Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Ff you're like me and interested in U2 and their spirituality check out Dan King's blog http://danking.blogspot.com/2005/12/bono-tumbles-off-pedestal.html
Monday, December 19, 2005
Thursday, December 15, 2005
I knew that these things were going to be a hot seller. I just heard that stores are now sold out of the xbox 360 and I'm kicking myself! I should have bought one and put it on ebay. All those parents who will buy they kid whatever they want, no matter how much it costs. The price is going to sky rocket, they've already gone up two hundred bucks on ebay! It reminds me of that year when a tickle me Elmo cost 400 bucks. Oh well, next Christmas I'll know what to do :D
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Friday, December 09, 2005
To set this up you need to know two things.
First Judas Iscariot was about as bad as they get, and also the only one of the twelve never to call Jesus Lord. He called him rabbi but never Lord.
The Second thing you need to think about are these three questions that are asked:
- What if, having betrayed Jesus to death, Judas had somehow managed to wrestle his demons a few more hours?
- What if Judas had not hanged himself that day from that tree?
- What if Judas had just help on, in living hell, for three more days on earth?
“What if he (Judas) had waited a weekend? That’s all that would have been needed. I love to imagine Jesus on Easter morning deliberately seeking out the disciple more lost than any other. Perhaps now, at last, he might be found! When Judas first sees Jesus, I imagine him wondering how this tumult of madness could now be conjuring up the rabbi in his tortured mind. Slowly Jesus approaches, but Judas is frozen in disbelief. Closer. Closer. Jesus is unbearable close – so close now that Judas can feel His breath of his cheek. And then it happens: Jesus greats Judas. With a kiss.
He is carrying three questions for Peter. He has scars to show Thomas. But first a kiss for Judas. And some time within those moments, I imagine two words- just two- being exchanged very quietly between the men. Jesus looks deeply into the unblinking eyes of His betrayer, who is too dumbstruck even to avert his gaze in shame. And then he utters a single syllable, upon which eternity will surely swing. Jesus whispers: “friend.” Do you hear the echo? It was another day, another kiss, perhaps another Judas, too. But in the garden that night, Jesus had greeted his betrayer in just the same way. “Friend,” He had said, “do what you came for.” And Judas had done it, and he had not been able to undo it. And Jesus had been to hell and back as a result. And for the twelfth of His disciples: “Friend.” He, too, had done what he came for. The sound of that word somehow echoes to reach Judas, lost as he is in another eternity. He hears the greeting. He feels the breath. Life to Dust. Ashes to ember. A kiss for a curse. As if slowly waking from a nightmare, Judas Iscariot replies to his victim, the victor, with a single word, surely more meaningful than we can ever know: “Lord.” It’s a whisper, barely audible. And yet the sound of that word resounds like a gunshot around the halls of heaven. “Lord.” The angels gasp in recognition: “Not rabbi – Lord! Even Judas, even Judas.” They say. And then perhaps Judas, in those awkward, awestruck moments, moves to reciprocate the kiss, as one should. Should he? Could he? Would Jesus allow it once again? And his lips touch the cheek, it is as though a pin pierces his stupor – his body just crumples upon Christ’s, shuddering with the greatest sobs of redemption history. Somehow the irreversible sin has become the very door of salvation – even for him, the twelfth, the last, the least, the thief, the greatest traitor of them all. With those tears the angelic realm erupts in praise. “Rejoice with me,” cries the Spirit, His voice echoing through heaven, “for I have found my lost sheep!” and there is always “more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who don not need to repent” (Luke 15:6) Praises ring to the Lamb that was slain for the sins of the world- even this, the greatest sin of them all. Truly He loves His enemy and does good to His persecutor. He is the Alpha and Omega who takes the twelfth brother and makes him first, lifting his name as the ultimate example of grace – insurmountable and eternal proof of the power of love to conquer sin.” (Grieg, Peter. The Vision and the Vow pg. 48-50)
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Why did Sunday school do so well? Because it met a basic need of society at that time. “The Sunday schools caught on quickly and were effective because they were simple, became a diversion for the children, and a means for parents to socially elevate the family as a whole. They were often also a means of education for adults, who occasionally attended the schools; children were actively encouraged to take lessons and books home to share with their parents. The Sunday school also became an important hub of social interaction for a class of children and parents who were rapidly moving away from small, close-knit, rural communities to large, over-populated, urban centres. Lastly, the schools taught catechism to a population that, until that time, only learned it via a rote memorization system with the priest reciting the Lord's Prayer one line at a time, once a week, during the service (McGill University).”
