Friday, December 17, 2010

December 17

I have not blogged in a while and I am sorry. It has been a tough week. I have hit some low points, feeling out of control in many areas of my life. A lot of things seem to be going wrong despite my best intentions. And so I found myself calling out to God. "I need a miracle." Then suddenly, it hit me. This is advent. The time between the Old Testament and the New Testament was a time of oppression for the Jewish people from one occupation to the next. How many times did God's people call out, "we need a miracle. We need a Deliverer."? And we want our deliverer now. We want to get to Christmas. It is only one week away. Why can't we start the celebration?
Why? Because Isaiah reminds us those who wait, rise up on eagle's wings. We are reminded time and time again in Scripture, God's timing not ours. Despite coming to some low points, despite feeling out of control, this December has been peaceful. I am not rushed through the madness of the season. I am not feeling like I need more things or to get more stuff for others. I am at peace in the midst of out of control circumstances. But Emmanuel was not spoken into the best of times. No, Emmanuel came in dark, hard times. God is with us, in the midst of our brokenness. Thanks be to God.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

December 9

Psalm 37: 1-18
Do not fret because of evil doers but trust in the Lord and wait on the Lord.

That is easier said than done. As we watch the bankers and wall street brokers who helped drive us into the recession get bonuses and watch unemployment go up and receive phone calls from bill collectors, it is hard to not fret because of the unfairness of the system. It is hard to just wait for God to make things right when there is so much wrong happening. The people we love and care for being stricken with cancer, homes burning down, children going hungry. How can the psalmist say just wait and God will make your righteousness shine like the midday light. The psalmist promises in a little while the wicked will be no more. The promise is the meek and peacemakers will inherit the earth. So as we wait on the Lord in the midst of injustices, the call of Scripture is not to take justice in our own hands, like Christ didn't take justice in his own hands on the cross. Have we given peacemaking a chance? Stopping the violence and injustice by not rewarding violence and injustice with more violence and injustice.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dec 6

I Thessalonians 5:1-11

For you are children of the light, children of the day. We are not of the night or the darkness. So then let us not sleep...

This section of Scripture is about Christ's second coming. We are not in the dark, not of the night. We are children of the light. So let us not sleep... How much does the coming of Christ impact our lives?

In seminary, I did a study on the Eucharist and the Second Coming. The Early Church celebrated the Eucharist with a great emphasis and understanding of the imminent coming of Christ. When the Church became complacent and comfortable with the government, the Second Coming drifted into a deep memory and it changed our emphasis at the Table. It seems the Second Coming of Christ is to affect how we live. In fact, our belief in the Second Coming does affect our daily living. If we believe Christ will come back, we live like children of the light, awake to every opportunity to make the most of the time for the Kingdom of God. But if we are comfortable in the here and now, we can become lazy. So how much does the Second Coming affect your life?

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Lord is My Refuge

Psalm 16
The Psalms are the cry of human hearts to God, sometimes the cry of a raw, broken heart. As we walk through Advent, we are called to remember our brokenness. John the Baptist calls us to repent and be ready for the coming Messiah. Isaiah reminds us we have not been faithful. The Psalms remind us as we cry out in our brokenness to God, God is faithful to heal and bring hope. Psalm 16 says God is our refuge. God is faithful to show us the path of life as we journey through the darkness. God will not abandon our souls.
As we feel the weight of our brokenness, as we feel the weight of the expectations of the season, as we feel the coldness of December, can we see the path of life God is leading us on? How is God showing us the path of life this Advent?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The difficulty of Advent

Perhaps it begins in our youth, the need to rush Christmas. The rush continues as adults in our preparation for the holiday season. We want to get the shopping done quickly. We want to sing the hymns of Christmas during Advent. Why must we journey through Advent?
It is a difficult season. Advent calls us to walk through our brokenness waiting for our Deliverer. It reminds us we are still going on to perfection, we have not reached it yet.
Advent also reminds us that the problems of this world are not easily dealt with. The rush and commercialism of Christmas can not be thwarted by cute sayings and more family time. No, we overcome through self sacrificing. That is what Advent calls us to. It reminds us that the greed of this society can only be diminished by our generosity. Advent reminds us that the selfishness of our culture must be faced with our laying down our rights. It is a reminder we are to fight the anger and hatred of this world with forgiveness and peacemaking. Advent reminds us we can only combat the violence of humanity with turning the other cheek and praying for the happiness of our enemy. Love in the face of hatred and anger. Forgiveness in the face of hurt and frustration. Sacrifice in the face of greed and the ever growing cry for "My Rights". These are the weapons of Christianity. Advent reminds us the way of the Cross is not comfortable. It goes against my instincts and my nature. Advent calls us back to this reality--the reality of the Kingdom of God coming in a helpless baby, saving the untouchables, dying on a cross, rising from the dead.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Advent Day 3

Scripture: Psalm 6; Psalm 10; Luke 20:9-18
Walking through Advent is uncomfortable. This journey takes us from darkness to light. It has us walking through our brokenness. Today's lectionary reading is no different. The Psalmists lament over their brokenness and the apparent distance between God and the chosen people. Luke tells us the story of the wicked tenants. Who are the tenants? The religious people who are keepers of the law, the doctrine? Those who were entrusted with the Good News and shining the light of God to the nations but instead horded God for themselves?
What in my life is keeping people away from the Good News? Advent is about getting close and personal to the brokenness in my life so God can bring healing and deliverance. It is uncomfortable to be aware of the darkness which still exists in me. But the good news is we are walking towards the light. Our Deliverer is coming!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Advent Day 2

Scripture: Isaiah 1:10-20

Advent is a time of waiting. We wait for our Deliverer--the One who will deliver us from our brokenness, our sin, death. The passage in Isaiah reminds us our brokenness can seep into our religion. Israel was practicing her religion: the festivals and the offering of sacrifices. Yet she remained broken. Her holiness was shallow. What does God require? Seeking justice, learning to do good, caring for the poor.
Have I become satisfied with a religion which makes me feel comfortable and good? Does my brokenness seep into my practice of my faith? I want to let God heal me. I want to be an instrument of healing.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Journey begins

