Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Last Word and the Word after That

Coming in March from Brian McLaren, the final installment of the New Kind of Christian Trilogy - "The Last Word and the Word after That : A Tale of Faith, Doubt, and a New Kind of Christianity"

More Info

Thursday, December 23, 2004

You could learn alot from a blog...

From Foreign Policy Magazine:

"Every day, millions of online diarists, or 'bloggers', share their opinions with a global audience. Drawing upon the content of the international media and the World Wide Web, they weave together an elaborate network with agenda-setting power on issues ranging from human rights in China to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. What began as a hobby is evolving into a new medium that is changing the landscape for journalists and policymakers alike."
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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

From Bruderhof - The way of Peace in Chiapas Mexico.

There is so much that we hear so little of in the mainstream media:

"December 22, 1997. People wrap up their Christmas shopping and soak up the holiday glow. In Mexico, a paramilitary death squad armed with machine guns and machetes slaughters forty-five defenseless Mayan Indians, mostly women and children, as they pray for peace in a makeshift chapel near their refugee camp in the village of Acteal, Chiapas."

Want an education? Read more

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Have an Empty Christmas

Christmas makes me nervous. The Infinite who came in a feeding trough is not the kind of God I want. He is too powerless for my liking. Such a God is an embarrassment, not just to the Herods of this world, but to all who are enamored with themselves and their own potency. I don’t want this God. I have an inn to offer, decorated for Christmas, not a stinking stall.

God exists in weakness and comes to those who reach up to him with empty hands. He is neither useful nor helpful. He came and still comes, not to solve our problems or answer our questions or fulfill our needs or bless our endeavors, but to expose our problems, to question our answers, to be our need, and to point us to his kingdom. In Christ, God enters time and space to turn our world upside down and inside out. “Valleys are made high, mountains are laid low.” We are left bewildered, undone.

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Friday, December 17, 2004

My most favorite poem ever...really.

I've been searching for the text of this poem by Peter Meinke for the past few years. I read it in college and have always loved it. So here it is...

by: Peter Meinke

The man who invented the plastic rose is dead.
Behold his mark: his undying flawless blossoms never close but guard his grave unbending through the dark.
He understood neither beauty nor flowers, which catch our hearts in nets as soft as sky and bind us with a thread of fragile hours: flowers are beautiful because they die.
Beauty without the perishable pulse is dry and sterile, an abandoned stage with false forests.
But the results support this man's invention; he knew his age:
A vision of our tearless time discloses artificial men sniffing plastic roses.

Snapshots of post-Christendom

Taken from Stuart Murray's book Post-Christendom: Church and Mission in a Strange New World

"In a London school a teenager with no church connections hears the Christmas story for the first time. His teacher tells it well and he is fascinated by this amazing story. Risking his friends' mockery, after the lesson he thanks her for the story. One thing had disturbed him, so he asks: 'Why did they give the baby a swear-word for his name?'

One Sunday in Oxford a man visits a church building to collect something for his partner who works during the week in a creative-arts project the church runs. He arrives as the morning congregation is leaving and recognises the minister, whom he knows. Surprised, he asks: 'What are all these people doing here? I didn't know churches were open on Sundays!'

Two snapshots of 'post-Christendom' - a culture in which central features of the Christian story are unknown and churches are alien institutions whose rhythms do not normally impinge on most members of society. Only a few years ago, neither would have been credible, but today there are numerous signs that the 'Christendom' era in western culture is fading."

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Bono on the crisis in Africa

"We are the first generation that can look extreme and stupid poverty in the eye, look across the water to Africa and elsewhere and say this and mean it: we have the cash, we have the drugs, we have the science -- but do we have the will? Do we have the will to make poverty history? Some say we can't afford to. I say we can't afford not to."

Read the whole speech

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Want some good reading...

Nextreformation.com puts it all in one spot. Enjoy.



I've just finshed reading Lifesigns by Henri Nouwen. I'd blog the text of the entire book if I could. It's a beautiful book that calls us to move from the "house of fear" (where we run our lives) to the "house of love" (where we live in surrender to Jesus). Here's one excerpt:

"The way of God is the way of weakness. The great news of the Gospel is precisely that God has become small and vulnerable, and hence bore fruit among us. The most fruitful life ever lived is the life of Jesus, who did not cling to His divine power but became as we are.(see Philippians 2:6-7). Jesus brought us new life in ultimate vulnerability. He came to us as a small child, dependent on the care and protection of others. He lived for us as a poor preacher, without any political, economic, or military power. He died for us on a cross as a useless criminal. It is in this extreme vulnerability that our salvation was won. The fruit of this poor and failing existence is eternal life for all who believe in him. (p.53,54)

This rings with the echo of truth. Jesus, weakness, vulnerability. We are called to follow Jesus in the path that He walked. "As the Father sent me, I am sending you." Why is it then, that we seek to be the most successful? Aren't we missing the point?

Giving Up Lives of Comfort for a Chance to Serve

"They feed the hungry, comfort the grieving and denounce violence, not out of a sense of noblesse oblige but a stripped-down commitment to living alongside the poor. 'I had a choice, but I believe we all came here because we had to,' said Amanda Daloisio, who has lived with her husband at the Third Street residence known as Maryhouse for two years. 'Some need a place to sleep or food to eat. I needed to be here in order to live a life that I thought was meaningful and to discover how life can be lived rooted in the gospel.'"

Read More

Thanks to Jordon for the link

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Caption says...

What does God's house look like?

