it is harder to live in grace, than it is to live in law
it is harder to forgive, than it is to judge
it is harder to love, than it is to hate
it is harder to include, than it is to exclude
it is harder to engage, than it is to ignore
it is harder to share, than it is to hold
it is harder to accept, than it is to reject
it is harder to welcome, than it is to walk away
it is harder to live in grace, than it is to live in law.
it is harder to live in grace, than it is to live in law
GOD IS NO SOFTY:
Yes, these people are on a deep decline in life -- but keep in mind, that does not make you any better - we are in this together. If you think because others are "so bad," that you are "so good" -- guess again. Every time you point a finger at another person, you have three pointing back at you. It’s the old saying, “It takes one to know one.” What I have always found interesting is that the one who points the finger at others is the one we need to watch out for the most. When someone accuse others, it is a way of escaping accusation themselves. It’s easy to compare ourselves to those in need, those hurting because of life's pains, but how do you stack up next to Christ? we think we are getting away with something, but God knows everything. we can’t hide from God.
Did you think we could point out the problems others have and misdirect God from what we are doing? Or maybe you figured God was such a "nice guy" He would let you off the hook? Man, did you miss the boat on that slap of reality. You need to remember that God doesn't play favorites. While God is just and kind, by no means is God a pushover. God is teaching us, and at times that takes a firm hand to lead us to a totally, radically transformed life.
You might think you're pulling a fast one, but you’re not getting away with anything. Every time we think we can “cut a deal” with God, it is adding to our account. Someday, that account will need to be paid in full and God will take what is His. Don’t forget, in the end God will take what is His. The choice is this -- real life, found in the one true and real God, or bankruptcy found in the god of our culture. What would you select?
If we play in traffic, we are going to eventually get smacked by a truck. It doesn’t matter who your parents are; it doesn’t matter how much better you think you are or what school you attended -- stupid actions have consequences. When we embrace the way God does things, life is so much easier. You see, it doesn’t matter to God who we are, where we’re from, or how long we’ve been a follower. Being a follower of Christ won’t give us a free ride. Just because we’re follower of Christ doesn’t mean God gives us a “stamp of approval” to walk away from His path. God doesn’t care what others say or think about us and our righteousness -- God determines all that for Himself.
Don’t get me wrong; if we sin and we don’t know we’re sinning, God will take that into account. But if we sin knowing we’re sinning, God will take that into account also. Merely hearing God's teachings is a waste of our time if we don't do what He asks of us. Doing, not hearing, is what makes the difference with God.
you have to remember that when those who do not claim to follow the teaching of God walk in His way by instinct, they prove God is real. These people show that God’s grace is not something strange or impossible to follow, but is truth at every level of life, found coded in our DNA. It is something deep inside each and every one of us, a "core of values" if you will, that mirrors God’s love and grace, God's yes and no, God's right and wrong. They will know it more clearly when God acknowledges them for doing His will. The truth of Jesus Christ is found to uphold all these differences, and to guide us in our walk.
YOUR RELIGION WON'T CUT IT:
Just because you were brought up in your families brand of Christ's teachings, don’t think for a second you can just kick back on that religion and take life easy; feeling smug over everyone else because you think you have an inside track to God’s truth. don't think for a second that you are an expert on the best things of God, informed on the latest and greatest doctrine; because you read the latest authors! Ok, here it is for all of you who think you got the inside track, watch out. Just because you think you know God’s story inside and out, and you feel qualified to help others get their lives set in God’s way and help them deal with confused emotions; while you’re going this for others, who is doing this for you? No, I’m very, very serious. While standing and preaching, “Don’t steal!” are you in turn robbing others blind? After all, who would ever suspect a good little Christian like you? The same can be said about some other things, like adultery and idolatry. The reality is this; you can do and say almost anything you want, as long as you hide it with twisted and fancy talk concerning God, His grace, and your inside tracks on the whole deal. The old teachings, “It’s because of the acts of the followers of Christ that those outside are so down on God,” shows us a real problem that isn’t going to go away anytime soon.
Then there is baptism, you know that water ritual that marks us as a follower of Christ. Sure, it's wonderful – but just because you were "dipped" doesn't means you got it all. You still have to live with an eye on God’s grace. Because if you don’t, if you chose to be baptized and follow and you don’t, it’s worse than not being baptized at all. The reverse can also be very true: if you are one of those not baptized who happens to keep an eye on God’s grace then, you are just as good as the baptized -- in fact, I would say better. If you remember anything I write, remember this, it is so much better to keep God’s grace as a person who is not baptized than it is to break it baptized. You have to remember that it’s not the dip in the water, no matter how long, how deep or how often, that makes you a follower of Christ. You become a follower of Christ by who you are inside, a changed life, a desire to follow the teaching set before you. It’s that mark of God on you, not how deep the water is that makes a follower of Christ. Here’s an added bonus, recognition of your walk comes from God, not from legalistic rituals, or others who claim to know better.
a few years ago i posted a "rewrite of book of romans" - i liked it, but felt is was not where what it needed to be. i have been praying over "rewriting the rewrite" for a while, and finally am getting around to it - here is the first chapter.
i have taken the liberty [and i know some will be very angry at me for this] to remove all the "third person" stuff i could think of [not being an english person i am never sure i did it right] - and replace it with first person [either single or plural] - i felt that this would make it more "personal" - i would love to know what you think - so, please leave a comment and share your voice - but be kind :).
