Archive for March, 2018

A Dangerous Place for People and for Churches

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

We live in an era where much of what we did doesn’t work.  And more disruption appears right around the corner.

Just this morning, watched a demonstration of robotic arms leaning over a stove preparing a programmed gourmet dinner.

For some the above is a sign of progress.  For others, a portent of fear.

Churches are the same.  Increasingly access to church and messaging is virtually frictionless. 24/7.  What does that mean for Sundays? For the older art of Pastoring? For community? For the very real work of financial sustainability?

There are dangers engendered by these seismic shifts.

One to speak to very clearly that Ross Douthout penned…

The satisfaction of self-righteousness as a compensation for the lack of success

I am unsure and anxious about how to navigate the future unfolding before us.  And what I know is that the temporarily satisfying burn of an angry self-righteousness will be not be the answer.  Failing churches, for example, can either breed inflamed zealots sure the world has done them wrong or humble servants aware of the fragility of all human endeavors.  My vote remains with the latter!

We will be in need of compassion not anger in the decades ahead.

New and Unimagined

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

One of the harder challenges I struggle with might just be this…

Accepting that the spiritual endeavor towards freedom is to free both captive and captor.

The journey. in ways painfully hard to articulate, frees both “us” and “them”, captive and captor.

I recently reading a book on Martin Luther King Jr., and, unbeknownst to me, he nearly died in 1958 when he was stabbed in New York City by Izola Curry.  A photo from that day shows the knife still protruding from his chest…

 

Hard to imagine.  And his response to the unprovoked attack was forgiveness, communicating to others his desire to not press charges.

The scars healed from the delicate surgery that saved his life that day.  Healed – and this brings a smile – in the form of a cross on his chest.

King took Christianity seriously, not piously or righteously.  He took it as a humbling model of self-giving love, not as a way to judge or condemn.

He saw in it a lived way, new and unimagined, to set both captive and captor free.

Imagining Faithfully Together

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

I remain more and more convinced that there is no such things as private salvation.  The oxymoron of the “self-made man or woman” is indeed a oxymoron.  Salvation only occurs together.

The word “together” calls us out of privatized faith.  The meta-narrative of scripture paints a clear and lucid picture of “together.” The Old Testament centers on a tribe.  The New Testament centers on disciples.  The epistles center on the church.  New Church theology centers on community.

There is of course private work.  And there is of course public work.  The inner and the outer.  But both the inner and the outer still lie under the umbrella of “together.”

And imagine this… imagine we could hold church not as something we individually do or experience or celebrate.  But if instead we could hold church as something of necessity we must do together as a tribe, as disciples, as a church, as community.

No one experiences heaven alone.

That is a very good thing!

How do we empower ourselves? A surprising answer….

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018
There is always this question about empowerment. How do we become empowered human beings?
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I love Sam Wells’ surprising answer.
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We empower ourselves when we come to see ourselves as “a sinner who can be forgiven, rather than a victim who can protest.”
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What a surprise!
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Follow the surprise …. In your most treasured relationship, how well does it work to see yourself as a victim limited to protest?  Versus the flip… in your most treasured relationship, how well does it work to see yourself as human being, warts and all, in need of forgiveness, in need of grace, in need of kindness?
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I would argue, when we place ourselves in the role of flawed humanity … blessed and broken… we place ourselves closer to our true selves and closer to God.   We become, in a word, empowered.  The edges soften and the heart grows.
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A stark choice maybe. A marriage of two individuals who each clutch tightly to playing the victim role has neither joy nor a future.  A marriage of two individuals who correctly see themselves as flawed human beings has embedded deeply within the relationship the lasting seeds of joy and of a future.
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