Wednesday, September 29, 2010

World Vision Wednesday

World Vision has designated October 1 as a day of prayer and action on behalf of the world's poor. You can read more about it here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Exult in What You Do

During the 2006 Winter Olympics, I watched an Italian female figure skater finish her Olympic routine. She had retired in 2002, but came out of retirement just to skate in her home country. She really didn't have a chance to medal, but it was enough for her to skate at home. Near the end of her program she did two spin jumps in a row and nailed both of them. She threw up her hands and you could just feel the joy. I actually got chills and thought that, even though she might not realize it, she was bringing glory to God by doing what she had been gifted to do and thoroughly exulting in doing it well. It reminded me of what Eric Liddell said in Chariots of Fire - "God made me fast, and when I run I can feel His pleasure."

How would our lives be if we recognized what God made us to do, and felt His pleasure when we did it to the best of our ability? What would our witness to the culture look like? I suspect far different than it currently does.

Friday, September 24, 2010

TGIF

This will be the last TGIF... of September. Autumn is officially here, although you wouldn't know it by looking at the temperature. It's supposed to cool down next week, and the temps will actually be cooler than normal for awhile.

Let's get right to the links:

Giving refuge.
Stories of passion.
Church as a drug.
Tribe.
Finding community.

What "we" are missing.
Heaven is thick.
Leadership is not decision making.
The art of disagreement.
Christianity's forgotten man.

Go to Hell.
Shared leadership.
Somewhere today.
Who's in charge? A related post.

Enjoy your first weekend of autumn.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Teflon Church 2

I've been thinking more about the "teflon church". A teflon pan is a useful thing until the teflon wears off. A teflon church is really not useful. Sometimes the cracks need to happen for the church to become what it was meant to be. If that's the case, then I pray that God will remove the "protective covering" that is over so many churches today.

Friday, September 17, 2010

TGIF

Last Friday, I said that it was cooling off around here. Turns out, I was wrong. It's been warmer this week than last. Maybe it'll cool down by October. This afternoon, Josh and I went kayaking on the Catawba River. It was a good workout and the river was beautiful. It was a very relaxing end to the day.

As usual, there's been some good stuff in the blogosphere this week. Here's a sampling:

Here are some good thoughts from Dan Edelen.
Here is a good post about living the questions.
Here are Todd Hiestand's thoughts on bi-vocational ministry.
Here are Matt's thoughts on bi-vocational ministry.
Here is a post from Jared Wilson on sowing justice.
Here is a sign that you might be practicing churchianity.

It's party time!
The myth of independence.
Alan Knox on qualifications and examples.
A family affair.
Circling the wagons.

Beyond redemption?
A Christian defense of irrationality.
Jesus lives in a rehab.
John Armstrong's letter to the North American church.
Why Glenn Beck isn't a big deal.
Show and tell.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

World Vision Wednesday

Sixty years ago, Bob Pierce asked for his heart to be broken by the same things that break God's heart. God answered that prayer, and the rest is history. To read the rest of the story, go here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Teflon Church

Here's another blast from the past:

The other day, I passed a road named Mt. Elon Church Road. At first glance it looked like Teflon Church Road. Since my mind works in mysterious (some would say strange) ways, I got to thinking - What would a teflon church look like?

I imagine it would be a place where nothing "bad" sticks. Things of the outside world would have no effect. The church would be a "safe place" for Christians to gather and get away from "the world". To those looking at it from the outside, it would seem like a place where everybody had it all together, a place where those within were just "holier" than the rest.

Of course, there would be other things that wouldn't stick. Things like compassion for those outside, concern for those on the margins of society, a realization that none of us really has it all together, that it is only by the grace of God that we stand. Things like love for brothers and sisters in Christ as well as those who are neighbors.

Eventually, a teflon pan gets cracks and the teflon wears off. In a church, the cracks eventually happen and what is going on beneath the surface comes out. A pan that has lost teflon is useless and will be thrown out. Fortunately. a church that has lost its teflon can be redeemed and made useful again by our gracious Father.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Back To Church?

Tomorrow is "Back To Church Sunday." Churches are making an attempt to get people who have left "church" to come back. I will not be participating, for a number of reasons.

First of all, I haven't left the church. The church is Christ's body. Leaving the church makes as much sense as one of your fingers saying adios to the rest of your body. The institution that most think of when they hear the word "church" is another matter. I have left that building, and I doubt I'll be going back. I don't "go to" church anymore. I do gather with the church, in different ways and in different places. I am part of the church everywhere I go.

The second reason for not being part of the festivities tomorrow is that I believe churches are making a mistake in continuing with the notion that the mission of the church is to go out and get folks to come in and meet Jesus. Jesus told his followers to go. He didn't tell us to stay and invite. For many years we have invited people to come to church with the expectation that they would hear the Gospel, accept Christ, and join the church. One problem with that kind of thinking is that there are plenty of examples of church members and church leaders who live lives that don't match up with the way of Jesus, so folks aren't in a hurry to go someplace that has nothing to offer them (in their opinion).

