Tuesday, February 27, 2007

SOCIAL CONTROLS

How is the prevailing dominant culture employing it's controls on you?

How does it effect you and your desire to learn to live with God as your life?

This isn't even about whether breaking free from the hold the land of exile has on us is possible. It is absolutely necessary.

What keeps us from making the choice to walk out of the fog most find themselves?

Is it that the numbness is so deep, or is it that we just pain enjoy the false comforts too much?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

TO BELIEVE THAT GOD COULD RECAPTURE YOUR IMAGINATION

This is from the book The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann

He speaks of the culture and it's mindset as the royal consciousness.

"We also are children of royal consciousness. All of us, in one way or another, have deep commitments to it. So the first question is: How can we have enough freedom to imagine and articulate a real historical newness in our situation? That is not to ask, as Israel's prophets ever asked, if this freedom is realistic or politically practical or economically viable. To begin with such questions is to concede everything to the royal consciousness even before we begin. We need to ask not whether it is realistic or practical or viable but whether it is imaginable. We need to ask if our consciousness and imagination have been so assaulted and co-opted by the royal consciousness that we have been robbed of the courage or power to think an alternative thought."

Do you dare to believe in something other than what this world and it's economic, political and religious systems tell you?

"The royal consciousness leads people to despair about the power to move toward new life. It is the task of prophetic imagination and ministry to bring people to engage the promise of newness that is at work in our history with God."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

IS SILENCE BETRAYAL?

I post these words from Dr. King so as to maybe help rattle any complacency that has dulled our senses. Where have things in our lives that don't reflect Jesus taken over our minds and hearts? Don't make the mistake thinking I am using this as a anti-war speech, and then it keeps us from appling it to all areas of our lives. . There are many way in which conformist thought gets hold of us and before you know it our lives begin to reflect things other than God's desires for us. If we all have the courage to look at our lives honestly, who knows what Father might disentangle us from and where he might lead us? Dr. King's refusal to except the status quo changed a nation.

We need to be shaken..........

When Silence Is Betrayal

Martin Luther King, Jr.,
at Riverside Church, New York, April 4, 19671.

"A time comes when silence is betrayal. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men [sic] do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty. But we must move on.

2. "Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. For we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

3. "We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation, for those it calls "enemy," for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers. I think of them, too, because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

4. "I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

5. "A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, ‘This way of settling differences is not just.’ A nation that continues year and year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

6. "America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities over the pursuit of war.

7. "This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind. We can no longer afford to worship the God of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate.

8. "We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight…”

This is probably not the last time you see this posted here. These are important words for us today.

Monday, February 19, 2007

OUR VOCATION TO THE WORLD

"The creative, redemptive love of God

We are made for relationship, stewardship, and for worship.

Human beings know in their bones that they are made for each other.
Human beings know in the bones that they are to look after and shape this world.
Human beings know in their bones that they are made to worship someone, who they resemble.

But like Israel with her vocation, we humans get it wrong. We worship other gods and then start to reflect their likeness instead. We distort our vocation to stewardship into the will to power, treating God's world either as a gold mine or an ash tray. And we distort our calling to beautiful, healing, creative, many sided relationships, into exploitation and abuse.

We are created to reflect God's likeness to the world."


These thoughts are taken from NT Wright from his teaching "Jesus the World's True Light"

I highly recomend it for listening if any of this resonates with you.

You can find it at this link under Audio/video

http://www.ntwrightpage.com/

Sunday, February 18, 2007

WE ARE IN NEED OF SOME DANGEROUS WONDER

From the book Dangerous Wonder by Mike Yaconelli

"We are in a battle between dullness and astonishment. The most critical issues facing Christianity is not abortion, pornography, disintegration of the family, moral absolutism, MTV, drugs, racism, sexuality and school prayer. The critical issue today is dullness. We have lost our astonishment. The "Good News" is no longer good new, it's okay news. Christianity is no longer life changing, it is life enhancing. Jesus doesn't change people into wided eyed radicals anymore, he changes them into nice people."

Unfortunately sometimes we don't even become nice people.

This is about something bigger than we have known or experienced. It transcends earthy politics regardless of what nation we find ourselves in. It so transcends what our culture deems important and "must-have". It so transcends a Sunday morning gathering, whatever shape it might be. It so transcends our trust in bringing about peace through violence.

This is about Jesus coming close and changing our perspective to that of our Father.


Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
But deliver us from evil:
[For thine is the kingdom, The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever.] Amen.

That sounds like Dangerous Wonder to me.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

WHAT IS OUR DOMINANT STORY?

It is questions that have been so important to me especially over this past year. I heard the question in the title of this post the other day and I believe this is probably the question that frames about everything that has happened in my life beginning in the spring of 2006.

Here is what I started to realize had shaped much of who I had become, with a covering of religion over it all.

Colonialism
Capitalism
Consumerism
Scientism
and Technicism

I started too educated myself as to what these things really mean and how they make us who we are as individuals and as a collective whole. I became so aware of how my life had been shaped by all of these things. It was then that I began to see how a lot of this shaping really didn't seem to fit with the message of love, grace, and freedom/liberation.

So, what is the story that dominates our lives? Is it the things of the nation we find ourselves in, or something more defined by real love and freedom and true belonging?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

STUDY: AMERICANS LONELIER THAN EVER

This was part of an article posted by UPI WireJul 2, 2006
NEW YORK, July 2, 2006 (UPI) --

"A sociological study from Duke and the University of Arizona found that most Americans have only two close confidantes, the New York Times reported Sunday.

