Thursday, May 31, 2007

Is this TV or more what church should look like?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Fight AIDS

Matthew 25:34-36
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. And here's why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.'

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

yeast for grasping for our vision

Monday, May 28, 2007

Jonah is one of the shortest books in the Bible, and it’s also one of the funniest. It serves as an archetype of the spiritual life.

Years ago my first Jonah moment was when God called me to go to a 4x4-only accessible area of Nigeria for a short term mission right after having back surgery! I had a real hard time believing it was going to happen, but after months of reluctance it all came together. I'd love to be able to say as soon as I heard the request I was on my way, but it was more like God had to continually convince me that it was possible over a 4-month period.

Jonah 1:1-2
One day long ago, God's Word came to Jonah, Amittai's son: "Up on your feet and on your way to the big city of Nineveh! Preach to them. They're in a bad way and I can't ignore it any longer."

God calls Jonah. God calls us. The greatest philosopher’s of old, like Aristotle and Cicero didn’t believe that. They spoke of the self-directed life. Usually it was an aristocratic life, too! Even modern philosophers, writers, and those cultural icons we look up to still speak of a self-directed, self-motivated, self-made pioneering kind of life. This is my life!

Not so with Jonah. And not so with us. God calls Jonah. We are called. We are passive to an active God.

Ephesians 3:20-21
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

When we surrender to this higher voice so much more is available. We don’t need our life to be about us!

Judge, lawyer, police, and security: allow God to work through you for justice. Justice is a matter very close to the heart of God.

If you’re a writer, journalist, teacher, educator someone who works to reveal truth, allow it to dominate your life and in doing so you place your will in the passive sense and God will work through you.

If you’re a nurse, a doctor, someone in the medical or compassion field, such as a social worker, allow compassion and grace to invade all that you do.

For the artist, musician, painter, who makes beautiful things you are responding to God’s call to create.

We’ve all been made for a definite purpose. Find it. Listen to it. It is as Jesus talks about, the pearl of great price. Sell everything you have to pursue it.

God’s mission comes to Jonah. What does Jonah do? “You want me to go east by land, well I’m going west by boat!”

Translation: “Screw you God!”

So Jonah goes to a far off place called Tarshish, our present day equivalent of Timbuktu.

This becomes the central drama of the spiritual life: What do we do with the call of God?

"I’m discovering that a spiritual journey is a lot like a poem. You don’t merely recite a poem or analyze it intellectually. You dance it, sing it, cry it, feel it on your skin and in your bones. You move with it and feel its caress. It falls on you like a teardrop or wraps around you like a smile. It lives in the heart and the body as well as the spirit and the head." Augustine

A friend of God, a saint is one who responds to that call, weekly, daily, hourly. They make it the central organizing principle of their life.

The rest of us get on a boat and head to Tarshish in one form or another. God’s call by definition and nature is hard. It’s difficult. God is love and listen to what love is from 1 Corinthians 13:

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.

Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn’t always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies.

Jonah hears God, and heads the other way. He goes down into the ship and falls asleep. Uh oh. Falling sleeping is never a good thing in the Bible.

Think of the three closest friends of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane in Mark 14: ‘Couldn’t you stay awake for one hour? I’m about to die.’ When He checks on them again they’re sleeping like babies.

Falling asleep is a symbol for being unaware, clueless, out of touch. Up comes a big storm. These big storms would evoke a modern day slasher type of fear. The ancients were horrified of the sea. The disciples literally freaked out on the Sea of Galilee. Augustine in the 4th century was terrified of his trip from North Africa to Italy.

What caused the storm for Jonah? His resistance to God. When we resist God’s will storms break out in our life. Does it cause trouble just for Jonah? No, it becomes terrifying for everyone on the boat. So it is with our life and our storms.

When we do God’s mission we benefit others. Think of Matthew inviting his buddies to meet with his new life coach Jesus.

Similarly, when we resist, others experience it too. All of those earlier occupations I mentioned- when they’re on, great good can be done. When complacency sets in, or cynicism, or we get sidetracked looking for bigger houses and greener pastures, we lose and so do those we could have helped!

"The Half-Hearted Kamikaze" was a pilot who flew in World War II for the Japanese Air Force. He was still alive after fifty missions! A true kamikaze flies on one mission. He gives his life for it. There's no such thing as a half-hearted kamikaze.

How about a half-hearted Christ follower?

The sailors determine Jonah is the cause of the problem, and he very quickly acknowledges it, too. “I’m the one”, he says.

Anyone remember Herman Melville’s Moby Dick? Father Mapple kicks out a blistering homily on the life of Jonah just before they all head out.

The big lesson: there’s no running from God! Perhaps Jonah thought that God was a local deity, but such is not the case.

Psalm 139:7-18
Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? To be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you're there! If I go underground, you're there! If I flew on morning's wings to the far western horizon, you'd find me in a minute— you’re already there waiting! Then I said to myself, "Oh, he even sees me in the dark! At night I'm immersed in the light!"

It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to you; night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to you. Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my other's womb. I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!

Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day. Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful! God, I'll never comprehend them! I couldn't even begin to count them— any more than I could count the sand of the sea.

And so a great big fish, a whale, swallows Jonah. Our will needs to be swallowed up by God’s will. God uses big fish to swallow up our own plans and desires. He’ll use whatever it takes.

In your will is my peace. Augustine

In the case of Joseph God uses slavery, false imprisonment, and betrayal to shape him into the man God desires. In the case of Moses, here’s a guy who lashes out and kills an Egyptian. A guy in full control of his emotions, right? He wanders 40 years in the desert but emerges a changed man.

How do we read the times where we’re swallowed up by the whale?

What do we do and say when things aren’t going our way?

Is it simply dumb suffering? Or is it the discipline of God?

Jonah prays form the belly. It’s always easy to pray in the good times. We need to especially pray when we’re in the belly. God spares Jonah and the whale spits him out. He gets a second chance at God’s mission.

