Saturday, November 29, 2003
Well... just letting you know that I finally got blogrolling so that you can easily add me to your links list. I also figured out how to get an rss feed with blogger thanks to some comments on Jonny Baker's Blog.
I still don't fully understand how it all works, but I'm starting to learn. The links to the blogroll and the rss are just under my blog links on the sidebar.
Friday, November 28, 2003
1) I thought you all would be interested in knowing that one of our local clubs, Tornado Joe's, is throwing a Pimp 'n' Ho party later this month...... FYI. [gag!!] I drove by and saw the sign and felt like weeping!
2) Just read some interesting stuff about Vanilla Ice. Aparently after his rise to stardom and subsequent fall into the land of one-hit-wonders he went through a really rough time with drugs and partying. He ended up really wasting himself and one day found himself in a puddle of his own puke... overdosing on drugs. In this interview (last one on the page) he talks about how when he finally woke up from the overdose he "discovered God through it. I woke up and was still alive. And I took that as a sign He [God} was giving me a second chance to go and prove myself. And ever since then, I made a promise to God never to turn around. It's the weirdest thing."
Later on in the article he shares "Yeah, I'm a Christian."
Seems like his lyrics are all still about drugs and sex, but maybe I'm just looking at older stuff. Anyway.....
I know it's really lame to get excited by almost famous people (Vanilla Ice, Kirk Cameron, Lauryn Hill, etc...) who claim to become followers of Jesus, but after reading Nile's story on his blog today I couldn't help but get excited and praise God when He led me to another story of a life changed by Jesus.
Things at our Thursday Group have been going so well. It seems like every week God shows up and does awesome stuff. It has been amazing to see people change and grow and find support as they go through the struggles that they are all facing.
I've always dreamed of belonging to a community of believers like this. It's like after years of struggle I'm finally in a place that is a fit for who I am and really allows me to follow my calling and giftings. The people who come are so awesome and it chokes me up just to think about how much they all mean to me.
I know it sounds cheesy and sappy, but I don't think I have ever felt as free and happy in church before.
[Enter Scene Left - the devil wearing a red smoking jacket twirling his cane in a laid-back manner]
I question whether all of the good stuff that is going on in our group is really God, though. I don't know if people are growing and being blessed because God's hand is in it or because the people I know just really need to belong to a community that cares? Is it God moving or is it just the natural outflow sharing your life with other people?
Would things still be going well if we were a quilting group or a group of model train enthusiasts? How much of it really has to do with God being in it and how much has to do with the fact that our culture is just starved for authentic relationships?
[Jamie steps back into the scene]
Just some questions I've been wrestling with...
in the end I really believe that it's God who doing all of this great stuff. I believe that it's only through Him that we can have authentic Christ-like love for each other and a truly supportive community... so for us to see that happening means that He's probably in it.
At the same time I think it's really healthy for me to be asking these questions. I don't want to come to the place where I get lulled into thinking that God's hand is in something when the blessing is in fact only the natural results of some program or structure that I've dreamed up or facilitated.
Thursday, November 27, 2003
This quote has been bouncing around in my head for the last few days so I thought I would give it some room to breathe.
"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried." GK Chesterton
Ain't it the truth....
In the last few days I've been thinking a lot about all the friends that I knew back in my hippy days when I lived on the street and hitch-hiked around the country. It really bums me out to think about how many of them are dead now. So many of those kids have lost their lives to OD's, suicides or murders. All in the name of "love" and "freedom".
Anyway... Thinking about all those kids reminded me of a link that I found a while ago. It's for The Phat News of Mark, a hippy paraphrase of the bible. Not the most accurate translation in the world, but it's still a pretty fun read.
I am so thankful that God saved the day and rescued me when I was going through that time in my life. Without him stepping in there's no way that I would still be here today. Thanks for the miracle God!
Here's a little sample of the Phat News for you...
Mark 6:56. Wherever He entered, into camps, circles, or a gathering, they laid the sick in the trade circles, and taxed Him that they might just touch the hem of His hoodie. And as many as touched Him were healed.
ps... the picture is of me when I got baptized about 5 years ago. Dig those natty dreads! Man... I was skinny back then. I guess not eating for weeks at a time will do that to you! You can see a more recent pic from my wedding a little further down the page... and that's me in the title bar too.
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
I was reminded of this thought I once had by a post on Jocelyn's Blog.
It had to do with the idea of being a Nominal or Cultural Christian.
I've always found it kind of funny that there are people out there who don't really believe in the basic truth claims of Christianity (salvation through Jesus, etc..) who still go to church and refer to themselves as Christians.
I find it strange because becoming a Christian was a very difficult thing for me to do. Christianity isn't exactly the coolest, or most accepted, religion in our culture. By becomming a Christian I have subjected myself to mockery by television and movies, being completely trashed in most academic circles, and being misunderstood by pretty much everyone else I meet. I'm labelled as intolerant, closed minded, and irrelevant.
I just can't understand why people who don't even believe in this stuff would put themselves through this kind of thing.
