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I hold myself in contempt March 30, 2005

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Jim Carey, in the movie, Liar Liar, was threatened by the judge that he would be held in contempt. Jim Carey shouted,

“I hold myself in contempt!”

It’s one of my favorite movie lines. I want to hold myself in contempt of a lot of things. I want to have scorn for evil, for sin, for things that are self and other destructive. I want to leave some things behind because I am disgusted with them.

I would like to live a life in which I would be held in contempt:

Consumerism
Greed
Apathy
Ignorance
Selfishness
Social Blindness
Churchism (Churchianity)
Insane Individualism
Fear
Lust
Prejudice
Pride

Care to add to the list?

A Post-Easter Meditation March 30, 2005

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Much of the world celebrated the resurrection of Jesus last Sunday. Another large portion of the world noticed Jesus, heard the name in some form, but did not celebrate. Still another quite smaller portion of the world didnt even notice. In America, though, most people did notice Easter.

However, as I think a little bit deeper about Easter, I think most people probably did miss it. Huh? How could people miss Easter? I mean lets be honest, 3 billion dollars worth of candy is pretty hard to miss.

Yes, I think people realized a holiday of some kind had occurred. And yes, people really did notice Jesus (and the Easter Bunny). Lots of people got up at sunrise to honor Jesus. But I think that they missed him. Im not going to compare Jesus and the Easter Bunny here; I want to go deeper than that.. What I think people missed is the enduring meaning of Easter. Now, before you quit reading because you know where this is going, hold your horses. This is different.

If Jesus really died and then rose from the dead, and Christians aspire to be like Jesus, then Christians need to take Easter Sunday with them on Monday as well. What this means is dying themselves.

No, not physical suicide, but death to the things that they are attached to, entitled to, feel connected to – the things with which so many Christians have affairs. Ill camp out on one, but with two parts.

The first is personal money. If Christians are serious about Easter, they need to die to their addiction to money. Consumerism, capitalism, and individualism have run amuck in the Christian church so badly that it is normal. How much money was spent on Easter clothes? Lets say a church of 1000 people averaged $25 worth of new clothes for Easter (many people buy nothing new and other go to some great expense). BOOM! Thats $25,000 worth of unnecessary crap Christians feel entitled to. I bet that same church collects that in a special contribution for mission annually.

The second is corporate money. Christian churches feel compelled to have land, buildings, and various assets. The more I think about it, the worse it gets. Utilities alone is a fortune, and then there is insurance, maintenance, upgrades, repair, and on and on. Missions, relief, social justice and other things that require resources typically come after churches take care of the fixed costs. Im not 100% against buildings. I think the Impact Houston Church utilizes their buildings in excellent ways. However, for most churches, their buildings are the church are treated like the church and protected as the church.

What would a congregation do if it suddenly had no building? Well, it would find a way to get a new one. What a waste of time. Why not reorganize and shift the focus of resources to the people who really need them instead of the people for whom a comfortable life gets even more comfortable?

When churches have a building, it is impossible to resist the belief that attending a weekly worship service is what being church means. Its not! Wait, let me try that again ITS NOT!!! Our buildings, and the way they structure our lives give meaning to how we believe church life to be. If there is a building, then church life is going there.

However, if there is no building, then what does church life look like?

The church of Jesus, the Jesus of Easter stands opposed to wealth as an entitlement for those who earn it. The church of Jesus gets excited about wealth as a surgeon gets excited about having new surgical instruments that will help save lives. The surgeon never boasts of his surgical instruments or merely hangs them on the wall for everyone to see what he or she has. No! The surgeon uses those tools for the benefit of other people, the people who need it the most.

May the church of Jesus come to know Him in their hearts.

Let me know Him in mine.

Check Out This New Blog March 30, 2005

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www.wwjdn.blogspot.com is a new blog about Jesus that is wondering what would Jesus do next?

It is story like in its format. Short and short short stories about Jesus an the people who met Him.

Click over and read “Holy Spit,” written by yours truly.

Thanks to Keith Brenton (blog freak and decent guy) for setting up this blog. Nice work.