The whole city turns to God. And Jonah is mad, so he goes and pouts. Do you ever pout when God is doing stuff? Perhaps because we don’t like this whole love and forgiveness thing as much as we think?

God then shelters Jonah with a vine, but then He sends a worm to kill the vine, along with a hot sun and wind to make things unbearable. How does Jonah react? If you haven’t figured it out yet he gets mad again. He reacts negatively: “It would be better for me to die than to live. I am angry enough to die.”

Now get this: it was the greatest revival ever! Jonah was mad at God for being a part of the greatest revival ever.

Jonah and negativity. Negative spirits will rob you of your God destiny. If you don’t listen to God your life will be filled with a spirit of negativism.

But notice how the little book of Jonah ends- God defends the saving of the city, but it doesn’t say Jonah was convinced. God speaks to us, He leads us, He draws us, but we always get to decide how much we’ll resist Him. Interestingly in the book of Jonah, everybody and everything obeys God, except for Jonah!

What is God saying to you?

Decide to do what you know God says to do- stop thinking about doing it and 'just do it'!

Undertake everything you do on God's behalf.

Colossians 3:17
Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

exclusion or embrace?

In all wars, whether large or small, whether carried out on battlefields, city streets, living rooms, churches or faculty lounges, we come across the same basic exclusionary polarity: "us against them," "their gain--our loss, " "either us or them." The stronger the conflict, the more the rich texture of the social world disappears and the stark exclusionary polarity emerges around which all thought and practice aligns itself. No other choice seems available, no neutrality possible, and therefore no innocence sustainable. If one does not exit that whole social world, one gets sucked into its horrid polarity. Tragically enough, over time the polarity has a macabre way of mutating into its very opposite--into "both us and them" that unites the divided parties in a perverse communion of mutual hate and mourning over the dead.

..........There may indeed be situations in which "there is no choice," though we should not forget that to destroy the other rather than to be destroyed oneself is itself a choice. In most cases, however, the choice is not constrained by an inescapable "either us or them." If there is will, courage and imagination the stark polarity can be overcome. Those caught in the vortex of mutual exclusion can resist its pull, rediscover their common belonging, even fall into each other's arms. People with conflicting interests, clashing perspectives, and differing cultures can avoid sliding into the cycle of escalating violence and instead maintain bonds, even make their life together flourish. Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace

Saturday, May 26, 2007

You Cannot Lose My Love

You will lose your baby teeth.
At times, you'll lose your faith in me.
You will lose a lot of things,
But you cannot lose my love.
You may lose your appetite,
Your guiding sense of wrong and right.
You may lose your will to fight,
But you cannot lose my love.
You will lose your confidence.
In times of trial, your common sense.
You may lose your innocence,
But you cannot lose my love.
Many things can be misplaced;
Your very memories be erased.
No matter what the time or space,
You cannot lose my love. by Sara Groves

Friday, May 25, 2007

the organic God

Once again Margaret Feinberg has so poetically called us back to the basics of following Jesus as she has done in previous books like God Whispers.

"All too often I find myself tempted to live a distracted life. You know the kind--- the one where, within the busyness of life, you still manage to perform the stand-up, sit-down, clap, clap, clap of regular church attendance; drop a check in the offering plate; hope for a new nugget of knowledge, understanding, or insight in the weekly sermon; and check off a random, albeit short, list of acts of kindness to others. Somehow I’m supposed to feel like I’m living the Jesus-driven life. I'm not."

Performance driven Christianity has taken a huge toll, and the call to pray "There is nothing I desire but you God" harkens us to return to what gives real life. Real life only comes from God, who "in Jesus, put his whole heart on display for the world to see."

This Jesus says to each and every one of us, indeed to anyone who will listen, "I will not only go before you in this journey and make it possible- I will also go with you."

What an invitation, an invitation to life, to a life with God, each and every day!

Feinberg goes on to highlight and illustrate this relational God with many poignant and humorous stories from her own life. Jesus has a magnetic quality about Himself and Feinberg's writing draws us into His orbit in refreshing ways.

This God we follow, this God that we can know and experience speaks to us through beauty, through wisdom, and through an insatiable appetite to communicate with us about generosity, kindness and wisdom.

While we'd like to think that the church helps us along this journey, many if not all of us at some point experience what Feinberg writes of, 'the bruising of our hearts' from institutional church life.

In these times we need to detox from church ideas that 'bigger is better', from 'performance and drivenness', from 'filling our heads with knowledge while our spirits starve'. Time away from church, for a season, can heal our bruised hearts.

I believe true healing arrives when one can articulate along these lines:

"I knew in my mind that church was more than a denomination, a building, or a program, but God was awakening in my heart the reality that the church is the gathering of followers of Jesus. To fall in love with church meant falling in love with God's people. And falling in love with people meant puting my own preferences aside when it came to details like the style of music, the length of servce, or even the takeaway value of the sermon.....I realized that I was a part of a greater story, part of God's story, his plan for redemption which was being worked through saints around the world. God the Healer was doing his work in me." ....

"No matter what causes the pain to surface, I believe its presence is actually a gift from the God who redeems. The pain acts as a wake-up call that it is time to begin the process of healing, repentance, and forgiveness. The pain asks us to make a leap of faith- that no matter what has happened, nothing is beyond God's redeeming power. He can heal the deepest wounds. He can restore the most messed-up lives. He can reach into the darkest corners of our past and shine his redeeming light."

Thank you Jesus!

Feinberg's writing invites God's presence into the pages of the book helping us see that whenever and wherever God speaks, His words to us are 'bathed in kindness.' As we desire to hear him, as our God-volume is turned up, we realize more than ever that God is a giver and not a taker; He is a gentle healer and not an angry drill seargeant.

God is real, knowable, conversational, creative, mysterious, kind, gentle, organic. This book will stoke your desire to hunger after Him!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Best budgeting advice going...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tornadoes and TV Preachers...

I’ve been flipping through the channels at night, late. I haven’t been sleeping too well lately. I guess it’s the tornado that came through. You know, changing perceptions of what’s nailed down.

