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The Sin of the Believers September 24, 2006

Posted by fajita in Bible/Meditations, Christianity, emerging church/emergent, Philosophy/Religion.
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In Joshua 22, we find Israel having completed the task of occupying the Promised Land. They were one people, following God’s plans, hearing god’s voice, and consulting God at every turn. Here we have Israel at he height of its power and obedience up to this point.

Three Israellite tribes, Gad, Reuben, and half of Manasseh decide to settle east of Jordan and erect a monument to show that they are faithful to God and with the rest of Israel. The rest of Israel doesn’t like it and instantly decides to kill the 3 tribes. They cite book chapter and verse why they should kill the 3 tribes. They want to keep Israel pure.

Fortunately, they had a talk and didn’t go to war.

Here’s the sin of the believer, the people who have been closest to God, the people who have lived most in god’s blessing and protection: bypassing God.

The 10 tribes bypassed God in assuming they knew what would please God. Only people so close to God can commit this kind of sin. When people get too comfy cozy with God such that they can make decision for God without consulting God, there is bound to be trouble.

Ever seen this sin?

Grey, Rainy, and Blah September 3, 2006

Posted by fajita in Bible/Meditations, family, Solomon's Porch.
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Today it rained all day. I was so out of it. I have these days sometimes, this being one of them, in which I feel so useless. I have no ideas, don’t want to do anything, and yet life refuses to go on hold. On days like these I lose confidence, like I’m washed up, done, wiped out. I want life to just give me a day to do nothing. No. Life requires my presence, my energy, my contribution.

OK, I did get a nap today and I liked it. I REALLY liked it. It’s evening now and I am snapping out of it. I also went to the Solomon’s Porch gathering and that gave me a boost.

It’s curious just how much emotions influence beliefs. The thing with negative emotions is to challenge them. Negative emotions must not be allowed to go unchallenged. They cannot be allowed to run amuck without any initiative. These negative emotions can hold a person hostage, keep captive their potentials, and remove freedom from the realm of perceived options.

At the same time, when negative emotions are present they usually try to get a person to believe that these negative emotions are permanent. Usually, the only way that these emotions become permanent is to fear that they will, to believe that they will. Usually, negative meotions runs their course and get out.

“Do not fear.” That is good advice for responding to negative emotions. Whatever was true about you before the negative emotion is usually pretty much true during the negative emotion, and still true after the negative emotion. Knowing this ahead of time, before the negative emotion hits, is pretty important.

“Do not fear,” is found often in the Bible. On days like today, it is important to have that kind of support.

Following God August 15, 2006

Posted by fajita in Bible/Meditations, Christianity, Philosophy/Religion.
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Following God is sometimes like following a sweet smell of unknown origin. You can’t see what it is you are attracted to. You know when it is getting stronger or weaker. If it smells good you will want to find what is making the smell. Sometimes you find it and sometines you don’t. Either way the smell was nice.

Following God is sometimes like following a good idea. You grab and search and “get it” every now and again. You massage the idea and it deepens. It is part invention and part discovery.

Following is sometimes like following a rainbow – undeniable beauty toward an unattainable end.

Following God is sometimes like a boring day in which nothing happens. All the forces of Hell that would be unleashed were held at bay and you never even knew.

Following God is sometimes like making sand castles on the beach at low tide.

Following God is sometimes like forgetting things.

Following God is sometimes like… (A little help here)

Psalm 11 Reloaded July 19, 2006

Posted by fajita in Bible/Meditations, emerging church/emergent, Post-restoration/Restoration Movement, Psalms Reloaded.
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Look, you can have all your stupid clichés and quote your pithy philosophical garbage all you want, I’ve got one place and one place only that I go when I am in trouble. That place is to God.  Here is may favorite one of your lame songs; this one makes me laugh.

We’re sittin’ ducks;

We’re sittin’ ducks;

The flock must fly, or we’re gonna die, 

We’re sittin’ ducks;

We’re sittin’ ducks;

Hunter’s gotta gun, so we gotta run, 

We’re sitting ducks;

We’re sitting ducks;

Let’s fly the coop or we’re duck soup.  

