I stumbeld on this guys yesterday and likely watched this clip a dozen times. Amazing.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Thursday, December 14, 2006
I’m reading along and on the 78th page I read...
“The prophets where very different. They were an odd and special breed. They had no credentials except their own charisma and courage and refusal to be ignored. They are seized with a passion from God to convey a message from God. Often they confronted the people about moral and ethical failures – oppressing the poor, forgetting widows and orphans, that sort of thing. The prophets cried for justice and genuineness, and would confront hypocrisy wherever it appeared – including in the powerful.”
This is a subpoint to his book but McLaren has helped me understand that a part of my spiritual DNA is that of a modern day prophet (not just in this book but in others). We are odd guys that many do not understand. And like the prophets of old, their voices are often marginalized, ignored, and misunderstood. They believe they were sent from God to speak a message from God to his people. That’s a big part of who I am.
I wonder what my church would think about that? But that's another blog entery.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Perhaps my personal highlight (and there were many) was at the grave site. I approached Mrs. Eubanks to simply greet her. She gave me a huge, thanked me for coming, and said, “Chad, you were one of his boys.” Being one of the Morgan’s “boys” is a very special honor. To be called a Morgan “boy” was a rite earned by much sweat and hard work on the basketball court or on one of his work crews. I’m not sure if I earned that rite but I am proud of being a boy of a Morgan boy (Dad). Then again maybe I was one of their boys. Maybe I was the very last. If that be true then what an honor.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
…a sermon delivered 10/15/06 by Mike Breaux of Willow Creek Church
Monday, December 04, 2006
You see them all over the place. Church signs that display a short phrase to make passing drivers laugh or think. I drove past such a sign last Saturday and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. The sign read, “What does God want for Christmas?” It’s an interesting question. As a child, the focus of my Christmas was about getting what I wanted. As an adult, my focus is getting others what they want. But to be honest, asking God want he wants for Christmas is a question I do not recall asking. A few possible answers come to mind. But instead of writing the things I came up with I would rather have you wrestle with the question yourself. What does God want for Christmas?
I would love to hear your answers. Leave a comment stating your answer for myself and others to read.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Youth ministry and doubt go hand in hand. On any given Wednesday I can feel confident and the very next day my spirit can as insecure as a middle school boy around the school hotie. Here are some questions this youth minister asks on a regular basis: Is this really worth it?
Am I a fraud? Can adolescents be a follower of Christ? Are people listening? Is it time to move on?
Don’t read too much into these questions. If a minister (or even a Christian for that matter) claimed not to have some of these questions I would look them in eye and call them a liar. They are lying to me or to themselves and ultimately God.
I just read a youth minister’s blog that shared some encouraging data. (Click here to read the blog.) It reviewed research done by the University of Illinois at urban Champaign. The research basically states that of all the organized activates teens participate in, faith-based youth groups provide the highest rate of personal and interpersonal growth.
I was encouraged. You should read it.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Due to the accident taking place early Sunday morning, the news of Cody death was given at church. I had to tell some of the high school students in person of the news including a really good friend. Throughout the day I heard that students were gathering in homes around the community. I wanted to be there for them but felt I would be intruding on a gathering I was not invited to. Looking back, maybe I should have gone. Then again, maybe I did the right thing.
This morning, the day after the accident, the local ministers gathered at school to help any way possible. I’m not sure if we helped at all but at least we administered the ministry a presences (simply being there). The students seemed to take the news very well. Most had already heard of the news which eased the mood of the students.
The cause of the accident is not official. Rumors are flying around, which might be true but are unworthy to mention. One thing is truth, a young life has ended and my heart is heavy toward a group of Sr. High students that have experienced the reality of death too many times.
Today would be a good day to be a roofer in a big city.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Well…it looks like I have a dog. My folks back in Indy asked if I wanted it. I’ve had him on a four day “test drive” and I can find no reason to return him. He is…
- Athletic …it can go hiking with me
- Indoors…to spend quality time with
- Well behaved - I saw him gently interact with my 9 month old niece.