Several nights we didn’t have power. And I woke up in the middle of the night, scared, trying to make sense of it, thinking, praying. There’s nothing like a natural disaster to make you do the “Dorothy and Toto” thing. You know, sit up late, in the dark, and rethink what’s solid, where home is… flying monkeys the whole bit.

Yeah, well, after a few days, they got the power back on, and the cable-which is amazing, because it took ’em three weeks to come out and install the cable in the first place. Anyway, the first night I got my cable back, I woke up in the middle of the night, and I didn't sit and think or pray. I started flipping through TV channels. And for some reason, I zoned in on a TV preacher. He had really big hair. When I tuned in, he was just getting wound up, saying that he had “prayed that tornado away from his Temple of Praise out on Highway 9.” Of course, he didn’t say anything about the tornado hitting the trailer park three counties over on Highway 251. Yeah, well… no Temple there I guess. I think this was the same TV preacher who said Jesus wants everyone ‘healthy and wealthy! All you need is to claim it!’

Well, he was good for a laugh. But, I don’t think I’ll bank on the words he was putting in Jesus’ mouth. I mean, a tree fell on my old Toyota during the tornado. If it had been a Cadillac, it would’ve been just as squashed.

You know what I’d love to hear? I’d love to flip to a TV preacher some night and hear him say, “Okay, here’s the deal. Jesus is the Big Kahuna. He calls all the shots. And Jesus wants you to follow him. And He’s not gonna make you rich, and He’s not gonna make you famous. In fact, He’s gonna cost you everything you’ve got. But Jesus wants you to follow Him. That’s it.” I’d love to hear some TV preacher say that. But I’m not holding my breath. I think it would probably cut donations.

I’ve been trying to follow Jesus since I was a kid. I walked down an aisle in a church when I was 12 years old. I opened up my hands, and I said, “Here I am Jesus. Here I am.” I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I just knew I wanted Him, and He wanted me. Before long, I started understanding the hard stuff. And I’ll tell you the truth: it scared me. Bad. Surrender…Dying…All that stuff. It’s scary, giving up, giving it all up. It’s scary.

As I’ve gotten older, it hasn’t got much less frightening. “Jesus wants everything. Everything.” That’s enough to keep you up nights. The other night, when the wind blew through, I thought he might just be coming for it all right then. But I’ll tell you something: underneath all the anxiety about surrender, I think I’m learning I can trust Him. Jesus. I mean, He’s not out to make life hell. Quite the opposite.

So, maybe tonight, when I wake up at three o’clock, I won’t flip through the channels. Maybe, I’ll just open up my hands and say, “Here I am, Jesus. Here I am.” Maybe I’ll do that. by Curt Cloninger

Well, sometimes my life just doesn’t make sense at all. When the mountains look so big, and my faith just seems so small. So, hold me, Jesus, ‘cause I’m shaking like a leaf. You have been my King of Glory. Won’t you be my Prince of Peace? Rich Mullins

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I recently finished Hemant Mehta's book, I Sold My Soul on eBay. It was a great read and would do well to make it's way in to a seminary curriculum for prospective pastors.

I resonated with Rob Bell's words in the foreward concerning atheists, "that time and again the god they've rejected is a god I've rejected."

I would say that holds true for multitudes of Christ followers who seek to find healing for past hurts in life, for a safe place to talk through honest doubts about their faith, and for honesty and authenticity to walk with others through life's inevitable struggles. Hemant's book gives us a glimpse of his own journey down that path.

The fresh observations Hemant gives us about church life should challenge some of the dominant expressions of our faith: "But as I read Christian books, and as I spent months attending an amazing variety of churches in different parts of the country, I kept running accross a consistent and troubling truth about (North) American Christianity. It is clear that most churches have alinged themselves against nonreligious people."

Why do we need to be against culture?

Another underlying subject that pervades church life is the consumeristic mindset. It is an underlying assumption of the book, too. Come to church, and critique how it meets 'my needs'. Thus large churches can be the 'best' because of their economies of scale in meeting my desires.

I loved the feedback on the worship time in churches. The fact that people wander into services when they feel like it, that many don't sing while others doodle and daydream, or talk to friends, or a plethora of other strange behaviors that surprised Mehta. He ran accross people who would deliberately arrive late to avoid singing 'lengthy and repetitious songs.' Even as an atheist one can see the beginnings of the worship wars. These wants are predicated on the idea that, 'it's all about me.'

To quote Hemant, "I'm convinced that a lot of Christians don't care about it." (music)

I also loved what Hemant said about speaking styles. Verse by verse expositors likely wouldn't like it, especially those that think people like Joel Osteen are watering down the gospel. Citing more verses doesn't necessarily make one more spiritual or insightful, according to Hemant!

Hemant's observations can help us awaken to the conversations going on around us about faith, doubt, and the meaning of life; conversations that quite often don't involve the church. If you're interested in getting into this dialogue, read this book!

"Now that my experiment is over, I realize I didn't find God, but I saw the incredible power a church can have. I hope that power is used to benefit society instead of hurting it through creating unnecessary divisions between Christians and non-Christians. I hope what I've said will help you, if you are a Christian, to think differently about those who don't share your beliefs."

Monday, May 21, 2007

Changes: The Calling of Matthew

What do you love about Jesus?

I love that Jesus invites us to change the way we look at the world. The beauty of God helps me see others and myself differently.

In this series my hope is that we can turn up the God volume in our life.

Matthew 9:9-13
As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"

On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Perhaps the most famous picture of the calling of Mathew is a 16th century portrayal by Italian artist Caravaggio. Many consider him to be the greatest religious painter of his time, and perhaps that ever lived.

Caravaggio was an interesting fellow. He was violent, a rogue, a man who never quite was able to get his life together. According to Wiki, “Caravaggio was considered enigmatic, fascinating, rebellious, and dangerous.”

What Caravaggio had was the light of Christ providing him hope in the midst of his own personal struggles.

