Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's been a good day today.

I had a wonderful meal with my mom and dad, and my brother Josh. Sadly Eric didn't make it because he had to work.

I also had a fantastic time getting to know my dad's side of the family a little better. We've been pretty disconnected for... well most of my life. But today I got the opportunity to just hang out and they are really great people. My Aunt Terry even said that she had a great time getting to know me because she's never had the opportunity to get to know me (and give me pudding shooters).

That's one of the things that has been on my heart for a while now. I just want to build relationships with them. Today was a step in the right direction.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ecclesia kai Basileia tou Theou

The Forgotten Ways, pgs 40-41

What are the irreducible minimums of a true expression of ecclesia? We came up with the following -- a church is:

  • A covenanted community: A church is formed people not by people just hanging out together, but ones bound together in a distinctive bond. There is a certain obligation toward one another formed around a covenant.
  • Centered on Jesus: he is the new covenant with God and he thus forms as the true epicenter of an authentica Christ-ian faith. An ecclesia is not just a God community -- there are many such religious communities around. We are defined by our relationship to the Second Person of the Trinity, the Mediator, Jesus Christ. A covenanted community centered around Jesus participates in the salvation that he brings. We recieve the grace of God in him. But, more is required to truly constitute a church.

A true encounter with God in Jesus must result in

  • Worship, defined as offering our lives back to God through Jesus.
  • Discipleship, defined as following jesus and becoming inccreasingly like him (Christlikeness).
  • Mission, defined as extending the mission (the redemptive purposes) of God through the activities of his people.

It needs to be noted that practically as well as theologically these are profoundly interconnected, and each informs the other to create a complex phenomenon called "church." This definition is important because it distills the core aspects of what constitutes a faith ecclesia. Graphically represented it might look something like this:

(I couldn't find the actual model online, nor could I scan it, so I had to recreate it myself.)

So basically... I'm pretty sure that I read about a concept similar to this in another really good book I read. :-)

The Tangible Kingdom, pgs 147-148

During a recent international consultation on "community" that brought together monastic orders, house church, submonastic orders who work among the poor, and "normal" joes like us who get to thrash out church in the Western suburbs, the entire group realized that everyone shared, in some form or fashing, three primary aspects of incarnational life. As illustrated in Figure 18.1, they are communion, community, and mission. (once again, had to recreate the model)

Communion represents "oneness -- those things that make up our communal connction and worship of God. Community represents aspects of "togetherness" -- those things we share as we forn our lives together. And mission represents "otherness" the aspects of our life together that focus on people outside our community. We believe that whenever you see a group of people who find a rhythm or balance among communion, community, and mission, you will always find the Kingdom. It will be tangible!

I read The Tangible Kingdom this summer and I highly reccoment it, but I just picked up the Forgotten Ways and I'm working my way through it, Alan Hirsch's writing tends to be very systematic, and I struggle through those types of books, but with what I've read so far (and with what I've read in The Shaping of Things to Come) the content tends to be good.

I want to see this picture of God's Kingdom realized.

If you want to build a ship, don't summon people to buy wood, prepare tools, distribute jobs, and organize work, rather teach people the yearning for the wide boundless ocean.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Someone did that for me, and I want to help create a yearning in others to live in the Kingdom.

We're so close, it's almost tangible...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Basic Conflict Avoidance Theory: Communication

You know... some people are easy to read, and some aren't. The people who are easy to read are predictable, they follow the patterns of most other people. When you find a person who doesn't follow those same social patterns, then you have someone who is hard to read until you learn what makes that person tick.

So let's think about this for a moment... If you have someone who is hard to read (because they don't follow the same patterns) then it follows logically that if someone says or does something, then the interpretation of those words or actions should not be interpreted in accordance with the same pattern that the person does not follow!

And thus the basis of conflict between some individuals.

In conclusion:

If you know I'm hard to read, don't be an idiot. If something I say or do is questionable, ask me about it and don't make stupid assumptions!
Communication is key.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Birthday's and Good Ideas

Happy Birthday Andrea!!!
Andrea's birthday was on the 15th.

Happy Birthday Josh!!!
Josh, my brother, his birthday is today.

and Happy Birthday me... in 10 days. My birthday is on Black Friday.

On another note:

What a great idea:
"Several Valparaiso churches are banding together in an effort to provide emergency shelter for homeless men. This is a major undertaking, so we began with a ?test run? in February and March of 2008. Now we are taking the knowledge gained from this pilot project and developing a program to run from the beginning of October 2008 to the end of March 2009. Each night, the men are provided with dinner, a place to sleep, breakfast, and a sack lunch. They sign in from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm and leave by 7:00 am. The location rotates among the different host churches, with each church taking one night of the week. This allows us to express hospitality using already existing facilities, while not overburdening any one church. Men in need of housing can simply come to the appropriate site (with ID) to be admitted."