Go ahead, sing your depressing songs. I have confidence that God is going to make things right. He sees everything going on here. This current mess we’re in is no surprise to the God I know. The god you know, well, I’m not so sure.

The God I know is looking at us all, and not just on the outside. He’s zeroed in on what I think and feel, not just what I do. He’s doing the same thing with you. When he finds good things going on on the inside, he saves it all up, but when he finds a bad apple, he pitches it into the burn heap.

Look, this might sound harsh, but think about it, rotten always spreads to make more rotten, not the other way around. It is for the sake of the good that he chunks the bad.

All you need to do is to get goodness into your heart and then you’ve got nothing to worry about. Then you’ll be able to look God in the eye and not be afraid of anything.  

Language Less|ens 2: Linguistic Constipation July 17, 2006

Posted by fajita in Bible/Meditations, Christianity, emerging church/emergent, Philosophy/Religion, Post-restoration/Restoration Movement.
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Using art (visual, performing, literary etc) as a means by which to convey the story of God is not merely a neat way to reach out to people who are traditionally marginalized in the church, it is essential to Christianity. Although there is some good sentiment in the idea of reaching out and broadening the tent, the value of art goes a lot deeper and is much more necessary for the survival of Christianity. Art as outreach only is like serving coffee at your church because there are people in the world who drink coffee, but no one in your church really likes coffee. They tolerate coffee because they heard about a coffee ministry at a conference in California. Art is far more essential and critical to the survival of the church.

It is essential for the survival of Christianity for the story to be told. However, when the same old ways of telling the story (which is ripe with hope) with the same old language no longer flows, but rather gets backed up in communication process, a sort of constipation occurs in which there is still a lot of input, but there is no real positive result. As with severe constipation, when the system is backed up for too long, there is real danger for damage.

Art, in its various forms, offers something to the Christian community that it desperately needs for its own survival: a laxative.

Art (good art) has a way of bypassing preloaded objections that have been programmed into the sender and receiver. Art freshens the stale packaging that the meaning has been wrapped in too long. Art provides a newer and more efficient cart to carry the message and allows the old and rusted cart to rest. Art can get the conversation going again and flush out the unnecessary clog.

Art is not just a good idea. An artless church will die – period. It may be a slow and grueling death, but it will die.

The poets, painters, singers, dancers, graphics artists etc are necessary for the story to continue to be told. Creativity is the healthy diet that the church has been skimping on for decades, maybe even centuries. It’s like the church has been on a spiritual Atkin’s diet of the beef of propositional truth for so long it forgot what the breads, rolls, and even pastries of art even taste like and have labeled them as bad. You know, steak is good, but after steak for 15 straight decades, some nice warm rolls would taste pretty good right now. And might even do the body good.

Language Less|ens 1: Toward a more robust Christian Language July 17, 2006

Posted by fajita in Bible/Meditations, Christianity, emerging church/emergent, Philosophy/Religion, Post-restoration/Restoration Movement.
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Although we don’t want it to be true, we are more contained and limited by language than we realize. Linguists would tell us that language is a way to convey meaning, but has no meaning in and of itself. The meaning is there waiting for a way of transport from one person to another. Communication theorists might tell us that language is only one of the carriers of meaning, while behavior carriers meaning as well, and probably a whole lot more of it. However, when we can say something, there is power. Verbalization is sometimes liberation, but the converse is true as well. When there is meaning, but no expression for it: frustration.

In fact, there is even a model of psychotherapy that is called Collaborative Language Systems, which rests upon the theory that language is power. Language is the means by which the power of self-agency arrives. When there are no words for the meaning loaded within a person, there is psycholpathology, or perhaps an unusual behavior meant to communicate the uncommunicatable. Giving voice to that meaning, it is theorized, gives power to the person and relieves the need for the unusual behavior.