There are so many way cooler religions out there. If you are just going to be nominal in a religion why not pick one that will make you popular and open minded like Raelianism or Falun Gong or something.
Just a stupid thought...
Well.. I'm feeling a lot better than I did yesterday. It seems that the whole stomach flu thing is working it's way through my system. I was able to make it to work today (which is a good thing since I have a mountain of stuff to catch up on now!)
Although I am doing better physically things have been kind of rough spiritually for the last few weeks. I just can't seem to get my act together and keep myself motivated. I feel kind of like I'm trying to walk through spiritual jell-o. I just have no energy anymore.
I don't know how I got to this place. Things were going really well for a while there and all of a sudden I just got bogged down. I'm not burnt out or really busy with anything... I'm just in one of those valley times.
The thing that is making this time the hardest is that I just can't seem to stay on top of my bible reading. I know that my relationship with God isn't measured by how much I read the bible, but it's something that brings me so much joy that I really miss it when I'm not doing it. The last few months have been a really intense time of study and reading but all of a sudden it just fizzled out. I haven't really read much of anything for the last 2 weeks. I find it hard because bible reading is such an act of worship for me. I find that by digging into the bible I am drawn into the presence of God. It's the place that I find it easiest to draw close to him.
Anyway... I guess this is just one of those times that I need to buckle down and just tough it out. Things will lighten up eventually. I know that even if I'm feeling a bit crappy God is still there with me and still working through me.
I really thank God for times like this. I see them as an opportunity to model the reality of the Christian walk to the new believers (or spiritual seekers) that God has me ministering to. The truth is that Christianity isn't always easy and there are times when it really feels like God is far away. There are times when you feel like you're drifting and times when you don't think you are ever going to feel normal again.
I think that as leaders we often try to make it look as though everything is good and easy all the time, or at least we try to make it look like everything is good for us. I believe that it's important for followers of Jesus to know that every one of us will face quieter times in our walk with God. Every Christian goes through seasons. Some are bright and full of life and others are cold and dull.
Right now I'm in one of the dull ones!
I think I'm going to try to find some of those people who are on the mountain top to cheer me up a bit.
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
Sorry I've been a bit quiet for the last few days. I've been pretty sick with some wierd stomach flu. I left work yesterday at noon because I wasn't feeling well and I had to skip work all together today. I hope I get better soon. I hate being sick!!!
Friday, November 21, 2003
Sorry guys... This is really long! It's an edit of a post that I wrote on the Ooze a few weeks ago, but it fits with some things that we talked about at our group last night and I've been meaning to blog about this.
The post is about some thoughts that Rigel and I have had *thanks to Les* about the nature of authority and how it fits into the church. The main focus of it is on the difference between what I call prophetic authority and Legal authority.
The church these days is spending a lot of time talking about authority and leadership, so I think it's important for us to take a look at what authority is and where it comes from. Is authority something that a man can give another man, or is it something that comes from God? Can it ever come from both? Is there different kinds of authority? Here's some of my thoughts on the matter.
I believe that the definition of authority that we generally use in the church doesn't really do justice to the intricacies of biblical authority. I have been taught by churches that all authority is from God and that all authority is equal. I have also been taught that as Christians we need to submit to all authority and leadership unless the leadership is leading you to sin. But where does this authority come from. What role does God play in establishing the organizational authorities in the Church.
I have discovered recently that there is really [at least]two types of authority described in the bible. One is Prophetic Authority and the other is Legal or Kingly Authority.
Prophetic authority is authority that is given by God and directed by God (like the judges and the prophets in the OT) Their authority came from their calling from God and their obedience to his leading. This would compare to a leader in the church who has a clear vision of what God is calling him to do and walks in his God given authority to accomplish it. This person doesn't need to be commissioned or backed up by an institution because his/her authority rests in the fact that he/she was called by God to complete a certain task. He receives a vision of his mission and does it....no middle man. The authority comes from God's specific calling. Whether the Church or the organization acknowledges and gives support to this authority or not is irrelevant since the authority is not dependent on human legitimization.
The second type of Authority is Legal or Kingly authority.
Legal authority is also instituted by God, but the direction of this authority is shared by God and Man. This is the authority that is imparted to a man by another man. (in the church this is usually done by a recognition of God's call on the leader's life). An example of this would be someone who is sent by their denomination to pastor a church that has just lost it's pastor. The new pastor might not have a specific vision for the church yet or even the call to lead this church, but they have been given authority by the denomination (and the new church) to take over this work and accomplish the task of pastoring the church. The leader who receives his authority in this way can often end up kind of torn. He has been given authority by God, but is also accountable to a legal system that has granted him authority. The trouble usually comes when what God is saying (the prophetic vision of mission) is in conflict with the institutional mission.
