Archive for November, 2005
Posted by LT in on November 28, 2005
Another election is upon us
Just over a year and a half ago I volunteered to help the Liberals. This time around I haven’t volunteered. At least not yet. Paul Martin hasn’t shaped up to be the prime minister I expected. It doesn’t have much to do with the sponsorship scandal. I take the Gomery report at face value when he says Paul Martin didn’t know anything about it. I know a lot of people who think that he must have known where the money was going but I maintain that the guy who sees lines in a budget is not going to be the one double checking the receipts.
I’m more saddened by the lack of vision. The desperate criss crossing of the country to announce new spending in order to buy votes is demeaning. It says that the Liberal party isn’t confident enough in its people or policy to win an election. It smacks of desperation of the worst order. They seem to be too busy trying to win to run to move the country forward.
That being said the Liberals still lead in the polls because the Conservatives haven’t put forth a tangible alternative vision. Their leader is about as likable as a cold dead fish and I’m tired of hearing about Liberal waste, mismanagement and corruption. If you want to be my prime minister let me know how you want to run the country.
I don’t know why Jack Layton suffers from all the distrust directed at politicians. I thought he tried to take the high road on many occasions and he never seems to get enough credit for it. I use to be a die hard dipper but I just can’t stomach their policy anymore.
Who I want to win and who I vote for may be different. Harper could knock my socks of with the most energetic campaign in Canadian history and I’d still vote against my current conservative MP.
Posted by LT in on November 27, 2005
Kind, patient and gentle debates?
Darryl brought to light a nasty conflict going on between some reformed not so reformed evangelicals. I read through each post cataloged on by some other blogger. Is it me or are the reformed baptist types the most volatile when it comes to online theological debate?
There are specific topics that people just seem to get angry about. What is it about homosexuality or women in ministry or the sovereignty of God that makes people so angry when they encounter someone who doesn’t think like they do? Why do people get angry? I think that for somethings, like homosexuality, we rationalize our own bigotry and hatred with scripture verses. Now don’t get me wrong. I still think that the best interpretation of the biblical passages leads me to believe there is something is at least a little bit wrong with gay sex. However I don’t think your average church goer’s opinion on homosexuality comes from the bible. I think it comes from society. People are worried that the pro same sex marriage camp is compromising with our postmodern culture of tolerance and relativism. I see just as much compromise on the other side. Does the hatred, and yes I mean the “If one of those fagots ever touches me I’ll curb stomp ‘em” hatred, come from the bible? I’ve seen it lots among church people. It comes from society and many elements of the church have just legitimized it. We can cover it up with “hate the sin, love the sinner” language but deep down our hearts we have legitimized our bigotry. We often don’t admit it but we feel we have the right to treat someone like trash if we are right and they are wrong.
I believe in good theology. I think that my search for Christ in the scriptures led me to a strong belief in grace, faith and the sovereignty of God. Good theology helped me understand God and salvation better and that dramatically improved my relationship with God. However I still prefer to leave things up to mystery because I don’t think the bible is perfectly clear. Do believe that Christ died for my sins? Yes. Do I believe in substitutionary atonement as the the primary metaphor for understanding what Christ did for me? No. I don’t know how Christ’s death works. I just know that it does work. This whole thing illustrates my frustration with the modern evangelical world. I think it arrogant and presumptuous to believe that I alone am right on issues that people traditionally divide over. That isn’t relativism. I’m not picking and choosing what to believe on a whim. I’m just trying to be honest with myself.
I think that there a great many ethical and value issues that are abundantly clear in scripture that seem to slip past our radar. How many warnings are there in scripture about getting in to useless and divisive arguments?
All verses are NASB
1Cor 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were R103 not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men?
1Tim 6:20 O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”– 21 which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith. Grace be with you.
2Tim 2:23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. 24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
James 4:11 Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?
I like a good debate. I’d say that I’ve been on the wrong side of these Scripture verses on many occasions. I think I’m finally starting to see the wisdom of Paul and James in this stuff. I have to wonder how much good ever comes out of volatile debates? Can there be a debate where both sides are kind, patient and gentle?
