Monday, February 25, 2008

The 2 Questions...Everything Must Change (2)

Brian asks himself and us the two big questions:

#1 What are the biggest problems in the world today?
#2 What does Jesus have to say about these global problems?

Unfortunately, too many of today's Evangelicals would answer #1 as something to the effect of "people are dying and going to hell." And there's no question that's a problem. But the tendency is to focus on the "going to hell" part and not the "dying" part. I think Brian's trying to change that tendency. We have allowed the kingdom of God to be redefined as going to heaven when you die. But Jesus talked about the kingdom at hand, the kingdom here and now, the good news for us today. I have adopted as my own metaphor Brian's use of "God's dreams coming true" as how I try to describe the kingdom of heaven. God has dreams for this world, as we have dreams for our kids. He wants those dreams to become reality. But they don't always do so. I think that this is better than talking about God's "will", which can be a confusing topic, especially when you deal with evil and suffering. But talking about God's dreams for this world brings a fresh perspective into the discussion. Yes, he could snap his fingers and make his dreams come true, but he's not into that. For some reason, he has chosen to work in and through us to make his dreams come true, his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

For Brian some of this came to a head when he was visiting Africa to speak in a pastor's conference. He had many discussions with those pastors, and they referred to the kingdom of God often in terms of colonial and post-colonial worldviews. Colonial thinking led to certain attitudes and actions from both the colonizers and the colonized. Post-colonial thinking changes those radically for both groups of people. Put yourself in either group, and let your imagination wonder for a few minutes, and you'll get the picture.

In the same way, colonialism is like "the gospel of avoiding hell" and post-colonialism like "the gospel of the kingdom of God." The reason "everything must change" is because the old way of looking at the gospel as hell-avoidance led to many wrong conclusions about how to approach this life. As one participant in the African conference said "Today, for the first time, I see what Jesus meant by the kingdom of God. I see that it's about changing this world, not just escaping it and retreating into our churches. If Jesus' message of the kingdom of God is true, then everything must change. Everything must change."

So what does Jesus have to say about the world's greatest problems? What does he say about war, poverty, slavery, human-trafficking, AIDS/HIV and other epidemics, and the like?

Why couldn't I live in Florida???

This could have been my calling...

Baseball team looking for a few fat men
Sun Feb 24, 5:12 AM ET
MIAMI - The Florida Marlins are looking for some footloose fat men. The National League team is creating an all-male, plus-size cheerleading squad to be dubbed the Manatees. Tryouts were scheduled for Sunday.
The team hopes to recruit seven to 10 tubby men to dance, cheer and jiggle during Friday and Saturday home games this season.
Real manatees, 1,200-pound mammals sometimes referred to as "sea cows," are not considered the most agile of creatures and often get caught in boat propellers.
The Marlins want their Manatees to have the same dimensions, but to be decidedly more agile. Men will be judged on how well they dance a choreographed routine.
The Marlins already have a cheerleading squad, the considerably more svelte Mermaids.
Men selected for the Manatees won't be paid. They'll get tickets to games they perform at, and the honor of dancing in front of crowds that have been smallest in major league baseball for the last two seasons.
The Marlins aren't the only pro sports team capitalizing on Americans' expanding waistlines. The Chicago Bulls basketball team have the Matadors, a big-man dance troupe that's entertained fans at home games since 2003.
And although cheerleaders might be an unfamiliar site in baseball, big men aren't, as fans have long cheered on the likes of Babe Ruth and Kirby Puckett

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thoughts on leadership at my church...

My church has started a leader's blog, and I put my first post today. In response to a question about the difference between discipleship, mentoring, and's what I wrote:

There is a real sense in which your non-Walgreens [who was saying his most sought-after quality in people he hired was clarity] guy was whining for a world that is gone, and may not come back. Clarity--the world in the 19th and 20th centuries really believed that science would provide clarity to the mysteries of the world, only to have deeper mysteries revealed. Unfortunately, the modern church offered a reactive kind of "clarity" that was, as John Walters hints, unauthentic. I was there. When I was 22, there were 4,036 things that I KNEW clearly to be black and white. I spoke about them on TV, I debated them on the student union grounds. I was full of clarity. And now, almost 20 years later, I think I was wrong on many (most?) of those issues.

