Saturday, November 29, 2008

loving...

In reading lately, it's been pointed out again that the Christian community comes together/lives out as something "otherly" in the world.

The writer was addressing the Civil rights movement of the mid-1900's. In that time, it was obvious that those following Christ should find themselves having compassion for those who are oppressed and living in unjust conditions. What was not so obvious was that the Christian community should be focusing on communicating love and grace to those powerful Caucasians who were afraid of what would happen to society if these "others" were granted rights.

This situation can translate into many different discriminated communities we find in our world today. Both internationally, and right here in the good ole' melting pot. Homosexuals, minorities (still), women (still), immigrants (legal AND illegal), etc. The way they are treated/talked about in many circumstances as sort of "sub-human" can inspire even the newest Christian to recognize that God would want justice done. It's easy for us to love the oppressed.

What is a bit harder for us, me at least, is the other side. To love the Pat Robertsons. The James Dobsons (on occasion, I realize Dobson's organization still accomplishes much good today). Doesn't have to be Christian leaders gone bad either, there are plenty of other leaders and political powers who would be guilty of oppression. Their hundreds (thousands?) of followers. The hard part is how to show love (real love, not showy huggy love) to these while at the same time standing for justice in a way that echoes Christs' same desires.

This element also stands out in how the Christian community emerges as "otherly" in the world. Even in a world where justice is seen as a highest priority, to love the oppressor (truly) would be a rare thing to find outside of the Body of Christ. With that understanding, we also must recognize that we cannot force a world-wide utopia by asking the entire world to follow suit. Our concern is now how it will be perceived by the world, or even by those who we love. It doesn't have to "make sense". And yet, it needs to be happening. Locally, nationally, world-wide.

I guess the hard part, for me at least, is this:

"This kind of love is more costly in its relation to the agents of evil than in its obvious agreements with those who suffer injustly."

I don't like the sound of that....but I'm working on it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving...(another guest post)

For puffs of any flavor. (if you don't know what these are....you're missing out)

For figuring out a new way to laugh.

For an older sister who repeats half of everything mommy and daddy say to me, to make sure I heard it.

For fresh diapers, even if I have to lay down in a Koala Care Center to get one.

For clean floors.

For warm socks, and even shoes. (even though I totally don't need shoes yet)

For large fridge magnets, and the fact that I can stand up to reach them all on my own.

For a trip to Hawaii that I'll never remember except for pictures that prove I was totally there. :)

For 4 front teeth that are finally all the way through the skin.

For the never ending supply of drool I have to tell everyone near me how much I love them with.

To be continued...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I know him!!!

If you've seen the movie "Elf", you know the scene. He's helping out over at Gimbal's in the Christmas area, and it's announced that Santa will be visiting tomorrow. Immediately he gets excited and yells, "I KNOW HIM!!!"

Yesterday, Sarah and I took Addie to the mall. Walking around, not thinking too much of it. We notice the Santa display is ahead on the left. Just casually we say, "Hey, Addie...look....who's that?" Without any prompting, she says, "Santa!", immediately runs towards Santa, ducks underneath the ropes separating him from the world, and goes up to say hello.

A world of difference from the little girl who cried at the slightest hint of a red hat with a cotton ball on top. She understands who he is, a bit more about what he represents, and that somehow he's tied into good things. And she has no reserve to act on that knowledge. :) No reason to think she shouldn't have immediate access to that relationship.

Just another random reminder. In a world where we can easily get caught up in the logistics of service planning. Where we can get bogged down by the correct theology of sanctuary carpet, or catching up on the latest speaker/author and what is being done in areas of church growth/health (not the same thing). Where plans for ministry empowered by the Spirit clash with the reality of being a human being serving with and for other human beings.

We have access to the creator. How incredible it will be, when completion comes, and we can shout with the joy of a 2 year old, "I Know Him!!!"...and run up in awe and excitement and just a bit of fear. :)

Even still....we do not wait hopelessly for "some day". Our creator IS Lord even now. And not only do we know Him...He knows us. Cliche' or cheesy or not...that's freakin' awesome.