- Trained to perform basic commands and
- Approved by the girlfriend
He’s name is Duke, a Lap & Damatian mix, shy of being a year old, and has been at my feet as I wrote this entire blog. I think we make a good match.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Whether it was from God or an act of impulsive internet shopping, I bought four books from Amazon. I walked into a Christian crap store…I mean book store…and stumbled on a book that I actually wanted to read (Amazing!!!) Then I went to the Core youth ministry seminar and bought three YS books at a really good price. Now I have a pile of eight books to get through. I hope to have them done by the summer.
Yet the point reading is to chew on the content. I could read a book within a week if I really tried but I doubt if I would get much out of them. So it is my intention that I will use this blog as a way to journal my thought about my readings. Maybe the combination of the reading and journaling will spark a fruit into my faith. Or maybe it will divide me even future from the people I minister with/to. Maybe it will bring me closer to these people.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Checkout was at 9:30. We gathered our things then took off for the train station in a cold rain. I was somewhat sad for these where the last few moments that I would have with Angie for a very long time. Maybe Christmas. Maybe not. She purchased a cheaper ticket for herself. We reserved our seats on a high-speed train to Shin Osaka. With a few hugs, a thank you, a “I love you,” and a “I’m proud of you” we went our separate ways.
May the Lord keep Angie and bless her. May He shine His face upon her. That her light will be that of the Father Above so others will know she is a child of God. Amen
(Later on in Dallas) Can you believe it. By no fault of our own we missed our connecting flight to Indy. We will have to wait another five hours before our flight leaves. Brock took a nap and read a book at the terminal. I ventured off all over the air port. The closer the time came to our departure we made our way to the gate. Brock ran into somebody he knew from high school. Actually, he would be a cousin to our sister-in-law Jamie. He was with a group of students from I.U. on their way back for a spring break trip in south Texas. Cool guy. We board the plan at mid night Indy time.
(Indy) It’s 2:30 a.m. We made it back. Thanks Dad for picking us up so late.
Friday, March 17, 2006
(View pictures at http://community.webshots.com/user/Proverbs21vs9)
We made it back to Angie’s apartment then began to pack our belongings for the long journey home. As I packed, I felt a scenes of sadness. I would be gone very soon. These people that Angie live with have been the most gracious and generous people I have ever met. No favor was too much. They greeted us with open arms and spared no expense. I would have liked to know them better. I would like to thank them some how for being such wonderful hosts to their country. But the time has come for us to make the journey home.
From Angie’s we went south to the city of Fukuoka to spend our last night in Japan. Brock was looking forward to going to a club called The Happy Cox. We arrived about 11:00. The crowd was very subdued but as the night progressed the party livened up. Unfortunately for me, clubs are not my thing. I’m not the type to dance with strangers, especially to those I can not speak with. Needless to say I wasn’t the life of the party. However, I did enjoy watching the people. There where a lot of bad dancers and it wasn’t because they were drunk. They were just bad (but not all.) It was obvious that the girls did not want to be touched. They didn’t mind dancing with people but they became very uncomfortable when the guys (mainly U.S. military persons) would dance too physical.
As the evening went on Angie could tell I was ready to leave. Brock and Angie graciously walked me back to the hotel. I went to bed. They went back to the club.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
(View pictures at http://community.webshots.com/user/Proverbs21vs9)
We where dropped of at a small shopping small. Brock and I shopped for gifts and souvenirs. For lunch we had a pancake like meal with a unique blends of foods. We cooked the meal ourselves on a hot plate built into the table. The ingredients came to us raw in a bowl. We mixed it up and cooked it. We shared one with ham, cheese, and potatoes. The other had a mixture of sea food. It was tasty and fun to cook. From there we went for desert at a place called Dipper Dan’s for my first crepe. Very good.
It was about that time I became very dizzy. It may have been from the sea food but I was likely showing signs of dehydration. Or maybe I was tired from all the running around. We went back to Angie’s and took a nap. I woke up with a head ache but it faded quickly.