I now have about 4 or 5 issues that are non-negotiables for me (see, I don't even have clarity on how many there are!), issues that I will stake my life on and live or die by. I personally believe that discipleship happens away from the center of clarity and at the margins of life, where real life challenges faith and faith sometimes falters, sometimes steps up and responds, knowing God loves regardless of the circumstances.

Discipling, mentoring, leading--like most other words in our culture, they change in meaning with the times in which we live. They have meanings that we pour into them depending on the circumstances we're in. 10 years ago leadership was all the buzz, and, quite frankly, both inside and outside the church we hyped everyone up into thinking they were or could be leaders.
Unspoken common sense said "Uh, not all at the same time you can't."

Our lives have both intentional and unintentional impacts on those around us. To me, mentoring has an intentionality about it at least on the part of the mentor. Disciple, in its NT form, is an apprentice, something that our 21st century world has no clue about. We no longer apprentice ourselves to other people to learn a trade--that left with the onset of the industrial revolution and the rise of the modern university. Leadership is whatever Jim Collins, Tom Peters, Bill Hybels, John Maxwell or Bono happens to say it is at the moment.

The real truth for me is the management and mystery of our relationships. Management because there can be a "sweet science" to the intentionality we take to impact the world through relationships. Mystery because the reality is often that we are the proverbial blind beggars who have only caught a brief flash of the light and nourishment of God and we're groping in that direction, hoping we're moving rightly and not alone.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Wisdom from the Wizard of Ads

From the Monday Morning Memo of Roy Williams...

7-Step Secret of Success
How to Get Where You Want to Go

1. See your destination in your mind.“When you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”– White Rabbit

2. Start walking.“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu (604 BC - 531 BC)

3. Think ahead as you walk."It’s like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." – E.L. Doctorow

4. Don’t quit walking."Don't wait. Where do you expect to get by waiting? Doing is what teaches you. Doing is what leads to inspiration. Doing is what generates ideas. Nothing else, and nothing less." - Daniel Quinn

5. Make no deadlines.“Patience is the best remedy for every trouble.”- Titus Maccius Plautus (254 BC - 184 BC)
“I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.”- Margaret Thatcher, April 4, 1989

6. Look back at the progress you made each day.“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning – the sixth day.” Genesis 1:31

7. If evening finds you at the same place you were this morning, take a step before you lay down.The magic isn’t in the size of your actions, but in the relentlessness of them. "It is better to burn the candle at both ends, and in the middle, too, than to put it away in the closet and let the mice eat it." - Henry Van Dyke

Never let a day pass without making, at the very least, a tiny bit of progress. Do NOT tell yourself you’ll make up for it tomorrow. (That seductive lie is the kiss of death.) Make a phone call. Lick a stamp. Correct a misspelled word. Something. Anything.

You realize I'm talking about business, not hiking, right?

A second common mistake is to get these steps out of order. If you skip Step 1, “See your destination,” and go straight to step 2, “Start walking,” you’ll be a wanderer, a drifter on the ocean of life, sadly on your way to lying beneath a tombstone that says, “He Had Potential.”Even more dangerous is to go from Step 1, “See your destination,” directly to Step 3, “Think ahead,” without ever doing Step 2, “Start walking.” These are the people who never get started. Analysis paralysis. Lots of anxiety and plans and meetings and revisions and studies and evaluation and research can make you think you're getting somewhere when you're not.Gen. George S. Patton said it best, “A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.” In other words, there is no perfect plan. Shut up and get started. Visitors to Tuscan Hall will recall a beautiful stairway that leads into a wall, then does a 180 halfway up to finish in exactly the opposite direction. At the top of those stairs a magnificent catwalk runs the entire length of the building to a gallery of fine art overlooking the floor below. This is the Journey of Life. If you find yourself headed in the wrong direction, you can always correct your way. But only if you know your destination.

Cletus Take the Reel

Funniest parody of Carrie Underwood...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Everything Must Change

It's no secret that Brian McLaren is one of my favorite writers. When a friend recommended "A New Kind of Christian" to me years ago as being reflective of my own journey in following Jesus, I immediately knew I had found a close friend (only in writing; I've never met Brian, but I will use his first name a lot because McLaren is harder to type...). In the semi-fictional New Kind of Christian series, Brian introduces us to some characters that are grappling with following Jesus without the constructs of modernity. Some of his other books regurgitate earlier material, but last year's "Everything Must Change" is, I think, a groundbreaking work for what followers of Jesus ought to be doing in our world today.