I saw this theory of prophetic and legal authority play itself out first hand when I helped planted a church within a church a few years ago. The church grew out of a small group that met at my house that got too big for our living room. The pastor at our church thought it would be cool to have a similar kind of thing (pomo gen-X service) at the church so he asked my friend and I if we would do it. The vision that we had for it was something that God had been speaking to us for several years. It was rooted in relationship and community and we knew that God had given it to us. We lived it and breathed it every day. But the pastor at the "mother" church had an inside man...a guy he was grooming for ministry that he wanted to be part of the core leadership team. This guy didn't really have the same vision (prophetic call) from God that we did, but he had authority (legal) given to him by the church. After a while my friend and I were pushed out of the core leadership because of strong personalities and conflicts (more to it than that simple explanation...there was stupid sin on my part and other stuff going on). The only guy left was the guy with the legal authority.
What do you think happened to the service? It ended up changing and taking on the character of the church that it was in... the source of his authority. He was still hearing from god on how to lead, but it wasn't him who was supposed to do it. His authority was honoured by God, but it wasn't given by God... it was given by the church organization. Since then the service has fallen apart. All of the things that were originally central to it's mission had been removed and in the end it looked just like the church that it came from ( it just had cooler lights and better music)
All this to say that often what we call leadership in church is legal authority. We give authority to people to do things within our organizations (denominational ordination...Etc..) based on credentials and education...Not necessarily on the prophetic authority given to them by God. God doesn't always work within this structure. He gives authority to whoever he wants even if the organization doesn't recognize it. This is how most great moves of God got their start!
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Well... I'm finally starting to figure out this web design thing. I spent about 8 hours last night playing around and learning dreamweaver and fireworks. It's pretty intimidating when you first start out, but it gets so much easier as you go along. Hopefully a friend of mine will teach me flash in the next few days and then I can start playing around with intros and animation. I can't wait to finally put together a cool looking page that I am proud of.
Em's so supportive of me learning this stuff and has even offered to get me hosting and a domain once I have my site together. What a great wife!
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
I read this article on msn and I thought it was interesting enough to post. It talks about the corner that the prosecution in the sniper case has painted themselves into. Their argument in the Muhammad case was that Muhammad (who apparently never fired the sniper rifle) was still guilty because he Manipulated his younger accomplice Malvo in to shooting... Essentially using Malvo as a weapon. The pickle is that now they are trying Malvo and the prosecution needs to prove that Malvo wasn't being manipulated and that he acted on his own free will... making him just as guilty as Muhammad.
I think this is so interesting. It's amazing that illogical stuff like this goes on in the legal system! It reminds me of a point that Ravi Zaccharias once made about how prosecutors spend a whole trial trying to prove that a criminal isn't insane and should be sent to jail and when they lose the case go on to try to prove that the criminal is too insane to be let out of the mental institution and back into society.
So is he insane or not?
Was Malvo manipulated and Muhammad the guilty one or was Malvo acting on his own free will and Muhammad is innocent?
I almost forgot about this again this year!! It's time to remind you to get ready for Buy Nothing Day on November 28th.
It is a chance for people all over the western world to take a break from buying crap they don't need and being a consumer vaccuum cleaner.
Buy Nothing day is put on every year by Adbusters, an organization that is into curbing consumerism and unethical business/media practices.
I also want to give a link to a cool Christian organization that is trying to do something similar.
Are you sick of the way Christmas has been turned into a Hallmark holiday? Do you want to make statement against the gluttony and greed? This is your chance!
Starting November 28 (the busiest shopping day of the year) People all around North America will be hitting the malls to try to make a dent in their Christmas shopping lists. You will have the chance to be one of the rebellious few who gets to sit at home and enjoy your holidays without the hassle of pushing your way through crowds of zombie like people with only one goal.....MORE!
Last year at Christmas I met Christian people who remortgaged their houses to pay for all the presents that they were buying for their kids and friends. It's time to draw the line.
Find out how at BuyNothingChristmas.
The site is run by some Mennonite guys from my area who are into seeing Christmas get back to what it's really about. They even have a really cool flash animation that you can watch Here. The load time is really slow so you might need to be patient.
Anyway... enough revolutionary preaching for today.
Seriously though.... Check out the guys at Buy Nothing Christmas .... they have some really important stuff to say. They even have study guides and other cool resources that you can download and use for free.
Monday, November 17, 2003
In the last week I have noticed a pretty big shift in my thinking and in the way I see and relate to the Church(tm). It has been about a month since Em and I officially stepped out of the IC and in that time my attitude toward it has gone through some pretty radical changes. I have felt a really wide range of emotions about the IC ranging from anger and frustration to whole hearted support and encouragement.
It has been a pretty intense time of high highs and low lows, but I think that I am finally beginning to settle into a place where I am a little more balanced.
I have been exploring this emerging church thing for about 3 or 4 years and in that time I have seen a lot of different reactions to the IC. I have seen people who are extremely bitter and angry with it and think that the entire thing needs to be scrapped and started fresh. I have met others who are dipping their toes in the emergent waters to get a feel for what's going on, but in the end think that things are great the way they are. I have always tended to be a guy who sat somewhere in the middle.
But since we left the IC a month ago I have found myself a little more on the scrap it and start fresh side of things. My heart has been so hard toward the IC and the people in it. I have found myself frustrated and pulling my hair out after reading articles by "popular" Christian authors. I have even begun to cultivate an us vs. them mentality that has been leading me to see the IC (and other Christians) as the enemy.