Post-Holiday Quakes Strikes Again March 28, 2005

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Messy Christian blogs about Post-Easter quake here.

It was the day after Christmas that the 9.0 hit in the Indian Ocean. Now, the day after Easter, another one almost as big hits in nearly the same spot.

The difference? No tsunami this time. No tsunami and scientists are baffled. I’m not going to jump right into the Hand of God explanation. It’s just too easy to wonder where God’s hands were during the Post-Christmas quake.

I’m also not going to make too much out of the unusual timing of these quakes, coming on the heels of the two biggest Christian holidays and all. Following the two days in which more people than any other time have just spent at least a little time hearing the name of Jesus, BOOM, the biggest quakes in a generation.

Coincidence? Who knows? And if it not a coinidence, then what meaning can be assigned to them? Has Satan been unleashed? Is God unloading some wrath? Is God awakening and reawakening the sensitivities of rich Western Christians?

Frankly, if there is meaning to the timing of these quakes, I think I will fall on this one:

God is speaking to Christians in judgment. “Spread your wealth to a hungry, diseased, and illiterate world! Become poor for the sake of the poor and sick and uneducated! Quit being self-absorbed in your self-esteem ministries, in the building of bigger barns, and in self-promoting your inbred communities! Go to the world or something worse might happen to them – and their blood will be on your hands. Have I opened the treasure chest of wealth for you to consume it all? What more can I do to rouse the compassion that still lies within your hearts, though buried in narcissism? Church, wake up!”

I want to clarify that I do not consider myself a prophet of God, but if I had to place a bet, I think God’s saying something like this.

By God, justice will be done!!! March 28, 2005

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So Rick Warren is off in Africa when the Ashley Smith story breaks. She was the young woman who was kidnapped by rapist and murderer, Brian Nichols. SHe read from the book THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE. You can read the story here. You can read the chapter she read to Brian Nichols here.

What the flip was California Megachurch Man doing in Africa?

He was piloting a program called PEACE. On Larry King Warren said, “And so we came up with the plan called the PEACE plan, p-e-a-c-e. Plant churches, equip the leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation.” Read the entire transcript of his Larry King interview here.

It is mysterious how God takes an evil and uses it for His own good. Certainly what this man, Brian Nichols, did was horrific. At the same time, God worked through Ashley Smith to save her life (and maybe Brian’s life) and give some exposure to what else God is doing in the world. Rick Warren is planning on making his PEACE plan an international effort that will expand the kingdom of God in churches planted and new leadership in the church. That is great, but I think what is even greater is what that will mean for poor people, for sick people, for illiterate people.

By God, justice will be done!!!!!!

Bad Words March 25, 2005

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10 Words I find hard to use, but don’t know how not to:

10. Church (The Church)
9. Worship
8. Service (As it relates to church and worship, not as it relates to helping people)
7. Christain
6. Saved
5. Evangelism
4. Evangelical
3. God’s Word
2. Witnessing
1. Truth

Post-Restoration Hope #14.1: Something’s Not Quite Right March 23, 2005

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I love to play with my children. They are 5 and 7 at the writing of this chapter. I love to read books, tell stories, and pretend; to learn, sing, and pray, and to say “Amen.” Spiderman webs and small fairy wings, these are a few of my favorite things.

One book I read with my kids was called, “Something’s Not Quite Right.” Page after page there were cartoon looking pictures of children playing in yards or at an amusement park and things of this nature. At first glance, the pictures looked normal. However, the goal of this book was to get the children think critically. There were things in the pictures that made no sense. For example, a boy was flying a kite, but actually he was flying a fire hydrant. When you looked in the driver’s seat of the fire truck driving down Main Street, there was a dog, not a firefighter. The more you looked at these pictures the more you realized how ridiculous they were. So much of what was happening in the pictures could never happen in reality.

With every turn of the page we said in unison, “Something’s not quite right,” with excitement, anticipation, and a little wonder. Could we find everything that was not quite right, or would we get tricked?

