Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ordinary Community Goes on Retreat

This weekend is our annual Ordinary Community winter retreat. Its a cold, dark and gray time of year here in the Nati and we have traditionally gotten away to spend uninterupted time with God and one another. I think this is our 5th one, but can't be sure. Being a network of house churches in the burbs of Cincinnati its critically important for us to carve off intentional time in our schedules for community and worship. Its a time for catching up, time for bonding, time for support, time for encouragement, time for reflection and prayer, time for unbridled worship and time to immerse ourselves in the Holy Scriptures.

We typically have some sort of theme that gives us focus for our sessions and for the stuff the kids do together as well. This year's theme is "Glorious". We will reflect on:
1) The Glory of God - being encompassed in the Glory that is God's alone
2) The glory of 'me' - receiving the gift our belovedness from our Abba
3) The glory of our world - being in mission to our world and the people upon it
- we'll have a bit of a late night worship/prayer/reflection session on Saturday night in which there is little agenda, God can do what He wants (of course that's always true)

I'm blessed that I belong to a tribe of Christ followers that value community time together and carving out space for God to show His Glory. It's time to prepare my heart and mind for something Glorious.

peace to your weekend,

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

U2 3D

After a discouraging day at work, I took myself to see the U2 3D movie at the iMax. 2 words = Friggin' Great!
I suppose you need to be a bit of a U2 freak but it was exactly what the dr. ordered, I dug it.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Golden Compass re-visited

Last night I brought my 9 year old and 11 year old daughters to see the Golden Compass at the cheap theater. For all the hype and controversy I wanted to experience it.

First off, unlike what the fear mongers predicted, my children did not decide to renounce their baptisms and claim allegiance to an agnostic worldview. Rather, they didn't connect much at all to the worldview portrayed. The construct of the story didn't fit or connect with them. They left saying they much prefer the way Narnia tells a story than the Compass and that they aren't interested in the rest of the series of films. They are thinking for themselves and interpreting critically the things they see and hear and experience. These are the skills I'm glad to see developing. If the Kingdom of God is ulitmate reality, why are we scared of opposing views? Can't our kids experience the Kingdom for themselves and then let the powers of this world pale in comparison? No need to fear. the Kingdom has no equal in power.

On our drive home, we even had a conversation where I introduced them to the worldview of "secular humanism". A construct where the center of the world is us and our pleasures and our accomplishments. The enemy is anything that tells us to submitt or that limits humanity. This is the fallacy of the Enlightenment experiment, that humans and science can solve all the great questions and problems of humanity. And anyone believing in a God-centered world is simply believing in medieval superstition. There is no God, we are the center and the great hope. The arrogance of humanism is staggering to me. The Creation around us is so incredibly complex and well designed, I can think of nothing else but that it points to the reality of a Great Designer.

I like the old saying, that a wise man says: "there is a God, and I'm not him". This is the beginning of the Kingdom worldview. It is about submission to eternal truths about our world and how we should live. It is the beginning of true freedom and the dispelling of fear. This begins a whole new agenda, not one centered around me, but one cetered around the Kingdom of God. Living in this agenda comes with a power that need not fear a cultural enemy, rather it is in our nature to respond and think with grace and peace.

peace to your Kingdom agenda today,

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New York New York

Just got back from 4 days in New York City with my wife to celebrate our 15th year of marriage. I really hadn't been there since I was in junior high but it was good to get back to the east coast for some great food and culture. We took in a couple Broadways shows (Wicked and Monty Python Spamalot), ate some great meals and generally had a blast. We did a ton of walking in the bitter cold but several trips to Starbucks helped mask the cold. We saw so much of the city in 4 days: Times Square, Central Park, 5th and Madison ave., Macy's and Empire State Building, ground zero, statue of liberty, SoHo, Greenwich Village, Chinatown, Wall st. etc. Its a pretty amazing city.

Here is a plug for the Skybus airlines. We got the deal cuz I jumped on it early for $10 one way flights from Columbus to Newburgh, NY about 55 miles north of the city. We took a bus shuttle and train from there and it worked flawlessly with no hassle. We also stayed at a great hotel in midtown Manhattan thanks to Hotwire for about 30% of its normal price.

The highlight in the city that never sleeps was time spent with my wife. She is truly my life companion and we just always click when we are together. After 15 years, the honeymoon continues. It was like a 4 day date and I'm already wanting to plan next year's trip. I'm blessed to have found someone not only that I can spend the rest of my life with but the peson I want to spend the rest of my life with.

Good to be home with the kids, but I miss New York already.