But I really, really don't want to be this way. I don't want to be bitter and I don't want to be at odds with my brothers and sisters in Christ. One of the things that I have held onto for most of my walk with God is that there is something that I can learn in all expressions of the Christian faith. I want to be able to fellowship in close communion with members of the IC even though I have a hard time with the way that they do some things. I want to see what God is teaching me and leading me into as a positive addition to the current expression of church rather than a supplement for it. It's growth and adaptation vs. tearing down and rebuilding.
In the last week God has really put his finger on my heart and softened it. He had me in tears thinking about some of the amazing things that he is doing through churches and ministries that I have criticized and rejected as too modern. He has broken my heart and humbled me.
I have realized that it's not my job to sift the church and separate the good from the bad. That's God's job!
My job is to be obedient to God's call on my life and walk that out even if it looks different than the way things are currently done.
I'm not responsible for the IC, God is.
It's not my job to reform them or to save them, that's God's job.
All that I am responsible for is faithfully ministering to the people that God has called me to reach in the way that he has called me to do it. It will look different than the way things are done in the IC, but that's because my calling and culture is a little different than theirs.
I think that I am finally learning to love the IC like Jesus loves them. I'm learning that I need to drop my pride and my critical attitude and let Jesus (the good shepherd) be their direction and their judge.
Just wanted to add that the place I am in is where God wants ME. This is just MY conviction and MY calling. I believe that there are others in the emerging church who are called to be a voice of change to the IC. There are people who are called to be prophets who challenge the IC. There are the reformers and the revolutionaries. Right now, those things just aren't part of the instructions that God has given me.
Friday, November 14, 2003
Hey guys. I just set up a new blog for all of the people who belong to the community that meets at my house on Thursday nights. We're going to have a community blog so that everyone who is part of the group can post about what is going on in their lives or what God is speaking to them about.
It's already up and running, but I'm just waiting to get some email addresses so that I can send some invites to get people registered as members.
I've been dreaming about doing this for a long time and finally I think It's going to work. I'm hoping that it will be a place where people can keep up with what's going on during the week and post their thoughts, prayer requests, whatever. I'm pretty excited!
Thursday, November 13, 2003
I have been praying for months that God would get me video camera so that I can start making some of the movies that I want to make. Finally on Tuesday after Meetup He answered through a friend named Ron. I don't know him very well yet, but he graciously offered my an old video camera that he has. What an awesome blessing!
So today on the ooze someone asked what people's personal mission statements were. I'm not a huge fan of mission statements in the purpose driven kind of way but it's kind of fun to think about what it is that you really live for.
So here's some of the stuff that I posted on the ooze.
I don't have the statement all slicked out yet, but I have done quite a bit of thinking about it. A few weeks ago god met me in my office and work and broke me down into tears. He began speaking to me about the work that he wanted me to do and the people he wanted me to reach. He also put it on my heart to write out a short little statement that I could use to describe what it is that I am I am called to do. The rough idea (like I said...I don't have it all slick yet) involves partnering with christ to bring faith, hope, love, and purpose to a culture (generation) that needs them so badly.
FAITH - because, like me before I became a follower of Jesus, most people don't know very much about what Christianity is and what it means to be a follower of Jesus. They also haven't really been introduced to what the life of faith looks like. I would love to see people experience the awesomeness of life in Christ and experience the riches of the Christian faith. There is so much depth to it that most people never get to see and such blessing in living it that most people never get to experience.
HOPE - because almost everyone I know is hopeless... it's something that is tearing the culture around me apart! I long to see people comforted and able to rejoice knowing that there is hope for them and hope for their futures. Hope that there won't always be sickness and pain and death. Hope that even in this life we can experience joy and peace. Hope that one day they will smile again.
LOVE - because many people ahve never experience true community in our urban culture and many have no understanding of what healthy family is either. Many of us have come from broken families or disfunctional backgrounds. We're lonely living in cities of millions of people. My heart burns to see people accepted and belonging somewhere. People who are outcasts being brought into communities that genuinely love them for who they are. I hope to see people finally experiece the love of man and the love of God in a way that is real to them and brings joy and freedom to their lives. (part of this one is that I have a huge burden for the nerds, the losers, the geeks and the freaks. I hate seeing people marginalized by groups because they look a little different or they have a hard time fitting in socially. I also really have a heart for people who are hurting or stuggling.)
PURPOSE - because I think that God has a plan and a purpose for everyone that he creates but many of us struggle to find out what that is and how to live it out. I want to encourage people in their callings and giftings and help create opportunities for them to grow in them. Most people just need to know that they are special and have something special to give the world. I want to be someone that tells them that and helps them to find ways to accomplish what they are made to do!
So there you go! I guess that's the basics of my mission statement. There's a little more to it than that (specifics like the kinds of people and cultures that I really have a burden to minister to), but this is the scaffold that holds all of that.
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
No.. I'm not using bad language again (notice the "d") I just stumbled accross a really messed up site. I don't know whether I love it or want to cry... all I know is that I want to be a part of it. Here's the Link. And if that doesn't do it for you there's always Virtual Bubble Wrap.