What I liked about the book was that it never told you how many impossibilities there were on each page. You never felt sure that you’d found all of the mistakes. Although fun, there was some tension in experiencing this book. In fact, it was the tension that enhanced the fun.

“Did I find all the mistakes?”
“How come I didn’t see that mistake all this time?”
“Is that a mistake? No wait, that really could happen.”
“Am I losing my mind?”
“Should we turn the page?”

We seldom agreed that it was time to move on. Each time it seemed like it was time to turn the page, one of us would object, thinking that there might be one more thing not quite right.

Another fun part of the book was saying what should be there for real. It’s a kite, not a fire hydrant. A fireman should be driving the fire truck, not a dog. Or maybe a firewoman should be driving the fire truck. Aha, sometimes there was more than one right answer.

This fun book exposed my children to a construct, had them deconstructing it, and then had them reconstructing it. Good grief! This was the same thing I learned in my literary criticism class in college. As we were learning what was not quite right, something very, very right was happening at the same time. They were learning not to merely accept what was placed before them, but to think for themselves, no matter how familiar it looked on the outside. Some of it was acceptable, but some of it was not.

Hmmm.

Liberty Trumps Life March 22, 2005

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Fox News Reports it this way: Here are a couple excerpts

TAMPA, Fla. — A federal judge early Tuesday morning refused to order the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo’s (search) feeding tube, leaving the fate of the severely brain-damaged Florida woman unresolved

David Gibbs III, the parents’ attorney, argued at a Monday hearing in front of Whittemore that forcing Terri Schiavo to starve would be “a mortal sin” under her Roman Catholic beliefs and urged quick action: “Terri may die as I speak.”

But George Felos, an attorney for Michael Schiavo, argued that keeping the woman alive also violated her rights and noted that the case has been aired thoroughly in state courts.
Yes, life is sacred,” Felos said, contending that restarting artificial feedings would be against Schiavo’s wishes. “So is liberty, particularly in this country.”


What do we do when life and liberty collide in such a way that we have to trust someone’s comments about someone else’s life and liberty? Terri Schiavo is not dead, not yet. But she’s dying.

It would be easy if Michael were someone you could have a great deal of respect for – if he had some credibility. However, he’s got some strikes against him. It would easy if something had been written down. Nope, don’t got that either. It would be easy if Terri could talk or communicate in such a way that a judge would recognize it as speaking for herself. These are challenging decisions – very complex.

I am more concerned about the ripple effects of this case than I am Terri herself. That might sound cold and compassionless. I mean, she is a real person and her family is in real anguish. I would be too if I were in their shoes. On the other hand, things that get huge in the news and in politics cannot avoid leaving a legacy.

In life Terri is victor because the cause for life has been advanced. I’m for life, by the way – I like it. However, if she dies, especially this way, in slow motion, she will be a martyr. Terri Schiavo isn’t going away whether she lives or dies. For the people wanting her to die, they have little to cheer about if they win – death, but little to cheer about if they lose – they lose. In either case, life wins.

The Glory of Adolescent Faith March 21, 2005

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When people start asking faith questions, comfort no longer is an option. When the soul emerges from its cocoon and wants to fly, things get kind of scary. Scary because whatever is trying to fly has no prior flying experience. Yeah, it gets kind of dangerous.

Personal integrity requires ditching the cocoon for God knows what. However, community life so frequently says, “Ok, Ok, you’ve had your fun, now get back in that cocoon.”

OR

“Good grief, when are you ever going to grow out of this?”

OR

“What the &*^% is going on here?”

What a strange life of faith we are called to – one of personal integrity within the communal life. It’s an oxymoron.

Butterflies cannot become caterpillars. To force them to live that way is sick and abusive, or at best, disresperctful.

May we transcend our discomfort when other people have this questioning faith – and may be find some questions of our own.

The only way to get out of adolescent faith is to ride those white water rapids and scream like a maniac until the river gets calm again.

Monsters Defeated By The Spy Kids March 21, 2005

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Octotic
Octoticklemonster
The Invisible Monster
The Blue and Yellow Haired Clown
The Glop Moster
The Invisible Lie