Friday, August 26, 2005

Jump With Me, Intermezzo

In response to Part 2, tg2 posted the following:

If you hold something as being central to your faith (coming from a fundamentalist evangelical) that is something that will not move -- no matter how much you grow in understanding. Do you define that as a brick or as a frame? Does it matter? At the end of the day, what really matters is what you have understood about your faith. Without the pieces, there is no puzzle, without the puzzle there is no picture, without the picture there is no understanding ...

Good thought. What really matters?

I don't know if Pandora is ready to get out of the box or not, but maybe we should start at the beginning. In our postmodern, post-Christian world, what is REAL?

How do you know what it is? How do you recognize it? How do you distinguish the counterfeit?

Any takers?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Jesus is for Losers

Jesus, the ultimate revolutionary, didn’t come to help those of you who think you’ve got it all together.

Jesus didn’t come for those of you who are ‘not that bad’.

Jesus didn’t come for those of you who, on your way to church Sunday mornings, drive by your neighbor working in the yard and think, “Look at them. They need to be going to church. God must be really proud of me.”

In fact, Jesus didn’t come for those who are always first in line, always concerned about themselves, always strutting and prancing, trying to move up in the pecking order.

To be brutally honest, to quote the Messiah Himself, he said, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” [Mt. 16:25]

Jesus came for losers. Those who knew they had nothing to give, nothing to offer, nowhere else to go. Those that were always picked last. Leftovers, rejects, outcasts.


He didn’t come to build a country club, but an emergency room. Filled with those who know they are bankrupt and not to proud to accept the handout of amazing grace. But more than prostitutes, whores, thieves, tax collectors, and fishermen.

He comes for the weary single parent, struggling to get help from her ex.

He comes for the girl who’s given herself away in hopes for someone to look her in the eye…not at her body.

He comes for the lonely one at school who feels the worst in a crowd, so he sits at home at his computer looking for something to satisfy.

If you've pretty much got it all together, I don't have anything for you.

But...if you're at the end, if you've exhausted your possibilities, if you've run out of your own steam and strength....if you're at the end of yourself....there's good news.

Stay tuned for the New Revolution. ..

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Jump With Me, Part Two

[be sure and read Part One before reading the following...]

Bell quotes a man giving a lecture on creation. At one point, the man says, "If you don't believe that God created the world in six literal twenty-four hour days, then you are denying that Jesus ever died on the cross." It's a bizarre leap of logic....but he was serious.

For this man, his faith isn't a trampoline; it's a wall of bricks. Each of the beliefs for him is like an individual brick, stacked on top of another. If you pull one out, the whole thing starts to crumble. It appears to be strong and rigid, but if you begin to rethink even one brick, the whole thing may start to crumble.

The problem of living in Brickworld, is that a brick is a fixed size. It can't flex or change because if it does, it can't fit into the wall anymore. What happens is that the wall becomes the sum total of the beliefs, and God becomes as big as the wall. But God is bigger than any wall. Or religion. Or worldview. God is bigger than your and my understanding of the Christian faith.

For those of us living in Brickworld, our posture becomes pretty defensive. We spend a lot of time defending the wall and proving our bricks are the right ones. (You rarely defend a invite people to jump on it with you.)

Ever seen someone pull a picture of his wife/girlfriend/kids out of his wallet and begin to argue the supremacy of this particular loved one? Of course not. They simply show you and invite you to see what they already see.

[On a side note, Brickworld has a tendency to keep everyone out unless they have the right bricks. Maybe you've been outside the wall before, like I have, and you know what I'm talking about.]

Jesus? He invites everyone to jump. The least. The unlovely. The lepers and prostitutes. The struggling single Mom [or Dad]. The family who seems to have it all together, but really is just playing 'church'.

Leave Brickworld. Shake the dust from your sandals.

And come jump with me.

Jump With Me, Part One

James and I are reading Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis. In the introduction, Bell raises some interesting metaphors. Take, for instance, the trampoline.