May we live that excitement, proud and unaware of the velvet ropes...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

giving thanks (guest post)

For a whole bowl full of grapes cut in half.

For a fresh diaper.

For my Dora blanket, even though I don't ever cover up with it on purpose.

For my little sister, for being the baby so I can be the little girl.

For Mussie and for Ella.

For my Barney CD, and the ability to push play all on my own.

For Dora and Boots.

For the moon, even when it goes bye bye.

For the first 2 pages of every book, the only pages that really matter.

For mommy, and for daddy.

For food, family and friends. (our prayer)

To be continued...

Monday, November 24, 2008

giving thanks...

For good weather on Sunday so I could put up Christmas lights. (even though we totally won't turn them on until after Thanksgiving, no worries. That'd be crazy.)

For daughters who did very good on a long van ride.

For no one noticing the puddle of what was NOT apple juice on the bench under my daughter at McDonalds, and for my wife's patience as I continued to talk about how similar it looked. :)

For family. All of them. :)

For triangle crayons, so they don't roll off every single surface we place them on. Although we totally ran out....we know they still exist.

For friends and relationships to be able to miss when we're away.

For Lebda scoring a goal the other night against the Flames...

To be continued....

Sunday, November 23, 2008

practical spirituality for the week ahead...

It's not going to happen accidentally.

It's not going to happen easily.

It won't come from just making sure you went to church, or read something "Jesus-ish" recently.

This week, many in the world go crazy shopping. Many of us join in the craziness at different levels and locations. Many people will not do as much thinking and praying as they do spending money they don't have.

We have been those people.

Reminder for the weeks ahead: You do NOT need to spend money you do not have, to communicate love to someone. You DO have permission to be real and genuine with the people in your life. People who love you will not question how much/how little you spent on them.

Lock up your credit cards. If you don't have it, don't spend it.

Being honest with yourself, and with those you love can communicate a lot. And will help us all to remember the Truth in the meaning of these Holidays.

PS: Wrap with newspaper, write on a box of crackers (or a lottery ticket if you're okay with it) instead of buying a $4 card that we all throw away anyways, write letters instead of cards, give away gifts from around the house, give to a special cause or someone less fortunate, and above all - Love.

pps. If you have a ton of money, and you don't "get" why this blog post is important; you should probably give some away. If you've already given some - give more. :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"un" balance

There's a delicate mix in youth ministries usually. You want to reach out especially to teens who are lacking in positive, especially God-centered, community. But you also want to serve the families of the church, many of whom have children who have grown up in such a community.

You have 12 year old boys who still don't shower much, and think that girls have cooties. You have 13 year old girls who know all 10 commandments, and can name the 4 gospels.

You also have young men closing in on 18, smelling of substances, who have little to no understanding of how to even "allow" a community like this to love and support them. You have young women who are grasping for an identity in how they look, and think "manly" guys have ill reputations.

You divide up, Junior and Senior High, male and female, as possible. We definitely need to do that more often, and I'm hoping God continues to bless us with volunteers to make that possible. Although you could switch the ages above, and still notice the same qualities.

In our church, the balance is constantly shifting. We have Sunday morning "sunday school" for our Youth Bible studies. We have Sunday evening "supper club" for our core, to deepen community in those who we hope/pray will come back Wednesday night to add their flavor to the atmosphere. Then we have Wednesday night - a conglomeration of those who come on Sunday, with a much larger group that only come this night. Many have no parental/familial connection to the church yet. I continue to be stunned by some that still come.

But they do come.

I know the balance in our group probably frightens/turns away some Sunday families from involvement on Wednesday. I hope and pray that as their strength/community builds with each other on Sunday, they would feel more and more comfortable coming as living testimonies on Wednesday night, drawing others to participate in more than the Wed. night crowd.

I guess this was just a random post to remind the world, I'm a youth pastor.

I love this job. :)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

post-nap


Mommy is out with a friend. I'm on the couch, enjoying the silence a few moments longer.