Hey, this is Paul, an enthusiastic follower of The Way and of Jesus the Christ coming to you on assignment, with all the backing of the other disciples to share with you all that God is doing, and will do, with His people. I write this letter to all of God's friends in Rome.
God's story contains the thinking of those who God shared with in the past about His Son, you know, the fact that he was related to David and he is the Son of our God. The Spirit of God showed this when Jesus was raised from the dead, showing he was the Christ and our one true Master. Because of this, we received the fantastic gift of life and of spreading the great Story of who Jesus is and what he did for us personally. This gift of forgiving of wrongs and giving us eternal life, in a truly transformed way, made you who you are today, and I greet you with all the love of that gift from God and Jesus the Christ, the one I follow.
First, I have to express my thanks for you just being you. Tons of people are telling me about you and your strong desire to follow the teaching of Jesus. God, who we love, give honor too, and serve each and every day, knows that I talk to Him each and every day, for all of you. What do I talk to God about? I always ask for a clear message, that and the ability to visit you all again. It seems that the longer I am away from you, the deeper my pain. I desire to visit because I see this as a great learning experience: you learning from me, and yes, me learning from you.
It never seems to fail, every time I pack and get ready for a road trip, something happens and I am unable to get going. It's enough to drive you crazy. I know that it would be an incredible experience to get connected with all of you, as it has been for me with so many other towns and communities where I share the teaching of Jesus. As I mentioned before, something always comes up to stop it from happening. But something has always come up and prevented it. What I find most exciting about this faith is that no matter whom I meet, those who are nice or snotty, those who are smart or slow, add to and deepen my understanding of faith and my walk in the Way - each and everyone adds to my faith. That is one of the main reasons I strongly desire to hook up with you as soon s I can, and share and grow in the incredible story given to us by God.
Nothing makes me happier than to share the story of the Way, and the great plan God has for everyone's life. That plan? Trust in God, make a decision to follow Christ and be rescued from all the garbage life is tossing your way. God has this incredible way of getting people on the right path -- right with Him, right with life, right with each other. God's way of hooking people up is found squarely in the reality of His teachings: "Those who let go, and let God really live."
EITHER GOD LEADS, OR WE FALL:
Let's be honest, people [that is you and I] lie, cheat, and steal. When we lie, cheat, and steal, we sometimes think we are pulling one over on God. But God cannot -- and will not -- be ticked. It is in this human condition, [our "self-importance"] where we disconnect with God. But we can reconnect with God at any time by opening our eyes and seeing the plan He has for our lives. We sometimes think we can hide the truth from others; but the reality of this is that followers of the Way have been able to see through such garbage and find God way - all we had to do is look. When we take a deep look at all of what God has done, we always see GodÂ?s hand at work. We see this in the expressions of life, in life eternal, and mostly in the divine mystery of just being. Because of this, excuses don't hold water. You see, we like to play games and cut deals. We knew, and know, God's plan - we have to face it, itÂ?s in our bones -- but we ignore His desires for our life, because we see a quick and limited gain. We pretend to have all the answers, but we simply donÂ?t have a clue. We mix culture with faith and screw it all up every time. Then, when someone says something, we pretend to not know what we're talking about or we misquote Scripture to support our view. Like "Christian Merchants" who peddle "Jesus Junk" in "Christian Bookstores," we are willing to sell it all for some cheap crap we can get from any roadside stand with a smiley face and a "Jesus Loves You" slogan on it.
So in effect, God said, "Cool. If that's what you want to do, go for it." But, it was those actions that caused us to live in a dump, filled with garbage both outside and inside. We kicked out all the good stuff God had for us for a few pennies, some fast times, and maybe a little pleasure. We took the true God and flipped Him for a fake god, and how we just loved and worshiped that fake god. We traded the God who created us for the god who created nothing. It's amazing how little we have, because of how little we give.
But worse was to come. You see, when we disconnected from God, we disconnected from our humanity; that's right, by not knowing God, we did not know ourselves -- men and women mixed their sexual roles and all kinds of sexual abuse started to happen. We confused lust with love -- lust coming from our human-made god, love coming from the one true God. Empty of God, empty of love, we soon found that our lives were empty godless wrecks.
What was the most interesting is that because we didn't even acknowledge God's existence, God didn't acknowledge us either and let us run ragged. Over time it hit the fan big time; people killing, evil running all over the place, stealing what we could get and killing for what we wanted. Gossip and vicious backstabbing were natural for all of us. We became vicious, cruel, mean-spirited, hell bound, lying, backstabbing, and envious creeps who cared for no one but ourselves. No sooner was one lie created than we found a way of creating another. We would get rid of our parents if they got in the way -- we were stupid, slimy, bloodsucking creeps with no redeeming qualities. We knew from the start we were spitting in God's face, but we didnÂ?t care. WhatÂ?s even more amazing is we honored the people who were best at spitting in the face of God.
