangelical can be redeemed (not sure I agree but I sure applaud their efforts).
I found this document to very interesting. It talks about beliefs and about practices. Here are a couple of my highlights:
"Evangelicals are Christians who define themselves, their faith, and their lives according to the Good News of Jesus of Nazareth."
"our commitment can be seen better in our giving and our caring than in official statements."
Evangelicals fail when "they fail to follow the great commandment that we love our neighbors as ourselves, let alone the radical demand of Jesus that his followers forgive without limit and love even their enemies."
"We confess that we Evangelicals have betrayed our beliefs by our behavior. All too often we have trumpeted the gospel of Jesus, but we have replaced biblical truths with therapeutic techniques, worship with entertainment, discipleship with growth in human potential, church growth with business entrepreneurialism, concern for the church and for the local congregation with expressions of faith that are churchless and little better than a vapid spirituality, meeting real needs with pandering to felt needs, and mission principles with marketing precepts. In the process we have become known for commercial, diluted, and feel-good gospels of health, wealth, human potential, and religious happy talk, each of which is indistinguishable from the passing fashions of the surrounding world."
I could sign a document like this - agreeing with the good and confessing the bad.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I have been praying for God to break my heart. I have built walls around my heart to keep people who are too different distant and far away. I don't look to find Jesus in them and with them.
My walled heart has created a place of security for me. I know what is going to happen (at least I think I do). I know who is involved in my life. My fear is that if I have a heart so broken that the world falls in anything could happen with anyone. It feels safer (and most likely is) to keep the walls up. But the walls also keep Jesus out - and so I pray with Mother Teresa
Monday, April 21, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
But how is to happen?
So often I become overwhelmed with the problems of the world. I feel like I would be crushed if I allowed every painful thing to move me. I mean there are so many painful things ... Aids, poverty, children soldiers, human trafficking, destruction of our world, greed, injustice, violence, gangs, abuse, lies, broken relationships, homeless, and on and on the list goes. Often I just stick my head in the sand because I do not know what to do. I know that this is not what we are called to do though. We are called to extend God's kingdom.
Father, I don't what to do with all the problems of the world, move me. Specifically father move me in compassion to the pain of those who are in relationship with me.
I also believe that we are not only to be moved by the painful things in our world, we are also to be moved by the good things. The bible tells us to be thankful and to rejoice.
Father I give thanks for my children who bring so much energy into my life, my wife who loves me so much, for health to ride to work, a nice bike, the sun shine, birds, computers, friends, the many different colors, books, Fruit Loops. Father move me to see you and your blessing so that I will always give thanks to you.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
"submitting ourselves to the discipline of Your unchangeableness, so that we may in unconditional obedience find our rest and remain at rest in Your unchangeableness."
What does it mean to submit ourselves to the disciple of God's unchangeableness?
Too often I have sought to change God - to remake him in an image that I find more pleasing and less offending. I try to make God to be a god who hates my enemies instead of loving them and who never seeks to change me or demands anything from me.
One of my struggles is resisting this temptation to change God and just allow him to be God. My prayers too often are asking God to change his character. "Bless me but don't shape me." "Do things my way and not your way."
In what way does unconditional obedience help us find rest and remain at rest in God's unchangeableness?
Unconditional obedience is a sign of trust. If there are conditions to obedience then we do not fully trust God. And we can trust God because his character does not change.
Rest is the result of trust. When I first went sailing the wind caused the boat to slightly lean over. I sat in the cabin holding on to a metal pole convinced that I was going to die. I was not at rest because I did not trust the boat. Eventually I would stand on the very front of the boat completely at rest because I trusted.
Trusting God results in resting and I learn to trust God when I obey him unconditionally.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
In Soren's prayer he praises God that he does not change.
For I the Lord do not change - Malachi 3:6
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. - Hebrews 13:8
Since God's character does not change I can trust him. Trust him to relate to me out of his love for me and for all. Trust him that in pouring out his grace he will change me until my character reflects that of Jesus (character not personality). I can trust him that he will love the world, even though it can be very ugly. I can trust that my sin breaks his heart. I can trust that God will accomplish that which he started in me. Simply put, I can trust.
