Thursday, April 30, 2009


"The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey."
So says a CNN article.  Read the rest here. I understand that there are complexities when it comes to the church and the power of the state, but can we really just write off "turn the other cheek" that easily?  It was Jesus who said that, right?

I was saving the following quote for next week's quote of the week but I think you'll agree that it's quite appropriate for this particular post.
“Christianity, with its doctrine of humility, of forgiveness, of love, is incompatible with the state, with its haughtiness, its violence, its punishment, its wars”
-- Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

Go ahead...tell me what you think.

One further note...

The funny thing about the post below is that by including those words I have actually increased the likelihood of someone coming to this blog based on that search criteria.  I find that slightly amusing.  I am saying less and yet attracting more attention.

In case you ever feel too important...

Here's an interesting fact that is helping bring a little humility to my life. I can tell when people come to my blog via a search engine such as Google and also what they were searching for when they came across my blog.  The top search terms have always been my name - "Jeff Kuhn".  But in the last three months a new "hot item" has directed an incredible amount of traffic my way. In fact, it appears as if this post - World's longest dead snake - will soon surpass my own name as being the search term most used to find my site.  So while I'd like to think that people come here for the witty and profound words that I pour forth from somewhere deep in my soul, the truth may be that a good "YouTube" video has more pull. Oh well...
"Life is a long lesson in humility”  

Far from the church we often see today...

A church that doesn’t provoke any crises,
 a gospel that doesn’t unsettle,
a word of God that doesn’t get under anyone’s skin,
a word of God that doesn’t touch the real sin
of the society in which it is being proclaimed–
what gospel is that?

Very nice, pious considerations
 that don’t bother anyone,
that’s the way many would like preaching to be.
Those preachers who avoid every thorny matter
so as not to be harassed,
so as not to have conflicts and difficulties,
do not light up the world they live in.
They don’t have Peter’s courage, who told that crowd
where the bloodstained hands still were
that had killed Christ:
“You killed him!”

Even though the charge could cost him his life as well,
he made it.

The gospel is courageous;
it’s the good news
of him who came to take away the world’s sins.
-- Oscar Romero - April 16, 1978

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Word Creation Wednesday

This week's word has to do with the way we adopt the things that we choose to believe.
"Pseudocontemplation" - The mental act of choosing to believe a certain idea or concept due to the way it is presented, our personal bias, or our feelings about and reaction to the presenter of the idea.  The converse is also included in this, where we reject an idea because it is poorly presented or we don't like the presenter. This is especially practiced in North America where we often, consciously or unconsciously, adopt the ideas presented in the news and entertainment media as our own.  Every idea seems to have great merit if it is the only idea that you consider.  There is a famine of true critical thinking in our my own life.  Edward R. Murrow said, "A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices and superstitions."  If you've never taken the time to listen to the person who disagrees with you then you are building beliefs on a shallow foundation.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

This week's sermon...

Part 2 on Disciplines for a Busy World - Solitude and Silence.

Full study guide and outline is here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Quote of the Week...

Passed on to me from my good friend Wes...
“You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do."
--Ann Lamott

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Prayer for a Sunday...

Written by Walter Brueggemann - 

We are strange conundrums of faithfulness and fickleness.

We cleave to you in all the ways that we are able.

We count on you and intend our lives to be lived for you,

and then we find ourselves among your people

who are always seeking elsewhere and otherwise.

So we give thanks that you are the God

who yearns and waits for us,

and that our connection to you is always from your side,

and that it is because of your goodness

that neither life nor death

nor angels nor principalities

nor heights nor depths

nor anything in creation

can separate us from you.

We give thanks for your faithfulness,

so much more durable than ours.  Amen

Saturday, April 25, 2009

And never be the same...

Pastoral Epiphany

June 10, 2007

A vending machine of God

I am not

No slot for quarters

No chutes of spiritual sweetness

Dispensing divinity

Guaranteed to satisfy

At times people see me thus

I hate it

Mostly when I’m empty

When sweetness is hard to find

Quarters overflow

Yet there is nothing to give

And a line of those who want

Then, in a moment of grace

Insight comes, ripping scabs from eyes and heart

I see the truth

I like it too

Being a source 

Supplying quantities of God yet consuming none

Prepackaged Jesus, clean and sterile

Spiritual truth sealed in bags

A God contained

There is a joy in teaching 

Free from pain of being taught

Truth observed but not encountered

Analyzed, but paralyzed

You do not build another’s stones of remembrance

There is no life in living truth for others

If you handle fire you will be burned

Scars will evidence lessons learned

A vending machine God does not need

Maybe yet, a cup, albeit cracked

Filling, spilling, overflowing

Telling of the God I know

In hopes that they will someday go

To meet Him for themselves

And never be the same.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Re-Run...

