Why blog?

While I’m on the subject of not writing much, I’d like to comment on the purpose of blogging. I do this blog mainly because writing brings clarity to my thoughts. There’s just something about putting words to the page that helps to crystallize things. I can’t explain it, it just does. The second reason (close second) is for the community. I feel as though I’ve developed some real relationships with some of you in blog-land (I can’t stand the word ‘blogsphere’), mostly in the comments on other blogs. This community has expanded my mind, forced me to learn new words and phrases (emergent church for example) and generally helped me see the greater world outside my own.
The second reason, though, sometimes seems to conflict with the first. Because you, dear reader, are out there I feel this pressure to perform. I need to keep writing or you may go away. Not only that, but I’ve got to write something substantive, at least once and a while. It can’t be all fluff about the new Hyundai Sonata, you deserve more! So at times like this, when I don’t have much to say, I get a little servous that I’m not living up to my commitment to you.
Some would say, forget the readers, this is your blog for your thoughts and ideas. But you see if it were only about me I wouldn’t have a blog, I’d have a diary. I want others to see it, I long for someone to read it and tell me what they think. A little confession here; sometimes when I post something I think is particularly good, I find my self checking in every hour or two to see if anyone’s commented on it. Pretty pathetic, huh? I’m usually disappointed, which is frankly good for my humility.
I’m not sure where I’m going with this. I’m not trying to complain, just commenting on this odd idea of continually writing my thoughts for the entire world to see. It’s nothing that other bloggers haven’t felt or even written about, but it’s on my mind, so I wrote it down. I’ll be back in an hour to see if you have any thoughts. 🙂

Is anyone home?

Just wanted to let you know that I’m still here. I’ve not been real inspired to write nyhting of any significance lately, sorry. I have some thoughts spinning around my head relative to some blogs I’ve been reading(including this 94 comment exchange at virusdoc) lately, but I haven’t found the inspiration to put words to the page. I hope to get to those soon. I’ve got the week off working around the house. If I can get my projects done early I might have some serious time on my hands. 🙂

Healing

I’ve written in the past on the power of Christian reconciliation. I’m convinced that there is almost nothing that can match the glory given to God when His people are divided – sometimes deeply and bitterly – and then reconcile. It is usually intimidating to initiate the process and carries the risk of deeper hurt, but with love and a little humility God is powerfully glorified.
As I wrote about earlier, Aaron at Radical Congruency recently went through some hurt at the hands of folks from his own church. I’m very pleased to report that he has reconciled with nearly everyone involved. Through this whole process, as is usually the case, he even learned something about himself. His post about it is a powerful testimony to God’s plan for our lives, namely that we love each other deeply, go read it.

Bloggers in their PJ’s – 1, Big Media Outlet – 0

Regardless of your political leanings, you’ve gotta love the outcome of the CBS/Dan Rather situation with the forged Bush Guard Memos. It turns out the bloggers were right after all. After nearly 2 weeks of gradually less adamant denials of any forgery, CBS has now discovered that the documents aren’t real after all. The question here is if it was obvious to us guys in our PJ’s that they were suspiscious, why didn’t they get checked before the story aired? Some in the Bush Blog world would like you to believe that it’s becasue of CBS’s or Rather’s partisanship. Perhaps, but I have to believe that the smell of a scoop that would mean bigger ratings played a bigger part. My experience with the news media suggests that truth isn’t nearly as high on their priority list as ratings. Certainly not as high as all their high minded talk of ‘investigative journalism’ would suggest. If it will sell, use it, we’ll sort out the facts later.
The cool thing for me is how the little guy has wrestled a little bit of power back from the the big news outfits. I doin’t think it would have been possible, at least not from the grass roots up or with this kind of speed, in the past. Hopefully it will mean they will check their facts better next time. I doubt it.