I grew up in a tradition which did not observe Advent. Yet every year, Christians complained about the commercialism and how we were losing the true meaning of Christmas in our society. But Christmas is not our culture's to protect, it is ours. And I am becoming more and more convinced that if we wish to keep Christmas well, we must first observe Advent well. The past three blogs have been introductions to my attempt to observe Advent well. This blog begins my journey. You are invited to come along silently or join the dialogue.
Today's Gospel from the lectionary was Matthew 24:36-44. As we journey towards the celebration of the past--the celebration of Christ's birthday, we look to the future coming of Christ. We are closer today than we have ever been to seeing Christ face to face, whether it be through the Second Coming or through the doorway of Death. And we are called to be ready.
But I believe we are called to be ready to meet Christ in a new way this Christmas. How will this Christmas be different than last? Will we know Christ better? Christmas is more than gifts and packages, it is more than family time, it is the invitation to join the story of God. How are we going to get ready to meet Christ this Christmas?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Intentional Advent

As stated in my last post, our culture rushes us into Christmas, and for good reason. If we are rushed into the holidays, we leave all rational thinking behind, especially about our finances, and jump into the commercialism. And the pull of commercialism is overwhelming. According to the advertisements on television...
My car tells my neighbors I am bland. My computer is not thin enough or fast enough. My washer and dryer are not smart enough. My oven does not multi task well. My phone does not have enough g's. My television is not wide enough. I am fashionably challenged. And what about my family? If I really love them I will make sure their car tells the world they are classy and hip, their computers will be fast, the televisions wide,etc.
No wonder contentment is elusive in our society. "Blessed are the meek"? What is meek? Advent yells, "enough." We are looking for a Deliverer, not a tech item which will devalue the moment we open it or be out of date the next morning. We are looking for a Savior from this prison of materialism and discontentment. Advent reminds us, "Our Deliverer is coming!"
And so what do we do while we wait for our Deliverer. There is the Advent Conspiracy .
There is the call to spend less and give a goat through World Vision.
One thing I will do is turn off my television or allow myself only two shows in the week. Television will no longer be the background noise when I am home.
What do you need to do this Advent to re-center yourself for Christmas?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Advent visited

Today is Black Friday. The news is about the long lines at the stores while others are braving the Internet in their pajamas. This year stores opened on Thanksgiving. Every year it seems our culture rushes us into the holiday season. Christmas decorations are up in stores earlier, Christmas music is released earlier. Santa and his reindeer are seen in commercials earlier and earlier.
Advent pulls us back. No, it is not Christmas yet. This is not the time for "Glory to God in the Highest" but the time to pray to the God of Glory for deliverance. We recall Israel's story, our story, humanity's story. Long was their slavery in Egypt, long was our slavery to sin and death. We wait for the promised Deliverer. We linger here in the waiting and the longing. We say no to the culture who would demand we rush into Christmas. We wait. We wait so our hope and our joy will be full. We join the story of Israel in Scripture who in exile would recall God's deliverance in the past and call on God to deliver once again. Advent calls us to remember the deliverance from Egypt and the deliverance brought in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ. Advent asks us, "where do we need deliverance today?" "what am I being held captive by?" Now wait expectantly. Our Deliverer is coming!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


And so the holiday season begins once again. And the news is the same....stores readying themselves for Black Friday. Will this holiday season help the stores reach their goals? Will our spending help the economy? All the plans are in full swing where we will spend Christmas and the time for services and family gatherings. We will watch the same movies again, the Grinch will steal Christmas and his heart will grow once more. We will hear the same songs and read the Story once again. Is this why Christ was born?
There has to be more. The bumper stickers calling us to "keep Christ in Christmas" or to remember "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" will be out in force. How do we make these more than pithy little sayings?
I believe Advent holds part of the answer. To fully celebrate Christmas, we must intentionally celebrate Advent--this period of waiting, period of preparation.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Asbury Seminary and Ethos

To my friends who attend Asbury and alumni,
I hear there is a new ethos statement which is causing some concern over its wording and what you can get away with while remaining in good standing. I don't want to sound harsh, but I am a New Yorker so I like just saying things right out.
Out in non-Asbury world, there is no ethos statement. While denominations do have standards to live by, you will find the old ethos statement at Asbury was far more conservative than some denominations. But out in the real world, the ethos I live by is really more a personal one.
Out in the non-Asbury world, there is not a tight community all focused on ministry and theology, etc. like at the seminary. So this personal ethos I live by, well, I am on my own. I have been developing closer friendships with other pastors. But the ethos we are under varies with denominations and each has personal standards.
So perhaps at Asbury under this new ethos, you can begin to put into practice what you will need in the bigger world. What is your ethos? You have a safe, close community to work this out in--unlike those who have gone before who had a strict ethos in seminary and had to figure out their personal one in a lonely world.
Just a thought.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Psalm of Thanksgiving

Give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever!
For the gift of life and new breathe each day
Give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever!
for the wellspring of hope; abundance of grace
Give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever!
for family and friends who love me as is
Give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever!
for opportunities had and for those missed
Give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever!
for unfailing love, when mine falls so short
Give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever!
for forgiveness when his image I distort
Give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever!
For work and for play, for joy and for pain
Give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever!
For winter and spring, for sunshine and rain
Give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever!
For communities of faith who have held my hand
Give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever!
For the fellowship of friends whose love understands
give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever!
For freedom in Christ and peace eternal
Give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever!
For a life poured out in love, the sweetest hymnal
Give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Reflections on a short man

So I preached on Zacchaeus this past Sunday. Here are some thoughts:
1. Zacchaeus was a despised man. The story says the crowd mumbled because Jesus was going to a notorious sinners home. Usually the Pharisees were the ones who complained about Jesus hanging with sinners. Despite being despised, Zacchaeus risked everything to simply see Jesus. Am I risking everything to get to know Jesus better? How about you? And I guess the subsequent question would be, what does it look like in my life, in your life to risk everything to get to know Jesus better?

2. As stated above, the crowd joined the Pharisees complaint about Jesus--he eats with sinners. Does anyone question the company I keep? Jesus went to the homes of the sinners. He didn't invite them to the Temple to hear about the Kingdom. He brought the Kingdom to them. If I am not hanging out with a questionable crowd, am I being the Kingdom of God? Now this is different than being accused of questionable behavior.

