Monday, February 28, 2005

Moving forward in places of uncertainty

Hm. I like the title, but I don't really have much to say beyond that.

Matthew 11:12 "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force."

There is a way to go "further up, further in" even in the place of transition and shaking.

----

I want to let go and let God. But at the same time, there is a need to "do something" at the present time. Do we continue to do what we are doing at the moment, or do we stop until we hear what next?

What does it mean when you start sensing the winds of change? How do we learn to adjust our lives to prepare for what's coming without compromising our diligence to be stewards of the present?

I don't think its either/or, because life is seldom that black and white.

I guess its this whole tension of what is here and now vs. what is coming. Its all so abtract...but without something concrete all you end up doing is sounding abstract, wishy-washy. (Which is kind of how I sound right now.)

I'm so anxious to know the "next step" in the middle of a current step...but when I see the "next," I have a hard time finishing the current.

Anyway, thinking out loud. I need to write more, because this is a very lame way to gather my thoughts.

Friday, February 25, 2005

The Geek Box

My current Firefox extensions:
- Ieview: right click and view the page in IE.
- All-In-One-Gestures: this is dope. mouse gestures! Once you start you can't go back.
- SessionSaver: whether you crash or close, it will restore all your tabs and current pages.
- disable targets for downloads: prevents download links opening a blank window, this one is good.
- auto copy: selects text to clipboard immediately, like trillian and irc. this one is pretty neat too. kind of weird for compulsive highlighters like me though.

If you guys check a lot of websites frequently, chances are they have rss feeds. Use bloglines.com, you can check ALL your sites at once. This is bomb diggity. I don't even use my livejournal friends page, or xanga subscription page anymore. I get my comics, news, deals, blogs, and pretty much anything else that updates and has an rss feed. Kind of annoying checking bloggers, livejournals, xangas all in different places eh? :)

This ends today's version of the geek box. w00t.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

raw Gospel vs. plastic Religion

SOURCE: TheoCross

The Gospel is "I am accepted through Christ, therefore I love and trust God. Because of this love and trust, I actually start enjoying and delighting in God's laws. When I struggle, I stay real, even raw, before God and with others. Genuinely authentic and humble."

Religion is "I try very very hard to serve and obey even though I don't have any joy or delight in it, hoping that God won't get me and that He will accept me. Also, when I do all this stuff I feel better about myself. But, if I happen to fail, I cover it all up and put up a nice plastic smiley face"

Where is the money going?

At Doug Perry's website he has what he calls scary stats. I've presented some of Perry's writings before here. He mainly points out the material excesses of the Christian church in the west compared to the poverty in Third World countries. Recently he wrote an Apology to the World in which he apologizes to the world for the excesses of Christianity in the west,and in America especially.
http://www.fellowshipofthemartyrs.com/
So now here are his scary stats. He gets them from World Christian Trends by David Barrett and Todd Johnson; William Carey Library.

*95% of all church budgets in the U.S.A. are spent on our own comforts and programs.
Contrast that to 0.01% spent on evangelism to the unreached.

*Estimates say that the Christian church loses $5,000,000 (yes that's 5 million) PER DAY to embezzlement by trusted leaders.

*We can help a Brother or Sister start a business in India with a loan of as little of $25.

*More than 90% of all Christian materials are in English, but only 8% of the world speaks English.

*Percent of Christian resources in countries that are at already more than 60% Christian-99.9%
Percent of resources spent in countries where less than half of the people have EVER heard of Jesus-0.01%

*It is estimated that Christians worldwide spend $8 BILLION PER YEAR going to the more than 500 conferences to TALK about missions.
That is TWICE the total spent DOING missions.

*Costs of ministry per baptisms per year:
In India-$9803 per year.
In the USA-1,550,000 per year.

*USA Christians control TRILLIONS in assets while at any given time 200 MILLION Brothers and Sisters live in the worst kind of poverty on the very edge of starvation.