He painted Matthew in contemporary fashion, ala the 16th century. Today he would have had him in perhaps an Armani suit as a wealthy person but also very corrupt, a gangster. In the days of Jesus a tax collector was considered a collaborator. And not only that but they skimmed off the top, making them a cheat, too!

In this picture you see many interesting elements, one of them being the fact that the hand of Jesus is also the hand of God from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel! In the calling of Matthew Caravaggio wanted to show that Matthew was becoming a new person, a new creation.

You have Mathew himself pointing to his chest with the old, “Who me? You talkin’ to me?”

It can often surprise us that Jesus calls even me! He is as the Bible says, “The friend of sinners.” The Message says, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: 'I'm after mercy, not religion.' I'm here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders."

Jesus is for the broken, the outcasts. Can you see yourself in that picture?

Maya Angelou class at Wake Forest University: “Because your name is a sign of dignity, and when you recognize someone’s name, you recognize them not just as a human but as a person. One of the greatest ways you bestow human dignity on someone is by calling them by name.”

Do we see the physical hand of Jesus the same way as Matthew did? Not in the same way. Even saying that though, we realize that Jesus is no less active today than He was in the day of Matthew. Back in the day Jesus said this, Jesus did that, well today He’s still doing and saying things to us!

He uses all of life. Ever been channel surfing at night and run across a TV preacher who quite surprisingly speaks right to your heart. God sightings such as this surprise us from their unpredictable and varied nature.

How about a young man who joined the CoHo face book group because he met someone in a different city who used to be here, and he’s drawn to the idea of hope because he so desperately needs it. He ends up making some connections and finding some hope in life.

Notice in the picture that the body of Jesus is blocked somewhat by Peter. Peter stands for the church, that network of relationships of people journeying together with Jesus.

That group includes former beggars like Bartimaeus; it could have had the rich young ruler in it, and it keeps having others invited.

Matthew gets up and follows. The word that is translated, “He got up” is the same one used for Jesus being resurrected from the dead. This is the stuff of new life.

What I love most about Matthew becoming a Christ follower is that the first thing they do is throw a party.

Here is this tax collector, this gangster, and this gang member, Hell’s Angel now becoming a living magnet for others! Your life isn’t your own.

In order to be a living magnet we just let God show through our life. When we live well we attract people to Christ. When we live poorly we often repel others!

The fact that Jesus is at this crazy party really bothers the Pharisees. It’s bad enough that Matthew is there, never mind all of these other ruffians. “Doesn’t Jesus want to stay pure?”

The Bible says that Jesus likes sinners. Peterson frames it as, “Jesus likes the outcasts.”

Jesus really likes people like you and me. Phil Yancey in, Church, Why Bother? Says, “I like a small church because you can’t pick your friends. You have to like who’s there.” Like our situation here at CoHo.

Like in many ways is a stronger word than love. When you like someone you spend time with him or her. Jesus’ words to Matthew as they are to us today are bathed in kindness.

Pedro Schultz, street pastor

My friend Daniel in Calgary - “I hug prostitutes.”

Jesus was never really concerned with appearances. When John in the Jordan River was baptizing crowds of sinners, He was there.

Jesus notices those that are unnoticeable (Bartimaeus) or people who are noticed with contempt, like Matthew. What kind of reception did Chris Pronger receive in Edmonton upon returning here as an Anaheim Duck?

Perceptions of Christians by non-Christians, Ages 16-29
1. Christians are anti-homosexual. 91%
2. Christians are judgmental. 87%
3. Christians are hypocritical. 85%

“Too involved in politics”
“Insensitive to others”
“Not accepting of other faiths”
“Out of touch with reality”

Only 9% describe Christians as people they “trust”!

Worldwide, over 80% of all non-Christians do not personally know a Christian!

“When you’re in a hole, stop digging.” Denis Winston

Jesus hangs around with you and I willingly. At the end of His life He was crucified between two criminals.

Jesus has this amazing ability to expose the brokenness of humanity and the depths of His father’s love that isn’t just attractive it’s downright captivating. A gangster/tax collector like Matthew couldn’t resist.

Hear His voice. See the hand. Get up and be summoned to a new life following Him. Conversion isn’t so much a one-time thing; it’s more of a process, a journey of faith.

And then lets throw a party!

God gives – we receive – we give it away and are changed!

“The Grace Cycle”

"If you were caught for drunken driving, and the headlines in your local newspaper that Sunday morning said, 'So-and-So Arrested for Drunken Driving,' would you go to church?"

"I'm the pastor. I'd have a serious problem if I were caught driving drunk."

"Would you go to church?"

"No. I'd take a sabbatical for about a month and then try to weasel back in if I could."

"That's stupid. It's sort of like a man who's hit by an automobile, and he's got blood all over the place, and his bones are broken, and they try to take him to the hospital, and he says: 'Wait. I'm a mess. Let me go home and get cleaned up. Let me get these bones set, let me heal, and then I'll go to the hospital.'"

‘I love you but I do not love you’, or ‘I don’t love you as you are, but if you become someone different I will love you’, is in fact a double-bind, a stumbling block, a pathway to paralysis.

Was Matthew all cleaned up when Jesus went to eat with him and all his friends?

Dialogue #1
False god: I want to love you, but I can’t love you as you are, because you are sinful and objectively disordered.

Self: Well, what then must I do to be loved?

False god: You must become someone different.

Self: I’m up for it, show me how.

False god: Love isn’t something that can be earned, it just is.

Self: Well then how do I become the sort of person who can be loved?

False god: If I were you I would start somewhere else.

Self: That’s a great help. How do I start somewhere else?

False god: You can’t, because even starting off for somewhere else starts from you, and you can’t be loved.

Self: Well if I can’t start off from somewhere else, and I can’t start off from where I am, what can I do?

False god: Give up on the love thing; just obey and be paralyzed.

That’s how powerful it is to receive our sense of self, our identity, our desire, in imitation of, through the regard of, eyes which give us a mixed message, a double bind.

Dialogue #2
: I love you.

Self: but I’m full of crap, how can you love me?

God: I love you.

Self: but you can’t love me, I’m part of all this muck.

