Thursday, December 31, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
In 2000, I turned 30...and the above image was my most visceral archetype of God, my faith and the struggle to become the man, God had made me to be. Looking back at turning 30, it seems to be a dark time. It was a season of immense introspection and projection. What I thought were my enemies that were presenting me from rising, accomplishing and expanding...were more often my own personal demons. I thought I had a war to fight...and yet, the one that was raging the most fierce was really in my own soul.
Issues of masculinity, the role of becoming a man, was more a search for my own identity than anything as I reflect. I gravitated to images and portions Scripture that undergirded this inner identity journey. I don't think I used scripture as much as the scriptures allowed me to inhabit images that sustained or explained my path and my heart. The stories and pictures of God became more like totems that empowered me...light that guided me and food that nourished me. But as the years moved on...I see that what propelled me at one season...becomes detrimental in another. One face of God...isn't all the faces of God.
The Apostle John references: Children, Young Men and Fathers in 1 John 2:13...a triunity of manhood...phases perchance of the development of the soul of a man? I see a development in my inner life that moves from weakness to strength to weakness again. But where I used to think the ascension was the pinnacle....I am now wondering if it isn't the descent that is the true path of real power.
Much of our spiritual journey is most honestly a quagmire of self-interest....masked in conscious or unconscious self worship. Life will reveal that as it erodes away that armor we vainly attempt to hide ourselves behind. We dress ourselves up in success, education, achievements, fame, status, material possessions and a myriad of other image bolstering outer garments. We are consumed with how we appear to others....we spend billions of dollars on sucking out, pumping up, coloring, painting, sliming, trimming and primping ourselves for show. We become more desperate and grasp at push up bras, viagra, implants and transplants...as gravity starts overpowering our natural genetics and youthful metabolisms. We are slaves to the machines...the workout machines. All in the name of health...or....self...sometimes its really hard to see the difference. Is it any more harmful to exhaust your body on a machine till you piss blood or gag yourself with your finger and throw up lunch? I think not.
We want to change the world, make our mark, leave a name worth remembering...and yet, the fragility of life, the abruptness of death...constantly remind us that our lives must be about something more meaningful than the type of car I drive, the size of my church or the smallness of my butt.
As I face forty this upcoming year...Im finding more and more identification with the last words of Jesus to Peter...than the passages devoted to the handsome, roof-top gazing, woman stealing, head chopping, army leading, ballad belting romeo...named David.
"I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!" -John 21:18-19
I see the wisdom of the passage above and how speaking it to Peter, the rugged, fiery, sword wielding, self-made man....wasn't just a prophecy of his manner of death but also of the way that leads to life. I see a mystery in the slow death of the seed...that I pray to God I will be born anew in life everlasting...in this age and the one to come.
I think Peter got it...and his request to be put to death differently than Jesus...was a blossoming of humility's fruit. He no longer was the point of existence...he had decreased...so that Jesus might increase.
Yes, a true man...is crucified upside down.
You can see how to utilize this personal productivity tool for creativity, brainstorming, memory enhancing and note taking on these two short videos:
With so many "branches" of projects, people and plans interconnected in my life...I've got to not only manage my world better with tools I use Like "Ominfocus" but imagine and envision better ways of "seeing" these spheres of life and the interconnectedness they bring both in challenge and opportunity. I think Mind Mapping will help me work that out better.
Anyone out there use this concept?
Monday, December 28, 2009
-From A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith
by Brain Mclaren (available February 9, 2010)
Imagine if in our day...God raised up another Middle Eastern force of global missionaries; handpicked from a group of fundamentalist, religious extremists...who are also breathing threats and murder.
Saul was such a man...and God changed Him from the inside out...and Saul...became known as Paul. Not a murdering religious zealot who would gladly stand over the infidels as they were stoned to death...but Paul, the self sacrificing missionary who would become the Apostle to the Gentiles. Eventually he would give up his own life for the gospel of Jesus, as a martyr for the faith he once persecuted.
But...for there to be a Paul...there also has to be an...Ananias.
In Acts 9:10-19 we have the story of how God used a disciple named Ananias to embrace and empower Paul through forgiveness, prayer and ministry.
