Sunday, May 31, 2009
I was reminded of this quote from Lewis, as I was planning my purchase of the new J.R.R. Tolkien book, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudru...it's an early, long-unpublished work by Tolkien. It's a thorough reworking in verse of old Norse epics that predates Tolkien's writing of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. The book includes an introduction by Tolkien and notes by his son, Christopher Tolkien. J.R.R. Tolkien, whose fantasy novels have sold millions of copies, he died in 1973. "The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun" was written in the 1920s and '30s, when the author was teaching at Oxford University.
When I was purusing the book, I was so pleased to see how my favorite author was captured as well, by the truth that is found in the shadows of the old myths. They truly are shadows cast, unaware of the full Truth that is at the roots of their literary emanations. The truth of Christ, fulfills all those myths. He embodies the longings of all the cultures, people and ancient ways.
I've had a deep prophetic resonance with the shadow myths of the Northern lands of Scandinavia. I purchased this "Hammer of Thor" necklace when I was in Norway. I wear it when I preach to remind me of a June, 2004, prophetic word (Hammer of God, Arise) the Lord gave me while I was in Oslo, Norway. One of my deepest prayers is to participate in a church planting endeavor in the Scandinavia countries of Norway, Sweden and Finland...someday.
I took the quiz below and it told me: "You Scored as Thor...you are the mighty God Thor! You have the great hammer Mjollnir, as well as gloves and a belt of power. You are protector of the weak, and loved by all."
"Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" -Jeremiah 23:29
Which Norse God Are You?
created with QuizFarm.com
Best music to listen to while taking quiz: Nox Arcana's: "Blood of the Dragon"
Friday, May 29, 2009
This is Bruce Dickinson solo stuff, he is from ye old band, Iron Maiden. A band that capitalized on the 80-90's fascination with who could appear to be more devilish than the other metal band. Though they were not "Black Metal" their preoccupation with demonic themes and imagery, sent many a youth pastor into African drum beat theologizing about rock music etc etc. Fist pumping to the devil aside...I find many of these bands taking a hard look at theological knots better than many Christian bands in that era.
I think King David would of listened to metal...its full of honest wrestling with the darkness and light of the human experience, the complexities and mysteries of the Divine experiment and the realities of the soul's struggle with the flesh. And of course there is a lot of stuff to gag on too...but many a person has chocked to death on good food, as well as bad.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Man-made religion burns out sincere workers, spoils the crops and drives people away from the way of Christ. It's rooted in the insecure, works based righteousness of broken, ego driven people. When performance based religion motivates our endeavors...people secretly compete, often complain, many times outright undermine or do so in a passive aggressive way with an insincere coyness. Like Christian masochists they internally seethe with insufferable persnicketiness and it can spread like battlefront gangrene. If you really love those who are called to work out the victory of Christ among the masses that the Lord loves; then Frontline surgery is often needed. That means in the fray of activity you have to chop the stumps off, hack away at the putrid rottenness, gouge out the disenfranchised disease. It's bloody, tiring work but its critical to maintain the life of your soldiers and sustain the advance of the unfolding of love.
"Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk..."If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, and honor it, desisting from your own ways, from seeking your own pleasure and speaking your own word,
When wide, open-eyed, sweaty labor is motivating our works in order to earn acceptance; we end up spreading the natural divisiveness of fallen life. But when the blind works of grace are motivating the loving of our neighbors...a sweet fragrance of congeniality, silent humility and gentleness surrounds the movements of Christ. His mission is a yoke, but not one that chaffs raw or constantly divides or pits one ox against the other. Instead it leads in a non-driven way, not breathless but gracefully...it actually, meanders...purposefully.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”-Matthew 11:28-30
His yoke is easy and its light. His work will make you tired but it wont make you weary in the bones...religion does that. It's light but not because it's without weight, it needs strength to carry...but He provides the power by His Spirit. It's a load but not the kind that buries the soul...it burdens but in a Christ illuminating way..we share in His sufferings, and there's a sweetness in that gift. It's a work of mission but not the heavenly draft...its not forced labor or demanded service but entered into freely. This freedom is the joy producing characteristic that should permeate the attitude of Christ followers. This path ensures that they lose the ability to point the finger or guilt others into the work.
