December 19, 2007

emerging out of division?

A few weeks back I was asked to explain and describe the emergent movement. I laughed and said "no". I was just kidding so I gave a less than adequate description but I thought what I said was okay. I came across a post which described in part what the emergent movement is about, atleast when it comes to unity in the church. This is what attracts me to the emergent conversation. In my mind, talking is the beginning of unity and unity is a major desire of Jesus' (john 17).

December 15, 2007

Looking for the Green on my thumb


I've been a wannabee gardener for a few years now. I've tried and failed for the most part so far. Today, all the plants in my place are suffering. I'll buy plants from the store and then neglect them after a few months. The most succesful plants and ones that I am most pleased by are the ones that I have grown from seed. To see them grow from scratch is amazing. I'll watch day to day the tiny green speck that formed on the soil reach further and further up and find strength all on it's own (nevermind the fact that I would water them). That is probably my problem. I need to grow everything from seed. Than I would get my act together.

December 12, 2007

O Tanenbaum


A week ago my love and I decided to get our first real christmas tree and what a wonderful memory it was. It was like those old christmas movies where the family goes to the tree lot to pick out that special tree. We mosied down every aisle and inspected each one until we had a top two or three. There were large sized christmas lights and christmas music coming out of a couple megaphones that were mounted on opposite corners of the lot. We came well into nightime and so it was cold but not too cold. Now we have that perfect tree. It smells as beautiful as it looks.

November 26, 2007

[soo-per-stish-uhn]

su·per·sti·tion

–noun
1. a belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge, in or of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, occurrence, proceeding, or the like.
2. a system or collection of such beliefs.
3. a custom or act based on such a belief.
4. irrational fear of what is unknown or mysterious, esp. in connection with religion.
5. any blindly accepted belief or notion.

superstitious

c.1386, from O.Fr. superstitieux, from L. superstitiosus, from superstitionem (nom. superstitio) "prophecy, soothsaying, excessive fear of the gods," perhaps originally "state of religious exaltation," related to superstes (gen. superstitis) "standing over or above," also "standing by, surviving," from superstare "stand on or over, survive," from super "above" (see super-) + stare "to stand," from PIE base *sta- "to stand" (see stet). There are many theories for the L. sense development, but none has yet triumphed. Superstition is attested from 1402. In Eng., originally especially of religion; sense of "unreasonable notion" is from 1794.

...Now in thinking about the supernatural and word associations with the word superstitious I find the whole thing interesting. When the word superstition is mentioned people associate it with fear and irrationality. It is interesting to note that in 1402 the word had more of a religious meaning to it while in 1794 it was equated with unreasonable. That is strictly due to the main philosophy of that time and place; the enlightenment(I think that's what it was called). The main virtues of that time were reason and knowledge not blind faith.

As christians we are ultimately superstitious. We believe in the supernatural. A virgin birth, a rising from the dead and apocalyptic event(s) with supernatural overtones to it. We believe in an invisible spiritual realm and in angels and demons. We believe in miracles. I personally believe that the existence of hope is supernatural. When did fear ever come into this? and why?

John Wesley stressed the importance of reason but not at the expense of blind faith.

November 21, 2007

pondering astrology

A couple weeks ago Melissa and I spent some time with my father in law and her new fiance'. We've known her for awhile and love here so she's basically my mother in law already. We had a good family get together as we celebrated our birthdays early. Melissa's is the 18th, mine the 23rd. Discussion of our birthdays soon went into personalities according to the calendar (my soon to be mother inlaw is into and very knowledgable about astrology). She said (something like) that scorpios (Melissa's sign) are incredibly passionate and very orderly with a lot of leadership qualities, and they are usually extraverted. She was right on about that. Than she said that sagitarrius'(my sign) are very laid back, calming and introverted but since I was on the cusp of being a scorpio I had some of that within me too. So I'm laid back but when the time is needed to get down to business I am right there on top of it. She read me like a book I thought to myself.

On our ride home that night Melissa and I talked about this phenemenon. We considered all the scorpios and sagitarrius' that we know and found that each one was either dead on or close to the descriptions according to what we heard earlier that night. We've heard about this "personality based on astrological signs" idea before. Even as followers of Christ we acknowleged the possibility of this phenemenon being a part of God's creative and incredibly detailed order. There are a million thoughts to think about concerning this. If this was true it wouldn't negate the christian faith but rather uphold it. Almost like a scientific truth with supernatural tones to it because it points to something "greater than ourselves". This "greater thing" leads to religion and spirituality and as we all know there are many religions. Right there is where it starts to get a little messy and controversial.

I also remain skeptical and can throw this phenemenon out the window and consider it merely a coincidence.

...just some thoughts that could get me into trouble.

November 16, 2007

Eagles and Tryptophan


This year has been both very exciting and very transitional and very busy. This year has been a challenge that I am enjoying very much. There is beauty in exercise and even beauty in struggle. These days I can start to feel it. So I'll stop and notice the beauty within this adventure called life. I am on vacation. Sweet. My love's birthday is coming soon and mine as well. Turkey Day. Tryptophan. Resting in His love.

Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying, "God has lost track of me. He doesn't care what happens to me"? Don't you know anything? Haven't you been listening? God doesn't come and go. God lasts. He's Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don't get tired, they walk and don't lag behind.

end of Isaiah 40, the message

November 01, 2007

october has left


mmm. It was fun while it lasted but now it's November. The sky is grey and the air is cold. The nights are getting longer, the leaves have peaked and the noise has finally gone. Thank you Jesus.

As I've said before, october is not my favorite time in Salem but I have been dealing with it. Fellowship with the Gathering has helped me to deal. I think it's wise to say that halloween is not going away anytime soon and since my city (I'm starting to sound like that guy in Braveheart who says "my island!") is obsessed with halloween it is definitely here to stay. So why not join the craziness? WWJD? I think part of what He would do is crash the party. This seems like the underlying mission and attitude of the Gathering & friends during the month of october. It was my first year officially with the Gathering during october and I am happy to have served with everyone. I am already praying, thinking and looking forward to next october. Meanwhile, I am here relaxing and gearing down for a slower pace as autumn calls me to wind down a little.

~Lord, God may everyone who came to Salem this past month be blessed by Your spirit and remember You. In Jesus, name

October 29, 2007

A Tough Conversation

When I was in high school, I had a tough conversation with a good friend of mine. He was starting to come with me to youth group and a little to church. We had good conversations in the past about God, Jesus, faith, crap of the world(sin) and stuff like that. He seemed as though his heart was warming up to the christian faith. One day something irked him. I don't remember all of the conversation so pardon me if I leave stuff out.

His attention was brought somehow to the biblical denounciations of witchcraft. I don't remember how the message was given or the nature of it's delivery but know that he took it negatively. He took this denouncing very personally, I could see it in his face and hear it in his tone. He himself was not a witch but he told an important story. When his younger brother was born, he had a serious illness, I think it was fatal. His mother knew a couple of practicing witches. She called for them to come to the hospital so they could try to heal the new born. They came, did their spells or whatever the proper term is and my friend's younger brother was healed miraculously.

This was obviously a precious and significant moment in my friend's family history and instilled in him a respect for wicca. He asked me how wicca can be wrong if there seemed to be such good that came from it. I decided that I would tell him my theories of what really happened. I think that made him mad. He didn't really come back to church with me after that.

Today, I look back at that conversation and seriously wonder if I should of spoke my mind at all. What I should of done more of is "rejoice with those who rejoice". Rejoice at the fact that his little brother is still alive. I should of shown some empathy and relate at the fact that everybody is looking for healing when sickness comes and that faith is universal no matter how different the source of those faiths may be. I should of put myself last and him first. Live and learn.

October 10, 2007

Reactions

In this article from Leadership Journal, Mclaren hits the nail on the head. Being mindful of this kind of advice can save us from a lot of trouble.

