Sunday, January 30, 2005

Life in Singleton:

My singleness journey:

I once was young. Now I am 31 and over the hill. I am still single. Go figure.

This was not the way that is was supposed to be. I was engaged at 19. I was supposed to be married and have all seven of my kids by now. The boys should be named after philosophers and theologians like Calvin, Luther, Augustine, Soren, Dietrich, Blaise..you know. The girls should be named after biblical virtues like Faith, Hope, Charity, Joy etc. (I don't think I would name a child Chastity because everyone I knew named that couldnt live up to the name).

Everyone I have ever dated in now married, many with children. I am having to come to the point where I am not sure I will ever be married, ever have children, ever have a true, meaningful romance that lasts longer than 7 or 8 months.

Now I am sure that part of this is my fault. I am sad that I must admit that there are times when I sit in front of Walmart and watch people come in and out and wonder, how can those people find someone to love and I cannot. I see husbands that treat their wives poorly, even beating them, and they keep coming back. I sometimes think that all of this is because I am too fat or too ugly. Yet I see happily married folks that are more overweight and uglier. I think it has something to do with me somehow being too difficult of a person to deal with. Perhaps there is some merit to this. I have also chalked it up to being a total coward as far as initiating romantic relationships. This probably has even more merit.

A couple of years ago I read a book about singleness. It is by far the best book from a Christian perspective on the topic. The book is called Singles at the Crossroads and it is written by Albert Hsu. And it has to do with the Biblical understanding of the gift of singleness.

Many people have understood the gift of singleness as a spiritual gift. This is not the biblical perspective. When the Bible talks about the gift of singleness it talks about the gift of marriage (I Corinthians 7). God says through the Apostle Paul that "one person has one gift and one person has another." Paul is trying to communicate that both singleness and marriage are conditions that are blessed by God. They are both gifted states, and we should live in a way that enjoys the state that we are in and uses the unique situations we are in for God's glory. As a single person I can be more flexible than the married person. I have more freedom than a married person does. Well a married person, especially with children, must love more exclusively, I can love people more inclusively. I am more free to live out adventures that many people married with children will never have the opportunity to have. Besides, isn't it better to be single and have the freedom to marry in the future than to be married and want to be single? I look at most of the people that I know, and I would never, ever want to have a married relationship that is similar to theirs.

Well, since reading this I generally have a better attitude toward singleness. Although the celebacy aspect of Christian singleness leaves me feeling like a total freak sometimes, and sometimes jealousy gets the best of me, I try to remember that singleness is a gift. And, when I do I try to use the gift the best I can. I also try to remember that each of us has a journey that God has set us on, and a purpose on that journey.

I am 31, single, with no hope of marriage in the near future. Their could be worse things. A lot worse.
From SoulTsunami by Leonard Sweet


When you are green you grow, but when you become ripe you begin to rot. (117)

Give up your good Christian life and follow Christ--Garrison Keillor (155)

The only realy question to be asked of another is: what are you experiencing?--Simone Weil (189)

He is The Way.
Follow Him through the Land of Unlikeliness
You will see rare beasts and have unique adventures.--
W.H. Auden

The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like , and do what you would rather not.--
Mark Twain

A coach is somebody who makes you do what you don't want to do so you can be what you want to be--
Tom Landry

When I am folded in upon myself, there I am a lie.--
Rainer Maria Rilke

Everyone must have two pockets, so that he can reach into the one or the other, according to his needs. In his right pocket are to be the words: "For my sake the world was created" and in his left "I am dust and ashes".-
Martin Buber

It is pride to think that a thing looks ill because it does not look like something characteristic of oneself--
G. K. Chesterton

I love truth wherever I find it--
John Wesley

When everyone agrees, someone is not thinking--
Gen. Patton

Movies fulfill a common need that people need to share a common memory--
Martin Scorsese

The oldest pathway the brain is hardwired for is narrative--
John Seeley Brown Xerox executive

Saturday, January 29, 2005

QUOTES FROM THE RIGHT TO LEAD by John Maxwell

Resolved: Never do anything that I should be afraid to do it if it were the last hour of my life.--
Jonathan Edwards

He who loses wealth loses much. He who loses a friend loses more, but he who loses courage loses all.--
Cervantes

Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened--
Billy Graham

Most of the significant things done in the world were done by people who were either too busy or too sick! There are few ideal and leisurely settings for the discipline of growth--
Robert Thrornton Henderson

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.--
Margeret Thatcher

I'd rather give my life than be afraid to give it--
LBJ

The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender--
Vince Lombardi

Character may be manifested in great events, but it is made in small ones.--
Phillips Brooks

Men will never cast away their dearest pleasures upon the drowsy request of someone who does not even seem to mean what he says.--
Richard Baxter

It is never too late to be what you might become--
George Eliot

Friday, January 28, 2005

A Good Link: In Search of a Good Marriage by Lauren Winner

http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/2004/005/2.16.html

Quotes from Winning with People

A person first starts to live when he can live outside himself.--
Albert Einstein

There are some people that if they don't know, you can't tell them--
Louis Armstrong

When the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear--
Plato

Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but really great people make you feel that you, too, can become great.--
Mark Twain

It is a greater compliment to be trusted than to be loved--
George MacDonald

It is not so much our friends' help that helps us, as the confident knowledge that they will help us--
Epicurus

Keep a fair-sized cemetery in your back yard, in which to bury the faults of your friends--
Henry Ward Beecher

The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend--
Thoreau

Friendship is born the moment one person says to the another, "What you too? I thought I was the only one."--
C. S. Lewis

You cannot do what I can do. I can do what you cannot do. Together we can do great things.--
Mother Teresa

A candle loses nothing when it lights another candle--
Thomas Jefferson

Groundhog Day

For years I avoided watching the movie Groundhog Day. Then once, when the movie was showing late night on TBS, I decided to give it a chance. I found that Groundhog Day was not only an funny movie, but it was intelligent and thought-provoking. Furthermore, I think it speaks to the human condition in a profound way, especially people living in modern times.

For those of you who do not know, the movie is about a reporter grudgingly covering Groundhog Day. The reporter, played by Bill Murray gets stuck in some sort of time warp living Groundhog Day over and over again. At first he is angry and bitter about being stuck there, trying to find his way out. After a while he begins to make the routine of living the same day over and over again a little bit different. Then he begins to make each and every day a little better. He seeks out ways to help people, to serve others, to make the same boring day that he lives over and over again a little better. Before long he is saving people from immanent death, helping an old lady who is about to spill her groceries, and of course looking for better and better ways to win the girl he likes. In the end, he find how to live meaningfully and joyfully through a life where he is stuck doing the exact same thing over and over again.