At first Ananias was nervous about God’s call to him to reach out to this well known, violent religious fundamentalist. How could God be calling him to cross paths with one of the most violent religious aggressor against the fledgling church?
How could God be calling Ananias to endanger himself?
Would God require Ananias to risk imprisonment and possible death?
As a result...God moved through Ananias obedience and Saul’s vision was restored and he was baptized. Out of those baptismal waters...came the Apostle Paul. A new man...with a new heart and charged with a new mission.
I believe that this world needs less people who think with “Bullet’s & Ballots” and more who embrace a mission minded God. The church is charged with finding her Saul’s who are destined to become Paul’s and more than likely the most influential and misisonminded will come from among the most radical and terrifying opponents of Jesus.
Behold...the mission field of God...who will go?
In the last 25 years, more than 100 times as many American Christians have gone to the Middle East to serve their country in a military capacity than have gone to the Middle East to serve the King of kings by proclaiming the gospel of peace!
In North Africa, there is still roughly one missionary for every two million Muslims.
In northern India, it is roughly one missionary for every five million Muslims.
Globally, it averages out to be one missionary for every one million Muslims.
ABCs of Global Missions
Unreached people -- 24% of the world's population -- receive 1/2 of 1% of dollars given to Christian missions
Unevangelized World -- 43% of the world's population -- receives 5% of dollars given to Christian missions
Christian World -- 33% of the world's population -- receives 94.5% of dollars given to Christian missions
Just maybe...if we would have been as zealous for the mission of God among the least reached peoples of this world...we wouldn’t be where we are today, Geo-politically?
Maybe the blood of the innocents lies not on the hands of the military but on the folded and slumbering hands of God’s inactive soldiers of the cross?
Maybe the hope of the planted isn’t in the hands of the Generals but instead in the pews of our churches?
Saul...where are you?
Ananias...where are you?
Answers to objections to going into Missions by John Piper: here
Strategic World Missions Map to plan your mission: here
Saturday, December 26, 2009
"We are going to inherit the earth . There is not the slightest doubt about that. The bourgeoisie may blast and burn its own world before it finally leaves the stage of history. We Are not afraid of ruins. We who ploughed the prairies and built the cities can build again, only better next time. We carry a new world, here in our hearts. That world is growing this minute."
Friday, December 25, 2009
"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian's defeat, you have shatteres the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this."
Thursday, December 24, 2009
As one moves from the furit of war...and follows the limbs, then arrives at the trunk and continues down the tree into the dirt to the roots that lie below...one is confronted with the violence that lies within us. That sinfulness is what always creates the evil that is without us.
It was the transformative issue that the teaching of Christ had upon the early disciples. What He taught changed the way they lived. Their hearts and minds changed. They literally repented of living the "way they had before". They actually got new minds and hearts...and that radically altered they way they treated one another.
The gospel was so real...they even gave up their own lives...as entertainment for the blood thirsty masses. And like Perpetua...took the sword of the soldier...and put it to thier own neck in acts of utter submission to the eternal justice of God.
They didn't even love their own lives....and this faith...turned the world upside down.
Read about Perpetua's last stand in the Roman Coliseum...here: The Martyrdom of Saint Perpetua
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
"This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one
another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and
murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own
actions were evil and his brother's were righteous. Do not be
surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have
passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who
does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a
murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. -1
"God, I do not want to walk in the way of Cain, lead me not into
temptation and deliver me from evil.
Save me first and foremost from myself...my anger, selfishness,
irritability, impatience, crankiness, lack of understanding,
bitterness, unforgiveness and hate.
Pluck out the seeds that if watered and allowed to grow; end up
destroying this world you created.
Teach me to love...even those who are my enemies. Help me to believe
that love is the more excellent way and that love never fails and will
Love this evil world...through this evil heart. Help me to see that
roots of hate...produce the fruits of murder.
I long to live forever and trust you that the way of eternal life
Monday, December 21, 2009
Together we are embodying the Advent truth pictured in the story of Elizabeth and Mary...both pregnant with the supernatural work of God...both celebrating, prophesying together of His coming kingdom that first arrives within us and then is born from us. The breaking of the generational curse of Malachi, the Father against Son and Son against Father reality is instead replaced with reconciliation and empowerment....the hearts of both are turned towards one another.