Sophie drools down her chin, down her shirt, onto the already soaked spot on my chest. She's awake for the first time in 20 minutes or so. She looks up at me, and I have no idea what is going through her mind. Probably something profound like "I recognize this face. How long before it gives me food?". She smiles at me because she knows it makes me smile back. I wipe the drool off her face with the back of my hand, something I would have cringed at watching someone else do years ago.

From the farthest bedroom I hear her older sister begin to chime in to the action with a silent wail. "Mommmmmyyy???" "Dadddddyyyy????" "Geeeetttt uuuppppp?????" Holding her younger sister I yell softly down the hallway, "come here Addie!!". A soft thud, and a patter of footsteps on the wooden floor, she enters the room. Pony tail slightly undone, and diaper is sagging a bit inside those 2T jeans, but she looks at me and yells, "daddy!!!" The drooly one, the full diapered one, and I, hug briefly, before the chaos begins.

A bottle, some chocolate, and an episode of Dora later, we play. Play dough, dancing, and acting like dogs for a bit. Later we'll eat vegetables, cottage cheese, and maybe even a cut up hot dog. Bath time, some more playing, and eventually bed. (before daddy's 8pm show starts, hehe)

Outside of these moments, chaos in the world. Many are suffering. Many are alone. Economy threatens. Hope is offered in a million different vessels. Christmas stresses already rear their head. Extended family continues to extend, while attempting to maintain it's bonds.

But here...here is an entire world. I love being a father. Thanks God.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

of community...

A recent article in the Washington State Journal talked about the movement (in advertising at least) of atheists who are making public statements. If you've watched the news much lately, you've probably seen these signs. Things like "Why believe in God? Be good for GOODNESS sake", or "Beware of Dogma", etc.

I can understand why the atheist community would want to say things like this. Advertising has always been a way for a misunderstood group, or company who feels they have something to offer, to make a statement about themselves publicly. I know some Christians are getting very upset, saying how offended they are, even accusing atheists of hate speech, etc. I think Christ would model a different response, than protesting that our "rights" have somehow been trampled on, and fighting to remove such ads.

I'm personally not offended, even though I disagree with most of what they're saying. The same way I disagree when certain restaurants tell me they're the best in the Midwest. But I didn't want to talk about advertising.

A quote from the article, "Still, leading activists say nonbelievers tend to be just as wary of organized atheism as they are of organized religion -- making it tough to pull together a cohesive movement. "A pastor can say to his flock, 'All rise,' and everyone rises. But try that in an atheist meeting," said Marvin Straus, co-founder of an atheist group in Boulder, Colo. "A third of the people will rise. A third will tell you to go to hell. And a third will start arguing....That's why it's hard to say where we're going as a movement."

I would offer the church as a model for atheists who are looking for a positive, community building way to organize. Not the church as seen in popular movies, or even news sources. Not the church as seen on any TV programs or commercials. Not even the church as seen in many major cities today.

But the church as seen in scripture, and breaking through in small/mighty ways around the globe today. Each one giving as there was need. Being examples of love, and grace, and forgiveness in a selfish world. A supporting community that anticipates what lies ahead, while existing in an incomplete today.

Heck, you may even want to join a church, and help them move that direction. Many of us could use a reminder.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

supper-club/sacramental socialism

On Sunday nights, we've begun something with a small group of our teens. We make a meal, and eat together. It began as a "leadership" group, and continues to be a core group of the youth from our church. The goal as it began was to invest in relationship-building for many of our younger teens, in hopes that they will become more confident/present as leaders in our other times together.

It's working. More is happening that I'd originally hoped.

I'm reminded of the beginning celebrations of the Eucharist Meal(communion, literally "giving thanks"). How special it is as sacrament and as worship, but also as a statement of the Kingdom of God in today's economics.

"At the Lord's Table, those who have bread bring it, and all are fed; that is the model for the Christian social vision in all times and places" - Yoder

It's something that happens in our youth on Sunday nights. Anyone who can bring food does, many come, and everyone eats. Our church acts similarly on other special events (annual BBQ, Sunday Evening Snacks, etc.). Anytime we have food together as a church, they tell certain people to bring certain things, but truth is, even if you show up with nothing, you're invited to eat just as much as the 70 year lady who cooked all afternoon to prepare.

