Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Three cups of tea...please

What an amazing man and of the best and most hopeful things I have heard about Afghanistan. May his tribe increase. My favorite moment: The Taliban playing on the school playground swing set....violence is truly the fruit of a failed imagination.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Conscientious Objector review

Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation. -Psalm 91:14-16

I'm not a big fan of quoting scripture in war...but, if ever it seemed appropriate, this verse fits the story retold above. I watched this documentary last night and have to say, it was one of the most moving stories of faith and war, I've seen. The story of a courageous Seventh Day Adventist man who chooses to serve his country in WW2 without a gun.

It's an inspiring story that shows the cost and the witness of one man's attempt to reconcile his faith and duty to country. It's full of miracles and moving testimony from WW2 veterans who served together with Desmond Doss. This is a must see film, if the issues of faith, violence, patriotism and duty matter to you.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Your Kingdom....come


"What is a saint?

A saint is someone who has achieved a very remote human possibility. It is impossible to say what that possibility is because it is beyond our imagination. I think it has something to do with the energy of boundless love. Contact with this energy results in the exercise and experience of a strange kind of balance in the chaos of existence. A saint does not dissolve the chaos; if he did the world would have changed long ago.

I do not think that a saint dissolves the chaos even for himself, for there is something arrogant and warlike in the notion of a man even attempting to set the universe in order by himself. It is a kind of tortured balance that is his glory. He rides the snow drifts like an escaped ski. His course is the caress of the hill. His track is a drawing of the snow in a moment of its particular arrangement with wind and rock. Something in him so loves the world (because he was instructed to do so) that he gives himself completely to the laws of gravity and chance.

Far from flying with the angels, he traces with the fidelity of a seismograph needle the state of the solid bloody landscape. His house is dangerous and finite, but he is totally at home in the world. He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of their hearts. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love."

- Leonard Cohen, in the intro to the novel, Beautiful Losers (1966)

"Christian" music...?

Can a tree be a "Christian" tree?

Listen and

...Till we are made the joyful partakers

Ecstasy and delight are essential to the believer's soul and they promote sanctification. We were not meant to live without spiritual exhilaration, and the Christian who goes for a long time without the experience of heart-warming will soon find himself tempted to have his emotions satisfied from earthly things and not, as he ought, from the Spirit of God.

The soul is so constituted that it craves fulfillment from things outside itself and will embrace earthly joys for satisfaction when it cannot reach spiritual ones. The believer is in spiritual danger if he allows himself to go for any length of time without tasting the love of Christ and savoring the felt comforts of a Savior's presence. When Christ ceases to fill the heart with satisfaction, our souls will go in silent search of other lovers.

By the enjoyment of the love of Christ in the heart of a believer, we mean an experience of the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us (Rom. 5:5) because the Lord has made himself accessible to us in the means of grace, it is our duty and privilege to seek this experience from Him in these means till we are made the joyful partakers of it.

John Flavel (1630-1691)

Some straight talk from a man who drank too much...

Saturday, February 20, 2010 the desert

"Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert..." -Luke 4:1

Being in the desert alone.

We as people need to experience the fasting of relationships. We need seasons, moments or days to just be alone. People can become familiar and often can be taken for granted. In our daily lives, we are constantly immersed in a public life and if we are not conscious, a private life, a truly contemplative and prayerful life; can be squeezed to the margins if we don't fight to maintain healthy rhythms of togetherness and separateness.

Sin constantly works at eroding healthy boundaries...we allow people too much place in our souls (mind, will or emotions) or we barricade them out as we nourish bitterness, anger or unforgiving resentment. We can choose to examine our relationships in the desert because we have a pause to think, to pray and to breathe. The absence of them...can enlighten us to our true feelings and sins...and we can choose to respond appropriately to that revelation.

The above song, captures the heart of what it means to live out the gospel. May it's message, though in a style that might not be everyone's cup of's message, if lived....would bring healing to many.

Friday, February 19, 2010 the church?

"Jesus ministry' to the oppressed is two-fold: truth and power.
Power without truth does not bring lasting deliverance.
And truth without power doesn't reach within the soul,
to bring about change."