3. Zacchaeus responds to Christ. He doesn't simply say, "from now on, I am going to be a different person." No, he lets the salvation work backwards in his life to right the wrongs. He makes amends with those he has offended in the past. How can the salvation Christ has brought into my life not only be for my future but also redeem my past?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Soul winning vs. Evangelism

The bishop has challenged all pastors in our conference to lead one person to Christ. So now I am reflecting on Evangelism. What do I consider Evangelism? What does evangelism look like according to Scripture?
Then today on a blog I often read () I found a video about "soul winning." This gentleman offers advice on winning souls. This particular video talks about talking to people on the street about Jesus, going up to kids who are hanging out. And I wondered.
I am not a parent. I am an aunt though. And I wonder how I would feel if someone came up to my nephew or niece and began to share god/God with them? Are children, like this gentleman notes, more open spiritually? Or is it simply they haven't experienced things which cause the deeper questions of faith to be asked? The things which the Romans Road doesn't answer.
I am ok with someone sharing God with my nephew and niece but not the Romans Road. The Romans Road is a device to share God. It seems to assume the person has no experience with God. They are floundering out in Creation without the Creator. I want them to get to know my nephew and my niece. I want them to help my nephew and niece see that God has been with them throughout all their lives.
Perhaps that is what Evangelism is. Evangelism is pointing people to God, helping them to see God has never forgotten them.
What is evangelism to you? Is there a difference between Soul winning and evangelism?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Dance of Life

Ok, I admit it. I love Dancing with the Stars. Now I have not been the most loyal of fans. I liked it when Kelly Osborne was on it but haven't watched much of the show. This season I have been tuning in a lot more frequently. It may sound ridiculous but I feel the show has helped me be a better person. When I heard the list of stars for this season, I wasn't too excited. I find Jersey Shore to be annoying. The Palins are the poster family for American Christianity which has turned me off of them. Not one of the stars who would be performing this season beckoned me to watch and cheer them on. But I tuned in anyways. And I have found myself beckoned to a higher quality of character.
Those who I would possibly criticize or wish against, have found a soft place in my heart. I was pleasantly surprised by Bristol Palin and found myself cheering for her. The Situation, well he has been what I expected. But I am not wishing him off the show. Yes, watching him has been painful. He does lack a bit of grace and musicality. But I find the pain I feel in watching him is not because his lack of talent. I feel pain for him as he learns to dance in front of the American Public.
I cut my teeth on preaching at seminary, nervously in front of my preaching class of 30. It took all I could do to stand in front of THE Dr. J. Elsworth Kalas, one who has authored numerous books on preaching and was the seminary president at the time. Dr. Kalas demanded all who preached in his class to do so without any notes. And so in one semester, I preached three times in front of a group of ragamuffins trying to become preachers and Dr. Kalas. Oh, and the time I was invited to preach in the seminary chapel for the last chapel of the school year, I was incredibly nervous there too. I stood in front of not only Dr. Kalas but the new seminary president, Dr. Tennent. The congregation also included Dr. Richter, Dr. Pohl, Dr. Dongell, Dr. Seamands, the list goes on and on of professors who taught me, who have written books and read the Bible in the original languages. I learned to preach under great pressure. But this pressure is nothing compared to The Situation's, well, situation. My audience was no where in the same ballpark as Dancing with the Stars. But most importantly, my audience was nothing like the American Public. Yes, there were Biblical scholars in my audience. But they were on my side. They wanted me to bring the Word of God clearly with grace and hope. They wanted me to succeed. I am sure there are many who want the Situation to succeed. He is still on the show as of today (tonight's result show may have a different perspective.) But I wonder how many also just want a juicy story on the Situation or on Bristol Palin.
And so, I find myself being a little more gracious. I am not sure I will be sorry when the Situation is voted off the show. I don't expect Bristol to make it too much further either. But I find myself cheering for them because I too have "learned to dance with words" in public.
I wonder....perhaps I need to see life as a dance and all of us like "the amateur stars" learning to dance the Argentine Tango without learning the basic "step, ball, change" in front of the world. Maybe the world would be different or maybe, I would be different.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Glee meets Jesus

So I am watching Glee. And they are taking on religion today. They hit on a bunch of hot button issues in this episode. I am impressed with their courage. There is the gay issue, the atheists, the Santa image of Jesus, church v. state issues, unanswered prayers, answered silly prayers.
As I get closer to the end of the show, I am torn. Do I want the big prayer answered: Curt's dad to be healed? Or do I want us to stay in the midst of the pain and uncertainty? It seems that is where we are so often.
I think the episode was well done. Respectful yet challenging. It was powerful. I know there will be those who say they were pushing the "gay agenda." And I feel sorry for them. This episode has offered us an opportunity. Can we hear the questions the culture is asking us? asking God? Can we hear and see how the culture is hearing and seeing us and our message? If what they are saying doesn't match up with the Gospel, do we need to work on delivering the Gospel better? Is the message we are proclaiming the Gospel?

Getting it wrong?

I watched the Daily Show with Jon Stewart the other day. His interview was with an atheist talking about moral values. According to this atheists, religion calls people to be moral for bad reasons. Science can call people to be moral for good reasons. His book is The Moral Landscape which deals with this subject.
In the interview, the author states how Catholicism is more interested in birth control than genocide. He also sees the God of Abraham as one who was immoral because he got the slavery issue wrong. Of course, I disagree with him on these points. He seems to be ready to condemn on some bad points but does not look at the good the Catholic Church has also done nor does he look at the year of Jubilee which seems to undo our understanding of slavery.
Despite his tunnel vision to discredit religion, he did raise an interesting point. His interpretation that the Church is focused on certain issues while neglecting other moral issues stopped me in my seat of judgment.
He is getting the message wrong--perhaps partially because he doesn't want to see life any other way than how he sees it. But how are we helping him get it wrong? Are we drumming the abortion issue, the homosexual issue, the sexual issue so much that we are drowning out the Grace of God?
I saw a t-shirt the other day---"God hates us." It seems we are not getting the Gospel out. How do we reclaim the Good News from ourselves?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Remembering Well

A few years ago I lost my Grandma Doty. I was closest to my grandparents on my mother's side, the Doty's. Four years before gram's death, Papa passed away. In the year after my gram's death, I came to a point where I felt it was time to let go of grieving but I didn't want to. I was afraid if every time I saw a flower which reminded me of her or heard a hymn which I could hear her singing I didn't cry, well, that meant I forgot her. I didn't want to stop grieving out of fear of forgetting.