Sunday school was a success because, it gave poor kids something to do, it educated, and gave whole families a time of social interaction.
Another purpose for Sunday school was to give children something to do. Sunday was often the only day that these children didn’t have to work, and as a result the streets were crowded with kids who were busy fighting and swearing. So Sunday school was an evangelistic tool used by laypeople to reach out to the non-Christians.
Clearly our world has changed since the industrial revolution, which begs the question what about Sunday school today? Clearly we are an extremely educated society where every child has the opportunity to learn how to read and write. We have hundreds of programs that teach kids about God, and Sunday school is certainly no longer a place where parents and kids interact together on a social level with other people. So the old goals of Sunday school no longer apply to us today. Are we beating a dead horse by trying to keep Sunday school alive? I believe that as long as we keep Sunday school the way it is today the answer is yes.
It is interesting to see that once youth are of the age where their parents let them decide if they want to go or not many of them stop coming until they are married and have kids of their own to bring. We force our kids to come until they can choose for themselves and then they stop, until they have kids, and then they force their kids to come until… To me this is a pretty fair warning sign that Sunday school no longer meets the need that it used to. There are churches all over North America who are seriously questioning the value of Sunday school, as they should.
Does this mean that there is no longer a need for a program on Sunday mornings for kids? No, but I think that it is time for a radical shift. I have trouble seeing how a ministry that is hurting across North America is bringing God glory. It seems to me that when a ministry is on track and bringing people to Christ there is excitement and growth, it has been a long time since I’ve heard those two words used in the same sentence as the words Sunday school.
McGill university http://digital.library.mcgill.ca/sunday/hist1.htm
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
From Yahoo UK news:
"A pack of Russian black squirrels is reported to have piled into a dog mob-handed, bitten it to death and then eviscerated the unfortunate animal after it ill-advisedly barked at them, the BBC reports.
That, at least, is according to journo Anastasia Trubitsina who told Komsomolskaya Pravda: "They literally gutted the dog," before adding that the canicidal tree rats scattered when they caught sight of some people. Chillingly, according to the three witnesses to the outrage, some were "carrying bits of flesh".
Locals in the town of Lazo attribute the savagery to a lack of pine cones. One said: "The little beasts are agitated because they have nothing to eat."
mmmhmmm I can see it now a whole bunch of killers squirrels running all over people and eating their flesh... that's enough to make anyone's skin crawl.
Friday, November 25, 2005
Anyway here it is.
"I heard a good one today. I was asked how you can distinguish the goats from the sheep in your flock. As I was trying to come up with an astute answer I was told it is easy. The goats are the ones who are always responding with "but, but" while the sheep are those saying "a-bba, a-bba". It made me wonder how often I'm guilty of responding with a 'butt' when leadership is sharing a vision or asking for participation in an endeavour. It's easy for some of us who see things in black and white to respond with a forceful 'butt' when we're asked to participate in something outside of our comfort zone. 'Butt, my passion is for ______', 'Butt, I don't have the time for that, I'm already involved with ______', etc. I purpose to leave the butting to the goats and start working on responding with an 'a-bba'. When I have concerns about a vision or request I want to be turning to the Father, saying 'Abba, what would you have me do?"
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
“Conservative Christian televangelist Pat Robertson told citizens of a Pennsylvania town that they had rejected God by voting their school board out of office for supporting “intelligent design” and warned them Thursday not to be surprised if disaster struck. “And don’t wonder why he hasn’t helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I’m not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that’s the case, don’t ask for his help because he might not be there,” he said.”