Angie’s coworkers wanted to take us out for dinner. Angie was unsure what to anticipate so she warned us that anything could happen. A young man (who wasn’t as young as I thought…he was 30 years old), Angie’s supervisor, picked us up. He drove us to his father’s. We jumped into his father’s vehicle and the father drove us out in the country to a restaurant. We sat at an empty table and waited for the rest of the dinning party to arrive. The waiting party called the restaurant to tell us to start the meal without them. They would be arriving shortly.
The feast began. They brought out a small dish for us to sample then brought out another and another and another and another until we were stuffed. The first dish we had was a plate of raw meat. We didn’t know what it was at first. Angie said it could have been anything, including horse. She wasn’t sure if we were to eat it raw. Thankfully, they cooked it fondue style right before us. The meat ended up being beef which is very expensive. Then they brought out a dish of raw fish. This was meant to be to be eaten raw. Using our chop-sticks, we dipped the fish in a sauce then ate it. The sauce over powered the fish so it was like eating a thick cold chunk deli meat (short of). I wasn’t bad. Then they brought out a dish of squid. They took a live squid, cut the meat off the backbone, cut the meat into small strips, placed the meat back on to the squid, and served it. Just before I worked up enough nerves to try a bit a tentacle began to move. Other foods that we had where shrimp, pea pods, fried octopus, stuff I am unsure about, and all the drinks we wanted.
The food kept coming. They would have bought us anything we wanted. In the course of our conversation I told them that I like to eat beef when I am at home. Angie’s supervisor grabbed a menu immediately was willing to order me some. I would have said no otherwise but I was too full to eat anymore.
The meal was incredible and the company was even better. They knew enough English to carry a conversation. They we very warm, fun going, very gracious and very generous. The bill was over ¥20,000 which came up to about $200. They paid for everything. Actually, we think the school system that Angie works for paid the bill.
As if the meal were not enough they took us for Karaoke for 2 hours. They served us more food and more drinks. Angie started out the singing and it was only a matter of time until we all joined her. I think that’s the first time I have heard Brock sing. Angie said one of the men kept saying in Japanese, “This is great. There are three of them.” I guess he found our singing entertaining. It was fun singing with Angie. She sang harmony as I sung the melody (and attempted harmony at times). We ended up singing the gospel song “I’ll Fly Away”. Everybody clapped as if we where at a ol-country- ho-down. It was the best night of our trip by far.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
(View pictures at http://community.webshots.com/user/Proverbs21vs9)
We took a bus to what is now know as the Peace Park. The first thing we visited as a the remainder of a building that had been destroyed by the bomb. A structure had once been a civic building for the city to enjoy. Now it stands as a reminder to what happened and what could happen in this nuclear age.
As we walked toward the building an elder woman approached us. She looked like a needy person asking us for money. See held a sign that had many different languages written on it. The line in English read, “Can I pray for you to be blessed with peace.” Brock and Angie did not read the sign and said no thank you not knowing what she wanted. I on the other hand knew what she wanted but said no thank you anyway. I knew she wouldn’t be praying in the name of our Lord so I wanted nothing to do with her pray. It wasn’t very long till I realized that I had made foolish mistake. I should have let her prayed for me. She wanted me to have peace which is beautiful thought. In turn, I should have prayed for her that she continued to bless people with peace and that she would come to know the One that gave true peace. But my discomfort overpowered the prompting of the Spirit and an opportunity to minister to each other was waisted. I wonder how often that woman stands in the park trying to pray for peace. Maybe she had loved ones that died from the effects of the atomic blast. Maybe her motive was to bless as many people with peace so that something like this would have never happened again. Later on in the day I prayed for her and her effort.
We spent a few yen to enter into the museum. It was very chilling. I was as a proud American standing along side proud people of Japan. People had tears in their eyes. I likely had a look of confusion on mine. There were many artifices that gave witness to what took place. We touched pieces of clay that had been hit by the bomb. Watches where on display that had stopped at the exact moment of the attach. Important U.S. documents that gave insights to the reasoning to use the bomb were there for all to read. The most gruesome portion where the pictures of the victims (men, woman, and children) and the effects of the nuclear fall out. Did President Truman make the right and just decision? Did Pearl Harbor justify the use the boom? From what little I have read from Truman’s journals I believe he had our best interest at heart. But the debate of right and wrong no longer matters. It happened. And there I was, standing in a room of former enemies but now allies, with the common desire for true peace. Not once did I feel the local people pass judgement on me. These are a beautiful people.
