Friday, September 30, 2005
Emergent Pastor's Toolkit
for Mark (see here and here)



The push for media-news outlets to entertain and draw attention to themselves ( for the advertising dollars) is almost as bad as news being censored by government (or corporations). Either way it goes, it's bad reporting. The same media that holds officials to public scorn for "not knowing the situation on the ground" shows no sense of responsibility for believing and/or creating false scenarios that only bring fear and anger to the public.

Meandering thoughts about Amos from a guy who missed the discussion:

Ok. so Judah and Israel are experiencing incredible influence almost like the glory day of Solomon. Life is good. Amos is particularly interested in how affluence is on the rise and often at the cost of the little guy and the poor. The people of the Way, living in the shadow of the Davidic Covenant, believed they could do no wrong. In other words, the messiah will be a decendant of David and since the messiah is not here yet, nothings going to happen to us. The feeling I'd assume is similar to asking a 25 year old about when America will cease being a country. The idea is completely foreign to the 25 year old because of the success and worship of the american democracy and power of our milatary. Compare this idea to the idea woven into the very fabric of a nation that God is going to save the world through your future king. Neighboring superpowers are nothing to fear when God promised to be on your side.

But like Rhett Bomar found out in Norman, OK. recently, even if you are the starting quarterback in a town who worships football, you aren't untouchable.

More context might be helpful. The poor are not the point if Amos, they are symtoms of the problem. Scripture is God working out his Kingdom. Amos's pleading (thanks for that word Stephen) with Israel is an attempt to move people toward joining God in making the world God has in mind.

Is Amos asking the rich to solve the problems of the poor, or asking the to remember the Way of God. Other parts of the book (if I remember correctly) express frustration with "God's people" confusing "doing a good thing" and "being the right kind of people". God blasts tithers, worship and things he's encouraged them to do in the past because they have lost their bearings.

I suppose money can do that, make you loose your bearings.

So in my imagination I think that Amos is not talking to every individual in the entire nation. But perhaps a majority, or a powerful minority. Regardless, he clumps his people altogether. Being a communal people, with collective knowledge, the people are bound together, no matter how much they dispise the norm.

Today I have to tolerate TV preachers telling people God favors them when they get on the airplane so they will be safe or Pat Robertson being a calling for the assassination of a south american leader or James Dobson comparing the judicial system to the Klu Klux Klan. To seperate myself from them is only in my head. The problem is they are declaring themselves to be as Amos was, a prophet speaking against the evils of the world. Are they any different than me? They say they speak on behalf of God and his Kingdom.

Judah and Israel thought they were living out the way of God as well. Amos reminds them about what God is about. What it means to be a part of his way in the world.

I guess I'm wondering what it means to be apart of the way of God today.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Why Prophets like Amos Didn't Get Invited to Parties
(and why he doesn't get quoted in American churches):
"Listen to this, you cows of Bashan
grazing on the slopes of Samaria.
You women! Mean to the poor,
cruel to the down-and-out!
Indolent and pampered, you demand of your husbands,
'Bring us a tall, cool drink!'
This is serious--I, GOD, have sworn by my holiness!
Be well warned: Judgment Day is coming!
They're going to rope you up and haul you off,
keep the stragglers in line with cattle prods.
They'll drag you through the ruined city walls,
forcing you out single file,
And kick you to kingdom come."
Amos 4:1-3

"I can't stand your religious meetings.
I'm fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
your pretentious slogans and goals.
I'm sick of your fund-raising schemes,
your public relations and image making.
I've had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice--oceans of it.
I want fairness--rivers of it.
That's what I want. That's all I want.
Amos 5:21-24

Personal Bible Study
Monday night was great. Our group read through all of Amos...with one person reading and the rest of us listening, not reading along. It was difficult to focus at times. Our culture isn't exactly geared to sitting and listening without visual input...especially with a 6 year old and 3 year old interrupting at times. But despite the distractions (both interior and exterior), it was great to hear God's Word and in a large chunk, not a pep-booster poster-version sound bite. It was whole.