September 24, 2007

october

Fall is my favorite season. Halloween is my least favorite holiday. I do not dig the costumes, the bizarres, the haunted happenings and halloween in general. The city becomes congested with people during the month of october causing traffic. I am the Ebenezer Scrooge of halloween. I would prefer to escape up north for the month of October and come back down November 1st. A lot of people who grew up in Salem as I have would agree with me. This year I am going up north to Portland Maine for a weekend but other than that I will be home. This is my annual default reaction to the coming holiday. I am then reminded in thought and prayer what Christ's attitude would be. Would his initial reaction be to escape? I would say no. It is interesting to see different christ followers reaction to halloween as well. Some are kind and gentle, some are militant. Some are silent, some soft spoken and some have megaphones.

For years, I would spend the evenings inside a church praying that God's Spirit would be the spirit that guides and protects the town and all that inhabit it, than later spend some time hanging out with friends. This was, and is good. More prayer is needed as more people arrive in Salem. The more the people the more the opportunities for good and evil to happen. The intercessions I offered up to God many times turned into the kind of prayer that would change me instead of those around me.

Ever since the Gathering set up stage with music and free hot cocoa and other happenings it has been easier for me to not only deal with october but actually enjoy it. There are many reasons for this and perhaps another post will explain.

September 12, 2007

In memory of Michael Jackson

No. Not Jackson Five's Michael Jackson. The world famous beer expert died late last month. If it wasn't for this guy all of America would just be drinking those less than desirable light beers(you know which ones I'm talking about). There will be an official toast on September 30th in his memory. Hopefully my next post will not be about death.

September 11, 2007

Tragedies of yesterday, tragedies of today

I once worked with a compulsive liar. He had his stories. From being forced to leave the casino in Las Vegas because he was about to defeat Donald Trump in poker for a lot of money to his attempt in becoming an army chaplain by undergoing the proper education where he learned that there were up to seven names of God in the bible (Yahweh, God, Allah, blah, blah, blah) and there were many more. I remember one morning as I walked past him to punch in he blurted out right away not a "good morning Carl" but rather "Did you just hear? A plane crashed into the world trade center". My first thought was "Yeah right". But then I listened to the radio that he was pointing at.

The rest of the day was eerily quiet. I continued through the work day in a solemn attitude. I remember as I walked through downtown Salem on my lunch break as was my custom when our company was located there. It was like a ghost town. I shuffled over in front of the widescreen TV that was displayed in front of a financing company. It was either CSPAN or CNN being showed with news of the terror attacks. Another man came next to me to watch as well. He was what seemed like a wealthy business man. Pictures of smoke were all we could see, lots and lots of smoke along with a couple shots of people covered from head to toe in dust. After a minute or so we both silently parted our own ways.

Today it is six years from that awful day and another sad one has happened. A friend of mine had his funeral. He battled pancreatic cancer. He was a desert storm veteran, a bass player and even though I did not know him too well he was genuinely kind. Two years ago I did not personally know anyone that has passed on from this life except for my Grandpa. Today three stand out in my mind. One was in his fourties, one was in his thirties and one was in his twenties. Horrible. But when I think of them all I cannot get there smiles out of my head(which is a good thing).

May Jesus carry us.

August 30, 2007

Physical Warfare II

I'm pretty ignorant about Iraq and it's current situation. My lack of knowledge is mostly my fault but I'm looking into things, kind of. I like to read but I read slow and when I do it's usually in an awkward manner. I am what you could call "the simple man's intellectual". I have talked with people from both sides of opinion concerning the war in Iraq. Opinions toward the war are mostly strong so rarely do I come across someone in the grey as I am.

Right now I am reading what looks like by it's cover (yes I know don't judge a book by it's cover) a bunch of hype and sensationalism because of it's likeness to the cover of a political thriller movie. It is named "SADDAM'S SECRETS, how an iraqi general defied and survived saddam hussein" by Georges Sada. I haven't read too far into it and I am already impressed with this man and his life experiences. He is a long time military leader in Iraq (He has known Saddam since the sixties) but he is a christian, which is a minority in his area. This puts him in a very unusual spot with unusual opportunities. Sometimes within the book it seems like he goes out of his way to show that he is a christian(the publisher is Integrity which sounds like a christian company). There is nothing wrong about testifying about God's goodness and faithfulness but there is a genuine way to do so and an ingenuine way that has an agenda attached to it, I hope his is the former. My skepticism is obvious but can anyone blame me? With such contrasting opinions being tossed around it makes my head spin. Still I sense he is genuine.

So I will read on, here in my small world of Carl, guarded by America's homeland security with no clue because I am sheltered. Watch here as Jon Stewart interviews Georges Sada. Jon Stewart says exactly what I would.

1

Lord please give me grace, wisdom and your heart in this matter. In Jesus' name, amen.

August 10, 2007

seasons for everything under heaven IV

As christians a few things we believe is that God came down unto our level here on earth and became the human named Jesus. We believe that Jesus is a perfect model for us all on how to live and that the gospel of Jesus Christ gives us a more practical, tangible and personable example than the law on how to live. We believe that Jesus, being God, is perfect in holiness and that we should copy and follow Him but have you ever wondered what his personality was? Extroverted, Introverted? Some have suggested that he was(is) a perfect middle on the extrovert/introvert chart according to biblical references. In one scene he is partying, the other He is preaching and talking to dozens, than a dozen, than one and then there's times He goes off to be by himself(and with His father but aren't they the same? anyways). Most of us are either/or with a mix of the other. There is also the occasional full blown extrovert or introvert here and there.

If you're opinion is that Jesus was an extrovert wouldn't that mean everyone should copy His extroverted behavior and vice versa? See what I mean? I believe he is a perfect middle and because of that there is a lesson in that. I consider myself an introvert with hints of extrovert that come out every now and then. That means my season of introvertedness is very long and takes up most of my life just like how winter seems to take up most of the new england year. There are times I am inspired to act extroverted either by God or by my own ego or because of caffeine or the weather or no known reason at all. Whatever the reason hopefully I align myself by surrendering to God's rythmn of seasons that He has for me so I can acquire both the character of God and be found in His will and plan for the season I am in.

I don't think we can be fully extroverted and fully introverted as Jesus was because we are not God and so we can not fit all that within ourselves. But together as the body of Christ (or the whole world for that matter) we can put our piece of the puzzle together. God alone is infinitely wise and His timing is perfect.

August 08, 2007

I like you, you like me, we're a happy family.

It is a very hard thing to seperate personality and character. What I mean by character is moral character. Everyone has their gifts which include their own personality but with every gift comes a weakness that is related. For example, a quiet person may be a good listener but stink when it's their time to talk. When I get to know someone I try to look past sins and shortcomings and separate personality from character. I intentionally notice the goodness that is in everybody. When I do this I find that I naturally start to like the person. That saying "I can love someone without liking them" is wrong, stupid and lazy. I am sure that Jesus not only loves everyone, He likes them as well. Shouldn't we do the same?

July 30, 2007

Spoiled

AC and the Internet. Movies and Ice Cream... I have to be careful not to spoil myself.

June 26, 2007

Taking Care of Business

My workplace is in the process of moving. For the first time I saw what it looks like in person yesterday. I am so excited. The facility is owned by the company instead of the rented one that we're leaving now. Every room is on one floor and above ground (woohoo!, moving up in the world!). I've got windows to distract me from my work. Sweet.

June 17, 2007

seasons for everything under heaven III

...a time to blog a lot, and a time to blog a little. For an underdetermined amount of time I will only have limited access to online computer stuff.

first

second

June 12, 2007

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can


I made it over the hill.

I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency].

Phillipians 4:13 (amplified)

June 10, 2007

The Tenth of June

Today was very long and surreal and joyful and sad. This morning I went to my old methodist church because my former pastor of 13 years was retiring and today was the last service he will be at. There was a party afterwards down in the function hall. It was great to be there. Though I did not show it I was filled with emotion during this time. I'm not insecure about what people think about me leaving anymore but instead my emotion was a healthy one. I was sad in this moment because today I believe was a turning point in my life. I said my last goodbye to that last season of my life at the methodist church. It's kind of like when you say goodbye numerous times to a friend because it's hard to leave. This was the last time. I am so excited about this new season that I apparently am already in.