This Sunday we will continue our teaching through Luke. Interesting observation about the first two "church services" Jesus preached in:

-First one: religious racists try to throw him off a cliff after He says God loves the whole world, not just them.
-Second: A church attendee manifests a demon, resulting in an exorcisim.

Wow...religious communities are tough places to do kingdom ministry. I can see why Jesus started cleaning house there first...if this is the condition of Gods people, imagine what outside the doors is like? You got to heal the body before it can save the world. Do you want to see God move in His church in Truth & Power?

Then be prepared to face...stones & satan.

This is a subject that many folks don't want to seems too spooky or voodooish for good old working class people to address. we make our way into the ministry of Jesus in Luke...we've already encountered Satan himself and how demons and those who are possessed by devils by chapter 5. It appears we don't get the want must deal with devils....and those who are victims of possession and oppression.

It adds new light on the almost 12 different passages in the same chapters that speak of being "full or filled" with the Holy Spirit. In light of the demonic powers and possessions described....I can see why Jesus said His disciples should wait for "Power from on High" before entering a life of mission.

So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." -Jesus (Acts 1:6+)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Soldiers of Conscience

I watched this last night. I thought it was one of the best, balanced and brutal dialogues about war and killing, pacifism and patriotism that I have seen. I am thinking about showing it as part of our Christ & Culture nights.

Pastoral Shells....

The contemporary pastor is little more than “a quivering mass of availability" -Stanley Hauerwas

A friend gave these me these two little Turtles to remind me of the challenge to live a healthy life of vulnerability and protection. To balance the danger of being too exposed or too withdrawn. A visual icon of the dance of this dangerous pastoral life....wounded and wounding...healed and healing...Word and wordless...truthful and mystery...loving and hating...death and life.

Finding the the tensions is a spiritual work of a guitar string that needs to be taunt to be in tune...but not to tight, as to snap.

Pastoral life, is a call and a choice, to embedded oneself into the lives of many people...and yet, one has to always keep oneself rooted first and foremost...God-ward in-order to be faithful and

Learning to respond to the Spirit and not always to the need is a tough discipline to learn. I was reminded and relived to see this delicate but profound discipline exhibited in the ministry life of Jesus.
When Lazarus was sick and Jesus after hearing the news...stayed a few days longer, instead of rushing off to "be present"...and poor 'Rus died. The repercussions and relational sting of that action can be heard in the voice of Jesus's friend, who didn't understand Jesus' seeming lack of concern and care. He didn't appear to be performing His pastoral duties.

“Lord, if you had been brother would not have died” ( John 11:21, 32)

I find a measure of reprieve in the fact that Jesus didn't feel the need to react...He chose to respond...when it was time. Jesus was not to interested in being thrust into the role of "fixer dude" like when the wine ran out at the wedding in Cana:

"On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine." "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied, "My time has not yet come." -John 2:1-4

Ministry life is packed full of folks telling you what is wrong with this or that...the multitude of needs is always being presented to you as if you should be doing something about everything.

Rarely do people recognize that the very fact that they "see a need" probably means they are being prompted by the Spirit to "meet" that need...or simply pray. I often find myself in the soul draining crush that comes between the confusion of actual ministry and the messiah complex. I often want to...but can't...I may need to but for whatever reason...I am unable to.

There are many moments when the need has overreached the means....both internally and externally and I am forced to retreat into the shell, either for self protection or regeneration. This process is most facilitated for me by leaving; I just have to get away to disengage and breathe. Restoration of soul is usually renewed by finding a place of solitude or isolation either literally or relationally.

In the morning he went to a place where he could be alone.
The crowds searched for him.
When they came to him, they tried to keep him from leaving.
-Luke 4:42

The tension in life isn't about's about reprieving...because "they" will always find you....which isn't a bad thing, what is how you handle those encounters, day in and day out.

"I never want people to say he/she was always there for me....because if they can say that, it means I wasn't living a balanced life."-T. Levert

Are you tired?
Worn out?
Burned out on religion?
Come to Me.
Get away with Me and you'll recover your life.
I'll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with Me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
-Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Join me in a Journey through Lent:

Monday, February 15, 2010

Celebrity Rehab....