Monday, April 14, 2008
You who are unchangeable, whom nothing changes! You who are unchangeable in love, precisely for our welfare, not submitting to any change: may we too will our welfare, submitting ourselves to the discipline of Your unchangeableness, so that we may in unconditional obedience find our rest and remain at rest in Your unchangeableness. You are not like us; if we are to preserve only some degree of constancy, we must not permit ourselves too much to be moved, nor by too many things. You one the contrary are moved, and moved in infinite love, by all things. Even that which we human beings call an insignificant trifle, and pass by unmoved, the need of a sparrow, even this moves you; and what we so often scarcely notice, a human sigh, this moves You, You who are unchangeable! You who in infinite love do submit to be moved, may this our prayer also move You to add Your blessing, in order that there may be brought about such a change in us who pray as to bring us into conformity with Your unchangeable will, You who are unchangeable!
Thursday, April 10, 2008
I came across an initiative to create understanding across the globe through film. It is called Pangea Day. To me this looks like kingdom work. So I encourage you to mark May 10 down on your calendars. Join the global camp fire.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
However things might not actually be so good - in fact they might be worse. But don't take my word for it here is an article written by Times magazine - The Clean Energy Scam.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Two ways I see that it might be possible for God to experience shame and guilt.
There was a man who had a son. When the son was grown up he set his heart to do evil all the time. The son continued in his evil behavior for many years. Soon everyone knew about this son's evilness. As time passed the community began to associate evil with the son's family name. Does the father experience shame even though he has done no wrong?
There was once a man who decided to never wash or change his clothes. As time passed his body and clothes became filthy. This man and his clothes were infested with fleas and lice. He was miserable. One day another man passed by, this man had just had a bath and had bought new clothes. When he saw the filthy man he had compassion on him. The man with new clothes offered to trade his clothes with the filthy man. Once they trade clothes would not the clean man now experience the consequences on the filthy man's choice to not wash? Is this not sort of like what Christ does for us - taking our sin upon himself?
Monday, March 10, 2008
What can we do to support them?
- Bioethical" violations such as birth control.
- "Morally dubious" experiments such as stem cell research.
- Drug abuse.
- Polluting the environment.
- Aggravating social injustice by contributing to the widening gap between rich and poor.
- Excessive wealth.
- Sloth, which replaced sadness in the 17th century.
Over all I am not sure that making a list of the worst sins is the best idea. First of all, it comes across as really judgmental. This list would be a lot more powerful if sexual abuse was included because the Catholic Church would have been identifying some of their sins. Second reason a list might not be a good idea is that this implies that Christianity about following rules and not about following God. Third, I have real doubts that this list is going to change anything.
Friday, March 07, 2008
My highlight of the week was getting to know the students and seeing videos of their talent night. One person sang a pop song (can't remember the name) in low German. It was very funny - and I don't even speak low German.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
However there is the interesting story called the Rosenstrasse protest. Allow me to summarize the story. It happened in 1943. Nazis rounded up the last of the Jews in Berlin with the intent of shipping them to concentration camps. However many of them were married to German woman (who were not rounded up). These women showed up at the prison and peacefully protested for about a week (about 6,000 in total). What happened? The Jewish men were released - in fact 25 men were even brought back from Auschwitz.
Perhaps non-violence could have stopped the Holocaust.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
It is very interesting. Two stories caught my attention.
From 2007 #18 Physicist Challenges Official 9-11 Story
From 2008 # 11 The Scam of “Reconstruction” in Afghanistan
Raises a few questions. Like why do we have troops in Afghanistan?
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I have committed to praying the Jesus creed every evening and every morning. The creed is "Hear oh Israel the lord our God, the lord is one. Love the lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind, and all your strength. And love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these."
I found that by reminding myself of this I have been more aware of my need to love the people around me. I guess what I am saying is that I am starting to see how badly I sometimes love.
Also if I am honest I have forgotten to say the Jesus creed some evenings and mornings. Though I have started to get my children to say it before they go to bed.
Friday, February 15, 2008
"This text may be brought to comment upon the power of anxiety among us: (a) The causes of anxiety among us are wrongly discerned . This text fixes the issue in terms of accepting the realities of our life with God. Our mistake is to pursue autonomous freedom. Freedom which does not discern the boundaries of human life leave us anxious. (b) The attempts to resolve anxiety in our culture are largely psychological, economic, cosmetic. They are bound to fail because they do not approach the causes. (c) Our public life is largely premised on an exploitation of our common anxiety. The advertising of consumerism and the drives of the acquisitive society, like the serpent, seduce into believing there are securities apart from the reality of God."