We just celebrated the 9th anniversary of 9/11. Time and time again, I heard the call "to never forget" the lives lost. I couldn't move ahead personally out of my grief over my grandparents' deaths until I chose to remember well instead of trying not to forget.

How does one remember well? On birthdays and anniversaries for my grandparents, I try to do something they enjoyed or we enjoyed together. Perhaps a trip to an ice cream shop, Papa took us down the street when we were young to Dairy Queen. My grandmother loved gardens so planting a garden or working with plants helps me to remember well.

I wonder what remembering well those who lost their lives on 9/11 would look like. If they lost their lives because of intolerance and hatred, how can we counter that with hospitality and love? Does remembering well change the discussion over the mosque 3 blocks from Ground Zero? Instead of trying not to forget, perhaps we can remember well.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Muslims, Christians, and a match

So tomorrow we mark another anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Approaching the anniversary this year has been laden with one controversial issue after another. It is like we have mixed gun powder, lighter fluid and a match. We have the proposed Muslim Community center three blocks away from Ground Zero in NYC. The anger over this is interesting since there has been a prayer room at this site for over a year. Then there is the on again, off again, on again Koran burning in Florida. The church of 50 wants to send a message to radical Muslim terrorist organizations that we will not back down. I guess the moderate Muslim community is just collateral damage to them.
Once again, I am left asking, "where is the voice of God's Kingdom?" In both of these situations, we have an amazing opportunity to say with a loud voice to the terrorists, "the same hatred and anger which you willingly nurture in your community, we will not allow you to nurture in our community." Instead a small amount of so-called Christians have chosen to send the message, "we can hurt you without killing a person, just as bad as you hurt us by killing people."
Christian hospitality has been defined as affording to strangers the same kindness and love afforded to family. Ground Zero is sacred. We would say a church being built there would be redeeming and desired. Would Christian hospitality call us to afford the Muslims the same kindness we would extend to Christians or any other religion?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Christians and Politics

On a friends facebook page, there has been a discussion on whether Fox News should be the voice of Christianity and if the Conservative Party really should be known as the Christian party. A few months ago (back in March I believe), I blogged about a Christian voice. I stated my concern with Beck and the Right Wing has been the blending of Christianity with Americanism--syncretism. One person who was in the discussion, assured me he is not blending his faith with his politics and went on to tell me I am in open rebellion because I have voted Democrat at times. I am not a party line voter. So yes, I vote democrat and republican and independent because no one party holds the Kingdom's voice. But I laugh, syncretism would not be as dangerous if it wasn't subtle and attractive to God's people.
It got me wondering though. Why are Christians so susceptible to someone using Christian-ese? Throw in God, faith, hope, charity, and suddenly, you are obviously a Christian and you deserve my vote. Speak against that candidate and Christians question your Christianity. Why are we so willing to sell the voice of God's Kingdom to one party? (I am aware that in some areas the one party is the democrats and in other areas it is the Republicans, and still now the Tea partiers.)In my opinion:
1. Its a power thing. We like to be in power. Get the Christian in the White House and in Congress. The only problem is: we have had this scenario. There have been plenty of times the "Christian Party" has been in power. Abortion remained legal under them. All of the "Christian values" they were voted in for, seemed to take a back seat. But we were in power and it was comfortable for us.
2. It is much easier to legislate morality than it is to do it Jesus' way. Oh, we are trying to save our country. Christ called us to be fishers of human beings. If we outlaw the "big sins" of abortion and homosexuality, we won't face the judgment. Or if we help the poor, we will not face judgment. But we weren't called to make Christian nations. We were called to make disciples of all nations. Disciples cannot be legislated into existence. But making disciples is a messy business. It means I have to get to know people personally who are different from me. I might find someone who has had an abortion or someone who is homosexual who loves Jesus with all their heart. I might hear a story which breaks my heart and my political agenda meets a real person whose life is broken. I might see Jesus in those broken people. And hear Christ's call to love them as they are. What would I do then?
Why do you think Christians want to have one party be the voice of the Kingdom?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Letter to Glenn and Sarah

Dear Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin:

This isn't about politics. This isn't about Mormonism. My issue with both of you is the Gospel you are preaching.
At your rally on Saturday, you called the National Mall, the Lincoln Memorial, the Temple of Freedom. You have called for a return back to (G)god then tell us to use part of the Constitution as our guide.
I understand to a point. You are calling people of many faiths to get back to God. These faiths do not have one holy book in common. So you have brought our attention to something common.
The problem I have? This is syncretism--the blending of religions. "Temple of Freedom"--what does one do at a temple? Worship, religious rituals.
In the Old Testament, after Solomon, the country of Israel is divided in two. The king of the northern territory creates places of worship for his people since Jerusalem and the Temple are in the southern kingdom. He builds these places of worship and he uses statues of calves, which are the symbol of the gods of Canaan. He then uses the religious language of Israel--"behold your God who has brought you out of Egypt." (I Kings 12:25-29). It is the sin of Jeroboam which brings the Northern kingdom's downfall.
Oh, your words are subtle. You use faith, hope and charity as values but you describe them in American terms. The faith, hope and charity Christ lived out and offers are so much bigger than what America has experienced. Just look at other American values versus the Sermon on the Mount and other teachings of Christ. In America, the American dream is a large house with a two car garage, flat screen HD or 3D television, iPhones and iPads. Jesus says blessed are the poor, the meek. In America when we are attacked, we call for bombs and military action to show our power. Jesus says love your enemies, bless those who persecute you. You talk about getting back to God but this god you are presenting looks American, sounds Republican. The Kingdom of God is bigger and greater.
Its not about politics. It is about the gospel you are preaching.

Friday, August 13, 2010

abusive relationships

In an earlier blog this morning, I apologized to someone whom I am having difficulty simply conversing with let along entering into a friendship or relationship. She has been diagnosed with bi-polar. I am not sure she believes this diagnosis to be true. I am not sure she is regularly taking medication for it let alone on the journey to regulate the medication she is taking.
The issue is in a mere conversation this past week, we didn't see eye to eye on an issue so she attacked me verbally. I know who I am and am called to be, so I don't need to answer these attacks. But I did. And then there was some lucid discussion which spiraled again into attacks. I finally let her have the last word and I blocked her on face book.
How do you stay in relationship with someone like this? Someone who attacks anyone she cannot control or would have a different view point than she has. Someone who doesn't admit to her disease or the fact her disease effects how she perceives people. How do you stay in relationship with them, when every word you say is taken as a weapon? She reads her own paranoia into all conversations. How do you stay in conversation and relationship while not allowing her to abuse and use you?

to a former friend, sister?