Here's a post that I wrote back in 2005.  It came back to me as I sat through our denominational convention this week - excited by some of the changes happening in our Fellowship and yet still wondering about this weird thing that we call church.  As we work through budgets and by-laws and begin to discuss theological issues (while they are both important and necessary) it is so easy to lose the joy in laying it all our for the Kingdom.  We lose the focus of Jesus in the trappings of running a church.  And, as often happens with me, the same questions surface in my head.  Here's what I wrote about it 4 years ago...
July 5, 2005 - 
The more time passes the less I am sure of and the more confident I am that Jesus is all He said He is. It is encouraging for me to see others at the same point in their journey. My faith has become less about answers and more about quiet trust in the One who is leading. Anne Lamott writes,
“Another problem involves what the light looks like. I have thought over the years, that the light would look like success, a good man, a child, a Democratic president, but none of these were right. Moses led his people in circles for forty years so that they could get ready for the Promised Land, because they had too many ideas and preconceptions about what a Promised Land should look like…We have to sit in our own anxiety and funkiness long enough to know what a Promised Land would be like, or, to put it another way, what it means to be saved.”
So much of my spiritual journey has been about letting go of what I thought God was doing in order to embrace what He’s actually up to.

I never wanted to be a pastor. I thought that they were too secluded from the real world. What an idiot I was. But God is patient (and persistent), and here I am pastoring a church, never more sure of His calling in my life than I am now.

I thought that spiritual leadership was about giving people answers. Truth is that it’s more about walking with people through their questions. I’ve realized that God doesn’t need me to be His agent; He can do His own PR work. He wants me to be His hands, showing compassion, serving, loving, dying. Sure, you speak the truth, but your eloquence and insight aren’t needed, He just enjoys letting you be a part of what He is doing.

I thought that being a pastor was about discerning vision and preaching with passion. I am learning that it’s more about riding the roller coaster we call life. Let me share with you a day from a couple of weeks ago. I got to the office at 9:00am on Friday and spent the next hour talking with a suicidal woman on the phone. Our church has tried to help her repeatedly, just like every other social agency in our town. But she continually burns her bridges, abuses those who help her, and justifies it by saying that God is leading her to do these things. At 10:00 I met with another person. She has every reason to be suicidal and yet God is slowly but surely changing her heart. On my way back to the office I met with a family of a 66 year old man who had just died. They have little or no understanding when it comes to Jesus and what He intends for us. It was an hour of trying to bring some hope to a situation where there is none, or at least it feels that way. When I got back to the office I had to do the intensely spiritual work of responding to emails. That was followed up by an hour of wrestling with Acts chapter 2, asking God to speak to me and enable me to speak clearly to others. At 2:00 I did a funeral. Once again, very little hope, just a deep love and respect for a man who they will miss everyday for the rest of their lives. I wrapped up the day trying to finish off my sermon. And all of this is set against the back drop of hurt feelings and misunderstandings that surround a recent church decision. And yet I love it. I’m seeing God in places that I never dreamed He would be. And guess what, He’s getting the job done. I should’ve known that when He said that He would build His church that is wasn’t some politician’s promise, good only for the time it takes to get them in office. He meant what He said. And He’s good for His word.

I thought that peace was the absence of all these struggles. I am learning that the real peace comes in the midst of the roller coaster. You can only use a parachute when you’re falling to the earth at some insane speed. You can only trust God when it looks as if there is no hope.

So I’m learning to be sure of less, but to be more confident of the less I know to be true. It’s an interesting paradox, and one that’s difficult to explain. I guess that’s what makes it so beautiful. Easy answers lose their beauty when held up to the light. But when you experience something that is beyond describing, or at least describing fully, the truth seems to actually grow in beauty as the light reflects across the surface of the unknown.

That’s just the way God likes to do things.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Following up from yesterday's word...

