21 February 2005

What if...

What if we looked at scripture as if it was freshly written to us. Stop turning to theologians but to that which has been entrusted to us to know the way of God... His Spirit. What if we spent a long time reading it and adjusting our lives to what it says literally. Center it in our lives. Meet together because someone will be reading from it this week and we don't what to miss what it says. What if we quietly worshipped in thankfullness and awe because we have been given a letter that tells us about Him who made us, who loves us, who sent His Son, who gave us His spirit to know Him and to be Able to Please Him, who lovingly woos us to do His will but also sit in His presence...

What if...

That is what I am recommending to the elders of Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church for the former Sunday at 6 worship service. Just a group who will trust each other, care for each other, support each other as they approach some time together each week to listen, consider, repent, support, and then walk faithfully until we meet again...

15 February 2005

During Lent...

I think during this season of Lent (and sickness) I want to focus on Christ instead of picking on "the Church." No more prodding until after Easter. Listen to His call to what He wants of me and not what I expect of Christians. Meditate on the offices as they lead me through a liturgy of His glory and not my puny views.


A psalm from the morning...

I think I will spend more time meditating on this than on many of the things that want my attention... won't you join me?

Psalm 94 (95)
A call to worship
Come, let us rejoice in the Lord, let us acclaim God our salvation.
Let us come before him proclaiming our thanks, let us acclaim him with songs.

For the Lord is a great God, a king above all gods.
For he holds the depths of the earth in his hands, and the peaks of the mountains are his.
For the sea is his: he made it; and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us worship and bow down, bend the knee before the Lord who made us;
for he himself is our God and we are his flock, the sheep that follow his hand.

If only, today, you would listen to his voice: “Do not harden your hearts
as you did at Meribah, on the day of Massah in the desert, when your fathers tested me –
they put me to the test, although they had seen my works”.

“For forty years they wearied me, that generation.
I said: their hearts are wandering, they do not know my paths.
I swore in my anger: they will never enter my place of rest”.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

A short intermission...

I feel like I have been sick for the entire year. Since I have come back from The Interviews, I have been hit with a fever and a deep cough.

I preached Sunday night with a 101 degree temp (cookin') and went home and went to bed.

Christel tells me I am still infectious, hope I didn't make you sick...

12 February 2005

A word from Him...

Ezekiel 36
I will take you from among the Gentiles,
I will bring you together from all the earth,
I will lead you into your own land.

I will pour clean water on you,
and you will be cleansed from your filth:
from all your worship of idols I will cleanse you.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.
I will take the stone heart from your breast and put a heart of flesh in its place.
I will put my spirit among you,
so that you will walk in the paths of my law,
keep my judgements and obey them.

You shall live in the land I gave to your fathers.
You shall be a people for me, and I will be your God.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

10 February 2005

changing gears a bit...

As I find myself in the place to which I have come, I am finding the liturgy of the Traditional Catholic Church bringing a sense of solace and connection. I think that if culture would drive the worship instead of the continual reminders of Truth we may find ourselves unknowingly outside of what is true. And that is not to say that we could go through the function and never touch the form. I do not believe we should stay in the 1954 church but I am trying to find the Truth at Calvary, the Open Tomb, and the Power of the Upper Room in the services of today. A little ash on the forehead could still be just ash on the forehead unless the Spirit is evident in the Body as we remind ourselves of His Truth and Way. I don't think the tradition is the issue but rather the Body being open to the Spirit as He continually leads His people to do that which He desires for us to do and become today. I would just hate the debate in 20 years to be the same today as they look back on us and say that we don't want to be the church of 2005. I think we may be changing our "styles" to fit the culture instead of bringing the "culture and the power of the Kingdom" to this time.

I think an issue to go stronger to is What is He calling me to do down the street, in the classroom, on the job, around the dinner table, sitting in the dentist chair, buying a movie ticket, drinking a pint in the pub, comments on the blog, etc. than the style of worship. I find myself stalled because the my thinking and conversation tends to be around an hour on Sunday instead of the life of being a disciple. I want to be His to do with what He wants.

07 February 2005

At Whitworth...

I was extremely sick Sunday with stomach cramps and headaches, slept through most of the day and miss most of the SuperBowl, and wasn't able to go to Steve Hart's church, to which I am disappointed.

I got to the Whitworth campus this morning at 8:00a to meet with Jerry Sittser, a professor in the Religion department. I needed this conversation, he cleaned out the rocks and soil that are covering the seedling of vision. I felt the light again and this conversation and counsel was extremely helpful and encouraging to continue to that which I feel called.

I had lunch with Terry McGonigal and was again encouraged to continue the course. He told me of a tragic and sad event in one of the churches up here which made me spiritually ill.

I got hugs from Keith Beebe, Dotty Mohrlang and Dick Mandeville. I don't mean to be a name dropper, but to remind those who attended Whitworth how many wonderful people there are here.