Angie apologized for taking us to a place that was so gloomy but I thanked her for bringing me. It was important for me to be there. Talks of nuclear war, world peace, and history will have a whole new meaning.
Monday, March 13, 2006
(9:20 p.m.) Today was another day of travel in the city of Kyoto. We visited three locations: a shrine, a temple, and a historic Japanese castle. They were beautiful and very impressive but it was difficult to fully appreciate them because I was unaware of their cultural, historical, and religious relevance. I’ll have to do a little home work on my own to learn a little more.
Matters of faith were kept silently on my mind. I enjoyed being at these places but my spirit was uneasy. I felt that the Spirit was trying to tell communicate to me one or two things: 1. “This is not I (God) had intended” 2. “These are the people that I love so be slow to pass judgment.” I stood before giant status of Buda and twenty-one Vajrayanistic Buddhist statues that met something very important to these people. I stared at these figures trying to image what God might think. Issues of heaven, hell, judgment and the sacrifice of Christ where racing through my mind. This nation is devoted to something other than God the Father, which is not much different from my native nation primary devoted to it self. What should my reaction be? I am unsure.
For lunch I had my first official Japanese meal. Angie ordered me a bowl of noodles called udon. The noodles where very thick served with one long shrimp in a bowl of broth. Noodles have never been my favorite. For some reason I eat very little much of them. Therefore, I ate only half of the noodles.
Three other people will be sharing our room tonight; two Americans and a young Japanese man. The Americans was a man in his mid thirties from California and a woman from Bloomington, IN (or maybe it was IL) that seemed to be in her mid twenties. They where traveling together. The American man was somewhat friendly. The young woman did not make an effort to talk to us but we didn’t make an effort to know her either. The fact we where from Indiana or the Midwest could have been our conversation starter but I was extremely tired. She didn’t seem interested in talking so I honored that.
The Japanese man was very friendly. He knew just enough English for us to communicate. He was staying in Kyoto for over a month. If I understood him correctly he had/was finishing school and would soon become a “civil servant” which I am unsure what that would be. We talked about music. He liked Jack Johnson as do I. I had recently downloaded the latest Jack Johnson song off of iTunes and I asked him if he has heard it. I handed him my iPod to let him listen. He hadn’t heard it. He liked it. My sister said she liked the group Coldplay and asked if he did. In an effort to be polite he said, “Huuuuuuuuu” (which translated in any language as “not really but I can tell you do therefore I do not want to disagree with you.) Angie said it was alright if he didn’t. I told him I didn’t care from them either (to much of a U2 knock off).
It’s not very late yet I am very tired. Tomorrow we move to another city.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
(View pictures at http://community.webshots.com/user/Proverbs21vs9)
(Midnight at the hostel in Osaka) Getting through customs was a breeze. As soon as we got through, Angie was there to greet us. It was good to see her. We jumped on a train and got off just a block from the hostel we were staying. We checked in, got a snack at a convenient store, took a shower, visited for a short time, attempted to write an email (but failed to do because I made a key stroke that started a function I could not correct…the instruction screens where in Japanese.) Now it’s off to bed. It’s been a long day but it’s good to be here.
(6:57 a.m.) I didn’t get much sleep. Brock however slept better than I. It’s raining outside. I wish I would have brought my rain-fly for my pack.
(5:35 p.m.) We left Osaka with no problems. Before leaving we hung out in the hostel’s lobby and discussed our daily plans. A young Japanese man approached us and asked where we were from. I remembered him the night before when we passed in the stairwell. He was very friendly and eager to talk in English. He worked for Toyota and will likely end up in the States. He said he has been to many parts of the world including England. Angie asked if it was easier to learn England’s English or America’s. He said England (and I can understand why…we kill the language by the way we talk.) He said Americans say “crap” a lot but folks from England say, “F, Fu, Fuc, Fuc_” (you fill in the blank.) The way he said it in his Japanese accent made it extremely funny.