Dallas Willard says,
“In solitude we confront our own soul with its obscure forces and conflicts that escape our attention when we are interacting with others."
On the lighter side, when hearing a sermon it is okay to focus on what is being said and who says it. Below is a little poem (not mine) that speaks to one who has added solitude and silence to his (or her) life:
The color of my pastor's eyes, 
In truth I can't define;
For when he prays he closes his,
When he preaches I close mine!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Word Creation Wednesday

This week's word has to do with our tendency to avoid times of quiet and introspection...
"Diversionism" - The practice of constantly adding sound or activity to our lives (i.e. always turning on the radio in the car, occupying our quiet moments with the internet) as an attempt to avoid the conversation that goes on in our head during times of solitude and silence. Our world suffers from this condition without realizing it's devastating consequences. We become so occupied with things outside of us that we fail to give sufficient attention and thought to what is going on inside of us. The result is an entire population who never listen to their hearts long enough to wrestle with the larger questions of life. Forward momentum has a deafening effect on the voice of both the human soul and the Holy Spirit. The Spirit doesn't send e-mail or text messages. To hear it speak you must sit with it a while.

This week's sermon...again

Turns out there were no audio problems this week so here's the sermon from last Sunday.  I'm starting a new series called Disciplines for a Busy World.  The first focus is on keeping Sabbath. Kristine Haig writes,
“Keeping Sabbath is not about some sort of legalistic, moralistic ‘What do you do on Sunday’ question, but about finding enough quiet time to refresh our spirits and turn our hearts back to God. We’re sort of on the fast track to global, cosmic, economic burnout.  My sense is that our exhaustion is of the spirit, and this really is God’s way of drawing us back.”
So here it is...

Full outline and study guide can be found online here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I am the richest of all men...

My youngest turned 9 this week.  My kid's birthdays always bring the nostalgic contemplation side out in me. Life seems to be zipping along and then all of the sudden the balloons and steamers kindle the fires of memory.  I am reminded with great joy and deep sorrow that one day they will grow up and leave me and start their own their own houses...with some painfully inferior husband who isn't worthy to have jewels such as these in his life. Sometimes the fatherly nature of my thoughts is so predictable.    

People always say that life goes faster the older you get.  I'm not sure that it goes any faster, but you definitely grow in the understanding of what it is that is actually happening.  Your comprehension of life grows and it seems like it takes more of your time to just mentally take it all in.  The becomes most evident to me in the lives of my daughters.  Through them I see the life of a 15, 12, 10, and 9 year old through 41 year old eyes.  I remember when I was 15 and thought I knew everything but was terrified that maybe I didn't.  When I was 12 and was desperately concerned that my school mates like me.  When I was 10 and the big questions in life consisted of what was for dinner and what do I want for Christmas.  When I was nine and there was no place better than my dad's lap.  

But then you grow up.  You begin to see that at every stage of your life that your thinking is limited.  You realize that you never arrive, you continually grow, change, and deepen in your understanding of what is going on around you.  I think there comes a day, or maybe a number of days, where you make peace with this.  You realize that you won't achieve all of your dreams. You realize that it's okay that you don't.  Part of the process is the epiphany that some of your dreams would have destroyed you and others would have shaped you in a very different way. Life then becomes a process of loving what you have instead of longing for what you don't. Realizing that sometimes in our constant desire for more we cheapen and devalue what we have.  

One of my favorite things to say is "I am the richest of all men."  I know this is true.  I believe it...most of the time. I have everything that I could want.  I have a relationship with Jesus who is "making all things new".  I have an amazing wife who keeps me fresh and alive. I have four beautiful daughters who, if they could ever grasp even a tenth of how much I love them, would never have self-esteem issues. I have extended family and friends, a warm and solid house, a job where I get to invest in the lives of others.  What more could I want?  

Kid's birthdays are good for me.  They remind me that life is short...but sweet.  They point me to the gifts I have rather than to the gifts I don't.  It's a lesson that I seem to need to re-learn over and over.  But that's always the way it is with truth.

This week's sermon...

...had some audio difficulties so I'm posting one from 2008 on Matthew 20:1-16 - The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard.  I called it "The Great Reversal".

Full outline and study guide can be found here.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Quote of the Week...

Here's a bit of a thinker for you...
"The real struggle is not between East and West, or capitalism and communism, but between education and propaganda."
~ Martin Buber

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Today's post...

The reality is that I have posted on this blog everyday since January 25th.  That's quite a streak for me and since I am either an all or nothing person I have realized that if I'm ever going to write on this blog I need to discipline myself to do it faithfully.  The problem is that nobody has something to say everyday.  It's just not feasible.  

