Saturday, April 02, 2011
I find it hard to be funny about this group. They are too "real." We live in such a narcissistic age that it seems like a bunch of individual agendas, barely harnessed towards a single goal, constantly breaking apart because of the individual agendas colliding - the goal never reached - is just the way of things. It's not entertaining, it's painful.
And since I am not being funny I am forced to reflect how come people cannot see this happening day after day. How come we do not associate this behavior with "evil" anymore. The Justice League grows ever closer to looking very much like this group in terms of the personal interaction.
The SSoSV is a testament to narcissism. So is much of our societal discourse today. There is a lesson in there somewhere.
Friday, April 01, 2011
Did King David and Solomon actually exist? The long-running debate over the accuracy of biblical accounts is resurfacing on TV and in print.Does Alan Boyle exist? After all, I have never met him, nor have any archaeologists produced any peer reviewed papers of findings confirming his existence.
It is conceivable and theoretically possible that electrons have randomly organized themselves inside MSNBC servers to produce his work, or that a cabal of science geeks have created him as a front since they do not wish to take any credit for their own work. Maybe the people that read him just want his work to be real so badly that they have created this unintentional conspiracy to foist his thoughts on the rest of the world, and history.
Fact of the matter is,the show he reviews is about a search for King Solomon's mines - an extra-Biblical legend the sprung into prominence primarily in the Victorian era. This has almost nothing to do with Biblical accounts the history of Israel, Judaism or Christianity.
And yet, Alan Boyle sees fit to open his piece questioning the very fact of one of the most pivotal moments in world and religious history.
No, no agenda journalism here. Sheesh - give me a break.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
"Church Marketing Sucks" reviews a book by Gabe Lyons called The Next Christians. There is a lot I could complain about, but there is also a lot good about the piece - and that is where I want to focus:
One particular idea that struck my curiosity was the idea of creating culture. Somewhere in between the Enlightenment and post-modernity, the church gave up her position as a cultural influencer. She abandoned her role as gatekeeper to what would and would not be beneficial to any given culture. She abandoned this role because, as Lyons points out, she became a critic instead of a creator. She only voiced what she was against rather than what God was for. This, as anyone with a whiny co-worker can attest, can only be listened to for so long.I have contended many times that the church should be culture maker, but the reasons she has been reduced to critic are much more complex than this paragraph would indicate. But that said, what to do about it is the key question. How does the church begin to reassert itself into that role?
I do not think it will be by engaging in "culture wars." That does not mean there are not somethings we should be doing on the broad socio-political level, but for those things to work we really need to have prepared the battlefield, as it were.
This we do by filling positions of cultural influence with people of faith. And this we do by raising young people with sufficient faith that when they go to the dreaded liberal educational institution, they can withstand the buffeting and come out with intact faith.
And how you ask does that happen? May I suggest by having parents that are so well grounded. The key starts with us.
The key to all of it is where it has always been - it is how seriously we take our faith, right now, today.
So how's with you?
Related Tags: Illuminated Hymn
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Have you ever been faced with what felt like an insurmountable challenge and in the midst of that, you’ve worshiped a really small God? Have you ever prayed something like:I have to confess, I have been in the opposite situation - I have been with people that expected too much of God, that sat on their haunches and waited for God to provide money for a budget sized beyond imagination - I have seen them break the financial back of a congregation. I saw people lose faith in God becasue the church acted the fool.
“God, you are gigantic. You rule the universe. You’re just not as big as my college application process. You are slightly too small to handle that.”
“God, I love you. You are massive and supreme. You are huge, except you’re not big enough to handle my divorce. You are smaller than this experience.”
“God, you are like the real He-Man, you are master of the universe! You are so big and so all knowing, except you probably don’t know how to handle my job search. You’re big, you’re just slightly tinier than my unemployment.”
No one would actually prays those words, but that’s what flows from our heart when we allow doubt to set up shop. That’s how we live when we feel like we’ve got to force things to happen or they never will. That’s what happens when we under size God.
God is big beyond our imagination - that's a good thing - but He ACTS in accordance with His will - not ours. If we are going to claim God's "bigness" then we better make real sure that we are well attuned to His priorities, His objectives, His desires, and His will.
Every time someone tells me God is big enough to handle whatever, I get the check in my soul I have just described to you. The distance from "claiming God's power" to the "prosperity gospel" is very short indeed.
I do not think it accident that in Matthew 7 - the Sermon on the Mount - promises of God's blessing are followed immediately by the Golden Rule and warnings of "narrow gates" and "false prophets.
Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Things Exist For A Reason
I don’t know why so many Christian groups think they need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to “discipleship programs.” This time-tested annual pattern for the life of individual believers and the Church together that is focused on Christ, organized around the Gospel, and grounded in God’s grace, is sheer genius. It is simple enough for a child. It offers enough opportunities for creativity and flexibility that it need never grow old. Each year offers a wonderful template for learning to walk with Christ more deeply in the Gospel which brings us faith, hope, and love.Good Stuff, just a couple of comments. We often confuse "reformation" with "tear it down and build it again." God may metaphorically, or spiritually, "crucify us with Christ," but the reality is our re-creation stills retains our essential "us-ness." It is no ex niliho creation, but rather taking what we are and making it right.
Five Reasons to Practice Church Year Spirituality
It enables us to live in God’s Story...
It keeps the main thing the main thing...
It recognizes that one’s calendar forms one’s life...
It links personal spirituality with worship, family, and community...
It provides a basis of unity and common experience for Christians everywhere...
Yet, in our economy where it is cheaper to tear down and rebuild that tends to be what we do with the church and its practices. But that is the problem, God does not want what is cheapest - He wants what is best.
When Mike talks about "It recognizes that one’s calendar forms one’s life," he is hitting on the big issue here. Following this stuff requires sacrifice. It requires forming our lives around Christ's.
And so we go cheap.
It's sad really.
Monday, March 28, 2011
It goes deeper...
The gospel we believe shapes the kind of community we form. You can pretty much read belief off behaviour, whatever people say they believe.It just does not strike me as that simple. Why can't we have all the great food and elegance of "the Law's" while still having the grace and good times of the other couple? (I find his terminology grammatically awkward.) You see, that is what I think Christ intends for us.
An evening with The Law's would surely be very stressful, you'd be worrying whether you're using the right cutlery and saying the right things, your hosts always worrying about whether you're happy or whether they've left anything in the oven, it'd all be about keeping up the etiquette. You'd be checking your watch often to find a moment to excuse yourself.
Meanwhile spending an evening in the Christ household would surely be refreshing and life-giving. The time would fly by as the stimulating conversation revitalises you just as the food does. The food might well not be so fancy but the absence of a stuffy and heavy atmosphere makes it taste so good.
Discovering grace does not, in any fashion, lower the bar. Christ, by His own claim, came to fulfill the law - not abolish it. As Christians, we are to strive for the excellence of "the Law's" but we must learn to do so in a graceful fashion.
I a very real sense it is not what we do, but how we do it that matters. That is what Christ came to do - change who we are so substantially that when we strive for excellence, we do so in a completely graceful fashion.