Thursday, January 31, 2008

It's getting late and I'm getting agitated...

Brittany and I normally lay in bed at night watching reality police shows. That way, I fall asleep at a reasonable hour. But I don't have to get up early on Fridays. So, its Thursday and I stay up while she goes to bed. Its a time I generally spend reading or working on digital music. Tonight, I've been reading a bunch of other people's blogs.

I don't think its any secret that I'm not scared of stirring up a little trouble every now and then. I remain true to myself as often as I possibly can. I say what's on my mind, even if I have to go back later and explain myself or apologize. I admit that I can be rash and am able to stick my foot in my mouth. But I strive to be honest and open and willing to say what I'm really thinking. I'm open to good questions and love curiosity.

That being said, I must ask: when did all that become so bad?

I am afraid that Christianity could easily become an opiate for the masses. Just something else for people to placate themselves with. I remember many discussions on Catholicism in Europe--talking about the church had been neutered and simply blended in with the rest of culture by doing the wrong things. I fear that happening here. That we run our churches like businesses. That we would allow our brothers and sisters to attend a weekly service, perhaps donate some time or money, go on a week long mission trip every so many years... simply so they feel like they are "doing their part." That we would stress people coming to hear a practical message and forgetting its not about a practical message. Pardon the crude, masculine phrasing, but when did we lose our balls?

Change is a necessity. Change must happen. Change is bigger than a presidential campaign. Change is bigger than the amounts of our budgets or the number of attendees at our services. Change is bigger than buying a hybrid car. Change is bigger than recycling. Change is bigger than donating money. Change is bigger than being in or out.

I must change.
You must change.
We must change.

And I'm worried about those who are feeling the fresh breeze blowing through our world. "The ocean is growing, the tide is coming in, here it is..." I feel that happening. Here and now. And I know others do, too. I know there are plenty of people out there (plenty who read my words and plenty more who don't) that look at our world and our society and our churches and our communities and see that something isn't right. That we must do something about it. So they begin to shift their heads and hearts to focus on a better way. They speak out against the status quo. Maybe its not even that drastic, maybe they simply are open about the questions they have... And without fail, there is reaction. Backlash. Lack of understanding.

Its too late tonight for me to try and deal with specifics. But without hesitation, I would like to encourage everyone who is experiencing holy discontent, a dissatisfaction with the way things are, to raise your voice. Without fear. Without divisiveness. With love. With hope. Hope in a better way... hope for change.

"I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or to speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; -- but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD. The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal, and to hasten the resurrection of the dead." --William Lloyd Garrison

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

On a Tuesday...

Jason has brought to my attention that I am perhaps one of the biggest cynics around. While I can be a kind, loving, uplifting person, my blogs tend to come off a different way. On here, I voice and discuss things I normally don't in a vocal way--perhaps to avoid the heated conversations that tend to follow. I don't mind talking about anything with anyone, its just that most people can't keep their cool and talk about things logically. Things said tend to be taken too personally, etc etc.

I say all this for two reasons: 1, to give Jason a hard time; 2, to thank you all for reading my seemingly pessimistic, cynical, angry blogging. I hope it doesn't always come across that way. But I do this to work through things.

"The truth is, even if no one read my blog, I would do it--because I feel like it helps me process the things God's doing in my life." -Mark Batterson

I really have so much hope for us all, that I might explode.

PS-I learned how to insert hyperlinks. I feel special.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I laughed and laughed and laughed... is a great website if you're in need of some interesting reading. One of the main writers is a pastor in Minneapolis and his most recent article is outrageously funny...

Keep in mind, its completely satirical and fictitious....

PS-can someone tell me how to insert a hyperlink on Blogger? When I'm on the "Posting" tab, I hit the "insert link" button on the box, paste the web address, hit "OK" then it simply doesn't show up. Help a Technologically Deficient brother out...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

On a lighter note...

I think Jesus cried a little on Sunday night.

With the Packers losing and all...

how could he not lament what could be Favre's last game?

"Packers, we mourn you this day."

Monday, January 14, 2008

The problem with Jesus...

I am perpetually concerned about the responses I get when discussing the current state of our world and the role of the church in this time. I heard Bebo Norman at a recent concert say something to the effect of: its not the responsibility of the governments of the world to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and take care of the sick--it is the responsibility of the church. I heard people clap and cheer when he was done speaking. Then I watched as hundreds of people filed out past a coatless, homeless man who was barely able to walk that was begging for money outside the theatre. Avoiding eye contact. Pretending like the couldn't hear him pleading for help. Ignoring Jesus.

I have been told on several occasions that if you take care of the marginalized of the world--feed the hungry, clothe the naked, provide clean water to people that have no access to it, send medicines to those who can't afford them, loan people money to help start their own sustainable business--I have been told that if you do these things, and don't "share the gospel," (ie, verbally, Romans Road, 4 Spiritual Laws, etc) then you aren't doing anything. You aren't doing anything for these people. You aren't doing anything for the kingdom of God.

I wonder what Bible these people are reading.

I know, its rare for me to be talking about Scripture. Rare to be quoting, but I feel I must...

Isaiah 1:13-17 talks about God hating religion and ritual practices that mean nothing. He then precedes to instruct the people to "Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow." A faith that loves God but disregards man is a worthless faith.

Isaiah 58 talks about the reasons that God set his people free: "to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh" To me, its an echo of "love your neighbor as yourself." We are free so we can do the tangible things for those in need. We aren't free to hide from those in terrible situations. That'd be ridiculous. Yet, its what WE do: ignore our own flesh--other humans.

Luke 6-- Jesus says "blessed are the poor."

Matthew 23:23-- Jesus is talking to the Pharisees. Telling them "Woe to you!...(You know, making friends and influencing people 101 with Jesus) And talks about how they tithe a tenth of their spices. That's how serious they were about following God's laws. They even tithed a tenth of extremely expensive spices. Think about this with me... if its spice, you wouldn't have a lot. Anybody who's ever been in a kitchen or watched a cooking show knows that spices come in very small amounts. On top of that, the spices Jesus lists are the rare and pricey ones--so you'd have even less. So they are making the effort to tithe a tenth of these tiny, tiny amounts of spices. And that's great. But then Jesus says: "But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness." Not me. Not some other blogger with a chip on his shoulder. Not some post modern pastor. Jesus said this. Justice, mercy and faithfulness: the more important matters.

And the cherry on the sundae:
Matthew 25

Jesus is talking about standing before God one day as he judges humanity. He then separates everybody on the basis of "loving your neighbor as yourself."

34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

Kinda says it all, doesn't it?

I realize the importance of building the infrastructure of our local churches. I do. I just don't think that's our purpose. I pray we all seek to understand our purpose--our reason for being here now.

"Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words."--St. Francis of Assisi

Dedicated fun...

I thought this was great. Jason has totally ruined this workday by getting me in on the Hero Machine. My super hero is named "Super Jew" and is dedicated to TJZ. He is bringing Shalom to the world with help of his trusty monkey. So go, develop your own, paste your link in the comment section so I can see...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

It happened.

2007, that is.

And 2008 is here--officially.
This whole time thing is awfully hard to wrap one's mind around.
Another blog for another day.

Happy friggin' New Year everybody.

Looking forward to another year of rambling and making people mad but making people think,