This is a show that caught me by's been a deeply moving show to me. Seeing the hell of drugs and the brokenness of those fighting and failing and getting back up in recovery is powerful stuff. In this behind the scenes, you get a bit of critical info on one of the meanest chicks you are going to see on tv. She is a mess but here, you get glimpse at the horror in her soul.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Another drug death....

"The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. -Psalms 18:4

"Cimmeron is dead...she overdosed." said the slightly red eyed, grieving fiancé.

I was stunned. Good morning, how are you's usually don't get followed with such a thud of a statement. Inwardly, I stumbled emotionally, I was in a bit of limbo and my tongue instantly grew fat and unresponsive. I didn't know what to say or how to process that this woman, who had been to our church a number of times and had recently requested me to marry them...was dead.

She had a history of mental illness and was a mother of five children...and now she was gone.

The irony of the moment was thick...I had just come from the coffee bar where I had been discussing with a friend my latest pondering, related to possibly going back to school and finishing my degree in Alcohol and Drug counseling. I had expressed how this month a growing burden had descended on my mind and arisen in my heart for the prisoner and the addict. I've been a chaplain in the local justice system and have always had a heart for the chemically dependent and those in recovery. That burden was part of the reason I felt led to start our church in this neighborhood.

As I stood there, fumbling with the news...that mission gripped me on a deeper level that it has before.

"And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh." -Jude 1:22-23

Friday, February 12, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Paint your faith...

The Temptations of Christ....

I've had a number of really good conversations with people after the message I preached on Sunday about "Temptation" and particularly the issues surrounding "sexual temptation". An issue that is extremely practical...just since Sunday, i've talked to Christians that are wrestling with pornography addiction, temptations to cheat on their spouses and this issue: Just How tempted was Jesus, in the area of sexuality?

The movie, "The Last Temptation of Christ" tried to deal with this theological conundrum..."Just how human was He"....and the cultural melee that ensued reflects the deep issues we have with this mystery.

The early church formulated it's theological understanding of this mystery in the Chalcedonian Creed, A.D. 451...based on its own times wrestling with the issue. It produced one of the most complete statements of this doctrine. It reads:

Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.

It's an issue that many people have a hard time working through....what do verses like this really mean?

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.-Heb 4:15

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
-2 Corinthians 5:21

Some honestly ask: "Can someone be tempted in the same way we are if you do not have a sinful nature?" Seems like saying that someone could be tempted to eat who has no appetite or stomach.

The bible seems to describe sin as something that is outside us:

Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." -Genesis 4:6-7

James 1:14-15 “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

And from within us:

And He said, "What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, "thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. "All these evil things come from within and defile a man." -Mark 7:20-23

How does this relate to the experience of the temptations of Jesus...was it within or without or both?

The bible doesn't seem to address the issue of Jesus and sexuality. He was surrounded by women, served with them, empowered them, had women disciples. John 11: 5 says: "Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus."...but obviously, that love was a type of love that could be expressed to both man and woman. the cannon there isnt much to point us to in understanding our own sexuality and temptations as it relates to Jesus as man.

But in the Gnostic gospels, the alternative papers of the time period; there was a bit of speculation and story telling going on, like in the Gospel of Philip:

"And the companion of [the saviour was Mar]y Ma[gda]lene. [Christ loved] M[ary] more than [all] the disci[ples, and used to] kiss her [often] on her [mouth]. The rest of [the disciples were offended by it and expressed disapproval]. They said to him "Why do you love her more than all of us?" The Saviour answered and said to them, "Why do I not love you like her?"

And in the Gospel of Mary which is usually dated to about the same period as that of the Gospel of Philip. The Gospel was first discovered in 1896, the Gospel is missing six pages from the beginning and four in the middle.

The identity of "Mary" appearing as the main character in the Gospel is sometimes disputed, but she is generally regarded to be Mary Magdalene. In the Gospel, Mary, presented here as one of the disciples, has seen a private vision from the resurrected Jesus and describes it to other disciples.

Peter said to Mary, "Sister we know that the Savior loved you more than the rest of woman. Tell us the words of the Savior which you remember which you know, but we do not, nor have we heard them." Mary answered and said, "What is hidden from you I will proclaim to you." And she began to speak to them these words: "I, she said, I saw the Lord in a vision and I said to Him, Lord I saw you today in a vision." Unfortunately, almost all of Mary's vision is within the lost pages.