Easy to do it, and just enjoy it. But may we be reminded of the model it gives us for life as the church throughout our weeks as well. As those who are living new creations within a new creation, may we bring what we have to others in need.

May we invite others "to our table", without taking into account what they might bring to it.

May we give thanks...

Friday, November 14, 2008

if anyone is in Christ...

In reading a bit more of Yoder lately, I came across a take on a familiar verse that I think may benefit to be talked about. Especially in today's context of what it means to truly follow Christ within a world where real servant-hood (not as a means to be a more powerful leader, but actual self-denying servant hood), loving your enemy, and forgiveness are viewed as weaknesses, or illogical at best.

Many of us have heard of the verse 2 Corinthians 5:17. "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (NIV) Most of the time when we hear it, the emphasis is upon the internal transformation that takes place when one begins to follow Christ, or begins to be "in Christ", whatever that means.

But when we read the verse in the New Revised Standard Version, we hear it a bit differently, "So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!"

When we realize the Greek word for "creation" here (ktisis) can mean "world", or "everything created", or "institution, ordinance"...we begin to see that this verse could quite possibly be referring to an even larger transformation. It's not simply what happens "inside" a person. Although there are plenty of places in scripture for us to realize that is an important aspect of being "in Christ".

Literally here - "if anyone is in Christ, there is a new world!"

This verse offers to us a reminder, that if we are in Christ, we exist it a completely new "world". A new "order" of things. No longer are we slaves to power, money, sex, etc. We are freed to live as Christ, without worry of it "making sense" to the world (order) we once lived in.

May we continue to follow Christ, as new creations living as a part of THE new creation...even when it doesn't (and it won't) make sense to the world we once knew. May we not use that as an excuse to justify actions that benefit us, but rather to justify actions that serve, love, and forgive others; even when it doesn't make sense.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

forgiveness as policy

"No economy can survive without Chapter Eleven; no prison system is viable without parole. No moral culture works without making scapegoats and celebrating rituals of exculpation. Social scientists call it conflict management. Yet forgiveness remains costly, since the first reflex of the self-righteous is to fear that to forgive would be to cheapen sin. Four years ago (in the mid-90's) one presidential candidate suggested that the country should become kinder and gentler; yet neither party which wants to rule us is making the case for forgiveness as policy." - John Howard Yoder

Recently I was a part of forgiveness. Our church incurred some damage at the hands of a local teenager. We were faced with the choice of how to respond. Most members of our church don't even know it happened, and even more do not know how we handled it. But I think I'm proud of us. We offered forgiveness first. We then offered to pay the fine's the boy was charged with, providing he and a parent would sit down and meet with us. They agreed.

The meeting was short. We shared some snacks/drinks, gave a tour of our church and its' ministries, got to know the boy and his family a bit, and ended in prayer together.

Maybe they'll join us. Probably not. Maybe the boy will turn his life around immediately, and experience a crazy awesome transformation of some sort. Probably not. But you gotta think, that moment of forgiveness has to have impacted his world on some level. We pray it did/does. But at the same time, forgiveness was offered out of love, not out of a desire to change him for life.

We forgive, and pray that forgiveness will transform the world around us. But we do not forgive "because" it guarantees anything. We forgive because it is the nature of the Kingdom. The nature of God.

Should we have offered to pay the fines, even if they would not agree to have met with us? Maybe. I'm not sure. But I think we have opened a new door of responding to offenses for our community...at least on a small level.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

..get on with it?

Watched C-Span randomly yesterday, one of the few resources both of actual news, and of reality television still left. They don't try to make the programming more appealing, and even though politicians speaking may have hidden motives, it's still the reality of what is occurring that the camera shows.