Brock and I turned in our vouchers for the high speed train passes. We made our way to Kyoto and found ourselves in an amazing train station. The size was huge. The structure looked like something out of the movie Star Wars. Attached to the station was a giant 13 story mall called “The Cube.” I was surprised by the similar line of fashion that the people wore. The only major exception was that a good number of the women wore high heal shoes. The first place we ate was nothing other than a sub-sandwich at Subway. We traveled nearly 7,000 miles and the first restaurant we went to was a place I could have eaten at just 10 miles from where I live in Francesville.
From the station we ventured south to a shrine. We had no idea what to expect. We found thousands upon of orange (they would call red) wooden gates that varied in size. This had to have been the place where the artist grew his inspiration for the “art work” in New York City’s Central Park. The artist had hundreds of orange gates through the park. Most American’s saw the art work as a joke. I remember David Letterman giving it a hard time. The temple had many paved walkways, so many in fact, we found ourselves unsure where we were. We eventually found ourselves in a residential neighborhood. It was interesting to see Japanese homes up close. We eventually found a main road then a train station to take us back. The hostel was a ten minute walk from the station.
The hostel we are staying is very nice and very new. The most impressive feature was the toilet by far. It had a heated seat with a spray that washes your back side. I had to use it. Emily and I saw a toilet like this at Lowes. It was priced at $750 but a freshly washed rear end…priceless. (There’s a Master Card commercial for you.)
We rested for a short time at the hostel then it was back into the city. Angie had something she wanted to see. It was about dinner time but we chose to go to our destination first. We walked for a very long time until we found ourselves at the bottom of a hill at the edge of a village very similar to Gatlinburg, TN. It had many shops geared toward tourism. The main attractions were the huge temples. None of us new the history behind these buildings therefore it was difficult to appreciate them beyond their appearance. The walking continued stopping very little. I think Angie was looking for something. I’m not sure if she found it. I was dragging behind. Angie is a fast walker.
I found all this walking very similar the end of a day of backpacking: unsure where you were, wishing the walk would be over soon, questioning why you were there, hungry, wanting to stop but knowing you had to push on. We were looking for a McDonald’s so every street block was like the top of hill in the backcountry; hoping this was the last one until you arrive. My hopes grew at the sight of every red and yellow sign only to be disappointed that it was not it. We finally arrived to the golden arches and enjoyed a double cheese burger (they didn’t have quarter ponders.) Angie apologized for under estimating the walking distance to the temple. When I asked Angie for the plans of the next day she said, “Learn how to use the public bus.” We laughed.
After dinner we made it back to the hostel and went straight for bed.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Friday, March 10, 2006
My journey began with a stop at my brother Scott’s house the night before we flew out. He invited us over for dinner. It was good to see Scott, Jamie, and Mya (she sure is growing.) The meal was a tasty pot-roast with fixings that Dad and I enjoyed. Brock did not join us because he had serious flue like symptoms. It appears he has slept it off which is most fortunate.
We woke up at 4:00 a.m. and Dad dropped us off at the airport at 5:00. We left Indy on time but Dallas was been a different story. A malfunction in the refueling system forced us to sit and wait on the plane for an est. 90 minutes. We eventually had to unload the plane, wait another two hours, and board another plane. The air line gave everyone a $12 food voucher to use anywhere in the airport terminal. We were not very hungry because we had a large lunch at TGI Friday’s before we boarded but we hated to see $12 each go to waist. We went into an Irish Bar/Restaurant for a plate of hot wings which we very tasty.
(Later) We are finally off the ground and are 10,761 km/6,687miles away from Osaka, Japan. Later in the flight a meal was severed. It was much better that what I expected. I noticed the Japanese passengers picking up their dishes to their mouth as they ate. Thanks to Angie, I had some heads up on this practice so I did it myself. I liked it. It kept the food off of my shirt.
I’m taking the book Blue Like Jazz for Angie. I’ve been reading it. Once again I have been encouraged by a young writer/leader that speaks in a fresh new vernacular and is not afraid to give an honest account of the Christian faith. Christianity doesn’t always add up and if it does, then your Christianity is too small. If God makes perfect sense then your God is too small for he is too big to be fully understood. It’s assuring to know that leaders can have big gaps in their faith yet still be used by God. I wonder why we would think otherwise.