Mary is then confronted by Andrew and Peter, who do not want to take it for granted what she says, because she is a woman:
"Did he then speak secretly with a woman, in preference to us, and not openly? Are we to turn back and all listen to her? Did he prefer her to us?" Then Mary grieved and said to Peter, "My brother Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I thought this up myself in my heart or that I am lying concerning the Savior?"

Mary is however defended by Levi:
"But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you to reject her? Surely the Savior knew her very well. For this reason he loved her more than us."

The repeated reference in the Gnostic texts of Mary as being loved by Jesus more than the others has been seen supporting the theory that the Beloved Disciple in the canonical Gospel of John was originally Mary Magdalene, before a later redactor made changes in the Gospel." (

So you can see, there have been Christians speculating on the issue for centuries. Is it a sin for Jesus to have potentially kissed Mary? Personally, I dont think makes the above verses about Jesus knowing my struggles, seem more substantive, than hollow....but the Bible doesn't actually say much on the subject.

In the end, the Bible does say:

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." -1 Corinthians 10:13


"The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation..."-2 Peter 2:9

So, no matter what we are struggling with...God is able and willing to help any temptation we face...which is comforting to me and provides a promise of hope for any struggling with temptations to sin.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Big....Hard Sun....indeed.

Great song...great book/movie.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Why I left the UFC/MMA....

"If you've got a problem with blood then get a tampon." -MMA fan

I used to be a pretty big fan of the UFC...I would host the pay per view events, blog about the matches and revel in the high octane, testosterone mayhem. It was a chance to cheer for your own favorite Braveheart, Maximus or Aragorn in a 21st century way. Being born and raised playing guns & war....I have nursed at the breast of blood for decades. UFC was simply a step up in the food chain from the fat gut, masked men of late night wrestling kicking each other in bath robes in the Martial Arts fights....and then to the puffy gloved days of fall asleep boxing. MMA was the natural evolution of this fighting thirst...just a few weapons short of a gladiator battle...but with chicks.

Being a pastor, and one with an aversion to "Pastels and Piety"...I was in lock step with the "Wild At Heart" message and the recovery of the 70's men's movement. But, even still, I could never get myself to attend a Promise Keepers just seemed like "imitation men's movement" to me, a bunch of "wannabe's" trying to steal the fire from Sam Keen and Robert Bly's glory days....all that crying, singing and hugging and potty talk gave me the quivers. I know God did some great things through it...but it seemed to wimpy to me.

Now...I wasn't going all buck nutty with the machismo ministry angle that some were; like those trying to insert manly worship tunes, like the brutha's at GodMen:

"We've been beaten down,
Feminized by the culture crowd
No more nice guy, timid and ashamed …
Grab a sword, don't be scared
Be a man, grow a pair!"

I felt there was some real legitimacy of the message..but some extremes were emerging....some were wacky and weepy and others were growing more and more in tune with baser instincts and carnal cravings in my opinion. I was awash in the swords and Spirit lingo, the art of capturing the imagery of the masculine resonated with me but looking back there was a warping influence that hit me like a pail of cold ice water one evening last year.

I recorded the season opener of UFC reality show "The Ultimate Fighter: Heavy Weights" and gathered my kiddies for a episode. As we got to the fight part...there came a moment when one of the dudes got his noggin clocked and hit the ground and the other dude was unleashing a furious assault of "ground and pound". Suddenly the bro on the mat started bleeding...and bleeding and soon it was gushing. The kids started squirming, the octagon started pooling up with blood and a slow horror gripped my soul and conscience as my daughter and younger son left the room in disgust. A deep shame gripped me like a cold blanket wrapped around my heart. I turned off the TV and sat in the crux of a parental failure for quite awhile. I haven't watched a match since.

After that confrontation with violence, I began to study, observe and prayerfully do some work of reexamining the men's message and the glorification of violence, war and brutality that seemed to be everywhere, now that I had been sensitized to it. It reminded me of some early church father's comments, paticularly Augustine:

In "Confessions" Augustine describes what happened to his friend Alypius when he let his friends drag him to the arena: "He was overcome by curiosity. He opened his eyes, prepared to despise and be superior to it, whatever it was, even while seeing it, and he was stricken with a deeper wound in his soul than the gladiator. … At the moment he saw that blood, he drank down savageness and did not turn away from it. He was riveted to it, drinking in frenzy unawares, and was delighted with that wicked fight and intoxicated with the bloody pastime. Nor was he the same man that he was when he had first come; he had become one of the crowd."

