June 30, 2008

unity

I am a broken record. I've mentioned before that unity within the body of Christ is a burden/calling on my heart. It is my great hope and my great frustration. On the top of my head there are three major barriers that cause division in the Church. Institutional Denominations, Race, & theological doctrine (both in belief and in practice). They are not intrinsically evil in of themselves but rather a myriad of strengths within God's diverse family that have become weaknesses. The causes of this is the effect sin continues to have on earth and humanity. Chaos is breaking us down along with creation. We are prone to selfishness which divides. Another cause is the presence of a personal and active evil that seeks to divide what God seeks to bring together.

In my experience, unity within in the universal body of Christ has been able to happen in events that have certain characteristics to them. The first most common multi-faceted gathering would be that of the pentecostal or charismatic persuasion. This is perhaps the easiest these days because during a time of worship in which the power of the Holy Spirit is heavily sought after, doctrine is usually the first to get pushed aside. Methods and different expressions of the faith are temporarily put on hold but it's usually one style that refuses to compromise from the start. With just the gifts of the Spirit and no the fruit, what looks like a sudden large fire can go out just as fast.

The second would be the ceremonial gathering. A religious holiday like thanksgiving, christmas or holy week. You may see races or denominations coming together with a common liturgy. On a smaller scale, holidays are a time when estranged family members come together.

It is interesting to note that these two gatherings are at either end of the spectrum. One relies on liturgy, another on experience. A couple problems with this is that this is solely based on events. The other is that the practice of unity deals with relationships and neither temporary experiences nor liturgy can take it's place. Relationships require compromise, Compromise requires deconstruction in order to discern what can be thrown away for the sake of coming together. Reconstruction is always slow but it must follow. What does Reconstruction look like? Reconstruction happens in the presence of God during worship. I believe it is the marriage of ancient liturgy and pentecostal experience with the foundation of relationship. The key to relationship is service and self sacrifice. Letting go of pet peeves and pet doctrines etc.. It is the coming together to enjoy and share with each other. It is also the coming together to fulfill the biblical mandate of Matthew 25:34-36

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

I've wondered how I can do my part in bringing about unity in Christ? How can I bring people together when I'm not a people person? Where do I even start? All I have so far is this: do small things and pray. I have faith that unity can and will happen, I hope it will happen in my lifetime but even if it doesn't I will still love everyone no matter what.

part of John 17 (the message)

Jesus' Prayer for His Followers

Jesus said these things. Then, raising his eyes in prayer, he said:
Father, it's time.
Display the bright splendor of your Son
So the Son in turn may show your bright splendor.
You put him in charge of everything human
So he might give real and eternal life to all in his charge.
And this is the real and eternal life:
That they know you,
The one and only true God,
And Jesus Christ, whom you sent.
I glorified you on earth
By completing down to the last detail
What you assigned me to do.
And now, Father, glorify me with your very own splendor,
The very splendor I had in your presence
Before there was a world.
I spelled out your character in detail
To the men and women you gave me.
They were yours in the first place;
Then you gave them to me,
And they have now done what you said.
They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt,
That everything you gave me is firsthand from you,
For the message you gave me, I gave them;
And they took it, and were convinced
That I came from you.
They believed that you sent me.
I pray for them.
I'm not praying for the God-rejecting world
But for those you gave me,
For they are yours by right.
Everything mine is yours, and yours mine,
And my life is on display in them.
For I'm no longer going to be visible in the world;
They'll continue in the world
While I return to you.
Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life
That you conferred as a gift through me,
So they can be one heart and mind
As we are one heart and mind.
As long as I was with them, I guarded them
In the pursuit of the life you gave through me;
I even posted a night watch.
And not one of them got away,
Except for the rebel bent on destruction
(the exception that proved the rule of Scripture).

Now I'm returning to you.
I'm saying these things in the world's hearing
So my people can experience
My joy completed in them.
I gave them your word;
The godless world hated them because of it,
Because they didn't join the world's ways,
Just as I didn't join the world's ways.
I'm not asking that you take them out of the world
But that you guard them from the Evil One.
They are no more defined by the world
Than I am defined by the world.
Make them holy—consecrated—with the truth;
Your word is consecrating truth.
In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world,
I give them a mission in the world.
I'm consecrating myself for their sakes
So they'll be truth-consecrated in their mission.

I'm praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they'll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they'll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you've sent me and loved them
In the same way you've loved me.

June 28, 2008

confession

Here is a gallery of a few musicians that I am slightly embarrassed to say that I like. I do not own any albums from these artists but I think they are very talented and have written some of the best songs that exist.


although one of his songs is involved in an event I slightly regret in High School I can't help but dig those signature melodies of his.


the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as prince... need I say more. Of all the decent songs of the eighties (which are few in number), he has written a good portion of them.