Friday, March 03, 2006
Things at church are going as well as expected. Attendance at youth meetings have been strong but number can be misleading. My job is to raise disciples, not to increase attendance figures. It’s difficult to tell if my work is making a difference. That's not true. I can see some fruits from my labors but I question if I could be doing more. I suppose that's just the nature of the job.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
In my opinion, the issues of death, hell, and God’s judgment are rarely Biblical and often inaccurate within the Church. Perhaps these issues are too controversial to talk about, intelligently. A few weeks ago I listed to a podcast interview with Brain McLaren. He said, “If most Christians would sit down for five minutes to think about hell, it would likely blow their mind.” He’s probably right. Hell is supposed to be everything God is not yet God is the one that makes the judgment to send them. Christian teachers explain it away saying: God loves you, God is just, God wants the best for you. These explanations bring little comfort or closure to the grieving heart. These questions often end here but if they continue they eventually will stump us then we leave it in the hands of faith. Basically, we stop the conversation by saying, “Please stop asking me uncomfortable questions and just believe what I am telling you.” Hell makes us uncomfortable therefore, we fail to think about what we teach, even if its not Biblical.
Hell did not cross my mind once today. I did not know the young man. I barely knew his sister from youth meetings. I doubt he was from a “church going home.” Maybe he was. But none of this concerned me. Why, one might ask. Because hell in none of my business. God is judge and his judgment is right. How am I to question God. If he sends this young man through heaven’s gates then his judgment is right and I am at peace. If he sends this young man to eternal damnation then his judgments right. My faith should still bring peace. Should it not?
Yet the fear of hell will likely lead many students into the baptisteries and confirmation classes to “get things right with God.” Would someone please tell me what that means? Would someone tell me how this is anything other than salvation by works? But more importantly, would someone tell me why Christian teachers, not only allow this, but tend to welcome these opportunities as “wake up calls?” The problem with fear is that it fades away, even the fear of hell. Their “decision” is to avoid hell, not to make Jesus Lord. The first steps of discipleship is self seeking, faithless, and will fade away in a matter of days. Why does the church tolerate this?
Hell was not on my mind today because I had a room full of students that needed to grieve. I was their to love them the best I knew how. Talks of salvation can come another day. And if that day doesn’t come, and they are killed in another car accident on the way home, then I’ll have to leave in the hands of God. If that makes people uncomfortable then I would suggest they sit down for five minutes to think about death, hell, and God’s right judgment. It might just blow their mind.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
To strengthen their shared faith, to encourage, and learn from one another, the eC places high value of interaction with other’s who share this commitment. This is done through respectful, sacred conversation between divers Christian friends. They identify themselves as members of a growing, global, non-exclusive friendship. They welcome others into this friendship as well. They bring what ever resources they have to enrich this shared faith.
The proof of this commitment is an annual pilgrimage to an emergent gathering; to give one another the gift of their presence whenever possible. They publicly identify with emergent where appropriate and to represent emergent well. They seek to be positive and constructive in caring for the emergent friendship. They host gatherings, network people, recommend good books and other resources, and perform other tasks for emergent type events. They stay informed about emergent locally and globally via the internet.
The eC is personified by valuing others. They seek peace not debate. They try to learn instead of passing judgment. Their joy is in their fellowship between God and God’s people. Yet at this point my detectors of suspicion come up. My studies have strictly dealt with commitment between Christians. Does the eC draw a line that faith forbids a friendship to progress? Or maybe my thinking is tied to an imaginary line that God doesn’t expect me to draw. Salvation is in the hands of God alone, therefore, should friendship be limited to salvation? Because a man is down a wrong spiritual path does that forbid me to seek his friendship? Do I treat this man as an agent of the Devil or embrass the fact that I am an agent of Christ and through the bond of friendship, Christ will be reviled?