And it’s not just about having a big vocabulary. In fact, it’s not about vocabulary at all. Rather, it is about the courage to speak. It is about accurately conveyiong the intended message. It is about a robust and deep pool from which to draw on in order to get the meaning from inside a person to outside a person – or even into another person.

Problems occur not only when a person does not have an adequate expression for the meaning, but also when a person has an expression that he or she thinks is adequate, but falls flat with or is misunderstood by the hearer. When you think you’ve communicated well, but the rest of the world responds like you’re an idiot, then guess what? Pretty soon you’ll think you’re an idiot. Or, you’ll think that the world is full of idiots.

Now, let’s apply this silly language lesson (lessEn) to Christianty. When the Christian world uses words like truth, church, authority, Bible, God’s Word, Kingdom, crusade, and a whole lot more, what really transfers to the world? If we took these words away, would God’s meaning or intentions be erased as well? Well, I should hope not. God is not bound in language, but we are to a great extent.

What we Christians would have to do is to find words that do convey the meaning of God’s work in this world. We would have to develop a more robust language in order to communicate the meaning of God. Without a common language, or even a comprehensible language, or even an uncontaminated language, communicating the meaning of God is going to be very difficult.

Many Christians don’t think twice about using very, very, Christian jargon with the deep assumption that everyone around them shares the same meaning. What has happaned is either Christians slowly reduce their religious talk to a very few people who also understand their talk and thereby ghettoize their religion or they keep up the jargonized talk with non-Christians and blame them (overtly or silently to themselves) for being sinners, away from God, or other things none too pleasant. Then there are some Christians who believe everyone understands them while they are making a fool of themselves.

I believe much of the Chrsitian language has been contaminated – not necessarily by, “the world,” but rather by Chrsitians themselves. Why in the world are Christians still having “crusades?” The Middle East is erputing into violence, and we’re having “crusades.” At least Franklin Graham is having “festivals” where his father had crusades. There’s a better use of language.

“Crusade” is an easy one. How about the word, “truth?” Is there nothing of God if we find a more descriptive or maybe even more provocative (but less contaminated) word than “truth?” I like how some are using the word, “story” instead of truth. Some people might say, “ancient Chrisitan and Jewish writings” instead of “The Bible.” It’s not that there needs to be a sugar-coating or avoidance of truth, but rahter there needs to be a language whereby the meaning can even be made meaningful. Preloaded language (language whereby the hearer assumes a meaning) that no longer conveys a meaning it once did should be don e away with or placed in Al Gore lock box for a while. Later, it can be brought out fresh and new.

My title says language lessEns, but language can also enhance, although enhancement takes efforts. Since we are all bound by laguage to a large extent, making the Christian language more robust and more accuarate to the meaning intended is a worthy effort and expenditure of time and energy. Clearer and fresher language will help move the conversation along rather than getting stuck at certain points and just fighting over, say…truth. Now is the time for an emergence of creative expressions to move the story along, even if we never use the word truth.

Psalm 10 Reloaded July 6, 2006

Posted by fajita in Bible/Meditations, Christianity, emerging church/emergent, Philosophy/Religion, Post-restoration/Restoration Movement, Psalms Reloaded.
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Alright God, where are ya? My plate’s full and you’re no where to be found.

 

I see all of these yahoos taking advantage of honest and naïve people. These jerks sit around inventing ways to make fools of decent people. Then they brag about it every time these decent people get tricked by their tomfoolery. Every twisted thought that enters their minds becomes profuse verbal arrogance. Not only that, they mock you, God. Their minds and hearts are so full of, well, full of themselves that there is no room for you, God. Even if they were to see you face to face, they would turn up their noses and walk away. And what really hacks me off is that they are loaded. Yeah, they’re rich. In the comfort of their wealth they see rules as something to joke about, as if the rules apply to everyone else, but not to them. I have even seen some of them look up to the sky and give you the finger. Their native language isn’t English or Spanish, but rather Threats and Curses. They are so vile that they could make a profanity out of the word ‘love.’

