Thursday, January 24, 2008

Confessions of a CF Husband

Every so often, I run across a blog that is worth mentioning. Here is one by Nathan Lawrenson. Certainly, this family could use your prayer, but I think we can all use this story as motivation to give our lives over to God completely. Brian Weber, Grace Point's youth pastor speaks on that in his January 20 message.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Hidden Spring

In his book Simply Christian, NT Write tells a parable of a spring of water. In the parable, the towns people love the spring in the begging but later realize that open exposure to the spring creates difficulties. Some times the spring isn't as clear as others; sometimes it is tainted by people; some times it causes floods or dries up. As a result, the spring is capped, the water is captured and then piped to its users. This is good in a way. The water is kept pure and quantities are always appropriate for needs. But over time, the pressure beneath the cap becomes so great that the water bursts out. It is such a violent eruption that the water, carrying great amounts of debris, flood homes and businesses of the town. The mucky mess that it makes is great and disturbing to those who wanted it capped in the first place.

The spring in this parable is spirituality, and the story describes how we (the western world) got to where we are today. Once, spirituality was organic. Organic things are not pure, but they are honest. In attempt to purify spirituality, western society institutionalized it. It seemed pure, but it was also isolated. It was separated from "real life". We are now in a trend of spirituality bursting forth, and to those how will only accept the purest of spiritual things, it is an ugly trend.

The bursting out of spirituality is leading people to being more spiritual but less religious. People are looking again for an organic form of looking for God (or whatever). Many have been lead down paths away from the True God to all kinds of substitutes. It isn't a pretty sight for the week of heart.

For those people who are displease with this trend, I would remind them, that the real cause of this is not that bad people are over taking a good institution. Rather, the cause is that spirituality was never meant to be institutionalized. The result is that after years and years of religion becoming less meaningful to everyday life, people need to have something with meaning. The antidote isn't for the church to recap the stream. It is for the church to continue to preach what is pure. What is pure is the Gospel of Jesus and the Grace of God. What is pure is that faith matters in all aspects of our live and that we should be pursuing God even when we are doing the more mundane tasks. What is pure is that when we institutionalize our religious experience we run the risk of drying up the land.

Our goal as Christians is to be spiritual in the world. To withdraw and hope that the world will come to us is naive, at best. The door of our churches need to be left open and the wall of our doctrine brought down to a place that we do not restrict true seekers from finding Christ in our midst. We cannot fear that the muddiness of spirituality will destroy the mission of God's Kingdom. God's truth will prevail. What we need to do is get ourselves out of His way.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Law of Talion, Karma and Grace

I've been reading a book called Jesus Without Religion by Rick James. (Not the Rick James that you're familiar with.) James has a fresh new was of looking at the ministry of Christ.

In the second chapter, James has an interesting quote by rock star Bono. While I'm not convinced that Bono is a prophet, he does bring some good insight to the Christian faith. The quote is taken from an interview that Bono gave to Christianity Today magazine in 2005.
You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It's clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I'm absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that "as you reap, so you will sow" stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff. (CT. 8/8/2005)

Think about his way of looking at religion. It is interesting that he doesn't reject the truth of other faiths, rather he point out that Grace, as the core of Christianity, trumps all other truths. Karma is seen as a great enemy to western Christians. It isn't the enemy; it is conquered by Grace. Likewise, the Law of Talon was discussed as a viable law in the Old Testament, but Christ puts it to bed in the New.

Which of us should not be humbled by this Grace? Which of us is less a sinner than Bono? I'd say no one has that claim, but in Jesus those sins are powerless.

Bush: I would run as 'agent of change'

MSNBC reports that Bush says he would run as an agent of change if he were running today. My question is, didn't he? At least, it is interesting that he ran as the one who could unite people across the isles. I think his slogan was, "I'm a uniter not a divider." I wish we could look back and see that he accomplished this in any way. I hope some of the current candidate making the same sorts of claims are more successful.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Iowa caucuses show people want a person with heart

I watched a lot of coverage from the Iowa caucuses last night. Like most people I was surprised by the outcomes. But I think I have a little different twist on maybe why Obama and Huckabee won their races.

Most commentators are crediting these victories on a desire for change calling Huckabee and Obama the two most outside candidates. Others credit Huckabee's victory on his connection with evangelicals. While both of those are true to some extent, I think that there is a greater reason for their victories. The reason that these guys won is that both of them can speak in a way that engages the heart. Obama's speech was motivational. Huckabee's speech was personal. Obama's has been likened to Martin Luther King Jr. in his power and direction. I would say that Huckabee's is much like listening to Max Lucado.

America, if Iowa is a measure, may just need a spokesperson. After 8 years of George W. Bush and his blunders and not much better with Clinton's 8 years before him, I think America is looking for a leader that can connect with the people emotionally. After all, isn't that why Reagan was so successful?

I don't know that these Iowa result will mean anything in the end, but I'm convince that Iowan where attracted to the two candidates with the most heart in their public speaking. I hope their speeches are true indicators of their character. Because this year, my main goal is to look past the issues and try to vote based on the character of the candidates.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

I Am Legend

Stefanie and I went to a movie on New Year's Eve. Yea, I know that's not real social of us, but we were without children, and since their plans had been so fluid, we didn't make any other plans. Anyhow, we saw I Am Legend starring Will Smith. I was a good movie, not one that I'd see again. I don't usually like thriller type movies. Still this thriller seemed to have more to say that most. I think there were two things that I took out of it.

First, Will Smith is a better actor than the Fresh Prince. He's come a long way and, other than a lone German Shepherd, he carried the whole movie.

The second thing I took from the film was actually something I had been thinking about earlier this week. That is that it is difficult to know if a good event or intent will bring about a good result in the end.

This film opens with a news interview of a scientist who just discovered a 100% cure for cancer. It seemed like a great victory. Unfortunately, they later realize that the virus used to cure cancer, mutated into one that nearly wipes out humankind.

The moral...When event happen, good or bad, don't put too much stock in the momentary feelings. Ultimately there is only one thing that you can count on always being good. That is God.

Growing up with Child-like faith

I had the wonderful opportunity to teach the message in the Sunday services at Grace Point this week. I'd invite you to listen to it. It was a great service all together as we involved children on the worship team and in other aspects of the service. I think you'll find my philosophy of ministry (or at least parenting) clearly stated in the message.