Washington, D.C., June 27, 2005 - RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY, the award-winning newsmagazine program hosted by Bob Abernethy and produced by Thirteen/WNET, will present a special series on a new movement in Protestant Christianity -- "The Emerging Church" -- to be included in programs distributed Friday July 8 and July 15 to PBS stations nationwide at 5 p.m. ET (check local listings)....link
well, the ball is rolling and we are excited. i have accepted the position as lead pastor of "connection 247" in north carolina (my bud chad hall, of "cool churches" is the current guy on the spot). we will be moving from california to north carolina on july 15th. we have all ready sold our house and purchased a new home in hickory (we have been blogging on it at our family blog), about an hour northwest of charlotte. i will "start" on august 1st, this is going to be very cool.
"connection 247" is a very different kind of church, and is looking to be something that can reach the community for christ in new ways. we are in the process of redesigning an old two story building (an old nightclub called "the quantum" - yup, we even kept the old sign:) ) in the downtown area and are tuning it into a 9,000 square foot "coffee shop/worship center/third place" - with the top 9,000 square feet still being prayed over.
we have a ton of plans, and with the guidance of God and the creative people at connection we will be reaching out of the box, and doing some very cool things for christ.
one of the honest heartfelt calls of tony jones was that we "all get along" for a while, and i would agree - in that, he brings out the idea of streams [given by jay voorhees - who seems to be someone connected with the "E"mergent] and all that was cool - then, people started to ask questions - one of them being "why" - and that seemed to be the problem.
tim bednar asked some very honest, open and direct questions, and in my opinion the questions were not argumentative, at any level. i do not find them pushy, but i think he did speak for many people when he asked some very important questions:
My question is who are you organizing or leading?
Would the emerging church be any different if there had not been a Emergent Convention?
Who exactly is asking to be organized that Emergent feels its a good time to make these structural needs?
now, these are harmless questions that would help place light on the subject, and can help bring about understanding - but, if honest questions are going to be met with anything less then open, honest, gracefilled answers then the conversation is closed. jay voorhees starts his post [entitled, "We Know More Than Tim Bednar"] with this, "Actually, we probably don't know more than Tim, but he's been living for so long off the reputation of his article "We Know More Than Our Pastors" that I couldn't resist the title." bad form bro, and it starts the flavor of the rest of the post - just straight out bad form - the back handed jab was just so not cool. if those who claim to support "E"mergent desire the discussion to breakdown to personal slaps and jabs, and back handed compliments then it is no longer a conversation, and i for one have no desire to be part of anything that is unwilling to be 100% open and transparent - in a kind and graceful way.
jay does ask one question that should be answered, "by the way, which came first, the "emerging church" title, or Emergent Village as a web site?" well, as a drew grad [and an "ex" umc pastor], and someone who has been doing this for a number of years [starting way back when stephen shields started faithmaps] i can say that the idea of "the emerging church" was around long before the site. they did not coin the name.
voiced by john o'keefe on 26.6.05
i am never sure how to deal with hate, on any end. sometimes i think if we ignore them they will go, but they never do; sometimes i think if we expose them they will go away, but they never do. it seems that no matter what we do, we can not stop the hate in the name of christ. but i think showing them for who they are, with their own words, is enough - and people can pick their own path. still, it's hard for me to deal with those who teach hate, discord, anger, judgment, and then set themselves up to be one of the "true teachers and church" of the faith. i mean, christians who speak hate and live a "faith" that is so hatefilled that no love of christ can be seen is just so far beyond my scope of thinking, and so not scriptural, so not God. the weirdest part is that they truly believe that the hate they push "IS" love; it is such a misunderstanding of God's love and grace.
i was recently sent this link from a friend who knows i have a hard time with christians who hate. in his surfing, he came upon this site and he could not believe such a place was real. the scary part, this "church" is real -
"What a horrifying reality, to think you will enter God's presence on the day of your death, but then, come to find out on that day, you were actually deceived, and you find yourself in hell. Such is, and will be, the terror of most who call themselves Christians today (Matthew 7:13-14; Luke 13:24; 2 Peter 2:2). They will find themselves weeping and gnashing their teeth (e.g. Matthew 8:12; 22:1-14; 25;14-30; Luke 13:28).