This is the Sabbath sustained rhythm, of grace empowered mission....anything else, is like doing a full days work while being nauseous; it may pay the bills, but its sickening drudgery.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Most people would never think that an invitation to dinner could be considered a subversive act. Who would of dreamed that generosity would undermine the very societal structures of the culture or kingdom. But that is exactly what the radical inclusiveness and hospitality of Jesus sets in motion.
Daniel prophesied about this conquering and subversive kingdom that would come: "While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth." (Daniel 2:34-35)He just didn't know it would strike using bread, fish and...salad!
When we are serving meals on Tuesday, we are confronting the very powers that seek to weave chains of racial, economic and dead religious bondage. We confront the systems of this world that divide, ostracize, oppress, ignore and mock the very people Christ called most blessed...the poor. When we all recognize our own poverty and join one another around a common meal, we take part in the total deconstruction of the kingdoms of this world...crumbling kingdoms, that stand in opposition to the ever growing kingdom of God.
Making salad...now feels kind of naughty.
A moody child and wildly wise
Pursued the game with joyful eyes,
Which chose, like meteors, their way,
And rived the dark with private ray:
They overleapt the horizon's edge,
Searched with Apollo's privilege;
Through man, and woman, and sea, and star,
Saw the dance of nature forward far;
Through worlds, and races, and terms, and times,
Saw musical order, and pairing rhymes.
Olympian bards who sung
Divine ideas below,
Which always find us young,
And always keep us so.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Monday, May 25, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
and give my mind a rest. The natural spot where my fish pond and small
water fall will go, is almost ready for install.
But I'm bummed the Japanese maple I transplanted last summer isn't
showing any signs of life.
But all my other transplants made it: rose bushes, hops vine, lilac
bush, various herbs and plants...all good and growing.
I also rearranged, cleaned and prepared my garage art studio for some
new art projects. I need new lights and a new load of paints and fresh
Thursday, May 21, 2009
singularity, slips out of my hands,
a mob is breathed in...just as soon as I smoked them out,
my chains...memories, voices and days that wont dusk.
Greased with the blood of this internal ruckus,
broken glass from neglected mirrors,
Violently tousled furniture...
where insanity and public decorum drink tea.
Volcanic gaspings, Fulgora is igniting in my belly,
knees to the chin, all my privacy exposed,
nothings crowning in this leafless, Adamic humiliation,
heaven’s provoking a primordial, edenic scream...
Eve’s mothered a killer again.
The garden’s gate, is closing...this seraph has no lift.
Driven out the less wise one goes...
mouth dripping with too much knowledge,
scimitar's fire, a path backward, that can’t be trod.
Naked is the man again...
arising where dead people lay;
a rusty scythe to carve out despair’s midnight howls,
A wailing, to send dreamers scuffling under their beds.
But...the exorcist, is coming.
Divine incantations, scribe’s ever reservation,
can the lord of the flies, even be swatted?
Incessantly buzzing within my dry mouth,
Darkness exhumed...I’m my own forgotten Tutankhamun,
Truth is an azure light...to my legion.
Driving out my inhabitants...page by page,
word through word, painting by picture,
thought by strum, verse by verse,
kiss by kiss...face to face.
Driving my demons into pigs,
squealing, skirting, zigging and zagging,
They talk, they mock, always more grandiose, ever the thespians.
They cower, quiver, cling and plead...and flee.
My possessions...a maddening stampede, of drowning swine.
His ever simple North...
“Go and tell”
Inspired by Luke 8:26-39
Photo by Simon Gentry
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Sometimes hidden from me
in daily custom and in trust,
so that I live by you unaware
as by the beating of my heart.