I could tell you that someone gave us a fridge.  It was a true gift from God and our food is happily chilling as I write.  

I could also tell you that I preached today on incorporating the discipline of Sabbath.  And I am just going to veg with my wife and watch a movie.  

Other than that there is not much to say...I'll try again tomorrow...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Music soothes the savage beast...

In spite of having appliance problems today (see the post below) there is one thing that soothes my refrigeratorless soul...the music put out by Red Mountain Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Recommending music is always risky.  People have varied tastes.  But I really like what these guys and gals do with old hymn lyrics.  My favorite album is called The Gadsby Project, and coming in close second is Help My Unbelief.  Find out all about them here...and enjoy a few of the samples below.

King of Saints

Come Boldly to the Throne of Grace

With Melting Heart and Weeping Eyes

Help My Unbelief

Enjoy!'s not.

Know that old joke, "Is your refrigerator running?"'s not.  I thought the Diet Cokes were a bit warm.  Funny how you wake up with this perfect Saturday planned and then life happens.  So look out Craigslist, here I come...

Friday, April 17, 2009


This week-end I am starting a three part sermon series titled, "Disciplines for a Busy World." It's my attempt to remind myself that there are some counter-cultural practices that the church has utilized for centuries that help keep us focused on life through Jesus when the world all around us offers what appears to be life through everything else. There are a ton of things that I could cover, but I've chosen to limit the series to...
  • Sabbath
  • Solitude and Silence
  • Simplicity
Why only three?   Because we need to approach these ideas slowly.  More isn't always better. As I have been poking around in my own heart I have been reminded just how counter-cultural these disciplines are, even within what I would call the evangelical Christian sub-culture. 
Sabbath sets itself up against busyness, even busyness for good reasons.  It's not just going to church on Sunday, it's a conscious decision to let things stop for a day in order to remind ourselves that the success of the Universe (or our local Christian body or even my own spiritual life) has more to do with God than it does with me.  He asks us to stop in order to break our momentum.  To remind us that it's His work and not ours.  Solitude and Silence helps us to listen.  A strange idea for the iPod and internet generation.  And simplicity says that less is more.  Something I am reminded of when I see the fact that my stuff owns me instead of the other way around.

What motivated this series?  Primarily my own sense of lostness and desire to be refocused. Pastoring can be too busy at times and I find that I wrestle with what I call "people fatigue". I think that I am not alone in this.  While Jesus calls us to open up our hearts to people we are often so busy that we just don't want to surrender to that call.  Of course, there's always this option...
Are you there, God? It's me, the Internet.

Prayer has gone digital with help from a new web service that allows people to outsource their holy communication to a computer. On Information Age Prayer, the faithful simply choose their preferred passages and a text-to-speech synthesizer gives voice to them at regular intervals, for a nominal fee.

Available e-prayers include Our Father, for Christians, the Fajr, for Muslims and, for the agnostic, a prayer for financial health — which ironically will set users back about $53 annually. "I don't make any particular claims about efficacy, but I do believe that God is omniscient and He will hear (the prayers)," says creator James Mcarlos, who describes himself as spiritual but not religious. "Whether He listens or not is really a reflection of the subscriber."

The 23-year-old Bostonian says he designed the pay-per-prayer site for people like himself "who don't have time to put in the effort they'd like, to pray." (Read more at Digital Prayers)
As it says in the video below, we are living in exponential times.  Life is moving faster than ever before.  But honesty calls us to admit that just because it's faster doesn't mean it's better - especially when it comes to our spiritual life.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Beautiful Letdown

Okay, I admit it. My youth is over. And in my adult life I often look at the youth of today's world with an air of condescension. They think they are smarter than they are. What do they know about life in the real world? All the same things that adults said about me when I was a teen-ager too.  And then I come across some lyrics from the band Switchfoot.  Some lyrics that let me know there are some of the younger generation who are getting the profound nature of what the church is...and what it should be.
We are a beautiful letdown, Painfully uncool.
The church of the dropouts, the losers, the sinners, the failures and the fools.
Oh what a beautiful let down, are we salt in the wound,
Let us sing the one true tune...
The church is never what you expect it to be.  You will always be let down, initially.  But when you see beyond our expectations for church, when you catch a glimpse of what God intends, of what God welcomes, the beauty is almost overwhelming.  It's those glimpses that keep me going.  The hope of what God is doing in spite of what we are doing.  He has so much more going on.  We get so sidetracked on our own agendas for what both we and the world need. Let's begin to call it what it is.  A group of sinners clinging to the hope that in Jesus God is doing something amazing. Something beyond us. Something that the world desperately needs.  Let's begin to see the beautiful in the let down.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Word Creation Wednesday

