Archive for August, 2006

9Marks

9Marks


Here is an interesting website. Their main purpose seems to be to assist churches attain the 9 marks of a healthy church but most of the articles linked to on the main page are criticising the emerging church.

After reading through some of the articles I had a few random thoughts.

Why don’t these guys criticize the organic church wing? I’d really enjoy a conversation around the New Testament theology of church.

9Marks wants churches that are word driven. I think I’d rather have a church that anchored and guided by scripture but is driven by the Spirit. What they say and what I hear may be two different things but when I hear “word” driven I think “mind” driven. Believe the right things and that will reorder your life. It doesn’t work.

What are these reformed folks doing to change the direction of the church? Is it working in any substantial way?

I agree that some people’s “othordoxy” can be too “generous” but it is abundantly apparent to me that there is a lot of stuff in scripture that is not abundantly clear. When we claim we know more than we actually do it is sin.

I can’t see how more emphasis on penal substitutionary atonement is going to lead people to a deeper level of sanctification. I think evangelicalism has to really come to grips with how multifaceted Christ’s sacrifice was. It is much deeper and more profound than any model can illustrate.

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We spoke too soon about the house

We spoke too soon about the house


We had our home inspection today. It turns out the house had a foundation that had failed. They built a new wood foundation underneath the house. The wood foundation was not up to code. What was particularly troublesome was the lack of pressure treated wood combined with moisture in the basement. So we are looking again.

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On Notice

On Notice


On Notice

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Ministry or ministers

Ministry or ministers


A few weeks ago I was chatting with a friend about his decision to move to an inner city neighbourhood. At first he had grand plans to start all kinds of ministries when God stopped him. My friend heard God tell him the neighbourhood doesn’t need another ministry. It needs another minister. As that thought has been rolling around my head it has come to be very profound for me. It articulates something I’ve been working through especially with my house church experiments.

Most ministry that occurs in a church is through a church program. In most church programs a few individuals conduct ministry (usually teaching or preaching) to a large group of people. There is certainly nothing wrong with this. However when almost all ministry follows this pattern we have a problem. We become insulated from each other. Even as someone who has taught and preached I can tell you it is a lot easier to preach to crowd than it is to get in to the nitty gritty details of someone’s life. It is also much easier to sit in a crowd and listen to someone talk than it is to open your life up to others.

I think this is the essential difference between simple churches and regular churches. They shift the emphasis away from centralized ministry and become ministers. They open up their lives, their homes and even their fridges to the purposes of God. There is a huge cost to this.

The cost of being a minister of the gospel is too high. It means we have to deal with our own emotional issues and become vulnerable enough to open ourselves to healing. It means forgiving those who have wronged us. It means loving people who might reject us or return our love with contempt. It means becoming people of integrity who honestly address the hidden sin in their lives.

I think this is why we have so many ministries and not enough ministers. One can teach or preach to a faceless crowd and not have to deal with their personal issues or sin.

Church is the way it is because it is the way we want it. Deep down inside at a semi-conscious level we decided the cost of being a minister, the cost of being a disciple is too much and we stick with the status quo. We may recognize their are problems. We tinker with programs and convince ourselves that there really is a legitimate chance this going to make a difference. Nowadays people innovate by adding in couches or video projectors or art installations. In the end the more things change the more they remain the same.

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Ok, so the Treo 600 SUCKS

Ok, so the Treo 600 SUCKS


A few months ago I posted about my newest compromise with technolust. The Palm Treo 600, the worlds first truly useful phone/pda device. When it worked it really was fantastic. I started having problems with it about the time my limited 90 day warranty ran out (it was used). It would go blank and unresponsive. I’d stick in the charger and it would hard reset and come back to life with all information on the phone lost. I lived with that for awhile and some handy backup software until yesterday when it wouldn’t come back to life for more than a minute. I went to my favourite Sasktel Mobility dealer and desperately pleaded to become free from my crappy Treo 600.

They told me the most reliable useful phone/pda was the….crackberry, I mean blackberry. They are really cheap now. So I picked up one. There are some things I liked about my Treo better. The size was a bit more a managable and the Palm OS is pretty sweet. So far I like the Treo’s 4 way button more than the scroll thing on the side. However typing on the blackberry is easier and faster. That is huge. If it works the way it is supposed to I’ll be a very happy camper.

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We bought a house!

We bought a house!


On August 2nd I posted something about feeling called to move to one of Saskatoon’s inner city neighbourhoods. Yesterday our most recent offer was accepted on a nice little house. I went for lunch with a friend of mine and he gave me some tips on looking for houses. I started looking just to see what was out there. One place interested me. The house seemed very workable and quite inexpensive but not everyone in the family was impressed with it. We kept looking and we saw some terrible looking houses. I was surprised to see how many people wouldn’t bother to clean up their house before people would see it. A lot of houses would be worth 10 or 15 thousand dollars more if they would just put some cheap vinyl siding and exterior insulation on them.

