Monday, January 30, 2006

Friday, January 27, 2006

the post-emerging church

This statement is very thought provoking to me,

"To the emerging pastor, the key is to put your worst foot forward as opposed to your best foot. To show weakness and to use yourself as an example of weakness and spiritual neediness is central to the meta-message of the emerging pastor's approach to his place as a role model."

I think, a pastor, a believer shows both feet. One foot is the dirty one, the one that demonstrates that I'm saved by grace. The other foot is the clean one that proves God in his grace is saving me.

This blogger claims that the emerging wine won't fit in the old wineskin. I'll agree, if he views the Christian life as an either/or set of propositions. But the Holy Spirit is the wine in the universal church. Enlightened elitism bothers me. We are one church. We are manna distributors. Some serve in high flying suits and ties establishments, some serve fast food with lots of grease and salt, some only offer it home cooked without professional help, some are heavy on the gravy and offer little meat, some offer steak well-done without even a drop of steak sauce, some add seasoning that is actually poisonous, some offer entertainment with the meal, some think its a crime to distract from the meal. One or the things I like about a transdenominational meeting, like work church or neighborhood fellowship, is all those styles I usually miss out on I get to sample and benefit from.

an ex-gay man's journey

Duncan Bouwer's story is honest enough that even an ex-ex-gay blog i read likes him.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

postmodern entry point

i attend work/church. it's a weekly, lunch time bible study at my job. we have different member's pastors come and lead the group for a couple months at a time. today we wondered if there was a way to make it safe for us to bring our pre-Christian co-workers. i'm thinking that perhaps there are a few steps for some of my co-workers before coming to bible study. after friendship, after personal testimony, after life lived in accordance with testimony in front of the friends, the next step may be prayer group. it seems people are cool with you praying for them. prayer doesn't involve new language to learn, and prayer lets someone taste and see that the Lord is good. 13 years ago i started praying with a couple guys, who were gifted with evangelism. they weren't scholars or saints but they had alot of friends and wanted those friends to check out God. alot of people came after awhile. it was a smoking and swearing and cruising for dates prayer group. it was nightclub community, that sought out God together for rent money, jobs, boyfriends, step parents, colds, shin splints, cars, and lost cats. people fell in love with God, some for his hand because he answered those petty prayers, some for Him because he forgave them their sins and gave their empty lives meaning. i thought it needed a discipleship component so we added a Bible study component. and many were added to the kingdom.

what is it about prayer groups? there is love in action and power in demonstration. its an experiential apologetic. its a taste and see for the Lord is good session.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Oh What a Slaughter: Massacres in the American West: 1846-1890

This extremely short history by Larry McMurtry turned up in the new books section of my library and intrigued me. After reading the atrocities of Stalin and Mao and the US Civil War I'm in a rut of man's inhumanity to man. The title comes from Private Thomas Coleman's account of Custer's last stand. McMurtry's conclusion is heart wrenching...

A final point about these homely little massacres and the even more terrible ones that keep occurring throughout the world: women and children are almost never exempted. A small anthology could be assembled just of quotations about the desirability of killing the women and children while one is killing undesirables.

Inescapable in American slaughters are the involvement of religious men. Methodist Rev. John Chivington who fought for the Union and against the expansion of slavery as a free soil proponent considered his duty after the war to free the West of Indians. Consequently he had no difficulty massacring at Sand Creek an Indian camp mostly composed of women and children. Then there are those Mormons involved in the Mountain Meadow Massacre.

We all are wicked. We all need Jesus to save us. We all need to love others as we love ourselves.


AgentQ7 is my friend Ethan's comic strip.