I began to see this "intoxication" all around me in my culture and now being baptized by the church.

In a Christianity today article: "A Jesus for Real Men: What the new masculinity movement gets right and wrong" the issue of a biblical view of masculinity is toughened up with some phrases that Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill, a church in Seattle, will forever be repeated in this ongoing discussion of what makes a real Christian man?

"Driscoll, "real men" avoid the church because it projects a "Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ" that "is no one to live for [and] is no one to die for." Driscoll explains, "Jesus was not a long-haired … effeminate-looking dude"; rather, he had "callused hands and big biceps." This is the sort of Christ men are drawn to—what Driscoll calls "Ultimate Fighting Jesus....Driscoll comes closest to imagining Jesus as the model of maleness when he argues that "latte-sipping Cabriolet drivers" do not represent biblical masculinity, because "real men"—like Jesus, Paul, and John the Baptist— are "dudes: heterosexual, win-a-fight, punch-you-in-the-nose dudes." In other words, because Jesus is not a "limp-wristed, dress-wearing hippie," the men created in his image are not sissified church boys; they are aggressive, assertive, and nonverbal."

Now MMA has moved from the TV set into the church: "The Jesus who eats red meat, drinks beer and beats on other men" My concern only grows.

Now if you are a regular reader to Crowbar Massage, you know that one of the more significant results of this seismic shift in my inner dispositions...has been my politics and views on violence as it relates to war and non-violence. I regularly blog about those topics at and on my Facebook page and as you know, that has been quite a "battle" of ideas both biblically and culturally. These issues run deep into the American psyche and surprisingly just as deep in the religious soul too. We are a people at war with ourselves, our families, our spouses, our Government, our enemies and even our brothers and sisters in Christ.

God said that the ground was cursed from one man's blood being spilt on it...I cannot imagine the darkness that has enveloped us as a people who worship and immortalize the warrior, who revel in the highest body count and sanctify the sword.

I pray that God will truly awaken us from our blood lust and loose us from the spirit of death and destruction that we have embraced.

"Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?"
But Jesus turned and rebuked them, And he said, "You do not know what kind of spirit you are of,
for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. -Luke 9:51-56

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Specialman...not Superman.

I admit up front that I write in a manner that often appears to be simply pugilist in nature. Sometimes that is there...I provoke in order to draw out the debate. But I see that not as a means to draw someone into the line of fire; as much as it's meant to draw people into conversations, debates about stuff that is serious to me or needs to be talked about.

All mediums of communication dance with the line between confrontation and contemplation...or sensationalism and passion. Everyone chooses which medium of information they are going to engage. Some like a Charlie Rose of PBS and others find the rancor of a Oberman or O'Reily...or the Trojan horse approach of Colbert or Sterwart. And if you are like most of approach it with a buffet plate...a bit of this and that...but regular favorites.

We are more and more a sound bite culture and that lends itself to huge hurdles for ongoing dialogue. Most folks just don't have the time or energy to flay a subject...its too emotionally draining or time just doesn't allow. That means folks often don't read my thoughts in entirety or are simply at the mercy of the nature of the internet and its limited circumspect nature....we are all far more complex and nuanced than a 140 lettered TWEET.

I start fires...because I want the light...not to just burn down the house.

Do I have issues...yes, I do.

In fact, my issues are both my strengths and my weakness. My wounds make up my sensitivities that both draw me to those who need someone who "sees" but they also blind me many times as well. How does one avoid that reality? I don't let that stop me from doing what I do...I trust the process to do the work. In time light, experiences, people, conversations, knowledge, pain, suffering and enough u-turns...bring one into greater wisdom. Is there a wake of brokeness behind me? Yes...and by the grace of God, I've sought to learn from it, restore where able and over all pray to avoid as much damage as possible in the future. But in the end...I must be content to go forward in the direction of my future. I cannot drive looking in the rear-veiw mirror.

I've always been a thorn more than a feather.

