Archive for August, 2003

Whose side is God on?

Whose side is God on?
Scott and I have made a habit of watching Christian television on Sunday morning.  I’m not sure why.  I think it is because we enjoy getting upset.  If I were to base my understanding of God on what I was being taught on these programs I’d probably have a very different perspective on God.  I would probably think God’s primary purpose is to help me become a success.  Apparently God is on my side. 

Based on what Jesus said while on earth I get the strong impression that I have a choice between joining His side and staying on my own side.  The primary metaphor for God’s influence on this earth is a kingdom.  Jesus came to establish His kingdom not a retail chain of SalvationMart’s. 

One of the things that struck me very profoundly in recent times is the realization that the Christian faith is a lot more about God than it is about me.  God is on His own side.  God is looking for people who will become vessels of His love and power so that He can bring salvation and justice to this world.  His first priority is not getting everyone who asks Him for a BMW a European sedan.  The scriptures are pretty clear when they address the temptations of wealth.  They are equally clear when they speak of the advantages of living simply.  If God’s first priority is the world’s redemption why would he be motivated to burden his people with a bunch of stuff?

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I don't always agree with you

I don’t always agree with you
It’s pretty common that someone will send a comment that says something like “I don’t always agree with you but you say some good stuff”.  These comments have never really bothered me however they do make me think.  I expect to disagree with people.  I don’t think it is all that important for Christians to reach some form of theological comformity.  Modernity has told us to find the universal principle or the scientific fact and everyone using the proper methodology should arrive at the same conclusion. I don’t think this is true with God.   If the bible tells us that our perspective on God is a blend of things such as His word and our personal experience with Him should we not expect to understand God differently.  I’m not saying that we can make up our own God.  God is absolute, unchanging and timeless. However the way He relates to each one of us is personal.   

I don’t want people to agree with me all the time.  I want to learn and I want to be challenged.  I seek out relationships with people that look at things differently than I do.  If I point people to another blog it isn’t because I’ve officially approved everything they write.  I just find value in what they write.    Sometimes people will reject an author because they find fault with a few things that author writes.  I think that is just silly. 

I work with Jordon Cooper and we hang out quite a bit.  We share the same perspective on a lot of things.  However we disagree on things quite a bit.  He’s Wesleyan and I’m an Anabaptist.  He has been a pastor for 7 years, I was once a “church leaver”.  Jordon reads a lot and he knows a lot.  It would be completely ridiculous for me to think that he and I should agree on everything.  Despite the fact that we share different perspectives on a lot of things I believe in Jordon.  I believe that God uses Jordon. I see that Jordon makes a significant effort to be faithful to God with his knowledge and gifting.  Thats more than I can say for a lot of Christians. 

In 1Cor 4:2 Paul says that “stewards” (of the mysteries of God) should be found faithful.  That is what I look for when I consider Christian teachers and leaders.

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Blogging is more real than we realize

Blogging is more real than we realize
The Christian blogging community is starting to look a lot like traditional community.  I’ve often thought that in certain ways people are more themselves online than they are offline.  If you have ever put on the audio head set for an X-Box live game you’ll quickly realize that many video game players are rude, vulgar, insensitive and mean.  There is no fear of reprisal sitting in your living room miles away from the people you are playing against.  There is nothing holding you back from saying what you are truly thinking.  Teenagers often think some very terrible things. 

There is more accountability in blogging than there is on X-Box live.  We all have static web addresses and most of us allow for comments.  Reprisal is a more tangible possibility but it isn’t enough to keep people from saying some very nasty things.  Unfortunately what we say when we aren’t afraid of reprisal is a very accurate refection of our character.  The nastiness, division and strife occurring in the Christian blogging community reflects the character of those who blog. 

In “analog” community we are somewhat insulated from our true nature because most of us hide it.  Much of the infighting and politics in our institutions are hidden from view.  Sometimes the accountability structures we create actually hide sin in an effort to protect the institution.  The reason is simple, if most of us knew the dark nature of what transpires in our faith communities we would lose faith in our institutions. 

Many of my personal friends who have entered vocational ministry lasted only a few years.  The reasons are complicated and have been the subject of debate.  Many of the people that I know were not prepared for how carnal some of the people in their church were.  When they entered ministry they moved from the outer circle to the inner circle where far fewer things are hidden from view.  It is very common for people to become disillusioned when they see the dark side of their faith community.

I believe the same kind of disillusionment is beginning to happen online.  I’ve been blogging for about a year and a half and I’ve already be labelled a hypocrite, immature and a cry baby.  I have friends that have endured far worse.  However I still believe in this form of Christian community just as I still believe in the church.  I refuse to let the dark nature of humanity eclipse the good that can be found in sharing our thoughts and stories. 

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Can a real Christian have depression

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Fire and Rescure Service use Photo Messaging

Fire and Rescue Service use Photo Messaging

Orange Business Solutions and Fife Fire & Rescue Service today announce an initiative that uses photo messaging at the scene of accidents, to help save lives and dramatically improve the level of treatment provided to casualties. The mobile technology, believed to be used for the first time in this way in Britain’s emergency services sector, is being used in Fife, Scotland. The service is expected to change the way casualties are managed in the critical early stages of treatment following an accident.