It is interesting how we so often approach the Bible study in our individualistic, modern world. In the 500 years since the arrival of the printing press, we've come to believe so much in "personal Bible study". Prior to Gutenberg's invention owning a Bible could cost up to 10 years wages. The only people involved in personal Bible study were scholars, priests, and the wealthy. For everyone else the Scriptures were heard communally. For centuries one of the spiritual practices of the Church was to read Scripture to each other. Perhaps by focusing so much on personal Bible study (and the guilt of not doing it) we've missed out on the time tested methods of speaking and hearing the Word of God together.


Emerging Affluent: America Hits Record Number of Millionares
My friend Blaine will be happy to read this article.

The TNS study also found that the number of "emerging affluent" households is also on the rise.

TNS defines "emerging affluent" as households with a net worth between $100,000 and $500,000, excluding primary residences.

This year, they number 24.5 million, up from 23.9 million in 2004.

"More and more we are seeing financial institutions offer planning services designed specifically for the emerging market. As these households continue to take advantage of these tools, we're seeing their numbers increase," Luhr said.

The average age of the emerging affluent is 49.6, and the average total income reported is $64,600. Among those households that drew some of their income from jobs, they earned an average of $45,000 from salaries or professional fees.

Retirement confidence among these households is high: 69 percent said they felt they will be prepared for retirement.

I just found out that Bob Carlton's father passed away unexpectedly last night from massive heart-attack.

Also, Caleb let us know on Monday night that BJ, the young man who contracted the Bubonic plague on a mission trip, passed away this past week as well.

Let's keep their families in our prayers.


Immigration and La Nueva Orleans
Though provoking article from the LA Times by Gregory Rodriguez (via Rudy) on the rebuilding of New Orleans and Latin American immigration to the U.S.:
NO MATTER WHAT ALL the politicians and activists want, African Americans and impoverished white Cajuns will not be first in line to rebuild the Katrina-ravaged Gulf Coast and New Orleans. Latino immigrants, many of them undocumented, will. And when they’re done, they’re going to stay, making New Orleans look like Los Angeles. It’s the federal government that will have made the transformation possible, further exposing the hollowness of the immigration debate… <more>

Emergent Dialogue
Andrew Jones posted about this several days ago, but in case you missed it, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary hosted a day of dialogue entitled "What Is Emergent?". The audio files are really worth a listen. Good stuff.

Session 1 - The Emerging Church: Past, Present, and a Kairos Moment (click here to download)
Presenter: Dr. Brian McLaren

Session 2 - The Emerging Church: A Historical/Theological Professor’s Reflections (click here to download) (click here to download PowerPoint slides from session)
Presenter: Dr. Mike Wittmer

Session 3 - The Emerging Church: A Pastor’s Reflections (click here to download)
Presenter: Dr. Ed Dobson

Session 4 - The Emergent Conversation: Present and Future & Challenges and Potential (click here to download)
Presenter: Dr. Brian McLaren

Session 5 - The Emerging Church: Reflections & Questions (click here to download)
Presenters: Dr. Ed Dobson, Dr. Brian McLaren & Dr. Mike Wittmer
Moderator: Rev. Steve Argue

Monday, September 26, 2005

Monday Nights
We've wrapped up our Canon study on Monday nights. Now we're actually going to study the Scripture itself. We'll be going through the book of Amos (it would be cool if when we're done someone updates that wikipedia info). If anyone wants to download a pretty good version with great translation and context notes, here's a version of Amos from the Net Bible.

We're meeting at the Doyle's House of Prayer (not at St. Patrick's). Give me a call at 918-813-3258 if you have questions.

Fresco image is from

Silence and Speech
The mark of solitude is silence, as speech is the mark of community. Silence and speech have the same inner correspondence and difference as do solitude and community. One does not exist without the other. Right speech comes out of silence, and right silence comes out of speech.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I Too Am A Sinner
Our resident Monk (Friar) in Training, Terry, has lot's of great insights on his blog. Here's part of one from last week:
They are referred to generally as the "Desert Fathers" and have left many
nuggets of wisdom behind for us to benefit by. I am hoping to post a
weekly (sort of) post concerning a quote from one of them and hope many of you
out there consider commenting on what you find. Br. Thomas Merton has
collected many of these quotes in his boot "The Wisdom of the Desert," should
you consider further study.