God: it’s you that I love.

Self: how can it be me that you love when I’ve been involved in bad relationships, dark rooms, machinations against other people?

God: it’s you that I love.

Self: But ...

God: it’s you that I love.

Self: But ...

God: it’s you that I love.

Self: OK then, so are you just going to leave me in the crap?

God: Because I love you, you are relaxing into my love and you will find yourself becoming loveable, indeed becoming someone that you will scarcely recognize.

Self: Hadn’t I better do something to get all ready for this becoming loveable?

God: Only if you haven’t yet got it that it’s I who do the work and you who get to shine. Because I love you, you are relaxing into being loved and will find yourself doing loveable things because you are loved.

Self: I think I could go along with this.

Or to put it in a nutshell, when faced with the standard joke about,’How do I get to Calgary?’, and being told ‘If I were you I wouldn’t start from here’, the Gospel response, that is to say the regard of Christ, tells us: ‘I will come with you starting from where you are’.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Honest to God

Friday, May 18, 2007

God Gives...We Receive..We Give It Away

Matthew 9:9-13
Passing along, Jesus saw a man at his work collecting taxes. His name was Matthew. Jesus said, "Come along with me." Matthew stood up and followed him.

Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew's house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus' followers. "What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?"

Jesus, overhearing, shot back, "Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: 'I'm after mercy, not religion.' I'm here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Journey Continues...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The operating biblical metaphor regarding worship is sacrifice. We bring ourselves to the altar and let God do to us what God will. We bring ourselves to the eucharistic table, entering into that grand fourfold shape of the liturgy that shapes us: taking, blessing, breaking, giving—the life of Jesus taken and blessed, broken and distributed; and that eucharistic life now shapes our lives as we give ourselves, Christ in us, to be taken, blessed, broken and distributed in lives of witness and service, justice and healing.

But this is not the North American way. The major North American innovation in the congregation is to turn it into a consumer enterprise. North Americans have developed a culture of acquisition, an economy that is dependent on wanting and requiring more. We have a huge advertising industry designed to stir up appetites we didn't even know we had. We are insatiable. It didn't take long for some of our colleagues to develop consumer congregations. If we have a nation of consumers, obviously the quickest and most effective way to get them into our churches is to identify what they want and offer it to them. Satisfy their fantasies, promise them the moon, recast the gospel into consumer terms—entertainment, satisfaction, excitement and adventure, problem-solving, whatever. We are the world's champion consumers, so why shouldn't we have state-of-the-art consumer churches? Eugene Peterson

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Great song...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Changes: The Woman at the Well

The only way to propagate a message is to live it. Jim Wallis

The greatest proof of Christianity for others is not how far a man can logically analyze his reasons for believing, but how far in practice he will stake his life on his belief. T.S. Eliot

We can only live changes: we cannot think our way to humanity. Every one of us, every group, must become the model of that which we desire to create. Ivan Illich

Everyone wants to change the world but no one wants to change themselves. Leo Tolstoy

Paradox, irony, and surprise permeate the teachings of Jesus. Don Kraybill

“Read your Bible every day to know Christ better.” Billy Graham

John 4
Jesus realized that the Pharisees were keeping count of the baptisms that he and John performed (although his disciples, not Jesus, did the actual baptizing). They had posted the score that Jesus was ahead, turning him and John into rivals in the eyes of the people. So Jesus left the Judean countryside and went back to Galilee.

To get there, he had to pass through Samaria. He came into Sychar, a Samaritan village that bordered the field Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob's well was still there. Jesus, worn out by the trip, sat down at the well. It was noon.

A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, "Would you give me a drink of water?" (His disciples had gone to the village to buy food for lunch.)

The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, "How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?" (Jews in those days wouldn't be caught dead talking to Samaritans.)

Jesus answered, "If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water."

The woman said, "Sir, you don't even have a bucket to draw with, and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this 'living water'? Are you a better man than our ancestor Jacob, who dug this well and drank from it, he and his sons and livestock, and passed it down to us?"

Jesus said, "Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life."

The woman said, "Sir, give me this water so I won't ever get thirsty, won't ever have to come back to this well again!"

He said, "Go call your husband and then come back."

"I have no husband," she said.
"That's nicely put: 'I have no husband.' You've had five husbands, and the man you're living with now isn't even your husband. You spoke the truth there, sure enough."

"Oh, so you're a prophet! Well, tell me this: Our ancestors worshiped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?"

"Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem. You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day. God's way of salvation is made available through the Jews. But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you're called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.

"It's who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That's the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration."

The woman said, "I don't know about that. I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we'll get the whole story."

"I am he," said Jesus. "You don't have to wait any longer or look any further."

Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn't believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it.

Jesus is out on another journey. This isn’t a common run of the mill story for a regular Jew though, unless of course your name is Jesus. What in the world was He doing in Samaria?

Pious Jews avoided Samaritans. Samaritans were half-breeds, considered unclean. Why does Jesus go right through Samaria? Because he loves the outcasts and the broken people of this world. Welcome to the way of Jesus.

He stopped at a well. Anyone in the first century would have understood the significance of that. Wells in the Old Testament were associated with marriage. There was the servant looking for a wife for Isaac who found Rebekah.

There was Moses who stopped at a well after leaving Egypt and met the daughters of Jethro, one of whom would become his wife.

There was Jacob who me Rachel at a well in Genesis 29.

This story is a story of marriage. Jesus Himself was the marriage of the human and the divine. He is the marriage of heaven and earth.

In the Bible there is the image of Jesus marrying his bride, the church, all of us! Jesus wants to marry us.

Is there significance to Jesus being tired at the noon hour? Well He is the light of the world and this is a story of illumination and truth. Remember when Nicodemus came to visit Jesus? At night. Or when Judas set out to betray Him? At night.

This is a story of light bringing life.

The Samaritan woman comes to get some water. Jesus, “Would you give me a drink of water?"

What a reversal this is from the early days of God’s people. In the OT, people thirsted after God, and yet here we have God being thirsty after us. “As the deer pants for the water so my soul longs after you God” Psalm 42.