If you are involved with the kind of Christianity that views the "church of Christ", or Billy Graham, or Rick Warren, or James Dobson, or Pat Robertson, or John MacArthur, or Tony Evans, or Greg Laurie, or Charles Stanley, or Chuck Smith, or Fred Price, or J. Vernon McGee, or Charles Blake, or Chuck Swindoll, or T. D. Jakes, or David Jeremiah, or Charles Spurgeon, or Dave Hunt, or David W. Cloud, or Perry F Rockwood, or Neil Anderson, or Robert Schuller, or Jack Hayford, or Benny Hinn, or Miles McPherson, or Ray Comfort, or Chuck Colson, or C. S. Lewis, or Pope John Paul, or Hank Hanegraaff, or Paul Chappell, or any of the like (or any of the likes on "Christian" TV or radio) as godly men, you are not saved. Why? Because, you are on the broad way (Matthew 7:13; 2 Peter 2:2; 2 Timothy 4:3). You have not the characteristic of Christ's sheep (John 10:5). And, men such as these are wells without water (2 Peter 2:17)." from the home page of the site, with the title "you think your saved, but your not."
voiced by john o'keefe on 26.6.05
i have been thinking a lot about the idea of community for a while. today, tina (my lovely wife) and i were talking about the different kinds of community. recently, because we are moving across country to take on a new ministry, we have been flying a great deal. one every fight, people have shared their life stories with us and others. what about a plane flight causes people to share so deeply? could it be the fact that you will never see the people again? could it be the possibility of a crash that moves us to share? what is it? it is something i will be pondering over the next few weeks - not trying to "find an answer" but to develop more questions.
voiced by john o'keefe on 25.6.05
as a follower of jesus i seek to walk...
in love; where the power of love changes my heart and the hearts of everyone i touch. in the power of love as to place my life below the lives of others, and be willing to give my life for the life of another.
in forgiveness; in the knowledge that if i do not forgive, i will not be forgiven. in the joy, peace, freedom and blessings of forgiving those who have done me wrong, and have harmed me. in praying blessings upon them, and wishing for them only the best this life, and eternal life, has to offer.
in change; knowing that the spirit of God changes me from who i am to who God desires, and that change is inward and not outward. in feeling that i can be more and more like christ each and every day of my life and that i can truly be different then the world around me. in changing my walk to be a walk of positive effect on the world and to help others in their walk as well. to rid my life or harmful and negative emotions that destroy relationships with others and my relationship with God.
in grace; in the pure, love, freedom, power and reaching of grace and not in the bindings of law. i trust in the guidance of the spirit and seek God as that guide. i seek to know how to act with others in kindness and with an up-lifted heart and a positive look at everyone. i seek to judge no one, but to love others as christ love me. i desire to be a "exampler" of my faith in grace and not a "teller" of how to live in law.
in service; where i am willing to place the needs of others over my needs, with a open and authentic heart. where i will be willing to be the servant and serve others with a glad heart and a loving mind. in knowing that all who follow jesus are servants and all are equal. where i am willing to go outside my comfort zone, and into the crap of the world to serve others.
in sharing; knowing that all i have, can be shared with others. that i hold nothing back from those in need because of a selfish motive on my part. where, as a community of faith, we share our food, lives, hearts, shelter, and all we have with those in need.
in justice: in all forms, as part of our life and walk. i seek economic, civil, cultural, environmental, and governmental justice for all people. i seek to work for the equal rights of all people [all people] and to seek changes in our world to embrace differences. to see people from the inside, and not judge people from the outside. i do all this in peaceful ways and never cause harm to person to seek justice for another.
Matthew 3:8-10, 6:25, 6:33, 8:4, 23:9; Mark 1:5; Luke 6:37-38; John 6:27-43, 15:13; Acts 17:30; 1 Corinthians 5:7, 15:52; 2 Corinthians 3:15, 7:11, 13:2; Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8; James 1:21; 1 Peter 2:1; 2 Peter 3:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; Romans 5:20-22, 6:3-5, 12:1-3; 2 Timothy 4:1
voiced by john o'keefe on 24.6.05
i am amazed at how some who claim to be christian use hatred, spite and back biting as signs of the faith. people who, instead of having an open and honest debate desire to insult, shout and belittle those who think different. i find it interesting that some shout that any honest and authentic disagreement is a automatic "us" vs. "them" tag. it is hard to mention the anger they have for the emerging/postmodern without being tagged as a person wanting to fight. while it is frustrating, more so then that - it is so not christian. paul, in ephesians 4:30-32, writes the following, "and do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." while i think many in the emerging are striving hard to keep that scripture to heart, i find that many of those who speak against us do not.
with all this "attacking" from the "emergent no" group it seems hard to think that other "christians" would speak so cruelly to another christian. recently i was asked by a friend to read some of the stuff and share with him what i thought. now, i am not big on reading blogs that are so hurtful and anti-anything, but he was a good friend and he did ask - so i went, and what i found was amazing, and very hurtful.
there was one person [a seemingly a lone voice] called "marc" [i started to read his blog as well, a very cool guy] - is being attacked, not on substance mind you, but on a personal level. now, i am certain marc is a "big boy" and can stand up for himself - as he does, in a very cool and positive way. but what gets me is that i have seen this kind of "debating" before.