Monday, January 23, 2006

College learning:part 3

There's a reason laws were written to discourage alcohol consumption for those under 21 years of age. Young adults grow into the concept of subtlety. Usually life is lived in extremes. There are many positives to this, but when it comes to drinking, having a beer is a difficult concept. Getting drunk is a simple concept. Since the youth culture esteems extremes, heavy drinkers achieve a high social status. Because my higher value on being a cheapskate overrode high social status via drunkenness I didn't imbibe as much as my friends. I was limited to free or really cheap beer. But when I came across it, I imbibed with abandon. Perhaps having German and Irish genetics saved me from of the typical reactions to drunkenness that my friends suffered, vomiting and black outs, but also left me, perhaps, with a predilection to alcoholism. After 2 years in the UConn party world, I found myself drunk the night before a test. I realized, by the grace of God, that I had lost control to alcohol. So I quit drinking alcohol altogether. I never drank a drop for the next 10 years. Due to a variety of factors I tried it again. I drink in moderation now. When I feel rich enough at the grocery store after my family has enough food for the week and there is money left, I will buy wine or beer and milk it for a long time. I don't think alcohol is evil. Like money, its the love of it that is the root of all sorts of evil. As an adult, alcohol, for me, is part for the pleasure of a time with good company and good food and good conversation. As a youth it was the end and not a means. It was an idol. Alcohol is for the mature, not the immature. If you are under 21 save yourself the trouble and consider yourself immature.

Gov't shut down of 8 house churches...

in the Muslim area of West Java Indonesia.This is astounding in how threatened the world is by Jesus. May our homes be such bright beacons of hope and love in our neighborhoods that the world is scared of us.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

What I learned in college - Part 2

Why date? I dated women inside and outside of the kingdom. If you aren't ready to marry anytime soon, just make friends with people. You will get to know women so much better if you aren't focused on the making a move on them. Whenever I jumped out of the dating pool, either by conviction from the Lord or from another broken heart and membership in the "He-man Woman Haters Club" I had friendships with women that were so normal. Raging hormones bring on a form of psychosis anyway so you never date the normal version of a person that you didn't know until a few months after you marry.

I met my wife on an IVCF missions trip to Jackson Mississippi where we served under John Perkins and his ministry, Voice of Calvary. We both thought each other attractive and made a casual friendship. I didn't see her again until our schools did joint meetings sporadically. When I did a Co-op 2 years later by her school I got to know her and all her friends. Yet attraction never became romance then either. When I graduated and went to work at the same business, but now as an employee and able to provide for a wife I then began to court her. When i thought I had convinced her to date me she made me read a book called Dating with Integrity by John Holzman, who, ironically, also provides our homeschool curriculum, Sonlight. I hated the book. But she wanted to protect her heart. The book described courtship while calling it dating and it ruled out kissing! I was traumatized. But I was sure this was the woman for me, until I broke up with her. It was a breakup though without any moral regrets. Needless to say, after a month we decided to try again and were engaged a month after that and married 6 months after that. We've been married 11 and a half years and have three children.

The woman I had to pursue and honor and cherish and treat as a sister in Christ's family was the woman I finally was allowed to treat as a wife after the wedding ceremony. All the women I "dated" got the wife treatment without a wedding. It came before the ceremony and ended in disaster. But the woman I treated as a sister got the wedding.

I never read Josh Harris's book, I kissed dating goodbye, but I'm sure its a challenging read. So it worked for me and Josh, what more proof do you need?

Living Stones don't stay in the walls

I really enjoyed this insight in Appendix 1 of Bill Jackson's history of the Vineyard, The Quest for the Radical Middle, which is a reprint from the Vineyard's magazine Cutting Edge Fall 1999 issue containing excerpts from Todd Hunter's address to the AVC USA after John Wimber died. There are a few paragraphs in the middle that jumped out at me. He is talking about building the 21st century church.

On Being a Missional Church
What I mean to say here is that we’re not just “a people.” We’re a people for the sake of the world. I love the phrase that George Hunsberger and others use, that we are a sent people. Unfortunately, we have a tendency as evangelicals to understand what we are saved from, and less of an understanding of what we’re saved for.
In God’s design, the Church exists for God’s mission in the world. God is himself missional. The Trinity is well understood in its calling and sending activities. The Church understands its missional purpose by observing and imitating the love of God for the world.
So, then, the church I would build would take seriously “equipping the saints” for meaningful ministry. In my judgment, John Wesley is a great example of leading a godly, missional people. He so perfectly blended community and mission. He had very laid-out methods for classes and societies where people learned to be disciples. But the early Methodists are also famous for their circuit riding, for their preaching, for their sending. They are a beautiful example of what it’s like to be “living stones” (I Peter 1:4-5), as Peter calls Christians.
However, I sometimes find in pastors that, psychologically, we really don’t like leading living stones, because they can be trouble. You’re trying to build a wall, and “the stones” are hard to control. You put a stone in, but because it’s living it has its own mind and is moving around in the neat, ideal little wall you are trying to build.
The problem, my friends, is that the alternative is dead stones. You can control them. But there’s no life of the Spirit there.
Wesley found a way to loose these living stones, making them increasingly mature Christians, so that they became a “sent” community living winsomely and powerfully in the public arena. Many of them actually became the circuit riding preachers because Wesley knew that they were the ones who had the intuition necessary to reach their people.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Things I learned in college, part 1