I know I have been pretty negative in the past about the institution of the faith and those in charge, but I don't separate myself from those I am talking to. I know that I have been coasting and resting in the structure and getting a paycheck instead of the rewards of the Kingdom to come. At the end of this trip I want to begin a new experiment in fellowship and gathering that will put my "money where my mouth is"... instead of just my foot.

I don't say this enough but I am surrounded with heros of the faith...

06 February 2005

I am too wired...

I flew into Spokane this afternoon, met with Randy Brothers, the
Youth Pastor at 1st Presbyterian Spokane, and drank some coffee.
Now I can't sleep, but it was a great conversation, like always.
I will write more in the morning...

05 February 2005

This is what I mean...

I just got an email from a daily devotion with a commercial that was touting, "Find your Christian Soulmate." If it is your true soul mate is it important to designate it to be a Christian Soulmate?

Brian, what is the good thing? Do what God is telling you. Don't know what that is? Ask Him. Wait, listen, do. Separate just for a while the need to do something "Christian" and do something God is telling you to do. It might be to call your parents, do the dishes, pick up some food for the widow next door, etc. But do what He is telling you to do. Or maybe you are suppose to lead an AWANA Group or work in the nursery or sit next to an old couple and ask them about themselves for a while. I believe He will tell you what is good. Listen until something comes to mind. If it sounds strange call someone who hears God and is faithful and bounce it off of them. THEN DO IT.

I don't mean to start an argument, but...

I hope I can better articulate my view here. I am not against any church program, I just question what it is doing to further the Kingdom of God. I don’t think being a christian is a bad thing, but I have a problem when I walk into a Bible book store and see “Christian” art, “Christian” books, “Christian” keychains, “Christian” dolls, “Christian” combs, “Christian” coffee“Christian” cookbooks, “Christian” newspapers, “Christian” backpacks, “Christian” eyeware, “Christian” pencils , “Christian” dolls of the apostles,… At what point does it become “Christian”? Does Billy Graham say a blessing over it like a rabbi would to make something kosher?

I question some of our programs that we put our children through. I wonder if many people put their children in “Christian” programs because it is an alternative to secular programs. There is nothing wrong with memorizing the Word of God, but do they know that it is the Word of God or something to do to get something. What is the end that we hope for in the means of doing something? We put our kids in so many programs – soccer, dance, gymnastics, debate teams, swim teams, sport camps, AP and college prep classes, AWANA, youth groups, YoungLife, Campus Life, Praise team, leadership teams, and other worth while activities. What is the purpose? Are we getting what we think we are getting? The average Christian that comes to a program, expects a syllabus type education not a move of the Spirit. The fruit at the end of a program should be something more than just another syllabus or t-shirt.

Sometimes it seems that the programs or “ministries” that the church provides are to keep the institution running not to provide access into the Kingdom. I just question what the criteria are to measure the success.

Now I know I will make some mad with this but it needs to be said. I don’t we are equipping our children very well. We are not teaching them humility, responsibility, charity, kindness, appreciation of creation, hospitality, respect, how to survive a loss, etc. We are spoiling our kids with some of the programs we put them in. We are educating the hell out of them. They don’t know how to sit and be patient. We give them time outs but not what to do when they have time IN. They are not disciplined to wait on the Lord. Faith has as much depth as a votive candle. Commitment is until something else comes along. They are not ready to start on the bottom.

We send to “Christian” daycare, “Christian” elementary and high schools, “Christian” colleges, “Christian” camps, “Christian” mission trips, “Christian” conferences, expecting that they will be better “Christians” but they don’t know how to work with a non-Christian boss, work a full schedule, articulate their faith without using “Christian” buzz words. I am not saying that we shouldn’t have those things but I don’t think we are getting what we think we are getting. These are not necessarily producing the fruit of the Spirit but more of the flesh. I have heard people pridefully talk about their mission trips that sounded more like the “Christian” Hilton sisters.

I am not that impressed when someone goes on “mission trips” but doesn’t reach out to those who are outcast in their schools, neighborhoods, or cities. What experiences are we giving our students? Are they discipled or just given experiences? Sarcasm and gossip, sexual promiscuity, drinking are as rampant in “Christian” circles as they are in secular ones.

So let’s start dealing with the problems. Re-evaluate programs. Check criteria to see if it has been replaced by an agenda of power and control. Stop having meetings if nothing is accomplished and evaluate the “accomplishment.”

I spent a day at a meeting where nothing was done that would have eternal, less alone temporal significance. On the way home I was nearly in a car accident. If the driver of my car wasn’t so sharp, I am sure I would have been dead. Then I started thinking how did I spend the day? What a waste of 8 hours. Then I got mad. I don’t stay in or call meetings unless the objectives are clear and measured. Or the coffee and bearclaws better be good…

I am not just complaining, I am about to do something...

03 February 2005

In response to the previous comments...