With the rise of the Internet, an increase in work hours and long commutes, and technology that discourages face-to-face interaction, the average Americans connection to his or her community is weakening, the Times reported from the study."

I thought of this piece that my friend Roger had put on his blog several months ago I had an idea to use it myself here on mine. I have some observations of my own.

I posted this a few days back and find it along with this study very closely related. Follow me here, if you will, because I have some more thoughts that will even add more insight to this problem of loneliness at the end of this excerpt.

This is from Resident Aliens by Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon

"It is important to recognize that all ethics, even non-Christian ethics, arise out of a tradition that depicts the way the world works, what is real, what is worth having, worth believing. Tradition is a function and a product of community. So all ethics, even non-Christian ethics, make sense only when embodied in a set of social practices that constitute a community. Such communities support a sense of right and wrong. Yet most modern ethics begin from the Enlightenment presupposition of the isolated, heroic self, the allegedly rational individual that stands alone and decides and chooses. The goal of this ethic is to detach the individual from his or her tradition, parents, stories, community, and history, and thereby allow him or her to stand alone. It is an ethic of great value in our type of society because the corporation needs workers who are suitably detached from communities other than their work place, people who are willing to move at the beck and call of the corporation. Growing up, becoming a mature, functioning adult is thus defined as becoming someone who has no communal, traditional, familial impediments. This heroic, radically individual and subjective ethic was best articulated by Kant and survives today in perverted form in the so-called Contextual or Situation Ethics----as well as in the conventional ethical wisdom of the average person in our society. What I do is my own damn business. First be sure in your heart that you are right and then go ahead. I did it because it seemed right to me. What right do you have to judge me?

What we have failed to see is that even the Kantian ethic, based on the myth of the isolated, rational individual, arises out of a story, an account of the way the world works, and is backed up by a community. Individualistic, contextualist ethics is dependent on a "community" that exists by devaluing community and a "tradition" whose claim is that we become free by detaching ourselves from our tradition. The life together of the post-Kantian community begins, not by an announcement of the inbreaking of God's kingdom, but rather by the proclamation that each of us is free to discover our own ethics for ourselves, to grow up and become adult---liberated, autonomous, detached, free individuals.


Now we enter into the present, present day situation most find themselves. If Hauerwas is right with his observations about Democratic Capitalism pulling the individual out of the context of family, community and tradition so that the individual will be at the corporations beck and call, the individual really finds himself or herself very vulnerable in today business world.

Years ago most businesses would in return for the employees loyalty extend loyalty to the employee. It was called, JOB SECURITY. Sometimes for a lifetime. Some companies would guarantee jobs for the children of long time faithful employees. As we all know, those days are gone.

So we are left with this. A consumer driven capitalistic system that has pulled the individual from that which is of utmost importance, FAMILY, COMMUNITY and TRADITION and placed that individual in a system that extends no loyalty to him or her anymore. Is there any reason left to be surprised by the loneliness, despair, depression and anxiety?

And all of this for what? So we can consume more?

What do we want? To be lonely and suffocating under more stuff than anyone really needs. Or to belong to a family (community) so radically different than anything this world has to offer?

Jesus was so clear as to where this ethos would lead us. Not only did he warn us he spelled out and demonstrated a dream God had for us and all of creation.

Walter Brueggemann in his book Prophetic Imagination says this of the state of the church community today. We find ourselves in the same condition:

"The contemporary American church is so largely enculturated to the American ethos of consumerism that it has little power to believe or to act. This enculturation is in some way true across the spectrum of church life, both liberal and conservative. It may not be a new situation, but it is one that seems especially urgent and pressing at the present time. That enculturation is true not only of the institution of the church but also of us as persons. Our consciousness has been claimed by false fields of perception and idolatrous systems of language and rhetoric."

The call is to wake up...............but will we?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A DANGER IN THE LAND OF EXILE.........NUMBNESS

I think this danger is the outcome of many other things we feel trapped into having to do. This notion we have no way out of these things is a lie. I feel like continuing to bring this up as a healthy practice for myself. I am waking up to the busyness and the things of this world that drag me away from that which is important and the ridiculous voices that are always telling me I either need these things or even worse try to convince me that I want them. Busyness happens without any thought or effort. It takes courage to face all this and make the needed changes in how we actually live.

Maybe my exercise here will be helpful for someone else that might stop by here?

I think these videos demonstrate the feeling powerfully

http://youtube.com/watch?v=IKvHQgd74c8

http://youtube.com/watch?v=A2BTzFDJAJQ

Monday, February 12, 2007

WHAT DO WE WANT?

"We do not measure a culture by it's output of undisguised trivialities but by what it claims as significant."--------Neil Postman

Saturday, February 10, 2007

LIVING THE DISARMED LIFE/////by John Howard Yoder

THIS IS LONG BUT I BELIEVE WORTH THE TIME

(Following is a short writing of John Howard Yoder's that some might consider to epitomize his issues of concern, faith, and reasoning. This article is adapted from presentations in 1961 on The Mennonite Hour broadcasts in Harrisonburg, Virginia.)

