Wednesday, October 22, 2014

 

Limitations

Alissa Wilkinson on Mark Roberts blog quotes Stuart Scadron-Wattles:
There is no algorithm for “show me something I didn’t know that I wanted to see.”

[...]

In other words, I get to read what I already have read. Amazon gets to sell me something, and—assuming I repeatedly click the right button, my reading life begins to resemble life in these American suburbs: safe, familiar, smooth roads, with pre-approved credit limits, brand names, and architecture to match.
So true - you cant note this in the increasingly limited inventories at brick-and-mortar stores and if you travel much in how homogenous the experience can be, even if what you are looking at changes. (Honestly - is shopping in a mall in New Jersey really any different than shopping in a mall in California?)

I cannot help but reflect on what that says about spirituality and Christian growth. To grow you must experience new things. You have to go outside your comfort zone and you have to try different things. And yet, as churches we so often act as the internet - we homogenous. The Mainlines look like the Evangelicals who look like "TV church."

At some point aren't we reinforcing our own limitations?

I astonish myself at times becasue I find myself thinking more and more frequently about becoming Catholic. There is so much I disagree with in Catholicism, but at least it will stretch me. At least there I can learn new things. At least their tradition is broad enough that I can continue my explorations and not hit the end of the road that seems so common in Protestantism.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

 

ALL OF IT!

Mark Roberts:
Is Christianity primarily a matter of doing, thinking, or being? Chances are you know the "right answer." It's "all of the above." Christianity embraces doing, thinking, and being. That's clear enough.

I agree. But, in practice, most of us tend to lean strongly in one direction or another. If you grew up in a Christian home, there's a good chance you learned to think of Christianity as a matter of doing (and not doing)....

Then, somewhere along the way, we discovered that Christianity had to do with thinking. We learned that theology matters, that having the right theology is vital to authentic faith....

Then, perhaps a little later in life, our hearts yearned for something more. We wanted to go deeper than just doing and just thinking. We sought to know God more experientially, to learn what it meant to be God's child,...
That's a good description of my journey to date. Although I will say that often The doing is not base upon which I build, but an approach which I abandon. I think it is right and good that we go through these stages, but we cannot abandon what we have learned for the sake of what we are learning. That is the hard part. It is also the secret to becoming a whole Christian.

Lord. make me a whole Christian!


 

Kitty Kartoons


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Monday, October 20, 2014

 

What's God Up To In Your Life?

Mark Roberts:
Sometimes, we can think of the Christian as a minor remodel. When we put our faith in Christ, we add a few new beliefs and behaviors. But, for the most part, we think and live much as we did before receiving God's grace through Christ.

This minor remodel approach to Christianity falls far short of the biblical vision.
Being a Christian is radical stuff. Not "workers of the world unite radical," rather radical in the sense that what God is about in our loves is not adjustment, but re-creation.

As I sit here thinking and praying about this I am tempted to write about what this means for my life personally, and your, I hope. But the thought keeps also running through my mind about what this means with regards to how we invite people to join us. We present the world with a kind of Christianity Lite becasue we think the world will be afraid of the real stuff. But what I keep wondering is if Christianity Lite is really that appealing. It looks so much like everybody else, just in churchy clothes. You have to be a sheep for the sheep's clothing trick to work and people are not sheep.

But as I think about that, maybe I really am thinking about what this means to my life personally. Maybe present Christianity Lite to the world is the excuse I use to prevent God from making the real radical changes He wants to make in my life. Maybe if instead of worrying about the image I present to the world for the sake of evangelism, I worried about what it is God is doing in my life and let the image thing take care of itself my life might actually attract people to God.

Or is that too radical a thought?


Saturday, October 18, 2014

 

Comic Art

Artist Lee Weeks






Friday, October 17, 2014

 

The Source

Godspace asks where inspiration comes from:
As I sat here looking at the mountain outside my window (not as clear today as in this photo), the question that revolved in my mind as I meditated on this was not so much Where does my help come from? but rather Where does my inspiration come from? It is a question I often get asked, and I thought it was time to share some of what motivates and inspires me.