All day (2 weeks actually) I haven't been able to stop thinking about a little thought that a friend of mine had for me. I think I've finally come to realize that his little sentence has changed my life. I knew it was meaningful when I first heard it, but that seed he planted has worked it's way into the core of who I am.
Since the day I became a Christian I have known that God has called to me plant churches and pastor churches. It's all that I have been able to think about and dream about for years. This is my passion and my dream (what I was made to do).
The problem is that the process of becoming a "real" pastor is a lot more difficult than most people think. You need training, and bible school and friends in high places to grease the path for you. You need to go to a church that will support you and give you opportunities to grow in your calling. You need to stick in one place for a long enough time to prove that you are responsible enough and doctrinally correct enough to be sent out. It's not like you can just sign up and start doing it.
When I first realized how difficult it was to get into it I was a little disappointed, but I was also determined to do everything that I could to prove to everyone that I would make a good pastor. I volunteered for every service opportunity I could. I led worship, I was a youth leader, I was doing street evangelism and rave evangelism and servant evangelism. I had keys to the church and went to the leadership meeting. I went to the youth leader ministerials hoping to learn something from these guys and maybe get them to put in a good word for me. I gave everything I had into proving to people that I was worthy. I was even trying to prove to God (the one who called me and gave me the vision) that I was the right man for the job.
My heart was constantly broken as time and time again I would get shut down or told that it wasn't enough. I always needed more training, I needed bible school, I needed to do an internship... I needed.. I needed.. I needed.... Nothing was ever good enough.
I would pray every day that one day God would send me a "man of God" that would lay his hands on my head, pour oil on me and send me off to be a "real" pastor. I would cry myself to sleep some nights from the disappoint that I felt after being let down by another pastor that I thought might be "the One".
I was so determined to find that "man of God" that I even went to a church I didn't fit in with because I believed that I might have a chance at getting my start with this pastor. I didn't want to be part of their organization, I had a different theological leaning, but I didn't care I just wanted the blessing and the permission to do what I knew God had called me to. (kind of funny that my name is a variant of Jacob)
Then my friend shared his sentence with me. He said "Jamie, what makes me a fish farmer? Isn't it the fact that every morning when I wake up I farm fish. Now, what makes you a pastor? Isn't it the fact that when you get up in the morning you pastor people. As long as you are doing that you are a pastor." It absolutely rocked my world. For the first time I realized that I was dreaming of being someone that I already was. I was already planting churches and pastoring people. I wasn't getting paid, but I was doing the work. I didn't need a man to affirm me or give me permission because God had already done it. I didn't need a man of God to anoint me because God had already anointed me with his spirit. I didn't need to become someone new, I was already who I wanted to be. I just the person God made me to be. I guess just needed to believe that God's call and God's authority were good enough. I am a pastor because I am pastoring people, not because an organization has given me a piece of paper that proves it. My proof is in my fruit.
Hi, I'm Jamie, and I'm finally a "real" pastor.
Monday, November 10, 2003
Tomorrow is Indie Allies Meetup day. I'm so stoked because I haven't had a chance to make it yet. Every time I'm actually free to get out to it it's cancelled because not enough people sign up. Looks like this week is a go, though. I'm interested in meeting some of the people in the Vancouver area who are wrestling with the same kind of things that I am.
Well.. I was having a really hard time organizing the mess that I had in my old template (that's what happens when you learn by doing) so I just decided to clean it all up and start fresh. I'm still playing around with some of the formatting and colour and stuff, but I should have it at least stable pretty soon. Man, I like this a lot better! It's easier to read and play around with.
Saturday, November 08, 2003
Well.. my wife Emily finally caved in and started blogging. You can check out her thoughts and all the nice things she has to say about me at Emily's Blog.
Friday, November 07, 2003
Sorry about the cheesy Pentecostal sermon title for this post, but I just couldn't resist.
Man... God is so good. He hung out with us so intimately last night at our house church. I still haven't quite come to grips with how awesome it was.
Last night was such a mess. Half of the group was having problems with their faith. 2 thirds were having struggles with suicidal thoughts and self mutilation. Most of us were hopeless, some of us were broken, all of us were needy.
There were conflicts that came up (that I let go on till they sorted themselves out), there were people breaking down in tears from their pain, there were even some desperate expressions of frustration and depression.
And you know what..... I loved it and wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
How often does the Church try to gloss over the reality of struggle and pain? How often do we as Christians live in a fairy tale land where we pretend that everything is all good? The reality is that things aren't all good all the time.
Life is messy and life is crappy sometimes. Sometimes our lives aren't all they were cracked up to be. I have to admit it scared the crap out of me last night when in the middle of worship over 2 thirds of the people in the group began admitting that they couldn't stop thinking about hurting themselves or suicide. It scared the crap out of me that for the first time people were admitting their hard-core struggles and doubts in a Christian setting. It didn't scare me because I'm not used to hearing stuff like that, but it scared me because I finally realized that if there is this many struggling people in the little group at my house, how many are there suffering silently in our churches?