This afternoon I hung out with Melissa at our new apartment in Salem. Only the kitchen is moved in. We got sick of sitting at the kitchen table so we sat on the empty living room floor for awhile. Tonight at the Gathering we had a time of worship in a heavy metal style led by Josh. That was super cool. The fog machine during practice set off the fire alarm and made firemen come. It was fun. Long day. Tired. G'nite. God bless you.

June 07, 2007

Burdened in this Summer of Limbo

I can see the other side I'm just not there yet. Last month some pictures of the renovating of my new work place was posted up in our break room and it was exciting to visually anticipate the change. Tonight Melissa and I went to see what was my fourth apartment viewing and we decided there on the spot that we would move in, we're excited about that. I should be moved in both spots by the end of the month. My home and work both moving at the same time. Bring on the chaos!

There have been friends of mine who have had some serious situations going on with them and I can feel the burden. There are also some great and beautiful things happening as well, no doubt. Actually there is a lot of stuff happening so whether it's good, bad or just a matter of transition it's still a load to carry. I'll try not to complain or resort to temporary madness but rather turn to Jesus. He will help me carry this burden, the best part about it is that He will be with me, every step of the way. I am surely blessed.

May 29, 2007

seasons for everything under heaven II


The first shall be last and the last shall be first. It is better to give then to recieve. These sum up a truly ground breaking philosophy. Opposite of what the world desires yet the nature of God's heart. It is an attitude that recognizes that everybody is equal and precious and that if we reach out beyond our own personal bubble the quality of life improves in and around us. These are sayings we should remind ourselves everyday for with it comes a fullness of life. This satisfaction is what those seeking to be in first place are actually trying to find.

I have mentioned in an earlier post that touched upon the concept of seasons and how important it is to recognize that despite of what looks like conflict between two seemingly different truths, opposites attract, compliment, complete and are interdependent to each other. To bring these truths together they need to take turns. This taking of turns can also be known as a changing of seasons. "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven."(Ecclesiastes 3:1)

But for just a minute let me be the "devil's advocate". When I once heard a sermon on the topic of the first shall be last and the last shall be first my silly mind conjured up a scene in which there were about ten christians in line at the RMV. The first one in line remembered the first/last virtue mentioned in the bible so he decided to be nice and let the next person go as he proceeded to the end of the line. The next person followed suit as well as the next and the next and so on until the first person circled back to first place again.

Could it be that there is a time to be first and a time to be last? and could it be that there is a time to recieve as well as give? I just looked at the bible and it says "But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first." (Matthew 19:30). Other verses leave out the word "many". This tells me that the season in which we recieve and are in first place should only be a very short season but it should still happen. It's okay to indulge every now and then but if that season goes for too long the quality of life decreases and God will seem distant.

May 23, 2007

Mr. Skywalker


You scored as Luke Skywalker, Eager to help the rebel alliance and begin Jedi training, but unwilling to sacrifice those you care about for your own goals. You have high ideals and believe you can achieve them by following your heart. Now if only you can get your ship out of the mud.

Padme Amidala

75%

Luke Skywalker

75%

Han Solo

69%

Leia Organa

69%

Obi-Wan Kenobi

69%

Yoda

63%

Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader

63%

Darth Maul

56%

Palpatine

50%

Boba Fett

44%

Which Star Wars character would you be? (pics)
created with QuizFarm.com

May 21, 2007

Grace

Grace is what brought me to Jesus. Grace is what keeps me with Jesus. Even though I may pursue Jesus it's a pretty lame pursuit compared to others and infinitely lamer than God's pursuit of me. Thankfully He comes to me where I'm at.

I am a sinner. I am aware of certain sins that plague me. I am also sure that there is sin within me that I am not aware of but God is completely aware of but does He convict me of every wicked part of my heart? If He did I think I would literally shatter. I would explode and implode all at the same time. God is holy, infinite and way too much for me and He knows it. So He feeds me truth little by little coated in love so I can swallow it. There are times that I go through the painful process of receiving conviction from God. This is good. I am usually too chicken to ask God to convict me of sin that I do not know I have. It's kind of like praying for patience. Be carefull of what you ask for, right?

Truth and Love are useless without the other yet I have come to the conclusion that love trumps truth 51 to 49. So if I know that God is patient with me and convicts me with the truth about myself in a very slow manner who am I to dump truth carelessly on someone else?... I should also be weary of thinking of myself too highly because of the fact that I believe I have found/know truth. I have learned (and am in the process of learning) that when someone puts me on the spot and asks me a direct question that demands a direct answer concerning controversial topics this sometimes means there is a deeper question underneath what they are asking. A question that reveals their heart and it's doubts, frustrations, insecurities etc. An answer that tends to the heart is the correct answer. This takes a heart like Jesus to discern.


Lord, I do not deserve life with you yet I'm pursued by you. Thank you! Could I please have some of this grace of yours so I can live like you and with you and with others.
In Jesus' name, amen

Questions on Blessing

Why is that God blesses some and not others?

Why does God heal some and not others?

Would a perfect world really have everybody to have equal amount of material wealth? I don't think that's the answer.

Does God really reward those who seek His kingdom first with a definite financial blessing?
Perhaps sometimes He does but certainly not everytime.

Can a rich person be both righteous and rich at the same time? I think it's possible. Job was righteous and rich.

Why does God allow those who struggle with the basic needs of life remain in their struggle? This question leads to those who have enough to give I guess.

Now of course blessing does not just imply material wealth but money still talks and America speaks it's language all too well. I am still of the opinion that spiritual blessing is the best of all.

I will ponder these and other related questions for the rest of my life and trust that God alone is wise and good and that we may never fully understand.

May 16, 2007

Celebrity Time!

Supposedly this is who I look like on one of my more dapper days.



...and this is who I supposedly look like on one of my more dopey days.



Rudy Giuliani and John Ritter?! Since Hayden Christensen scores on both pictures I say he wins. Though I don't know what I think about that either.

May 14, 2007

Bugged Out


I've been acting stranger than normal, if you've noticed do not be alarmed. I have nothing to complain about because there is a bunch of great stuff about to happen. Sometimes it feels like too much at the same time. Does that make sense? The excitement can make one twitch. Praise God! my strength and joy.

Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God's energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.
(Phillipians 2 something ~message)

May 10, 2007

Processing


These are the most significant virtues that I have taken from last weekend's conference. God: for people who hate church.

1. I have acquired a greater love for the church as in the body of believers in Christ not the building. This love extends to all traditions, expressions, methodologies, denominations, etc... everything.

2. I have come to a greater awareness that the Holy Spirit is working and moving amongst every human and community, whether they have been exposed to the Gospel or not and if they have, whether or not they accepted the Gospel or not. Everyone.

May 06, 2007

Gargoyles, Lava & New Wineskins

The conference "God: for people who hate church" kicked my butt, mentally, spiritually and even physically. Not that I was serving behind the scenes all that much (Credit and thanks go to all our friends from Streams Ministries, a HUGE support). During the duration of the conference my brain and spirit were being stretched in new ways. I would go to bed and I could not fall asleep because I needed to process my thoughts and emotions in a half-comotose prayer state.

The theme that stuck out the most for me was when the concept was brought up that all of humanity is longing to find something solid, something trustworthy. I find this is true but paradoxically can and cannot be found at the same time. Tony Jones said something like "once we find our "mission statement" we can look at it and realize it's not really the case. Some insights, visions and passions may still ring true but seasons pass and life can be very ambiguous at times." He compared the Gospel to lava. Lava is scary yet we are still attracted to it. It continually comes out of the earth in places and than dries to a crust. After the hardening, it then starts to come out elsewhere.

If this lava analogy describes a lot of what the emergent movement can be like I think the pentecostal analogy of new wineskins is very similar. This analogy uses wineskins which were in ancient times used to store wine. They would then be discarded as soon as the skin would harden & dry and a new one would take it's place in order to recieve new wine or in other words, a new movement of the Holy Spirit.