One of the Brethren had sinned and the Priest told him to leave the
community. So then Abbot Bessarion got up and walked out with him, saying: "I too am a sinner!"

Wow, I have never heard a more powerful image of Church/Monasitic
discipline. How powerful it would be if today's spiritual leaders would
leave with those who are cast out, and walk with them as the sinners we all
are. This is a powerful statement of love overcoming law and so very much
like the Christ I see in the Gospels.

Sunday, September 25, 2005
What a great label. If someone is an outsider it gives us all kind of freedom in how we approach/respond to them. Outsiders can be either targets of our evangelical ferver or shunned...projects or pariahs. Outsiders who are critical of us don't have to be listened to...they simply don't know what they're talking about because, well, they're outsiders.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Words Mean Things, Post #302 and
Emergent Post #12
I really believe that language affects world view. The signifiers we use to communicate both develop from, create, and keep us within certain bounds. As I wrestle with my own language, it is interesting how often my choice of words are from a controlling context. On Sunday I had invited a friend to our Monday night meeting. He expressed interest but was unable to attend. When I ran into him on Tuesday, he asked me how it went. I responded by saying, "It was good...You should have come. [emphasis added]" But then I caught myself. I realized that neither of us would have typically thought much about it, but "should" is a control word. Legally it implies something that is mandatory. So I corrected myself (and I think he understood) and said, "'s not that you should come. I enjoyed it, and you might too. And I would have liked to hear your thoughts."

There's been some talk lately about Emergent entering a new phase (Andrew does a good job of making his own comments about a new season and providing other references here and here. Ryan Bolger blogs about it here. Richard Passmore speaks of redefining church. ) I whole heartedly believe that if Emergent is going to have lasting impact...if it is going to be is going to have to effect changes in the way we talk. Every great revolution in history rejects and redefines certain types of language. In the American revolution, the mutinous patriots rejected the word rebellion and countered with revolution. For Jesus death becomes life. The symbol of death, the cross, both in word and image becomes a symbol for life--it was a radical redefinition. The Emergent movement (if it is truly a movement) will have to affect language in the same way.

It seems like a few years ago, when the conversation (that for some became Emergent) was just beginning at places like theOoze, the Young Leaders Network, and others, there was this creativity with language taking place. There was an active openness towards redefinition...sometimes artsy, others times pushing the limits, but living. Lately it seems there has been a settling. That the "revolution" has become the new old before it's time. The new re-formation may simply be a re-arrangement. I think we've allowed ourselves to stay within the old frameworks because we still use the language of the old frameworks: ministry, worship service, church, pastor, and a whole list of others. It's not that these words are bad or even incorrect, it's that they are taken. For change to happen, I believe they must be either cast aside or newly symbolized. It's not that we change language simply for change sake, but that these symbols may need to be re-defined.

Language is a wineskin. New language for new things.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Free Ipod Arrived Today
Well...the deal is real. I got my free 20-gig photo Ipod from today! Thanks to everyone who helped out. Next, the free digital camera... ;-)

Thanks again.

Monday, September 19, 2005
No longer floating...

Yes, it's true.
the Riddle clan is officially moving all their stuff on Sunday.
This is the unapologetic plea for strong people.

Here's the plan.
We're painting on Friday night (and maybe a bit on Sat.)
Then moving on Sunday.

Anyone game?

Come help the Riddle's move! "All your Friends will be there!"

"Your Friends will be there"

Seems like a harmless phrase attached to every youth ministry registration, event flyer or calendar. I've used it often. No. I've beat it like "Mommy Dearest" and I've decided to declare... "no wire hangers!"

