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Communion and great sex May 30, 2005

Posted by fajita in Uncategorized.

(New series on Christian Parenting – “Parenting Teens”)

(Warning: if you are not grown up enough to read about sex, here is a link to Mr. Rogers)

Some women have sex all of their adult lives and never orgasm. I am a marriage and family therapist, so I get the inside story on these situations. Sadly, it’s more common than you want to believe.

Usually what happens with these women is that something has contaminated their sex life. Some of these women got some really bad advice from their mothers – “Just lie there and take it; the more you cooperate the quicker he’ll be done.” Others were sexually abused as children. Still for other women, it is their husband’s demands (unusually high frequency demanded or perverse behaviors) which inhibit her satisfaction. Some women got some bad religion as a girl – “Sex is dirty.” I could go on and on, but I think that you get the point.

Yet, with all of this, the truth is that sex is good, healthy, and in the larger picture, necessary.

Some Christians take bread and wine their whole adult lives and never commune. I am a Christian, so I get the inside story on these situations. Sadly, it’s more common than you want to believe.

I grew up in a church that required weekly communion of it believers. It happened like this: At the appropriate time during the Sunday morning worship serve, four men would stand behind a large wooden table that said, “This do in remembrance of Me,” in Old English script, hands folded in front of them in the fig leaf position. Stock prayers, always including the statement, “in a manner pleasing to you,” were uttered first for the cracker, then for the grape juice (never real wine), and then for the contribution, which was done with the communion, though “separate and apart,” and, “as a matter of convenience.”

There were some problems with communion.

It was the same every time. It was called the center of the worship service, but was never treated very special. Rarely was it ever explained except for the fact that it was Jesus’ flesh and blood and that we should feel real bad that we did this to him, and in fact keep on doing this to Him every time we sin.

It also flowed from church-culture context of legalism – you have to do this or else you are sinning. Growing up, I took a lot of communion, but I never really got communion. I never really learned how to commune. The obligation, the unexplained ritual, the stock prayers, the rote communing did not really penetrate. The whole exercise got contaminated from the very beginning.

Yet, with all of this, the truth is that communion is good, healthy, and in the larger picture, necessary.

The solution is to slow down, take a deep breath, let off with the pressure, and experiment without obligation. Certainly it takes the cooperation of two and the demands of none. When it happens, it is great, and when it just doesn’t, oh well, it doesn’t mean anything for the relationship. Part of connecting is the effort to connect. Celebrate each other with joy when it works and flow with grace for each other when it doesn’t work.


A New Kind of Christian (Affirmation) May 27, 2005

Posted by fajita in Uncategorized.

Below is the full text from emergent village of what is called the emergent order. Frankly, I don’t like how the word “order” rings in saying this, but I do think that the text is wonderful. As I read it (again) on Wade Hodges blog, I found myself looking at a direction that seems more in line with what Jesus wanted than other things I have read. It’s not that it is perfect, but it is less imperfect than anything else I have seen.

Feel free to comment on what you think about this.

1. Commitment to God in the Way of Jesus:
We are committed to doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God, as the Scriptures teach. In the words of Jesus, we seek to live by the Great Commandment: loving God and loving our neighbors – including those who might be considered “the least of these” or enemies. We understand the gospel to be centered in Jesus and his message of the kingdom of God, a message of reconciliation with God and among humanity.

We are committed to a “generous orthodoxy” in faith and practice – affirming the historic Christian faith and the Biblical injunction to love one another even when we disagree. We embrace historic spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation, contemplation, study, solitude, silence, service, and fellowship, believing that healthy theology cannot be separated from healthy spirituality.