Pastor Phil asked Tony Jones during the Q & A time basically how could the emergent and pentecostal movements can come together and find common ground. This question resonates with my heart because I, (for whatever reason) am most attracted towards emergent and pentecostal expressions of faith. I find this ironic because my personality and temperment differs from those personalities usually associated with emergent and pentecostal. I can have a kind of scandinavian stoicism that contrasts with the boisterous pentecostal and I am pretty simple minded(in a good way) when it comes to intellectual stuff. I have no degree other than a high school diploma. Intellectualism seems to be one of the main characteristics of the emergent movement. Still, I would consider myself pentecostal/emergent, go figure.

I am a firm believer that God comes to us where we're at. It's what grace is all about. So naturally that would look different when we compare individuals, congregations, denominations, cultures etc.... Despite the differences the Gospel remains the same.

The conference was opened with Phil's gargoyle song "Cum tacent Clament". He used the gargoyle as a kind of mascot for the church (quite a controversial mascot huh?). He could explain the significance better than I. The funny experience(I like to find humor in life, I think God has a great sense of humor) that I wanted share was during the singing of the this song. Gargoyles have their name because of the french word used for spit which sounds like "gargle". Gargoyles were placed on cathedrals to tell a story but also as a gutter that drips water hence the name "Gargoyle". I (Carl) was joining Carlos in singing a vocal part while Carly was drawing a picture of a gargoyle. Both in practicing and performing this song I was spitting a lot accidently. I even spit on Carlos once. Woops!. Another funny thing that happened was Tony Jones mentioned the People get ready song in describing one of the points he wanted to give. He said that all of us probably heard the Rod Stewart version. Sure enough, when I came home and walked inside, my mother in-law was listening to Rod Stewart's version of People get ready.

I will stop my ramble... and have a full night sleep tonight.

May 02, 2007

Perks of the Job


Who will join with me in trying to convince OSHA that these slides must be a mandatory feature for every exit out of the workplace?

May 01, 2007

A nervous look back

I was nervous about last night for awhile. It really wasn't that bad. Feelings of false guilt, insecurity and social anxiety became tiny pricklers of torture for a couple days preceding yesterday, so small I did not consciously know it.

My wife and I met up with a good number of people from our last congregation, some of whom we had not seen or talked to since we "suddenly" said goodbye one sunday. The meeting was for people to meet the new pastor who will start in a couple of months. Seeing everybody and talking and praying with them was big therapy for me. All those negative and false feelings are wiped away as far as I know. This was one of the hardest decisions that my wife and I have made. It also one of the best that we have made. That is not an insult but a recognition that following God's will is the best thing to do. I praise God for my past and my future.

April 29, 2007

I hate church?

I love church. I am a church dork. My own personal bubble is a microscopic(and northern)version of the bible belt. So I ask myself "Why am I going to this conference named, God for people who hate church?" "I don't hate church". Oh yeah, so I can let God be Himself and bust out of the box I have stuffed Him in, consciously or not.

Lord, please show us yourself in power and wisdom this coming weekend. Surprise us in conviction and love! In Jesus name, amen

April 19, 2007

seasons for everything under heaven


It's that weird time again. Winter has past but the radiance of spring in it's full glory has not yet come. Half of this past month seems to have been covered in a thick blanket of grey. These clouds can bring with them a calming effect, it can also influence a more negative vibe like depression or anxiety. I think the prior was God's intention, the latter is the result of our fallen nature. Still God turns it into His greater good. I tend to bottle up my issues inside. This is unintentional and does not become apparent to me until some hardship comes my way and then wham! I'm spilling my guts out. They needed to come out and God knew it. It just took me five days of no sun to get it out of me.
Praise God for I am back to calm again. And I am very excited because if I remember correctly the green buds on the trees will start coming out next week.

I love where I live. God has gifted me and my neighbors with four beautiful seasons. I could not imagine what life is like with less and I don't want to. I love the ups and downs of new england weather which is strange because (most days) I am a very steady person. I can be almost mechanical in my day to day routine. With help in initiation I can be a lot like the energizer bunny. I just keep on going and going and going. My wife on the other hand is quite the opposite. She keeps me on my toes and I love her for that! She is a visionary filled with beautiful, creative and thoughtful thoughts. It's like she is saying "Hey what do you think about this?!" and I say "I don't know, I just want to know what I'm supposed to do for the next hour". God has a sense of humor as well as a heart for romance. I am passionate for Melissa for she gives me passion for life unlike anyone else other than the divine himself.

Opposites attract, compliment, complete and are interdependent to each other. Yet I have found that they need to take turns. This taking of turns can also be known as a changing of seasons. King Solomon said that "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven."(Ecclesiastes 3:1) Even though this wise saying was spoken by Solomon it had to be originated from the Spirit of God. I have found strength, comfort and counsel in it a countless number of times. In my relationship with God, in my marriage and with everything else under heaven.

I haven't fully come to a clear understanding of a burden that has been on my heart for almost as long as I have been pursuing Jesus. My burden is the lack of unity within Jesus' family of followers and the lack of simple faith, service, spirituality etc. It is more of an "abstract head knowledge" right now, if that makes sense. I never liked labels or being labeled. I've never liked the fact that there are denominations but I have appreciated immensely the traditions and the wealth of spiritual goodness within each denomination. I also don't like buzz words. There's buzz words out there like emergent, missional, relevant etc. These are also labels so the annoyance is two-fold. These labels ironically define people like myself with burdens like I just mentioned so I naturally fall into the emergent name... I guess. I still don't think I could see myself calling myself "emergent".

Anyways, my point is that each tradition or group of the church has good points as well as bad points. The bad points must be picked out and thrown away, not because of one's preference or taste but because of prayerful discernment within a community of very different people. This requires that we need to actually get together and really engage in loving community. One tradition/group usually has one or two points(I'll call it virtues instead)that seems to contradict with another tradition's/group's virtues. Let me explain.

For example, Relational Family Oriented Church vs. Word of Faith Church. The relational model encourages honesty, transparency and embraces a messy kind of spirituality. The word of faith model encourages resolve and perseverance and embraces the power of thinking positively, speaking positively thus through God's assistance bringing the positive into reality. The word of faith christian looks at the relational christian and says "It's time to move on! Stop moping around feeling sorry for yourself and believe in God's promises". While the relational christian looks at the word of faith christian and says "Hey listen. It's obvious you're hurting. Be honest with yourself and grieve. Admitting denial is the first step to healing". A spiritual father of mine once said(actually I think he said it dozens of times)"God answers prayer in His time and in His order".
There is a time to grieve and there is a time to move on and stand on God's promises. They must take turns. At first glance they look like they conflict but in light of Solomon's words they complete each other.

Maybe more on this later.

April

Something weird happened today. I squinted. There was an unidentified object up in the sky. It's brightness frightened me but I than felt a warmness. It was great.

April 16, 2007

The God of what's not in the bible


As a good biblical conservative evangelical christian, I consider everything in the bible to be the infallible word of God. I set my standards of spirituality, morality, sexuality and every "ality" that I know of upon the bible. When some idea or philosophy comes around that is not found in the bible it is the evangelical's tendency to frown. >:( So I do.... sometimes. Just kidding. :) Smiling is better. All us christians need to lighten up every now and then.

The bible has a lot in it. Perhaps it's depths are limitless. Still it's missing a lot. For a silly example, cats rule! but they're not found anywhere in the bible. Does the good evangelical choose to not believe in them? I hope not. Same goes with judgement of right and wrong as well as science and fact. As christians we must seek truth in the extra biblical. One easy guideline in this is that extra biblical truth will never conflict with biblical truth.

There are times in our life that can be really complicated and confusing and the bible does not give us detailed instructions on how to deal. The bible is easy enough to understand that the simplest person can comprehend it. God meant it that way but it should not stop there. When trials come our way we can read over bible verses that really spoke to our hearts back in them good ole days and get nothing from them. But if we persevere with patience and prayerfully read the bible, slowly, even repeatedly we can find the Spirit of God behind the words. Than from those words God can breathe new life into us and our situation, wherever that may be.

Lord, I need to read the bible more. Help me. Amen.

