Archive for October, 2004

Sick since Thursday

Sick since Thursday


I’ve had a cold since Thursday night and I’m not much better today…ugh.

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Is blogging cool?

Is blogging cool?


A few days ago I was in a meeting with a group of church leaders.  The topic of blogging came up and a few the leaders commented about how they weren’t cool enough to blog. Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to respond.

I don’t see any relationship between blogging and being cool.   Those who approach blogging as a way to be cool or boost their personal status and influence are often frustrated.  I’ve observed published authors struggle to get traffic because they write to get traffic.  For many blogging is about relationships that often go beyond posts and comments to IM, Skype, phone and face to face meetings.  The younger generations have a stronger desire for community and interaction and blogging helps fulfill that.  The lack of heirarchy on the web has allowed people form their own tribal communities.

I’ve been a blogging evangelist  for the last couple of years but I have had a terrible time recruiting “boomers” to sign on.  They see a blog as just one more thing to do.  It is another form of one way communication.  It seems difficult for them to recognize how real and beneficial online relationships can be.  It isn’t about being cool, it is about connecting with people.

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Mystical faith and hard truth

Mystical faith and hard truth


I’ve had a lot of discussions lately about why I believe in God.  While I do respect the conclusions come to I think people do a pretty miserable job of trying to explain away or interpret my experiences.  There is a strong mystic element to my faith that has led me and guided me through my journey.  The signposts of my mystic journey testify to the truth of my experience with God in a deep and profound way.  I cannot communicate that truth because people haven’t experienced what I’ve experienced.  It frustrates me when people try to shoehorn the depth of my journey in to their experience.  I’m astonished at how so few people stop to think, hey wait a minute, this isn’t something I’ve experienced, maybe I should pursue it.  Maybe there is some mystery I haven’t yet explored, some revelation I’ve yet to discover.  That is a great deception in the church.  That all there is to Jesus is what fits in to my little history.  Another myth is that all mystical experiences are equal.  It might seem like that to people who have never encountered a true mystical experience but saying all spiritual experiences are equal is like saying that Twisted Sister and Beethoven have the same validity as musicians. 

When people try to fit faith in the supernatural in to a naturalist grid it is like using a 2d perspective to communicate a 3d experience.  It just doesn’t suit, it doesn’t work.  When I hear people criticize the 3d spiritual world from a 2d naturalistic perspective it seems so inadequate.  It is difficult to respond.

I understand that the church has lied to people and told them to suck it up and take it on faith.  That doesn’t mean all that there is to God is understandable, that anytime we are called to make a leap of faith it means we check our brains in the door.  Even the world of science has its paradoxes and mysteries and yet we still believe in science.  Light is a particle and wave, and we don’t know how or why, but until we embrace the paradox we are limited in our understanding of the universe. 

We can biased in our faith and in our doubt.  Once people invest a lot of time and sacrifice for a higher power they not naturally inclined to doubt.  Sometimes our view of ourselves needs a religious landscape to define our identity.  These things bias us towards spiritual faith.  At the same time there are lot of people who are biased against faith.  They are hurting and disappointed with God.   It is easier to blame God or doubt God instead of honestly dealing with their feelings.  Sometimes there is something they know is wrong with their life but would rather redefine God than face some difficult truths. 

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Good things are happening at my old church

Good things are happening at my old church


My buddy Mark Trew is pastoring over at Forest Grove.  It looks like they are going through a substantial time of evaluation.  It looks really cool.

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He isn't the only guy that fell in love with Caitlin

He isn’t the only guy that fell in love with Caitlin


What self-respecting Canadian boy could resist the charms of Caitlin on the old Degrassi?  Why should an American be any different, even if it is Silent Bob.

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Say it ain't so Paul

Say it ain’t so Paul


Sheila Copps says Paul wanted to the pull the plug on the Canada Health Act

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Why criticize the Purpose Driven Life?

Why criticize the Purpose Driven Life?


As pragmatic Christianity grows it becomes increasingly difficult for people to see anything wrong with someone that seems to work.  The believe is that if the PDL helps someone it must be good so why bother attacking it?  If a specific kind of church institution or program brings people in it must be good.  This perspective is short sighted.  From a broader biblical, social and historical perspective it is easy to see how damaging church fads are. 

Jesus cleansed the temple for a reason.  As I apply the principle I take from that story I must conclude that the blatant cross-promotion and commercialism in religious consumables such as PDL or Revolve is sin.  Pulling out all the stops to profit from kingdom work is wrong.  Just because people are inspired to grow that doesn’t change anything.  The church needs to wake up and realize that some elements of the Christian marketing industry will compromise biblical ideals for profit.  Unfortunately we don’t have a viable alternative to the free market model.