I spent my freshman year at a Christian college on the North Shore of Cape Cod. I wanted to pursue my biology studies under Christian professors and experience dorm life with Christians. Unfortunately for me, I was expecting Christian camp, not Christian college. I was disillusioned that the kids drank and smoke and swore and fooled around with their girlfriends. I didn’t drink or smoke there, but I was guilty of the other two. I expected an environment of exhortation and encouragement where people like me could stay on the higher path. The words were spoken, but for the most part, this Christian college had also abandoned for all intents and purposes the role of parent, technically called in loco parentis, see this article for an expansion of the concept especially in relation to sex in the dorms. To make matters worse, my excellent Ecology professor taught us about human evolution. I wouldn’t say he advocated it, but it wasn’t his job to discuss biblical interpretation. On top of this, I felt I was sequestered from the world. I came up through the normal public education system and had been surrounded by people who weren’t like me religiously, ethnically, scholastically, or economically. My Christian college was a straitjacket of all those except for a few of us who were poor and a few Africans.

By winter break I had sent in my application to UConn and was accepted before Spring Break. I reasoned I could get the same debauchery (with honesty and vigor) and evolutionary biology for a third of the price. I felt surrounded by Christian posers, it was an immature perspective, and I wanted to be around honest sinners. At least I could offer them Jesus.

I also figured, why not heap it on thick and requested the dorm at UConn with the most debauched reputation. It’s nickname? The Jungle. This is when the Guns-N-Roses song “Welcome to the Jungle” was very popular. Several students like to demonstrate their intelligence every fall by aiming their speakers into the Jungle’s quad and turning up the volume. Already, one could tell there was a diversity of scholasticism.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Prophecies for 2006

The top 10 predictions for 2006

1. The Bible will still have the answers.
2. Prayer will still work.
3. The Holy Spirit will still move.
4. God will still inhabit the praises of His people.
5. There will still be God-anointed preaching.
6. There will still be singing of praise.
7. God will still pour out blessings upon His people.
8. There will still be room at the Cross.
9. Jesus will still love you.
10. Jesus will still save the lost.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

House2House - Organic Multiplication

"It seems there are two main methods of multiplication in use around us, the farm method and the factory method. One is concerned with multiplying living things, the other with effectively producing an inert product. One is engaged in organic multiplication, the other in synthetic multiplication." fromOrganic Multiplication

Monday, January 16, 2006

MLK on wiki

i dropped the bad link in the first MLK post. may i suggest this one?

i got tricked

the second link i posted regarding MLK is an anti-MLK site. sorry.
blogger is weighed down too. i will delete as soon as possible.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Inform yourself

The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute
, encyclopedia of MLK's life, sermons, speeches, writings,
and other materials from the Stanford University project to compile
and publish MLK's ...

The King Center
The OFFICIAL WEBSITE of The King Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The King
Center educates the world about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's
philosophy and methods of ...

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Chinese Christians

Read Part 1 and Part 2.

from part 1

Bro Ren(Chinese): Let us take prayer first. The leaders of the church in China try to pray three to four hours a day. That is normal. But
then there are some brethren who are totally committed to pray.
Almost every minute they are awake, they are praying. They have two kinds of leaders in the church. They have spiritual leaders, who fast and pray; then they have practical operational leaders, who are active in everyday affairs of the church. The praying leaders are praying for the whole church, and especially for the practical leaders. They are not in a preaching ministry. The operational leaders go to them for direction and wisdom. Very few Westerners have ever met these elders. These men are older men who cannot travel anymore, so they are mainly
in that ministry. It literally keeps the church on track. They hear
from the Lord and give answers to the practical leaders.

from part 2

Bro Denny: Could you comment on the name given to these Chinese Christians. I am referring to the name "house churches." What is the significance of this name?