April 15, 2007

Israel



There have been some major father figures in my life, spiritually and literally speaking, who are close to if not totally considered christian zionists. What I mean by a christian zionist is a follower of Jesus with a deep reverance and appreciation for the jewish race and their rich religious culture, history and home land called Israel. Why all the commotion over this tiny percentage of the world's population called the jewish people and why all the commotion over such a tiny piece of land called Israel when compared to the rest of the world? Why is there so much anti-semitism and why was Jesus (a jew) rejected by many jews?

Christian zionism seems to have grown immensely during the past hundred years as well as the number of jewish christians. The concept of jews being God's chosen people can be very controversial. Are not all of us "chosen" by God to follow him? So why does God call the Jewish people the apple of his eye? Replacement theology teaches that the jewish race, which was once known as God's chosen people, have now been replaced by the muli-racial body of Christ. Christian zionism in it's most extreme form still acknowledges that Jews are set apart as God's chosen people.

Gentiles (nonjews) are "branched in" as the apostle Paul mentions but there is a richness, mystery and sense of wonder to the jewish law and tradition especially when we consider that Jesus was the fulfillment of it all. Another thing to consider is the possibility that someone who's ethnicity is not jewish can become a religious jew, observing the traditions and holidays. I plan on doing some more research on this all these matters but my opinion so far is that the truth falls in between replacement theology and the extreme forms of christian zionism.

What do you think?

April 09, 2007

"Velvet Elvis Under Investigation"

Rob Bell's book "Velvet Elvis" struck a major chord within me this past fall. It was a well needed word to me for where I was at spiritually.

I have come across a bible scholar named Ben Witherington. He is a professor of new testament interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary. A major brain who I sense has a heart close to God's. Here you can find an honest yet loving critique of Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis in his blog.

April 06, 2007

The Passion


Two or three good fridays later and I'm still too chicken to watch Mel Gibson's "The Passion" again.

April 01, 2007

calling all rabbis for help

Peter's Confession of Christ ~ Matthew 16

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter,and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 1I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.

So there is the scripture verse. What is the proper interpretation? I have come across a couple different takes on it. These are my basic/fuzzy descriptions. Don't quote me but please help me out.

A. This has been used in teachings for spiritual warfare. This interpretation believes that the binding and loosing is an authority over demonic powers that a believer in Jesus (Peter being the first to confess belief out loud) has been given.

B. While reading Rob Bell's "Velvet Elvis" I came across his interpretation of this verse and his take on it was that it was referring to what is known as a rabbi's yoke. A rabbi's yoke is a respected rabbi's interpretation on a certain biblical verse. Jesus, who is a rabbi, has said something along the lines "You have heard it been said but now I tell you....". A rabbi with proper authority would than bind or loose an interpretation as he sees fit.

I came from a spiritual upbringing that would definitely affirm the first interpretation but I had no problem with this take on the verse either. I also found it ironic that a verse that I was having slight difficulty in finding an interpretation was about interpreting bible verses...possibly. Perhaps there can be an integration of intepretations?

C. This verse could probably used as a scriptural basis for the roman catholic doctrine of papal infallibity/authority. Since I consider that belief to be stupid if not heretical(pardon by protestantism, I respect roman catholicism a lot)I kind of need to know what it means to refute this take.

Any feedback would be appreciated. I am very interested.

March 31, 2007

I'm Back!

Phew! I made it. Two weeks without easy internet access. Now I am back. It really wasn't that hard at all.

March 15, 2007

virtual community


The internet is a wonderful thing. It expands ones sphere in communication and the sharing of information. It is a blessing and a curse. For me, entering the blogworld has been a very enlightening experience. I have exercised my mind to a healthy spot.. I hope. A year ago today my spiritual mind was pretty mushy. This may sound selfish but I blog mostly for myself. I admit it I am vain sometimes. I like to see my own thoughts written out or listen to my own recordings. Everybody's vain in one way or another whether they know it or not. On that note let me say that I think that it's okay if it's in a healthy measure.

God's spirit does speak through the blog and I can testify. At the same time I sense a danger within the virtual community phenomenon. While posting and commenting has exercised my thinker it has done me a great disservice in my development within the art of dialogue. Some may say I'm a good listener which may be true but part of it (percentage is up to the beholder) is because I find it easy to stumble over my own words therefore I shy from talking.

I wondered if the apostle Paul lived today would he blog? I think so! He would probably also see it's limitations as well. To me, nothing beats looking someone in the eye and seeing them smile(or not)and listening to their audible voice speak and physically sensing a human touch to boot(handshakes and hugs). Reading the word of God in a book or in a blog is great. Hearing it out loud is better.

Let's never forget to meet up with each other.... in person.... savvy?

March 11, 2007

March 09, 2007

MelZoe

I am a wannabee blogger. I am late in the game but I don't care. My wife just started too and I think that's cool. I may be bias because she's my wife but I think she has a beautiful mind and spirit, her thoughts and emotions are more interesting than any movie or book. OK I'm being mushy so I'll stop. Check her blog out at melzoe

Superstar


I loathe the seemingly constant putdowns of christians in movies these days. I love movies but get agitated with these scenes. Many of these putdowns are understandable because of the actions and lack of love within us christians. Still the ratio of putdowns compared to genuine portrayals of genuine christians is far innaccurate to reality. This gives christianity and Jesus a bad reputation.

Still within all of these putdowns I think a couple of them are pretty darn funny. The movie I saw tonight was "Superstar" starring will Will Ferrel. He plays a hippie-like Jesus that Mary, the main character, has visions of. Though this is near the blasphemy line I think it's hilarious. There is also a scene in "The Italian Job" which shows the computer savvy thief who after learning how much gold his team has just stolen yells in ecstatic joy only to have all in the airportstare at him like he's a lunatic. He notices and claims "yeah...uh I got the holy spirit" very giddily.
Very funny. You gotta watch it to know what I mean.

(side note: I looked up in the dictionary to see if I spelled the word giddily right and look what I found.)

4. to make or become giddy.
[Origin: bef. 1000; ME gidy, OE gidig mad (as var. of *gydig), deriv. of god God, presumably orig. “possessed by a divine being”]
just thought that was interesting.

March 07, 2007

wisdom

Coming from one of the books of the bible that I read the least is a few verses that I think are one of the wisest words that has ever been said or heard. I think about this verse not necassarily often but at least once a season. This can be an easy or even obnoxious answer to life's problems and difficulties but for some reason when I speak it to myself I seem to always find comfort. It's also a kick butt song no matter how hokey it may seem.

Ecclesiastes 3
A Time for Everything

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

March 05, 2007

hokeyness is godliness... at least for me.


I think it's time to tick off my own carnal nature. Perhaps yours too. I try to stay away from being opinionated. I think I do alright (please let me know if I'm ever opinionated). I have been thinking about opinions and taste lately. Namely taste in music. I was complimented on my diverse taste in music by a friend and it got me thinking about thoughts I have had before. We all have certain types of music that we like. We have our dislikes as well. What if I was to say that we should like all types of music? Let me ask the cliche/excellent question of What would Jesus do? Or in other words what kind of music would Jesus like the best? I'd have to say all kinds. Shouldn't we strive for the same? or maybe just an appreciation, I don't know.

I do confess that I let the compliment puff up my ego a little if you couldn't tell already. On top of that I must also confess that despite my diverse taste in music there are still genres that make me a little sick. Disco, Southern Gospel and some forms of Contemporary Christian I find hard to listen to and to not make fun of. Most of that stuff appears to be hokey to me.

The same train of thought can be used with personal relationships, christian traditions and denominations, art, movies, food, etc. We may find certain things to have the appearance of hokeyness or that we just plain disagree with. I don't like olives but I try them every now and then (once every five years) just to see if my taste buds have changed. They haven't yet but I do have an appreciation for people who do like their taste and I can now atleast like them in pizza. Cut up into tiny pieces. I'm rambling now.

So tomorrow I will go out and buy the BeeGees, the Gaithers and Point of Grace....
Just kidding. That would be missing the point. By the way. You should hear Ozzy's version of "stayin alive". Cool stuff.