"Following the example of Jesus himself, the first Christians and the writers of the New Testament were quick to see in the book of the prophet Isaiah a description of the innocent sufferings of Christ. They read there: "He was counted among evildoers. For our welfare he was chastised. Mistreated, he bore it humbly, without complaint, silent as a sheep led to the slaughter, silent as a ewe before the shearers. They did away with him unjustly though He was guilty of no violence and had not spoken one false word. " (Isaiah 53:4-9) In all ages these words concerning the one called the "servant of the Lord" have been beloved by Christians for the portrait they paint of our crucified master. We find these same words echoing in the New Testament, not only because they are beautiful words to describe Christ and his sacrifice on behalf of sinful humanity, but also because they constitute a call to the Christian to do likewise.

There we read:
"If you have done right and suffer for it, your endurance is worthwhile in the sight of God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered on your behalf, and left you an example; it is for you to follow in his steps. He committed no sin, he was guilty of no falsehood; when he suffered he uttered no threat." (1 Peter 2:20-22)

The innocent, silent uncomplaining suffering of Christ is, in this teaching of Peter, not only an act of Christ on our behalf from which we benefit; it is also an example of Christ for our instruction which we are to follow. This portrait of Christ is to be painted again on the ordinary canvas of our lives. Had not Jesus himself said that those who would follow him must deny themselves and take up their cross? What then does it mean for the Christian to bear a cross?

We meet in this world some suffering which is our own fault; we bring accidents upon ourselves by our carelessness, our punishment by our offenses. This is not "bearing a cross"; as Peter wrote, there is no merit in taking punishment for having done wrong. "What credit is it," he asks, "if when you do wrong and are beaten for it, you take it patiently?

We also sometimes suffer in ways we cannot understand, as from an unexpected or unexplained illness or catastrophe which strikes us. Such suffering the Christian can bear, trusting in God's supporting presence and learning to depend more fully and more joyfully in God's sustaining grace. Yet this is not what Jesus was talking about when he predicted suffering for his disciples.

The cross of Christ was the price of his obedience to God amid a rebellious world; it was suffering for having done right, for loving where others hated, for representing in the flesh the forgiveness and the righteousness of God among humanity, which was both less forgiving and less righteous. The cross of Christ was God's overcoming evil with good.

The cross of the Christian is then no different; it is the price of our obedience to God's love toward all others in a world ruled by hate. Such unflinching love for friend and foe alike will mean hostility and suffering for us, as it did for him.

According to the Bible, Jesus instructed his disciples, simply and clearly, not to offer non-resistance to evil:

"Whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn and offer him the left. If he sues you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, only so can you be the children of your heavenly Father who sends his sun and rain to good and bad alike." (Matthew 5:39–45 - part of the Antithesis of the Law )

In saying this Jesus was not a foolish dreamer, spinning out futile hopes for a better world, thinking that if only we keep smiling everything will turn out all right, with our opponents turned into friends and our sacrifices all repaid. He knew full well the cost of such unlimited love. He foresaw clearly the suffering it would mean, first for himself and then for his followers. But there was no other way for him to take, no other way worthy of God. Jesus' teaching here is not a collection of good human ideas; it is his divinely authoritative interpretation of the law of God.

In 2,000 years the world has not grown much more loving. The example of Cain, who killed his brother, still sets the basic pattern for dealing with conflicts, whether within the family or in the world of nations. Among nations it matters little whether they be religious or not in name; the choice of weapons and the readiness to retaliate are similar. How few are they, how few even within the Christian churches, who in this embattled world seek to be conformed only to Christ, to find in the suffering servant of the Lord, and not in some honored ruler, king, or warrior, the model for their lives!

"It is by this that we know what love is,"says the apostle, "that Christ laid down his life for us. And we in turn are bound to lay down our lives for our brothers." (1 John 3:16)

Christians whose loyalty to the Prince of Peace puts them out of step with today's nationalistic world, because of a willingness to love their nation's friend but not to hate the nation's enemies, are not unrealistic dreamers who think that by their objections all wars will end. The unrealistic dreamers are rather the soldiers who think that they can put an end to wars by preparing for just one more.

Nor do Christians think that by refusal to help with the organized destruction of life and property they are uninvolved in the complications and conflicts of modern life. Nor are Christians reacting simply in emotional fear to the fantastic awfulness of the weapons created by the demonic ingenuity of modern humanity.

Christians love their enemies not because they think the enemies are wonderful people, nor because they believe that love is sure to conquer these enemies. They do not love their enemies because they fail to respect their native land or its rulers; nor because they are unconcerned for the safety of their neighbors; nor because another political or economic system may be favored. The Christian loves his or her enemies because God does, and God commands his followers to do so; that is the only reason, and that is enough.

Our God, who has been made known in Jesus Christ, is a reconciling, forgiving, suffering God. If, to paraphrase what the apostle Paul said, it is no longer I who love, but Christ who loves in me, my life must bear the marks of that revelation (Galatians 2:20).

No individual created in God's image and for whom Christ died can be for me an enemy whose life I am willing to threaten or to take, unless I am more devoted to something else - a political theory, a nation, the defense of certain privileges, or my own personal welfare - than I am to God's cause and God's loving invasion of this world through the prophets, God's son, and the church.

One of the most difficult things to understand in the history of the Christian church is the haste with which preachers and others have labeled the selfish interest of their class, race, and nation with the name of Christ, making a holy cause of the subjection, or even the destruction, of those whom Christ came to save and bless with abundant life.In any kind of conflict, from the fist fight to the labor dispute, from the family quarrel to the threat of international communism, the Christian sees the world and its wars from the viewpoint of the cross. "When we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son" (Romans 5:10).