I dont say that as an excuse..but as a confession. I've accepted the fact that there is a expression of the nature of the God found in my volatile image. I used to carry that knowledge as a burden...but more and more I have come to hold it as a gift. What I thought was my shame...has gradually become my strength. I have to embrace the fact that I will not be liked by many. I will be a lamb among wolves. People will hate me...for the Jesus in me and simply because I am an ass most of the time if the Spirit isn't the dominating bridle in my day to day life.

I've accepted the truth that I am "Being Resurrected"...I'm not "Superman" but I am a "Specialman"...I ok with that.

I am in process...I am being born...I am coming to life...what God has done within slowly emerging and taking over me and will someday burst out in all its transforming power and glory.

But for's from glory to glory...a slowly dawning light.
My son's band: "Nothing To Gain", tore it up at "The Knitting Factory" last night. Tonight they play at "The Porch" @ 9pm

Friday, February 05, 2010

Grizzly Adams...the Genesis warrior

"God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." Genesis 1:28

I was asked:
"What is your stance on the idea that men are warriors, that they have an innate need to fight and wrestle?

My response would be that I believe that man is genetically equipped to fulfill the mandate given in the above verse in Genesis. The challenges of mankind rising, creating, producing, taming, fashioning and harnessing the wilds of the world is wrapped up in that word "subduing".

I see "fighting and wrestling" to be a natural God given drive to fulfill the role He has given man to do. If that 'impulse' is held and expressed within the God determined boundaries, it is a powerful force for provision, civilizing and the common good. But, like sexuality, if it is expressed outside the boundaries God determines, it can become a source of pain, suffering and destruction and ultimately even, death.

Human nature isn't must wrestle with sin...and sin seeks to pervert the creation and express it's nature to kill, steal and destroy.

For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. -Jesus (John 8:44)

But, I don't see the act of killing animals in the same light as killing human beings. Mankind is created in God's image, animals are creation of God but do not bear the image of God...just the breath of life from God. So, even the Lord killed animals and showed the proper use of them, and even directed mankind in the issues of consumption of animals in the OT, especially Leviticus.

And the LORD God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife. Genesis 3:21

That said...the bible also speaks a lot about the care of animals too. I don't espouse an unbridled, unrestrained devouring of the earth in a consumeristic manner. We are called to rule with compassion and justice and to be good stewards of the earth...both in manner of ethics and economy as it relates to consumption.

When violence is turned towards those who are image bearers...the Bible starts getting very serious, even in the OT. Once we get to the NT...the ultimate vision of God's kingdom begins to dawn and dominate in the person and teaching of Christ...who by the way, caught and ate fish too. So a kingdom vision of the lion laying down with the lamb is a unfolding one that starts in the changed human heart and is outworked in wisdom and God given boundaries in this age.

The spilling of blood is very serious to God.

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" "I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper? "The LORD said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. -Genesis 4:8-11

Ultimately, though I recognize and support the bearing of weapons in relationship to subduing nature and protecting humans from the wild...I find the killing of image bearers to be an act that Jesus forbids. So warriors are needed but the expression of the warring nature can be turned to evil or good. I know many would say that "self-defense" is an expression of that good...each will have to figure out how to outwork that as a principle for life. But for someone to point to the warrior 'impulse' as evidence of God's blessing of war....I would say that's a misuse of that power and responsibility.

For me....the best image I have in my Grizzly in relationship to the wild, living off the land but doing so in a realistic but relational way...both with man and animals.
That's a vision of the my Father's world that was represented in His greatest Image bearer...Jesus Christ; and It's a vision of life, that I pray and work towards.

(Painting by Frank Frazetta)

Yuppie jesus....

1."Whatever you do for the least of these you do it for me... but you don't have to let them touch you. They're kinda dirty."

2. "Pray for those that persecute you... pray that God kills them."

3. "Those that live by the sword die by the sword but nobody said anything about the gun."

4. "Take up your cross and follow me... you can just wear it around your neck, we're going to Disney Land."

5. "Sell all you have and give it to the poor... as long as they are white, they've earned it, and they give you a warm fuzzy feeling afterward. And by 'everything' I don't mean the stuff you really like."

6. "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. But they can go to heaven when they die, discipleship is overrated anyway.

7. "Love your neighbor as yourself... and make sure they're of the same social status so you might be able to borrow their time-share."