I am not sure how to address you. Our interactions were so tumultuous. Did we ever really have a relationship?
But I am sorry.
I am sorry somewhere in your past you were so hurt, so abused, so demeaned as a human being, it cut you to the very core of who you were, who you are, leaving you a wounded, broken person in a corner. Like a wounded animal, anyone who approaches you, you consider them first an enemy, someone who will wound you again. And so the claws and teeth come out. I am sorry every word anyone speaks, every word I have spoken, were perceived as weapons instead of companions for the journey of life. You read into every word, every sentence spoken to you-- pain and judgment. I am so sorry you have not found your way out of that corner. I am so sorry you have not found healing. I am so sorry you know only the pain of words not the healing power of words.
I am sorry you feel such a need to protect yourself. You try to control the world and people around you. When someone comes into your life who does not allow you to control them, you have no room for them. You lash out and attack them. When there is a view or someone's experience which doesn't match yours, that view, that experience is dismissed, wrong--often in the name of God.
You once told me you always get what you want and that you want to give your daughters everything they want. I am sorry. There is a humility that comes with knowing when I get what I want, often times that means someone has gone without getting what they want or need. There is a freedom in knowing that when I don't get what I want, someone else can be blessed with what they want.
I am sorry you long for relationship and have not found it. I am sorry no one has been able to endure the barbs and attacks in order to love you. I am sorry I am not strong enough to endure them. I am sorry I don't know how to love you like you need me to.
I am sorry.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Where has civilized dialogue gone?

I debated whether to call this Christian dialogue or civilized dialogue....I think conversations today have deteriorated so, I would almost settle for simply civilized...

Last week at Kingdom Bound, a friend led discussion on the Church and Homosexuality. His stand was not really against or for homosexuality but response of love and relationship with homosexuals rather than beating them over the head with Scripture. Of course there were those who became defensive from the faith viewpoint. They were not even hearing my friend's plea or meeting the discussion where it was at.

This week, I have been attacked in a conversation over Scripture and my view. This person questioned my pastoral calling and told me I need help. Not once did this person discuss the Scriptures they raised. They just threw them at me as if I had no voice or reason.

Today, my friend from Kingdom Bound posted a video which discussed the Constitution and Gay marriage. Instead of meeting the argument presented about the Constitution and marriage, one person stated something to the fact gay marriage is an abomination.

Why can't we respond out of love instead of react out of fear? We hear something we disagree with and have to shut down the conversation. We have to build up a wall and then throw stones (name calling, Scripture) at each other. The pharisees did that a lot. They used the law as a wall between them and the world. They used the law as a weapon against those outside. Jesus ate with the sinners and taught them graciously.

Where has civilized and/or Christian dialogue gone?

Monday, August 9, 2010

How to close conversation and relationship

At seminary, I was always amazed at the people who would quote chapter and verse at the professor to make their point which opposed what was being taught. I remember specifically one session in my philosophy course. The professor was Dr. Jerry Walls, one of the well known proponents of Wesley-Arminianism. He co-wrote the book, Why I am not a Calvinist, with Dr. Joseph Dongell. We were discussing the Calvinist/Wesley-Arminian debate. One student who obviously disagreed with Dr. Walls asked, "Are you familiar with Romans 9?" The rest of the class gasped. How arrogant can you be?! To question whether a seminary professor is familiar with a Scripture passage goes beyond arrogant.
I in no way am at the level of Jerry Walls or Joe Dongell when it comes to theology or philosophy. Yet I have experienced people whipping out Scripture verses to show me how wrong I am as if I have never read the Bible. I have been assaulted with Scripture.

Add Biblical arrogance to any discussion and watch the conversation spiral into a mean spirited, shouting match as everyone takes their corner.

But we do this all the time. We whip out chapter and verse, bludgeoning the homosexuals over the head with Scripture or battering women over the issue of roles in church. We quote the scripture as if it is the ending argument. There. Its final. You have no place to go. And we leave the person on the other end of the conversation bleeding. I am not questioning the authority of Scripture. I believe Scripture gives us the beginning place for our experience of God and also is the filter for our experiences of God. Can we wrestle together with the text instead of wrestling with each other using the text as a weapon?

What if we asked the question, "so how does your view work with these Scriptures?" "How do these Scriptures affect your experience of God?" How does your experience of God make sense of these Scriptures?" What if we allowed Scripture not to be the end, but the beginning of dialogue?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Relevance and the Church

It is the buzz word for the past 30 or so years in the American Church--Relevant. We want relevant worship, relevant preaching. What does relevance mean? Should the Church be relevant or make the Gospel relevant?
In one definition I found, relevant means: bearing upon or connected with the matter in hand; pertinent: a relevant remark.
If relevance is simply connecting the Gospel to the World, making it easier to understand and applicable to every day life, then obviously we should strive to be relevant.
Yet the Gospel is in many ways a message from another world. Think about it. In our society, the first is the one who camps out overnight outside the store or ticket booth. In the Gospel, the first is the one who is last. In our society, we have rights and must fight to keep them. In the Gospel we are called to lay aside our rights and serve others. In our world, if you hit me, I have every right to hit you back or at least call the cops and have you arrested. In the Gospel, peacemaking and turning the other cheek is the call. It is a message outside myself, outside my nature. The Gospel is the message of a different life, we were created to live. But we have been living in a foreign land for so long we don't remember who we truly are. The Gospel awakens us to who we were created to be. So what does this do to relevance?
We want to connect the Gospel to the matter at hand. Yet is it a call to make it palatable to the world? Do we run the risk making the message relevant of watering down the message or of syncrenizing messages (the blending of the Gospel with the culture)?
How do we hold the message with integrity and make it relevant?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Kingdom Bound '10