"Failure to trust God with our lives is death."
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Christians claim that the bible is authoritative. What is meant by this is twofold - first that the bible is God's word, literally. The bible is what God has to say to the world. Second is that because it is God's word we are called to obey it.
Now this belief is under attack right now (and has been for a long time). As the church we have defended the authority of scripture, argued for it, written about it. But have we convinced anyone?
I personally don't think we are going to convince very many people about the authority of the bible by well reasoned arguments. One of the reasons for this is that Christians have used the authority of the bible to justify all sorts of injustices. We have recognize that this is our past and regrettably this is our present (as seen in the health and wealth gospel).
What will convince people is if they see the power of God in our lives. If through reading/studying/submitting/meditating on the bible we become more loving and more engaged in justice it will be evident that the bible is authoritative in forming us to be truly human.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
"Established Church. Self-understanding: Exists as the primary geographical location of God's presence on earth through which the world can encounter God, with this authority being legitimated by the civil government."
"Corporate Church. Self-understanding: Exists as an organization with a purposive intent to accomplish something on behalf of God in the world, with this role being legitimated on a voluntary basis."
"Missional Church. Self-understanding: Exists as a community created by the Spirit that is missionary by nature in being called and sent to participate in God's mission in the world."
What understanding does your church have? Do you think it should have a different one?
Monday, February 04, 2008
Did anyone else go? If you did what was your highlight?
Friday, February 01, 2008
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Is this true? Thinking about the bible I do believe that Craig is right. But how does this work?
In my context people self-select what church they belong to (there are lots to choose from). This is mostly based on personal likes/dislikes. At times they will deselect themselves and pick a different church. Also in my context there are lots of questions about baptism and membership being held together. There is a push to say that a person should not have to become a member when baptized. So, how does what Craig say actually work?
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Marvin reasons that as church we should realize that we have deep, deep Jewish roots. We worship the Jewish God, follow a Jewish messiah, the bible was written by Jews and was written mainly to Jews. Marvin states that we need to grasp this heritage. I totally agree.
The beginning of the book does a good job of reasoning why we should engage in Hebrew beliefs. In the second half of the book Marvin explores some aspects of Jewish thought he thinks is important for the church to understand.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
My wife pointed out that this verse mentions nothing about the death of Jesus. Now it is implied - to be raised from the dead means that you have died - but it is not the focus. However, usually when we talk about the gospel we emphasize the death of Jesus (in fact I have heard people preach "the gospel" without ever mentioning the resurrection of Jesus). We say that Jesus died for our sins. Now this is true but here Paul does not make that the focus of the gospel. The focus is on the fact that Jesus is King (Christ is not Jesus' last name it is his title and means King) and he has been resurrected. My wife pointed out that with us focusing so much on Jesus' death we often get very focused upon our sin instead of upon Jesus.
How do you think sharing the gospel will change if we focus on the fact that Jesus is King and has been raised from the dead instead of solely focusing on him dieing for our sins?
Friday, January 25, 2008
Here are all the verses.
Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise,
To pay thy morning sacrifice.
Thy precious time misspent, redeem,
Each present day thy last esteem,
Improve thy talent with due care;
For the great day thyself prepare.
By influence of the Light divine
Let thy own light to others shine.
Reflect all Heaven’s propitious ways
In ardent love, and cheerful praise.
In conversation be sincere;
Keep conscience as the noontide clear;
Think how all seeing God thy ways
And all thy secret thoughts surveys.
Wake, and lift up thyself, my heart,
And with the angels bear thy part,
Who all night long unwearied sing
High praise to the eternal King.
All praise to Thee, Who safe has kept
And hast refreshed me while I slept
Grant, Lord, when I from death shall wake
I may of endless light partake.
Heav’n is, dear Lord, where’er Thou art,
O never then from me depart;
For to my soul ’tis hell to be
But for one moment void of Thee.
Lord, I my vows to Thee renew;
Disperse my sins as morning dew.
Guard my first springs of thought and will,
And with Thyself my spirit fill.
Direct, control, suggest, this day,
All I design, or do, or say,
That all my powers, with all their might,
In Thy sole glory may unite.
I would not wake nor rise again
And Heaven itself I would disdain,
Wert Thou not there to be enjoyed,
And I in hymns to be employed.