the idea is to mix personal attacks and disagreeing on the point, to create some twisted logic that escapes me at all levels. i think they do this as to make it look like they actually have approached the topic. then, when you mention that it's wrong for the personal attacks and you desire to remain on task, they are quick to deny the attacks and place it back on you by saying "why not just answer the questions" - even thought they never asked a question to start with. i have seen this before - been in this before - and it is always evident by the fact that the "discussion" quickly goes off topic.
what i find most interesting is that the "discussion" in the article, and on the discussion of brain's theology, is that it soon turned to personal attacks on brian, and those who support him and even on the twisting of brian's words - and the words of others. they read what they desire; retain only what they wish, and in that selective reading they attack with they think it says, but not what it says. they seem to be arguing themselves, and when you bring that point to their attention, they still demand on arguing their point. for example, one person Sven [another great blog] writes, "I think (from what I've read of Mclaren) the point he's making is that people can convert to Christ without converting cultures. For example, a Saudi Arabian could convert to Christ but could still dress the same, eat the same, speak the same language, like the same art and music, and so on." to which others were quick to rip apart. and as one other calm voice [rick - and yup, love his blog too] supports, he is 100% right.
but i think the heart of the "emergent no" group can be summed up in this statement by "surphing" one of the "voices of the emergent no" group, "Roman Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy are false religions, but this is the whole idea of Emergent--to be all-inclusive (well except for what they deem as too 'colonialistic' or stringent). This is ecumenicism at its best. And this is hardly evangelical. Time Magazine clearly is ignorant of what historically "Evangelicalism" is. Then again, what most call "Christianity" these days is not biblical at all."
well, she is right on one point, "Then again, what most call "Christianity" these days is not biblical at all." so true, and they are called "emergent no."
voiced by john o'keefe on 23.6.05
with the wife (and middle daughter, and mother-in-law) out of town buying a new house in hicory, nc (that's were we are moving to pastor at "connection") and me at home playing "single dad" (and missing my wife greatly) with the "younger" (our 9 year old daughter) today has become a "high holy day." what do i mean by "high holy day?" simply, i take the day off and we get to go to the movies (madagascar) and hang out and eat popcorn and candy; cool deal if you ask me. so, off to the movies we go. i hope this is a cool movie - the "9er" (lauren) has been wanting to see it, as she says, "forever." kids have such a cool concept of time.
voiced by john o'keefe on 23.6.05
when i was a kid, my mother use to keep a "special" room spray in my room - on it was written "monster killer" - and before i went to bed, i would spray the room, closet and under the bed with the stuff - my brothers and i knew it would keep the monsters out and we could sleep all night long, knowing we had killed the monsters.
well, i have a good bud who is striving to do the same with a site called "tame the monster" which, as he says it, is "to provide helpful outlets and resources for you to use your own gifts to make the world a better place, believing that you will be transformed through your own participation."
the spray put me at easy, but the reality is the monsters sill run wild - and if we truly get off our ass' we can "tame the monster." - check them out, and help if you can.
voiced by john o'keefe on 22.6.05
emergent evolution: noun: evolution that according to some theories involves the appearance of new characters and qualities at complex levels of organization (as the cell or organism) which cannot be predicted solely from the study of less complex levels (as the atom or molecule) -- [the blog]
we have changed the name of the "postmodern theology" blog to "emergent evolution" to fit more with what we have in mind. our thought is to be a place where change can happen - and the "spark" of change can find a home. we will be using the defination as a guiding light to what we are about.
voiced by john o'keefe on 22.6.05
first, i want to make clear that i have great respect for tony, brian, chris, doug and the rest over at "E"mergent - heck, i even joined back in the day, but some how fell off the email list :) it's all good, and i still count them as friends, and cohorts in ministry. but i am very leary about this idea of a "national director."
normally, this would not be no big deal, because "E"mergent can do as it likes and lead the people they desire - but in his post, tony has asked that we, "the emerging," unite with this [explained more later]. so, because tony asked that we not argue over "E" and "e" it becomes a discussion that goes deeper then just the "big E."
to me, it has the taste of the "modern church" - the "this is how it is done" mind set of the church so many of us strive to "change." i can't help but think we could have developed a better way of doing it; a better way of "pulling us together." i am not sure why, but we fell into the groove of what has always been done before and we are forming a "parachurch" ministry. we could have developed a new and different way of overseeing the "mechanics" of the beast, yet we fell to the lowest common denominator and simply created another 501(c)(3) where fund raising, marketing, tax breaks and "programs" will soon take hold - while i pray that will not happen, and i pray they seek voices that will stand against such a movement, i am not sure that will be the case, and in that i cry.