The Christian has no choice. If the Lord's strategy for dealing with his enemies was to love them and give himself for them, it must be ours as well.

What does Christ say about the Christian and national loyalty? For centuries most professing Christians have believed that their faith made them not only more obedient citizens, but also more courageous soldiers; that God helped them not only to love their neighbors but also to hate and destroy their enemies. Since the Roman emperor Constantine allied his government with the church, priests and preachers have been crowning kings, blessing armies, and praying for the defeat of their nation's enemies, all in the name of the Prince of Peace.

Almost every theology and denomination has explained how this had to be so. Today people of the church will argue that even nuclear weapons can be used by Christians against their fellow human beings if the nation so commands. But what does the gospel say?

The Bible does not ignore the existence of nations. But most often when we read in Scripture of "the nations," it is to say that out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation persons have been redeemed to belong to God's people.

"You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people," writes Peter of the Christian church (1 Peter 2:9).

The nation to which the Christian belongs first is "God's own people," the fellowship of the saints, the church of Jesus Christ. This "people for God's special possession" is united not by a common language or territory or government but by one and the same divine call and a common response; reconciled to God, its members belong to each other. The unity thus created breaches every wall and rends every curtain, whether of bamboo or of iron.This new nation, the people of God, is the Christian's first loyalty. No political nation, no geographical homeland to which an individual belongs by birth, can take precedence over the heavenly citizenship which is given a Christian in his or her new birth.

These pious phrases - citizenship in heaven, new birth, people of God - are nothing new. They are in fact so familiar, so well-worn, that it occurs to few Christians to step and think what it would mean to take them seriously.

When God calls us to put first loyalties first, this means that Christians of different nations, even of enemy nations, belong more closely to each other, and have more in common with each other, than with their non-Christian fellow citizens. Not for nothing do Christians call another brother and sister. How then could a Christian, for the sake of a country's prestige or possessions, seek to take the lives of spiritual brothers and sisters, when their sole offense was to have been born under another flag?

Not only in Abraham's time was it a testing of faith to be called by God to abandon all else out of loyalty to that "city, whose builder and maker is God." Even more so today, when nationalism has become a religion for millions, will the true depth and reality of the Christian profession of hosts of church people be tested when they must choose between their earthly and their eternal loyalties.

"What causes conflicts and quarrels among you? Do they not spring from the aggressiveness of your bodily desires? You want something which you cannot have, and so you are bent on murder; you are envious, and cannot attain your ambition, and so you quarrel and fight." (James 4:1,2)

These words of the apostle James have not been worn out. When there is conflict among people, whether within small groups or between nations, we try to dignify the clash with lofty principles. We may speak of truth and honor, of democracy and human rights, of great causes and noble goals. Yet the apostle is not deceived: "What is the cause of conflicts among you? Your bodily desire, you are envious."

He has seen deeper than we care to admit. True enough, individuals - and even groups of people, and perhaps even, rarely, a nation - can seek sincerely some unselfish purpose; but only seldom and not for long. If great, noble, unselfish causes are constantly proclaimed to be the guides of a group's action, even the most gullible of us have learned to check a second time to see the real reason.

In international affairs nations may show great concern, as they usually say, to "liberate" some poor people from "tyranny," when what they really care about is the price of sugar, the use of some mine or port, or the aggrandizement of their political influence. In the dealings between labor and management, each side speaks of the good of the national economy, when the real desire is for an immediate one-sided gain, even at the cost of a rise in prices for everyone. In a neighborhood or family disagreement, we hastily announce that serious moral principles are at stake - honesty or decency - where, as a matter of fact, it is our own pride that drives us.

If we thus understand the true root of conflict among people, this explains a number of things. It explains, first of all, why the Christian is and must be a person of peace. The Christian is not primarily someone who has joined a church, or has accepted certain teachings, or has had certain feelings, or has promised to live up to certain moral standards, though all these things are part of the picture. The Christian is a person who has been, in the words of Jesus, "born anew," who has started life over in a new way, who by the power of God working in him or her is a new person.

Conflict before was a normal, built-in part of one's nature but now the person has been disarmed. The spring from which flowed enmity and strife has been clogged; the scrawny shrub of bitterness has been cut down to the stump. It may well spring up again; but the believer knows how to deal with it as with any other temptation - in repentance, confession, and spiritual victory.

The reason, therefore, for the Christian's being called to live about this world's battles is not that one of the Ten Commandments enjoins us not to kill, or not that Jesus as a new lawgiver orders us to love our enemies. The Christian has been disarmed by God. There is no need for orders to love one's neighbors, beginning in the smallest circle of daily relationships, or one's enemies, the Christian is driven to this by the love of Christ within his or her life.

The fact that selfish desire is a root of conflict explains furthermore why we cannot really expect whole nations and societies to build a peaceful world. Christian behavior flows from faith; we cannot impose it on entire nations. Many persons, when they hear of Christians whose conscience forbids their bearing arms, will argue that it is quite unrealistic to expect nations to follow this example. This is a curious argument. We do not wait, in our teaching about moral purity and holiness in any other realm, for the world to be ready to follow us before we follow Christ.