Now I really want a camera on my wireless phone.

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Democratic Christian Socialist?

Democratic Christian Socialist?
The CBC has a great feature on former Premier of Saskatchewan Tommy Douglas.  TC Douglas is often regarded as the most influential man in Canadian politics that had never become Prime Minister.  We in Canada owe Tommy a lot.  Universal health care is his most notable achievement.  He was a baptist preacher that cared deeply and passionately about the plight of the common person.  He was also very funny.

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Denominations

Denominations
This Sunday I attended two different worship services.  I went to a Roman Catholic Church as well as my old evangelical one.  I enjoyed the RC one even though I really didn’t know what was going on sometimes.  I didn’t know what to say when the congregation responded in unison.  I thought the message was short and well done.  The sanctuary was much more attractive than your average evangelical place of worship.  The service was devoid of all forms of hype or emotional manipulation.  That was a welcome change.

I found myself wishing I could be part of the church that traces its history back to Jesus.  The priest was very fair and thoughtful in his message about the word of God.  He gave credit to the reformers for bringing the church back to the word of God.  He also said that the church pre-Vatican II was apprehensive about having people interpret the bible on their own because it would result in more division.  I thought it was a pretty good point.  That is exactly what happened. 

I was grieved somewhat after church.  We lose so much when we isolate ourselves.   I’ve been a Christian for half my life now and this is the first time I’ve been to Mass.  I think that is kind of sad.   I don’t think we should erase the theological distinctiveness of our faith traditions but we need to move beyond our isolationism. 

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Iraq is getting complicated

Iraq is getting complicated
The situation in Iraq is growing more unfortunate by the week.  The goodwill of the Iraqi’s seems to have diminished.  Now a multitude of terrorists have found a very covenient place to kill Americans.  If the Americans pull out democracy will never be established.  If they stay they need many more troops and resources.  If the Palestinians are any indication of the resolve of the anti-American forces no amount of troops or resources will ever truly secure the area. 

We are now seeing the fruit of armed conflict.  War doesn’t always make things better. 

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The object of our faith

The object of our faith

Where do we place our faith?  Some say it’s the bible.  Non evangelical segments of the Christian church have pointed out that the bible was put together by the church.  Therefore the church must have some authority.  I think they have a point.  The authors in the bible never say that their words are the foundation for truth.  Paul wrote that scripture is God breathed.  I believe that makes it authoritative but Paul doesn’t say that the bible is the foundation for truth.

When Paul came to Corinth his aim was that the Corinthians would come to faith in the power of God, not in his own words.  He didn’t try to get them to believe in what he said; he tried to get them to trust in a very interactive God.

1Cor 2:4 My conversation and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 2:5 so that your faith would not be based on human wisdom but on the power of God.

In some informal surveys I’ve conducted I found that most of the people in church became Christians around age 7 because they wanted to go to heaven and they didn’t want to go to hell.  Their parents often encouraged their children to pray the sinner’s prayer” or accept Christ”.   This whole process seems odd to me.  No one goes to heaven because they pray a prayer, even the sinner’s prayer.  Evangelicals have long held that we are saved by grace through faith.  I don’t know when we started to think that it is faith plus a prayer or that the sinner’s prayer equalled faith.

One of the things we need to explore is the object of our faith. In many ways we’ve redefined faith in God to mean faith in the bible or faith in a prayer. We talk about faith in God but what we are really talking about is faith in a Christian worldview.Unfortunately worldviews are powerless in helping us overcome sin.

 

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My vacation has done me well

My vacation has done me well
I put a full week of work in at Bethany.  I helped one my clients get some extra stuff going on his weblog.  I trained another client.  I started the conversion process over at RealContact.org as well as started setting up Mark’s new blog.  I’ve had a lot more energy and discipline than I’ve had in a long time.

There are a couple of people at Bethany that have really encouraged me to stay.  It looks like we can negotiate a higher contact rate.  I like working there and I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile.  I may just stick around regardless of what I am offered.

I am making the school more efficient by removing redundant processes, reducing the level of human involvement in mundane tasks and integrating systems.  My internship showed me how the school works academically and I’ve thought through a way that will significantly reduce the amount of hours faculty spend processing certain types of assignments.  It looks like we can put up a big tower and beam in a high speed Internet connection.  If we do that we can truly innovate in areas of distance learning and virtual classrooms.  I like working with the business manager because he is always looking for ways to invest in things that bring down the total cost of school operations.  I wonder how much more money the school would have if they had guys like him for the last 20 years. 

My main contribution to the school is a web based administration system I’ve programmed.  At first I started making a new system for academics with a special program planning section.  Then I added recruitment.  Next came assignment monitoring.  After that I created a system which allowed the faculty to order books through the library and a PO system so the library can order those books.  Now I’m creating a student services application which will allow students to submit certain assignments electroncially and get a list of their late assignments.

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