*More than 70% of Christians now live in countries where they are experiencing some type of persecution.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Music & Stuff

John Wimber once said, "The difficulty will not be so much in the writing of new and great music; the test will be in the godliness of those who deliver it."

That said, I believe the best music is yet to come...and some of that music is going to be coming out of HOP's.

-----

Thunderstorms again next week.

"And I shall show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath..." (Acts 2:19).

INTERESTING things happening as of late. Rumblings and shakings.

“And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do...” (1Ch 12:32a).

Monday, February 21, 2005

Tozer - The Gifts

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. --1 Corinthians 12:4-6

The time is more than ripe for a rethinking of the whole matter of spiritual gifts within the church of Christ. The subject has fallen into the hands of people for the most part extreme and irresponsible and has become associated with fanaticism in its various forms. This is a huge misfortune and is causing tremendous loss to the work of spiritual Christianity in our times.

Prejudices pro and con make the consideration of this subject extremely difficult, but its neglect is costing us more than we should be willing to pay. A revival of true New Testament Christianity must surely bring with it a manifestation of spiritual gifts. Anything short of it will create a just suspicion that the revival is something short of scriptural.


Its funny how we so easily lose sight of the Giver, supernatural stuff or not.

Oh God, keep our eyes fastened onto you.

----

Elijah complex. He beats up the prophets of Baal, then wants to die.

Why does it happen?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


Tim's response to me having a digital camera:
Posted by Hello

Monday, February 14, 2005

Brother Derek

Preach it brother!

SOURCE: Sit Down With Derek Webb
What are the two things you are supposed to avoid in polite conversation? Politics and religion. However, Derek Webb—singer/songwriter and former member of Caedmon’s Call—is simply not satisfied restricting his comments to the weather.

“We’re scared to death of engaging with real human emotion, to talk about anger, to talk about sexuality, to talk about politics. We’re scared to death; when in truth, Scripture gives us a framework to deal with those issues,” Webb said.

Before giving a concert for the University of Florida Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Webb took a break from tuning his guitar and discussed his views on the church, culture, the arts and politics. Webb believes that people waste so much time learning how to say things in a uniquely Christian way that they forget that it is not about the jargon, but about a way of life.

“What difference do the words make if I don’t know how to love people?” Webb asks. “The church should spend the firstfruits of its money, its time and its resources to love people. I think that’s the bottom line. The church should not be directing its spending toward new programs, gyms or stereo systems. We need to learn how to put shelters over people’s heads, food in people’s mouths and clothes on people who are naked. Scripture talks so much about the poor and the needy and the weak and the least.”

In addition, Webb finds Christian subculture completely inappropriate. “Nowhere in Scripture are we called to be subcultural in any way. Christianity is not subcultural; it’s countercultural.”

Webb feels that Christians have been lulled into a false sense of security by subcultural marketing techniques. “Christians have this really nasty habit of only engaging with art and culture that has a Christian label on it. You have to learn how to find truth, you have to learn how to find beauty, you have to learn how to discern those things rather than how to discern the category of the band you just bought. Labeling something Christian does not suddenly make it beautiful and true. And labeling something non-Christian doesn’t make it untrue and ugly. Those terms don’t mean anything.”

In addition, Webb feels Christians are not the only people capable of speaking truth or creating beauty. “Christians do not have the market corner on that. There’s something to be said about the fact that all of the arts labeled ‘Christian,’ most of it is substandard. It’s not very good.”

In the end, Webb believes it is “better to find art that is both beautiful and true than to find art that is Christian. We are to live in a way that is informed by a transformed mind. The way we look at politics, the way we look at art, the way we look at sexuality, the way we look at social injustice should not be subcultural, but should be countercultural. They [the church] would rather me talk only about overt, kind of spiritual issues, but all that communicates to culture is that my worldview—that this Christianity thing—only deals with these overt spiritual aspects of my life and it does not deal with how I view the arts, how I view the government, how I view social need and injustices.”