"Word Creation Wednesday", the weekly post where I try to create a new word based on my experiences of the past week, has been a challenging, yet enjoyable discipline here at The Journey...  It's always fun for me to sift through the mental sludge of the past week and try to come up with something that I feel is worth saying.  Here's this week's word...
"Complexification" - The tendency to make simple things more complicated than they really are.  One good example would be the creation of this word itself.  The most dangerous aspect of this is in regard to spiritual matters, where the need to understand everything before doing anything often causes us to sink into either paralysis or hopelessness.  Jesus is relegated to a nice teacher who had some good ideas or a revolutionary who leads us places that we are too scared to go.  In between those two there is a Jesus who teaches us where we are going and walks with us as we go there - a Jesus who seeks little children willing to follow.
This tendency is amplified by speed and stress (which are often so tightly interwoven they are hard to separate).  If your life is moving at 90 miles an hour it becomes easy to overlook the simple and assume complexity.  If you are under stress from people's (or your own) unrealistic expectations you will assume that there is always more to what you see than merely what you see.  (It really can't be as simple as just loving God and loving those around you, can it?)  There are beacons of light in our world, however, who remind us that the goal is more about who we are becoming than in full understanding of how that becoming takes place. Mother Teresa's quote comes to mind...
"We can do no great things alone.  We can only do small things with great love."  
You defeat complexification by slowing down and disciplining yourself to look for what God is saying to you in the quiet.  Len Hjalmarson (who writes a great blog, by the way) quotes someone I highly respect here...
“God’s dream for radical newness will require discipline. Not discipline connected to punishment or shame, but discipline that roots us in Christ, deepening our connection to God and one another. This rootedness will come from having consistent, ordered ways in which we remain open to Grace, and they will be unique to each one of us. Grace constantly seeks entrance into our souls in order to effect change, but Grace will never force her way in. Discipline is the means by which we open ourselves to the sort of radical change that has always been God’s intention for us.” 
--Gordon Cosby
Remaining open to Grace...that's a worthy goal.  It destroys complexification. But you never accomplish it in a hurry.

This week's sermon...

What do you do with an empty tomb?

The Hole in Our Gospel...

I just finished reading The Hole in Our Gospel by World Vision CEO Richard Stearns.  Stearns tells a powerful and compelling story of the events that lead him from being the President and CEO of the Lennox China Company to his current role at World Vision.  But it's about more than just his transition.  Stearns spends the first third of the book skillfully interweaving his own story with the story of people in need from all over the world.  The middle section gives one of the best summaries I have ever read about the scope of world need as well as some of the good news of what is currently happening to address that need.  In the final section of the book he takes a hard look at the church of Jesus Christ, calling us to begin to focus on taking action to address the need in our world.  

What do I think of the book?  This is the point where I should put together some eloquent phrases to tantalize your literary taste buds - a time to create in you a hunger to read the book. But instead of doing that let me just say this.  Everyone I know who calls themselves a follower of Jesus needs to read this book.  Several times.  And not read it as a way to feel more spiritual, but as truth and challenge to be integrated into life.  Stearns is hard on the North American church...but with good reason.  He believes that Jesus has called us to love the poor and needy, a claim that is hard to deny.  He has added fuel to mental fires that have been burning in my head for the past several years.  While I can't say I always liked what he writes, I can say that I think he is right.

You should read this book.  

It's that important.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Quote of the Week...

This week's quote is my most favorite poem of all time...and as I write that I admit that I am prone to hyperbole. But the issue is not whether this poem is my actual favorite or not, the issue is that Meinke says something worth hearing.

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.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Means Good News

We often live in the past. We allow things that have happened to shape our lives to the degree that God’s future for us is obscured by our past. In John 20 we see Mary Magdalene, so hurt by the loss of Jesus that when He reappears she clings to Him. She longs for things to be as they were. But Jesus realizes that the resurrection means that things will never again be as they were. In fact, when the truth and power of the resurrection sinks in, the followers of Jesus will be thrilled that the past is just that – past.