2. Commitment to the Church in all its Forms:
We are committed to honor and serve the church in all its forms – Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal. We practice “deep ecclesiology” – rather than favoring some forms of the church and critiquing or rejecting others, we see that every form of the church has both weaknesses and strengths, both liabilities and potential. We believe the rampant injustice and sin in our world requires the sincere, collaborative, and whole-hearted response of all Christians in all denominations, from the most historic and hierarchical, through the mid-range of local and congregational churches, to the most spontaneous and informal expressions. We affirm both the value of strengthening, renewing, and transitioning existing churches and organizations, and the need for planting, resourcing, and coaching new ones of many kinds. We seek to be irenic and inclusive of all our Christian sisters and brothers, rather than elitist and critical, seeing “us” we were used to see “us versus them.” We own the many failures of the church as our failures, which humbles us and calls us to repentance, and we also celebrate the many heroes and virtues of the church, which inspires us and gives us hope.

3. Commitment to God’s World:
We practice our faith missionally – that is, we do not isolate ourselves from this world, but rather, we follow Christ into the world. We seek to fulfill the mission of God in our generations, and then to pass the baton faithfully to the next generations as well. We believe the church exists for the benefit and blessing of the world at large; we seek therefore not to be blessed to the exclusion of everyone else, but rather for the benefit of everyone else. We see the earth and all it contains as God’s beloved creation, and so we join God in seeking its good, its healing, and its blessing.

4. Commitment to One Another
In order to strengthen our shared faith and resolve, and in order to encourage and learn from one another in our diversity through respectful, sacred conversation, we value time and interaction with other friends who share this rule and its practices. We identify ourselves as members of this growing, global, generative, and non-exclusive friendship. We welcome others into this friendship as well. We bring whatever resources we can to enrich this shared faith and resolve.

So, what do you think about this one?

Church Drunk Love May 26, 2005

Posted by fajita in Uncategorized.

Check out my Christian Parenting Blog right here.

Posted by Hello

What happens when an environemnt good for some things to grow is, at the same time, toxic for others to grow?

For example, palm trees don’t do so well in Minnesota (or any cold region). Or, alcoholics don’t do well in bars.

When there is a problem, most people’s initial response is to assign blame, decide on a winnder, and try to fit everything else into that model. If palm trees don’t grow in Minnesota, then there must either be a problem with palm trees or Minnesota. If someone who has a weakness for alcohol, they must be flawed, or else alcohol itself is evil. So, then the hunt is on to figure who is right, who is wrong, and how to decisively determine this with empirical evidence.

This “who’s to blame?” response is natural, but is not actually helpful. It’s a tool of the modern era that is power-centered, hierarchical, and oppressive.

Although you could go on forever trying to determine who is to blame, even if you could find the answer to the question, pursuing that answer completely misses the point. It’s not that the environment is necessarily evil, nor is it that the object in the environment is necessarily evil either, but rather the combination can be said to have poor results.

Let me transfer this dynamic to church life. Some people thrive in large megachurches. They take comfort in large numbers, in well-oiled programs, slick marketing, and so forth. However, some people just drown in this mass of bodies, the feeling of personal smallness, in the massive amounts of energy it requires to keep the Queen Mary afloat.

So, is the problem with megachurches or with “weak” people?

Let’s jump over to the other metaphor. What if megachurch is the bar the person who gets drawn toward too much alcohol (too much church) should never go? What if this person is too easily drawn into church pride, frantic activity, perfectionism, etc that it drains the soul of its love and energy and spirit? What this person really craves is a small community of loving people – sips of “church” not gulps.

I really like the part of the emergent order that says, “We are committed to honor and serve the church in all its forms… rather than favoring some forms of the church and critiquing or rejecting others.” There is room for megachurches, for house churches, for denominations, for all kinds of churches in the church.

The effective result of affirming the church in all of its forms is affirming people in all of their forms. There is no one right way to do church for all people, but there is a church form that is more suitable for certain person types. And if there is a person for whom no church structure is a fit, then more new churches need to be planted.

To cram a person into a church type that does not help, but actually causes damage to them is not at all what Jesus had in mind for the church. Forms are unavoidable, but declaring that one form is best for all people is completely avoidable.