Lord God give us joy, wisdom, humility and a heart of worship when we consider the diversity of Your creation and the many colors of Your absolute truth. In Jesus' name, amen.

March 01, 2007

Virtual Warfare



No. I'm not obssessed with the word "warfare"... well perhaps a little. The word warfare implies conflict and the word conflict implies the presence of evil which then implies our dependancy on God. Anyways! Even though I'm torn on the issue of war I must confess I love video games that include combat. There is a free online game called "America's Army" that a friend of mine was talking to me about last weekend when we had a bunch of friends over for a party to beat those winter blues. He said that the army basically provides everything for this game and so it's free to play and supposedly really really good, on the same likes of those Rogue Spear games (can you smell recruiting agenda?). I have no time to play it though so I'll just take his word for it.

February 25, 2007

methodism and adolescence

By the time I reached 8th grade my parents were getting the vibe that it was time to move on from the episcopal church. They say that one of the biggest reasons was because of me. They wanted to see me in a youth group of teenagers which was non existant where we were. During this time of decision for my parents we visited a new church. There were two methodist congregations in Salem at that time and both were pastored by the same person. We visited one of those congregations and the only thing I remember was the pastor. He reminded me of George Bush, Sr. Not the actual George Bush but the one played by Dana Carvey on saturday night live. This guy was so animated! Of course in my 13 year old attitude I thought to myself how much of dork he was. It was this same man who's leadership and friendship was one of the most influential in my life. This fool in my eyes was God's instrument used to change the bratty teenager that I was.

Between our first and second visit the two congregations merged and began having all their services at the church we did not visit. We visited this newly merged church again and I remember it quite well. Before the service as my family and I were getting ready I did something to get my parents upset with me. They did the parent thing and grounded me or something and so I was in a horrible mood. I pouted all the way there and all the way through the service. I remember I would catch myself not pouting and then intentionally make myself pout. Service ended and youth group was right after it. My parents asked me if I would like to go. They made me go to church but I think the option was open whether I wanted to go to youth group or not. I noticed some friends from school and even my neighborhood were a part of this group so naturally I said yes and went. This again was a life changing event. That youth group leader was incredibly influential and dear to my heart. I had a genuine good time and was even invited to a weekend get away to someone's cabin. My parents took all this involvement of mine as a sign that this was where they were supposed to be.

This congregation was not your average new england methodist church. There was organ music and guitar music. Hymnals and praise and worship stuff. Liturgy and spontaneity. I was also noticing a lot more animated people doing a lot more animated stuff, like raising hands and randomly praying in the middle of service or saying "amen!". This was my first exposure to pentecostalism. I remember some friends of mine who visited the church were talking about this peculiar form of worship. This guy complained "Why do they have to act like they're having an orgasm when they pray?!". This got my attention not only because he said the "O" word in church but because I noticed I was at odds with him. I noticed that even though I wasn't an animated or emotional person I found myself being open to this phenomenon or in christianese "open to the holy spirit".

This group of methodists was a very diverse one. Diverse in personality and age.
This diversity showed me that God the holy spirit moved in and through people of different temperments so I didn't necassarily have to act like someone who wasn't me in order to relate to God in this passionate way, just be myself. Many of these people are my family and will always be family despite my departure.
I believe it was continued exposure to the working and moving of the holy spirit through the preaching, worship and relationships which was key to my spiritual growth. Even though my parents made me go to church and I wasn't there emotionally, mentally and even spiritually my sitting there in the pew, observing all that was going on, I eventually found myself taking part in it here and there.

that is just a tiny tiny taste of my methodist days.

February 22, 2007

ramblings of a church kid's semi non-eventful churchlife

I grew up in a christian family. We went to church for as long as I can remember. The first church I ever remember being a part of was an episcopal one. We were there for close to ten years. My mother tells me that she could tell that I wasn't all into the "liturgical worship thing", my brother was though. Despite my childhood preference I miss it today. My brother became an altar boy, was confirmed and had his first communion. I didn't want anything to do with any of that.
No way. Well, unless they would let me doodle on the bulletin (as was my custom) up there on the altar but I knew that wasn't an option for an altar boy. There was church stuff that I did enjoy. These are now fond memories for me. Memories of sounds, smells, people and other random stuff.

There was one huge event that happened every week at church that I looked forward to everytime. It occured after mass while coffee hour was happening. I remember asking my parents "can I say hi to Phil now?" while they were doing the adult socializing thing. Phil was the janitor who's office was way in the back of the stage within the function hall. He was kind of a loner, quiet, like me. He was an old guy. I can still remember the smell of ben gay as I would hang out with my cool friend. I would talk with Phil about what I loved best, baseball. He was a total baseball fan too. He would always have a newspaper on his desk, probably opened to the sports section and he was always there alone in the office while everyone else was socializing. I would continue on about my baseball cards and my little league games. He would listen to me and than ramble on about baseball history and about the red sox or something like that I don't really remember but I do remember that he was pretty cool.

Towards the beginning of each mass there was the opening hymn. During the hymn all the important people would start marching out of the important room each with hymnbook in hand and singing very loudly. Strangely enough I miss the music, especialy the dirge like stuff of hymns like "let all mortal flesh keep silent". During this processional or whatever you want to call it they would march a good portion of the sanctuary and end in their respective seats on the altar. I don't remember how many there were of them. I know there was the priest. He didn't impress me that much. He was nice but bland. The only part of any sermon(or homily or whatever)that I remember was him talking about how he prefers VH1 to MTV. Strange for a priest I thought.

There was one guy however in this group of important people with robes that was such a mystery to me. He was the guy marching in front. He would swing back and forth this thing that would spit out smelly smoke. I can still remember that smell and I am very fond of it. This man had wide lensed glasses which were the kind that were a little shaded giving the likeness of blublockers. So just imagine a man who looks like a slick italian taxi cab driver with blublockers on along with a shiny liturgical fancy robe swinging a peculiar object that spits out smoke and how that would look like to a six year old.

This same man came up to me once (I think it was him) and asked if I wanted to learn how to make the bells in the steeple make a song. He was in charge of that important stuff. I was flattered in a small kid kind of way and said yes. He brought me up to the balcony towards the back, opened up a box the size of a small TV with a key and showed me step by step along with the song book how I press the number coded keys to play each note. I thought to myself "this is huge! all of downtown will be able to hear me play!". He told me to go ahead and try for myself after demonstrating himself. I told him that "I didn't know how to play music and that I was nervous".
Half way into my first song he said I was doing great and to play as much as I like. He then took off. I paused for a moment and then played on. I ended up enjoying it a whole lot.

During coffee hour there was this little old lady that always gave me candy. Every week. This is very cool to a little boy. One week she wasn't there and so naturally I didn't get any candy. I inquired my parents about this and they said they didn't know where she was. Later that week they sat me down and told me that this lady had "passed away". We had what I think was my first talk on death and all that stuff. After the talk I walked away thinking to myself about this mystery called death and all the fear that can come with it and about how I'll never see that lady again except maybe in heaven or something like that. I think I was more distraught with the vanishment of my weekly sugar fix.

There are many memories like these. Memories I now treasure. This church wasn't the most spiritually passionate but there was stuff I took from it. I attended sunday school every week and learned all the typical bible stories. Through that I listened to the word of God and came to a belief/faith in Jesus/God and His character. I learned about the friendship of God through my baseball discussions with my friend Phil and I learned about the mystery of God through the liturgical worship and the blublocker wearing, incense flinging, robe wearing guy. If it wasn't for that guy I probably wouldn't be the musician I am today.

That is a taste of my episcopal days.

February 21, 2007

who'd a thunk it?

what do you get when you combine my old church
(a united methodist congregation)
and my new church
(a congregation that is missional/emergent/interdenominational etc...)
????

answer

February 20, 2007

physical warfare



Just some more thoughts (and strong emotions) from my personal bubble.

One of the hardest dilemnas in my head is on the issue of war. I don't have a clear opinion either way on whether or not war can be justified. Since I take a neutral stance in the debate I come across as pacifist but that's not necessarily the case.