Fred Craddock writes,
"...even for disciples like Mary, Easter does not return her and Jesus to the past; Easter opens up a new future. The earthly ministry is over; now the ministry of the exalted, glorified, ever-abiding Christ begins. “Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you’ (16:7). In fact, the one who believes will do even greater works than Jesus did, ‘because I am going to the Father’ (14:12). Therefore, Jesus says to Mary Magdalene, ‘Do not hold on to me’ (v. 17). Rather, she is to go and announce his resurrection and his ascension to the presence of God, from whose presence the Holy Spirit will come to lead, comfort, and empower the church."
The resurrection says to us, “The old is gone, the new is come.” From now on our faith builds on the past but looks to the future. God is building a Kingdom. The resurrection proves that what He started He can complete.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Guatemala Update...

Another great entry from Wes about our "Coffee Trip" to Guatemala.  If he ever sells the Blue Moose then maybe he should take up writing.  He wraps together the Guatemalan Civil War and the current state of the coffee business in an amazing post.  You can read it here.

Friday, April 10, 2009

It's Arrived!

Welcome to the first post generated from my new MacBook.  The old Dell died and Angela decided to buy me something a bit more durable and higher end.  We ordered it on Monday and it showed up at my doorstep late yesterday afternoon.  I must say that so far I like it very much.  A bit of a challenge to get all my old stuff onto this one.  (Google can teach you everything you need to know.)  But now it's here and I am happy to have it.    

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

What happens...

...when we have a decision to make? 

One of the worst assumptions that we can make is that we are the ones who best know what we need. We cringe at the idea of someone else imposing what they think is best for us on our lives. We want to be the masters of our fate.  The irony is that we pursue this ideal of self-determination thinking that it leads to freedom.  The truth is in actuality that it begins to enslave us to the whims of the next thing that comes down the pike.  

In all of the discussion about the definition of marriage one of the key arguments is that party A has no right to impose their definition on party B.  Yet once the assumption that individual ideas and rights take precedence over an outside standard, the floodgates are opened.  If we really want to direct our own lives our own way, then we have to give others the same courtesy. 

The issue always comes down to whose "standard" are we to follow.  I get the concern.  People have manipulated "truth" for centuries.  The church has done this repeatedly.  But the church's mistakes do not negate the fact that there is a standard of right and wrong.  (Just because people eat junk food doesn't mean that eating is a bad thing.)  And when we delegate that standard to the feelings and perspectives of the individual we open the door to a room full of cans of worms...

Just a couple of weeks ago an Op-Ed piece in the Ottawa Citizen reflected this very fact.
"Looks like a historic legal battle is shaping up over polygamy, the outcome of which will surely be determined by the Supreme Court of Canada. I understand why, for political reasons, the government feels compelled to fight polygamy tooth and nail, but I suspect the government will lose. The polygamists have what seems to be an unassailable constitutional position. If polygamy is an expression of their religion, and if the participants are all consenting adults, then I don't see how the state can say no." (Read the rest here.)
People may not want you to impose a standard on them.  I get that. Even by writing this I am expressing that I don't want current society to tell me that there is no moral standard beyond the individual's own conscience.  My point is this - to deny that there is a standard and to cut off discussions about what that might be and how we discern it leads us down a path we don't want to go.  Once you lose the idea that truth is something outside of us and replace it with personal "truth" you may find that you are getting more than you bargained for.

It all starts with accepting the fact that we may not be the ones who best know what we need.


There's something powerful about it.

See the details of the incident at my earlier post here.

Word Creation Wednesday

As you know if you read the last post my PC has passed on. My wife in her loving generosity ordered me a new MacBook which should be arriving next Monday. In the meanwhile I am manipulating my stuff to try to lift it from the dead computer and have it organized for the new computer. It's a huge amount of work and I have been reflecting on how technology often takes as much as it gives. Thus the word for this week...
"digibilitation" - The ironic yet powerful debilitating effect caused by an over-dependence upon technology. While it is clear that we need to be fluent in the language of our digital world, the power of technology to change and enslave us is often minimized or underestimated.
Several years ago I wrote this in an attempt to express the same idea...
We make things then they make us
All our tools will one day be
The hammers and the chisels
That give shape to you and me

So beware the innovation
For which the masses stand in line
Progress is a word
That takes a long time to define
That being said, I can't wait to get my MacBook. 

Sometimes life is complicated...

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Transition Happening...

Just to let you know my PC has died and a new MacBook is on the way (a gift from my wife - yes, best decision I ever made was to marry Angela). But in the transition the blogging may suffer. Be patient. I'll be back on track in a week or so...