We need every possible variety of church because there are so many kinds of people. That is why the era of cookie cutter churches is over. New churches in the emerging culture are opening the door to people for whom church has been toxic. Oh yes!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you want to learn more about this kind of deep ecclesiology, go get a book calld, “A Generous Orthodoxy,” by Brian McLaren and also begin reading the Tall Skinny Kiwi’s series beginning here.

McLaren, Campbell, & Starbucks May 24, 2005

Posted by fajita in Uncategorized.

Alexander Campbell sat in the local Starbucks sipping a steaming cup of black coffee reading a copy of the U.S. constitution when Brain McLaren, caffe mocha in one hand and a copy of Can a Darwinian Be a Christian? in the other, asked if he could have seat at the table. The following is their conversation.

AC: Yes, please, have a seat. There is lots of room at the table.

BM: Don’t mind if I do. He pulls up a chair to the table. Alex, how can you drink that stuff?

AC: Pardon?

BM: Your coffee has no flavor.

AC: Your coffee has no coffee.

BM: Touché.

AC: Brian, I’m concerned about the church.

BM: You too?

AC: Yes. It’s so fractured and splintered. Do you think this is what Jesus meant for it to become when he began the church?

BM: Alex, we might be of the same heart. I look around and it hurts to see the fighting, the in-grouping and out-grouping, the vying for position – it’s depressing.

AC: I’m not depressed.

BM: Well, you’re a better man than I am.

AC: You may be right, but let’s not talk about that. What I want to know is how to solve this problem.

BM: I’ve been thinking about that, too. Do you think it’s possible?

AC: Of course it is.

BM: You seem so certain.

AC: Brian, do you see this? Holds up constitution. This is like our Bible. It is a governing document that, if followed, assures us of rights, freedom, and liberty. The Bible does essentially the same thing. All we need to do is be honest and look at it. An honest look at the Bible will render the same results from everyone, I am certain.

BM: Curious. Unity through uniformity.

AC: People are rational and a rational reading of the text will reveal an agreeable truth. Brian, we will be one as Christ so desired. The church can be restored!

BM: Interesting. As I pondered Christian unity, I remembered a poem I wrote when I was in high school. It was about my friend, my imaginary friend. I wrote about her…

AC: Wait a minute, your imaginary friend was a girl?

BM: Yes, is that strange?

AC: I’ve just never heard of such a thing.

BM: I’m sorry, but what I was saying was…

AC: Seriously, a girl?

BM: I liked girls, OK, I still do, for the record.

AC: It’s just highly unusual…

BM: Noted, can we move on? Campbell nods. This poem is called Harbinger of the Dawn.

AC: Why did you still have an imaginary friend in high school?

BM: Just let it lie, would you? He clears his throat. Harbinbger of the Dawn

AC: Harbinger, I like that.

Just as Brian was about to recite the poem, they were both shaken by a loud noise pumping out of an oversized, 80’s style boom box covered in worn stickers of Pope Leo.

“We’re no gonna take it,
No, we ain’t gonna take it,
We’re not gonna take it, anymore…”

They both looked and saw a man spinning on his head. He than flipped up to his feet and began break dancing.

AC: Ah, my good friend Martin Luther. Martin how are you good man?

ML: I can’t stop dancing.

BM: Martin, I’ve been meaning to ask you, what do you think of Lutherans?

ML: I want to open up a super-sized can of Whoopass on them all.

AC: Martin, you really need to reign in your tongue. No one is going to take you seriously with such a foul mouth.

ML: That’s the problem. People have taken me too seriously. Now I’m out here dancing to reform the reformation. Sorry guys, gotta go, and I’m taking my music with me.

BM: I got to hand it to the guy, he puts it all on the line. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, my poem.
Harbinger of the Dawn

A song in the darkness, Like
a prayer thrown into the night,
Yearning for the light, longing
for the sun. She sings of beauty
she cannot see, of hope she
does not know…

Just then a man ran through the Starbucks with his hair on fire, punching himself in the face, screaming at the top of his lungs, “The flames are coming! The flames are coming!”