In the coming weeks, the Board will nominate a few new members, to be voted on at the annual meeting in February, 2006. Currently, the board consists of Brian McLaren, chair, Ivy Beckwith, Tim Keel, and Chris Seay.
with that i would ask that the board seek diversity in voices, and not fall into the trap of the past "parachurch" movement. select some that are loud, some that are soft and some on the edge. i would pray that they seek to truly represent the voices that claim to be emerging - because if not, they will not speak for even the smallest of us and "E"mergent would become simply a noice in the back of our heads. my prayer is that "the board" does not fall into the trap of the modern evagelical movement and select people who "give the most money" or "who look good."
tony adds this:
(This is why I, for one, reject the dichotomies of "big "E" vs. small "e"" or even ""Emergent" vs. "emerging church"" at this point, these are not helpful differentiations and already show the nascent signs of in-fighting. Let's table these debates for a couple years, OK?)
here is where tony has asked us to unite behind "E"mergent and while i will agree with this, to some degree, i would be remissed if i did not express the fact that the conversation is not as linier as some are seeming to express it - if the voices "selected" do not speak for "the emerging church" (small "e") then we can say that "E"mergent simply desires to speak for all and control the conversation - you need to remember you are calling us to "let it go for a couple of years" so, the ball is in your court. remember that there are many among us who are weary of such power statements because it is unnatural for people who think emerging/postmodern to trust "control." but also know that by your claiming that you expect those who do not see "E"mergent as a part of their voice to support it - no matter what - you are saying you reject those who feel different and at worse you are rejecting the thoughts of others - and that division is not a solid ground to build on.
so, the challanges for "E"mergent, as i see it, are - can you bring us together? are you willing to hear all our voices (even those who disagree with)? can you embrace and celebrate the diversity? are you willing to hear and accept those on voices are on the edge, and can be abrasive (no matter how edgy they may seem)? can you do all this while not creating a "doctrine" or "dogma" that one must sign and agree with?
[this post was edited on 06.21.05 from it's first posting - and it was done to give a better flow to the writing]
voiced by john o'keefe on 21.6.05
one day jesus gathered his disciples and took them to the top of a moutnian. as they started to gathered he looked at each and everyone with a smile on his face. he then turned to them and started to teach them by saying:
"blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. blessed are the meek. blessed are those who mourn. blessed are the merciful. blessed are those who thirst for justice. blessed are you when you are persecuted. blessed are you when you suffer. be glad and rejoice for your reward is great in heaven."
as jesus was speaking the disciples started to talk among themselves;
peter looked around and asked, "are we supposed to know this?"
andrew, looking puzzled, said, "do we have to write this down?"
james, franticly looking for something to write with whined, "will we have this on a test?"
philip, pushing james aside said, "i have no paper."
bartholomew, with a tear in his eye said, "do we have to turn this in?"
while john complained, "the other disciples didn't have to learn this."
matthew, looking up at jesus said, "could you go over this again?
judas, shaking his head said, "what does this have to do with real life?"
just then one of the local pharisees asked to see jesus' lesson plan. he wanted to know the scripture used, and quoted. he also desired to know the hermeneutics used to structure the lesson. he inquired of Jesus, "where is your anticipatory set and your objectives in the cognitive domain?"
Then, Jesus wept.
voiced by john o'keefe on 20.6.05
In the process of moving we are gaining land. Now, that is not a big deal for many people, but by moving across country we are gaining "land" in the new house. While that may seem cool, one needs to remember that now I have to spend Saturday mornings mowing a bigger lawn. What was once done with a nice craftsman push mower, will now take a riding mower. Which brings me to my story.
While looking around our new town we stopped by the local Sears to see what a "riding mower" would cost. While we were there, a couple of sales people came up and wanted to help, which was cool. So, we started to ask questions. Not being from the area, we had a lot of questions. However, before any of my questions were answered, one of the sales people asked how long we had lived in the area. I mentioned that we were interviewing with a church and that if all went well, we would be out at the end of July. With that, the following conversation took place:
"You're a pastor?" he asked (with a big emphases on the "you're")
"Yup." I replied, looking over at Tina.
"Where are you interviewing?
"We are talking with Connection." (By the way, this is the best church in the world)
voiced by john o'keefe on 19.6.05
i often wonder what people are looking at? i have been thinking a great deal lately about how we "view" the world around us in relationship to the church. many like to see it as "fallen" and then blame all the problems of the church on a "fallen world." they say, "look at the fallen world and know that we are part of that fallen world, so the church is no different then the world." they hide the abuse of those in the church behind the idea that "the world is fallen" and they ignor the reality that we, as a community of faith, are to be above the world around us, and not use it as an excuse.
as i see it we are changed. when we become a follower of christ, we are not of this world any longer. i love the way paul puts it in his letter to the romans [from the message]. he compares our moving from this world, to christ as moving to another country - he writes, "if we've left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old houses there? " think about that, if we claim to be new people in christ [moved people], and we say we are following his teachings [in a new land], how can we claim to be "of this world? [living in the old country]" we truly need to see the church as something very different then the world, and we are not to listen to those who claim the "fallen" game of lose. remember what paul says, "when jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. from now on, think of it this way: sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. you are dead to sin and alive to God. that's what jesus did [10-11]." to claim to be living in a new country, and yet live in the old house simply shows you have never moved to start with.
i think what i have come to conclude in my life is that i am looking at a community of faith as something very different from the world around me; a safe place, a loving place, a welcoming place, a non-judging place, a place where you can come and know that you are loved - and know that He is God.
voiced by john o'keefe on 16.6.05
one of the best bands i ever heard in my life was pink floyd, and i can still remember the very first time i heard "dark side of the moon" - i was at a friends hous and his mom had this cool looking album, she asked if i like "floyd" and i said i never heard of him :) well, she played every album of pink floyd, and i became a huge fan. so much so, that the the dark side of the moon was the first cd i ever baught. well, i was over joyed when i head pink floyd will reunite to perform at the all-star Live 8 concert in London on July 2.