To Bell, the Christian faith is akin to a trampoline, held together by its many springs. With a trampoline, you really don't see the need for springs until you begin to jump. Although Gindrup could probably give us all the practical details of Newtonian physics as to exactly how inert energy is stored and released, thus making the trampoline actually 'work', ....initially, I just want to jump. And laugh.

In Bell's metaphor, the springs aren't God. They aren't Jesus. The springs are the statements and beliefs about our faith that help put words to our experience we call 'doctrine'. They aren't the point. They help us understand the point, but are not a means to an end. We take them seriously, while keeping them in perspective.

For example, take the doctrine--the spring--called the Trinity. It's central to orthodox Christian faith. While there is only one God, this God has a three-in-oneness as Father, as Jesus, and as the Holy Spirit. People began calling this concept 'The Trinity'. Keep in mind that Jesus never used the word trinity, that it's not found in the Bible, etc. But over time, this belief has become central to how Jesus Followers have understood who God is. It is a spring, and people jumped for thousands of years without it. We can take it out, examine it, probe it, discuss it. It flexes and stretches.

In fact, its 'stretchability' is what makes it so effective. It is firmly attached to the frame and the mat, yet it has room to move. And God continually brings in a fuller, richer, deeper understanding to who He is.

Think about the various springs in our faith. What are they? Virgin birth? Literal resurrection of Christ? Beliefs about creation? Salvation by grace? The work of the Church? How you are supposed to 'worship'? How you are supposed to 'love your neighbor as yourself'?

What if your springs were seriously questioned? Could you keep jumping? Could a person still love God? Could you still be a Christian?

Ready for Part Two? Let's talk about bricks...

Monday, August 22, 2005

9 Out Of 10 Ain't Bad, Fellas

My goal was simple: ten things to NOT do... reflecting back, here's a postmortem of the week.

1. I didn't see Jess and the gang in the new Dukes movie. However, I DID get suckered into seeing March of the Penguins...ugh. Seriously, I have Discovery Channel at home, why am I here? Because Valiant sold out and my boys wanted to see a movie at the 'big FE-a-TUR'. Save your 8 bucks and let me fill you in: penguins migrate to the same spot each year to mate. It takes a long time. Evidently a really long time. Long enough to drink a bladder-buster size Mr. Pibb and eat 7 lbs. of popcorn and still have time to slip out for some video games before the little penguin chicks have to waddle off into the arctic sunset. It's long. And slow. [I guess penguins aren't really that fast, anyway...] I should email Morgan Freeman and demand my money back...he must really, really, really like penguins. I am Jack's complete lack of surprise.

2. I didn't run out and buy Oprah's DVD.

3. I didn't check my daily cosmic calendar at Nope, not even once. And I slept pretty dang well at night, too.

4. I didn't save a ton of money by switching to Geico. But I did save a little. I guess that makes up for the Penguin fiasco.

5. I didn't worry that I still don't have an iPOD. Music has become pretty disposable these days, anyway. With deals like 'buy 100 CDR's for $14.95 and get a rebate for $14.95, I guess I'm good for a while.

6. Unfortunately, I DID mow. Our landlord has put up our house for sale, so I needed to get out and get the yard in shape. Such is life.

7. I didn't catch a 45-lb. catfish. Ugly doesn't describe 'em. But Darien and I did do some fishing and catch a few bass and perch. For those of you who aren't fisherman, let me just say that we were pretty thrilled to catch ANYTHING in the +100 degree heat...

8. I didn't worry about gas prices. Whatcha' gonna do?

9. I didn't listen to any PCD. For the record, I could do this one for the rest of my life...

10. I didn't shave. Don't worry, I did bathe though. After all, soap is the yardstick of civilization.

A week of sabbath rest. Wow. A week without wearing a watch or being on a schedule. Taking walks. Watching people. No phones or internet--and still surviving! Fasting from all things hectic.

I highly recommend it...

It feels good to be back. Recharged for the days ahead [and regular blogging and dialogue].