Many out there have lives and jobs like Groundhog Day. Stuck doing the same things over and over again, and they seem either dull or overwhelming, and you wonder if what you are doing is meaningless. The truth is that wherever you are you can be like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. You can add meaning to your life by the attitude you bring to things, and by looking for and seizing small ways to love and serve others.

God Bless you in the adventure of faith.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

SCENTED HUMOR

In her blog, Traci talked about how much she disliked the smell of cucumber body wash and body spray stuff.

I have come up with a few more creative female scents for bath and body works.

Some possibilities of future scents:

Pepperoni--Who doesn't like the smell of pepperoni pizza. What man wouldn't want to get close to a woman that smelled like pizza and beer.

Red Wine--The scent that says, I have had a few drinks and now I want to have some FUN.

Evergreen Tree--The scent for the person wanting to attract that special outdoor enthusiast. Can't you hear it, "You smell so much like a tree I want to hug you."

anyone have any others....

Martin Buber's Ten Rings Posted by Hello

Appetites Revisited

As many of you who read my blog know, I have been in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle for the last four months. I have been exercising more. Also, I have been on a diet of one form or another. I started out with the Dr. Phil "Ultimate Weight Loss Solution". Most of last year I had watched the wt. loss stuff on my day off, many times while eating nachos or drinking a Mountain Dew. Slowly I have converted to wheat bread, tortillas, and recently pasta as well. Also, I have cut out candy bars, fast food, and only drink one pop a week on Sundays (ok sometimes two--but very rarely). After Dr. Phil, my dietary person at the doctor's office I go to has me on Phentrimine and an 1800 calorie a day diet. There is more to my wt loss journey...but that is not what I am wanting to talk about here.

I have noticed while on this wt loss journey that while I subject my eating habits to more discipline, that other appetites grow in return. As I started the first couple of weeks, I had women on my mind 24-7 (yes even more than usual). Then, I really was always wanting to go shopping. I went on a book trading spree. Now it seems I am working a lot of very long days--even when I do not have to. Whats up with all this?

It reminds me a little bit of the desert fathers. It reminds me more of the passage in Luke about demons:

When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places
seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house
I left.' 25When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order.
26Then itgoes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and
they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than
the first.


Now do I think I am demon-possesed? No. Do I think healthier living and/or wt. loss is a spiritual battle. Yes. And it seems that somehow these appetites are telling me something about something I need to deal with. What, I am not sure.

Any thoughts......?????

More quotes for today

From Martin Buber's Ten Rungs: Collected Hassidic Sayings

If a man does not judge himself, all things will judge him, and all things will become messengers of God. (73)

When a man becomes aware of a new way to serve God, he should carry it around with him secretly, and without uttering it for nine months, as though he were pregnant with it, and let others know about it only at the end of that time, as if it were a birth. (74)

The psalm reads: "For singing to our God is good." It is good if man can so bring it about that God sings with him. (30)

If we could hang all our sorrows on pegs and were allowed to choose the ones we like best, everyone of us would take back his own, for the rest would seem too difficult to bear (43)

Happiness settles the spirit, but sorrow drives it into exile (44)

In order to perfect oneself, one must renew oneself day by day (51)

The motto of life is "Give and Take". Everyone must be a giver and a reciever. He who is not both is a barren tree. (80)

Rabbi Shelmo asked: "What is the worst thing the Evil Inclination can achieve?" And he answered: "To make man forget he is the son of a king." (94)

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

More quotes for today

Quotes from Invitation to Solitude and Silence


A journey begins with knowing where we are and being willing to go somewhere else. (25)--
Richard Rohr

In silence all of our usual patterns assault us...that is why most people give up quickly. When Jesus was led into the wilderness the first things to show up were wild beasts (43)--
Richard Rohr

God comes like sun in the morning--when it is time. We must assume the attitude of waiting.....(49)
--Carlo Carretto

for want of rest our lives are in danger (55)
--Wayne Muller

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foriegn tongue. Do not seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps syou will thengradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer (75)
--Rainer Marie Rilke

What deadens us most to God's presence within, I think, is the inner dialogue that we are engaged in within ourselves. (81).
--Fredericjk Buechner

Inner silence depends on a continual seeking, a continual crying in the night, a repeated bending over the abyss.....For He is found when He is sought, and when he is no longer sought he escapes us. (85)
--Thomas Merton

The deepest level of communication is not communication but communion. It is wordless. It is beyond words, and beyond speech, and it is beyond concept. (111)
--Merton

Right speech comes out of silence, and right silence comes out of speech
--Bonhoeffer

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


The last book I read..great stories and practical stuff too! Posted by Hello

More quotes for today

If a man does not keep pace with others, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.--
Thoreau

Let us beware and beware and beware..of having an ideal for our children. In doing so we damn them.--
D.H. Lawrence

It is not our purpose to become each other, it is to recognize the other, to learn to see the other and honor him for what he is.--
Hermann Hesse

Don't be afraid...taste everything--
Ernest Hemmingway

The soul should always stand ajar--
Emily Dickenson

The church is the part of the world that confesses the renewal to which all the world is called.--
John Howard Yoder

It seems odd that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what it reveals to others--
Charles Spurgeon

We must beware lest we violate the holy, lest our dogmas overtake the mystery--
Abraham Heschel

The better a man will have known his own ignorance, the greater his learning will be.--
Nicholas of Cusa

Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together--
Vesta M. Kelly

Sunday, January 23, 2005


Check out this great book!!! Posted by Hello

More quotes for today

Quotes from Dallas Willard in Renovation of the Heart

There are no formulas in the spiritual life because it is a life that does not run on its own. It runs in interaction with God. (112)

Wanting God to be God is very different from wanting God to help me. (58)

One does not miss heaven by a hair, but by contant effort to avoid and escape God (59)

Lost persons...are precisely those who mistake their own persons for God (56)

We live from our heart (13)

Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of live--Proverbs 4:23 (13)

Anyone who thinks God only blesses what is "right" has a very narrow experience and probably does not really understand what God has done for them. (240)

A fundamental mistake of the conservative side of churches in America today, and much of the Western church is.....it creates groups of people who may be ready to die, but are clearly not ready to live (238-9)

Sleep is a good first use of solitude and silence. It is also a good indicator of how thoroughly we trust in God. (175)

If we use our minds rightly, we live in a state of constant openness and learning. (110)



Saturday, January 22, 2005


Standing before the world naked and alone with only the cross of Christ Posted by Hello

More quotes for today

Quotes from Henri Nouwen

The Wounded Healer

The Christian way of life does not take away our lonliness, it treasures it as a precious gift. (84)

Who can take away suffering without entering it? (72)

The Christian leader is called to...make visible in daily events the fact that behind the dirty curtain of our painful symptoms is something great to be seen. (44)

When Christianity is reduced to an all-encompasing ideology...man is all to prone to be skeptical about its relevance to his life experience. (12)

In the Name of Jesus

The Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his vulnerable self (17)

The question is not how many people take you seriously? How much are you going to accpmplish? Can you show results? But, are you in love with Jesus?