 

Here’s an example of what these guys are like: They spend their time waiting, hiding in the bushes for someone to walk by. Then they jump out and pound on innocent people. They humiliate them, rob them, and don’t much care if they kill them. Ever see a lion pounce? That’s how they do it. And when they are done, they sit around getting drunk while making jokes about how God has lost his mind.

 

            Alzheimer’s must be setting in. He can’t even remember his own children, they say.

 

            He’s chicken. God is afraid of us, they mock.

 

Come on, God! How long are you going to let this go on? Have you forgotten the helpless? Why are letting them get away with this? God, I know you better than this. You don’t just sit around and let trouble run amuck. The people victimized by these losers look to you for help. The people who are depressed, anxious, have come from messed up families, are poor, looked down on, and have all kinds of trouble – these people look to you. Do something! God, just walk up to these mockers and bust them in the chops. Show up at their beer party and give them a little somethin’, somethin’. Someone’s got to let these losers know that they aren’t getting away with this.

 

I know you, God. You’re in charge. You’ve got this timing thing that doesn’t really jibe with mine, but I trust that you know what you’re doing. I know it’s coming. I know you’re going to impose decisions that make things right. You’ll come just when hope is vanishing and save the day. Good guys win; bad guys lose. Those people who are depressed, anxious, have come from messed up families, are poor, looked down on, and have all kinds of trouble are going to get their fair share when you come to town.

Psalm 9 Reloaded July 3, 2006

Posted by fajita in Bible/Meditations, Christianity, emerging church/emergent, Philosophy/Religion, Post-restoration/Restoration Movement, Psalms Reloaded.
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My heart is bubbling over with good things to say about you. All of the things you’ve done, I just can’t shut up about them. I feel so happy it makes me want to sing, which is really something because I don’t always feel that way.

 

You have turned back those haters and sent them running and stumbling and bumbling until they self-destruct. We teamed up together and won. You took your place of Decider and made right decisions. I see how much power you have; you can tell a whole country to jump and they ask, how high? And if you wanted to wipe them from the face of the earth, or even from the memory of the earth, all you have to do is speak. When someone comes up against you is it like beating their head against a brick wall. What is the point? All that will result in is self-destruction. And yet, there they go. Don’t they know that everyone who has ever tried to come up against you lost? In fact, they lost so bad we can’t even remember who they are anymore.

 

If I were to time travel as far in the past and as far in the future as I could go, there would be one thing consistent, you are in charge. You are the Decider from A to Z. The good news is that you are fair in your decisions. No Mickey Mousing around: you’re fair. This is good news for everyone because we know what we are getting with you. What we get is a safe place to rest, to hide, to be protected from those haters. I am so glad I know you because I have a place to go when I need help. With you, it’s a sure thing. I have total confidence in you.

 

I feel like singing again just thinking about you. I don’t just want to sing all by myself. No, I want to live stream it, blog it, podcast it, vlog it; it’s all over Myspace. I want to lift up my window and scream it to people out there. Yeah, people might think I’m nuts, but when I was down and out, you were there and you lifted me up and brought me in. If that’s not worth singing about I don’t know what is.

 

But, as much as I want to sing, I am not out of the woods yet. I’m sure you notice that those haters want to bum rush my show one more time. The closer they get, the more nervous I get. They want to bring me a load of death and force feed it to me. Well, let’s see them try and do that. When they try, they’ll meet you in the dark alley and scurry aware like sewer rats in the sunshine. Then I’ll get to singing: saved once again. Good for me; bad for them. That load of death meant for me ends up stuck in their throats. There is a certain poetry about your justice, no?

 

So those haters, those who mock you, they end up filling graves in cemeteries. The people who live are the weak, the frail, and the needy. It’s these people who find hope.

 

Oh yeah, hop up onto your Decider chair and tell it like it is. When you do, those who love you are comforted, but those haters, well, they go running scared. 