“Your friends will be there” is one of the most manipulative things you can say to a teen. It might be true, but it’s wrong. What purpose does telling a teenager, who inherently struggles with identity and belonging that “Your friends will be there” serve except to manipulate them into feeling that they will either be left “out” by not attending, or raising their hopes to actually being “in” by attending. Regardless you are selling something you can’t deliver. Friends are the lifeblood of adolescence and to use “belonging” to influence a teen to come to an event you are hosting is underhanded, shady and an abuse of the power God has given you. Can we agree here together as youth pastors to stop saying “Your friends will be there.”

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Monday Night
We'll be wrapping up our study of the Christian Canon this week. We'll be looking at two things: the earliest Canon lists and the development of the English Bible. I hope that all this has been good for everyone. I've really enjoyed it. We'll also need to decide what we do from here.

I'll post location and direction information tomorrow, so be sure and check back. We'll start at 6:30 PM and wrap up around 8:30 PM.

I'll be providing the documents for what we're studying, but if you want to download them now you can get them here:

Early Canon Lists and their Text

UPDATE: We'll be meeting tonight at the Zedler's. Call me at 918-813-3258 if you need directions.

Saturday, September 17, 2005
Not a Cross, But a Vacant Room
I just found out that a friend of mine has had a Xanga site for a while. I actually found out because another friend suggested I read this thought-provoking post. I'm going to quote most of it here (make sure you visit his Xanga, though):

I've been reading "The Crisis of Islam: Holy War Unholy Terror" by Bernard Lewis, and it is really great. I've read several of his other books. He's the professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton and considered to possibly be the foremost authority on the Middle East and Islam. But the book outlines the history of Islam and their dealings with the West, trying to discover the reasons why they consider America "the Great Satan." Our reasons are so simplified, and he goes into much of the history and takes many angles.

But he mentioned something that really struck me last night. He spoke of Sayyid Qutb, one of the first "fundamentalist" leaders. Qutb spent several years in the US studying and later wrote several books. Lewis says,

"He observed there were many churches but warned his readers that their number should not be misunderstood as an expression of real religious or spiritual feeling. Churches in America, he said, operate like businesses, competing for clients and for publicity, and using the same methods as stores and theaters to attract customers and audiences. For the minister of a church, as for the manager of a business or a theater, success is what matters, and success is measured by size-bigness, numbers. To attract clientele, churches advertise shamelessly and offer what Americans most seek-"a good time or "fun" (he cited the English words in his Arabic text).

The biggest thing that has struck me, besides the fact that I feel this same way sometimes (or a lot of times), is that he doesn't argue a theological or philosophical belief in Christianity. He looks at the way the faith actually works in our culture. And I wonder if it is enough for me to just say, "well there will always be people who don't take things seriously, This isn't how it is supposed to be." Because I think maybe it isn't enough to say it isn't supposed to be this way if this is the way it is. (roughly 37 pronouns in that last sentence. I'm all about vagaries)

Supposedly Ghandi once said he would have followed Christ if it weren't for Christians. And I would say in my day-to-day life it isn't "non-believers" who frustrate me most, but it is the believers and myself. Why do we feel, as the Church as a whole, we need to embrace these aspects of American culture that are so dangerous? Our society (that word is for you Wesga) perpetuates this atmosphere of entertainment and our minds numb themselves with the constant movement.

We go to our churches and these ideals of Big Business and entertainment for the masses (watered down to aid in digestion) are incorporated in order to "reach the lost." But I say this. How many of these people who used to be "lost" have found anything more than something else to do on Sunday morning? I know that most people don't trust corporations because they crush people in order to bring in more money for the stockholders. Can we say the same thing about churches hurting people in order to bring in the "lost?" I think if we really held to the ideals of Christ we wouldn't fit in with American society, but we would strive for social revolution.

I talked to a girl last night who was severely hurt by the Church in this respect. She's walked away from her faith, because she realized she didn't really have a faith. She was confused by the glitz, performance, smoke and mirrors. And when the smoke cleared she didn't find a cross, but an vacant room.