It is not man that causes me to fall short of God’s glory; it’s sin, the sin within me, the sin I control. Can a man’s thinking pull me away from God unless I will it? I think not. Perhaps the eC best lives out the Bible verse that most already know, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son (John 3:16).” If God loved the world so must I and if God sacrificially gave the world a piece of himself, so must I.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Once again, I refer to http://www.emergentvillage.com/ as the basis of this value. A term that is often used in the eC circles is “missional.” From what I have learned, the eC believes they have mission from God and they will go unto the world to do accomplish this mission. They are not isolated from the world but embrace the fact that they are apart of it. They seek to pass the faith to their own generation and to the next. They see the church as a benefit to the world at large. Therefore, they do not seek to be blessed to the exclusion of everyone else but rather the benefit of everyone else. They see the earth and all it contains as God’s beloved creation, and so join God in seeking its good, healing, and blessing.
This values causes the eC to build relationships with neighbors and to seek the good of their neighborhoods and cities. They seek reconciliation with enemies and make peace. They encourage and cherish younger people and to honor and learn from older people. They honor creation and to cherish and heal it. They build friendships across racial, ethnic, economic, and other boundaries. They are more apt to be involved in issues and causes of peace and justice.
I identify with this eC value on several points. I have always had a fondness of God’s creation. Backpacking and hunting have taught me to respect and enjoy that which has been created. My heart for ministry is with the next generation and for my own. I see one of my functions in ministry is to be their voice (unfortunately I think that voice gets me into trouble). To use the words of a well known preacher, “the church is the hope of the world.” Our ability to connect with a confused world is the only hope they have for true peace.
Of the eC values, this is the one I have the greatest weakness. I could state my weakness here but I’d rather get busy learning about the mission that I’ve been called to do. Harping on the weaknesses does very little to add strength.
Monday, January 23, 2006
I am quit sure that the word “all” was not accidental. From Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant, to Pentecostal, the eC believes that all Christians are agents of God and have something to share with the global Church. According to http://www.emegerentvillage.com/, they see every form of the church has weaknesses and strengths, liabilities and potential, rather than favoring some forms of the church and critiquing or rejecting others. They believe that the effect of sin and injustice require a sincere, collaborative response from all Christian forms. They see the need to strengthen existing churches and the need to plant new ones. They seek to peacefully include all Christian sisters and brother, rather than use the “us versus them” mindset. The many failures of the church become their own, which humbles them and calls them to repentance. They celebrate the many heroes and virtues of the church, which inspirers them and gives them hope.
This value causes them to be actively involved in a local church. “Church” is the community where they seek out authentic Christian faith in authentic Christian community. They seek peace among followers of Christ, and to offer critique only prayerfully whenever possible, especially those with whom they may disagree. They strive to build sincere friendships with Christians from other traditions.
This value could be summed into one phrase, “true Christian unity.” Having lived all my life within the same tradition (having grown up, trained in a formal academic setting, and worked for two churches) I can say with confidence that we failed to carry out this value to the full. I must be fair; I do see things getting better. I see it’s current leaders being less judgmental and more tolerant of other Church traditions than the leaders before. However, this current generation of leaders still has the mind set of: us verse them, we are right…they are in error, why don’t they see things the way we do. Fellowship is limited to degree of their tolerance. To use the words of an eC leader, “Tolerance is not the same as having value.” True Christian unity can never take place until we learn to value one another.
As I reflect of my own life, I see God’s hand molding me into this emergent value. Even before I heard emergent, God was leading me to see the big picture of Christian unity in ways my peers often did not. I felt isolated, troubled, and even rebellious toward my own tradition. However, now I feel more at home with this eC crowd. Peace remains within me even though I may be alone in thought. In my younger days, this isolation would cause my words to be harsh and anything but loving. Though I am still growing out of this angry phase, I am seeing the light.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
The first value of the emergent Christian (eC) is the commitment to God in the way of Jesus.