I turned it on, as two fathers are giving testimony of children they lost in the 2007 baseball team bus crash. Felt like a sissy, as I teared up a bit listening to these fathers try to keep their composure while speaking at the Sept. 18th, 2008 Senate hearing on surface transportation as it pertains to Motor Coaches.

As the fathers' completed testifying, and the Senator presiding (Lautenberg, NJ) tried to find an appropriate direction, they asked questions of Mr. Pantuso. He is currently president of the American Bus Association. It was obvious that Senator Lautenberg wanted to know how/why we haven't all just decided to put seatbelts throughout Coach buses nation-wide...also including school buses. There was some back and forth discussion, blah blah blah about studies, and placing the blame on government inaction, etc....more small talk.

For real? This is the bill being questioned/discussed, and it's updated version here. As you can read, both in the bill itself, and in the comments of the people interested.....it's not crazy. Why take so long?

Pantuso wrote an article about a month after this hearing, whining about there being more issues than just "seat belts - yes or no". Okay, I believe him. There seems to be more issues. But why wait to act on enforcement of seatbelts simply to do more studies in other areas? An actual quote from Pantuso says, "ABA is not opposed to seat belts, if the scientific research yet to be concluded demonstrates we need them."

Seriously? Do we need more scientific research that says a seat belt could help save a life?

All I know is....as a youth pastor who confesses to being a bit relaxed on reminding teens to buckle up.....I've just experienced an important reminder of how simple, yet crucial, that decision can be. And our church bus actually comes equipped with them.

Thanks to Mr.Forman and Mr.Betts for their honest testimony, and for bringing humanity to that moment of politics.

Monday, November 10, 2008

the mini-van has changed...

When I was in high school, I was friends with a couple of the coolest guys I knew. They weren't cool because they were athletic. They weren't cool because they were good with the ladies. They were cool because, when many of us were getting hand-me-down vehicles, and $400 junkers from whatever lot had one available; these guys won the contest.

Why? When we all got 4-door beasts that would throw a deer 50 feet upon impact, these guys got minivans. (one hit a dog, and it flew a few feet...but nowhere near as fun as hitting a deer)

Their world (by my eyes) became full of the ability to haul around between 6 (legally), and 13 (not so legally) teenagers to and from any event/venue we wanted to hit up on any given evening. I envied them, every time I crammed 5 people uneasily into my 1984 Delta 88'.

I wanted a mini-van. I wanted that "hangout" on wheels. We had so many good times in other peoples' mini-vans. I couldn't wait until someday, I got a turn.

It's my turn now.

Something has changed.

Maybe it's the fact that I'm older. Maybe it's because I'm wiser. Maybe it's the 2 kids that seem to be everywhere I go. :)

Or maybe, it's because I'm paying for the van, it's upkeep, and gas.

Still....I love it.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Children Underground...

Watched another documentary (into these lately) earlier this week. It's called "Children Underground". I'm sure a lot of you know more about Romania than I do, but here's my brief synopsis.

Apparently a while back, Romania wanted to boost it's future workforce. So they made abortion and birth control illegal. A HUGE amount of children were born, and with lost jobs and unhealthy home situations, many of them ended up on the streets. By many, I mean over 20,000 in a small amount of time.

This movie follows a small group of them living in a subway station. The issues their stories bring up are tough ones. Issues of identity. Of self-worth. Of communication, both spoken and implied...between those of similar status and up/down the social rungs. A 10-year-old girl looking out for her younger brother. Many of the teens addicted to huffing paint fumes, to relieve them of their situation/hunger. Begging. Doing whatever small jobs they can for people who tolerate them enough to help out a bit...to earn a few cents, or food.

I watched the movie while holding my almost 9-month old, Sophie. I don't know much about who she will be someday. But she will know she is loved...unconditionally. So many things within the documentary that I'm tempted to draw out and use as an illustration, etc...but I can't bring myself to do it. Seems like it would cheapen the struggles/issues covered.

But ultimately, there is much to be gained from seeing this. The small amount of worth/love some people communicated to these kids, and the impact it has on their lives.

May we all be aware of the places we can have such an impact for the Kingdom...