Each year some new fad crops up.  The Passion was supposed to be the most powerful evangelistic tool we’ve ever seen.  PDL is supposed to change the lives of millions of people.  We spend millions of dollars and people hours on this stuff, but in the end nothing seems to change.  Lots of people say they’ve changed, but for most people the change was shallow and it didn’t take root.  These kinds of fads deceive people in to thinking substantial change can be achieved with so little cost.  As churches and individuals we spend a lot of time and money on stuff that doesn’t us very little good but makes us feel better.  In the end we trick ourselves in to thinking we are spiritually healthy when we are not, and the church continually declines.

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Biggest Choke in recent sports history

Biggest choke in recent sports history


Johnny “Jesus” Damon’s grand slam seals the deal for Boston and the Yankees are no more! 

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Bush's Resume

Bush’s Resume


This piece is biased but it provides evidence to back up its claims.

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Purpose Driven Life

Purpose Driven Life and the church


The success of the Purpose Driven Life is a sad testimony on the state of the church today.  Christians have become so used to eating the processed food found in seeker sensitive churches, glitzy conferences, and the Christian marketing industry that they can’t tell what is truly good for them.  I fully acknowledge that some people have been “helped” by PDL.  There have been many fads and gimmicks that have “helped” Christians but in the end the church is still in decline across North America.  Does anyone remember how inspired they were coming back from Promise Keeper conferences, or how cell groups were going to transform church community?  How about “Evangelism Explosion” or spiritual gift tests, the Passion, WWJD bracelets or the Prayer of Jabez.  If we take a step back and look at all the activity and so little fruit yet we continually get sucked in.  More and more so it is profit driven companies that push us to consume what they sell regardless of it’s true spiritual value.

The great danger in PDL and other books like it, is that people are never sufficiently challenged to go directly to God or the scriptures.  The PDL, for all its good points, mishandles scripture by using the most convenient translation available.  It makes scripture communicate things it really doesn’t.  It deeply concerns me that church members and leaders don’t catch this stuff.  I’ve heard of a local pastor who said PDL was second to scripture! 

PDL isn’t a terrible book. Rick Warren makes some solid points in it.  However it deeply concerns me that people are glossing over it’s weaknesses, and are elevating it to such lofty heights.  By continually buying in to the next fad, the next quick fix for the church, we risk losing our theological and spiritual moorings.  When we become guided by someone’s interpretation and application of scripture rather than scripture itself, we lose the ability to discern.  Essentially that is what has already happened, and slowly there is this theological creep from solid Christian doctrine to something different.  The end result is a church with lots of activity and very little fruit because it is no longer connected to God.

Good is often the worst enemy of best.  People read a book or go to a conference and come away from the experience feeling better.  They slowly become convinced that these good experiences are what Christianity is all about, but really they are missing out.  Jesus said that the road to life is narrow and hard (Luke 7:13).  There are no shortcuts to God.  To truly connect with God and be transformed takes effort, discipline and time.  The real depths of the Christian life involve a total transformation, but it is hard, and it will certainly never sell well. 

There is a quote from the movie Braveheart that I find myself revisiting in my head. William Wallace is talking with the nobles of Scotland.  These nobles were all so ambitious that they allied with a “cruel pagan, Edward the Longshanks” of England.  They were satisified compromising with evil so long as they get a little benefit but the completely missed the big picture of what they could have.

“Why? Why is that impossible? You’re so concerned with squabbling for the scraps from Longshank’s table that you’ve missed your God given right to something better.”

The church is so busy buying in to the next Christian fad that it has missed it’s God given right to something better. 

I’ll admit that I am very biased against popular Christian culture these days.  I see people being turned away from God because they equate following Jesus with the spineless, lifeless, commercialized Christianity that is so pervasive in these days.  I want to scream out – NO THAT IS NOT WHAT IT MEANS TO FOLLOW CHRIST!  Don’t reject Christ because of those idiots.  There is hope and life and healing and truth and justice.  There are people who follow Christ who actually do love their enemies, and have servant hearts, who are kind and compassionate. 

The fate of the church doesn’t rest primarily in the hands of it’s leaders, but in the presence and character of Christ in its members.  We are always learning, always hyped for the next fad, but never come to maturity (Eph 4:13) or a knowledge of the Truth (IITim 3:7).

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