Monday, August 21, 2006

The Call of The Prophet

Its official, my Dad cancelled his trip to come out here this week. I don't know, I think I would be a pretty cool son to hang out with and do life with. But this is a relationship that is just never going to happen.

We moved our house church from tuesday evenings to Sunday evenings with a meal and I am really liking the change. Sunday is just so much more relaxing for me and gives me time to prepare our discussions better and be in the right spiritual mind. Rushing home on a weekday from a crazy day of work was kinda stressful. We also extended our time together by an hour to include a common meal. I'm liking the change.

Last night we discussed chapter 3 of McLaren's "Secret Message of Jesus" and his Jewish background. How Jesus came in the line of the prophets to disturb status quo. We are tempted daily to pay attention to and be influenced by other prophets around us. Prophets who speak of our need for health and wealth and how God must bless us in these ways. Prophets who tell us to focus on ourselves and what we're entitled to. Prophets who teach of worldliness, materialism, legalism, sexualism, lusts for power and feeding our insecurities. But in the midst of those voices, there is a Voice of The Prophet. Calling us to a new community and to become a new kind of people. A Voice that says the Kingdom has come and to also participate in the Kingdom that is yet coming. A Voice that is calling us to finally be free. The way of Jesus is the way of freedom.

Jeremiah 10:1-10 (Message)
Listen to the Message that God is sending your way, House of Israel. Listen most carefully:
"Don't take the godless nations as your models.
Don't be impressed by their glamour and glitz,
no matter how much they're impressed.
The religion of these peoples
is nothing but smoke.
An idol is nothing but a tree chopped down,
then shaped by a woodsman's ax.
They trim it with tinsel and balls,
use hammer and nails to keep it upright.
It's like a scarecrow in a cabbage patch—can't talk!
Dead wood that has to be carried—can't walk!
Don't be impressed by such stuff.
It's useless for either good or evil."

6-9All this is nothing compared to you, O God.
You're wondrously great, famously great.
Who can fail to be impressed by you, King of the nations?
It's your very nature to be worshiped!
Look far and wide among the elite of the nations.
The best they can come up with is nothing compared to you.
Stupidly, they line them up—a lineup of sticks,
good for nothing but making smoke.
Gilded with silver foil from Tarshish,
covered with gold from Uphaz,
Hung with violet and purple fabrics—
no matter how fancy the sticks, they're still sticks.

10But God is the real thing—
the living God, the eternal King.
When he's angry, Earth shakes.
Yes, and the godless nations quake.


Friday, August 18, 2006

The reality we find ourselves in

I've been waiting to crack the cover of the new Dallas Willard book "The Great Omission" and am just now getting to it. Here's a quote from the introduction that strikes home:
But there is a great deal of disappointment expressed today about the character and the effects of Christian people, about Christian institutions, and - at least by implication - about the Christian faith and understanding of reality. Most of the disappointment comes from Christians themselves, who find that what they profess "just isn't working" - not for themselves nor, so far as they can see, for those around them. What they have found, at least, does not "exceed all expectations," as the standard evaluation form says. "Disappointment" books form a subcategory of Christian publishing. Self-flagellation has not disappeared from the Christian repertoire.

So if this is the reality we find ourselves in, where do we go from here? Either Jesus is a fraud, and his claims aren't true? Or what we're following, isn't Jesus. I'm convinced that our issues are the fact that we don't have the right Gospel. Our theologies of what is important are skewed, and therefore so is our behavior and our experiences of followers of Jesus. As the American church, we have lost our identity. We are rooted in a reaction against pagan culture and measure success within the bounds of the American business model. (both mere symptoms of staunch modernism) We literally have forgotten who we are. We are no different than the Israelites wandering the desert but lusting after the pagan ways of life.

Within this is a self-critique. I'm understanding that the Kingdom is here, but I still make choices that indulge the flesh w/out any recognition of a Kingdom Now. And I dont' know why. Jesus offers deep and lasting freedom, I seem to prefer bondage.

This is the reality we find ourselves in, but it doesn't have to remain that way.
Paul says in Romans 8:1-2
With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ's being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.
3-4God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn't deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.

Well, that's good news.


Monday, August 14, 2006

an Emo moment

things that presently make me sad:

- an incredibly horrible ending to the work day, being implicated in a disastrous student issue re: graduation, i'm innocent but still feel the need to declare my comptence and responsiblity vs. perceptions (this is vague, but it was baaaaad)

- last night of student house church tonight. the majority are headed to college this week or next. how incredibly sad. i love these kids and am so proud of them. as they grew up, so did I. they are now not only followers in the kingdom, but they walk this earth as carriers of the Kingdom virus, looking for others to infect. proud indeed, sad indeed.

- my Dad, who has never visited me in my lifetime, i"ve always gone to him is scheduled to come next week for a few days. Its a long trip so I've been skeptical, now I'm hearing rumors that it probably won't happen. he has done better in the past couple years, has called me a couple times. I've been his son for 33 years, never a visit, doesn't know my birthday, attended my wedding, but no other event in my life, our relationship has been mostly one sided = me initiating. He re-married and had 3 more kids, the reality is that I'm just a step-child, I get the leftovers. i've never had a Dad on this earth to rely on, talk to, feel secure in etc. etc. It looks like things are gonna stay that way.