Friday, November 07, 2008

just add it to the list...

I had this girlfriend back in college who was incredible. We met early freshman year, and began officially dating in early December, 1999. Eventually, you guessed it, she became my wife. Since the day we met, a list has continued to grow of why she rocks. (I'd say "why I love her", but that's a bit mushy)

She and a couple friends have been working on a new project lately. They're all nuts for connecting/being resourceful/saving time/helping others/etc...and came up with something. A website that posts meal ideas/recipes/etc. and updates regularly to help you meal plan ahead of time; helping you know how to shop/plan ahead/etc. She'd do a better job describing it too, probably, but you can learn the most about it just by going over and CHECKING IT OUT!!!

"But Chadwick, isn't that a bit sexist?" - You might be thinking. "Isn't that making the statement that women are the ones who should be planning/cooking/etc.?"

Nope.

She knows whenever she wants, I will gladly take over plans for any meal throughout our week. It just happens that she doesn't share my affinity for frozen pizzas. :)

For real though....check that stuff out. Just click the link, go to the site, and bookmark that thing. Tell your friends. And your friends' friends. Heck, even Money Saving Mom is hip to them.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

small-group-ism

A while back, I mentioned the small group my wife and I are a part of. How I'm thankful for what it has been, and what if offers to continue to be. But I've realized recently that when I say the word "small group", you may have a view defined by your experience of what one is. So let me break it down a bit more, because I think it has much to offer.

It's not a Tuesday night Sunday School class. It's not an extension of youth group for a group of 8-10 people. I wouldn't even say it's a "bible study" group really. Have there been times where we study/read the bible together? Yup. Have there been times where we do a lesson, and discuss it together, and pray at the end? Sure. Have there even been cheesy times where we've sung around a campfire (even while getting kicked out of the area by college girls who had "reservations" or whatever)? Uh-huh. :)

But I would confess that the few hours we spend together each week, is not why I love this group. Each week, and even months, or seasons, our Tuesday nights take different forms, based on who's leading that week. Also based on what is happening in the collective humanity of the group. Sure, it's a good time, and usually we snack a bit too. But something larger happens...

You see, our group has become a safe place for broken people to share their brokenness, and point at where the world around us is broken as well. I think, especially in these days, we all need a place like this. When we leave group together, back into our worlds, we go as people set free to heal and be healed, or even learn to live with some of the brokenness. We haven't had a counseling/therapy session. We haven't spent time in heated confession before God. We have simply shared our brokenness, and pray (usually), which allows us to move beyond that a bit in our lives.

So how did we go about beginning a group like this? We didn't on purpose really. I think in the beginning, we may have even had the starry-eyed Tuesday night Sunday school in mind (at least I think I did - still do sometimes). But our few hours a week together bled into a life of community throughout the week, and presto - here we are.

So yeah...to those still searching for a community like this...keep purposefully trying. It may happen where you least expect it.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

sound of silence...

The economy is hurting. We hear this regularly.

Not so long ago, gas prices were hovering at nearly $4.00 per gallon. We heard cries going up all over the place. Every news channel had their own way of publicizing how horrible this was. People blamed big oil companies, and attached the issue to politics in big ways. We were reminded by various "counters" that would keep track of the average price of gas in major cities. We were told to continue expecting higher prices, as the world continued to spiral downward, and watch that evenings' broadcast for more updates on why the prices are so high.

In about a month, gas prices have lowered to the $1.97 range in many cities. For someone who was paying $300 a month average for gas, it now means that person pays $150 average per month.

Who's covering that story?

Granted, it's a sign that the economy continues to slow down a bit, and there is less demand for gas. But for the average American who already lived simply before the prices got crazy-high, this is a HUGE relief!!! The few reporters that do cover the story get a 4th page small article with no pictures...or a 30-second spot in the middle of "real" news.

I understand. Panic, anxiety and distress make us want to keep watching the news. They make us want to buy the products advertised, and vote for the politicians followed, hoping that something can save us from the anxiety the news just told us we should have. We want to make sure we're "up to date" on the latest thing we need to worry about.

