Sunday, November 25, 2007

The seventeen year old kid shows up.

One of my all time favorite bands is "The Cult." I have followed them since late high school. On Friday (day after giving thanks) I went to see them perform in Grand Rapids at the Orbit Room with some buddies from high school days.

It was a great show and I even got to get shoved around a bit by an enormous drunk dude. I kept thinking..."blessed are the peacemakers" and so I tried to help bring some peace to a blossoming fight. So I helped a guy get out of an intimidating moment. I'm glad I didn't have to face the "turn the other cheek scenario." :)

Anyways it was a great show and they played a great mix of old and new. Recharging experience and good to catch up with old friends!

Owwwwww Yeah!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Africa bound.

My dad and I are traveling alongside Dr. Sherrie to South Africa. We will be hooking up with "Vox United" and looking into potential ways Watermark can continue Jesus' work in His way in Johannesburg.

I'll keep you posted... maybe. :)

I think black Friday is a stain on Thanksgiving,

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving Friend!

Hey y'all - I hope each of you have an amazing Thanksgiving wherever you are in the world. I'm thankful for the interactions we have from time to time.

Tomorrow I join my family, some friends who are like family, and a bunch of folks without local family for a feast in the Central Wesleyan gym. It is a big event with lots of people and basketball. So I eat as much as I can and then burn it off immediately.

Anyways - hoping your day is special.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Am I an unbeliever?

Growing up I needed to "believe" all the right stuff about God, Jesus, the cross, etc... if I wanted to become a believer I needed to learn more about the right beliefs and defend them and get them straight. Learning the Apostle's Creed was helpful.

But, for much of my life I have been a "believer" in Jesus, but I didn't believe Him (or in other words - I didn't share His beliefs.)

So I was (in the words of my friend John): a radical unbeliever. I believed the "right stuff," but didn't share in the beliefs of Jesus and therefore, didn't do a lot of following... I had the beliefs, but the beliefs of Jesus did not have me.

I do believe it is important to believe in Jesus as God's Son and to embrace the Apostle's Creed as truth to believe in, but if we stop there - we are missing out on sharing Jesus' beliefs and seeing our lives become what we were made for. Instead we stink of hypocrisy and the average Christian (I suppose I should lump myself into this) doesn't look significantly different than anyone else.

So what does it mean to be a true believer and share Jesus' beliefs? As I read through Luke I read some of Jesus' beliefs and wonder if I believe them...
> Love your enemies.
> Do good to those who hate you.
> Bless those who curse you.
> Turn the other cheek.
> Give to everyone who asks you.
> Do to others as you would have them do to you.
> Lend without expectation of repayment.
> Don't judge and condemn, rather forgive.
> Not good to gain the world, but lose your self.
> The least among us is the greatest.
> More blessed to give than to receive.
> ETC... ETC... ETC...

Do we believe Jesus - not just in Him? I suppose for some of us that don't believe "in" Jesus - you may even find His beliefs compelling. And I suppose you would support that kind of belief from Jesus' followers. (Because we would actually be following.)

So I guess I admit that I tend to be a radical unbeliever much of the time and I want to be a believer that lives out the beliefs of Jesus here and now.

Becoming a follower,

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Kingdom Invitation

What comes to mind when you see this image? The verse this man references is Mark 1:15 which is the words of Jesus we as a church are walking through at the moment in our "Kingdom" conversation.

The verse says, "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"

I am not into sign holding. First of all my arms get tired and secondly I don't believe it is effective. Someone may have statistics that show that after someone has seen a sign ten times they will join Jesus' movement, but I kinda doubt it.

So, this brings me to the verse and the word written on this poster: "Repent." This week Sunday we are going to be looking at that word. Many of you may have heard that to "repent" means to turn around, to change direction, or to return. But as I've studied the past few weeks about this verse and this call from Jesus I have come to some surprising challenges - and they were directed at me.

When we see the words on this picture and its message we often primarily think of morality (particularly sexuality) and that we should "repent" - turn away from personal sins and turn toward God's way of life laid out in Scripture. I believe that forgiveness of personal sins is an incredible gift and I thank God for it, but what if Jesus in Mark 1:15 wasn't primarily pushing that angle on the word "repent?" What if that was just a given in desiring to follow God. After all, (as NT Wright shares), wouldn't Jesus have been called a national hero (particularly to the Pharisees and religious conservatives in the day) rather than being threatened and opposed by them?

So, what and who is Jesus calling to "repent," believe and enter into His movement? Again, NT Wright, shares a twist that put me under the microscope. What if Jesus' call of repentance was not merely a timeless call to personally stop being naughty and start being good? What if His invitation to "repent" was not just for those naughty unclean outsiders who don't believe the right stuff and don't live the right way?

What if Jesus' call to "repent" was a summons for those who see themselves as "in?" It seems absolutely essential that "repentance" begins with those who call themselves followers of God. So what are we to "repent" from? As my friend John Blythe says, "everything that keeps us from entering into the Kingdom" (the present movement of God ruling and reigning and expanding among us.) We are "repent" of everything that prevents us from (as Jesus says) being a light to the world?

What do good upstanding, pay your taxes, church going folks have to "repent" from? How about trying to power up on others? Perhaps the focus of looking out for ourselves (#1) and our families first. Do we need to "repent" from being a glutton for food or stuff? What about the addiction to bigger and better - upscale, upsize, and upgrade? I have held Jesus out as the light of the world in the face of poverty, addictions, disease, and yet I still try to figure out how to get ahead, how to compile, how to protect what I "have," and put myself in positions of power and influence.

Jesus was speaking first to Israel as His people - calling on them to "repent" from their nationalistic violence movement and to be a blessing and the light of the world by different means than violence, powering up, and injustice. He called them to the Shema (To love God with all of their heart, mind, and strength.)

So - in these herky jerky thoughts I suggest that the first place the sign above must be lifted high (but I'm not really a "sign guy") is in my home and in the churches. As we live differently in the world around us (loving enemies, serving not powering up, turning the other cheek, radical generosity, loving welcome of all people, etc...) we will truly be a light to the world and we can put down the sign and we can become a sign that the Kingdom of God is present and here.

Addicted to the exile,

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It is official.

I want my wife back.

Countdown has begun.
I better get working on the dishes,

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Mr. Mum

Vicki is enjoying the warmth of Arizona while I am enjoying the warmth of my son's freshly wet diapers. Gross - sorry - I needed a picture.

I am home daddy slice with the three little amigos. I hope to find time to work on my study and message in the evenings... But tonight is "the office" and that is really important to see.

Vicki gave me a pack of Snickers before she left and I finished them in two days. Yikes! I drug myself with those suckers... The first step is to admit I have a problem... the second step is to get out there and buy another pack.

This week we are beginning a new conversation series entitled, "The Kingdom." I have wanted to focus on this for the past couple years and now it is here and I desire for the Spirit of God to change us and therefore bless our community. I feel the weight of sharing the stories... I so want to be more kingdom focused and leave behind the most basic worldview I am baptized into... stuff like, "Get more, get ahead, go bigger, upsize, upgrade, me first, power up, etc... - the kind of stuff that has made Christianity utterly powerless and irrelevant. What if we lived in the Kingdom of God?

Turn the cheek.
Go the second mile.
Love enemies.
Do not worry.
More blessed to give than receive.

Follow up stuff at at the conversation page.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Things that bothered me about the World Series

1. Johnny Papelbon's try hard stare.
2. Josh Beckett's under-chin hair patch.
3. The Colorado Rockies being in the series.
4. The Detroit Tigers not being in the series.
5. Sweeps make the series a yawn-fest.

I feel better after getting that off my chest.