Does God really send disasters to destroy places? Or is there another reason (E.g. Natural causes) for things like Katrina and such. There is an interesting conversation on Gil’s blog called Disasters it’s worth checking out. It is an interesting question to think about. I don’t have much else to say except this... If Pat is calling down God’s judgement on a town in Pennsylvania for rejecting intelligent design, then I am going to call down God’s judgement on ALL of North America for gross injustices, oppression, and lives of rampant sin. All of which seem to have a more Biblical backing for God’s wrath than rejecting one theory about how God MIGHT have created the world.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Funny how you say something and then a little while later you read something about the exact same thing that you were just thinking about. So in my last blog I shared about how I felt pretty cynical after the 7th Day Slumber concert. I was just reading The Vision and the Vow by Pete Grieg (great book by the way) in it he says,
"We are predisposed to cynicism because we don't have an all-consuming, cause the way previous generations did. Instead we have trends. We have products and technologies. We have our immediate circle of friends. But we don't have something bigger than our own little selves. We were never called up to fight for freedom. No ration books. No Cuban Missile Crisis. No man on the moon. No Martin Luther King, Jr. Just disposable heroes sponsoring products. Stuff. Things that come and go."
Is he right?? I think so. Now we do have causes, Tsunami relief, Aids, Hurricane Katrina relief. But (again here I am the cynic) most of the people who jumped on the Tsunami relief forgot about it and moved on to the next tragedy. With the exception of a few people most of our “heroes” jump from relief benefit to relief benefit without sticking to one Cause. I respect Bono and Ricky Martin (I know I shudder as well) but they have stayed the course with the work they have chosen. Bono, with Debt reduction and Ricky Martin, building houses for Tsunami survivors. But what do we need to truly stand for a cause?? Do we need a common enemy (Like Hitler in WWII) but are we blind?? We as Christians already have an enemy a million times worse than Hitler could ever hope to be. We fight not, “…against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms (Eph 6:12).” I think that we need more than a common enemy. Do we need a vision? Yes! What is that vision. It is as Grieg says, “The vision is Jesus - obsessively, dangerously, undeniably Jesus. The vision is an Army of young people. You see bones? I see an Army.” What do we need to do to free us from cynicism? I think more than an enemy we need our vision to be Jesus and our focus to be on Him and what He wants for our lives. And then we can unite as an army against our REAL enemy.
Saturday, November 05, 2005
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Oh how these words sum up my life. That’s right it’s confession time. I am a man who struggles desperately to be a Christian. I struggle all the time against my Lazy/Self-seeking/Rich/Prideful/Couldn’t care less attitude. Far to often I am more than content to sit on my butt and watch TV… or worse, I am willing to workout spend time with my wife, hang out with friends, and do whatever I want to do... until it comes time to take up my cross and follow….
Luke 11:27-28 “As he was speaking, a woman in the crowd yelled out, “God bless your mother – the womb from which you came, and the breasts that nursed you!” Jesus replied, “but even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.”
Could those woman’s words be the same as we sometimes say? “You are blessed because you now know the salvation of Christ! Bless those people who’ve made commitments, bless those people who told them.” But Jesus says to us NO! You’re blessed if you can put the words of God into practice. Those who feed the hungry, stand against oppression! Those are the people who are truly blessed. Again in Luke Jesus says, “And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished.” (Lk12:47) GULP! If I know what I should do, but I don’t do it, that means I am responsible for the consequences of my choice. Why? Well I think it has to do with this quote, "To believe is to act as if something were so." I’m sure if I was smarted I could reason this away and claim that it means something different from what it is saying, BUT I’m not smarter and it looks to me like it is saying if I truly belive in Christ, then I NEED to ACT on those beliefs. If I don’t act on those things, then I am blatently disobeying my master, and I deserve to be punished.
But what can I do? And so we come back to Chesterton, “it has been found difficult and left untried.” I don’t want to be another failed Christian, and I certianly don’t want Christ to be ashamed of me on Judgement day and I certianly don’t want to be punished for disobeying my master. I feel a lot like Paul in Romans 7. I do what I don’t want to do and I don’t do what I want to do. I wish that I could just claim “there is no condmenation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (Rom 8:1) but that seems to easy. Surely there must be something more something that I am missing. Is Christianity as easy as Romans 8:1 or is Chesterton right??
Thursday, October 20, 2005
A Certain Cure for Busyness
Publicly post half of your tasks and announce that you will no longer be doing them. Within a week you’ll discover: a) others will be doing those tasks; b) no one is doing them, but they didn’t need to be done after all; or c) you’re fired—which frees you to find a job that’s less busy.