Jesus’ question throws the woman off and she gives a defensive response. Why is that?

She was a triple outsider. First she was a woman in a very patriarchal society. Second she was a Samaritan. And third she was a woman coming alone to a well at noon. Women tended to come in small groups for water to share the load at favorable times of the day, be it early or later. They wouldn’t come during the noonday heat.

This woman is an outcast, a shady questionable person who is forced to go get her stuff when no one else is around, perhaps fearful of gossip and judgment.

This is just the kind of broken person that Jesus is interested in. just the kind of person that Jesus loves. Just like you and just like me.

To her negative reaction Jesus simply says, “If you knew the generosity of God, if you knew the gift of God you could get living water.”

Wow, that’s perhaps the best shorthand description for the Gospel in all of Scripture. That’s the mission of God.

Who is God? God is the one who gives. Does God need this world? No. The fact that the world exists means that it is a gift given to us in love. The greatest gift of all?

John 3:16-18
"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

Summary: God gives, we receive and then we give it away. We don’t cling to it. The prodigal son said to his father, ‘give me my share. I want to do life my way.’ If you cling to what you have you will lose it! You keep your life by giving it away.

The Gospel loop: God gives- we receive- we give it away- God gives-and the cycle repeats.

This woman goes to the well, we all go the well looking for fulfillment, and we have misplaced desires. We are made for a conversational relationship with God but we go other places looking for satisfaction. And just like the Rolling Stones we don’t get no satisfaction!

So Jesus says, “Go call your husband.” In that day, it was a sexist society. A woman’s’ worth was based on her husband. He governed her life. Jesus says, ‘Tell me who governs your life.’ Is it this guy or that guy? Is it this teacher or that teacher? Is it this style or that style?

Jesus is asking for marriage here. Jesus is asking for commitment. All of us who follow Christ and are baptized say that we want Him as the CEO of our life. Jesus is our GPS. He is our centrepoint. In biblical expression we worship Him. And that’s what the text says:

"It's who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That's the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration."

True worshippers worship in spirit and truth. They go together and they create a synthesis and a synergy of perspective and life. Adoration means, ‘from out of the mouth.’

Have you ever been a told a joke, you’ve heard the words, expressions, all the details but you don’t get it? It seems like everyone is laughing but you’re there on a tape delay and then finally you get it? What’s different? Nothing was added, but a pattern emerged and became clear that brings humor.

So it is with Jesus. A pattern emerges. He is the life. Jesus is the pattern of our life. The woman at the well gets it. She realizes the deception that she’s been caught in, but Jesus doesn’t bust her.

How freeing that must have been. She is standing there and gets it. A God wink, a God kiss, God shows up, she almost missed it and now she is surprised by joy!

Don’t look now but see who else shows up and is more than a little bit surprised. Why it’s Jesus most ardent supporters, the disciples. Here’s James, John and the rest, the Stew’s, the ____. We’re all there.

Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn't believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it.

Ever had that kind of reaction when Jesus is busy doing his thing accepting the unacceptable, of loving the unlovable at serving the ones who have no status?

The woman leaves her water pot behind and becomes the first evangelist by going back to her village and telling what happened. How to share your faith 101 is right there. God gives each of us a story and we go tell others of our story. No need to argue or convince them, we can let God do that.

Our biggest leverage is the water pots that we’ve left behind, of the old ways that are changed because we now follow the Jesus Way. She left her old life behind. She set down the burden of her past.

She left hers behind. We can too.

What’s the water jug of your life?

What are you carrying? Is it a concern for money, power, esteem, or glory? Is it a past hurt form someone in a church?

Jesus allows us to set it down. She tells everyone about it. When you see something beautiful you tell others. You don’t keep it to yourself. Change is beautiful!

[God] wants us to be just like Jesus. Isn’t that good news? You aren’t stuck with today’s personality. You aren’t condemned to “grumpydom.” You are tweakable. Even if you’ve worried each day of your life, you needn’t worry the rest of your life. So what if you were born a bigot? You don’t have to die one.

Where did we get the idea we can’t change? From whence come statements such as, “It’s just my nature to worry” or, “I’ll always be pessimistic. I’m just that way.” … Who says? Would we make similar statements about our bodies? “It’s just my nature to have a broken leg. I can’t do anything about it.” Of course not. If our bodies malfunction, we seek help. Shouldn’t we do the same with our hearts? Shouldn’t we seek aid for our sour attitudes? Can’t we request treatment for our selfish tirades? Of course we can. Jesus can change our hearts. He wants us to have a heart like his. Max Lucado

Many of the Samaritans believed because of her. So much so that they wanted Jesus to stick around for two more days. Might those have been two very uncomfortable days for the disciples? Do you think they all 'got it' at the same time?

Luke 17:11-19
The only leper that was healed that came back to see Jesus was a Samaritan! Did the woman at the well have anything to do with that?

Go back to your little villages and tell everyone what Jesus has done for you.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Lawyers, theology, friendship and more...

Are you a Christ follower first? or a ___?

Colossians 2:6-7
My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you've been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You're deeply rooted in him. You're well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you've been taught. School's out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Isn't the church supposed to the most human network? And the most divine?

Acts 17:24-28
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'

Is our innovation needed most in our large gatherings, or in our everyday life as Christians in the community?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Dream Big...

Acts 2:42-45
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

What if God called us out like the early disciples - with nothing, no program, no agenda, only His Spirit leading?

Has you spiritual life become too tame, too settled, and too much on the couch while you long to feel the wind on your face again....

Allow God to speak to you in the midst of your doubts so that your apathy is chased away. For the sake of God and your Neighbour...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

What's God Up To Here?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Where do you confess?

Andrew Greeley once said that anything the church drops society will pick up. That certainly seems to be the case with the idea of confessing.

While it is hardly ever talked about in church circles anymore, a proliferation of impersonal opportunities have sprung up for a new kind of confessional. Just check these out to name a few:

Post Secret now actually has events that resemble a church service where you can voyeuristically watch the anonymous confessions of other people on a screen. Yikes!