Webb feels that Scripture contains the framework to encompass all of those issues. “It’s just that we as Christians don’t know it or we are just fearful to talk about it. We should be speaking about sexuality. We should be speaking about politics. We should be talking about anything we see in creation. And we have the liberty to do it. As far as Jesus is Lord, whatever Jesus is Lord over is fair game for us as artists … It was Bono who said, ‘Are we as Christians going to let the pornographers have the last word on sexuality?’ Or are we going to write songs about sexuality that are beautiful and true because that’s what he does.”

Webb is considering exploring politics, a hot button issue with American Christians, in his next album. “As a Christian if you are not pro-rich, pro-war then you’re just not a Christian. And I think that we’ve got to blow all that apart, we’ve got to break all that, we’ve got to open that up and find out what the hell is going on. None of that makes any sense. It’s not even a consistent Christian worldview. There’s a lot of work to do in the way Christians think about politics and issues of social justice in this country and internationally. I think we’ve got to be people who know what’s happening in the world, who can apply Scripture to all of it.”

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Dying to live

John 12:24-26 (New American Standard Bible)
24"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
25"He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.
26"If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.

Matthew 11:12
12"From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Jars of Clay

My respect and admiration of Jars of Clay just went up several-fold:

Jars of Clay frontman Dan Haseltine responded today on the band's fansite www.jarchives.com, regarding the ensuing outcry from fans over the lack of major nominations for the band's critically-lauded and Grammy-nominated project, Who We Are Instead.

Following is his thought-provoking response to the fans:
Thanks to everyone. I really appreciate your disappointment over the fact that WWAI did not get a nomination. We too were disappointed. Ultimately, the reasons for making music and engaging in the arts have nothing to do with winning Dove awards. It is nice to be acknowledged, but in an industry that still has a long way to go in supporting true artistry and not simply perpetuating a "cultural Christianity," we must not get discouraged.

We love the Switchfoot guys, and are happy to let them shine this year. They have worked very hard. So we will be rooting for them. We are also very thankful that Show You Love was nominated.

This is all part of the tension that Jars of Clay has existed in for many years. How do we seek to develop as artists that can speak into the lives of both Christians and non-Christians, uphold our belief that being excellent artists is as much a reflection of the Gospel as any verbal testimony, and continue to write songs that challenge and serve the greater story of redemption well, AND hold a highly visible spot in a Christian genre and industry that does not necessarily put the same kind of value on these things? This seems impossible. I do not know many, if any, artists that are dedicated to these same values, and have a strong high profile status in the CCM world. And we are alright with this arrangement. On my worst days I hunger for and seek after the recognition...but that is only when I am feeling the unquenchable need to be defined by something other than God.

At the core, Pop music is telling people what they want to hear. Christian Pop music is no different. This presents a great problem when my understanding of the Gospel is that it is NOT what we want to hear. It is ultimately offensive, and revealing in the most violent of ways. One of the hymns we sing on Redemption Songs has a verse that begins, "I am evil, born in sin...." Not exactly the words we want to keep singing in our heads on a sunny day...but it is the truth.

Don't be surprised by the CCM industry...They have created a monster and now they do not know how to kill it gracefully. And even though it is a monster, most times it's motives are to become a very good monster. So...anyway, thanks for caring. We will press on, and in fact, have been writing furiously for the next record. We will begin recording in May. We are already VERY excited about quite a few of the new songs.

We will be meeting up with our friend Ron Aniello and some other songwriters in L.A. when we go out for the Grammy's. So hopefully good things will come of those sessions.

Sorry for such a long response. Just thought I would let you know we shared your disappointment, but we are doing great! -peace, dan


Oh snap!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

And just when you thought...

...that news outlets were telling the whole story.

A New Hope

Bam. And just when you thought...

...you had locked into the cure all solution for your dysfunctional Christianity blues. God says, "Ummm..you're just locking into form and function...I'M CALLING YOU INTO RELATIONSHIP."

All Small Group Leader is Supposed To Call Me

I feel extremely conflicted between the "what-is" and the "what-should-be."