Jesus has a different vision of maturity: It is the ability and the willingness to go where you would rather not go. (62)

The way of the Christian leader is not the way of upward mobility in which our world has invested so much, but the way of downward mobility ending on the cross (62)

The long history of the Church is the history of people ever and again tempted to choose power over love, control over the cross, being a leader over being led. (60)

It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life (59)

Laying down your life means making your own faith and doubt, hope and despair, joy and sadness, courage and fear available to others as ways of getting in touch with the Lord of life. (43)

Ministry is not only a communal experience, it is a mutual experience. (42)

From Life of the Beloved

The world is evil only when you become its slave (131)

The first step to healing is not a step away from the pain, but a step toward it (94)

Each human being suffers in a way no other human being suffers (88)

The problem with modern living is that we are too busy to realize that we are being blessed (80)

We are God's chosen ones, even when our world does not choose us (58)




At Eugene Petersons home on Flathead Lake Posted by Hello

Friday, January 21, 2005


enlarge and check out this funny card!! Posted by Hello

More quotes for today

From Mister Rodgers

The real issue is not how many blessings we have, but what we do with our blessings. Some people have many blessings and hoard them. Some people have few and give them away.

You bring all you ever were and are to any relationship you have today

You rarely have time for everything you want in life, so you need to make choices. And hopefully those choices come from a deep sense of who you are.

The thing I remember about sucessful people that I have met through the years is their obvious delight in what they are doing...and it seems very little to do with worldly success. They just love what they are doing, and they love it in front of others.

From Life Together with Dietrich Bonhoeffer

He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone (131-2)

the expressed acknowleged sin has lost all its power (134)

It is not the experience of life but the experience of the cross that makes one a worthy hearer of confessions (137)

A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another or it collapses. (96)

Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. Let him who is not in community beware of being alone (85)

Every Christian community must realize that not only do the weak need the strong, but the strong cannot exists without the weak (108)

If my sinfulness appears to me to be in any way smaller or less detestable in comparison with the sins of others, I am still not recognizing my sinfulness at all. (111-112)

Thursday, January 20, 2005


Dad's side of the family w/sis and Bob at Thankgiving Posted by Hello

More nephews at Christmas Posted by Hello

My nephews Zachary and Garrett Posted by Hello

Transformers: More than Meets The Eye!!

Once in a while I get a Christmas present or I make a purchase, and soon discover the dreaded phrase, "Some Assembly Required". The last purchase like this was my office chair. Soon Sherie Beasley, Joe Wells, and I were all working together trying to figure out how to put to the chair together. As soon as I got all the parts out of the box, I was stressed. Sherie and I sweated and laughed over the time we put the thing together, and when we could not figure out how to get the wheels on without breaking them, Joe came to the rescue. It turned out to be more fun than I expected. Especially because we did it together.
George Hunter says, "Christianity represents and at its best mediates the only power in the cosmos that changes losers into winners." Yet, I wonder, if often times in the church we believe that God changes lives. We look at others and wonder if they should have been identified as "beyond repair". Or we fancy ourselves like Harry in "My Fair Lady" and label people as "project" or a "fixer-upper". If we do that, we are playing God and judge in others lives. That labeling is not good. It keeps both the judger and the judged from being honest, authentic people.
Judging is the opposite of loving. When we function as a community of judgment instead of a community of grace, we find our lives are all about performance, our worship is about putting on a good show, and faith becomes a series of hoops to jump through instead of an experience of grace. Before long instead of being clothed with Christ, we find we are all hiding in bushes looking for fig leaves to cover our nakedness.

My Saturday morning free movie Posted by Hello

More quotes for today

From Moltmann's Theology of Hope

Hope makes us ready to bear the cross of the present (31)

Hell is hopelessness (32)

Faith hopes in order to know what it believes (33)

If Christianity is not all together and unreservedly eschatology, there remains in it no relationship whatever to Christ (39)

God reveals himself in the form of a promise (42)

More quotes for today

FROM 101 CHRISTIANS EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW

The plain and simple gospel suits best for any people--
Richard Allen, founder of AME church

If this world is going to be reached, I am convinced it is going to have to be done by men and women of ordinary talent--
D. L. Moody

If you can really make a man believe that you love him, you have won him--
D.L. Moody

I preached as a dying man to dying men--
Richard Baxter, author of the Reformed Pastor, Puritan Leader

We must and will find Christ in every man, when we look at them as brothers--
Dorothy Day

Other quotes

Reading makes a broad man, but writing makes an exact man--Francis Bacon

We can never be our true selves until God posseses us--Rufus Jones

People ought never to think too much about what they could do, but they ought to think about what they could be--Eckhart

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Lindsay and Krista on Coronado Beach in SD Posted by Hello

Youth Group gals from 10 years ago now all grown up! Posted by Hello

CHOW beginnings Posted by Hello

TJ and Brad in SD Posted by Hello

FBC Youth Summer 2004 Posted by Hello

Mission San Diego--All Churches Posted by Hello

Pray Naked

A few years ago I was into listening to a Christian alternative group called the 77s. One of their albums was titled "Pray Naked". The idea is that we need to come to God as our open authentic selves.

Recently I found out a biblical truth that supports this fact. The Greek root for the word truth is the adjective "uncovered". Being true about something is uncovering it.

This got me thinking. What is the essence of living a true, honest life? It is living with your life uncovered. Not hiding your joys or your hurts. Not pretending to be someone you are not. Being an open book. Real. Authentic.

When I was at my ethics training for my ordination requirements I probed the instructor about physical boundaries in relationships while on ministerial staff. Her answer was profound. She said that nothing could be a secret, and that if you had secret behavior, it was most likely unethical behavior. As a believer in Christ, I must embody truth by living an uncovered life.