Suddenly you flare in my sight,
a wild rose blooming at the edge
of thicket, grace and light
where yesterday was only shade,
and once again I am blessed, choosing
again what I chose before.
-by Wendell Berry, for his wife
I didn't write it, but I found it...like a flower.
...and it says perfectly, what I feel.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Be forewarned...this cow has an engorged utter, ready to spew.
Many post to follow..you might want to wear muckers.
...and here, he was going for the goods, but I had to tell him those were no longer on the market.
Some of the delicious bounty of the Pacific Northwest....I simply wouldn't want to live anywhere else.
There was a Cheese Festival going on at the market...lots of people, cheese and im sure...lactose intolerance going on.
One of the common sites in Seattle...musicians playing music...you got to love it. This trip, Lee bummed some change off a street musician when we were trying to get change for a meter...that woman could talk Donald Trump out of his toupee!
In Seattle there is a church that is too small for their building. So they share it with 2 other congregations and opened their classrooms to various organizations and music groups to rent or use. But in one small corner of the building, tucked away behind the pulpit and the stage, in a converted sound room is an artist studio. The church trades space for art. 3 artists make this little discarded piece of space...a creative womb.
"When artists discover as children that they have inappropriate responses to events around them, they also find, as they learn to trust those responses, that these oddities are what constitute their value to others."-Kathleen Norris, The Cloister Walk
"Many poets are not poets for the same reason that many religious men are not saints: they never succeed in being themselves. They never get round to being the particular poet or particular monk that they are intended to be by God." "In order to become myself I must cease to be what I always thought I wanted to be." (Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation)
When I saw this partnership going on...I knew I had found one of my dreams being worked out in reality...artists and mission, blending together in a very unique collaborative initiative that fosters artistic expression and church mission. One of my dreams for Jacob's Well and reasons for being in a economically challenged area is to foster a creative, artistic, redemptive presence. I have always envisioned urban artist monks doing mission in a communal way in our neighborhood. Seeing this church embodying a way to foster that partnership, added fuel to my dreams.
Beauty is truth, truth beauty---that is all ye need to know on earth, and all ye need to know -Keats
This will be, Lord willing, my next ministry mission focus..
Eugene Peterson is one of my favorite pastoral writers. I had the blessing of meeting him, listening to his years of deep earth wisdom, and do so with a couple of friends. I had heard people say that he was not a good speaker, but, I must humbly disagree...he was mesmerizing in his ordinariness, to me.
All of us have a handful of artist, writers, actors and speakers that speak the language of our soul...Eugene is such a voice to me. I had a number of reasons to avoid going and hearing him that night...it was inconvenient but, thank God, I made it necessary. It's was an evening that I know I would of regretted not attending, if I would of allowed people, situations and the hassle of it all to pressure me to silence that inner want. Thankfully I have a wife that understands the need for freedom in relationship and she encouraged me to go, even though it wasn't something she was interested in. I love her for that.
Sitting there in that cathedral was heaven to me. Hearing well chosen words, seasoned with years of hard earned, contemplative wisdom; was deeply nourishing to my chatter wearied soul. In my life, you hear a lot of useless words...dead words.
It was enlivening to sit and be resurrected by a literary bard; who values the necessity of good language. To sit with fellow travelers who have come to hallow the truth that..."In the beginning was the Word. It is the work of an artist indeed.
Eugene's talk was about how art and artists have influenced his pastoral life. He shared how he felt pastors and artists are both desperately needed in todays culture to speak truth, prophetically portray life's blessings and brutalities and uncompromisingly live an authentic and creative life.
After the evenings stimulating presentation, we headed to one of Matt's local pubs in his neighborhood, for some unpacking of the evenings message. Over good beer and "funny Cashews" we shared deep thoughts, struggles, laughter and...life. Justin just happened to be in Seattle doing a wedding, and Matt was the one that tipped me off to Eugene's appearance at the Image Magazine award night at his church. All three of us were very glad we had been present for the evenings illuminations and libations.