Go through an entire day without a pager, phone, cell-phone, voicemail, email, answering machine, and watch. By the end of the day you’ll discover: a) human contact is pleasant and valuable; b) people appreciate your laid-back approach; or c) you’re fired—which frees you to find a job that’s less busy.
Practice saying “no” in front of a mirror until it’s natural and convincing. You’ll discover: a) a sense of empowerment over your life; b) the humble realization that you are not the Messiah; or c) you’re fired—which frees you to find a job that’s less busy.
Fall from a stepladder and sustain moderate injuries. While recuperating in the hospital you’ll discover: a) most of your deadlines were self-imposed and unnecessary; b) the value of admitting your limitations and receiving help; or c) you’re fired—which frees you to find a job that’s less busy.
written by Ryan Ahlgrim (pastor of First Mennonite Church, Indianapolis, Indiana)
Friday, September 30, 2005
“On August 23 Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson suggested on-air that American operatives assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to stop his country from becoming "a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism. ‘We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability,’ Robertson said Monday on the Christian Broadcast Network's "The 700 Club." ‘We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator,” he continued. "It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."
Hmm…. Does this sound wrong to anyone else out there? I know that I for one don’t really want to be part of a faith that will call for the assassination of another child of God. Now I’m sure that Chavez isn’t the most saintly person out there. Rev. Robertson calls him a ”Strong-arm Dictator” However, before we go and assassinate world leaders I think that we should look at both sides. I’ve copied and pasted a bit of the transcript from the interview that I saw. Just before this segment Ted Koppel asked Chavez to describe himself. One of the words he used was a revolutionary, so Koppel is asking Chavez about that,
“-KOPPEL: A revolutionary has to be in revolt against something. What are you revolting against?
-- CHAVEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):I've been in revolt for years against ignominy, against injustice, against inequality, against immorality, against the exploitation of human beings.
One of the greatest rebels, who I really admire: Christ. He was a rebel. He ended up being crucified. He was a great rebel. He rebelled against the established power that subjugated. That is what rebellion is; it's rebellion out of love for human beings. In truth, that is the cause, the cause of love: love for every human being, for every women, for every child, for every man, for every brother.
I believe you to be a brother. I don't see you as above or below. I don't feel superior or inferior to you. We're on an equal basis. Your cameraman, your photograph are equal. The men and women who are seeing you, who are seeing us are equal. They're true brothers.”
Now I am sitting in my living room thinking to myself, now there is a man who understands the message of Christ. To be a Christian means to stand against injustices and to stand for love. Many of the prophets wrote in the Old Testament that God’s judgement would fall on the people BECAUSE they neglected the care for widows and orphans. God’s judgement would fall because they refused to revolt against, “Ignominy, against injustice, against inequality, against immorality, against the exploitation of human beings (Chavez).” Instead the people of Israel went with the flow and followed the example of the nations around them. Much like we are doing today in America.
Now I freely admit that I am not an expert in politics. And I know very little about Rev. Robertson and even less about Hugo Chavez. But from what I HAVE seen has made me sick with embarrassment for those of us who are Christians in America. The fact that I could be associated with a man like Robertson makes me shudder. To make matters worse this isn’t the first time Robertson has made Christians look like a bunch of hate filled redneck idiots.
Which brings me back to Chavez. “It's rebellion out of love for human beings. In truth, that is the cause, the cause of love: love for every human being, for every women, for every child, for every man, for every brother.” Now those are words that I can stand along side of. That is a cause that I can stand for. Those are words that if spoken from a pulpit would have me saying AMEN!…or at least I’d say amen if I was in a more charismatic church. But Chavez inspires me to do more for the cause of justice and to make more of a stand for the cause of human rights. So along with Billy Idol I’ll raise my Rebel Yell and say let’s stand together and work for the cause Chavez speaks of, let us revolt against exploitation, injustice, and immorality. Let’s revolt against the status quo. Sources: The Associated Press and ABC Nightline
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Advertisers have noticed this. There is this new commercial on TV for a vitamin supplement. The whole commercial is people walking around juggling things (e.g. a cell phone, a book, and a bottle of cleaning solution) they walk around juggling all the things in their lives. The whole message is, “We know you don’t have time to eat right, so take this little pill instead.” Does anyone else notice the problem with this? Instead of sitting with our families and having a well-balanced meal we run off to the nearest fast food chain, take a pill (to make up for the lack of nutrition) and run off to hockey practice, or our P.T.A. meeting.