This week's sermon

The King who is the Lamb to be slain...every Sunday is Palm Sunday.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Quote of the week...

"Long story short: we don't get to make our lives up.  We get to receive our lives as gifts.  The story that says we should have no story except the one we choose ... is a lie. To be human is to learn that we don't get to make up our lives because we're creatures ... Christian discipleship us about learning to receive our lives as gifts without regret."
--Stanley Hauerwas

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Food for thought...

...for Palm Sunday.
"As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you."
--Luke 19:41-44
How often do we miss the "time of God's coming" to us because it doesn't look like we thought it would. The very people who were singing about the coming King on Palm Sunday would, in the span of a few short days, cry "Crucify Him". Why? Because Jesus didn't look like what they expected. I like God as long as He cooperates with what I have planned for Him. The trouble is that He has other ideas. He knows that I haven't got a clue what will bring me "peace". Death and humiliation as the pathway to glory? How can that be? Mocked and abused as a sign of surrender to and approval by God? Impossible.

Yet not. One of my favorite quotes of all time, usually mentioned in a sermon every year at Christmas time, is what I'd like to leave with you for this Palm Sunday.
“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 and earthbound but that holiness can be present there too. And this means that we are never safe, that there is no place where we can hide from God, no place where we are safe from his power to break in two and re-create 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 he comes most fully.”
-- Frederick Buechner
I have a sneaking suspicion that most of the time our lives feel more like the road to Golgotha on Good Friday than the road to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. But that's okay. Because just where Jesus seems most helpless is He most strong...and just where we least expect Him He comes most fully.

Hosanna. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. No matter "how" He chooses to come!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Breakfast Song...

Sometimes you just don't know what to say...other than no wonder people sometimes dismiss Christians.

This is a tune that will stick in your head all day long...sorry about that.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Longing for home...

When I was in college I spent 18 days on a backpacking trip called "Discovery". We spent the time hiking, white-water canoeing, rock climbing and rappelling, had a four day fast and “solo” experience (a “solo” is where you are by yourself for four days – it’s meant to be a time of fasting and prayer), and capped it off with a 14 mile marathon on the last day. We also carried all our food with us, which meant that we did not each very much – I lost 21 lbs in 18 days! I know, some of you who know me today doubt that I ever did that. You’ll just have to trust me…

Now while you may not believe that I actually did this, you can believe that I am a big fan of food. One of the thoughts that preoccupied my mind throughout this trip, being the good southern boy that I was, was my mom’s homemade biscuits. Everyone in my group had their “food” and sometimes in the evenings while we watched the fire and listened to our stomachs growl we would talk about them. I can remember seeing a plate of hot, homemade biscuits in my mind. Mentally I covered them with butter, jam, applesauce…it didn’t really matter. My mouth would actually water as I longed to eat them. As I thought about them I could almost taste them. The first morning I was home after the trip I awoke to the smell of those biscuits, hot out of the oven. That breakfast has to go down in history as one of my favorite meals of all time. I don’t remember how many I ate, but I had a quick start to returning to my previous weight!

So what does that have to do with anything? It reminds me of one of my favorite sections of the Bible, Revelation 21:1-5,
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!"
This passage reminds me of what it is that we are longing for, the renewal of all things – the new heaven and the new earth. The world is a terrible place, just ask CNN. But one day we will hear the voice from heaven telling us that,
“…the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
I can’t wait for that day.

This Sunday we celebrate communion at our church. Jesus said that when we eat from His table we proclaim His death (the solution to our broken world) until He comes (the promise that He will not leave things as they are). The idea is that we are longing for the renewal of all things so deeply that we can almost taste it. The table reminds us of what we long for. Keep that in mind when you taste the bread and wine. It's a longing for home.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Coffee Trip Update...

My friend Wes has been busy at his computer again, chronicling our recent trip to Guatemala. If you want to read the latest installment (and you do) then you can find it here. Also feel free to peruse the trip photos on the sidebar of his blog.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Word Creation Wednesday...

This week's word...
"prejudignorance" - A term describing the fact that those we are most prejudiced against are often those that we are the most ignorant about. This runs deeper than just racism. Non-racist people often hold subtle prejudices against people for reasons that fail to make sense. We jump to faulty conclusions when we make judgments about the nature of a person with whom we've never had a face to face conversation. The greatest contributor to prejudice of any kind is a refusal to actually get to know the other and let the other get to know us.