I often hear people bash church, retell their horror stories of betrayal, dysfunction and disillusionment about relationships in religious circles. I've experienced them too, seen the ugliness that people can do to one another and have been tempted to disavow myself from the vulnerabilities that come with the communal life. But its friends and brothers like these, that resuscitate my hope, reclaim my waning trust in friendship and heal my own relational sufferings.
It was quite a coincidence that I was sitting in that cathedral and this pub with a pastor and an artist...both men embody the truth of Eugene's message. I felt blessed to call both of them brother and friend. It's an amazing thing to find people to journey with who live their lives with purpose, passion and authentic vulnerability.
I hope everyone would risk the pitfalls of pursuing life with such men and women. It may be hard to find them, and the pain along the way may cause you to want to abandon the search..but trust me, the discovery is worth it all.
It is better therefore that two should be together, than one: for they have the advantage of their society...-Ecclesiastes 4:9
The view was amazing, the amenities were plush, and the weather was heavenly all weekend.
It was an amazing blessing that we enjoyed, and felt it was straight from the Lord. We both were extremely ready for a break, and as usual, in light of all the craziness in this world, our Father spoiled us. He is good.
Monday, May 18, 2009
painting based on the phrase found on old world maps. It's a visual
values painting that captures our vision for "world" mission.
Our previous painting by Matt was a visual of our "local mission".
These two present our approach to vision casting...It's not just words
but pictures that awaken people to understanding and action.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
leading me safely along the mountain heights."
I have had many conversations about issues related to our church's "missional position"...(no pun intended) and how its too edgy, too culturally influenced, too liberal, too worldly, too earthy, too natural, too artsy, too social, too profane...and you could probably add a few others. It's fairly easy to get offended around here in one way or the other...because we aim at living out the tensions of this verse:
"Save others by snatching them from the fire. To others, show mercy with fear, hating even the clothes stained by their sinful lives." -Jude 1:23
Sometimes we hit the target, other times we don't...but we consistently keep trying.
The general missional rule in our church is that we are seeking to speak to the unreached culture we are engaging...and though we are sensitive to all people; the demographic that gets uptight about these things...isnt the bullseye we are shooting for.
We take the missional ethic of Jesus as our excuse:
"I didnt come to call righteous people and it's the sick that need a doctor"...-Jesus
There are plenty of other differently mission minded churches than ours, there's plenty good ones to pick from.
But there are also many churches that will keep their programing within that safe middle ground. We will aim at being biblically sound, but culturally on the edge. Im not seeking to build a church that's guiding principle is maintaining a gentle, primary upper-middle class, christian bubble subculture; that's aim is to hyper-shield, over-protect, consistently sanitize and knee jerkingly withdraw from the people we are called to love.
Those panicky scruples are all characteristics of the church culture that dangerously plays it safe. They breed a "lift me up" or "brassiere Churchianity"; that is more about upholding the "sagging" numbers than aggressively living out the radically edge traversing gospel. These mindsets and values add to the continual decline of apostolically motivated missional churches that are witnessing to the clear, visible, simple gospel. Fear of offending the frozen chosen has crippled radically fresh initiatives that more mission minded congregations would support.
Having our feet shod with the gospel of peace...isnt about putting slippers on. They are more like rock climbing shoes, not really great for much else than traversing, risky, life threatening, adrenaline pumping cliff faces....usually desolate places left for devils, angels and lost sheep.
It's about God giving us the feet of the deer and going places that would normally kill another creature. It's about living dangerously but being ever held by the power of God in our missional endeavors.
Yes, one slip and you could fall to your death...but if you have never been dangling on the edges of eternity...you haven't truly lived!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Of course having a hottie for a wife, that makes this all easier...