James 5:16-20
Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn't rain, and it didn't—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.

My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God's truth, don't write them off. Go after them. Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God.

How do you see this verse coming alive in your own life?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Changes: The Rich Young Ruler

Mark 10:17-27
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.'"

"Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy."

Jesus looked at him and loved him.

"One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!"

The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, "Who then can be saved?"

Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."

A man runs up to Jesus. We know from the story that he is a person of great wealth. His basic necessities are taken care of and clearly a deeper hunger has emerged. This is often when we begin to seek, to search for greater meaning or awareness than we currently have. We’re dissatisfied so we begin searching outside of ourselves. This man embarks on that quest and runs up to Jesus.

He seeks to find good outside of himself, outside of the regular Holy Trinity of my wants, my needs and my desires.

That’s a big step for anyone to make, be it 2000 years ago in Israel or in present day Edmonton. We tend to live in a society and culture that says, “Don’t lay a value trip on me.”

Often spoken of as postmodern, where there is no absolute truth to guide us, to shackle us as some would say. Therefore we have this sort of freedom that hovers above a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and we get to decide what we want.

N'SYNC did a song on Sesame Street that sums up our culture's view of self:
Believe in yourself/Just believe in yourself/You can go where you wanna go/Do what you wanna do/Believe in yourself/Just believe in yourself/Some folks try to tell you there are things you shouldn't do/But what seems right to them quite often might be wrong for you/ Believe in yourself/Just believe in yourself/You can try what you need to try/No one should question why

There is a freedom hovering above ‘good’ and ‘evil’ and we get to decide our course of action. Don’t anybody else tell me what to do!

It can create a moral apathy, sort of a freedom to be indifferent, a freedom to choose what I want, when I want it with whomever I desire.

That kind of freedom isn’t how the Bible speaks of freedom, or how we regularly encounter life.

God created us because there was this love between the Father, Son & Holy Spirit that just had to overflow to a created order. When things went awry He valued us so much that He sent his son Jesus Christ to show us what life is really about; and this Jesus who in His death and rising gave us the power to be able to connect with God.

God has promised that he will never leave or deny us. One of His names is Emmanuel, “God with us”. He is the real Father to us, wanting us to know that above everything else we are His sons and daughters.

He gives us gifts, passions, and a place to share the love we have experienced with others and with a lost and hurting world. In not abandoning us, in telling us that we can be in a conversational relationship with Him, God is also saying that He will guide us, and grow us up into being a fully devoted follower of His way.

For a Christ follower we don’t see freedom as the ability to be able to be indifferent- just the opposite is true! To be indifferent is ultimately to be a narcissist- to be self-centred.

Historian and social commentator Christopher Lasch, nearly 30 years ago, diagnosed narcissism as the signal disorder of contemporary North American culture: the cult of personality; marketing to instant gratification; skepticism to moral codes and politics of victimhood.

Jesus didn’t come to bless the ideal of Narcissism- he came to obliterate it! Instead He gives us a freedom that binds us to others. For the indifferent person, objective rules, orders, and disciplines are problematic, for they are felt, necessarily, as limitations.

But for us who follow Christ, the guidance of God and of others is liberating. It is only when we discipline our desire that we can make true achievement possible.

Think of learning a language such as English as a youngster or as a second language. We obey the rules of grammar and spelling because they create a system of communication that enhances life and community. We discipline ourselves to make speaking effortless.

Think of Wayne Gretzky as he was learning hockey. He had an amazing innate ability to play the game, and a deep desire to improve. But how did he improve? He was taught, coached, practiced, learning how the game is played. He gave his ability over to a system of play on a team. We as Christ followers are learning to give ourselves over to a system for a team, the kingdom of God breaking into the society around us.

The same would be true of the greatest basketball player of all time- Michael Jordan.

Great athletes, those who are our role models learn the game, disciplining their own wants and desires to find the real freedom, the deeper freedom to flow, to attain their full potential. They submit to coaching, they remain teachable. They train their body and mind.

Now imagine you’re a coach of a sport, I coach James ball hockey team. What if I went to these boys and just said, “Kids, I want you to be free. I want you to decide how to play the game, where you should play, how hard you should try, and, all that stuff. You guys do what you want.”

That’s not coaching. As a coach we teach them, discipline them, so these youngsters can learn the game and call forth the best effort from inside of them. When they truly understand the game, and how they can contribute, they can summon strength they never thought was there to begin with.

What if you’re a piano teacher? You sit a young pupil beside yourself and say, “Today you get to decide musical composition rules and forms of playing. Go ahead, do what you want.”

Your parents would quickly be finding a new teacher for you!

Way back when in Genesis, Adam & Eve were the first to experiment with the old, “I get my way, and my choice.

A coach helps players eliminate these bad habits in a sports team. Almost every field has seen a proliferation of coaching, and yet in the spiritual sense we often think we should be free to choose our own course.

Paul said, “I am the slave of Christ Jesus” and “it is for freedom that Christ has set you free.” For the indifferent, the contrast of those two claims doesn’t make sense. To be a slave of anyone is not to be free to choose.

But for the committed follower of Christ, Paul’s words ring true. The more I surrender to Christ Jesus, who is the good teacher the freer I am to be who I am supposed to be. The more Christ becomes the master of my life, the more I am changed to be like Him, the freer I am to be a child of God, to respond lovingly and promptly to the call of the Father. That’s a subversive faith.

Because of the Virginia Tech tragedy some have again asked the question in the US about the right to bear arms, and how easy it is to get a gun. This is what Ben Witherington writes about that,

“It is interesting to me that even most American Christians, when they discuss these things, discuss them in terms of their Constitutional rights to bear firearms. They don’t ask whether the New Testament might have anything to say about Christian conduct in this regard.”

Our culture is in the process of teaching us to ask the wrong questions.

What Ben Witherington is getting at is the freedom to be indifferent versus the freedom to live excellently.