As far as I can see seminary only tells you what happened, a historical perspective of God - Theology, but rarely have I seen someone come out with an understanding of what the Spirit is doing today. That is not meant to put anyone down, but I would caution anyone to think that only an seminary education will direct them to the ways of the Spirit of today. Eric, the churches are not equipped anymore with the thinking that they are the first line of protection. This is because they have been ill-equipped in the way of the Spirit and aren't aware of their gifts, and I think it is because of the kind of training people get in seminary. Very rarely do I see someone come out with humility and a submissive heart to the Spirit. They are more equipped to run a session meeting than listen for the voice of Him. I am afraid that we are training people to only be in the life of the church but not the spiritual life of the Kingdom. We call people to be involved in the things of the church - AWANA, child care workers, choir, deacons, elders, parking lot ushers, maintenances, sunday school teachers, praise band, chair setteruppers, coffee & cookie makers, Stephen Ministries, Crown Ministries, personnel committee, worship committee, finance committee, mission committee, prayer committee (?), pastor seeking and nominating committee, BUT rarely do we equip people to listen to God speak to them through His spirit, cast out demons, heal the sick, teach with boldness, discern the spirits, OR how to be faithfully living a life in relationship with Him. We teach people that they are in a relationship to a church body.

I am sorry Bill and Eric, but I cannot agree with you. Seminary is not a bad place and you get a great understanding of scripture, the languages, the structure of the church government, some counseling, liturgy and other aspects of Sunday Activities. I just don't think the rest of the week is covered very well. And it is the rest of the week where the rest of us live.

I know that it seems like I am picking a fight but what I would really want said about me was that I am calling for more from us in leadership. Even though names were called out it is not meant to be directed at anyone personally. My best friends are pastors, my pastor is a pastor, I drive by pastures...

01 February 2005

Off again...

Before I go off on the out of state trip I need to finish my thought. The future of the church never rested in the hands of the men or women who went to seminary but in the Spirit's leading. It doesn't matter what these people learn and do it depends on the people who are the Body of Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit to do the work of the Kingdom of God. We can blame leadership, we can complain about budgets, equipment, instruments and the coffee, but unless we align our spirits, renew our minds, and ask Him to reveal Himself to us we are nothing to be proud of. I saw a blog post today that intriqued me. I will talk about that more. See you on the road...

A call to leadership...

I am waiting for the latest of John Maxwell's 101 Unrefutable Laws of Leadership for the Postmodern, upgraded, with a twist, interactive DVD included, annotated, revised, co-authored with Max Lucado and illustrated by Thomas Kincade, with a soundtrack by Michael W. Smith and the Corrs, with a forward by Tony Jones, a giftbox of votive candles in the shape of Brian McLaren, and a coffee mug.

I am dismayed by leadership today. They are trying to come up with what the next wave of church is, while keeping it is very commercial, hip, cool, all the stuff that our grand parents never did and will attract our highschool kid. It is antithetical to the modern church but there is no thesis of the Spirit. It in culturally inclusive, except if you think modern or need to be taught, it has wonderful colors and smells but it lacks direction and depth. It has the new heroes of the day who argues with the heroes of last decade, who are still arguing with the heroes of olds. Come up with the latest, write about it, defend it on television, go to Princtoon and mock the "right" and smoke, drink, "be free from yesterday", experience those not caught up in pews of old... kind of church. (To update anyone new to the blog, I don't use the word "church" to mean the Body of Christ who are empowered with the Spirit of Christ to do the work of the Kingdom of Heaven, but it means the cultural event that takes place on a Saturday night, Sunday morning, or Sunday night)

The present day evangelical (EV) leaders were taught to empower and enable the people to lead themselves, but they did have an agenda of their own. They were not discipled to move in the Spirit so it had a bit of lunacy to the notion that one could hear the Spirit for themselves. People committeed the direction instead of spiritually sensed the way. The charismatics came and added a bit of experiential nuances of worship. This seemed to attract people so these EV leaders added the experience but not the understanding of the Spirit. For a while churches were run well, but they ran out of ideas. EV leadership looked to the Leadership gurus instead of the spirit. They didn't feel like apostles, those sent with a message.

Leaders needs to be sent with a message. Today leaders are not sent but developed by jumping through hoops and academics. No fruit required.

I appreciate the ones who are waiting, faithful to the Spirit in the upper room. Making quiet changes in the course as they feel the leading of the Spirit. They are disciplining their flesh so they can see with their soul. The know that deep calls unto deep and they spend their time, during the week and not just during a service, seeking Him. They spend more time reading and listening to His Word than speaking. They don't throw stones at sinners nor wink at sin, but allow He who is in them to be lived out so that others would find peace from their bondages. They would disciple those in Christ, so that they would live their lives effectively for the Kingdom, returning the investment back tenfold or more.

Leadership cannot just be learned from a book, but must be acted out in faith. It can be taught in conversation and modeling, but it is from the Spirit who empowers those men and women to do His work to those to whom He is calling them. I pray for that kind of leadership over me.