Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Tuesday times 1.5

1-My uncle died yesterday. He was 92. He died from pneumonia. I know it's morbid, but I think that's a good thing--to be 92 and to not die from cancer.... He's the one in the middle, about 40 years ago. My favorite memory with him was going to see his sawmill. And, he had a very cool basement. The pretty lady is Mom's big sister.
2-Someone from our church called me today (Whitney). She's writing a drama to support the sermon I'm giving on Feb. 19. I think that is amazing. At the end of the day, my passion is communication. It's the same for the creative team. How do we best communicate what we believe God wants us to say? Kewl.

3-We started reading missions applications today. 7th graders are so easy to love. We asked, "How would you lead someone to Christ?" One said, "I might do it on the bus or at lunch. I might use the bridge trick with two Coke cans and some foil." We'll probably re-write that question for next year!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Tuesday Two

1-Churchmarketingsucks.com just ran an article on an experiment from the UK where secular marketers were challenged to promote church attendance. While some things were predictable, there is a wealth of insight in their findings and observations. My favorite is this gem:
If a church can get in touch with Jesus' teachings rather than just ritual, so people actually live it out-that would appeal to me. I think people are also looking for a clear message that they could apply to their daily lives," says Wilcock.
To paraphrase, "If a church could act like Jesus, we could sell that."

2-I started reading Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell this weekend (in my spare time, right after that last post ;-)). In the first chapter he uses two analogies to enter a discussion about modernism (bricks) and postmodernism (springs). He does it so gently that defenses don't go up and he never uses the words modern or postmodern. Although the core tenets of postmodernism are antithetical to Christianity, so were many of the beliefs of modernism that we swallowed. Regardless of whether or not we buy into it, our culture has changed. There are good articles on postmodernism here. Notice this summation by Stanley Hauerwas, a prominent Christian ethicist:
I confess I take perverse delight as a theologian in the controversies surrounding postmodernism. Modernity sought to secure knowledge in the structure of human rationality, and relegated God to the "gaps" or denied Him all together. Modernity said that God is a projection of the ideals and wants of what it means to be human so let us serve and worship the only God that matters-that is, the human. Postmodernists, in the quest to be thorough in their atheism, now deny that the human exists. Postmodernists are thus the atheists that only modernity could produce.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


It's on the new David Crowder CD. Listen for it. He says, "the elements of worship are inadequate." It's quite a thought--he compares worship to our drawings of the atom. They are inadequate, but they are the best we can do. We simply cannot draw something that we barely even understand, so we draw what we understand: two dimensions and nice circles.

In 3 weeks, I get to speak to Bent Tree about our values and their relationship to a new, postmodern culture and generation. My efforts will be inadequate. I'm well into the plan and the scripture, but I have no answers for what must happen in the church for it to truly speak to my generation and those that follow. As a friend said last week, "I know what we are doing isn't the answer." And yet, we don't yet know the answer.

Our generation grew up in divorced homes; now we demand time off for family. Our generation grew up without the internet; now we direct it internationally. But we aged too quickly, and those below us have moved in. We look much like them, but something happened. Somewhere during our birth, the world began to shift. Modernism began to lose its grip. Postmodernism reared its head. Between us and the next generation, it took over. We are a legacy generation. We bridged the gap. We look postmodern and yet we are not fully so--the ideas were still forming as we grew.

And the church didn't notice. As postmodernism raised its voice, the church shouted. And as it shouted, it was ignored. Many among us still don't notice. They see the changes in culture and hold onto a belief that America will return to her roots. America will not return. The philosophical underpinnings of the age of reason that birthed her have died. The worldview that once provided a basis for the logic that governed our legal system, our ethical system and our moral base has passed. Authority is no longer assumed. And neither is religion. Where once we could not fathom a sincere ethical basis without a divine foundation, we now listen closely to men like Peter Singer and his atheistic pragmatism. Where life was once sacred, it is now merely life. Mere commodity.

In that culture, which many have failed to even recognize, the church must once again learn to speak. It has to move past the assumptions that have fallen. It must find itself again--not in the liberality of emotion and mysticism, but in the bedrock faith in a risen savior, eternal son of the triune God. We must find our footing in that which does not move. Something truly ancient.

In 3 weeks I get to explain to our church that the church will have trouble with us and even more trouble with those who follow. We love the church and yet we don't understand it. It is inadequate and we know it, but we're not very forgiving. I think James understood this. I think he had lived through a worldview that collapsed and then used his ministry to redefine the church--to release it to the gentiles. You'll have to listen to see why I believe that, but in the end, it's not an answer. It's inadequate. But maybe it's all we have. Maybe that 's the point.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Fire and Brimstone

I reckon that very few ever truly come to love God as he is. Maybe I'm wrong. Jonathan Edwards was big on this. He made sure to occasionally address the reality of hell and he did so graphically. He liked to posit the image of God from Isaiah 63.3-4:
"I have trodden the winepress alone;
from the nations no one was with me.
I trampled them in my anger
and trod them down in my wrath;
their blood spattered my garments,
and I stained all my clothing.
For the day of vengeance was in my heart,
and the year of my redemption has come
It's not the language we like to hear, and yet it is God himself speaking to us. Because we ignore it, we have allowed the skeptics and atheists to own these passages and now even find them embarrassing (example).

It struck me today at lunch with Paul--all those images from the Tsunami last year and the harbors full of bodies... What did it look like outside the ark? I imagine that the population was smaller, but I'm sure that the currents sometimes concentrated the flotsam. Perhaps, God held them in the boat for a year in order for the disease to subside. It was unspeakable carnage, and yet it was God himself writing the story.

As the church, we must tell the story as it is. God has no need for our embarrassment. Only when we see him as He is do we ever really see Him. The love stands side by side with his wrath. He's much more like Aslan than George Burns or Morgan Freeman.

For Tomorrow:
1-Here are pictures and video of all the animals on Earth.
2-Here's how to be funny. It works...
2.5-Others have greatly influenced my thinking above, including Glenn Kreider and Jeff Bingham.