Strangely enough, much of psychological treatment is also about uncovering, and thus truth telling. Therapy is based on the belief that when one discovers and acts positively about the truth in one's life, one is healed.

This truth also made me think about Christ. Christ says he is the way, the truth, and the life. When he says this in a sense what he is saying is that he is God uncovered. Jesus is God uncovered for everyone to see. How cool!!

Clint's First Day in the Springs Posted by Hello

Ben on Mission Trip to San Diego Posted by Hello

Preppy Clint Posted by Hello

Mister Rodgers quotes

From the World According to Mister Rodgers


What we have is less important than what we make out of what we have (38)

There isnt anyone you couldnt love once you hear their story

Often times when you feel you are at the end of something, you are at the beginning of something else

The greatest thing we can do is let people know that they are loved and are capable of loving (52)

Love is not a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way that he or she is , right herre and now (53)

The greatest gift that you ever give is your honest self (81)

There is only one thing evil cannot stand and that is forgiveness. (62)

One of the greatest gifts a person can ever have is to feel needed and essential (70)

There is no normal life that is free of pain. It is our very wrestling with our problems that can be the impetus for growth.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

7 O LORD , you deceived me, and I was deceived;
you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long;
everyone mocks me.

8 Whenever I speak, I cry out
proclaiming violence and destruction.
So the word of the LORD has brought me
insult and reproach all day long.

9 But if I say, "I will not mention him
or speak any more in his name,"
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot.

10 I hear many whispering,
"Terror on every side!
Report him! Let's report him!"
All my friends
are waiting for me to slip, saying,
"Perhaps he will be deceived;
then we will prevail over him
and take our revenge on him."

11 But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior;
so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.
They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced;
their dishonor will never be forgotten.

12 O LORD Almighty, you who examine the righteous
and probe the heart and mind,
let me see your vengeance upon them,
for to you I have committed my cause.

13 Sing to the LORD !
Give praise to the LORD !
He rescues the life of the needy
from the hands of the wicked.


There is a lot here in this passage, and it has been coming to mind a lot lately. The word decieved actually can be translated seduced, and is in the book of Exodus. In common vernacular (warning a little off color) Jeremiah's complaint is that God made Jeremiah his "b*tch". That he is being taken advantage of and used by God and that he does not see anything but heartache and rejection that he gets in return. In the eyes of the world, Jeremiah is just God's whipping boy.

Yet, on the other hand Jeremiah does not feel like he can do anything other than what he is doing. He feels like there is a fire burning in him that compels him to continue to preach and teach, even with the absence physical comfort, with no support from his people and his friends, and with the shame and embarrassment that he suffers.

Sometimes I feel like Jeremiah. Like I am doing everything I should be doing, and yet the rewards, the benefits, and the blessing do not appear to be there. Yet, at the same time I feel like I am called to do what I do, and to do anything different would be turning my back on God, and denying who I truly am.

Through it all it is good to know I am in good company--good Biblical company. Amen.

More quotes for today

Only those who resist temptation know how strong it is--
C.S. Lewis

You use a glass mirror to see your face, and a work of art to see your soul--
George Bernard Shaw

Man has always tended to be intolerant toward that thing he has not taken the time to understand--
Robert R Brown

Few sinners are saved after the first 20 minutes of the sermon--
Mark Twain

When a woman is too old to be attractive to a man, she turns to God--
Honore de Balzac

I have noticed again and again since I have been in the church that interest in ecclesiastical matters is often a prelude to insanity--
Evelyn Waugh

He who throws mud loses ground--
Adelai Stevenson

If you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow--
John Wayne
(also the motto of the Bush administration)

The word good has many meanings. For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I would call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man.
Chesterton

Personally I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught--
Churchill

True godliness does not turn men out of the world, but enables them to live better in it, and excites their endeavors to mend it.--
William Penn

Ages of Great Christian Leaders

Age 26-Martin Luther King Jr. began to lead the bus boycotts

Age 26--Jonathan Edwards began his first senior pastorate

Age 25--Calvin wrote the first version of the Institutes of the Christian Religion

Age 29--St. Francis of Assisi started his order (Franciscans)

Age 33--Luther begins the reformation

Age 39--Pascal dies

Age 39--Martin Luther King Junior Dies

Sunday, January 16, 2005

More quotes for today

Sin is both fatal and fertile....sin tends to both kill and reproduce. (p.55)

Sin becomes the punishement for sin. (55)

To pervert something is to twist it so that it serves an unworthy end (40)

To pollute something is to weaken a whole entity by introducing into it a foriegn element (44)

In sin as on ice, people coming out of a skid tend to oversteer (86)

Evil has no existence except as a privation of good

The heart of sin is the persistent refusal to tolerate a sense of sin...evil people are simultaneously aware oftheir evil and desprately trying to resist that awareness. (99)

(all from Not the Way it is Supposed to Be, Cornelius Plantinga)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Thomas a Kempis' Imitation of Christ quotes

Keep each trial outside your heart, as best you can, and if it has knocked you down, don't let it keep you down nor keep you long under its power. If you cannot bear it cheerfully at least bear it patiently. (170).

My son, you patience and humility in times of adversity are more pleasing to ME than your great consolations and devotion during times of prosperity (169).

It is in disordered loves and empty fears that all disquiet of heart and distraction of mind have their orgin. (120).

Many think this a hard saying, "Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus", but it will be much harder to hear these final words, "Depart from me, cursed one, into the everlasting fire."

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Thomas a Kempis' Imitation of Christ quotes

Leave the hollow things for hollow people, but you fulfill those things that God has for you.
(p. 29)

Live this present life in a way that you will be filled with joy and not overcome with pride.
(p. 35)

Make room for Christ, and deny everything else.
(p. 50)

All our peace in this world comes from the humble endurance of suffering, and not from living a life without it.
(p. 51)

Be grateful, then, for even the least gift and you will be worthy of recieving the greater ones.
(p. 62)

Jesus today has many lovers of his kingdom, but few who carry his cross.
(p. 63)

Judging Jesus

I find it quite easy to say, "Why me?"

Why am I 31 and single? Why am I not thinner? Why does ministry seem so difficult when I feel I am doing what God told me to do? Why I am so stupid? Why can't I be rich?

Perhaps, though, the question I should be asking is not "Why me?" but rather "What now?" I cannot control the whys of things. Even though I feel I am a fairly intelligent person (doesn't everyone), I am not sure I could understand why a lot of things happen without completely losing my sanity. I am not even sure I can try.