Thanks to Rudy Carrasco for this picture from Altavista. Sure, they're using it to market Altavista's searching abilities, but once again the world seems to sense the truth about what church is and should be better than the church does. I just finished preaching about God using three Gentile magicians to tell Jerusalem that the new Jewish King had been born. Often those on the outside see most clearly. Now that's food for thought!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Narnia on the Big Screen!!!

It's still a year away and I'm already excited. Will Samson shared a link to a behind the scenes peek at what is to come. It's a big download, but worth the wait.

Seeing the Spirit beneath it all...

Here's a great quote from an even greater article in The Christian Century. Hat tip to Bob Carlton for the link.

"There are all kinds of things wrong with the way we celebrate Christmas. We eat too much, we spend too much, we sentimentalize too much, we worry too much. Those excesses cannot douse the holy instincts that underlie them. We really are hungry. We really do want to give and receive. We really do want to feel deeply, live peaceably, sleep soundly and rise renewed. As the season moves toward its apogee, those of us who believe we know where the instincts lead may do more good by wading into the culture than by separating ourselves from it. God is in the midst of it, after all, still hunting new flesh in which to be born."

Read the whole article by Barbara Brown Taylor:

Friday, December 10, 2004

Just where He seems most helpless

I had lunch today with a friend of mine. He's a different kind of guy, actually. Mentally he's not all there. He probably hasn't had a shower in a few years. He can never look you in the eye, and is not usually interested in much more than what he's going to have for his next meal.

But as we talked over lunch today he asked some pretty amazing questions. He wanted to know about what it'll be like when Jesus returns. He thought it would be pretty weird if he was watching a hockey game and Jesus just knocked on his door and said, "Let's go". I talked to him about what it meant to follow Jesus, to ask for His forgiveness and leadership. My friend had prayed that prayer years ago. He just thought it was interesting to talk about.

The more time I spend with my friend the more I feel like when he's around I need to take off my shoes. In the midst of his mental difficulties, his hygienic forgetfulness, and his paranoia about who is out to get him, there is a small piece of holy ground. Jesus loves this guy and when I'm with Him I feel almost like I'm in the presence of Jesus. It's pretty amazing. God chose the weak things to shame the strong, the foolish to shame the wise. I think my lunch partner reminds me of that. It's definitely a Christmas type of message. Think about it. The stable didn't smell too good. And Joseph was probably wondering where their next meal was coming from. Mary was exhausted from travel and labor. And yet God shows up. Frederick Buechner wrote about this. He said,

"Those who believe in God can never, in a way, be sure of Him again. Once they have seen Him in a stable, they can never be sure where He will appear or to what lengths He will go, to what ludicrous depths of self-humiliation He will descend in His wild pursuit of man. If holiness and the awful power and majesty of God were present in this least auspicious of all events, this birth of a peasant’s child, then there is no place or time so lowly or earthbound but that holiness can be present there too. And this means that we are never safe, that there is no place that we can hide from God, no place where we are safe from His power to break in two and recreate the human heart because it is just where He seems most helpless that He is most strong, and just where we least expect Him that comes most fully."

God comes fully when I sit with my friend. May He burn that lesson into my mind so that I don't pass Him by as He sits on the street.

Back in the saddle again...

Sorry for my infrequent postings. I'm back. Term papers are all turned in. I have a part of my life back again. At least until January.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Uh..Yeah..I think so.

Another winner from The Holy Observer

This was an amazing run.

Goodbye Ken, we'll miss you.

I'm working on a poem...

...and that doesn't happen too often. I'll share it here when I'm done, but I wanted to share the inspiration for it. I was driving down Highway 1 the other day on my way to a class. The radio was on and almost without noticing it, I found myself singing along. As I became a little more self-aware, I had to laugh. The song playing was "Gloria", sung by Laura Branigan. You remember that one don't you? Sing it with me now...

You really don't remember, was it something that he said?
all the voices in your head calling, Gloria?
Gloria, don't you think you're fallin'?
If everybody wants you, why isn't anybody callin'?
You don't have to answer
Leave them hangin' on the line, oh-oh-oh, calling Gloria
Gloria (Gloria), I think they got your number (Gloria)
I think they got the alias (Gloria) that you've been living under (Gloria)
But you really don't remember, was it something that they said?
all the voices in your head calling, Gloria?

What I noticed was that I knew about 90% of the lyrics. I was beltin' them out in a way that would've made Laura proud. But the funny thing is that after the song was over I realized that I didn't have a clue what it was about. I still don't. And that was when it hit me. Far too often my faith is like that song. I know the words, I sing them out loud for everyone to hear, but I don't know the story that's being told. It's only words. Later during class a phrase passed through my mind that has become my prayer and hopefully one day, the heart of this poem.

"Immerse me in your story God."

That's what I want to be. Even if I mess up the words sometimes I want to know the story. I want to feel the heartbeat of God as He continues to tell His story. I want to anticipate the climax, cry when the hero gives His life, smile when the characters take themselves to seriously. I want to be so immersed in the story that it becomes my story - that it shapes not only what I do, but also who I am.

So here's the first bit of the poem. Consider it a teaser.

Immerse me in your story God.
From tempting fruit and serpent’s lies.
To Abraham with knife held high
And heart that longs to die.

Fill me with the joy he knew
When ram was laid upon the stone
Isaac journeyed with Him home
To Sarah’s laughing smile.

Some of my greatest teachers are dead Catholics

"Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to the place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it. As busy, active, relevant ministers, we want to earn our bread by making a real contribution. This means first and foremost doing something to show that our presence makes a difference. And so we ignore our greatest gift, which is our ablity to enter into solidarity with those who suffer." (from The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen)

Nouwen also wrote what I consider to be the best book on Christian Leadership that I've ever read (and I've read a few) called In the Name of Jesus