The hard thing for me to deal with is the fact that for the most part those silent sufferers will never be free to voice their pain or voice their frustration with life and God in a Christian community.
I am so thankful that God has blessed us our group with a spirit that is willing to love and accept people despite their weaknesses. I have been praying for years that God would gather a group of believers that weren't afraid to let people be real in the context of a supportive group of believers. God has done so much more than I ever dreamed.
It's not about having a sin confession party and it's not about being emotional for the sake of being emotional. It's about letting people be honest with where they're at. If someone is struggling the should be free to let the community know so that the church can stand beside them and support them through it. This is what it mean to really love someone. We need to love people enough to let them admit that they need help.
Yes it's messy. Yes it gets kind of awkward. But Jesus has never been afraid of wading through crap and messy situations. He came for people who don't have their stuff all together. He's big enough to handle our lack of faith. He's big enough to handle anger and depression. But are we big enough to follow him and love people the people he loves?
Thursday, November 06, 2003
Here's a link to a great satirical poem that Ravi Zaccharias quotes in his book "Can man live without God?".
I don't know why, but it just popped into my head a few minutes ago and I couldn't help but post it. Every time I hear it I get the warm-fuzzies and end up snickering to myself for hours. I love the way he's so sharp and thorough in his criticism of the secular mindset, while at the same time making it humorous and accessible to the average joe.
Creed by Steve Turner
Thank God for villagephotos.com . Since Blogger won't let me upload pictures here I found a way around it by posting my pictures into a villagephotos gallery and linking from there. I tried fotopages and some other sites, but I couldn't find a way to get the URL to link to. Right clicking didn't work! I wish I could figure out the whole ftp thing so I can post stuff to my "free" webspace that came with my internet connection, but I'm happy with this for now.
Anyway... The reason I went through all that trouble to get a picture here was because I really wanted to post a picture of my wife Em and I. It's one of the pictures from our wedding in march. Here you go.
Wednesday, November 05, 2003
Well... Just got home from the movie. I liked it a lot! I thought it was much better than the second one and it was definitely MUCH easier to understand. They gave some info that really clarified the whole story line. I don't want to talk about it too much as it was just released and I don't want to spoil it for anyone.
Suffice it to say that it's a pretty fun movie and the action was great. Many of my suspicions about the matrix were confirmed so I'm feeling pretty smart and proud. Check it out if you get a chance... It was worth it.
The only problem is that now I am so jonesing to have my very own mech.
Language in the EC
I've noticed that lots of people who are traveling the road of emergence have a different view of what is appropriate and inappropriate when it comes to language. I can't even count the times that I've seen really heavy language on church websites or emerging church related message boards.
At first I had a really difficult time with it as it threatened my good "Christian" sensibilities. (Christians shouldn't swear, right?!) Now, after really thinking about it and praying about it, I have had to change my views on the language Christians can and should use.
Language and Culture
Ultimately appropriate and inappropriate language is determined by culture. I know it sounds like a morally relativistic cop-out, but I really believe it's true. I can say something here that is totally fine, but would go over like a lead balloon somewhere else in the world. I heard somewhere that calling someone an eggplant in Japan is bad news, calling someone that here sounds like an insult from a bad TV edit of a movie. Before we can say that something is obscene or not we need to take a look at the cultural context in which it is said.
Where I live it is very common to hear people say words like @$$ and Cr@p. It's totally normal and not considered culturally offensive by most. I have even heard far more intense things spoken from the pulpits of pretty conservative churches (including the "s word" and others). I guess my point is that in the culture I live in these words don't cause a negative reaction in people...Most don't even notice.
We still have words that hold some strong meaning. (The "F word" will still get a rise out of lots of people), but other words are really few and far between.
I believe as a Christian it is my responsibility to avoid obscenity, foolish talk and coarse joking (Eph. 5:4). But I also need to be free to be "all things to all men" so that I might win some (1 Cor. 9:22). I think it's important to note that the obscenity and coarse joking that Paul is referring to here is stuff that was considered offensive 2000 years ago in Jerusalem. I'm sure we wouldn't even catch on to most of it if we were to hear it today.
When we minister we minister within the context of culture. Sometime we even have the opportunity to minister cross culturally. When we are in a cross cultural setting sometimes things in that culture will offend our sensibilities. We need to be able to recognize those things and then determine if what is offending us is just a cultural misunderstanding or if it is in fact something that is wrong across the board. (The bible is usually a good measuring stick for this)
Since the bible doesn't give us specifics on what is obscenity and what isn't, it's up to us as emerging ministers to determine what language is appropriate for the cultural setting that God has us working in. If being to okilly-dokilly is going to stop me from being heard by the audience God has called me to I need to be able and willing to adjust my language in such a way as to be culturally relevant to the people I am hoping to introduce to Christ.