Posted by LT in on November 26, 2005
You do not have because you do not ask
I don’t know how it happened but the gospel message seemed to lose the
idea that we can deal with sin in this life. We have latched on
to the idea that grace is forgiveness but have lost the idea the God’s
grace also transforms us. It is true that the only effort I need
to make in salvation is faith but that faith is like the faith of a
patient in a surgeon. It is faith in an army that trains us and
equips for service that goes far beyond our consumeristic temptations
or personal spirituality. Faith is trust in a living God that
fills us with his Spirit and compels us to love people we wouldn’t
normally love. It makes us care so deeply for the people God
loves that we sacrifice in the service of something greater than
church knows so little of this transforming power. I think pride
is a major obstacle. We are afraid to be honest with each
other. We are afraid to admit we are wrong. We are afraid
to admit our sin. In some ways I don’t blame people. Church
subculture is often a paradoxical mix of cheap grace and unspoken
condemnation. That combined with our fear of judgment has bound
us and kept us from experiencing true freedom.
A few weeks ago I
lead our Praise and Prayer chapel at Bethany College. Normally we
sing lots of songs and then people share a prayer or praise item with
the whole group and we pray accordingly. Every year we fall in to
the patter on praying for things that outside our community (please
pray for my mom’s friend who has cancer) or for things very temporal
(I’m really stressed out right now because of homework and commitments)
and we rarely ask God to transform who we are. I set out to
change things up. I grabbed about 15 one sentence prayers from
Paul’s letters. Who ever wanted to be prayed for would just stand
up and say nothing. Then anyone who wanted to pray for that
person did so using one or more of Paul’s prayers. The person
would sit down and another would stand up. I wasn’t sure if it
was going to work but we took up the entire time and it was
I wanted to create an environment where would pray for each other and that we would ask for things that matter the most.
the event the words “you do not have because you do not ask” (James
4:2) echoed in my mind. The most powerful process I’ve submitted
myself to that lead to a transformation in my life was public
confession of sin. If we still hold on to our sin and keep it
private we are still maintaining a measure of control over our lives
and have chosen not to submit ourselves entirely to Christ.
Because of this we ask and we don’t receive because we want God to make
us better but we don’t want to endure a smudge in our reputation.
wonder where the church would really be if we were honest about where
we really were and opened ourselves up to the power of healing and
salvation in this life.
Posted by LT in on November 19, 2005
Posted by LT in on November 17, 2005
Throwing pearls to swine
The folks at EmergentNo and Slice of Laodicea present a difficult challenge. How do you talk with people who are so opposed to you that it seems impossible to find common ground? When two people or two groups of people are polarized communication becomes a problem. What group a says is not what group b hears and vice versa. It gets complicated when one group says they are changing to save the church and the others feel they are fighting to preserve it. Both feel they can righteously hold the position that they do. Both look down at the other. Both sides throw pearls and both sides are swine.
I’ve read a lot of stuff at EmergentNo and so often it doesn’t come close to describing me. Taking accurate criticism is hard. Finding something useful in inaccurate criticism is nearly impossible. It becomes even more difficult when you know your critics would disagree with almost every major faith tradition in the church. Their definition of biblical Christianity doesn’t leave much wiggleroom. For instance Carla Rolfe has called the idea of women pastors heresy. That defines everyone from the Anglicans to the Vineyard as heretics. That leads me to question why are they so concerned with the Emerging Church. Why not MethodistNo or MennoniteNo?
I think it is because the Emerging Church is the latest movement proclaiming itself as something new and better than everything else. At least potentially better than everything else. That must be very irritating to some. I don’t know if I’ve ever run in to any one who said that out right but it is strongly implied. When you leave the estalishment to start something new because the old isn’t working you are implying that there is something wrong. I don’t know how you can avoid that. I think the “seeker sensitive” movement went through something similar in the 80′s and 90′s.
I’ve tried to dialogue and debate with these people but things are so polarized it seems futile. The one thing I would think I hold in common with these folks is an authoritative view of scripture. Unfortunately I’ve found very little willingness to wrestle over the meaning of scripture. I’m often stunned and amazed at the vast leaps these people make in interpreting scripture. One of the more recent leaps involve Jesus’ words in Matthew 18 pertaing to interpersonal conflict. One person feels as though Christ’s commands only apply when the conflict is between two people in a local church. How could this only apply in a local church when the church hadn’t been established when Jesus said it!?
If you attempt to challenge these folks on their approach to scripture they label you a liberal or a heretic and ignore you. I don’t know if there is anything you can do. Justin Baeder puts up a blog aggregator at emergentno.com and the folks at emergentno.blogspot.com think he is deceptively trying to steal traffic for his own gain. Didn’t they use the same “deceptive” naming when they put a blog called EMERGENTno. I for one think neither is deceptive but this just illustrates how silly things become. When two groups distrust the motives and honesty of each other real understanding is near impossible. This is even more true when the medium of communication is text.