What I can control and answer for myself is the "What Now?" question. Someone is hurting. What now? Well, I help them as best as I know how. What do I do about my shortcomings? I take steps to address them with God's help. The answers to the "What now?" questions are not always simple, but they are always practical and lived answers.

I may not be able to understand or prevent tragedy. I may not be able to live life without making a few dumb decisions (or a lot of dumb decisions). I can, however, find meaning in those situations by how I address them with the way I live my life, by God's grace.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Thomas a Kempis' Imitation of Christ quotes

All perfection in this life has some inperfection mixed in with it--
(p.7)

All Sacred Scripture should be read in the Spirit in which it was written--
(p.8)

Whenever you desire anything inordinately, you immediately find that you are now dissatisfied with yourself--
(p.9)

Much peace would be ours if we did not occupy ourselves with what others say and do, for such things are of no concern to us.
(p. 13)

He who superficially trims his temptations and does not pull them out by the root accomplishes little--
(p. 16)

More quotes for today

Kindness is the mark of faith, and whoever has not kindness has not faith--
Muhammad

Faith is not being sure where you are going, but going anyway--
Fredrich Buechner

Faith is the beginning of compassion, compassion for God--
Abraham Heschel

Faith cannot be made, it is in the truest sense a gift of grace--
Carl Jung

Faith is the opening of all sides and at every level to the divine inflow.--
MLK JR

I can remember way back when a liberal was one who was generous with his own money--
Will Rogers

There is only one thing that has power, and that is love. Because when a man loves, he seeks no power, and therefore he has power.--
Alan Paton in Cry the Beloved Country

What a grand thing, to be loved. What a grander thing still, to love!
Victor Hugo in Les Miserables

We must love one another, or die
W. H. Auden

Let your love be like the misty rain, coming softly, but flooding the river--
Madagascan saying

Love both gives and recieves, and in giving it recieves--
Thomas Merton

Saturday, January 08, 2005

If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Good can exist without evil, whereas evil cannot exist without good...
Saint Thomas Aquinas

To convert somebody go and take them by the hand and guide them.
Saint Thomas Aquinas

Well-ordered self-love is right and natural.
Saint Thomas Aquinas

Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.
William Faulkner

The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past.
William Faulkner

All good books have one thing in common - they are truer than if they had really happened.
Ernest Hemingway

Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.
Gilbert K. Chesterton

In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't.
Blaise Pascal

Friday, January 07, 2005

Narrative-Driven Discipleship

My dream is to write an article(s) and/or a book on youth discipleship as a story formed journey. So I do a lot of thinking, reading, and write rough drafts about the importance of narrative in spiritual formation.

Here are some of my points, in no particular order.

CONCEPTUAL POINTS
1. People live their lives as story--
Have you ever participated in that lame game like: If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be and why? Everyone deep down has a metaphor for their lives. In order for someone to be reached in a way that speaks to their personal metaphor, yet at the same time can take them to a new place. When a youth, you have an awesome opportunity to bring Christ into that narrative in a positive way.

2. Churches define themselves by their story--
Ever heard the phrase, we have never done it that way before? What people are really saying is, we dont know how that fits into our understanding of what our story is. It order to help churches take steps of change, you need to connect with their story, and then show them how the vision of the future relates to their story. Youth ministries have stories as well. In order for a youth ministry to have long-term success, a youth minister needs to integrate the importance of youth ministry into the story of the church as a whole.

3. People define God by the stories they live with Him--
Many people who are unchurched or are unbelievers are not as much philosophical atheists as they are practical agnostics. They understand God by their interpretation of a particular experience(s), and they have decided they do not want to be friends with a God like that. In Christian ministry, much of our ministry is helping people get a real true picture of a God that loves them and wants what is best for them.

4. Youth Groups themselves have a story--
Why do they do what they do? It is probably because it reinforces and confirms the story they have about their youth ministry.

5. Ministry contexts have a story--
Your youth ministry will not grow until you find ways to connect to the communities narrative either as a support, or as an effective alternative to that narrative.

PRACTICAL STORY MAKING

1. PERSONAL SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES--
Ways of reading the Scripture and praying that enhance a narrative-driven journey
2. RELATIONSHIPS IN MINISTRY--
All good stories have important relationships. How to form relationships that grow trust in God.
3. CREATING TRADITIONS--
Traditions create stories that tell about the joy and faithfulness of God with your youth group. They also create expectations that feed results. Youth Gatherings and Camps are large examples of these. Annually repeated social activities, weekly routines are also. Sometimes breaking of traditions can also be the best thing to do to help youth connect with Christ in new ways. The tradition of no tradition being unbreakable is essential to youth ministry as well.
4. STORY SENSITIVE TEACHING--
Teaching needs to connect to real life. That does not mean that it always has to be topical. The teaching encounter itself also needs to be an experience that becomes an important event in forming personal narratives.
5. COMMUNITY SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES--
Shared worship and involvement. Service Projects. Mission Trips. Coorperate Prayer.
6. STORY EMPOWERED EVANGELISM--
Connecting your story and God's story to their story.
7. SURPRISE ENDINGS--
How getting youth out of their comfort zones for extended periods of time can help youth reinvent healthier faith narratives
8. STORY SPECIFIC MINISTRY NICHES--
about spiritual gifts connecting with and forming ones personal faith narrative.

Please share your comments and additions as this is a very sketchy rough draft outline

More quotes for today

The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax--
Einstein

If men shall not be governed by the Ten Commandments they shall be governed by the ten thousand commandments--
Chesterton

The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of governemnt in the next--
Abraham Lincoln

In literature as in love, courage is half the battle--
Sir Walter Scott

He who superficially trims his temptations and does not pull them out by the root accomplishes little--
Thomas a Kempis

It is in disordered fears and empty fears that all disquiet of heart and distraction of mind have their orgin--
Thomas a Kempis

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Calvin and Boyd--Free Will and Predestination

After starting with Calvin in the fall of 1998, I am only about three-quarters through Battles' first volume of a two volume translation. I have to read it slow.
Strangely enough, I occasionally also dabble in reading Greggory Boyd and John Sanders as they talk about Openness Theology, which is either Wesleyan theology on steroids or Process Theology lite. I find reading both of them compelling at times.

I have been thinking of both the options of predestination and free-will as truths that need to be held in tension. Especially as we look at them more pragmatically. The idea of free will is a gift to us because it teaches us the truth of personal responsibility. We need to know that we will be held responsible for our actions. One day we will be held accountable for whether we choose to surrender our lives to Christ or not. The theology of free-will teaches us this.