Bro Ren: The name signifies several different things. First , the
name is given because they meet in houses. There are several reasons for this, and I will comment on them in a moment. The second reason has to do with a distinction between them and the registered churches, which meet in buildings. The last reason is the most important one, they call themselves house churches out of conviction. They meet in homes because they believe it is more biblical. It is also true that they have to because of persecution, but the primary reason is evangelical in nature. Even if the government of china allowed them liberty to meet openly, they would still meet in houses. Meeting in homes is one of the greatest keys to the tremendous growth of the church. The more meeting places, the more they can win the lost to Christ. In addition, when they meet in houses, it does not cost them any money. Finances often slow church growth.

Bro Denny: Could you tell me what the church services are like when they meet together and feel free? I know there are times when they have to be quiet, but what is it like when they are free?

Bro Ren: The Chinese Christians are a lively, responsive congregation when they gather in freedom. They sing some hymns and some choruses, and the singing is wholehearted. During the preaching and open testimonies, there are lots of amens and hallelujahs. They meet in forests and caves to do this so they will not be heard.

another quote

Bro Ren: There is another reason why they still have revival. The
church leaders are careful to give the Holy Spirit His place in
directing the work. They allow God's Spirit free course to move how
and where He will. They see the American church as one that is too organized. The leaders have a saying about revival that I feel is helpful. They call it, "How to kill a Revival."

-Man wants to organize it to suit his understanding.
-Then after he has it organized, he then secures himself a
position in it.
-Once this is done, the Spirit is grieved, and slowly withdraws.
-Then the Revival becomes a history class, and everyone talks
about it in the past.

very short pro-life arguments

Q-why do we mourn with those who lose babies to miscarriage?
Q-aren't those mothers mourning a life lost?
Q-do mothers who abort and not mourn mean there was no life in their wombs?
Q-does that life belong only to the mother?
Q-does a life shared for 9 months of absolute dependency out of a
potential 70 years negate the personhood of the child?

Monday, January 09, 2006

Church in a gay bar

you need a good title to drive traffic to your blog, something my blog feeds 2 articles came up with similar titles. John Morehead writes on Church as gay bar and the Ooze has an article by Peter Walker called CULTURAL REFUGEES IN GAY NIGHTCLUBS. Morehead cites someone who cites someone else who says, "that people don't visit churches as spiritual seekers any more than an evangelical would visit a gay bar." Walker's article is about his visit to a gay bar with some friends, gay and straight and observes, "maybe it wasn’t appropriate for me. But right or wrong, I’d rather take chances to discover these refugees in hiding than stay so safe that I never meet the people I once called 'lost.'" I also will admit to visiting a gay bar. A friend of mine brought me to a gay bar or two in Manhattan several years ago. I was in a bit of culture shock. Perhaps if I thought I wanted to pursue a gay lifestyle I'd risk returning. And this is where I disagree with Morehead.

People aren't flocking to churches, necessarily, but if God has been drawing their hearts they will overcome their culture shock. The issues with churches aren't form and format. The issues are grace and love. If you wear funky robes and and burn funky candles but are full of love and grace and resemble Jesus, you'll attract people. If you grow a goattee and get multiple piercings and quote Velvet Revolver lyrics from behind your music stand in a cafe back room, but don't have love, you are an idiot. But the person who offers a system of spiritual healing that only asks for some money and accepts without condemnation, that funky eastern shop attracts people who are in their core, religious. I agree with the idea from that we are born with God shaped holes in our souls. We are born with Eternity in our hearts.

Walker's thought is, "Maybe we could take a little break from the tired gay topic in church. Maybe if we let people come in and feel safe, the Holy Spirit would do some amazing, powerful things. Maybe we jump the gun on the Holy Spirit. Maybe we don't trust the Spirit to speak without our vulgar voices chiming in at a whim." This is the risk that the liberal church took. It's the topic because it's the issue in society and the Love letter from heaven adresses it. Those guys who are so relieved once they are in the walls of the gay bar are not seeking safety from violence but safety from their conscience. It's a sinning support group. As long as the sinner wants to embrace the sin, the church can't help much. Nor will the church help anyone by pretending the topic is moot. The church needs to keep seeking a simpler explanation of the relationship between God and sex. Like every other part of life, sex is sacred, a gift that can be used to glorify God.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Mao, Wow