Atom Heart Mother Buy New: $9.99
Relics Buy New: $13.99
Dark Side of the Moon Buy New: $13.49
Wish You Were Here Buy New: $9.99
The Wall Buy New: $27.99
Animals Buy New: $9.99
a bud of mine from the postmodern theology egroup posted this, and i just felt the desire to post it here:
Dear Global friends,
In short: UK Scripture union Holt summer mission desperately seeks 4 (or more) leaders to fulfil it's quota to go ahead this summer, do you like working with children and can you spare a week in August?
At length: [link]
i have been wondering of late where the emerging is going. it seems that many of the people who i have seen as "positive voices" are, well.... (for a lack of a better term) "selling out." does that sound to harsh?
what i mean is, voices that seemed to be centered on doing ministry, and reaching others for christ in their communities, are now spending more time traveling and speaking for the bucks, writing books and just being a empty voice, and not being a "exampler." now i am sure they think they are doing "a great work for God" but that is not how i see it. what i am seeing are people striving to "be the voice" of the emerging church, and that is just not cool - no one speaks for the emerging church, no one.
i feel torn about this. on the one hand i want to celebrate their voices, collective and individual because i have known them for a while and respect them greatly and yet on the other hand i question what they are doing - because they seem to be doing what we have been speaking against for year - they are becoming the "established" church and are striving hard to get "others to fit" into their defined boxes - now, i am not going to "name names" because they know who they are, and so do you - as you were reading this you developed a picture in your head of who they are (and i might even be talking about me) - well, so this is not seen as a total bitch session, let me share with you one person i think is still a voice to be heard -
spencer burke at the ooze. after soularize in 2005 (in venice beach) i developed a new and lasting respect for spencer. now, i have been "connected" to the ooze from back in the days when david was around and i thought it was cool then, but spencer has shown me a great new way of doing things - and it is actually called "doing things." this past soularize was small, and very cool - while i got to "voice a lab" what was more important was i got to meet friends; more then just people who read my stuff and know me, they were people who wanted to truly do ministry and become friends - it was small enough to actually get connected, and it was not a "book store on steroids" (as all ec events and ys events are - it seems that when ever i go to them, it is less about ministry and more about whose crap you will buy). what i loved about this soularize was that no one was trying to sell their crap, and no one was "more important" then the other - it was people, connecting, learning and growing - and the best part of it all was that spencer was not hawking his wears, site, book, philosophy, thought pattern, agenda, or anything - while the event happened a month back, it took this long to register and process - i have been quite as this develops in my heart. as for me, i am seeking to minister to the people God sends to be in my path, and if i ever write a book or "get better known" and i become a butt head, let me know - because i just want to be a follower of christ, and not the center of my own testosterone.
i know, i am not big on surveys - but i thought this one was worth taking - and it is very short, very short.
a friend of mine at "forministry.com" is considering starting a new blog exclusively devoted to scripture engagement in a emerging/postmodern context. what i love most about this idea is that they are not saying "this is what we are going to be." here is what my friend tells me about the blog:
"I wish I could give you a compact blurb regarding what our new blog will be, but we're still trying to determine that. The best I can do is tell you that it'll be committed to the evolving dialog taking place around the Bible in the emerging postmodern context."
that is just so cool - if you can, please take the time to hit this link and take the survey - it's helping build the kingdom and getting more people involved in the conversation.
voiced by john o'keefe on 13.6.05
well, it took long enough but i got the new blog look up and running :) i hope you like it. i wanted to tie it all together and get a flow.
if you notice, we also started up the "praxis study" again; so, if you would like to hook in and be part of the gathering let me know. here is how i see it happening:
1. all who post use "the message" - this way we are all in the same book :) those posting comments do not need to use the message, only those in the original post.
2. while debates are encouraged, insulting will not be allowed.
3. each contributor will "host" for one week (or more) and post daily - time is not the issue as people from all times zones will be posting and commenting.