Romans 8:22-23
22For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
23And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

----

This article is freaking brilliant. And then, after reading that, read this. That should sufficiently keep you balanced. :-D

Monday, February 07, 2005

Natural Church Growth

How naturally does church grow?

"There are more than enough bad theories about church. You recognise them
by the fact that they don't work - and many churches are not growing," said
Christian A. Schwarz at an NCD Summit in South Africa at the end of 2004.
NCD stands for Natural Church Development. Christian Schwarz and
Organisational Psychologist Christoph Schalk are the founders of an organic
church growth approach which has become influential around the world.

Many experts believe that it has mostly replaced the old technocratic
approach popular since the 1970's, based mainly on megachurches in the USA
and Yonggi Cho's church in Seoul, Korea: brilliant pastor + practical
recipes and programmes + huge building = massive attendance. More and more
churches, though, recognised that there is a direct correlation between
quality and quantity. A healthy therapy is only truly effective when it is
based on a balanced diagnosis, and just as a doctor checks his patient's
various bodily functions, Schwarz and Schalk began to recognise that
Christian churches have eight interrelated basic principles - bodily
functions of 'The Body of Christ'.

SETTING GOD'S GROWTH MECHANISMS FREE

The Biblical parable of the seed which grows by itself (Mark 4:26-29) gave
the initiators the idea that the Earth brings forth fruit 'by itself'
(Greek: automate), so there must be a 'Growth Mechanism'. That gave rise to
their first working hypothesis: healthy Christian churches grow - as long
as people don't hinder them.

In 1995, a global survey of 1,000 churches revealed that growing and
stagnant or shrinking churches differ significantly in eight areas. This
conclusion gave rise to a method with which churches can measure their
health - and thus their natural growth potential. Ideally, churches should
perform the check regularly, to measure progress and initiate change.

Biotic element Area

Empowering Leadership
Gift-oriented Ministry
Passionate Spirituality
Functional Structures
Inspiring Worship service
Holistic Small Groups
Need-oriented Evangelism
Loving Relationships

34,000 CHURCHES, 70 NATIONS, 1.1 MILLION NEW MEMBERS

What began as a research project in 1995 has expanded to cover 34,000
churches in over 70 nations, with astonishing results, and is now one of
the most influential Christian movements. It has been shown that the growth
rate of churches applying the NCD principles increased by 50% between the
first and third check-ups (an average time of 31 months), from an average
of 4.2% to 6.3% per year.

That is an effective membership growth of 1.1 million people in the participating churches. "That number is so significant," says Schwarz, "because only somewhere between 15% and 0.3% of new believers at classical evangelistic events are still in church one year later." For an actual membership growth of 1.1 million, traditional evangelistic methods would have to result in between 7.3 million and 366.5 million conversions, depending on the assumed rate of integration.

One of the world's fastest-growing churches applying the NCD principles is Abbalove Church in Jakarta, Indonesia. Pastor Eddy Leo reports that 1,500 new members joined the church in the past six months, of which 20% are ex-Muslims.

RETURN ON INVESTMENT: FROM GOLIATH TO DAVID

The Bible calls on all Christians to be good stewards. "This," says Schwarz, "also means that there should be a healthy relationship between sowing and reaping. The aim and result of Christian work is that people become committed disciples. Many Christians apply the 'Goliath Approach': investing major effort, time, money and staff to reach only a few people who become disciples. The 'David Approach' is preferable: significant results with little effort. In order to achieve that, we need to submit ourselves to critical approval, have an understanding of the natural principles of church development, and be in it for the long haul."

LINK: http://www.ncd-international.org

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Faking it.

So he answered and said to me: "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts."
--Zechariah 4:6

I say this because it is possible to run a church and all of its activity without the Holy Spirit. You can organize it, get a board together, call a pastor, form a choir, launch a Sunday school and a ladies' aid society. You get it all organized--and the organization part is not bad. I'm for it. But I'm warning about getting organized, getting a pastor and turning the crank--some people think that's all there is to it, you know.