Just finished a biography of Mao Tse-Tung called Mao:The Unknown Story. It caught my eye after reading The Heavenly Man. I wanted to learn some more about China. It was interesting to read the amazon reviews after the fact. People seem upset that the author left out some info on Mao that might not be as condemning. However, no one is saying she needs to shave off a few million deaths here or there. Has anyone in history been responsible for more than 70 million deaths? Last spring, related to my WW2 reading, I picked up a biography on Stalin, Stalin and His Hangmen : The Tyrant and Those Who Killed for Him. At least he could try to blame 20 million deaths of his people on fighting the Nazi army. Mao's and Stalin's strength was the ability to manage people without conscience. The ends always justified the means. They blackmailed their cronies. They terrorized their legions. They turned on their "friends" in a heartbeat. They took selfishness all the way down its slippery slope.

The amazing thing about Jesus is he never misses the people for the crowds. The woman who bled for 12 years until she touched the hem of his cloak got to tell him her whole story despite the huge crowd and the urgent need to heal a little girl. Jesus never treats us as cogs in the machine. He calls us by name. He knows the total number of hairs on each of our heads. It is so awful when a leader in the church makes a sheep feel worthless because she's not contributing to the goal. We weren't recruited to win a game. The game's been won. We've been called to the victory party. We've been called by name. Importantly, those guys will never be at the celebration. They have their reward.

This makes me want to write about hell another time. Can any Universalist imagine welcoming Mao or Stalin or Hitler or Pol Pot (Cambodia) or Kim (North Korea) into heaven? Can any adherent of conditional immortality put a timeline on when their suffering will end and their souls be extiguished?

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Divorce Rate

No kidding, someone at work was telling me the same thing.

Worshiping Outside the Traditional Church Walls

This isn't a place I visit but a reader pointed me to this article. another friend offered me Barna's book Revolution, mentioned inthe article. I guess I'll need to get my hands on it.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Two movies

I got free movie tickets this month and spent them on two movies. I liked Harry Potter and The Sorcer's Stone, but it wasn't as good as the book. I thought I really liked the movie until I saw the new Narnia movie. I loved it. How could I love it if the acting and cinematography and special effects weren't as good as HP? Because the computer generated Aslan voiced by Liam Neeson walked alone to his self sacrifice and I almost couldn't contain the sobs trying to erupt from deep within. I experienced Christ's sacrifice in a way much deeper than in Gibson's Passion. HP offers himself up without quite knowing who he is or what he can do, weakness moving to greatness, Aslan is the king who knows everything, the king who becomes slave. Jesus, loved me when I was still a sinner, a traitor. He endured physical torture, spiritual torment and death for me. And there was something I understood anew in that 5 second scene where Aslan turns to Lucy and Susan and tells them that he has to go on alone. Even as I write this waves of emotion threaten to overcome me. Aslan died for such a rotten person, Edmund (john) (insert your name here).

The arts are so powerful... That will have to be another post.

Direct Marketing

There are two basic modes in our Capitalistic society that goods are bough and sold. On the one hand, you have the “come hither” model, Wal-Mart, on the other, the “door to door” model, Tupper Ware parties. Both are extremely successful. Our Western church model is predominately, “Come hither.” But its not the only model that’s available. Jesus sent out the 12 disciples to spread the good news, 2 by 2. If a household accepted them they would stay and share the good news and a lot of wonderful things happened.

Mark 6:7-13 (NLT)
And he called his twelve disciples together and sent them out two by two, with authority to cast out evil spirits. He told them to take nothing with them except a walking stick-- no food, no traveler's bag, no money. He told them to wear sandals but not to take even an extra coat. "When you enter each village, be a guest in only one home," he said. "And if a village won't welcome you or listen to you, shake off its dust from your feet as you leave. It is a sign that you have abandoned that village to its fate." So the disciples went out, telling all they met to turn from their sins. And they cast out many demons and healed many sick people, anointing them with olive oil.

Later on, He did it again.

Luke 10:1-3 (NLT)
The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them on ahead in pairs to all the towns and villages he planned to visit. These were his instructions to them: "The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few. Pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest, and ask him to send out more workers for his fields. Go now, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves.

The proponents of house church are the Direct marketing version of the Church at large. Instead of saying come to our building, they say, come to my house for dinner. It’s not that one is better than the other. But we might miss that plentiful harvest if we insist that they come to a building to hear the good news.