Just thought I should add this at the end........ Because of some of the people God currently has me ministering and the conviction of the spirit I have made the decision to not use the "F word". That's the main one that I try to stay away from. I have no problem hearing it or reading it, but my deal is that I don't like saying it... unless it's necassary in the context God has me in. (which so far has been pretty rare) Occasionally I use other language that is offensive to some people who come across what I write here, but for the most part the people that I am called to minister to won't bat an eyelash at words like @$$, Cr@p, or hell.
Well... I just moved all of my stuff from throughaglassdarkly.blogspot.com over here. I was starting to get frustrated at the length of the name I had before and I figure beChurch would just be easier for me and everyone else. It shouldn't be too big of a deal since no one is really checking out the blog yet anyway!
If you had me linked before at throughaglassdarkly (what a mouthfull) it would be awesome if you could link to me here. Thanks guys!
Well... tonight is movie night. After a couple months of waiting we're going to check out the new Matrix movie. I'm curious to see how it all wraps up. I really wanted to go see it on the IMAX, but they were trying to charge us 17 bucks for tickets.
I just have to say... (although there is a huge risk of getting myself into trouble) I've never understood the people who claim the matrix as their all inclusive christian spiritual analogy (neo is jesus, trinity is the spirit, the architect is God....blah blah blah).
I have just never been able see it. The first time I saw the Matrix I couldn't help but notice the buddhist message it was preaching. (Once you realize that everything is just an illusion you can do whatever you want....)
I didn't really see the "overt" christian underpinnings that people were raving about. I kind of felt like I was listening to that 'Sweet Lord" song by George Harrison. You know the one where he mixes the Hallelujahs in with the Hare Krishnas. Same kind of thing. Yeah they use some Christian words, but the heart of the message is very different.
I just keep flashing back to the scene in reloaded where they're walking through Zion and there's a vendor who selling all these Jesus icons along side Buddha images. Hallelujah/Hare Krishna? Hmmmmm....
I hope that they clear the whole issue up in this movie, but I have a feeling that they will leave it purposefully ambiguous in that area just to keep the conversations going on long after the trilogy is done.
Who really cares though. It doesn't crush my world to know that the sci-fi movie I'm about to watch isn't a Christian allegory. I more interested in seeing Neo kick ass on Agent Smith. Maybe I'm just not very spiritual.
Tuesday, November 04, 2003
Crazy fun eurostyle!
Looking for a new sport? Why not try Le Parcour?! The sporting sensation that's taking Europe by storm (well... not really, but it's still pretty cool!)
The things that people do for fun never cease to amaze me!
Check out the videos... lot's of crazy action and hilarious hijynx.
Em and I decided yesterday that we are going to start being conversation partners with international students at the local college. There is such a great opportunity to be able to show these people love and acceptance. Many of them come to our county to study and end up isolated because it is very difficult for them to meet Canadian friends. I really believe this is a chance for us to make a huge different in the lives of these people.
There are way more international students than there are volunteers so there is a huge need right now. Why not give our time to relationship with these students.
One of the awesome things about the program is that it gives us an opportunity to share our lives (and faith - in a natural way) with people who have had no contact with the Gospel in the past. Many of the students are from China. It's like God has compensated for the closed doors (communist government) in that country by sending people here to us. What a great opportunity.
The other thing is that these student are often from rich or influential families (they had the $ to get here right?). These are the people who are going to be the future community leaders when they go back to their countries. Those are the people that we need to influence if we want to see real change in the world. They are going to be the ones who are making the policies and decisions.
Here's a challenge for all you people who are interested in becoming missionaries one day. Why wait to go over seas to start reaching out cross culturally? Why not find out if your local college has international students and if you can get involved. It's a chance to begin learning something about other cultures and maybe you can even make connections in the country you are interested in reaching. Man... it almost seems too good to be true, doesn't it?
A few weeks ago I had this revelation while sitting in the bath tub (yes... I'm one of those wussy guys who likes baths!).
God gave me a revelation about John 13:35
"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
I realized that the church (at least here) is extremely focussed on showing "the unchurched" how loving and nice we christians are. We do servant evangelism and community outreaches and all sorts of other things to show our community "God's love in a practical way". The problem is that we aren't very good at backing it up once people decide to become part of our faith groups. We love 'em before they believe, but what about after. Seems to me that trying to convince people that we are a loving community without really being a loving community is kind of like putting the cart before the horse
You see, what's the point in showing love to our community and convincing them that we are loving people when this is anything but reality in most churches. The majority of pastors that I have spoken to are having an extremely difficult time developing community and genuine Christian love in their churches. They struggle to get fellow christians to spend time together and love each other. How is a church that is having a difficult time loving each other ever going to effectively love people on the outside!?
The thing that God spoke to me about was putting things back into proper perspective. If we can get our acts together and really begin loving the people in our churches...the natural outflow of that love will begin affecting our communities. We'll also have something that we can feel confortable inviting people into.
People long to experience genuine love and community. People will do crazy things to find it. If we can truly demonstrate that love for each other, people outside of our churches will naturally be drawn to it. Acceptance and love is an enticing thing!
We need to bring our churches to the place where we are loving each other so much that people begin to take notice. Who wouldn't want to belong to a community where they know that their emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual needs will be met. Who would turn down the opportunity to be LOVED?