The Holy Spirit can be absent and the pastor goes on turning the crank, and nobody finds it out for years and years. What a tragedy, my brethren, what a tragedy that this can happen in a Christian church! But it doesn't have to be that way! "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Revelation 3:22)....

If you could increase the attendance of your church until there is no more room, if you could provide everything they have in churches that men want and love and value, and yet you didn't have the Holy Spirit, you might as well have nothing at all. For it is "'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty" (Zechariah 4:6). Not by the eloquence of a man, not by good music, not by good preaching, but it is by the Spirit that God works His mighty works. The Counselor, 38-39.


I so readily exchange form and function in the place of true relationship. *sigh*

Friday, February 04, 2005

I can’t wrap my mind around things like this…what is true holiness then?

SOURCE: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/article.php?sid=5723
I don’t consider myself to be that much of a rebel, although I do find it freeing to bend or break the rules occasionally. I think it just helps me remember that rules are not what life’s all about.

That’s probably why I love to read the passages that show Jesus breaking the rules in front of the Pharisees. The “in your face” moments between Jesus and the religious leaders are packed with irony. Jesus never seems to have a great deal of patience with the self-righteous. He would linger all day with sinners—maybe at a well, the pool, a house or a mountain side, but the self-righteous always seem to be exiting the scene in the biblical narrative. On one occasion Jesus breaks the Sabbath law in front of the Pharisees to show them that their idea of holiness needs to be redefined. It's a wild thought: Jesus breaks the rules to show them what holiness is all about. Jesus enters the synagogue on the Sabbath, heals a man and says a few choice words, and the Pharisees leave ticked off. The Pharisees didn’t care about the healing process—they cared about rules; they had a rule for everything.

I think this is the paradox we live in today. For many of us the idea of holiness is steeped in adhering to a specific system of thought: a formulaic list that says, If I don't do this or this, I will stay holy. I'll be honest, I don't typically get overwhelmed with a feeling of holiness; I don't feel very sacred most of the time. In some aspects, what I see as holiness in some people gives me a subtle disdain for the practices of the (so-called) righteous. Let's be honest; we all hate to hang around “holier than thou” type people. For some reason, the holiness that Jesus displayed didn’t have that effect on people. Jesus was the most holy to ever walk the earth, yet messed-up people were drawn to him.

Jesus radically redefined holiness. Jesus brought a new portrait of holiness that was drenched in the reality of grace. For the Pharisees, holiness was an act of self-righteousness and comparisons; for Jesus, holiness was the energy of God's grace flowing powerfully through Him. The more I look into the Bible, I see holiness and grace eternally connected. In Hebrew 12 the writer says, "Live at peace with all men, and be holy—for without holiness, no one will see God. See to it that no one misses out on the grace of God and that no bitter root grows to trouble and defile many."

The privilege to live a holy life is only by grace, nothing else; it should bring about a certain humility and peace, not bitterness and frustration. The new holiness system Jesus revealed was a catharsis of grace that spilled out in real life, a place where appearances and comparisons seemed to fade into the past. This is what Brennan Manning calls “getting rid of the Pharisee within.”

What does it mean for me to be holy? Well, I think it means that I follow in the ways of God's love above everything else. Holiness shouldn't be so much about what I don't do, but what I do and why I do it. Holiness allows us to see God and His grace. It shouldn’t drive others away; it should be inviting and mysterious, full of beauty.

How does this new holiness make sense today? Here’s an example: Let’s say your heart goes out with compassion for those who have lost loved ones in the tsunami, but you don't have a great deal of money. You decide to take your tithe or your regular giving and send it to aid in the relief efforts. You may have broken some church rule, but you have understood the better part of holiness. The modern-day Pharisee thinks you should always tithe, and it would be wrong to give that money that belongs to the church to someone else. A modern Pharisee would never think about foregoing his tithe to help an urgent need because he knows that it is right to tithe. The problem is—that is all he knows.