8. "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick... as long as they have insurance."

9."You are the salt of the earth... because you're Americans... so go live in the suburbs, you deserve it."

10. "Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you and stick it to them with high interest rates because beggars can't be choosers."

Lifted from :
Thanks Global Neighborhood for the good word about Jacob's Well:
"My life moves in only one direction… forward”

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Two different views on Hell....

John Piper on Hell

NT Wright on Hell

You're response?
Americans are the falsely religious citizens of a falsely secular nation.-Philippe Roger

Thoughts on being Missional but not "Emergent"...

After a rousing meeting with some of my pastor friends that come together in the missional network called "Ecclesia Spokane" (whom I love very dearly); I find it necessary to expand my comments and my concerns that arose in the conversation relating to the need to throw out "Doctrine" in order to truly see the church become healthy and whole. I know I stepped on some toes and added some more folks to my "do not call list" but I simply couldn't let my presence validate the assumptions and conclusions being espoused by some.

The liberalization take over of the missional movement is a problematic aspect of the "emerging church" movement to me. Some have attempted to designate this "version" as "Emergent" instead of "Emerging"; to try to quarantine the progressive, liberal and predominately mainline characteristics or agendas that are part of the movement. I understand that vocabulary tool and can lean into that for clarity sake but I think the issue is simply that people bring to the table who they are theologically, philosophically and culturally and that shows in the emphasis and values that arise. So whatever term one uses to try to articulate the actual positions one is espousing is important...we must recognizes that we all are colored by our own faith tribe or tradition.

As someone who is very "missionally" motivated...I am often rubbing shoulders with mainline church folks, anti-institutional voices and/or the organics, ie. the simple church people etc...etc. All kinds of labels and terms and lingo that have values and logic underneath, within and behind those terms. Sorting out all the "conversations" can be exhausting. One often finds themselves in conversations where you discover that people are pouring new meaning into old concepts. So someone can say a familiar term and yet, be meaning something very different. It's a challenging environment...much like talking to Mormons, who will use the same language but ultimately are coming to completely different conclusions about those ideas or terms.

"In essence "emergentism" is muddle-headed theological liberalism dressed up in newer, postmodern garb. It is an old heresy that wraps itself in postmodern lingo to appear "profound." But it is neither new nor profound. "There is nothing new under the sun." It is a fad that I suspect will soon pass away into utter irrelevancy. (And may it rest in peace.) The antidote to emergentism is a robust Christianity that is biblical, confessional, and creedal - a Christianity founded on the unchanging gospel of Jesus Christ." -GEOFF WILLOUR

I think a lot of the temptations, errors and dangerous directions taking place in these "conversations" be they in books, videos or meet ups...stem from lack of experience, age and education. The movement is awash with young blood that has high value on "newness" and is often the cultural prisoners or worshippers of the newest and hippest be it toys or theology, methods or message. Recycling in this era is close to sacred and one of the areas you see it most clearly if you are aware, is in the "movement mania". Old lies are recycled into new products to purchase, consume or promote. This is in my estimation extremely serious when it comes to peoples understanding of God and His gospel and the church He commissioned to preach, teach and live out the good news of the Kingdom of God.

"The emerging church has become another form of social gospel. And the problem with every social gospel is that it becomes all social and no gospel. All social justice and no social gospel. It is embarrassing that evangelicals have discovered and embraced liberation theology after it destroyed the main line, old line, side line, off line, flat line church." -Leonard Sweet

In our conversations yesterday, I experienced and confronted this seemingly benign meandering away from "roots" in an attempts to go after "fruits"....when the discussion turns to "uprooting" ourselves from the historic truths and doctrines of the Christian church. When pastors are re-imagining, redefining, removing and rebuffing the churches doctrinal can raise the "terror threat" colors...because the "infidels" are in the house. I know that is harsh language but it's true.

If pastors or leaders or "main talkers" or the "team" or whatever current hip term is being used to camouflage the voices that shape and guide...are throwing out the charts, compass and visions of Apostolic Christianity...a ship wreck is coming soon.

Tim Keller on the importance of Doctrine and Theology:

Tim Keller on "The Missional Church

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

What is the Gospel...?

Here is a simple answer.