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
"The Hebrew of Proverbs 22:6 is hanokh la-na'ar al-pi darko, literally "Train [start] a child according to his [the child's] way." There is a great difference between the training of a child according to the child's way (i.e., encouraging him to start on the road that is right for him), and training him according to a way chosen, prescribed, and imposed by the parents. The former is in keeping with the child's unique God-given bent, disposition, talents, and gifts. It it considerate of the uniqueness of the child; it does not treat all developing personalities the same. As Derek Kidner has correctly observed, since the training prescribed in the verse is "according to a child's way," this verse implies "respect for his individuality and vocation." In short, "the instruction of youth, the education of youth, ought to be conformed to the nature of youth." (page 293)
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Historically the church has encouraged people to fast from something for Lent. The purpose for this is to 1) remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for us (becoming human and dieing) by sacrificing something ourselves. 2) to give up something (often these things are good) to remind ourselves that we need God more than anything else.
So allow me to ask you what are you going to fast from? What are you going to give up for Lent?
It can be anything: jelly beans, TV, books, food, certain kinds of food, ext.
Or perhaps instead of giving up something you want to add something to your life that will help you focus on Jesus this Lent season.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
let the nations tremble
What nations today think they reign?
Perhaps we can be more personal. What things think they reign (control) our lives?
What do you think it means that they should tremble?
Monday, January 21, 2008
Important lessons to teach your children about money
We give our children an allowance. And right now we are trying to teach them about tithing and saving.
What have you done to teach you kids about money?
Friday, January 18, 2008
and on his law they meditate day and night"
However, I have been reading a book called Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith. Marvin Wilson says "Meditation is the outward verbalizing of one's thoughts before God, of the poring over his teachings and works." He states that the Hebrew word for meditation means to "murmur" or "mutter". Wow. This totally changes the way I view meditation. Instead of being totally silent, meditation is an invitation to mutter and murmur about the things of God. One part of meditation is talking to ourselves, reminding ourselves about God, his word, what he is doing...
Now I do believe silence is a good thing - to be still and listen to God. But meditation does not equal silence.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
My friend Dan just emailed me plans for building my own coffin. Just to be clear it was not a death threat (at least I don't think it was). We have been having an on going conversation about death and funerals. We took a course together in fall about death.
Now I have to say before I go any further I have great deal of respect for funeral directors. The funeral director that we have in our town is great - he is kind, compassionate and is a blessing to the families that are grieving. So this is not an attack on him, rather these are thoughts about funerals in general.
Why do I need a fancy coffin? Why padded cushions? I don't plan to use the coffin until I am dead - so must likely I won't mind lying on plain old wood. If I get buried then the coffin is just going to be buried in the ground, where it (and my body) will decompose. Now I don't have exact numbers but I have heard that a basic coffin can cost hundreds of dollars. What are we paying for?
Tony Campolo wrote a book called 20 Hot Potatoes Christians are Afraid to Touch. One of his chapters is called "Are funerals a rip off?" Very thought provoking. I want to quote a small part. He is talking about his experience as a pastor.
"I worked hard to dissuade an economically pressed widow not to buy a foam rubber mattress for her dead husband, in spite of the undertaker's claim that the mattress would be providing a comfortable rest for the corpse for all eternity. I also balked when this same undertaker tried to sell the widow an expensive airtight vault for her husband's casket which was 'guaranteed to keep him dry.'"
With all of this in mind I decided perhaps I should build my own coffin. Actually I am not very handy (and not sure where I would put it - a toy box for the kids might look a little twisted) so I asked one of friends to make me a coffin if I die any time soon.
Friday, January 11, 2008
One of things that stands out in reading this is book is how hopeful these people are. Doug in the conclusion states "We must see the world as hopeful even when it is hurtful." (page 306) Hope and love underline almost everything written in this book. One gets the sense from this book that the people in the emerging church are looking forward to what God is going to do in the world. I have to say, Amen! Lord open my eyes so that I may see (and be part of) the amazing things you are going to do.
Now the problem with this book is that the articles raise some interesting questions but they lack a certain of depth. This lack of depth seems to be the result of a lack of space. The articles are thought provoking and good but I often ended the chapter wanting more. I should mention that in the introduction Doug says that the articles "should be considered discussion starters." However I do wish there was more unity from the writers. Each writer seemed to have freedom to write on whatever they want which meant that each chapter would often move to an entirely new thought.
Over all I found book thought provoking and good.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
The kids showing my brother some love
My new niece.
Cindy's parents house.