On the other hand, predestination teaches us some very important things as well. Most importantly, we learn that God is in charge. Also, we learn that whatever good we do, whatever good we have, it is only because of God's compassion and grace. We do nothing to earn or deserve God's favor, and our very ability to freely choose God comes from God and is dependant on God.

Maybe these paradoxical truths are there less to show us the facts about God as they are to show us how to relate to God.

Just a thought.....

More quotes for today

If you have an important point to make, dont try to be subtle or clever. Use the pile driver. Hit the point once, then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time, a tremendous whack.
--Churchill

Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese--
Chesterton

Man will occasionally stumble onto the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on.
Churchill

Courage is not having the strength to go on; it is the going on when you dont have the strength. Industry and determination can do anything that genius and advantage can do, and many things that it cannot.--
Roosevelt

Real friendship is shown in times of trouble; prosperity is full of friends--
Abraham Kuyper

Mercy has converted more souls than eloquence,or learning or all of them together.--
Kierkegaard

The Love Story

This is part 3 of last week's sermon.

God Loves This World

In his book, Love Beyond Reason, John Ortberg tells us a story about his sister Barbie and her doll, Pandy. Pandy is a rag doll. Now when Pandy was new, she was a very cute, brand new little doll. She had a plastic face that was pretty, and she had a body made of nice clean cloth that was nice to play with, cuddle up to, and hold.

Now Pandy was Barbie's favorite doll, so Barbie took Pandy everywhere with her. When Barbie went outside, Pandy was drug through the dirt. When Barbie went to eat, Pandy ate beside her. When Barbie got angry at her parents or brothers and sisters, or when her heart was broken by her friends teasing her or rejecting her, Pandy heard it first. When Barbie was sad or scared or sick, she held Pandy extra tight. When Barbie went to bed, her doll Pandy sat at her pillow. Infact, sometimes Pandy became the pillow.

The story goes that once the family when on vacation, and had driven for most of the day when the family realized that Pandy had been left behind in a Canadian hotel. Barbie�s father turned around and went and got the doll. They barely got there in time. After searching the whole hotel, they found the rag doll right before it was to be washed to death in with all the hotel linens.

Now this rag doll through the years was not as neat as clean as when Barbie had first gotten her doll. The doll that once had a pretty face, now had a face that was scuffed and scratched and stained. Where there were once two shiny eyes, the rag doll now only had one. Likewise the body of the rag doll had collected years worth of dirt and stains. The rags that once evenly filled her now made Pandy lumpy and less substantial. But she was still dragged around by Barbie well into junior high.

At sometime as Barbie got older, she as Ortberg put it "traded in Pandy for her first boyfriend named Andy". Pandy was put into a box, where Barbie's mother kept her for a while.

Eventually Barbie had a child. That child wanted a doll. And for Barbie, there was no other option for her daughter. She went up into the attic and found the box. She took Pandy to a doll reconstruction hospital in California and made her new again so that Pandy could once again be a member of the family.

As Barbie�s brother said, "She did not love Pandy because she was beautiful, she loved her with the kind of love that made her beautiful."

Most of you have individual troll dolls near you. They have different costumes. They have different nationalities and ethnic backgrounds. To be honest they are homely little dolls. In many ways they could be in much the same position that Pandy was. I gave them to you as a reminder. That you can take them with you and have them as reminder of the way that God loves you. Like Barbie loves Pandy.

As point one tells us, We are all just like the woman caught in adultery and the rag doll. Infact, the love that Barbie loved Pandy with is only a shadow of the love that God loves you with. But God�s love works in a very similar fashion. God does not love you because of anything you did. He does not love you because you somehow deserve it. He loves you because he made you. He loves you because you are his. Love is never something you earn or deserve..from anyone. It is always a miracle. It is always a grace thing.

The Bible is full of evidence that God loves you as an individual. God�s word tells us that he died for us while we were hating him. Can you believe that? Did you know Psalm 139 says that when you rise God is there. When you sleep God is there. Watching you. Reaching out for you. Acts 17 says he is never far from us. Matthew says that he has the hairs on our head numbered. The Bible is clear that he always is there to listen when we want to talk to him. He blesses us like crazy when we walk near to him, and he abandons everything to chase after us when we run away from us. Like the father whose son took the family riches and ran away from home, he looks of in the distance eagerly awaiting our return home. Our home of being in relationship with Him.

Some of you are here because a loved one drug you here. Some of you are here because religion is generally a good thing. God loves you so much he wants more for you. But your being here is not an accident.

He wants you to choose Him and to accept his love for you. He wants you to surrender your life to him. To love him forever and live with him forever.

We are coming to a time in our service now where we renew our relationship with Christ. If you are just now deciding to trust Christ, you can make the Lord�s Supper the first step in your commitment.

Now let us sing a song celebrating the love God has for us.

The Rescue

Part 2 of Last Sundays sermon--again keep in mind this is designed to be spoken more than read.

I broke up the big story into three small stories within the story of God's love. The first was called Epic, this is called Rescue, and the last is called Love Story.

The Rescue

Let�s face it. We have a lot of preconceived notions about �the world� and people in it. I grew up hearing about "the world" as a bad place from people I went to church with. Certainly there is reason for this. We are commanded to keep ourselves unpolluted from the world. We realize that as long as we are in �this world� we will have pain and hardship. We realize that there are times that the world hates us just as it hated Jesus. Nevertheless, we also see that Jesus loves the world in John 3. We see in Matthew 28 that God sends us into ALL the world to tell EVERY creature about him. It is THEN that God�s presence will be among us according to the Great Commission.

Yet, often times in the church our preconceived notions deceive us. As overhead point 1 shows us, we tend to think those of us in the church as better than those outside the church. We become like the Pharisees. We think that our ability to put on a good show for God on Sunday morning endears us to him. We think that the fact that our ethics conform to the standards of our small community and the evangelical Christian subculture makes us better people. Yet, we are a community of people that have been or are being rescued, not a community of people who have it all together. As the old saying goes, we are just spiritual beggars who know where to go to find bread.


Furthermore, we tend to think of the world as a BAD PLACE instead of a place GOD LOVES. Let me repeat overhead point 2. We tend to think of the world as a BAD PLACE instead of a place GOD LOVES. So what do we do? We put a label on those outside of the family of God or less than, and that in turn decreases our sense of urgency to reach out and love others. We look at people having problems and say to ourselves and others they deserve it, forgetting that if we got what we deserve.