When different parts of your world collide in one space, you may be apprehensive, nervous or excited. Kingdom Bound presents a place for my worlds to collide. Now I hate to label because the labels carry so much baggage and also they do not encompass everything. For instance, I could label my past "conservative" because I attended churches which did not and still do not support women in ministry and who were conservative in theology and doctrine. Yet that implies I am not conservative today because I am a woman in ministry. But to many "liberals", my theology is very conservative. I still believe God has intervened throughout the history of humanity in actual events at actual times. I believe in the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ. So to label my past as conservative is a misnomer in many ways. But to label my present conservative, in the eyes of conservatives is a misnomer because I am socially more liberal and believe a literal reading of Scripture requires context. So I am a nomad. I have no home in one theological circle.
Back to Kingdom Bound--this bastion of Christian music and culture. This Christian sub-culture which I no longer truly belong to is the place where many of my older friends dwell. Yet I enjoy visiting this sub culture and listening to the music as cheesy as it can get. So I go down nostalgia lane and visit with the people who do not agree with me and the direction I am going. There is an awkwardness when I see them. I can tell they too are a bit awkward. They do not know what to do with me. I stand against how they interpret Scripture but I still believe in many ways like they do. We say 'hi'. Then the question, (dramatic music here) "what is happening in your life?" Should pastoring come up in the answer? If I do bring up being a pastor, I can almost hear the pages of Scripture turn in their head. I brace for the barrage of "women be silent," "women are not to teach men." But it doesn't come. The talk doesn't go very deep. We keep it nice and shallow. And I am sad. Is it because I am use to having people beat me up with Scripture? Is it because it would be refreshing to have all of our differences out in the open and find we can still be friends? I don't know.
I enjoyed Kingdom Bound, even with the awkwardness. Part of me longed for a deeper experience of Christ and people, I came up lacking. Yet I did experience God in redeeming my past, strengthening who I am, and walking with me in the midst of the awkwardness.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Women in ministry

I have just come back from Kingdom Bound Camp at Camp Asbury. Going to KB again, I ran into many friends from my past. Many of them do not agree with women in ministry so "running into" them as a pastor now is not always the friendly reunion one might expect. You can see behind their eyes the Scripture verses rattling off about women in ministry.
While I was gone, Matthew Turner on his blog posted about women in ministry which has gone off the wall with comments. So in light of the conversations on his blog and in light of my experience I thought I would discuss my questions and views.

1. I have observed the practice of using Scripture in a proverbial manner among many questions. We quote Scripture and verse like we have plucked the scripture of the day out of the little daily bread basket (when I was a kid, my parents had a box which looked like a loaf of bread which held Scripture verses. Each day you pluck one out and that was the verse for the day.) The problem with this approach is the verse's context is lost as well as we do not have a complete view of what Scripture states on the subject. For example, we can go through Scripture and pick out the verses on love. Yet I John states God is love. Colossians states Jesus is the fullness of God so when talking about love--the fullest picture is found in every action and every word of Jesus, quoting Scriptures which mention love leave out a good deal of Jesus, since every sentence he spoke did not include the word love.
The same thing applies to women in the Bible. Verses which speak about women in ministry do not give the complete view of the Bible.
Another problem with the popcorn or proverbial use of Scripture is we do not treat all Scripture the same. In the Old Testament we are told to stone our children if they disobey their parents. Thankfully, we do not take this part literally. While we will contextually use this verse, we bludgeon women over the head with Scriptures about women in ministry. I have heard some say the Bible is clear on what it says about women in ministry. Well, the part about stoning your children is quite clear too. We use context in one section and in the other we claim those who look at context are looking for a way out. I think we can do better in our handling of Scripture.

2. The Scriptures on women in ministry: so what do we do with Paul? I believe we read his epistles in light of Jesus Christ. I believe we read his epistles realizing we do not have the entire conversation. These are one side of a conversation. While we can construct in part what is happening in the churches he is writing to, we cannot say we have the complete picture. Were the churches he wrote to about women in the ministry having some kind of problem which required intervention like this?
Think about it as a parent. You have 3 children. One child is excelling at school and doing fairly well in sports after school. Another child is doing satisfactory in both school and sports. The 3rd child excels at sports but is struggling with school. You may make the rule "there are no after school activities" for the 3rd child but not for the other two. The exception is the one who does not have the freedom. Why do we view women in ministry in the Bible as the exception? Why is the restriction on women in ministry in the Bible the exception?

3. How do the Scriptures about women in ministry fit into the over arching story of God and humanity? In the beginning, humanity lived in the place God created for them and God's Presence dwelt with them. There was complete shalom between God and creation, and between human beings. God throughout Scripture works toward dwelling with his creation once again--the tabernacle and Temple and finally Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Salvation restores the relationship between creation and God as well as human beings with each other. We find through the story--the people of God goes from being all of humanity (Adam and Eve) to one person (Abraham) to Abraham's family to the nation of Israel and in Jesus Christ to all of humanity. God does not leave Creation broken and in sin. God brings home the exiled of Eden and restores relationship. How do the Pauline verses fit into the over arching story of restoration and forgiveness?

4. The last question I want to pose, is what does our belief on women in ministry say about our theology of God? We believe in Christ we are free from the power of sin and death, Christ is our strength in our weakness. Yet I have heard people say women cannot be pastors because they are the weaker sex, they are easily deceived since Eve sinned first. So in essence we are saying, God's grace is great enough to free men from their sin and their weaknesses but not women. God's grace only gets women to heaven. What are we saying about God with our belief on women in ministry? Does what we are saying about God with our belief in ministry match what we believe about God elsewhere?

Just some of my thoughts.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Building Walls

Luke 7 tells the story of the woman who cleans Jesus' feet with her tears and hair. Also in the story is the Pharisee who has asked Jesus to dinner. The Pharisee is indignant by this display of affection. He has built a wall of self righteousness which blocks experiencing God in a new way.
In Luke 8, Jesus heals and saves the man possessed by demons. The town was afraid of this man who lived in the tombs. Yet when Jesus restores this man to community, the town reacts with fear to Jesus. Did Jesus threaten their economic well being by allowing the pigs to be destroyed? Was their economy more precious than this individual's life? Or were they so comfortable living with that old fear, it was hard to give up? They had built a wall of their own comfort around themselves and could not experience the joy of salvation.
In Luke 9, the Samaritans refuse Jesus to pass through their area because he is going to Jerusalem. They built a wall of tradition around themselves which kept them from experiencing Christ. The disciples want to call down fire from heaven on the Samaritans. They have built a wall of judgment and condemnation, Mercy walked with them and they didn't recognize him. Then there are the three who come to follow Christ and Christ explains the cost of following him. I wonder if they turned away allowing the cares of this world keep them from experiencing Christ.
What walls have you and I built up which keep us from experiencing Christ? I wonder how often I dismiss someone because they preach a message I don't agree with or someone who I deem to be in sin and miss God speaking through them and their lives. How often do I hold up the style of worship or the tradition I like as the standard for lively worship and keep myself from hearing God in other services?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What my dogs have taught me about church