When I mulled over this issue before I have asked myself "What if a man would come running after my wife and child, weapon in hand and with full intent to kill them? What would I do?". This probably will never happen but if it did I would have to admit/confess that I would run after the man with full intent to use any physical force necessary to stop him even if it meant I had to kill. Verses from ephesians 6 than will run through my head "for we wrestle not against flesh and blood..."

In my teenage years in high school mostly everyone knew I was a christian, along with that knowledge I would proclaim to a bunch of people that I was a pacifist.
Am I really a pacifist now? Maybe I am. Does the Iraqi war really have to go as long as it has or perhaps rather did it really have to start, I don't know. Last veterans day I listened to a Vietnam war veteran vent for two to three hours straight and he seemed to only scratch the surface of what he really felt. Could I really be for war? I am very interested in history but very uneducated. If you asked me how every war in America's history started I would only be able to give a superficial answer for the revolutionary, civil and iraqi war. My knowledge is very small.

The scene in my head seems easy to judge but when you complicate things by adding more people, even nations, to the scene than it's very hard to judge.

There is a great hypocrisy within me. I am against the death penalty but I am for killing someone before they even commit the crime. At least I am according to the scene that was played in my head.

I am torn and confused, but glad that God knows all.

February 19, 2007

thoughts on spiritual warfare II

I have many thoughts on the subject of spiritual warfare. Thoughts that are broken up and on going, hence this second part.

There seems to be both disdain and an over-zealousness towards the thought that there can be demonic influence towards the world, especialy towards the christian as an individual. I have no problem admitting that demons have windows of opportunity in which they can try to sway me off course in my pursuit of God. I do believe that Satan has the power to effect earth as a whole as well as our current and local situation (as seen in the book of Job). I also believe that most of the time when we suffer in some way it's usually just because that's the way it is. We live in a broken world. Most who study heavily into spiritual warfare would probably disagree with me there. We must also never obtain an attitude that says "the devil made me do it" when in fact it is our own fault.

If a situation is "demonically initiated" I find that it is usually a situation that snowballs quickly and into a big ordeal and then later leaves us wondering "what the heck was that all about?!". Though that's not always the case. There is really no clear cut answer or methodology in discerning whether something is demonic or not. One of the spiritual gifts is discernment. If someone with the gift of discernment(usually intuitive people), picks up on something that concerns them their responsibility is first to pray for the situation/person. Than if it is God's will, act accordingly.

Wisdom & discernment has been one of the most needed gifts in the body of christ. Without it stupid and freaky things happen which show the wrong picture of Jesus thus doing only harm, despite good intentions.

As with any spiritual gift, it is developed within the presence of God. We come to the presence of God during our times of devotion/worship. Times in which we give our Father undivided attention. It is then exercised when we apply what we developed in our daily lives. Somewhere in the bible it says that God inhabits the praises of His people. So in my mind, where God is no demon can stand to be. This is the key or at least the beginning to true spiritual warfare.

February 15, 2007

this is better than feng shui

I found this and I liked it

How To: Humanize A Worship Space
By Matt Frise
Multi-Instrumentalist And Temporary Worship Space Architect
St. Stephen’s University, St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada

Have you ever intentionally transformed a physical space for worship? Evidenced in the building of Europe’s great cathedrals, each taking a community several generations to build, the Church has historically placed a high value on creating sacred spaces for worship. This desire for sacred space in which to meet with God transcends every historic period and culture, and many beautiful examples of architecture exist worldwide as a result of this deep, human drive. In the modern Western context, many of us have turned away from building the community cathedrals of old, and have turned inward toward ourselves and our own families, sacrificing costly amounts of time, resources, and care to create places of sanctuary within our own homes and offices.

Whether by choice or by necessity, for reasons practical (maximizing the use of a costly space) or ideological (choosing to invest in people over a building), many church communities now meet in spaces that are transitional, temporary, and multi-purpose. The challenge is to create worship spaces that humanize; that reinforce the worship team’s declarations of God’s faithfulness, His permanence, and His steadfast love in the face of worship environments that are often industrial, alienating, impersonal, and impermanent. Some of the following ideas and suggestions may help your worship community in addressing environmental obstacles to worship, making it easier for many to encounter God in your community’s worship space.

1. Reminders Of Earth.
Interestingly, it seems that many experience a profound awareness of heaven in a place or a moment where they connect with the wonder and beauty of earth. Often our places of worship are a far cry from any sort of natural environment, and some can be very industrial and alienating. Having tangible, even living, authentic reminders of God’s creation incorporated into a worship environment can ground individuals in the awareness that creation and everything in it is made and owned by God. The tendency is to put such things “up at the front” wherever your “front” happens to be. If our desire is to draw a community into a worship space, rather than to draw more attention to the front, perhaps we should consider extending these elements out into their midst as well.

2. Drawn To Light.
I read in a national newspaper recently that humans are physically drawn to light as an ingrained biological response. People are sensitive to light, as I imagine that anyone who has participated in a time of worship under the flickering, sodium glare of gymnasium lights can identify. Sunlight is always welcome (at least to those of us who spend almost half the year immersed in the darkness of winter), but not always predictable or convenient. Candles are also friendly on the human eye, are easily incorporated into an environment, and seem to encourage hope as their physical presence is steadily converted into light. Personally, barring fire codes, I have never heard anyone criticize a space for having too many candles. Try experimenting with different types of eye-friendly light as a tool to focus worshipers’ attention on key elements in your worship space.

3. Tactile Textiles.
I work in a building where the main room and central staircase are coated, floor to ceiling, in plush, red, velvety, fuzzy wallpaper. No one can tell me that the thick band of missing fuzz where years of hands have run while passing up the staircase is just a coincidence. Environments with surfaces that are hard, cold or that have many sharp edges trigger physically defensive responses from tactile people – and impact their worship experience. Textiles on walls, floors and seating that seem inviting to touch encourage a sense of comfort and vulnerability among the same lot.

4. Power In A Face.
Few images have the power to capture our attention and humanize a space as images of the human face. Portraits of the beautiful and the broken, in all shapes and sizes and colors, engage us and remind us of a humanity in God’s Kingdom that is so much more broad and diverse than ourselves – we are all His image bearers. Consider incorporating the faces of image bearers in places where less personal landscapes and images are usually applied, such as overhead projection, handouts, and wall art.

5. Power In A Space.
According to Oberlin College’s Environmental Studies Chair William Orr (Summer 2006 edition of Geez magazine), William Churchill observed in 1943 that “we shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.” This does not only apply to exteriors, but also to interiors and concepts as simple as arrangements of seating and human traffic. In the same magazine article, Frank Lloyd Wright also speaks to this, claiming “…that he could design a house that would cause a newly married couple, madly in love, to divorce in a matter of months.” All of this is to say that how people enter into a worship space (how the seats are arranged, whether in rows, in a circle, or otherwise; whether close together, far apart, or in clusters) and how people are directed to move through the space by the placement of objects, can have significant impact on the experience.

6. Embrace Intelligent Asymmetry.
Ever visited a relative whose home was immaculate, every item perfectly positioned, straightened and symmetrical? Did you feel comfortable, relaxed and put your feet up, or did you sit up straight and try not to break anything? Careful symmetry is an ingrained tendency for those of us with Western heritage, and creates a space where the more formal versions of ourselves are encouraged to shine. If, however, the goal is to create a more relaxed space where people are inclined to be vulnerable, the formality of, say, the Parthenon, may be contradictory.

Conversely, have you ever been in a space where there was so much clutter and visual chaos that you found it hard to think? (If not, I could show you pictures of my apartment). Spaces that are visually chaotic reflect our own inner turmoil back on us, and discourage a sense of peace. I will even confess to once spending an entire sermon trying not to notice a very crooked object hung on the wall behind the speaker. Consider arranging chairs, objects, and people in ways that are neither rigidly symmetrical nor chaotic, but that, like nature, flow as asymmetrical patterns. Consult with someone who you believe may have an “eye” for this concept if you find it difficult to implement.