Psalm 7 Reloaded June 21, 2006

Posted by fajita in Bible/Meditations, Christianity, emerging church/emergent, Philosophy/Religion, Psalms Reloaded.
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O my God, I need a place to hide. Hide me. They seek me. Protect me; I’m on the run. They are too much for me to fight off alone. Fierce, like a lion, they want to rip me to shreds. They would like nothing better than to corner me all by my self and devour me.

 

Come on God, if I have done anything to deserve this, if I have done the same evil that they want to do to me then let them have me. Do I seek out peaceful people only to destroy them? Do I go around stealing? If I do these things, then by all means, let them crush me for I deserve to be crushed.

 

But you know I haven’t done anything like that. So, come and fight for me. Flex your muscles right in their face and humiliate those who are trying to get me.

 

Stand up and show them how big you are, show them what happens when they make you mad. I’m nudging you, Lord, wake up, make a ruling. Gather everyone around you so that no one can say they have not heard you. Tell them the truth once and for all. Show them who is boss.

 

And show me who is boss as well. What I think you will find is that I am seeking to be good – good the way you see it. I invite you to look inside me. I am not so foolish as to ask you to look into the hearts and minds of my enemy without first looking into my heart and mind. I believe that when you search out the hearts and minds people, you will bring an end to the violence on earth and the violence done to me. You will make my insecurity something I talk about in past tense, memories of days long ago when I used to feel so afraid.

 

You are a brick wall all around me, and because you are there for me, I want to be everything you want me to be. Of all of the judges and people who make judgments, you are the only one who is actually fair. When you get mad, I know it is for a good reason. When you take out your anger, I know you aren’t just blowing off steam. You’re not an idiot; you know what you are doing. And when injustice gets out of control, you’re not afraid to make things right, even if it means taking some people out.

 

You look right through people! Not good news for those posers. You see that some of them have sin growing right inside of them, like they are pregnant, not with a precious baby, however but rahter with the essence of sin. When the troublesome sin is born, however, all of the promises sin offered are found out to be complete lies. But then there they are, having to deal with the consequences of the sin with nothing good to show for it. All the dreams and desires that they thought would be fulfilled now leave them empty, lonely, sad, and hopeless. All of their beliefs about the sin were merely illusions, and you can’t get love from an illusion. It’s like having a pet snake. Get to close and you’ll get bit. It’s like digging a hole and then forgetting where you dug it. Eventually, you’ll fall into it.

 

God, thanks. You’re good, and that’s more than I can say for this world. If I am going to sing the praises of anyone, it is going to be you. No one else deserves my praise. No one else has earned them. You are the only thing in this world that isn’t really crappy.

Psalm 6 Reloaded June 18, 2006

Posted by fajita in Bible/Meditations, Christianity, Post-restoration/Restoration Movement, Psalms Reloaded.
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Psalm 6 Reloaded

 

Oh no! God, see, I know I’ve blown it. I really screwed up this time. I already know it. Please don’t get mad. Just worrying about it has been punishment enough. Disappointing you is my discipline.

 

I need mercy like a starving man needs food. Feed me. I’m so full of guilt that my skeleton is disintegrating inside my body. Let me off the hook. How long do I have to suffer with my guilt? I’ve paid the price. Forgive me.

 

I feel like I am about to die. I’m headed toward the cliff and I have no brakes. Stop me. Surely your love is bigger than my screw ups. What good does it do anyone if I die? When I’m dead I can’t praise you. You don’t see corpses lifting holy hands in the cemetery, do you? I really want to praise you.

 

I’m exhausted! I’ve been weeping for way too long. My bed looks like it’s been out in the rain I’ve cried so much. And when my bed was soaked, I moved to my couch and now it’s soaked, too.

 

I think my eyes are going bad for all the tears. Those haters are constantly on my back.

 

Just, just get away from me all of you who have nothing better to do than hate my guts. God’s coming. When I cry, He doesn’t just sit there. When He comes and sees it is you who hates me, look out! Get ready to eat your words. There is going to be egg on your face. You’re going to wish you’d never come my way.