We looked at MLS listings and Saskhouses.com listings. I was very willing to buy a home privately. Even though MLS would probably have access to far more cash their web stuff is terrible. The search is clunky and the pictures are small and terrible. In think the compression is turned up way too high. It makes a home with nice exterior look like it has worn out wood siding. A lot of realtors have their own websites and that are linked to from the MLS listing but no one links directly to their version of the house listing. You have to go and search again. It was frustrating. I found most realtor websites frustrating as well but some of them had more information or better photos.

Saskhouses.com has a great interface and the photos look great. This made a big difference because the good houses looked so much better on Saskhouses.com. In our searching I did find some of the downsides to private internet listings. I went in to one house that listed the bedrooms as 12×12 and they were more like 8×9. I don’t know if the guy selling the house was lazy or lying but misrepresenting your house in the listing is a pretty good way to tell a potential buyer they can’t trust you. A realtor isn’t going to risk mispresenting a house on the listing.

It feels good to buy a house. Already the Home Depot has so much more meaning to me. Ooooooh wouldn’t that be cool…ooooooh wouldn’t that be nice. I haven’t had time to blog because things are very busy with school starting at Bethany, and another client is moving to a new location as well as some other urgent projects. Once I make it too September things should calm down a bit.

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The new symbol for quality in America is Buick!

The new symbol for quality in America is Buick!


The wife drives a Toyota. I drive a much older Buick. It is sad to see Ford ahead of Chevrolet (and Mercury ahead of Buick). Ford used to stand for “Found On Road Dead” or “Fix Or Repair Daily”. It is good to see Dodge/Chrysler in their rightful place. I’ve owned three Buick’s (2 Centurys and 1 Regal) and they have all been great cars.
Found here.

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Reject foolish and ignorant controversies

Reject foolish and ignorant controversies


I came across this passage yesterday. Perhaps all the time I wasted on blog wars was more than a waste of time. Maybe it was sin….oooops. :)
2Ti 2:23-26 NET
But reject foolish and ignorant controversies, because you know they breed infighting. And the Lord’s slave must not engage in heated disputes but be kind toward all, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance and then knowledge of the truth and they will come to their senses and escape the devil’s trap where they are held captive to do his will.

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Something strange happened to me recently

Something strange happened to me recently


I was hanging out at a friends place. He lives in a not so great area of town. I noticed how neighbours would come over to visit and how people would sit out on their steps and play guitar or just hang out. I sensed a sense of interconnectedness and community. It reminded me of the time I lived in the dormitory at Bethany. When I returned to my nice clean white middle class neighbourhood I felt jealous. I wonder if God is calling me down there.

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From conversation to movement

From conversation to movement


Some people in the emerging church say it is a conversation not a movement. I might be impatient but I’m tired of conversation and I want to move. In the last 6 months I’ve been drawn more and more in to the house church movement (they don’t call themselves a conversation). I’ve been reading Rad Zdero, Neil Cole and Wolfgang Simson. I’ve been listening to some conference MP3′s over and over again from a gig Simson did in Spokane. I almost hate to say it but I’m convinced. I think that my search for the general direction of the church in my context is over. I think simple church is the way to go. It is refreshing to enter in to a movement that takes scripture seriously.

When it works it works well. It is very much in harmony with the New Testament. It is easy to do. I think what keeps people from jumping on is that it requires more faith and integrity than traditional church leadership. So many church leaders today are enslaved to the safety and security of a salary.

When I started getting involved in house churches 3 years ago I was just experimenting. I went in expecting that things would fail. Things did fail and I saw with my own eyes bad things I could not believe were happening. In the midst of all that I discovered that even our meager attempts at church worked just as well as any other church I’d been a part of. In our time together we even had a church shopper rate us. In the end it wasn’t what I think church can be but I realized church doesn’t have to be nearly as complicated as we make it out to be.

This week I talked to one of the denominational leaders about starting a house church network and hooking it up with the denomination. As we talked I wondered if I came across like some 22 year old idealistic bible school grad. Maybe a 32 year old idealist is not that different from a 22 year old. I may have a greater sense that struggle or even failure is probably par for the course. I’m not sure I really care if I fail a dozen times though. Church is so messed up from the gospel we proclaim to our anemic growth to our biblical illiteracy or our fruitless lives. I’d rather swing for the fence and strike out hard than go in to some nice stable environment content with marginal incremental change.

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