Thursday, January 10, 2008


Last night I was teaching the 4th night of a 5 week course in World Civilization and we ended up in 1945 and the use of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The decision to use it to end the war by instantly killing a hundred thousand civilians resulted in ongoing military ethics, nuclear arms race, the cold war and beyond. Did the killing of 100,000 Japanese civilians save the lives of 1 million Americans who may have died in an invasion of Japan until surrender? Having been born in 1972 I cannot even begin to understand the state of mind of these days in history and I won't pass judgment sitting in my hindsight chair. I think the only position I'm comfortable with is pro-peace and opposition to all forms of war.

I found this transcript in my research, interesting to read a physicist's first hand account of having lost his illusion that America would be different. It is this kind of realization that Modernism and the Enlightenment failed that is the birthpangs of postmodernism. Science did not create a utopia, it created the ability for more destruction amongst humanity.

Copyright, August 15, 1960, U.S. News & World Report.
President Truman Did Not Understand
Dr. Leo Szilard, 62, is a Hungarian-born physicist who helped persuade President Roosevelt to launch the A-bomb project and who had a major share in it. In 1945, however, he was a key figure among the scientists opposing use of the bomb.

Q Would most other nations, including Russia, have done the same thing we did, confronted with the same opportunity to use the bomb?

A Look, answering this question would be pure speculation. I can say this, however: By and large, governments are guided by considerations of expediency rather than by moral considerations. And this, I think, is a universal law of how governments act.

Prior to the war I had the illusion that up to a point the American Government was different. This illusion was gone after Hiroshima.

Perhaps you remember that in 1939 President Roosevelt warned the belligerents against using bombs against the inhabited cities, and this I thought was perfectly fitting and natural.

Then, during the war, without any explanation, we began to use incendiary bombs against the cities of Japan. This was disturbing to me and it was disturbing many of my friends.

Q Was that the end of the illusion?
A Yes, this was the end of the illusion. But, you see, there was still a difference between using incendiary bombs and using the new force of nature for purposes of destruction. There was still a further step taken here - atomic energy was something new.

I thought it would be very bad to set a precedent for using atomic energy for purposes of destruction. And I think that having done so we have greatly affected the postwar history.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Post edited

I've never deleted a post before, but I'm embarassed by my team tonight. 5 personal foul penalties, dropped passes, special teams mistakes and poor tackling. What's left to play for is pride. I'm happy we've made it to the big game 2 years in a row, but its another night of an upset stomach and complete disappointment. Speed isn't beating us tonight, we are just completely being outplayed. Props to LSU. Too bad we don't have a playoff system, would be great to see LSU play USC next week. The NCAA is missing the boat on what could be great.

No excuses tonight, just embarrasment.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Politics and the Kingdom

Yesterday I went with the honorable, Glenn Johnson, to see Charlie Wilson's war and it got me thinking. The film in and of itself is well done and did what I'm sure it set out to do. Tell the story of how we helped Afghanistan defeat the Soviet Union in the 1980's to help the U.S. win the Cold War while leaving it open to questions of how it may have created the kind of infrastructure vacuum that created the Taliban regime, Bin Laden as a folk hero and eventually 9/11. I think it did just that.

However, it got me thinking on another level. It graphically used the political motives and leverages of God, Religion and the Church. All was fair game in power and manipulation as long as it suited the humanist end, in this case helping helpless Afghans.

So here are my questions?
1) From a Kingdom worldview, are not the lives of the Russians as valuable as Afghans? They kept repeating the phrase "killing Russians" as their goal and each time it made me cringe. In a war, we de-humanize our enemies and legitimize any action we may take towards them. In the 80's, the U.S. had an ethic that it was okay to kill Russians. Now those ethics have shifted. Now it is okay to kill Afghans and label them terrorists to fit our new political agendas and war mongering. We no longer want to kill Russians, just terrorists, whoever they may be. The largest target is an Afghan named Osama Bin Laden. The ethics have shifted.

2) Is it really okay for the Church to want to get into bed with political powers of shifting ethics? The National spotlight on the 2008 elections has a clear view of the Evangelical vote as a leveraged power player. Is this the game the Church should be in? Is this the hope for the U.S.? Forget that question, is this our best idea to be the hope for the world? In this cynic's opinion, the compromises required to play in this kingdom's political power systems causes the Church to lose its identity as an agent of action following the Sermon on the Mount, not shifting ethics.
Politics are fundamentally about the acquisition of worldly power. The Kingdom of God is fundamentally about the disengagement with this world's agenda and the inner transformation to a Kingdom agenda. They are diametrically opposed. I will vote and participate in the elections, but I cannot abdicate an alliance between the Church and Political entities.

feel free to argue back. so much for avoiding religion and politics in public arenas. i've never been good at following rules ;)