Many members of the people formerly known as the congregation have got fed up with churches being more concerned with perpetuating the institution than serving their community, with the pastor as CEO mindset, and with the continual push for funds to create more programs and build bigger buildings rather than give to those in need. The culture war has sent some running for the exits. Others have left over a judgmental spirit and lack of grace. Some have departed because they don't believe that you can only minister inside the church building. Still others just didn't fit in.

Maybe churches should have a Sunday to take a good hard look at what they are doing, and see how much of it really fits with God's mission in the world.

Friday, September 10, 2010

TGIF

This week has flown by, maybe because the work part of it only lasted four days. It's cooling down a bit here in the sunny South, and fall is lurking. After a hot summer, I'm ready for some cooler weather.

Here's the good stuff:

Learning to dance with the bride of Christ.
Chaplain Mike is an "egalitarian." Here's why.
Discovery of fire.
Bob Hyatt thinks Christians need to learn to party better.

Jonathan Brink reflects on the Big Tent Christianity Conference.
A narcissist's fantasy.
Seeing through our work to the mountains beyond.
A prayer of remembrance for 9/11.
Talking with Muslims.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

World Vision Wednesday

Slavery is alive and well around the world. It is estimated that there are 27 million slaves worldwide, many of them children. To learn more about this, visit this page.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Has It Really Been That Long?

Yesterday, I wrote my 400th post on this blog. Wow. 400 seems like such a big number, and I guess it is if your talking about things like weight, or the price of a car repair. Now, if you're talking government spending, 400 is minuscule. When I started this blog almost three years ago, I had no idea where it was going to go. I also had no idea where God was going to take me.

The title of this blog is "On the Journey", because that's how I see life. I am on a journey following Jesus. Occasionally my journey has been on the highways, but most of the time I travel on the back roads. Sometimes the path gets narrow and hard to see, and sometime it goes through dark or deserted places.

In the past three years, Jesus has taken me into places that made me wonder what in the world was going on. Sometimes, when I thought we were going to be out in the sunshine on a nice straight road, our path veered into the woods on a trail so winding that I couldn't begin to see around the next bend. God has taken away dreams, and then given them back in a different form. My duties at my job have changed three or four times, and there have been times that I didn't think I could continue. God has always given me strength.

I have gone from a position of leadership in a church where I tried to influence the congregation toward a "relevant," attractional type of worship service, to a small fellowship that meets in a bagel shop on Sundays and homes, coffee shops, or pubs through the week. Like Anne Rice, I have left "Christianity," or at least what it has become. That doesn't mean I have left the Church, the Body of Christ. I'm not a big fan of amputation. I now believe that the church can gather in a pub and those gathered can grow spiritually more than many who gather in buildings called churches week after week.

I am being more and more, as Michael Spencer put it, reduced to Jesus. I see much of what has grown up around the Gospel, and have a hard time seeing the One we claim to follow. I believe that the church in the United States is coming to a fork in the road, where we must choose to follow King Jesus, or to continue in the civil religion that passes for Christianity.

A lot has changed since this blog began. I expect changes will continue to come, so I'll keep on writing. I have no idea how many actually read this, but I'm thankful for those who have stopped by, even if only for an instant. You have encouraged me with your comments, and I have been introduced to some great bloggers.

Enough ramblings for now. Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Different Socks

I wrote this a few years ago when I was driving a shuttle bus.

While down at Fort Jackson waiting on my group, I saw a bunch of new soldiers in formation getting ready to go to lunch. All of a sudden, one of the drill instructors began to get all over a young man for his socks. His socks! He had pushed them down into his running shoes so they didn't come up as high as the socks everyone else was wearing. It shows that one of the values of the armed forces is conformity. This is a necessary thing for an organization like the military. Non-conformity can be dangerous.

Many Christians like the picture of "Christian soldiers", etc. It's interesting that those who see Christians as part of an army seem to also highly value conformity, as if non-conformity can be dangerous spiritually. This doesn't fit with the Biblical idea of following Jesus. If you look through the Gospels and the Epistles, you can see the emphasis on unity in diversity. The only thing we are called to conform to is the likeness of Christ.

It is time for the church to allow and celebrate the different expressions of faith and godliness that are found in the body.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

TGIF

It's time once again, for TGIF. Yeah, I know it's Saturday, but we can pretend that it's Friday.

Let's get straight to the links:

A good guest post from iMonk.
A challenge.
A good essay on Christians and social justice.
A good perspective on Glenn Beck.

Simple answers to difficult questions.
Really open theology (HT: Scot McKnight).
Pharichristianity.
Trust as an assumption on participation from Dan Allen.
Does anyone really know what time it is?

Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

World Vision Wednesday

Five years ago, when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, World Vision stepped in to help with the relief effort. Here is the story of one of the communities hit by Katrina, and the help given by World Vision.

Weekend Wanderings

I wasn't able to post any links last weekend because we were I Georgia with our son and daughter-in-law, who were waiting for the child ...