Last July, I adopted Ginger. She is a mutt--looks a little like a chow chow without all the fur. She's a rescue dog. Ginger has always been a bit skiddish. She is afraid of men which made me think she might have been abused. When I had visitors, Ginger would run up stairs. She didn't really bark when someone was at the door. Ginger also didn't know how to play with the dog toys. I would throw a ball and she might walk after but never pick it up.
Then came Greta, my Great Dane puppy. I saw how well Ginger interacted with my friend's great dane. Since Greta came, Ginger suddenly stays around when people come over instead of running upstairs. Ginger stays downstairs and barks when the doorbell is rung. Ginger has learned to play with toys. Greta has made a world of difference for Ginger. Ginger has a community now with another dog who knows how to be a dog and so Ginger has learned how to be a dog.
Many state they don't need to go to church to worship. That is true. Worship is a lifestyle--what we live out each day as we love God and love neighbor. But like Ginger needed a community who was striving to be dog like. We need a community which is striving to be God-like. It was in community Ginger overcame her fears, learned fellowship, and became a real dog. It is in community we learn how to overcome our fears,learn to fellowhship--loving each other, and how to be like Christ. Why do we need a church? The same reason my Ginger needs her Greta.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Do Kingdom principles work?

I just read an article on the illogical principles of the Kingdom of God. Where the world says, do unto others as they've done unto you. The Kingdom says do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Where the world says an eye for an eye, the Kingdom says turn the other cheek. To be first in this world, you camp out overnight or get there as early as possible. In the Kingdom, to be first you are last.
That got me thinking. Often in a conversation about being peacemakers or any other Kingdom principle, someone will say, "that's what the Bible says, but we live in the world. This won't work for America. We can't expect America to behave this way." To a point, I agree. The Kingdom can only be lived out by the power of the Holy Spirit. But often, this statement is used as a defense for voting a certain way which may be in opposition to Kingdom thinking. We believe the bit about peacemaking and turning the other cheek, helping the poor but America can't be expected to live up to this standard. Somehow what we believe and what we live out seems to contradict.
If we as Christians don't believe the principles of the Kingdom will work in this world, how can we tell the world sincerely that the Kingdom of God is what we were created for? I've been accused of being an idealist. I hold the Kingdom of God up and say this is the goal. I know we are a work in progress--we are going on to perfection. But if we are not holding up the Kingdom, we are holding up the ideals of the Democrats or Republicans or Independents or America. Have we settled for lesser gods and lesser things? If we don't hold up the Kingdom's principles and values, who will?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Marked by love

John 13:34-35 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples."
I use to drive between NY and KY every so many months. I knew the route numbers and the direction I needed to follow to get to my destination. And so I looked out for those route numbers. We find our directions through signs and landmarks.
God has lined the way home to God's Presence with the landmark of love. Love rescued creation in Noah's story. Love chose a people to partner with the Divine in the ultimate rescue mission. Love walked the earth and went to the Cross, forgiving those who crucified him. Love rose again.
Now Christ says to us--you are the landmarks pointing people home, back to the Presence of God. They will know they are going the right direction because you will be marked by love.
This love we have been marked with is not the esoteric "peace, love, harmony" where we throw flowers at each other and dance as if nothing is wrong type of love. The love we are marked with is the love of Christ--"love as I have loved you."
This love goes beyond my comfort level, beyond my preferences, beyond my understanding of what Christianity looks like, beyond my ego. This love sacrifices for the sake of others. This love holds relationships and human beings in a most sacred place. This love loves through pain, sin, and disappointment. This love walks with others to wholeness.
I don't love this way but I want to. I am marked by the sacrificial love of Christ. I am free to love others sacrificially so I can be a landmark leading them to the healing Presence of God. I wonder where my life is leading people? Am I leading them to a Christianity made in my own image? Or am I leading them to Christ?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

fall from grace

After hearing about another Christian leader "falling from grace", I found myself thinking about the phrase "to fall from grace." When one falls from grace, one has sinned.In Romans 5:20, it says that as sin increased, God's grace abounded that much more. So I wonder why we use the phrase "to fall from grace" for sin. Shouldn't we find more grace when someone falls into sin?
But that is not the way we work. We request, no, we require the sinner to leave. We do not show them grace but the door. It just seems so much easier for us to punish people for their sin than to stay in community and walk with the person to forgiveness and healing. The community of faith becomes the picture of judgment rather than forgiveness. Peter stayed in community with the disciples after he denied Christ. And as that community struggled together they encountered the Risen Lord. There was grace greater than all their sins.
We fear if we stay in fellowship, we condone the sin. Yet Jesus was able to eat with the sinners without condoning.
Perhaps the phrase "fallen from grace" does not mean one has fallen from God's grace. Perhaps it is just the case they have fallen from our grace. And maybe that is why the church has become impotent. We are living and handing out our own grace instead of God's grace.

Monday, April 26, 2010

God forgive me

God forgive me when
I judge others quickly yet seek the hand of mercy for myself.
God forgive me when
I judge the poor to be lazy and looking for the easy way out.
God forgive me when
I think the solution for the poor is they get off their butts and find a job.
God forgive me when
I think it is easy for the lower class to change their status but complain I can't get ahead.
God forgive me when
I think I have it harder than everyone else.
God forgive me when
I complain the Church should be doing her job so the government doesn't have to.
God forgive me when
I forget that the Church I complain about is actually me.
God forgive me when
I choose to judge someone's lifestyle, someone's sin, someone's situation without getting to know them.
God forgive me when
I judge the whole based on my experience.
God forgive me when
I walk away from the needy, the people not like me, the Church because I find fault.
God forgive me when
I forget I have been forgiven greatly to show mercy and love.