And like Mary and Elizabeth...we live with one another and for each other...not in agitation and frustration but...in unity, humble self-expression and mutual support and blessing. The Kingdom principle of diminishment as life...is at work.
I decrease so He might increase...it's not a loss of place...but an enlargement of influence and glory.
It's a beautiful thing to witness unfolding.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Both were protected from blood spilling child murders.
Both came into and out of Egypt.
Both confronted an oppressive empire.
Both were workers of miracles.
Both were opposed by religious priests.
Moses brought judgement on Egypt but salvation to Israel.
Jesus offered salvation to all....and will judge all.
Moses brought curses...Jesus brought life.
Both brought about the death of firstborns.
Both received treasures.
Both led an exodus.
Both brought new laws from a mountain.
Both instituted a sacrificial system of blood.
Both bring judgment.
Both led people into the wilderness.
Both baptized people through water.
Both brought food to those who couldn't feed themselves.
Both had their authority & teaching challenged by their own followers.
Both led people to the promised land.
Both men died and had followers who would continue the journey without them
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Christ be born among us, again.
Be found in our humble places,
Discovered quicker, in forgotten faces,
Welcomed and worshipped in bowed reverence.
Let us be followers of light again
Be the point of our journeying,
The end of our wandering,
Our song heard in starry places.
Eyes be open to God, disguised,
Homes be open to those, despised,
Swords be beaten into tools of peace,
...in these darkened streets.
-Eric Blauer 12/13/09
(Picture taken of Jacob's Well by Michael McMullen)
Thursday, December 03, 2009
In this passage I see a simple practice, that many of our ministerial networks often say they value but often stumble in fulfilling....leaving a lot of used and lonely pastors and Christians. We say we desire to see our cities influenced, reached or changed by the gospel; yet the pathway to that as modeled by Jesus is ignored. Jesus modeled the act of spiritual directing, called "Accompaniment."
Accompaniment is: walking together in solidarity, practicing interdependence and mutuality. Gifts, resources, and experiences are shared with mutual advice and admonition to deepen and expand all efforts within God's mission Often instead of fostering a sense of relational "being" we quickly jump to the "sending" part of the verse...before allowing any real "being together" to take place.
I see this temptation in many of my relationships with older brothers in the Lord...sometimes I wonder if its a "generational" thing or not. I hear this tension in a lot of dialogue today within the or about the "missional movement". Relationship is often used in a derogatory way, as if it's a touchy feely waste of time by some folks. Im seeing that the real brotherhood process takes time, both in churches and in partnering relationships.
Many networks become focused on "accomplishing or changing" something or someplace; and relationships become the means to the end. There is an almost anti-trinitarian heretical tendency in our gathering; that reflects the underlining assumption that there is a lack of completeness in God that required Him to make the world. We model this wrong assumption by being driven to find a purpose for our relationships. We must have meaning and we try to find that by performance or producing. We work to display something that justifies our existence and importance.
We cannot comprehend a throne room reality that contains Seraphim and Cherubim that exist to continual proclaim "Holy Holy Holy". It seems like a waste of time. God must need something "done". Worship is turned into something we do...instead of something we live.
But mission must emerge out of worship and partnering, must involve individual togetherness.
All living and healthy beings reproduce, that is a given...but just as Sabbath begins as the day ends for man and the majority of initial Sabbath day takes place while man sleeps...so we too discover when we awake to healthy God given rhythms of kingdom existence; that what we do...comes after who we are.
Our works arise out of...our rest.
Our doing is the result...of our being.
Creation comes after...communion.
The apostolic sending...is rooted in trinitarian interdependence.
Building a network of missionally minded churches; involves accepting and enjoying the grace of journeying together...relationally at first.
In the natural world, a child is the fruit of a loving relationship, that existed before the child. A family is the result of a growing oneness. Children are part of the expression of love but not the purpose for it alone. Children are meant to leave the home and if the marriage exists for the children only...the result is, after the "project" is accomplished...the relationship ends.
I have seen this in Spokane, time and time again. I hope that our networks express the simple balance of "being & sending" as reflected in the verse above. And that new missional works and churches would grow out of these relationships in their proper season.