We know clearly that to be called by Christ means being different from the world. How then should our living the disarmed life depend on whether nations are ready to lay down their weapons? Jesus predicted that there would continue to be wars as long as this world lasts, just as he predicted that people's faith would grow cold and their morals loose. But this cannot be a reason for Christians to follow this world's ways, any more than the prevalence of theft or of waste is a model for Christians to follow.

When we say that we do not really expect nations to take the path of suffering and discipleship, this does not mean that it is wrong for Christians to desire and to work for peace among nations. The apostle Paul expressly instructs us to pray especially for rulers and for all those in authority, in order that we may lead a peaceful life. God's will is that people should be able to live quiet and godly lives; to permit this is the duty of government before God. We therefore can and should pray and testify concerning the folly of trusting in earthly arms, concerning the undermining of democratic government by peacetime military establishment, concerning the dangers of radioactive contamination and of "accidental war" which the great belligerent powers impose on the rest of the globe, and especially concerning the hideous immorality of the weapons now being devised.

It might even be that with more and more men and women uneasy and disturbed about the menace of militarism, the example and the refusal of a few resolute Christians might sound out as an alarm and a rallying cry for intelligent citizens who were waiting for someone else to have the courage to speak first and to suffer for it. But the Christian does not renounce war because he or she expects intelligent citizens to rally around the cause; they usually won't. Rather, the Christian takes this stand because the defenseless death of the Messiah has for all time been revealed as the victory of faith that overcomes the world.

Someone will be asking, is this the whole picture? Is there not, after all, a moral difference between freedom and tyranny? Is it not our duty to care and even to sacrifice for the preservation of our civilization? Certainly not all such sacrifice can be accounted for as "selfish desires." Are we not socially responsible?

The Christian who has been disarmed by God would here have several things to say, but they may be gathered up into one question. Did not Jesus Christ face the same problem? Was not he, who was just as human as you and I, concerned for the victims of oppression? Was he not, with the thousands who gather around to make him king, a man before whom the path to political responsibility was opening? Did he not believe that it was God's prophetically announced will to glorify himself by establishing righteousness among the nations and to make Zion the center from which justice would go out to all peoples?

And yet, somehow, all of this did not swerve the Son of Man, in whom we see what God wants a person to be, from his certainty that to seek and to save the lost, his path must be one not of power, but of humility; not of enforcing justice, but in incarnating love. As Peter wrote, "He committed his cause to One who judges justly" (1 Peter 2:23). And yet, has not the ministry of the one defenseless man - and of the line of disarmed martyrs in his train across the years - done more to unseat tyrants and to defend basic human rights than all the belligerent zeal of those who were seeking to defend God's people against the godless with the weapons of humanity? For the wrath of individuals does not accomplish the justice of God.

When the apostle Paul says that "the weapons we wield are not merely human" or "not those of the world" (2 Corinthians 10:4), most of us, accustomed to thinking on the "merely human" level, would have expected him to say, "not human but spiritual," or "not of this world but of another world." But he says, "not merely human, but divinely potent." This is the "almighty meekness" of our reigning Lord.

When the Christian whom God has disarmed lays aside carnal weapons, it is not, in the last analysis, because they are too dangerous, but because they are too weak. The believers in Jesus as Lord direct their lives toward the day when all creation will praise, not kings and chancellors, but the Lamb that was slain as worthy to receive blessing and honor and glory and power."

Friday, February 09, 2007

POWER.......AND HOW TO USE IT

Everyone has power to some degree. The question becomes how do we use the power we have? This has become a very important thing for me to think about in light of my neighbor.

The greatest commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. And love your neighbor as yourself. Neighbor in this sense is not just those that live next to me. I believe we need to understand Jesus is speaking of our neighbor in a way that emcompasses everyone around the world. All of mankind.

I'm being very challenged by the spirit to pay close attention to all I do and weigh it in light of this commandment. If the way I live ( life at home and all it encompasses, life in my community, and how I do my work in my vocation) hurts or exploits my neighbor, it would seem I am not demonstrating kingdom of heaven living?

It seems to me, as to the power I have, that I should live in a way that has NO negative impact on my neighbor. It also seems that it would go beyond that though. That I would use the power that I have in a High positive impact way.

Are we living in a way that heals and helps reconcile? Or are we living in way that works right along side the worldly power structure that hurts and exploits others so that I can have want I want without much regard for my neighbor or God's creation?

NT Wright: Jesus, the Cross and the Power of God
http://resource.saltlight.org/%02download,134

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

JESUS----------THE FUTURE OF HISTORY

This song below, does seem to capture much of what I am feeling these days. I'm torn. Learning to hold close the tension of that I am seeing and that not yet realized. But I am learning how to do it. Being misunderstood is part of the tension. Sometimes that misunderstanding is caused by my limited vision and ability to explain or put into words what I am feeling. Sometimes the misunderstanding and conflict is caused by the message itself. It cuts against that which we have become accustomed to. It makes us uncomfortable.

Love often makes enemies. We don't know how to handle it. It exposes the darkness that hides deep inside us all. God's love is relentless though. He keeps pursuing. WHY DO WE RUN from the ONE who is so worth risking it all on? Is it because we are afraid of being exposed? Or afraid of losing something that we have grown too attached to? Or are we just simply afraid?

Having lived in exile for so long it is easy to start to lean on and believe in the things in the land of exile, that offer us comfort. It's a false comfort. It is those false comforts we should be afraid of. Why does it seem we run to the things so easily that kill, and we have a hard time following the One and his way that is LIFE?