Of course it is not an easy question to answer. In a nutshell, my inspiration comes from an integration of contemplative practices with my observations of life and creation. Often when I sit quietly in the presence of God aware of each life giving breath and of each loving heartbeat, listening to the quiet whispers of the eternal One’s voice, I sense the energy of God surging through me. Busyness, tiredness, anxiety and just plain distractedness all quench that.
Not that there is anything wrong with this - there most definitely is not. It is vitally important to take time away to listen to God. But there are times when we must act when we are uninspired.

Christ himself prayed at Gethsemane, "Not my will but thine." I would guess there is no amount of withdrawal that could inspire one to go through the trial and crucifixion. Sometimes, there is only duty.

I think it is an important point in our Christian growth when we learn that we will not always be inspired, that sometimes we do simply becasue we are supposed to. The next important point is when we learn that even when we act out of duty, we must act cheerfully, patiently and energetically - that's the point when we reach maturity.

That's why I think God often withholds inspiration. It's not that He is absent, it's that He is teaching us that we are so deeply His that He cannot be absent.


 

Friday Entertainment

I know, I know, Jerry Lewis is weird, but this has entertained me since I was a child...


Thursday, October 16, 2014

 

Your Role

Mark Roberts:
Did you catch that last phrase? Here it is again: "as each part does its work." The original Greek of this phrase speaks of the energeia of each part, a word from which we derive our word "energy." Thus, the body of Christ will grow to be what God intends it to be only if each one of us invests our personal energy in this great work. When it comes to the growth of God's people, yes, you do matter. You are essential.

Now, I realize that many Christians don't believe this. Perhaps they have never been taught that they are essential to the health, life, and growth of the church. Perhaps they have heard this, but simply don't believe it. Perhaps their church is structured in a way that suggests they don't really matter. It is all too easy for churches, by their very organization, to imply that the ones who really matter are the clergy and, perhaps, a few major donors. Yet this is not the church as God intended it. Rather, the church is, by its very design, something that requires the energy of each and every part
I wonder if we realize how many parts there really are? We all know about arms and legs and eyes and heads, but do we know about organs and structures and cells? Do we know about those parts of our bodies that are constructively destructive - that damage us in small ways so that better things can take place?

The body is not a harmonious machine all pointed and traveling in the same direction. Simply bending you knee or elbow involves flexor and tensor muscles in competition with each other. Biochemically huge parts of your body are at war with other parts. Our bodies appear to bend to our will on the surface, but underneath it is a near chaos of competing forces and reactions, deconstructions and constructions.

This is a state called "equilibrium" - think of it as a balance set just right. Problem is if one force gets to strong or one gets too weak, the whole system falls out of kilter. Therefore, the church will always have counterbalances - those who say "NO" when the everybody says "YES." It is in fact a legitimate role in the church to be a pain-in-the-neck, a fly in the ointment. Otherwise the whole system can fly out of control. In the Old Testament such people were called prophets. It is a lonely, humbling and often martyred existence. But it is necessary.


 

Illuminated Scripture


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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

 

Words and Meaning

David T. Koyzis writes at First Things about proposed changes in liturgical language:
This is where matters get more dicey. Does it make a difference that the word sin might be replaced with evil in the proposed revision? I believe it does, yes. To oppose evil does not necessarily entail recognition of its presence within myself. I can reject the evil found in oppressive systems out there or in the pettiness of my neighbour next door. But I needn’t look into my own heart. I can, if I like, but the altered rite itself seems not to require it. By contrast, if I am asked, “Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?”, I am compelled to look within, to weigh my own heart in the balance and actively to renounce certain destructive tendencies within myself.

This may not comport with a modern or postmodern worldview, but it nevertheless flows out of a biblical framework within which repentance from sin brings divine forgiveness and is tied inextricably to salvation in Jesus Christ. No liturgical revision should obscure this central element of the gospel message.
I find this to be an extraordinarily concise description of that problems confronting most of modern Christianity. It is as if by becoming a part of the church, we are joining the army to battle evil out there, never realizing that we are the source of the evil. The problems all seem to be "out there." We fight poverty and hunger, we go on short term missions, we sally forth in political battle, but we never sit down and look at ourselves.

Christianity will "fix" the world - it promises that, but it does so by helping each of us fix ourselves, one person at a time.


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