Friday, April 23, 2010

looking for the new

One of the characteristics of Wesleyan theology consists of the ability to hold in balance opposing or at least what seems to be opposing ideas--God's holiness and justice with God's mercy and love; the mystery with the understandable. In experiencing God, do we need a balance?
The rhythm of the Christian calendar reminds me that God is found in the ordinary and the mundane. It is not just about experiencing God in the mountain top moments of life. The Christian journey is a long haul not a short jaunt. I want to allow God to turn the mundane into the sacred as often as possible.
Yet as any good American, my attention span is quite short. What is the latest way to experience that Spiritual high? I want the new. What I have is so yesterday. I want a mountain top experience again but I want it in a new way.
Is there away to hold these emotions in balance--to always long for more of Christ without missing Him in the ordinary stuff of everyday?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Running on Empty

Last week was a tiring week for me. I had a number of parishioners in the hospital, a funeral, a church dinner, and then a family emergency. This of course happens shortly after Holy Week. Holy Week's schedule and expectations have a life of their own. I have made it a point to make sure I get at least one day off a week. But Holy Week and last week made it impossible to really rest. And so I sit at my desk and breathe a deep sigh. I meditate on the Scriptures for this week. Christ says He is the Good Shepherd. I am looking for those still waters the Shepherd promised to lead me by.

Friday, April 9, 2010

narrow experience

A couple posts ago, I talked about the narrowness of fundamentalism in the theological arena. Their narrowness in theology affects how they relate to people. I found in fundamentalism experience of God and relationships with others were narrow too. Their "literal" understanding of Scripture without understanding the cultural and Biblical context of the text leads them to exclude women from certain ministry positions. What I heard from the church when I questioned women as trustees was God's grace was good enough to give men "leadership skills" and to restore them from their sin but God's grace was only good enough to get women out of Hell. God's grace cannot undo our ability to be lead astray. The narrowness of the experience of God's grace in fundamentalism is not limited to gender roles. This is simply the experience which I am most familiar with and most hurt by. I have lost friends over my call into ministry. When we cannot extend grace to each other, it means we have not experienced that grace ourselves.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

searching for a Christian Voice

Sitting here in my home, watching cable television on my HD TV, I am searching, or perhaps hungering is a better word, for a Christian voice in the midst of our political system. I have heard Christians react to the health care reform bill with a cold laugh, "if anyone votes for Obama again, they are fools." I have heard the rhetoric of fear from both parties---it will be the ruin of our economy, it will be the triumph of the left. I am tired. Sitting in this comfortable place of privilege, I am tired. I can't help to think the Christians in America are losing an amazing, eternal opportunity to speak God's justice into our political system but instead we sound like the Republican rhetoric--"this will ruin our economy," "thank God I can pay for everyone else's health care," "baby killers." The Democrats call those opposed "fools" and "ignorant." So where is the Kingdom voice?
In the lectionary and in my Bible study we are going through Philippians. Philippians 2 calls us to think of others as better than ourselves, to have the attitude of Christ who did not claim his rights as God but served, to shine like stars in the darkness. This sure doesn't sound like the Republican or the Democrat rhetoric.
I wonder if the voice of the Kingdom focuses on people and not individual rights. I wonder if the Kingdom voice puts aside my continuing my lifestyle so that more people can have a better life. I wonder what part of my lifestyle is luxurious and I can do without so someone else can get the health care they need.
I wonder if the voice of the Kingdom finds the places in the health care reform bill restores justice in a broken system and celebrates--such as the end of insurance companies power to drop people for pre-existent conditions or because they get sicker.
I wonder if the voice of the Kingdom would speak justice into the health care reform where it fails to be just--not fair, not comfortable for me--but just like in the area of taxing someone who does not have health insurance. Is this adding to the oppression of the system?
The Kingdom calls me to speak justice and life into both the Republicans and the Democrats because both oppress and kill the weak and vulnerable. The Kingdom calls me to stop asking the question, "why should I have to pay for someone else?" And forces me to ask, "why do I deserve and how can I justify this lifestyle when there is someone down my street in need?" The Kingdom calls me to confess the excuse that the poor and uninsured are lazy and I shouldn't have to help them--as a sinful justification for inaction.
No the bill is not perfect. But I choose to see where the Kingdom's justice is being elevated and rejoice. And I choose to call for more justice to be done. And I choose to cease letting economics be my excuse for inaction.
I wonder if the voice of the Kingdom

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

narrow theology

I have been thinking about my theological journey. The main influence in my life as I grew up was fundamentalism and evangelicalism. Fundamentalism did give me a strong love for God's Word and desire to hold the Word in highest respect.
Yet as I have studied the Bible I have found context is important. As Dr. Witherington states, "a text without a context is a pretext." The problem is my fundamentalist friends have often slam the door on context discussion as adding things to the text. I remember my English classes through high school. As we read Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, we encountered the "n" word. This lead us into the discussion over the culture these books were written in--their context. In doing so, we were able to analyze how Mark Twain uses the terms of the day but tells a story of a moral and good person who was called such a derogatory name. This analysis and the deeper meaning of these books came through understanding the culture Twain lived in and wrote in. Disregarding the context is to disregard the People of God, their Culture and God's activity in real space and time. God spoke to people in a real time and a real place. God stepped into our world in a specific culture. To discover as much as we can about the context of Scripture can only enrich our experience of God and the Word. It can only help us truly treat the Bible with the utmost respect.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Theological/ Practical Road to Me

So in my past post I spoke of fundamentalism and how it has been part of my past. Like every part of my past, it has been a blessing and a curse. The blessings I have found fundamentalism has brought into my life are a desire for God's Word and a desire for authenticity in relationships--both of which are odd because I find fundamentalism to be lacking to some respect in both areas. Fundamentalists call for a high regard for God's Word--their definition of high regard has somethings to desire. Yet, that call for Scripture to have a high place in my daily life has created good Christian disciplines in my life as well as a hunger for God's Word. Perhaps I need to re-phrase all this. I believe God has used Fundamentalism in my life to produce a hunger for God's Word and Christian Disciplines. I do not believe one must go through fundamentalism to receive or practice these things.
I also desire authenticity. While fundamentalism actually, unknowingly places some barriers up so true authenticity cannot be experienced, I feel it was used by God in my life to help me hunger for authenticity. Fundamentalism wants to get to the basic meaning of Scripture and take it for what it is and apply it. That is what I want--I would define how we get there through Scripture differently. But I believe that desire has pointed me in the direction I am going now.
As I have said, I have issue with both how Fundamentalism views Scripture, interprets Scripture and how Fundamentalism produces barriers for authenticity. But that is all a subject for another blog.