Missing the Point

As I’ve mentioned before, the church I’m a part of is an offshoot of the Churches of Christ. One of the things that attracted me to this church was it’s passion for thestandards and misson of God and for the restoration of first century Christianity. They were determined to get into their Bibles and get it right. Let’s set aside all of our preconceived notions of Christianity and look at the Bible fresh and see what it says. I learned that it said a lot of important stuff that I wasn’t aware of and that a lot of stuff that I thought it said just wasn’t there.
One of the side effects of this sort of passion can be an over the top stand on docrinal issues. In other words, an attitude of “This is right and there is no way around it and if you think otherwise you’re in sin!” In the CoC’s, we are unfortunately famous for such lines in the sand. Some draw a line on musical instruments in worship, some draw one over one cup for cummunion vs. many, sone over kitchens in the church building. A nearly universal line drawn by all CoC’s is on baptism for salvation.
We believe that the Bible clearly teaches that baptism is for salvation. Through it we receive the forgiveness of sin and receiving the holy spirit. There are plenty of verses to back this up, in fact I consider it God’s plan of salvation. The early Christians practiced it and it was only much later in church history (around 400 AD if memory serves) that the idea of any other kind of salvation came to be widely accepted. God wants us, no commands us, to be baptised to receive his forgiving grace.
But the point of this post isn’t the ‘rightness’ of baptism. I haven’t even pointed to scriptures or adequately researched the historical things I’ve spoken about (from memory of classes I’ve been in) No, it’s about the arrogance of my CoC family. Frankly, we’ve gotten many things right. The trouble is we look down our noses at the rest of mainstream Christianity as the only ones who’ve made it and Baptism is our litmus test for your salvation. I’ve been there. In fact, my church group, the International CoC’s, took that arrogance to a new level. We looked down our noses at the rest of the CoC’s as well as mainstream Christianity. We had a lock on Christianity, we were ‘God’s modern day movement’ (yes, that’s exactly how we described ourselves.)
We’ve missed the point. We’ve ‘strained out a gnat but swallowed a camel’. Yes, baptism is an important doctrine, crucial to our slavation. Yes, we ought to teach it to everyone we study the Bible with. Yes, it is God’s plan of our forgiveness. But no, it is not the most important thing. More important than that, it’s not the proof of one’s salvation. Even more to the point, deciding who is saved or not is not our role. That belongs to God and God alone. God has said that he expects us to be baptised in order to fellowship with Him, but it is His perrogotive to make an exception if He so chooses. Should we count on it? No. Should we treat baptism as trivial or unnecessary? Absolutely not. It is one thing to be ignorant of God’s commands regarding baptism, it’s quite another to understand them but simply ignore them.
This post springs from an interesting post at Radical Congruency on baptism. Aaron’s point was that it is not up to us to judge one’s salvation. We should, as Priscilla and Aquila in Acts 18, insruct other on God’s plan for baptism, but if they refuse to listen it is God’s role to decide what that rejecton means. The post lay dormant for a few months, then exploded in a flurry of comments a few days ago. Many of those new posts were judgemental, condescending and mean. What’s more, it turns out that many of these posters were not strangers from accross the country, but members of Aaron’s own congregation. That folks who are supposedly so passionate for God can say such hurtful things – and in a ‘public’ forum to someone in their own church (would they stand up in the local mall and shout those same comments?) – tells me that perhaps they’ve missed (or forgotten) the point of Christianity.
And Aaron, in response to the pain inflicted, has decided to stop blogging for a while. What a shame.

Church Structure vs. Freedom

Justin at Radical Congruency had an interesting post about the tension between traditional church structures – any structure really – and the room to freely express, explore and expand our relationship with God. The Emergent Church (First time I’ve used that phrase here. If you’re like me, you’ll need some help figuring out what that means.), that is those trying to emerge from the doldrums of traditional Christianity to live a full life that Jesus promised us, is attempting to throw off the old ways and explore new ways of building a church community. At Justin’s suggestion, I’ve decided to post my response here:

What I hear from the ’emergent’ (I’m only beginning to understand what that means) is a longing for something more. More than a prayer ritual and a Bible reading schedule – a real connection and relationship with God. More than a Sunday service and midweek Bible study group – a real community of believers. More that a set of rules and regulations – a real life that’s free, exciting and fulfilling, not restrictive and dull. So we abandon tradition in pursuit of real, meaty Christianity. No pastors, no buildings, no structure – just live as a disciple! (correct me if I’ve missed what the Emergent Church is about)
There’s a fallacy in that thinking. We need the structure. We need a worship schedule to remind us to go and worship together regularly. We need a prayer list to remind us to pray. We need a Bible study schedule to keep us going. And on and on. Perhaps you are good at one or two of those, but none of us are good at all of them. The challenge is how to have the structure, the accountability, the discipline with out that system becoming the focus. It seems that we take our eyes so easily off of Jesus and onto the system. Then it becomes more about the doing then the why we are doing.
My church is wrestling with this now – and have been for over a year. We’ve spent the last year or so dismantling the structure that our church was based on and trying to recapture the heart underneath. It’s been immensely challenging. We’re discovering how much of who we are spiritually was tied to that structure. We had disciplers that advised on nearly everything. We had mandatory meetings and expected levels of giving. At one time we had input on nearly every aspect of your life. We had a pretty radically committed group as a result, but take it away and make them stand alone and their knees get wobbly and they’re not sure what to do. Structure can build us up, but can also be a crutch.
I’m not sure how we’re going to get to where we need to be. Some structure is needed but many are fearful of it and it’s empty results and lack of God focus. With the structure gone, there’s a void. The easy answer is to fill that void with a new structure. A different method. What needs to fill that void, however, is God, but how do we set up – structure – a church, a community, to do that?

Name this car

A new Mazda sedan you say? Nope. Is it a new Audi? Not even close. Perhaps an Acura?
No, what you’re looking at is the new 2006 Hyundai Sonata. The little Korean company is growing up. Get ’em while they’re still cheap folks, these guys are going the way of Honda through the 1970’s.
Via Autoblog.

Teachers

This week I sent to three ‘Curriculum Night’ events at my daughters’ school. I am completely amazed at teachers. My middle one’s in 2nd grade and her teacher talked a mile a minute about the curriculum, how he’d present it, what he expected of them, school values, his philosophy on handwriting and the umteen-zillion ways we can work with our child at home. He did this non stop for 45 minutes. He handed each of us a folder, about 3/8″ thick with the stuff we should read about our kid’s class. (I got one just as big from the kindergarten class and about have as much from the 4th grade class. At my reading pace I’d say it’s about a month of reading.) I was sitting there overwhelmed, thinking I can’t possibly do all this great stuff at home for one kid, let alone three! It was overwhelming just thinking of my role as a parent, let alone a teacher of 20-some 2nd and 3rd graders.
What absolutely blew me away was how psyched this young guy (2 years from college) was about teaching. I mean I would need a perfectly thought out and prepared plan for each day of the entire year and I’d still be a wreck thinking about it. I’m sure he doesn’t have that, he does it himself, and he obviously loves it. I know it’s extremely important and valuable, but how can anyone find this exciting? I’m amazed. I’m sure the thought of sitting at a computer doing CAD work would drive him up a tree too.
So, if you’re a teacher, my hat is off to you. You work hard with little reward (at least financially) in a job most of us wouldn’t want at twice your salary.
Thank you.

Wedding Day

I got to go to a wedding to day. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to one. I love weddings. They make me all nestalgic to my wedding 11.5 years ago.
One of my favorite things is when the bride comes through the door. I turn my eyes not to the bride, but to the groom. It’s a special moment. He hasn’t seen the love of his life all day, he’s about to marry her and become more than a ‘boyfriend’ or even fiance, but a lover. She’s spent hours having others make her the most beautiful she can possibly be. The doors open up and this unstoppable, stupid-happy grin blossoms on the groom’s face. You couldn’t remove it with all the botox in the world. That smile is truly priceless. There she is in all her radiance and glory and she is all his. That’s how I felt on my wedding day. I was stunned and overwhelmed at Maria’s beauty (and I still am.) and I couldn’t stop smiling as she walked toward me, her eyes fixed on mine. Watching that smile develop on another man’s face for his bride takes me right back to my wedding day and helps keep me grateful for what I have.
This wedding had a couple of oddities. He is a video game freak, and so is she. He has a Game Cube, and she has an X-Box. In fact ,after the ceremony they walked out to the background music to Super Mario Brothers. They even did a little jump like (I guess ) Mario does. All the other couples standing up with them did it too as they exited. They both love the Lord of The Rings and when he put the ring on her finger he muttered “My precious …” in his perfect Gollum voice (which he does very well).
They’ve dated on and off for 9 years, someof that before they bcame Christian and some after. They are one of those couples that everyone but them (or more specifically, him) knew that they should be together.
Conragts, guys.

On This Day

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