According to http://www.emergentvillage.com/, an eC is committed to doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God, as the Scriptures teach. They live by the Great Commandment: love God and their neighbors – including those who might be considered the least of these” or enemies. The gospel is centered in Jesus and his message of the Kingdom of God, a message of reconciliation with God and among humanity. The eC seeks to be formed spiritually in the way of Christ, to learn historic Christian spiritual practices, and to use them for the development of character, integrity, and virtue which flow from true communion with God. They view themselves as a part of the historic Christian faith, therefore humbly learn and to initiate learning in other forms of Christianity. While doing so, they give priority to love over knowledge, while still valuing knowledge. Their efforts are not to prove themselves to be right (or the other brother/sister to be wrong) but to engage in respectful, thoughtful, sacred conversation about God, world, and church.
I identify with this eC value on multipliable fronts: Kingdom of God (present, past, and future), learning from others forms of Christians, and the desire to reach out to engage in respectful dialog. I find giving love priority over knowledge to be most beautiful. I can be quit ugly, even ferrous, when presenting my knowledge in the company of those with a different point of view. Respect and listening are great weaknesses of mine.
“Commitment to God in the way of Jesus” can mean many things. “Ways” can go in many different directions. But at this point in my life, I find this eC value to be the closet description of myself. At times this creates some tension between myself and others within my tradition but I will have to learn how to place love over knowledge.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
One of the web sites that I frequently visit is emergentville.com. It has several links to churches, blogs, leaders, and resources devoted to the emergent conversation. I’ve likely glances over every page but never given careful consideration to its contents. A few nights ago did.
Like most emergent material, I identified with what it was saying. I felt “at home” with its core beliefs and desired to know more. Therefore, in a effort to better understand, I will give some attention to four core values of emergent: commitment to God in the way of Jesus, commitment to the Church in all it’s forms, commitment to God’s World, and commitment to one another.
Hopefully my efforts will produce a clearer definition to explain to others. And if nobody cares to ask, I’ll at least have a better understanding for myself.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
I just finished listening a pod-cast interview with Brain McLaren. I love listening to that guy. Humility gushes from him spirit and worthy of emulation. His words make me laugh and think. Some examples…
• I find that hardcore Calvinist give me the greatest amount of criticism. Who can blame them? They are frustrated with the rest of the Christian community because they think their theology and their understanding of the Bible is dead on and wonder why everyone else doesn’t jump on board.
• I once read a quote from NT Wright that said the greatest hermeneutic is love.
• Sometimes I think we over analyze the NT author’s written work. Image if people five hundred years in the future read one of my letters and began to analyze a phrase and began building a theology on just that one phrase.
• The God that actually exists must always be greater than the language we use to describe God. This gives us permission to doubt the way we speak about God as an act of faith and that the real God would have to be better than the way we are describing Him. God must be greater than the concepts of God that I have.
I thank God for living in this time and place in His story. Thought I feel isolated in thought and belief, encouragement is just a click or IM away. Expanding one’s
Saturday, January 14, 2006
The phrase came from a sermon delivered by Andy Stanley. He believed that the most important question a church could ask was if it would be a church that works to “keep people or reach people.” I suppose the simplicity of the question, and it’s profound implication, is what caught my attention.
Naturally I began to think of how the actions of those around me at FCC have answered Stanley’s question. FCC is a church that desires to reach people for Christ but it is unwilling to lose anyone in the process; therefore, it works to “keep” at the sacrifice of “reaching”.
The more I thought about this the more I saw the hypocrisy in myself. The youth ministry of FCC (under my leadership) has never been about reaching out. Ever! Its focus has been on “our kids” and what to do to get “our kids” involved in the youth program. I become discouraged when “our kids’ do not fully participate. The price we have paid has been at the expense of those kids that are there. I’ve missed many opportunity because the kids I desire to keep are not present.
God has uniquely drawn a young girl in my community to my attention. She is lost and her choices are causing her great harm. I have heard school workers, students, and people at church talk as if she is a lost cause. I have no relationship with this girl, no history, no nothing, yet my heart breaks for someone so young make such harmful decisions that will lead to a life a pain. The Spirit is calling me to take action because it appears that no one else will. I must be a seeker for Christ.
FCC is a “keeping” church but the label defines me as well. It can not be denied that the Gospels teach us that Jesus “came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). I wonder why the church (the supposed representation of everything about Him), and I (a supposed follower of him by taking on His image) has difficulty to do what was so central to God’s heart…to seek and save the lost.