This new holiness that Jesus instituted is mind-blowing, people accepting, a place where relationships always emerge above rules. Rules have a purpose, but relationships are THE purpose; the new holiness understands the flexibility of the law. The new holiness is within grasp, down-to-earth and approachable. It’s the code of holiness we were called to live by because the One we follow is holy.

[Brian Orme is a writer and pastor in Ohio, desperately searching for a new one-line bio. You can contact him at www.brianorme.com.]

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Just walking through the system

I walked in to talk to HP today @ the Career Services Center today. They hand me a card:
"A more human way of working."

To apply:
> Go to www.jobs.hp.com
> Select 'submit/update your profile'

Does anybody else see the irony in this?

Yay corporate America. God. There has got to be something more than this.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Celebrity Prophets

SOURCE:http://www.larknews.com/february_2005/secondary.php?page=5
BURBANK — America's most popular celebrity prophets turned out Sunday night for the 15th annual American Prophetic Awards.
"For fans of prophetic ministry, this is the big night," said celebrity reporter Jonathan McCloud, stationed at the red carpet where prophets in stunning evening wear arrived for the gala celebration.
Russ Springer, wearing a three-button Giorgio Armani tuxedo with notched grosgrain lapels, took home the award for Best Special Effects for his Recurring Glory Mist, beating out Diane Knight and her Gold Dust/Gold Teeth phenomena. Both prophetic effects have caused a nationwide sensation.
"Thank you, members of the academy," Springer said, cradling the crystal statuette, the first of his career.
Elmer White of Texas took home the award for Most Convincing Prophetic Delivery. Randy Delgado, last year's Viewer's Choice: Sexiest Prophet winner, received the award for Best Prophetic Bulletin, then began prophesying from the dais.
"I see three angels standing in the balcony," he said as pre-teen girls screamed and fainted in excitement.
"We love you, Randy!" yelled one. Delgado gave personal words from the Lord to people in the audience, but went over time and his mic was cut. On his way off stage he prophesied over the next presenter, who was slain in the Spirit and remained twitching on the edge of the platform for the rest of the ceremony in her dazzling v-neck gown by Vera Wang. The audience roared its approval.
The Award for Humility went to Kent Overton, who initially refused to accept it, but finally agreed because "it will look like false humility if I say no," he said.
Best Supporting Prophet went to young superstar J.T. Simers, wearing a classic two-button wool crepe suit, who said the Holy Spirit had told him in advance he would win.
The night's biggest award, the coveted "'Lyjee," went to Stanley Hargrove of On the Throne Ministries, who thanked his family, fellow celebrity prophets and "members of the Knights of the Order of the Maltese Falcon, and you know who you are."
"This is a crowning achievement for any professional prophet," he said, holding the American Elijah trophy aloft.
After the event, cheering crowds lined the red carpet and clamored for autographs, while prophets reached across the velvet rope to pray for them. Hundreds of fans were slain in the Spirit by the time the prophets climbed into their limousines and headed for various conferences.

Stuff like this is only funny because there's a good amount of truth in it. Yay for Lark News for satire. Boo for superstar ministries.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Recommendation

For those who peruse this site, I highly encourage you to check this blog out:

http://www.internetmonk.com/

He makes posts fairly regularly, and in my opinion, of good substance. Those of you who think something is wrong with Western Christianity (charismatic, evangelical, blah blah)...he covers everything. I don't always agree with him, but its causing me to consider the things that I just take for granted. He's somewhat of a Reformist, so its good for crazy charismatics like me (<-- sarcasm).

Today's post is of particular interest :) There is a way to be a critic w/o being judgmental...and its necessary. Check it out:

http://www.internetmonk.com/critic.html

DHom and DLui in particular need to read this :)

Sticking to the vision

Wow. So true.

SOURCE: Marc's Messages

Over the past few years we've visited and come alongside several similar projects, and we found that it's quite important to stick to the vision God has given. It's easy to let the vision be compromised or sidetracked by people or money. But then we miss out on God's best - his grace, anointing and provision.