So since I'm nearly finished reading the book, I want to spend some time blogging on it as a review for myself and hopefully a challenge for you, the 3.4 readers of this blog.

In chapter 1, Brian introduces some of his (awesome if you ask me) metaphors used throughout his speaking and writing. He talks about our "framing story" or worldview, or what Lesslie Newbiggen called "plausibility structures" as what really needs to change. Throughout the book he confronts us with places where we've bought into an unbiblical, even ungodly framing story and somehow baptized it with a few Christian pieces and claim it as belonging to Jesus.

He also uses the term "suicide machine" to describe the corrupt systems that infiltrate our world--particularly the economic, political and military systems--and reprograms them to work for evil instead of good. He alternatively uses "an undetected storm, an undiagnosed disease, an unacknowledged addiction, or a machine that has gone destructive" metaphors to describe "our plethora of critical global crises" in our world today.

What are those crises? Let's end today's post with Brian's list:

1. Environmental breakdown directly caused by corrupted, unsustainable economic systems in the suicide machine (prosperity crisis).

2. The huge and growing gap between rich and poor (equity crisis).

3. The danger of cataclysmic war we constantly live with (security crisis).

4. The failure of the world's religions to provide a framing story capable of healing or reducing the three previous crises (spirituality crisis).

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hardcore Baptist Pickup Lines

I got this from The Door's online version. Scott La Counte has created a hilarious list!

Hardcore Baptist Pick-up Lines01/24/2008 Filed Under:

By Scott La Counte

Baby, you’re like a burning bush. I feel like Moses, all I want is a glimpse of the Promised Land.

You look like the whore of Babylon—and I mean that in a good way.

You look like Ruth from the Bible. She was a Christian—at least she would have been if she was born a few hundred years later. Are you a Christian? Because I only court Christians, and I’m very interested in courting you if your father says it’s okay.

Everything you say is moving my heart and I don’t think it’s just because you’re speaking in tongues. Is there an ancient language called Babe?

I used to believe only faith could make a sick person well until I saw you, because, baby, you just healed something deep inside me that I'd never let Benny Hinn touch.

Baby, the rapture's coming soon-let’s hold each other tight before the non-Christians wage war and kill us all.

I’m sure glad your mama was pro-life.

Let’s go back to my place—I've got the complete VeggieTales.

Bathsheba was naked before David, and that worked out in a totally Biblical way. I'm sure you'll be way more awesome than she was.

Hey, babe, if you were the mission, then I'd be a missionary.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Should Christians write futuristic novels about killing people in future religious wars?

What would you do if suddenly your car didn’t run, all power to your home was gone, your house furnace and central air conditioning were disabled, your refrigerator and freezer became warm storage cabinets for rapidly decaying food, and your employer was permanently out of business?

How would you survive? Where would you go to escape the harsh realities of the climate where you live?

And suppose that on top of this calamity there came a horde of marauders riding swift horses into your city to murder, rape, burn, and pillage? Police, firefighters, and National Guardsmen would be powerless to put up much resistance since they couldn’t operate vehicles or equipment to get to the site of the conflagration.

Do you own a gun? Could you bring yourself to fend off your formerly friendly neighbor who is now murderously intent upon taking your last food reserves to keep his family from starving? And how many bullets would it take to repel thousands of heavily armed invaders, all intent upon killing you for your beliefs and stealing your family and property?

In this fanciful but not far-fetched page-turner, xxx xxxx portrays a world where the ultimate weapon of mass destruction has instantly propelled the United States hundreds of years backward and turned society into a vicious, dog-eat-dog, stone-age madhouse of chaos. This weapon is out there, in the hands of insane men and it could happen!

I found this interesting. I met the author of this book last week, and he asked me to peruse his website. He seems like a good writer, but when I read the paragraph above that begins "do you own a gun..." I couldn't help but wonder if the paragraph was hype or if we were really supposed to contemplate shooting our neighbor to keep him from stealing our food or storing up ammo to kill "thousands of heavily armed invaders"?!? Reminds me of the "Who Would Jesus Bomb?" bumper sticker you can by at