AC: Who is that?

BM: I can’t tell with the burning hair and facial bruises, but it almost looks like Jerry Jenkins.

AC: Hmmm. That’s quite a stunt. So, you were reciting.

BM: Yes, let’s see

…of hope she
does not know. Then, from the far-
thest horizon, something sang
back. It sang in blue and orange,
pink and purple, and blood red.
Their music harmonized, like
Lovers, as a crescendo
of light filled the earth, and…and…

AC: Brian, what’s wrong? Is that it?

BM: That green man in the robes, the one hovering by the coffee bar, is that Yoda?

AC: No way, Yoda is short. That guy is tall. It looks like, well, it looks like a Tall Skinny Kiwi.

BM: It’s Andrew Jones. Andrew, come on over and have a seat.

AJ: About the church concern you have. He sips his coffee without touching the cup.

AC: Yes, we seek unity. We are both sick and tired of the fractured and dismembered body of Christ.

BM: What do you think is the solution, Andrew?

AJ: Clouded your thoughts are. His eyes narrowed and then he said, one solution there is not, The Rhizome Cowboy, ride he must.

BM & AC: Huh?

AJ: Thinking I must do. A blog I must post. At that Andrew floated away.

AC: I just don’t understand those Jedi’s. Brian, I need to go in a minute, so would you please finish your poem and then make your point.

BM: Oh, I am finished.

AC: What? It’s ends with, “…and…and” – Seriously, that’s how it ends?

BM: Alex, how does the Kingdom of God end?

The question made him choke on his plain black coffee and spill it all over the floor.

BM: Oh I’m sorry. Would you like to finish off my coffee?

AC: I don’t know; there is so much in it.

BM: That’s what makes it so good.

The Passion of the Sith May 23, 2005

Posted by fajita in Uncategorized.

Posted by Hello

Could Anakin be our Christ figure? Read this and find out.

Let’s get beyond the obvious problems and go to the things that do fit. Immaculate conception? It was the will of the force that Anakin was born of the Midiclorians. He was born to restore balance to the universe. Think about that for minute.

1. There was once balance in the universe (Eden).

2. Something got it out of balance and that imbalance lasted for generations (Sin).

3. He was prophesied about.

4. Balance can be restored again (redemption, salvation).

5. He was tempted in every way.

6. Restoration eventually is found in Anakin’s death (crucifixion).

7. After his death, he lives in his people through the spirit.

8. There is still work to be done after the balance has been restored.

I love the Star Wars double trilogies because the story is soooooooo goooood. It is the classic battle between good and evil. It touches on temptation, generational sins, free will, powers greater than we know of, spirituality, love, hate, hope, fear, triumph, confusion, celebration, grief, racial reconciliation, racism, greed, generosity, sacrifice, selfishness, change…etc.

I think that there is a special message in the Star Wars movies for fathers and sons. Reconciliation, at any age, is possible. Many sons who have had lousy fathers have spent their lives fighting their fathers, swearing they will never be like them, hating them. The irony is that their very means by which to avoid being like the father is the very way to become most like him. “Luke, it is your destiny.”

Forgiveness, not hate, is the way of change. Wow, isn’t that beautiful?

The Church Is In Crisis #4: From Audience to Army May 23, 2005

Posted by fajita in Uncategorized.

When your church has a building, it is tempting to think church is what happens in that building during a 2 hour block of time Sunday morning. And if you’re really hard core, church also happens Wednesday evening and maybe even Sunday evening as well.

But what you’ll also find is that the church is an audience. They act in much the same way as the group of people at the movie theater act. They attend, pay attention, want to get something out of it, critique it when it’s over, and then splinter off back into their real lives.