The hard thing is convincing people that focussing inward is sometimes the best thing to do. The church has had problems with this in the past. We have gotten so inward focussed that we have often forgotten about the mission that Christ has given the Church. This is different though. Like I said in the title. It is inreach , not for the sake of outreach, but with the result of outreach. It's not about navel gazing, it's about loving each other the way Jesus told us to. If we can figure that out, mission will naturally flow from it and people will be drawn to Christ.
Monday, November 03, 2003
Just trying to see if I can get a picture on here.
Cool! Well.. I guess I can. The new "real" posts should be coming soon. I've been meaning to write more for the last while, but it was so hard to get into it when I couldn't figure out how to personalize my blog. Now it should be MUCH more fun.
Well.. I have finally managed to figure some of this blogger stuff out. I now have comments, links, titles, new colours, new formatting, and the ability to add pictures once I figure out how to change the sizes so they fit my template.
The last few weeks has been pretty surreal. It's wierd having everything flipped upside down. People who were on my side are now, well... not. And people that I never thought would be in the same place as me are. Cool! It has been really wierd this week. it seems that all sorts of people that I haven't connected with in years are showing up out of the woodwork and asking me what church I'm going to. Why? It's like there's a conspiracy out there. All of these people want to talk about my church life. So strange! It was really difficult to answer at first but I am starting to get the hang of dealing with that question. I've noticed that people don't like the "I'm just worshipping with friends at my house" answer. Especially older believers. They all get freaked out and begin to act like they do when they are talking to "the unchurched" in an evengelism situation. All of a sudden we're not on the level any more. I must be backslidden... or worse....becoming an atheist!! For the first few talks I got REALLY defensive and felt that I had to give a 3 point sermon on why it's ok to worship at home...with pictures and diagrams and a proof text for each point. I've given up on that now... it doesn't work... they still don't understand. It almost makes it worse because they get the impression that something must be wrong if I am defending it as hard as I am. Not worth it!!!
A friend of mine who is doing undercover C5 missionary work in the middle east passed a message on to me this week that really made a difference. He said that if you are spending your time defending something you aren't living it. In his business it's one or the other. You either focus your energy on living your calling or on defending it. I've chosen to live it. I will let the fruit of the ministry God has for me be my defence. This was a huge help. Now when people ask what is going on I just tell them the truth and leave it at that. No more worries! God has given me the prophetic authority to walk this road, it's his job to defend it.
just some thoughts that might encourage someone else who's going through this junk!
Well... after years of struggling to find a church where I fit and months of frustration my wife and I have finally taken the leap. We decided to take a break from the IC. Man... this is the hardest thing I think I've ever had to do. it's almost harder than it was for me to choose to follow Jesus. It's like everything I have known for so long is falling apart. My hopes and dreams of pastoring a church...everything. I come from a church background that brings people up through relationship and eventually releases them to church plant. All of the connections I've made in organizations are kind of shot now since people think I'm wacko for even imagining that you can be a follower of Jesus without attending a "church" on sunday morning. how am I ever going to have credibility or credentials as a leader now? Even close friends of mine don't understand how I could be doing this. I don't want to have to do it, but there has to be something better out there. I can't go on the way I have. i don't want to be frustrated any more. I have tried very hard to keep myself in check and not just run when I see problems. I know that there is no such thing as the perfect church. But I also know that God has so much more for us as Christians than what most churches can offer. God has more for ME!!
I have a need in my life to belong to a loving community that will join me in my journey to knowing christ more. is that too much to ask of a church? maybe it is. maybe I'm naive and idealistic. But I know that I need to find it. Actually... I know that I need to start modeling it in my own life.
I am currently meeting with a group of friends at my house on thursday nights and we worship god, pray for each other, and talk about our faith and lives. It is going really well and i feel in my heart that this is my church. When I ask myself who I'm accountable to, who pastors me, and who i go to when I am hurting, it is the people in this group that come to my mind... not the people in my "real church". So why continue the charade. Why continue going to a church that doesn't have a part in my life except on sunday morning.
I guess I'm writing this because I am really messed up and confused. I feel like I'm doing the right thing, but at the same time I feel like I'm doing the wrong thing. I know in my heart it's ok. And I know that theologically the church isn't just a building that we go to on sunday, but it's a still hard. Am I just decieved by wicked spirits that are trying to drag me to hell like some people have told me, or am I just a hurt church person that is in rebellion. Am I allowed to be frustrated at the church. Is it ok take a step back if you think that stuff is just not working?
Well.. I have some time to post. I think I'm starting to get the hang of blogger. I think (hope) I've managed to change the font size that I had. It was a little small before and hard to read.
Well... Things are going pretty good lately. Em and I have finally left the IC. It was a hard decision for us to make, but we really had to do it. I had been throwing the thought around for quite a while, but just never had to guts to follow through. But push came to shove and we did it. We are now fellowshipping with friends at our house on thrusday nights. It's an interesting change. So much nicer.
Rather than spend an hour writing the story again I think I'll post some of my thoughts that I wrote on the ooze.