- one of my best friends has a family and is unjustifiably unemployed. i hate that he has to walk this path, i wish I could do more for him.

- i miss Palmer and Chad . . . .ALOT! I found a picture of me, Chad and Johnson laughing together in St.Elizabeth's today while shuffling through some folders. I can't believe Chad is gone, so suddenly. and Palmer, the day he passed will always be remembered to me as the day that God broke my heart.

- i feel so busy and pulled in so many directions right now, i wish i had time and space to rest. i need to sabbath, but i'm not doing a good job of slowing down

- i'm struggling hard to get back to running. time, sickness, the heat and my achilles are really hampering any progress. 2 miles is still an enormous struggle. i may never get back to where I was.

sometimes it is just therapeutic to admitt the things that make you sad. just don't dwell in them.

noticeably missing from this narcisisitc reflection are really sad things in the world like hunger, peace in places of war, suffereing children, the abused, the victims of crimes, disease, sickness and real suffering. my reflection feels so petty. a focus on self rarely yields a positive effect. i just long for authenticity.

Psalm 50:2 From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth.

This is the Psalm reading from Celtic Daily Prayer on this 14th day of August and for some reason it was a reflecting point for me this morning. Yesterday at our OCC Community Gathering, we had a discussion on our beliefs of heaven and hell and learned that growing up some of us were as scared of heaven as we were hell. We just can hardly conceive of what "perfect in beauty" is. What is that experience like? Many of us concluded that if it means "rest", then that would be pretty good. From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth . . . that just sounds tasty. I want to rest in Him today and find my being there. Lately I feel as if I've lost my center and I'm interested in reorienting myself back to Him.

Our conversation yesterday really has just spurred so many thoughts and I want to continue it tonight with student house church. The continiuim of eternity of the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Satan. Being in the Kingdom and in the reign and rule of God. Being in harmony with His created order. Not exactly light topics.

McGillivary led our conversation so I led a bit of worship and as we sang "It is Well with my soul" I was completely captured by this verse:
My sin not in part, but the whole. Is nailed to the cross and i bear it no more.

I'm floored by this invitation. The forgiveness of our sins is NOT what salvation or Christianity is, but it is the entry point and its unbelieveable. Christ's work on the cross as the Redemptor of my sins . . . we can never lose the awe of our salvation. But salvation is not about going to heaven someday after we die, its about serving and loving our King, even now as we live in His Kingdom.

Big ideas, indeed.


Monday, August 07, 2006

Talladega dumb nights

I don't do a lot of movie reviews here, but I went and saw Talladega Nights on Saturday in order to see something funny and relax, but this movie is stupid. I'm all for dumb movies with no plot just for some gags, but this movie was a huge disappointment. It just lacked timing or something, everything that could have been funny, wasn't. It was just stupid. I'm thinking the folk who love it were either inebriated or stoned. I'm still searching for a comedy to laugh to and relax. The closest thing I have to it right now is the Reds bullpen. But then I don't laugh, I cry.

Here's to sweeping the Cardinals this week. (ok, that was funny)


Saturday, August 05, 2006

Friday Night BBQ

Well its almost 1:00 a.m. and the last folk just left our house. Some of the students and I stayed late around the fire in the backyard talking of old times and more importantly, our life in the Kingdom now. I crave these kind of conversations, they center me right in the Story I want my life to be intertwined with. Friday night bbq's at our house are just our way of wanting to host Kingdom folk and seeing life happen. All the kids are loved, cherished and cared for by everybody. Adults are connecting at deep levels and the everyday levels. My students are constantly hungry for more understanding and its such an honor to be in a position of influence to them. Its a role I take very seriously. I will be baptizing a few of them on Sunday and its something I've been thinking about all week. How incredibly serious it is to take vows to Jesus in the company of witnesses.

I spoke earlier of seeking a new monasticism. I wonder if our Friday night bbqs aren't an ancient expression of the fellowship of the common meal. Life happens around a shared meal. My favorite place in the world is my backyard, at midnight, on a clear night, around a fire, talking the Kingdom of God with fellow followers of Jesus. This is Kingdom Now.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Consume or Contemplate?

This is the Meditation for the 2nd day of the month from Celtic Daily Prayer that I try to follow. Frankly, I'm disappointed at the fractured and compartmentalized lives we live in American, suburban culture. Where do we go to comtemplate? I have work demands, and church demands (even simple church takes time and preparation), and kids in sports, and hobbies I can stress over, and people who need counsel and . . . What rythymns exist to keep our hearts and mind in check with the bigger Story? Frankly, its all that matters but we settle for far less in the day to day. Without a heart centered in Christ, my life is a disappointment. Nothing fulfills, nothing quenches my thirst . . . Where do we go to contemplate and be quiet? Being successful in any consumeristic, American entitlement kind of way is just plain fool's gold. In Christ is where there is meaning.

I am yet on a never-ending search for a New Monasticism.

Meditation for Day 2

There is a contemplative
in all of us,
almost strangled
but still alive,
who craves quiet
enjoyment of the Now,
and longs to touch
the seamless
garment of silence
makes whole.
Alan P. Tory

Let each stay in or near
their own cell
meditating, day and night
on the law of the Lord,
and vigilant in prayer,
unless otherwise employed
by the Holy Spirit.