Monday, November 10, 2008

I'm dropping out of school to become a Country Music Star.

This has been a very hard semester. There has been a lot that has been going on, too much going on.

But it's all going to change because i've made my decision. I talked with mom and dad and we made the decision together.

I've filled out the paperwork, I've talked with almost all of the necessary people, I got the signatures I need, did my exit internview, and I'm packing up and getting ready to check out... There's a lot to do before Thursday. (Mom and Dad have arranged to pick me up on Thursday at noon).

It's overwhelming because people keep asking me questions, asking me why... and I don't want to answer anymore questions. I don't want to talk about it to anyone anymore.
I had to get 7 signatures and each person asked me why I'm leaving. On the paper I filled out, I had to put my reason for leaving. Each time I just wanted to say "What's it to you?"

I've tried to tell the few friends here that I'm semi-close with that I'm leaving and they objected, got teary eyed, and then insisted that we have to have one last hurrah before I go home. I'm not going to make the claim that it's nice to know I will be missed because I know that next week when I'm gone, their schedules will resume like normal and it will be as though I was never here.

I just want to disappear. I want to slip from the memory of this school as though I were never here. I don't want people to ask what happened to me or where I am or why i'm leaving.

One of the really good things that have happened is that both my advisor and the academic dean for the youth ministry program were very understanding and let me go with blessings. I don't know if they saw it coming or not, but I've kept in touch with them almost everything that has happened this semester.

By the way, I'm not planning to become a country music star. I've just been threatening to drop out of school and become a country music star since I was a freshman, so I thought the title would be fitting. :-)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Treasures in Heaven

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but stores up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19-20)

What are the treasures then that we are storing up in heaven?

I wonder how many people have ever really taken time to think about that, to ask the question. I wonder if Scripture even gives us a clear answer to what the treasures we are storing actually are.

What if the treasures that we store up in heaven are our friends and family. What if the treasure is seeing the people we love make it to heaven. How would that effect our lives and actions and the way we do ministry?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We live like we don't need God.

I have no desire to be here (at Bethel). I have no desire to finish my degree. But it's not just a lack of desire, I desire to be somewhere else. I desire to be doing something besides what I'm doing right now.

What's to be said for a change of heart? If I stay at Bethel I what do I gain? If I leave, what do I lose? On the other hand... What do I gain by leaving? What do I lose by staying?

Here we go again.

What is gained if my ministry stays in the church? What is lost? Doing youth ministry doesn't necessarily mean that I have to do ministry in the walls of a building... but I wonder how much more effective ministry would be if I just did life with people... The way Halter and Smay describe it in The Tangible Kingdom.

No programs. No agenda. Just life.

I want that.

What purposelessness overtakes my present plan. Why?

I want to live spontaneously. I want to live the daring adventure of being totally sold out for Christ. I want to be radical, off the wall, fully committed to the God I love.

I don't want to have a back up plan...

You know what breaks my heart? We... as Christians, or American Christians... or I don't even know... don't have it in us to live radically.

Is it a faith issue?

Why are we so addicted to security?

I'm not seeking that we should be irresponsible, only that we should live in radical dependence on God, and we don't.

If Scripture says:
"Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" (Matthew 6:26)

Why do we have savings accounts? Why do we have emergency funds? Why do we have life insurance? Why do we save up for retirement?

If Scripture says:
"Very truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father." (John 14:12)

Why is it that we don't even try to heal the sick or to cast out demons or move mountains? Jesus goes on to say, right after this very passage: "I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it." (John 14:13-14)

If Scripture says:
"Jesus answered him, 'You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above...'" (John 19:11)
Why are we so flippin' worried and horrified that Obama is going to be our next president? Even if another Hitler should rise up, what is that to us? If we know Christ then we know what we ought to do. We need to pray for our leaders. We need to pray for our country. We need to share the love of Christ with the world.

You know... Sometimes God doesn't seem real to me. Sometimes, at best, he seems absent and univolved. But I think that's because I live as though I don't need him. He is the genie who might grant my wish if I pray long enough, hard enough, and do the right stuff.

I'm so tired of that kind of living. I want to really, truly live like I need God in my life, because I do, and I wish there were other people who would do the same. I wish there were other people around me who would committ to living radically.

I don't think many people realize that their faith does effect others around them.
I don't know if this blogpost is really going anywhere right now. I just know that something has got to change.