It's a very good capitalistic formula.

So let me be one of the few to break the silence.
GAS PRICES ARE DOWN!!! WOO-HOO!

Okay. I'm done now.

Let's see who wins this election, so that we can hear the news tell us why it's both an incredible happening AND something we need to worry about at the same time.
Maybe there's a shaving gel that will help me cope...

Monday, November 03, 2008

things to think about...

In times like this, where the politicking of the day has made most people aware that we exist with a system with many flaws. Flaws that no human being can claim to have remedy for. Many have already spoken wisdom about the roots of the body of Christ having much to offer society as a whole...

"...the order of the faith community constitutes a public offer to the entire society....this good news...a grace-driven order of servant hood transcends the hampering dialectic of fulfillment and claim, dignity and responsibility, taking and giving....it's authority is not coercion but trust...its members commit themselves totally, contributing the wholeness of what worldly powers cannot command...every member is seen as a person, a brother or sister, and as equal, regardless of status, capacity, qualification....Church law (order) may be a model in that it is "living": flexible and fluid, continuously flowing from the worse to the better." - Karl Barth

"It is not that first we set about being a proper church and then in a later move go about deciding to care prophetically for the rest of the world. To participate in the transforming process of becoming a faith community is itself to speak the prophetic word, is itself the beginning of the transformation of the cosmos...Our world still needs to learn that the reason every person and every kind of person must be seen with equal respect (and love) is not that their (or our) culture is equally healthy, or that (anyone) has earned equal treatment, but that equal dignity is ascribed by divine bias in favor of the Other." - John Howard Yoder

"The discoverer of the role of forgiveness (even in politics) was Jesus of Nazareth. The fact that he made this discovery in a religious context and articulated it in religious language is no reason to take it any less seriously in a strictly secular sense." - Hannah Arendt

The body of Christ has always had much to offer the world. We continue to have much, even through many mistakes and leaders/sects that have missed the heart of Christ in large ways. May God be with us, as we continue to offer His Kingdom to a world that needs it badly.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Sophie Update...

Well, guess we have to stop dropping small things on the floor now...



...and I was becoming such a fan of dropping small things on the floor.

Sigh. :)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

reminder for the week ahead...

0.5. Continue to check FACT CHECK in order to see the truth behind what BOTH presidential candidates throw out there.

0.75. Neither candidate is the "Christian" candidate. Voting one way or another does not automatically indicate anyone's level or direction of faith.

1. Obama is NOT any sort of anti-Christ, or the sign of any type of "end times" prophecy. No matter what grandma tells you. I doubt that even if there were going to be one "anti-Christ", someone could accidentally vote for him.

2. Voting for McCain does NOT mean someone is traditional or uber Convservative, or somehow "out of touch". Each candidate have several issues they disagree on, several issues they (and their campaigns) still don't present clearly to the public. But when it comes down to it, they both are candidates because they are qualified to be. People will vote for a candidate based on a large number of possible legitimate reasons.

3. There are many more things at stake than the presidency!!!! Check my previous break-down of Macon County's ballot for a local rundown.

4. Even if the candidate we voted for in any office wins, our work is NOT DONE!

Whether a certain candidate wins or loses this next week, our response as citizens remains largely the same. To support our leaders, to pray for God's guidance as we seek to better serve and represent His Kingdom (of love/grace/mercy/freedom) even as citizens of a certain country. To remain active in the decision-making processes of the world around us.

To live sacrificially, and simply, and to be aware of how we fit as a part of the redeeming work God is accomplishing in all of creation.

And no - the fact that the world will continue to spin and God's Kingdom will continue to come no matter which candidate is elected - does NOT mean Christians should not worry about voting this week.

But rather, like Paul (a practicing Roman citizen - Acts 22:25-29), God calls us to be INVOLVED in the processes that guide. Not that we believe God's Kingdom will come based on how we vote, any more than we believe by preaching lives will be changed.

We depend on God's Spirit to move,
which is good....cause that's pretty much it's nature.