HERE IT IS
(Words and Music: Detweiler)

I cried when I wrote this
I’ll always remember
The worst kind of lonely
Is alone in December

The act of forgiveness
Is always a mystery
The melting of ice
And the future of history

Some call it obsession
I call it commitment
I make my confession
I make it in public

I hope that it’s helpful
That others can use it
That it’s more than my ego
And my need to abuse it

I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
And here it is

The leaves on the oak tree
Hold on through the winter
They’re brown and their brittle
They clatter together

I can’t seem to let go
I’m so scared of losing
The deeper the love goes
The deeper the bruising

The trouble with talking
Is it makes you sound clever
The trouble with waiting
Is you’ll just wait forever

There’s a loop of excuses
That plays in your mind
And makes the truth
Even harder to find

I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
And here it is

When they blow Gabriel’s horn
Rip fiction from fact
I want to get caught
In some radical act

Of love and redemption
The sound of warm laughter
Some true conversation
With a friend or my lover

Somewhere down the road
We’ll lift up our glass
And toast the moment
And moments past

The heartbreak and laughter
The joy and the tears
The scary scary beauty
Of what’s right here

I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
And here it is

I love good music. Over The Rhine is hard to beat in my world of music.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

DANGEROUS EXTREME CONFIDENCE

NT WRIGHT:

"One sign of Christian maturity may be a readiness to hear the argument through to the end, rather than what many Christians are eager to do, short circuiting the argument in the interest of quick fix spirituality or missiology."

I had a conversation with my 12 year old nephew last night on the phone. He called to straighten me out on some biblical truth that he was convinced I was wrong about. The thing that struck me was this whole idea of extreme confidence. When we can't even for a minute consider that long held beliefs might need to be adjusted or that maybe long held beliefs are not even consistent with what Jesus said, I would think that creates problems and sometimes dangerous blind spots. I heard it said this way the other day. It is a proper confidence we are in need of.

Extreme confidence gave way to Hitler, apartheid, slavery, pushing the Native Americans off their land, the crusades, centuries of torture to convert all kinds of people and far too many wars.

I've lived with extreme confidence in much of my past. What amazes me today is even when that was true, I was aware of the fact that I had been proven wrong about many things. The problem was the extreme confidence kept the work of humility from changing me.

We all see through a glass darkly. I think it is good advice to consider that the extreme confidence we have, especially here in America, might be causing dangerous blind spots?

QUOTES

ST. FRANCIS

"Preach the gospel by all means possible, if it is really necessary you can even use words."

NT WRIGHT

"We are made for God
for God's glory
to worship God
and to reflect God's likeness
That is our heart's deepest desire and vocation"

HOW THE SHACK AFFECTED ME (SOMEONE REQUESTED I DO THIS)

Where to begin in describing the way Papa used this story. First off I will say it is the message of grace that this story is saturated with. Good art is so powerful because it contains little gems that are easily remembered and stick with you. This book is full of them.

Because of the heightened sense of being so vulnerable due to what was transpiring in our family, Papa had a wide open door to get at me through. Or maybe the open door had allowed me to begin to see him and that he was inviting me to come to where he is? Who knows....and does it really matter? I was so open to anything Papa wanted to do after that broken moment in my life and my family.

The first thing I ran across, and I am certain a day has not passed since then that I have not thought about it. "Grace rarely makes sense to those looking in from the outside." From that moment on, Papa had come so close I didn't care anymore what anyone thought about the way he was leading us as a family or me and my wife as parents. They could look at me as if I was a fool and I didn't care. I came to feel in a real way, Paul's description of the wastefulness of Papa's grace.

By time I got to chapter 9 A Long Time Ago In A Garden Far Far Away I was captured by the way Paul was telling this story. The realness of Papa, Jesus and Sarayu had just begun to capture me. I had read Wayne Jacbosen's book He Loves Me back in 2000 and it had already begun such a transformation in how I saw God and his love and his grace so freely extended to us all. This story Paul was telling made it play out right in front of me. I was there having my own experience at that shack. Being a garden designer, this chapter was just stunning and the comparison to our souls was just beautiful. To begin to relax even more knowing that these three were so engaged in the process of transforming us and were enjoying it so much, just broke down even more walls. Why hide and fight any of it? From there on to Chapter 15 A Festival of Friends and then to the end, they had their way with me.

Like I said in the the God Journey podcast, I had never been so turned inside out in such a gentle and complete way. All I could say while reading Here Come Da Judge was, "Okay you've got me." I stood undone and exposed....with no defense....and at the same time was so acutely aware I didn't need one. I was being loved instead and always had been. All of this only to walk into The Belly of the Beast and have confirmed in me many of the changes in thinking that had already begun in me months before. Probably even years before. Changes in thinking that I had held at arms length, afraid to embrace because I knew if I did my entire World View was going to change. The house of cards that I had built, always living with this uneasy sense that it was all very fragile and impossible to fit into Jesus' life and words, but a life I had held tightly to none the less, came tumbling down. And what a relief that was when that happened. This felt so freeing and I felt like I had begun to really breathe for the very first time.