If you say you don't like any of his songs you are probably lying. Sing with me "it's the circle of life.. "

work ~ sing

The place that most of us find ourselves spending the most amount of our awake time is at work. At my place of work I could go through a full day and say only a handful of words (and that happens a lot). I am a quiet guy with a pretty hefty work ethic. I believe strongly that when I'm at work that's what I should be doing: work. I talk to God at work. I praise and thank him for who he is and what he's done. I ask him to give me strength, wisdom and joy as I toil the day away. I ask him to help me prioritize when I'm over my head in stuff to do. I ask for his presence to come into the work-shop and touch each one of us. I also intercede for those in need that come to mind. Sometimes my prayers are silent. Other times I find myself muttering my prayers out loud just by second nature. There have been times after realizing that I was muttering that there was someone else close by and I get all self-conscious that they heard me and thought I was weird talking to myself. Sometimes I sing my prayers or just sing praise. Not too loud but in a volume that's kind of under my breath. Whatever words and melody may come goes out of my mouth. This last way is probably the best in the work setting. If I'm too silent at work my co-workers might think that I've taken a vow of silence. If I'm muttering under my breath they might think I'm loony. If I sing they'll most likely think I'm happy and content.

You know what? who cares what other people think, right?

June 25, 2008

work ~ shade


For about eight years I was a troll that worked underground. Now that my place of employment has moved it's facility a year ago I have been enjoying large and numerous windows in every part of the workshop. I catch myself every now and then staring out these windows at the clouds, animals and trees when I'm in the middle of working. This spring has been especially beautiful compared to most and I have had the privilege to watch every step of it right from where I make the rubber stamps and engraved signs. In my gazing I have noticed that some buds grow so fast that you could almost watch it grow. Obviously this can't be done. It's kind of like the old saying "a watched pot never boils". But if I shake my head to stop staring out the window and finish my days work, when I look back out the window I then see a difference, even from morning to evening of the same day.

One of my favorite parts of this past spring was when walking home from work I felt a decent heat from the sunshine along with a cool wind. The evening sun would've been glaring right on me but I was pleased to notice for the first time leaves above me. Trees with young but full leaves all the way down the street. I was for the first time this year in the shade of the trees. The smell of flowers were blossoming and the cool wind blew through the leaves causing a familiar and relaxing sound.

It is common to think that contemplation can only be done in silence and in stillness. I disagree. Sometimes the exact opposite is needed in order to clear the head so that interactive praying and listening to the Holy Spirit can take place. This shouldn't be used as an excuse for those of us who are addicted to activity. Rather, it should be known that waiting on God is both active and passive.

June 22, 2008

There and Back Again


Tonight, I finally came to an end of a great book. I am probably the slowest and most distracted reader that you'll ever meet. Over the course of who knows how long I finished 'the Hobbit'. It became one of my favorites by the time I reached the middle and I went from being more than a little annoyed at Bilbo's character to a mild admiration. When Bilbo came home it was mentioned that it happened on June 22nd, which is today. !?.

June 08, 2008

Gesundheit


If you stop and think why we do some of the things we do you will undoubtebly come across some wacky scenarios. Take saying "God bless you" to someone after they sneeze for instance. A few years ago I put this habit of mine under some serious questioning. In hearing about the etymology of this phrase or word and the paranoia that seemed to breed this popular habit I came to the decision that I would not take part in this silliness. So everytime someone sneezed I remained silent refusing to give in to the paranoid superstition. After every sneeze there would be an awkward silence (maybe it was just awkward for me).

After a few months of maintaining this new habit of mine I came to the conclusion that I was just being stubborn for the sake of being stubborn. My new philosophy on the matter was that this weird phenemenon that I considered to be theologically and scientifically stupid was actually a great excuse to say a blessing without sounding overly religious.

A fews later here in the present with my new resolve still intact I am coming across another baffling realization. It seems like the traditional gesundheit after the sneeze is going out of style for whatever reason. Have you noticed this too? If so, why do you think this is so?

June 06, 2008

freedom

Music is easy for me. Is it really that hard for anyone? It is a universal language of the heart all around the world. Music is not the only form of worship but for me it helps me connect with the Holy Spirit. A song is something which can be produced and done over and over so it is rather efficient and ... umm easy when it comes to a time of devotion, unlike other arts that require more preparation. Dancing I can see being very natural, primal even, like the rhythm of drums, visual and audio combined in the physical. I have a brother in Christ who I haven't seen in a couple years. He is paralyzed from the waist down along with slurred speech etc. He once spoke out and admonished/encouraged us all during a worship service that "God loves it when we worship Him physically and physically move our bodies to show Him love. He was sad because he couldn't as much as before."

Before I go any further, you should also know that I am a stoic person. I am swedish, german and english so it is a rare thing to see me smile (just kidding) dance. My former pastor of twelve years would get the church on more than one occasion to rock side to side to something corny like "we bring a sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord". One time it stunk. The next I had to admit I was in honest worship before my God.

I am very quiet but if you happen to spend a very considerable amount of time with me while I'm at home you will find an incredibly wacky person that sometimes won't be quiet. Not because I'm talking but because I'm speaking gibberish that has a phat beat to it. In that moment I am free. Not just my spirit inside but my physical body as well. God made me this way and loves it when I fully express myself. On the flip side (or should I say dark side) if you spend a considerable amount of time with me you may observe a mad man that talks like a jerk. That’s because if you've spent a long time with me it is reasonable to believe that you love and accept me as I am so the psychological part of me tells both the free and good part of me as well as the dark side that it's OK to show themselves to this other person, they won't punch you. God is always where we are. We can't hide so might as well show our full selves to Him.

What is natural to you? Be free in that... and whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)