7. Laterally Rethink The Worship Experience.
“If my worship set was a tree….” Similar to the musicians on your worship team, all environmental elements are not there to distract worshipers, but to serve by drawing worshipers in further, each element in its own way affirming the message being communicated about who God is. This humble resonance of agreements can be very powerful, especially for those who have difficulty encountering God through shared musical experiences alone.

Perhaps you can start by asking yourself some wacky “lateral thought” questions like, “What would the essence of this worship set communicate if it were a smell? As a physical arrangement of people? Is there an object or image that is closely connected with this idea for me or for my community?” And so on.

Another way of asking these questions is this: “What part of God’s Story is it that we are telling here, and what is the ideal setting or backdrop for telling that part of the story – and for helping it to come alive here in our community?” If you can’t answer any of these questions, ask a “lateral thinker’” you trust.

8. Delegate The Space Crafting.
The worship leaders that I am familiar with are generally under a fairly hefty load of responsibilities and demands. Seek out the “artsy-touchy-feely” people in your community who are gifted in these areas of sensitivity, who are good at organizing and creating human-friendly spaces, and who have the humility and character to serve. Tell them what you are trying to communicate through the worship set, share any vision you have for the space with them, and then wind them up and watch them go!

Bio: Matt Frise is a freelance photographer, graphic designer (www.mattfrise.com) and musician based out of St. Stephen’s University in St. Stephen, New Brunswick. He is a violinist and whistle player with the St. Croix Vineyard worship community, as well as a collector of percussion instruments from around the world. With an eye to create spaces for true worship to flourish within, he seeks to live and create in a way that brings attention to the beauty of God in the world.

February 13, 2007

percussion



So here it is, my new picture. I guess I have to keep it on my blog even though I deleted the other one. (confused) oh well. This was taken at animal kingdom this past spring. I was watching some percussionists put on a show, they were the best I heard during my whole trip.

There is something in me that loves percussion. Hand drums resonate deep inside me somewhere. I think it's because it's such a primal musical expression. When playing a song with "regular instruments" that play notes and chords there seems to be something missing a good portion of the time. So when a percussionist joins in it's like a buzz of caffeine for the song.

February 09, 2007

virtual insanity


During lunch today with my wife I was eves dropping into the conversation at the table behind me. The guy was talking about how online shopping could soon go to a new level where the customer can, sims style, virtually go into a store, look at stuff, hold it, decide and buy. This got my imagination going a mile a minute and Melissa could tell, she was asking what I was thinking about. I told her I would tell her later and that I was totally eves dropping. I was thinking how cool it would be if this did exist, how great a marketing tool this would be and that I should make a proposition with SIMS and Simon malls corporation about my great idea. Until I realized that this kind of thing is supposedly already in process of becoming a reality. Oh yeah, and I'm not a business man.

20 minutes later when I went back to work I got a very bad vibe from this concept.

This is just what America doesn't need. Something to feed our addiction to the internet and to our consumeristic life style. My imagination started to take off even further and I found myself imagining what it would look like if we had a Sims church. I was starting to make myself laugh. I would joke to myself that the easier levels would be the liturgical churches where everything was so ritual that soon enough I would get it perfected. Than the final level would be a full fledged pentecostal church where my character would have to put his all into it. I would press F10 to raise my hands, Control+Shift+HL for holy laughter, Control+Backspace for a shout of hallelujah and of course if we ever catch ourselves sinning in church, God forbid, we could just press control Z to repent and God himself would blot out our sin (that was a joke). Yeah, I was going a little insane but hey, it was friday. My mind conjured up so many ideas so fast that I had to stop myself and try to focus on what I had to do next at my workplace.

Lord God forgive us for our addiction to the internet and to material things. Thank you for giving us community, namely your church. May it never become ritual and cold and emotionally empty like a video game. Send your spirit to communicate who you are to us and who we are as your children to each other. In Jesus name, amen.

February 08, 2007

doe!

I now just forgot how to play 23 songs. Serves me right for bragging. Thank God for paper.

February 06, 2007

Woah!

I just learned 23 songs today. I think that might be a record-breaker.

February 02, 2007

feed my sheep

Right after the last post I scrolled down and linked to sacredspace and this is what came up.

The Holy Spirit gives us the confidence to be where we find ourselves, possibly depressed, old, sickly. Ancient trees may have rotten branches but they have a beauty that comes from all the years they have lived. If we live in the Holy Spirit, nothing is lost to us, not even our failures, immaturities or sins. When you are fifteen, you do not want to know about when you were ten. You are looking ahead, hoping to be something else. But true growth comes from knowing: I am fifteen, which means that each of those 15 years has added something to me. My successes come from what I did with my failures. I have survived some sufferings, and have learned from them. The Holy Spirit would have helped Saint Peter to think about the denial of Christ and crowing of the cock. He would rather have forgotten about it, undone it. Instead he learned to make it part of the Lord's dealing with him, as much a part as Jesus' tender words to him after the Resurrection: Feed my sheep.

i must die

Following Jesus does not mean that I become so self absorbed in how Christ like I should become. I can be too self condemning. Christ likeness is only a benefit. Following Jesus means that I have to deny myself of what my "rights" are. I must die to self and carry the cross, so to say, that Jesus has placed before me. I must serve others in love. In a love that does not expect anything in return. A love with no conditions. Out of this practiced love, discipline finds it's energy.

Now if only I can put this thinking into reality. Oh Lord, help this wretched dude that I am. Turn my laziness into surrender. Amen

January 23, 2007

peace

In Matthew 5:9 Jesus says "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God."
Luke 12:51-53 Jesus says "Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division."

These two verses are one of the few examples of scripture that seemingly contradicts itself. What I have learned is that when there are two scriptures that are supposedly contradictory, there is actually a hidden lesson behind them that we can learn from. There are other "contradicting verses" that I have trouble with but faith that there is an answer. My take on these two verses is that Jesus wants us to make peace with others as much as we possibly can but there will be times where peace just won't happen. Especially when someone claims a belief in absolute truth. Most of America, if not most of the world, has a relativistic view on truth. Absolute truth is viewed as intolerant. Those who view tolerance as the ultimate virtue do not tolerate those who believe in absolute truth. If we believe in Jesus we believe in absolute truth because Jesus himself said that He is the way, the truth and the life and that no one can come unto the Father but through Him. This claim can throw people off and cause them to passively dismiss Jesus by questioning whether He ever said stuff like that at all. (that's a whole other issue).

This divide between the absolutist and the relatavist is what Jesus is talking about when we apply it to current America. Still, in the midst of this divide we can come together, dialogue and love each other. It has to be intentional though or else it will never happen. The divide makes it harder and this is one of the reasons why christians tend to congregate and make their own bubble where they can have their own christian world. I have never liked this. I've always had friends who were not christians and I've always felt that divide between us but I try my best to be a peacemaker and not live in a bubble.

One of the wisest sayings I have heard is that "peace is not the absence of conflict". Many believe that peace should either be all or nothing and that it can be fully achieved through human will. I don't think peace will ever fully happen until Jesus returns. Until then we can experience pockets of peace here and there. The more we seek out peace the more we will have it. People like Ghandi have acted out in the character of Jesus and it has brought out a season of peace. You may call me a pessimist but the realist in me knows that peace is only for a season. That season being an hour or a couple of centuries.

There is a weird dichotomy about the christian's pursuit of peace. It is a double edged sword... kind of. Matthew 5:9 and Luke 12:51 kind of represent both sides. On one hand, the christian has the ultimate source of peace. That source is found in our relationship to Jesus, the prince of peace. Phillipians 4:6,7 says "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." On the other hand, we can experience a lack of peace with others who do not view truth the same way as us. This includes christians disagreeing with christians(especially on matters other than the core beliefs). We must be at peace with that and love them anyways. We must also be at peace with the fact that we will only experience peace within ourselves for seasons here and there. I do belive however that those seasons can become larger and larger as we mature in our relationship with Jesus. Then again, I could be wrong about that and I must be at peace with that possiblity. I'm starting to digress...

Lord Jesus, help us to be peace makers and messengers of the gospel of peace in the power and love of your spirit, amen.