4. contributors post a scripture, and then comment on that scripture and then encourage others to comment back
praxis is back, and i would love to get others involved :)
i was surfing, just reading the places i like to read - when i came across this on my bud andrew's blog: "The late Larry Trammel of Ablaze Ministries has left behind a lot of musical and video equipment. It would really help out his wife if those in USA would buy some, and you know how we church people love to help out widows. Scott at emerge.typepad.com has the skinny."
i think there are many who read my blog who can help, because we use this stuff - let's do this and help - remember to give a good price, and know you are helping a sister in christ.
| You scored as Emergent/Postmodern. You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.|
What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com
i have been trying to post on a regular basis, while it is hard - between all the other stuff of life, i think i have been doing pretty good :) yet, while i have been posting i have let the ball drop on keeping up the links on the side of this blog - and while i read a great many blogs, i left them off the side - well, i changed that, and i will be adding more over time.
as i take on a new role as the lead pastor of connection 247, and get ready to move across county (sorry california, but we will be setting up house in the southeast - north carolina [click here for more on the move] - and loving every second :) ) we will be sharing some very cool stuff with everyone over time.
connection 247 is a very cool three year old community of fiath founded by my friend chad hall - over at "cool churches" (another friend i will be adding to the side list :) ) - as we move into the position as "lead" (this church is so cool, i pinch myself every morning when i get up because i think i am dreaming) - we are in the process of building a worship area that is part coffee shop, part bistro, part art gallery, and all "third place" - i am so blessed to be part of this group of people - their heart is so on task, and their love of people is so what we are to be as christians - God has blessed us in this, and God is blessing them as well.
so, as we move along some things will change - and all for the good - God is wonderful and true to his word.
voiced by john o'keefe on 11.6.05
i am not big on “forced accountability.” but it never seems to fail, the second people start talking about forced accountability some turn the conversation to "anarchy." as if to say, "if you do not have accountability you naturally have anarchy." when one speaks against the idea of "forced accountability," "accountability by position," or "coercion of accountability" it always leads to a debate on "anarchy." i just don't get it.
the idea of "anarchy" is from the greek "anarchos" meaning "having no ruler" - "an" (no) + "archos" (ruler) and i think most emerging christians would say that christ is the ruler of our faith walk and life. but, when you say "anarchy" you mean, "no earthly ruler" who controls my faith, then you are right, i guess i am an "anarchist" in that i seek no earthly rule over my faith, or to whom i am accountable. because in all cases, everyone i have ever seen, where accountability is demanded, "control" becomes the guiding force and "abuse" the operating system they work under. they become self-contained with power and control as guiding principle. it can happen slowly and it can happen with all good intentions, but it always seems to flow into that "i am the boss" mindset - which in turn makes others desire to control - and then a "power play" come along.
also, more in line with what we are speaking about - accountability - who "must" i be accountable to? who gets to make the rules that given my accountability? scripture? ok, but who determines how that is to be interpreted? you see the dilemma? when we seek accountability beyond the holy spirit, we fall into the trap of being told what to do - what is and is not "the true faith." and in that, we lose many things that God is desiring of us. if, in the course of life i decide to be accountable to someone (or some community) and have them help me in my walk, then i have selected that person. but if, in the course of a "title" a person makes me accountable to them, then i reject that accountability, because that accountability is based on power, and nothing more - i can become accountable to a person i select, but another person cannot make me accountable to them. accountability is always something that forms out of respect, trust, grace and time.
accountability can never be forced, or mandated, or demanded - it must be a willing relationship between the persons involved. it is a relationship built, as mentioned before, on respect trust, grace and time. if i do not know a person, it takes time to build a relationship of trust, and as that relationship develops, accountability can be shared. if i cannot trust that you have the best in mind for me, then how can i be accountable to you? i must know that you are willing to give your life for me, and then i will be accountable to you. i need to know i can trust you with my inner most secrets; i need to know i can count on your respecting my walk; i can feel from you grace as we spend time together (not only to me, but to others); in our walk i never feel that you are placing on me any judgment and i know you love me for me; with that i can be accountable to you. but do not remove any of those things. because the second i feel that trust is gone, the accountability loop is closed. this also works the other way, i must be willing to give my life for others if they desire to seek accountability in me.
when i serve in an area, i seek out a person i think i can trust and develop a relationship with them - and that becomes my accountability - also, because i have selected to serve in a community of faith, i am open to them in accountability - as i would hope they are with me - accountability is not a "one way street" - it is a give and take on all ends, it is building relationships and trusting - it is based on love and forgiveness and is never coercing. accountability never tricks people into doing something, and never forces people to do anything - it is as we seek to be with christ, open and loving. no person is accountable to another because of title, job or status. that accountability is false, and is based on a economic model and not a christian one.
when one speaks of accountability, and then turns the debate to anarchy, the problems they desire to bringing up are neizsche, derrida and newman's ubermensch - extremes of power and control. while i have no problem having a discussion about any of them, they carry a whole ton of garbage with them that is hard to get past. the conversation soon turns from accountability to a conversation about what dirrida said, or what neizsche wrote; or what newman's ubermench was about, and not on accountability - and while i have no problem discussing "authority" i have a huge problem in getting lost in a debate on neizche, derrida or the "ubermench" of fiction fame.
i have been thinking a great deal of accountability in the past, and this is but a start of my walk - over time i hope to develop it deeper and have a better understanding of what i am thinking - i am hoping my inner-voice gets the words needed to become an outer-voice. over time i will post more.
voiced by john o'keefe on 1.6.05