Now my point isn’t that we are a fat, lazy society that doesn’t eat well. My point is that we don’t take the time to even eat with our families. Is it any wonder that our society is riddled with divorce? It doesn’t matter if you are part of the church or not, the divorce rate is practically the same. I would venture to say that our divorce rates are so high because we have generations of people who have been pushed to be involved, in church, in their communities, and in sports etc. All of these people never learned the importance of saying NO! We have this superman complex where we think that we can save everything and everyone. Or perhaps even more disturbing is the thought that we think that everyone NEEDS US to save them. Well the fact is the world will get along just fine without us. If we died today people close to us would mourn our passing, but within a week life would be back to normal. And in a year… we would be replaced.*
I think that we should learn a lesson from my brother’s hamster Gyp Gyp. You see my brother’s hamster started running one night, and he kept running, and running, and running, and a few days later it died. Well I don’t think that anyone has ever died from being involved in too many things, But I DO know that marriages have suffered and broken, people have been burnt out, stressed out, and have wanted to withdraw into seclusion “Just to get away from it all for a while.” People drink, smoke, gamble, play too many video games, and watch too much TV, have headaches, high blood pressure, and fatigue and some will even commit suicide because of the stress of their life. We run, we get involved, and we burn out. We are like a match held upside down and the flames just burn up everything in the matter of a few seconds.
Now back to Gyp Gyp. The poor thing just ran itself into exhaustion and died. Do you ever feel like your running around on the hamster wheel of life? Maybe we all need to listen to the words of my father. He said, “Stop running. Look at what God is doing. Listen to God.”
It is interesting that in a time before high speed internet, instant mac and cheese, microwavable popcorn, and all the other “instants” we have today St. Augustine wrote,
“O Lord thou hast made us for thyself and we are restless until we find our rest in thee.”
Do you want to save your marriage? Your sanity? The few hairs on your head that haven’t turned grey yet? Well then stop running. Learn to say no! Learn to chose a few things and get rid of the rest. And make time for the things that REALLY matter; you’re spouse, your kids, and ultimately God. Because after all if we don’t find rest in HIM, then we aren’t actually resting at all.
As for me? Even as I write this I can see in my own life times when I should just sit on the couch for a few more minutes with my wife, but I feel like I should go and set up for our youth night, or I should get running because I have a meeting to go to. It’s hard to realise that the youth band can practice without me and that if the power point isn’t set up “just so” life WILL go on, and that meetings are NOT the most important thing life. So like that old philosopher Red Green says, “I’m pulling for you, we’re all in this together.” Why don’t we slow down for a minute and just enjoy the life God has given us.
*(my foot note) I am not talking about the immediate families. For those people the loss of a loved on is a tragic experience that takes quite a bit longer to heal from. And often there is a hole forever. My heart goes out to you who have experienced this.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Now I realise that this is hardly a new observation but maybe it’s one that needs to be made again. The men that Jesus chose as his disciples weren’t believers when He first took them along. A prime example of this is found in Mark 4:38-44, “Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Hush, be still." And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?" They became very much afraid and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?" (NASB) Now somehow I doubt that if they knew who Jesus was they would lack faith in Him. Also I think that the disciples words “Who then is this” give us a glance into their view of Jesus. They wouldn’t ask this question if they knew who He was, and what He was capable of. Nope the Disciples were just a bunch of crazy unbelievers who Jesus called to follow Him.
Which brings me back to my point about our churches. We spend so much of our time and money training leaders and training people to get involved and lead, but are we missing the example that Christ left for us? What if instead of putting the mighty resources of the church into training believers, we took unbelieving atheists and had them follow us and listen to us talk and teach? Well maybe an atheist is a little extreme… But what if instead of always training our Christian brothers and sisters, we asked people who haven’t made a commitment to observe our lives and our doctrine the way Jesus asked the Disciples to observe Him? Maybe it’s just crazy, or maybe it’s a good way to combat the “inbreeding” of our churches today.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
"In order to talk to his equal an Irishman is forced to talk to God." -Stephen (Braveheart)