C.S. Lewis prayer....

He whom I bow to only knows to whom I bow
When I attempt the ineffable Name, murmuring Thou,
And dream of Pheidian fancies and embrace in heart
Symbols (I know) which cannot be the thing Thou art.
Thus always, taken at their word, all prayers blaspheme
Worshiping with frail images a folk-lore dream,
And all men in their praying, self-deceived, address
The coinage of their own unquiet thoughts, unless
Thou in magnetic mercy to Thyself divert
Our arrows, aimed unskillfully, beyond desert;
And all men are idolaters, crying unheard
To a deaf idol, if Thou take them at their word.
Take not, O Lord, our literal sense. Lord, in thy great
Unbroken speech our limping metaphor translate.
-CS Lewis

Broken hearts....

"Broken hearts are inevitable to anyone with a heart. The question is how will our hearts break? Will they break into pieces which are projected out like shrapnel to wound those who wounded us – a kind of emotional suicide bombing, if you will? Or will they break open – increasing our humility, our compassion, our empathy, our Christ-likeness?" -Parker Palmer

Don't talk...if you don't have anything to say.

“Consciously or subconsciously, intellectually or emotionally, most people today know that the world is in a terrible state and that it cannot continue on its present course much longer. The existence of the problems is acknowledged, yet we hear nothing but meaningless generalities and shameful evasions from our so-called intellectual leaders.

Wherever you look, whether in philosophical publications or intellectual magazines, or newspapers editorials or political speeches of either party, you find the same mental attitude, made of two characteristics: staleness and superficiality.

People seem to insist on talking---and on carefully saying nothing. The evasiveness, the dullness, the gray conformity of today’s intellectual expressions sound like the voices of men under censorship---where no censorship exists. Never before has there been an age characterized by such a grotesque combination of qualities as: despair and boredom.
-Ayn Rand (from her article: ‘Faith & Force”)
"I want to balance the Senate, the less they do the better." -voter in Chicago

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

"My worst day in Teen Challenge was better than my best day as an addict." -David Soto, new friend and brother.
4am doorbell wake up, lady waiting for bus with 2 dudes, probably wanted a ride. Car drove up and she took off before I could open the door

Monday, February 01, 2010

USA Today: Afghan Pres Karzai says US troops needed for another decade & Army hits record suicide rate, 160 soldiers in 09
George Whitefield and Ayn Rand....

George Whitefield and Ayn Rand....

"Before you can (know you are right with God) you must not only be troubled for your sins of your life, but also for the sins of your best duties and performances...before you can be at peace with God, there must be a deep conviction before you can be brought out of your self-righteousness; it is the last idol taken out of your heart. The pride of our heart will not let us submit to the righteousness of Jesus Christ. But if you never felt that you had no righteousness of your own or if you never felt the deficiency of your own righteousness, you cannot come to Jesus Christ."
-George Whitefield

When I read this quote, I thought of many of my responses to an article I read by Ayn Rand called Faith & Force. Now, I know she isn't a christian theologian, she is a philosopher, so separate the wheat from the chaff in reading her works. But, her thoughts relating to mankind needing to get free from what she calls "altruism"; really made me think about some stuff, especially in my own life. She basically attacked the common idea that man is only valuable in relationship to what he or she does for others. That there is no self worth apart from what we produce or provide for others. Now as a missionally motivated person...this challenged the core of my conceptions of missional living.

George kind of hits the same issue though, after thinking about it from a different angle...if our life is based on "works"...righteous or unrighteous...we are drawing our sense of value from an unhealthy motivation.

Looking deep into ones motivation and examining "why" we "do" part of the serious work of contemplation.

"The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart (Proverbs 20:27)."

God's Word is quick (alive) and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intent of the heart. -Hebrews 4:12.

Would you be valuable to God and this world...if you couldn't "do" anything? Some of my relationships with the mentally handicapped have forced me to rethink my conceptions of "worth" and "work" and even "mission". So much of our individualistic culture, places such a value on productivity and value. Economics reduces us to evaluate life by its terms. Everything is "marked" in our thinking and in our works with this kind of attitude and action.

At the end of the day...I find myself pondering deeply about these things and wondering what my Father will be most proud of, when I finally see Him and hear His heart.