Jesus had a different attitude. He was the King of Kings, and he was born out of wedlock to teenage girl in a barn. That took radical love for this earth. He created the whole earth, yet was a refugee in his own country. He did blue collar work at a job that required hard labor, but did not pay much. When, for all eternity past he had all the angels at his service in heaven. That takes love. He so loved the world that he came to live on earth. He lived among us. He went to the seedy clubs on the bad end of town and spent time with whores, drunks, traitors, and terrorists. He lived as a homeless man during his ministry, and depended on handouts from tax-collectors for dinners at times. That took humility.

The church leaders of the time didn�t like all that. So they tried to shame him for violating all the church traditions. When that did not work, they tried to trick him into embarrassing himself. That did not work. So they conspired to kill Jesus. So they arrested him, took him to a cross, and killed him. By doing so they silenced him and thought they had won. But it was not so! They fit right into Jesus� plan. As slide 3 says. Jesus died to save and redeem us. To save and redeem us. And this is what Jesus gets to in John 3. It is clear this is his mission from the beginning. To love to world by dying on a cross so that each person would have an opportunity to spend eternity with Him. In John he says he will be lifted up on a pole.

What does save mean? I think of the Old Westerns where the guy we are all rooting for is about to be executed by hanging. Suddenly at the last moment his friends came riding into town. They cut off the rope, or shoot it off, and he runs, jumps on a horse to get out of town. He has escaped death. He has been saved from his impending doom. He does that for the world.

The word redeem has the connotation of buying a slaves freedom for them. And the whole world without Christ setting us free are slaves to sin. But redeem also refers to land. One way I think about redemption is a golf course I used to play on. At one time in its history the land that the course lays on was a landfill�at least the front 9. It was recreated into a beautiful golf course. Deer and bunny rabbits run across it. It is beautiful. The course goes uphill and slowly across the field of green you see mountains. Somebody redeemed that part of earth from garbage to something valuable and useful, with a hope and a purpose. Jesus wants to do a similar thing. He wants that type of change to happen to the whole world. He calls to movement to make this happen the kingdom of God.

Even as we look to the end of revelation, we see that this world is not abandoned. God miraculously makes a new heaven and a new earth. The kingdom comes on heaven as on earth as the Lord�s Prayer asks of God. All of earth is annexed by heaven and made into God�s territory. Jesus did all that because he loves the world.

John 3 has a hard word for us. It says that some will be condemned. Why? Scripture is clear. They don�t want to be a part of the kingdom of God. They have preferred darkness to light as John says it.

What is our purpose as the church? To love people to the light. God calls us to love the world like he does. To love our communities like he does. To love lost and low individuals like he does.

As a matter of fact, Starting with the Great Commission God tells us to orient our whole church toward loving the world. Our whole church purpose, goals, resources should go toward loving the world outside of our little group that meets here as members. Trying to be a growing healthy church with all your friends and social life centered on the people you meet in religious settings and church activities makes as much sense as trying to find your future spouse at a family reunion. Relationships get confused, and healthy new life is greatly jeopardized.

God tells us to go into the world. Over and over again you see God�s people and the world blessed AS WE GO out into the world. Loving the world. With compassion instead of judgment. With hope instead of fatalistic resignation that things will never change. Why do you think mission trips are so powerful in changing the world? Because we are united with Jesus when we are going into the world, loving the world. Can you imagine what would happen if we started loving the world that we live in every day? Can you imagine what would happen to our churches if we thought of them as mission central to reach out in love to a community that is desperate for a church that both has Biblical convictions and loves people whoever they are without judgment and condescension? We must choose. We can choose to be a social club doing nice things. Or we can be the church.

The church goes out; starting in the world they live in�their community, then the world around them, then to the end of the earth. That is what Acts says. That is what God�s word says. That is the lifeblood and the heartbeat of a healthy church.


Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Fire

Abbot Lot came to Abbot Joseph and said: Father according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation and contemplative silence; and according as I am able I strive to cleanse my heart of thoughts: now what more should I do? The elder rose up in reply and stretched out his hands to heaven and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire. He said: Why not be totally changed into FIRE?
(from Wisdom of the Desert by Thomas Merton)

Monday, 23 November�..From about half past ten at night until about half past midnight��
FIRE
GOD of Abraham, GOD of Isaac, GOD of Jacob
not of the philosophers and of the learned.
Certitude. Certitude. Feeling. Joy. Peace.
GOD of Jesus Christ.
My God and your God.
Your GOD will be my God.
Forgetfulness of the world and of everything, except GOD.
He is only found by the ways taught in the Gospel.
Grandeur of the human soul.
Righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you.
Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.
(Blaise Pascal�s Memorial, sewn in coat near heart, found upon his death)
God, I pray thee, light these idle sticks of my life and may I burn for Thee.�
(Jim Elliot�s journal�later martyred as a missionary in Ecuador.)

I grew up in logging country. I remember that everywhere I looked as a child there were trees and farmland. My mother�s side of the family homesteaded along the Umpqua River in Douglas County, just a little north of Roseburg, OR in a small unincorporated town called Melrose. It was and is beautiful country. Evergreen trees are everywhere as you head up the hills. Forest fires are real possibilities in Oregon, just like they are in Colorado. As a matter of fact, the forest service creates fires in certain areas, especially areas that are less harvested by logging companies. These fires are called control burns. Even if Smokey the Bear does his work and keeps men and women from creating forest fires, fires are created by lightning during summer thunderstorms.
As a matter of fact, forest fires are essential to the health of the forest. It is hard to fathom, but it is the truth. We tend to think of health as stability. Yet, true health in communities of animals and plants in the forest is about new life and growth. A forest gets dense, and it becomes so choked with living things that there is no room for new life. Organisms begin to die due to both disease and attrition. The forest begins to die. A fire comes. And while a fire may not be easy on a forest, the fire saves the forest and the living things that depend on it. My uncle in Oregon has recently gotten into hunting mushrooms. Do you want to know where the mushroom harvest is plentiful? Mushroom hunting is best in the second growth forests between Tillamook (known for its cheese) and Portland Oregon that had a major forest fire about 45 years ago.
As Christian communities and individuals we often strive to survive instead of thrive. We want to maintain the status quo instead of grow. We say "we have never done it that way before" or "I am not sure I comfortable with trying something new." If left to ourselves, we will destroy the church. All you have to do is look through history. So I will be praying for fire in your individual lives and in the life of First Baptist. I will be asking for the FIRE of the work of the Holy Spirit among us, igniting passion, mission and new life. I will also be asking God to fan the flames of holy passion in my life as well�.so that I do not look back and see that what once burned so brightly is now just a few dimly glowing coals. Fire can be messy and unpredictable and go in all sorts of directions you never expect. But the power of the fire of the Holy Spirit is what strengthens, purifies, recreates, and renews.
The first quote from the Desert Fathers makes an important point. For the fires of renewal and new life to come into our lives, we need to let God have his way with all of ourselves. Half-hearted propriety and moderation must be incinerated by a passionate trust and a blazing hope. Like Pascal, it will move us from being fans of the gospel to participants in the gospel. Like Jim Elliot, it will focus and define our lives individually and corporately.
Come Holy Spirit and Blaze Among Us!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Epic (World in John Sermon Part 1)

This is the first part of the message. It is written more for speaking than reading at points.