There are so many more conversation we could have....and maybe will?....but I will end this with the Chapter Verbs and Other Freedoms. The chapter begins with Mack describing how he felt wrung out like a rag and yet exhilaratingly alive and it was a perfect description of how I was feeling. I to this day use that line a lot and still feel like that much of the time. One of the most dynamic changes in how I live today is learning to live in the moment. Letting go of the life of expectations and learning to live with expectancy has really opened up a new space for me. Fear, anger, anxiety, stress, frustration, exhaustion and many other overwhelming emotions began to just disappear, or at least only come around every so often and they just don't stay for much time at all anymore even if they do show up. Trying to live a life shaped by expectation when everything beyond this moment is nothing more than an imagined uncertain future is just a recipe for many problems. I am learning to live with much expectancy. Papa is always up to something and is always at work to redeem that which needs redeemed in us all. I think most of the time in this process we aren't aware of what they are doing, just as Mack finds out. I love the part in the story when Mack catches Papa on the front porch sitting in the sun and askes her; "Don't you have anything better to do?" Her response spoke to me this very thing of us thinking we know what God is up to when I think most of the time we don't. "Mack, you have no idea what I am doing right now." I've never experienced anything like what began to happen in me after the most scary moment in my life with our oldest daughter and what happened to me with Papa, Jesus, and Sarayu through it all. What a ride this has turned out to be. And so that everyone knows, my daughter is a beautiful young lady and she is doing well today, and Papa is still working ever so gently on her messy soul just as he is all of us adults. I'm learning to stay tuned. This is a process that takes some time.

I have had so much fun with this book since it came out and we could begin to watch how it affects others that read it. Sitting on it for a year and only being able to talk to my wife and Wayne about it was hard. But the wait was so worth it. This is a lot of fun. Thanks Paul, Wayne and Brad.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

I'M JUST PURSUING AN UNDERSTANDING OF WHY THE AMERICAN FAMILY AND THEN IN TURN, OUR SENSE OF COMMUNITY, IS FALLING APART?

I ran across this:

"Simmel and Veblen described the extent to which consumerism arose as an attempt to mark oneself off as different from others so as to enable one to establish and express a distinct social identity. This emerged in response to the growing homogenizing forces of mechanization and technology caused by industrialization, and the implications of urbanization and crowding. In contrast to Weber’s theory of Puritanical self-restraint, people began to consume as a principal mode of self-expression; consumerism became a common language through which we ‘read’ or ‘interpret’ shared cultural signs. This pattern accelerated after World War II, such that the second half of the twentieth century has witnessed an unprecedented growth of consumerism, and the experience of participation and membership in society today is increasingly contingent on habits of consumption. As McLaren and Leonardo state in their essay on Baudrillard, "[P]eople become functions of consumer society as they are motivated to purchase more and more objects in order to feel part of the social milieu."
Consumerism has taken on a new form in which it has come to dominate our political life and our primary communicative apparatus through the proliferation of signs. Because production is alienating, we seek fulfillment in consumerism; yet consumerism itself in turn has become a deeply alienating experience."

Here is the full article. It is long but worth the read. If you feel something is wrong with how things are going in our society, I would encourage you to read it all. I'm going to bold here and just say it. This is a big problem for all of us and our families. It is destructive. It in turn is a big big problem for anyone trying to follow Jesus.

It makes me think of Matthew 6:19-34 & Mark 4:19

http://www.infed.org/biblio/pedagogy_consumer_society.htm

RICH CHALLENGING THINKING

For anyone that stops by my blog, Rob, one of my friends that I have linked under blog friends has just linked on his blog a number of lectures and teachings from Brian McLaren. They are so worth the time.

This is a perspective change many of us here in America I believe need to grasp.

"Learning is not a consequence of teaching, but of thinking."

I know that might sound contradictory in light of the fact that I am giving you a link to someone teaching. But I do not think that fits here. Brian's way of sharing what he is thinking and where it is taking him causes the hearer to THINK for himself also. This way of "teaching" seems to be closer to how Jesus did it. It makes the hearer at times uncomfortable. It challenges not only our way of thinking and how we see things, but it does it in such a way that a change in how we live must follow. I believe if the change in how we live doesn't follow the thorn of TRUTH that has been planted in our minds and hearts becomes so disturbing it demands in the end we make a choice. We are then forced to abandon one position or the other. There remains no middle ground to hold and live in peace. That sounds like Jesus to me also. We are moved to live by love and trust or hate, fear, self and many other distructive options

So much of the religion our generation has grown up in has discouraged thinking and questioning. We need to jump off that train and begin to think again. Brian is one of those that has helped this process begin in me again.

So, if that sounds interesting to you or if you are one of those that just feels that something is wrong and you just can't put your finger on it, I challenge you to go to Rob's blog and download and listen to the Brian McLaren links he has provided. I am sure he will keep then on his site and you will be able to find them under his Audio Recommendations.

Friday, February 02, 2007

THIS IS SORT OF A WHAT COMES FIRST QUESTION

This is my perception from my observations of many people I know and my own experience. Most people are stuck on what I have come to call the "treadmill of life". I see and have the opportunity to talk to on average, 10 people a day, and I have had the privilege of doing this for the past 21 years in my work. These are people I would say, I have been able to get to know pretty well. I love looking into the dynamics of human nature. Why do we do the things we do kind of stuff?

What is the "treadmill of life"? I would descibe it as whatever drags us along at a pace that causes us to seem out of control. It takes on many different forms. What I have come to understand about it all, is it takes NO EFFORT to get caught on this treadmill. Here is another observation. Most people act like they hate it. But they keep on doing things in the same way. Some people seem to be able to identify the things that are dragging them through life, but still seem unwilling or unable to unplug from it all. Some people seem to be oblivious to being dragged around and some people just seem to be so numb they just don't feel much at all anymore other than hopeless.