Just because people are all together in the same room does not mean that they are united, productive, spiritual, or anything. All it really means is that they decided to show up in the same room.

Even if what brought them together unites them and that uniting thing is a good thing, such as, “It’s good to be with brothers and sisters in Christ,” or “This is a place where I can pour out my heart in worship…” Even if there are good reason for these people to come together, if that is it, then there is a certain degree of shallowness in the church.

That is church as audience, maybe some interaction, but predominantly audience.

Jesus Christ did not come to earth in human form, endure mistreatment, die and raise from the dead to gather an audience.

He wants more than that; He wants an army!

Jesus wants an active army of compassion mobilized to take love to the world like it has never seen before. Although there are some spectacular exceptions, the church is generally more interested in self-preservation, political action, and power.

American church structure has much to do with that. It too easy to believe that church happens in neat and confined segments of life. It’s not solely the people’s fault that they think this way either. It is tmore so the fault of church structure.

So, what’s the structure solution?

I’d like to say small groups is the answer. Small groups need to be the core structure type of the church. I’m not saying do away with all buildings and large gatherings for worship. What I am saying is we need serious redirection on this matter. Large gatherings don’t advance the kingdom like small groups can.

Small groups have the potential to be relational, personal, safe, spiritually forming, potent etc.

But here is the problem with small groups: When a church launches a small groups “program,” those small groups are assimilated into the existing structure rather than actually making an real structural change. It’s human nature to change as little as possible. So, rather than use small groups as they can be used, we just chalk them up as another great program.

Although your church probably has small groups of some kind, they have probably been an add on rather than a transformation in your church. They probably take the place of a Bible class or take the form of a Bible class. Or maybe they are social, but shallow. We try to make then neat and clean, but get frustrated with the children, cleaning the house, the one-more-thingism and so on. They need to be more than that.

We need a church structure that is not so much big event oriented, but regular small gatherings.

Small groups are small platoons of the armies of compassion. This is the place where service can get done on a personal level, connections can be made, family can be experienced, etc. When a small group moves its energy toward some goal of service, compassion, and love, LOOK OUT!!! Who is going to stop them? When small groups are freed to be the church without being saddled with “add on” or “one more thing” status, then the world is blessed by the church. That is the time when the church begins to resemble armies of comapssion and not a fat audience stuffing itself with churchstuff.

Feedback for Experiment May 20, 2005

Posted by fajita in Uncategorized.

OK folks, I’m experimenting with some capitalism here. Please give me feedback. What you’ll notice:

1. The Visa/MC donate button (on every post).
2. A google search bar.
3. Adsense ad tower lower right.
4. Homefront bookstore, which is an Amazon affiliates thingy.
5. My “Reads” list is set up throught Amazon affiliates as well.

What I want to know is this:
1. Which of these, if any, takes away from what I am trying to do on this blog?
2. Did you notice anything offensive besides an overt attempt to sell ads? What I mean is, did anything nasty appear on my blog that a nice Christian boy like me would never approve of?
3. How tempted are you to actually click on anything here?

The Wrong Side Of Hell May 20, 2005

Posted by fajita in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

I am nearly done with Brian McLaren’s, “The Last Word…,” and I have to say that it is grinding up my view of Hell.

What’s got my head spinning today is the idea that being judged and being saved by grace are not opposites. Being saved does not necessarily negate judgment and judgment is more like a telling of the truth. I’m not sure that to make of it all.

What I find more useful is Jesus’ use of Hell. Apparently Jesus takes the prevailing view of Hell utilized by the Pharisees and turns it back on them. Kind of a so-how-does-it-feel approach to their harsh methods the Pharisees used in how they treated people. Clearly they did not appreciate being on the receiving end of their use of Hell. So, they killed Jesus.

The Pharisees used Hell against the “sinners” and tried to scare people into being moral. Jesus used Hell against the Pharisees and tried to show them that being good was of equal or greater value than being moral.