Posted by LT in on November 16, 2005
No it isn’t what you think. Justin Baeder has registered emergentno.com and emergentyes.com. He decided to put the EmergentNo.com domain to some use as an aggregator for a couple of anti-emerging church sites. The authors and fans of these sites have cried foul accusing Justin of deceiving people. I guess they don’t understand what content aggregation and fair use is. If you attack a group of people in public you better expect a response.
I’m not sure if I would like people commenting on what I write on a place outside my blog. It would seem a bit cowardly to me. It certainly wouldn’t be acceptable if there were an anything goes attitude in the comments which gave people an opportunity to make unfair personal attacks. One of the issues with the anti-emergent blogs is that a great many people believe that people are unfairly banned. It appears that Ingrid at Slice of Laodicea will delete anything she finds unbiblical. Given the narrow range of what these folks consider as biblical I don’t think that comforts me.
I’m not sure if EmergentNo.com will create the desired open forum. I doubt the anti-emergent folks would comment on it. If the purpose is to create a level playing field for conversation I don’t think that is going to happen. To the anti-emergent people it probably looks more like a more convenient way for people who don’t like them to say things they don’t like.
Posted by LT in on November 15, 2005
50% of Alpha converts don’t make it to church!
Alpha was described as possibly the last hurrah of the tail end of Christendom.
Holy Trinity Brompton, home of Alpha, reports that 50% of their Alpha graduates do not make it into church after making a personal response. This is very troubling! One response from new believers is “I thought Alpha is church and now you expect to come and sit in this thing and put up with all this? We shared real meals and now you are offering me a wafer? We interacted and now you expect me to sit in a row and just listen?”
Posted by LT in on November 14, 2005
Where I’m at
I haven’t been blogging much because I’ve been busy, I’m still dealing with the emotional impact of some personal stuff going on in my life, and November is traditionally a hard month for me because of some annual obligations I need to meet. Through all this I have to say my wife is awesome. Each month I spend with her the more fantastic I think she is. I was really nervous about committing to a life long relationship but I sure am glad I married Carol. She is very good to me.
I’m writing my philosophy of ministry. I’m not sure what the purpose is. I’m certain I’m doing it for myself and when it is done I’ll likely share it via the blog. I’m taking the time to wrestle with the scriptures and work through the major issues. It is a good process.
I’ve been very encouraged by the progress of my oldest son. In previous posts I talked about my son and behavioral problems. Today was the last visit with one of our counselors because of the remarkable progress my son has made. The counselor had some kind words for me that encouraged me a lot. It feels good. This household is a much calmer place than it was 6 months ago.
A few weeks ago in church we studied the parable of the sheep and the goats. That study seems to have had a lasting impact on me. The impact continues to this day so I guess it is better than most sermons I hear. I think that I realized that I can be a better positive influence in this world by making an impact one person at a time. Not a stunning realization I know, but one that has caused change so it is good.
Posted by LT in on November 9, 2005
Reflections on Kelowna
I just returned from a trip that took 5 days and over 3000 kilometers. I traveled to Edmonton and picked up Mike and stopped at Dave’s place. Day two took me to Kelowna and my buddy Keith’s place. Day 3 was spent in conversation with what I imagine to be a major slice of the emerging conversation in Kelowna. Day 4 found me in Penticton at Sunrise church with my good friends Jer and Jacki. Dave, Mike and I took on 3 different hitchhikers as we made our way back to Calgary. 2 of 3 repeated how bad the drug problem was in their home town. Monday was Day 5 and the long drive back through the prairies.
It is very nice to be home. I’m was pretty wasted when I got home but the trip was totally worth it. Mike and Dave are very good friends and despite numerous mentions of Five Iron Frenzy I came away blessed and encouraged. The discussion at the Kelowna Forum took what I thought was an unexpected turn. The conversation became raw. The topic of pain surfaced and issues were brought to a less philosophical and more emotional level perhaps. I enjoyed it. Len framed the discussion and let it go.
If any of the people at the Kelowna forum are interested in connecting with me, I’d love to connect with you. Feel free to send me a message through my contact form.
Posted by LT in on November 4, 2005
Feeling much better thank you
Thank you all for your prayers. The issue causing the grief hasn’t been resolved but my perspective has changed on it. In the broader scope of things I believe I need to change. I take some things too personally. I over react when people question my competence. I need to die to my desire to have a good reputation, for people to think certain things of me. I’m not very good at looking at my own personal competence from God’s perspective.