Romans 16:19 says, “Be excellent at what is good and be innocent of evil. And the God of peace will soon crush satan, yes God will crush Him underneath your feet.

Might the Bible have something to say to us?

When we ask, “Master, what can I do to play better piano?’ When we eliminate the “Don’t tell me what to do attitude” we awaken to the realization that anything we take seriously, anything we love has commandments that keep us free.

That is the nature of the Ten Commandments. Eliminate those things in your life that are opposed to love. Don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t covet, don’t lie…

Now the rich young ruler comes to Jesus and says that he’s kept the commands since his youth.

Was he bragging or showing off? I think he was genuine; he really wanted to know the source of eternal life.

It says, “Jesus looked at him with love.” That image is available to each and every one of us from the God of the universe, that when we come to Him, He will look at us with love and compassion and not judgment.

He came to Jesus with the attitude of a young high school athlete that was readying himself for the jump to college ranks, “Coach, what do I need to do?”

He asked the question like a young Sydney Crosby after getting drafted by Mario Lemiuex, “What do I need to focus on in order to succeed?” It was a learning posture.

Jesus says to go sell all his possessions. Become downwardly mobile. Now remember, this is the same Jesus who was still looking at him and loving him.

God is love. Love is giving oneself away. Giveaway your whole life is what Jesus said. Giveaway all of your possessions and then come follow me.

Instead of asking, “What have you done for yourself lately?” (Which most of us have done a lot of!) We ask God, “What do I need to give away, to give up?”

Who of us here thinks they’re rich? Who would say they know someone who’s rich? We usually never have enough. How much money do we need? Just one more dollar!

"The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast us." William James

Jesus says ‘Walk in my footsteps. Come get in line with Bartimaeus and join my family, the local church of committed Christ followers.’

Jesus says in all of that to become His apprentice. When you were apprenticing as a painter you used to move in with the artist, the mater and watch him or her until you were ready.

In chapter one of John’s gospel Andrew and another start following Jesus and they ask, “Where do you stay?” Jesus says, “Come and see.” Become my apprentices and move in to community. Move into Jesus life, into church life.

We learn to move, and think and gesture as Jesus. We learn to give our life away, to give away love. We give it away indiscriminately, not with indifference.

There the rich young ruler went away sad because he couldn’t let go of his possessions because they possessed him. He must have been in pieces.

What are your possessions?

What are you clinging to?




The esteem of others?

Henri Nouwen said that life has three key deceptions, three obstacles that need to be overcome:
1. We are what we do.
2. We are what others say about us.
3. We are what we have.

Are you falling prey to those deceptions? What are you clinging to? That’s what is standing in your way from fully surrendering to follow Jesus.

If you feel sad or discouraged when you’re reading the Bible, you’re reading it the wrong way. This story isn’t a tragedy. Jesus concludes the story by saying,

"With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."

"No chance at all if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you let God do it."

God calls us into discipline in order that we live an excellent life that builds the kingdom.
Do we make mistakes as Christ followers? Yes. Any kid playing piano makes a mistake; any young boy or girl playing soccer makes mistakes. When we fall, we remember that all things are possible with God!

We beg of Jesus like Bartimaeus. We lift up our arms like a small child. We recognize that we are broken, healed and loved in Christ Jesus.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Make (more) Room For Jesus

2 Peter 1
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Get out of the jar and go...

Matthew 28:16-20
Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee, headed for the mountain Jesus had set for their reunion. The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally.

Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: "God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age."

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Do you miss...

...when God is in your midst?

Pearls Before Breakfast

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

When you are on a mission to the missing, conversion and disciple making often get blurred, overlapping and combined like ingredients poured into a mixing bowl. That's why Jesus told us to make disciples, not coverts. Conversion is an important but small step toward discipleship. The linear, multistep sequence we think of as a normal path to conversion doesn't happen in reality, even we have a willing disciple. There are always twists and turns. Always surprises. If you are too scripted with your evangelistic expectations, you won't be agile enought to stay connected with the people Jesus misses most.

. . . . When we allow people to belong before they believe, when we include them in the life of our faith community and introduce them to people they would normally never associate with, we are discipling them. Or perhaps more accurately, we're providing a context for them to engage with the Holy Spirit as he teaches them all the truth they need to know at that time. Jim Henderson

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Last Friday Robert Webber died of cancer. When I was first exposed to his work many moons ago in Seminary, I didn't grasp the significance. Over the years I was able to come to my senses and to more fully appreciate his work and ministry.

He was diagnosed with cancer back in August of '06. In an email he sent back on February 23rd, Dr. Webber wrote,

"I was sent home on December 9th with the words "You have two to four weeks left to live). On December 9th I was a virtual invalid. My wife had to bathe me, dress me, feed me and walk me. I slept 16-18 hours a day and rarely moved any place except to my bed and couch. I even went under the care of palpable hospice. However, instead of getting worse and dying as predicted, I gradually began to improve. Now, two months later I am practically leading a normal life. I care for myself, walk without a walker, go out to eat, work out (to pound weights) and write every day. I attribute this improvement, however long it lasts, to answered prayer – yours and mine, my wife. I have literally bugged and argued with God!

So, in light of my improvement, how do you pray? I want to ask God to heal me but what if he already has. So, here is how Joanne and I solved our dilemma. We live and pray one day at a time. We pray each day and say, "Thank you God for the healing you gave me today. Please heal me tomorrow." It has occurred to both of us that if we were truly spiritually sensitive, we would have prayed that way all of our lives but it took the threat of imminent death to bring us to this point.

We cannot begin to tell all of you how we have benefited from your consistent prayers. We’re convinced that God is answering those prayers and that all the improvement thus far has come from God’s healing powers and that He is the source of all grace. I am confident that God sustained me today but I’m also painfully aware that I am "terminal," at some point, in the larger sense of the word, as we all are. Thanks be to God that Jesus Christ has conquered sin and death and we all face a great future."

In death Robert Webber lived as an example to us all, as he had done in life. He will be sorely missed in the larger Christian community.

The School of Dying Graces