Mere morality requires no real goodness, but true goodness is moral. It’s kind of like morality is a subset of goodness and not the other way around.

What I find most disturbing is that the view of Hell I have known my whole life is almost identical to the Pharisee’s view, not Jesus’ view. I’ve been on the wrong side of Hell my whole life. I wonder how much this idea has impacted how I have treated people. I fear looking into that because I think it will expose things about me that are embarrassing, humiliating, and regrettable.

On the other hand, maybe that is the judgment of God on me (telling the truth about me) and that if I do know that truth about me, then I will have the opportunity to change, be motivated differently, to love more.

Oh God, lead me into your goodness and strip away anything less than you desire.

The Church Is In Crisis #3: Hocking Loogies May 18, 2005

Posted by fajita in Uncategorized.

Greg Rushing was famous in my neighborhood when I was in 3rd grade and he was in 5th grade. No one, I mean no one, in the Shannon Court Townhouses could match Greg in his ability to hock loogies.

I remember the day Eric challenged him to a contest, yes, a literal spitting match. They both stuffed as many pieces of Hubba Bubba in their mouths as they could on that fine June day in Minnesota. Then they climbed up on the wooden structure (can’t remember what in the world it was), lay on their bellies on top of this thing and did a simultaneous, “Ready, set, GO!”

Then they started spitting down the side of this wooden structure from the top. Loogie after loogie streamed down the wall of this structure they lay on. The rest of us cheered wildly for Eric. The first stream of spit to reach the ground indicated the winner, and loogie champ. We pulled for the underdog as Greg was undefeated in this glorious event.

In just a couple minutes (which is actually a long time to relentlessly spit repeatedly as fast as you can), it became clear that, once again, Greg Rushing could not be topped. He was in deed the Loogie King of Shannon Court.

Can we all agree that hocking loogies is disgusting, nothing to fight about, and an impressive waste of valuable body fluids? Isn’t the picture in your mind kind of repulsive? Does it make you want to hop up there and join these boys in their spitting match, or does it make you wish you had never even heard about it?

Granted, I know this kind of thing is attractive to some of you, but for the rest of us, we either never had an attraction to this or we grew out of it years and years ago.

So, what would you think if I said that this is what the church looks like to people who are watching from the sidelines?

When churches have their turf wars, theological debates, parade their affirmations, trumpet their declarations, dump valuable resources into proving the irrelevant, bicker, fight, split, and on and on and on, they are as appealing as a couple of immature boys hocking loogies for pride.

The church had better start caring what the world thinks of them.

“For God so loved the WORLD that He gave His only son…”

Buildingless Church May 18, 2005

Posted by fajita in Uncategorized.

The below message came in over e-mail.

I’m very intrigued by the idea of a “building-less” congregation, of a series of home-churches rather than a singular meeting-place. What resources have you come across that speak to this idea? Are there any congregations out there that have embraced this approach? I gotta tell you, I think it offers some exciting possibilities, specifically in providing an experience that is different to the “church” experience that so many people have decided isn’t for them. Any insight you have would be cool.


Tim, your wish is my command.

Websites with loads of resources:
House Church Central
House Church Network
House Church Blog
House 2 House
Touch Outreach Ministries
DAWN Ministries – Simple Church

House Chruch Conventions & Seminars:
National House Church Convention
Touch USA Training

Some Books You Might Check Out:
The Church Comes Home
House Church Networks
So, You Want To Start A House Church?

Cool Quotes about using other people’s buildings:

Jesus’ strategy was to go where people were already hanging out. This is why he went to weddings, parties, and religious feast day celebrations…Taking the gospel to the streets means we need church where people are already hanging out. We need a church in every mall, every Wal-Mart, every Barnes and Noble.
Reggie McNeal (The Present Future)

The church’s evangelistic task…demands that every barrio, apartment building, and neighborhood have a church faithful to God’s word established in it.
Roger Greenway

I hope this gets the wheels turning even more.