EPIC


For several months I have been thinking about the world in John. Specifically, started by just thinking on and pondering the word "world" in John 3:16. The verse goes as follows, "For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life" (King James Version). In my life I have heard a lot about John 3:16 in reference to forming a personal relationship with Christ, and my personal value to God. And, that is definitely a part of what John 3 is all about. But in John 3 there is also a global concern, a concern for all humanity as a collective group. When I was younger, I was encouraged to where the word "world" came in to substitute my name. This taught me an important truth, a truth we will discuss toward the end of this message. But specifically I started thinking about what it meant that God loved THE WORLD.

As I continued to think on this I started to read the Gospel of John starting in chapter 1. I came to realize that I heard the word "world" a lot in the gospel of John. It actually shows up 69 times through the gospel. Sometimes Jesus is critical of the world. Jesus is real about the difficulties in the world. Yet, in the gospel of John one of the overarching themes is that God loves the world. God has a purpose for the world. In fact, the world John uses for the world is cosmos. The word cosmos shows God�s global concern for the well-being of the entirety of creation. It is not a coincidence, then, when we see that is where John starts us off at in the Gospel of John. The Creation of earth.

John 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God". This immediately refers us to Genesis, and the beginning of creation. And, we can see the God�s love is first evident in the Garden of Eden. God creates in a process of days�however you interpret that�and at the end of each day God says what�he says "it is good". God creates. He loves what he creates. He is glad he created what he created.

Soon though, we see that God�s desire to love us in made more difficult by our desire to sin. Adam and Eve, whose job was to be in relationship with God and obey him, decided that they wanted to play God by having the knowledge of good and evil. They fruit of the tree that they were forbidden to eat, convinced by the serpent that God did not have their best in mind. The force of sin in the world was set in motion. Like a snowball, sin that started out looking like a small and insignificant pebble gains size and momentum until it is like a boulder rolling downhill, destroying everything in its path. Brother kills brother in a jealous rage. Then jealousy and pride drive men to kill more and more. By the time we get to Noah, the bible says that every thought of men were bent toward evil. It also that the world was becoming a very violent place. In other words, after Adam and Eve, sin the world begins to become more and more of an influence.


At the same time in the garden of Eden we see Satan at work. It is not long before we come to realize that there is a battle in the world. From then on we see that the universe is at war. Satan and other angels that have rebelled against God begin to incite an epic battle with God for the souls of women and men.

Back in John, the battle is described, much like in Star Wars, as the evil forces being the "dark side" and "darkness". While Christ is referred to as the light. John 1:5 is shows the battle starting right away and continuing through time, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness could not overcome it." Unlike Star Wars, often people surrender to the dark side passively. They go with the flow of evil in the world. Like cancer, sin and evil kills because it grows and reproduces. This is especially true when it lies undetected and un-removed from its host. Eugene Peterson describes the situation as follows, �God is for heaven and against hell. There is no neutral ground in the Universe. Every square foot of space is contested.�

So, God decides to mobilize a liberation force. It is made up of people he finds receptive. We see that God enlists for himself a community of people to be �lights to the world�. God sets apart Abraham and his decendants so that he can bless the world through them. God�s goal from the beginning was to love and bless the world. So, God loved the world enough to set up a community of people that were called to show God�s love for all humanity through them. John Eldridge, a Colorado Springs based writer and counselor puts it this way.

Things are not what they seem
The world is at war
Each of us has a crucial role to play

We see God fighting for the world he loves over and over again through Scripture�in the Old Testament primarily through the Hebrew people.

Here are some examples

Joseph--God uses Joseph and the Hebrew people to bless all of Egypt during a time of worldwide famine.

Danie--God uses and blesses the people around him in Babylon. He uses Daniel to show his justice, truth and power to those who Daniel served and served with.

Jona--God sends him to the heart of the evil empire, this time the Assyrians. He preaches in Nineveh. Jonah wants them killed and for Israel to be special all to itself. God wants to save those in other nations and other parts of the world.


Throughout Scripture, there continues to be a remnant of faithful people set on being lights to the world. Then the world comes down to a remnant of one with a special mission�..

More quotes for today

We are always getting ready to live, but never living--
Emerson

Where courage is not, no other virtue can survive except by accident--
Samuel Johnson

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.
Theodore Roosevelt

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but becasue by it I see everything else.
C.S. Lewis

from Patches of Godlight by Jan Karon

THE WORLD IN JOHN PART 2

By the way thanks to each of you who on this blog helped me think through the sermon I preached last Sunday.

I will post that soon too, so that I can continue to have your thoughts and input.

FYI--the sermon was preached in three parts, each part named after a different type of story to combine to tell the metastory of God's love through history.

You gotta crawl before you walk

As many of you out there know, I became an uncle this year. My sister had two baby boys. As a result of my uncle status, I have become more aware of child development issues. On of the things that scientists have been saying lately is that in order to have proper physical and mental development, you have to walk before you crawl. If these things dont happen in a certain order, many doctors now believe you will struggle with both coordination and learning challenges when you get older.

I realize that this is fairly new science, and not everyone will agree. What I do wonder about though, is if a similar process of development happens on the Christian journey. Does spiritual development happen through a particular process, as folks like Dallas Willard and Rick Warren might say it does? Or does spiritual growth happen in a less predictable pattern, more particular to the person? If spiritual growth were plotted on a chart, generally would it look more like a gradual consistent incline, stairsteps (flat line punctuated by periods of great growth), or like the stock market (up, down, all over the place)? (my experience tells me most like stairsteps--with a combo of all 3).

Also, interesting is the relationship between our physical lives and our spiritual lives. I don't think we can make straight line value judgements, but I would say there is a definite relationship between the two. They are entertwined. Spiritual lives are embodied and incarnated in human form in one way or another. But perhaps that is best left for a future blog.....