Do you know what your "treadmill" is? Can you identify it? Do you even want to know?

You get to choose.

We either stay on the treadmill we really didn't even have a choice about getting on, or we get off. We are all born into a world that pulls us onto our own personal treadmill. It makes us feel like this is the way it has to be so that we stay on. The "Good News" tells us we can step off the treadmill reality (by the way, it is killing you) and enter into the new creation reality(the only place were we can find peace).

This brings me to my question. Is identifying what the treadmill in our lives is, important? Or is it something we need someone to deliver us from? If we are in need of someone to deliver us, is it something the savior (liberator) does alone or do we have a part to play?

I have come to believe it is two fold. The liberator breaks through and awakens us (empowers us). He gives us what we need to get off the treadmill. That is something we have nothing to do with. But here is where things get a little blurry it seems for many people. Does he actually take us off the treadmill? Or is that a decision we must make?

I believe this is a decision we must make ourselves. I have been disentangling myself from my treadmill. It feels good. I feel more alive than ever. Don't listen to the "Ridiculous Voices" that tell you that you can not get off yours, or that you really don't want to get off yours. It might feel like jumping from a train. There will be some pain. At first that is. But when your body stops tumbling and you get up off the ground and dust yourself off, you will look around and see things like never before. The liberator and his Father have promised us that.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A CONTINUATION OF SOME THOUGHTS ON COMMUNITY

Read the post below this one first.

"Whenever Christians think that we can support our ethic by simply pressuring Congress to pass laws or to spend tax money, we fail to do justice to the radical communal quality of Christian ethics. In fact, much of what passes for Christian social concern today, of the left or the right, is the social concern of a church that seems to have despaired of being the church. Unable through our preaching, baptism, and witness to form a visible community of faith, we content ourselves with ersatz Christian ethical activity----lobbying Congress to support progressive strategies, asking the culture at large to be a little less racist, a little less promiscuous, a little less violent. Falwell's Moral Majority is little different from any mainline Protestant church that opposes him. Both groups imply that one can practice Christian ethics without being in the Christian community. Both begin with the Constantinian assumption that there is no way for the gospel to be present in the world without asking the world to support our convictions through it's own social and political institutionalization. The result is the gospel transformed into civil religion."

SOME MORE THOUGHTS ON COMMUNITY........THAT IS, THE NEW REALITY COMMUNITY THAT JESUS' LIFE, DEATH, AND RESURECTION MADE POSSIBLE

I could speak from what I am learning myself on my journey but these days it seems I am led more in the way of posting thoughts of other to express things that are stirring inside me.

I am more aware than ever of the drastically different spirit that runs the things I would call "Of this world" and the new reality demonstrated by Jesus and his community of disciples.

The social ethics of the world system, are far from what Jesus proclaimed. I believe our attempts to, clean it up and tweek it has just left us confused and delusional. We often live making decisions without considering the negative impact those decisions might be having on our "NEIGHBOR". And I mean "NEIGHBOR" as defined in scripture in the parable of the "Good Samaritan".

Here is an example of what I mean. I am going to continue this over the next few days. To do it all right now would cause my fingers to fall off.

This is from Resident Aliens by Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon

"It is important to recognize that all ethics, even non-Christian ethics, arise out of a tradition that depicts the way the world works, what is real, what is worth having, worth believing. Tradition is a function and a product of community. So all ethics, even non-Christian ethics, make sense only when embodied in a set of social practices that constitute a community. Such communities support a sense of right and wrong. Yet most modern ethics begin from the Enlightenment presupposition of the isolated, heroic self, the allegedly rational individual that stands alone and decides and chooses. The goal of this ethic is to detatch the individual from his or her tradition, parents, stories, community, and history, and thereby alow him or her to stand alone. It is an ethic of great value in our type of society because the corporation needs workers who are suitably detached from communities other than their work place, people who are willing to move at the beck and call of the corporation. Growing up, becoming a mature, functioning adult is thus defined as becoming someone who has no communal, traditional, familial impediments. This heroic, radically individual and subjective ethic was best articulated by Kant and survives today in perverted form in the so-called Contextual or Situation Ethics----as well as in the conventional ethical wisdom of the average person in our society. What I do is my own damn business. First be sure in your heart that you are right and then go ahead. I did it because it seemed right to me. What right do you have to judge me?

What we have failed to see is that even the Kantian ethic, based on the myth of the isolated, rational individual, arises out of a story, an account of the way the world works, and is backed up by a community. Individualistic, contextualist ethics is dependent on a "community" that exists by devaluing community and a "tradition" whose claim is that we become free by detaching ourselves from our tradition. The life together of the post-Kantian community begins, not by an anouncement of the inbreaking of God's kingdom, but rather by the proclamation that each of us is free to discover our own ethics for ourselves, to grow up and become adult---liberated, autonomous, detached, free individuals.

The Sermon implies that it is as isolated individuals that we lack the ethical and theological resources to be faithful disciples. The Christian ethical question is not the conventional Enlightenment question, How in the world can ordinary people like us live a heroic life like that? The question is, What sort of community would be required to support an ethic of nonviolence, marital fidelity, forgiveness, and hope such as the one sketched by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount?"