Friday, September 16, 2005
The Nation on Pat Robertson
While it's clear that The Nation has its own agenda when it comes to the liberal/conservative swap-bash, this is an interesting Max Blumenthal article about Pat Robertson. I'd like to find other sources on these particular issues quoted from the article: The use of Operation Blessing planes to transport diamond mining equipment for Robertson's private company and the accusation of discrimination against Christian Coalition employees.

From the article:

Far from the media's gaze, Robertson has used the tax-exempt, nonprofit Operation Blessing as a front for his shadowy financial schemes, while exerting his influence within the GOP to cover his tracks. In 1994 he made an emotional plea on The 700 Club for cash donations to Operation Blessing to support airlifts of refugees from the Rwandan civil war to Zaire (now Congo). Reporter Bill Sizemore of The Virginian Pilot later discovered that Operation Blessing's planes were transporting diamond-mining equipment for the African Development Corporation, a Robertson-owned venture initiated with the cooperation of Zaire's then-dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

After a lengthy investigation, Virginia's Office of Consumer Affairs determined that Robertson "willfully induced contributions from the public through the use of misleading statements and other implications." Yet when the office called for legal action against Robertson in 1999, Virginia Attorney General Mark Earley, a Republican, intervened with his own report, agreeing that Robertson had made deceptive appeals but overruling the recommendation for his prosecution. Two years earlier, while Virginia's investigation was gathering steam, Robertson donated $35,000 to Earley's campaign--Earley's largest contribution. With Earley's report came a sense of vindication. "From the very beginning," Robertson claimed, "we were trying to provide help and assistance to those who were facing disease and death in the war-torn, chaotic nation of Zaire."

He was even accused of "Jim Crow-style racial discrimination" by black employees who successfully sued his Christian Coalition in 2001 for forcing them enter its offices through a back door and eat in a segregated area (Robertson has since resigned).


PyroMarketing and the Purpose Driven Life™, Pt. 2: Rick Warren Responds
Tim Challies has made another entry concerning the situation on Rick Warren (Purpose Driven Life) and Greg Stielstra (Pyromarketing: The Four Step Strategy to Ignite Customer Evangelists and Keep them For Life). The entry also contains a response from Rick Warren himself.

This thing is wild. In his response Rick Warren actually contends that marketing had nothing to do with the success of his book. His contention is that all the success is due to God and the timeless truths that the Purpose Driven™ concept contains. I won't quote Rick Warren (due to his request that his response only appear in it's entirety), but his claim is that no one at Zondervan or PDL™ claims to be smart enough to sell 25,000,000 copies of a devotional is simply God's material that's been taught in the church for 2,000 years. Of course, the one person from Zondervan Warren convieniently leaves out of the "no one" estimate is Steilstra, who seems to think he is plenty smart to accomplish such a task.

I can't believe that Warren would be so naive, or that he expects his readers to be.

But maybe that's the problem. Maybe the Christian culture has become so naive that we would actually believe someone with a large marketing machine when they tell us that the marketing machine does nothing (move along...nothing to see here). If that's the case, why not just write the book and hand it out person by person? Why use Zondervan or Harper Collins? Heck, if no one at Zondervan knows how to take credit for the success of such books, why do they even have a marketing department. While it may be true that no one at Zondervan expected the grand success of PDL, claiming that marketing played essentially no role is blatantly false.

What is perhaps most troubling (if true) is the depiction made by Challies in reference to a New Yorker article about Warren:
The accounts I have read seem to show Warren at his most typical, acting as humble as he knows how, all the while dropping as many big names he can muster. "'I had dinner with Jack Welch last Sunday night,' he said. 'He came to church, and we had dinner. I've been kind of mentoring him on his spiritual journey. And he said to me, 'Rick, you are the biggest thinker I have ever met in my life. The only other person I know who thinks globally like you is Rupert Murdoch.' And I said, 'That's interesting. I'm Rupert's pastor! Rupert published my book!'" (see here). The article states as well that prior to its publication Warren predicted the book would sell one hundred million copies.
However, the real disappointment is that what may be the most powerful reality about Warren himself could be overshadowed in all this. He currently seems be experiencing a sincere re-evaluation of his life and ministry in relation to those in poverty. Quoted from the New Yorker article:

"Out of that psalm [Psam 72], God said to me that the purpose of influence is to speak up for those who have no influence. That changed my life. I had to repent. I said, I’m sorry, widows and orphans have not been on my radar. I live in Orange County. I life in the Saddleback Valley, which is all gated communities. There aren’t any homeless people around. They are thirteen miles away, in Santa Ana, not here.” He gestured toward the rolling green hills outside. “I started reading through Scripture. I said, How did I miss the two thousand verses on the poor in the Bible? So I said, I will use whatever affluence and influence that you give me to help those who are marginalized.”

He and his wife, Kay, decided to reverse tithe, giving away ninety per cent of the tens of millions of dollars they earned from “The Purpose-Driven Life.” They sat down with gay community leaders to talk about fighting AIDS. Warren has made repeated trips to Africa. He has sent out volunteers to forty-seven countries around the world, test-piloting experiments in microfinance and H.I.V. prevent and medical education. He decided to take the same networks he had built to train pastors and spread the purpose-driven life and put them to work on social problems.

Thursday, September 15, 2005
Pyromarketing and The Purpose Driven Life
I'm not sure who found this first...Kyle Meador, Jordan Cooper, or Andrew Jones (it may be good to read Andrew's review)...But here's an interesting article about marketing and Rick Warren's hugely popular Purpose Driven Life. From the article:
I discovered that an author named Greg Stielstra had also studied the success of The Purpose Driven Life as well as other modern phenomena such as The Passion of the Christ. Stielstra is Senior Marketing Director for Zondervan, the company that published Warren's book, and was a member of the team that handled some aspects of the marketing for The Purpose Driven Life, 40 Days of Purpose and 40 Days of Community Purpose Driven Life, The Passion of the Christ and other products. Such triumphs of marketing, helped [Stielstra] clarify a metaphor he had been perfecting for many years. He termed this PyroMarketing. I found that he was writing a book, entitled PyroMarketing : The Four-Step Strategy to Ignite Customer Evangelists and Keep Them for Life. (though not the subsequent programs such as which were marketed from within Purpose Driven). Stielstra is a confident marketer who was once quoted as saying that "if he promoted a book about quilting 'to one-tenth of one percent of left-handed quilters,' he could land the title on the non-fiction bestseller list and prime it for even bigger success."

Pray for BJ
via Caleb: "He needs our prayers. He aquired the bubonic plague in Panama while serving the Lord."

Wednesday, September 14, 2005
GREENVILLE, S.C. — Cartoon actor SpongeBob Squarepants checked into an Exodus International program Wednesday, hoping to leave behind a life of homosexuality he now dubs "duplicitous and shameful." The celebrity sponge said through a spokesman that he intends to immerse himself in the Christ-centered program. "For years, SpongeBob has struggled with his sexual identity," said his spokesman, reading from a prepared statement. "He hopes to emerge from this program cleansed." Other gay children's characters expressed disappointment. Bert and Ernie of Sesame Street told reporters SpongeBob is "denying who he is." "He's setting us back fifty years," Ernie said from his and Bert's Upper West Side penthouse. SpongeBob has said in past interviews that his sexual confusion began when he learned his parents were, like all sponges, hermaphroditic, switching gender roles throughout their life cycle. "It was traumatizing," he says. "It tore a big hole in my personality." The beloved yellow children's character, who has gained fans because of his guilelessness, hopes to settle down with another sea creature once his show runs its course. "When syndication kicks in, I can retire and start spawning, like a normal sponge," he told Entertainment Weekly last April. •

via Larknews

Monday, September 12, 2005
Meeting Tonight
Terry is unable to join us tonight, so we're going to meet at Doyle's House O'Prayer instead of St. Patrick's. We're wrapping up our study of the Christian Canon. We start at 6:30 PM and end around 9:00 PM. Give me a call at 918-813-3258 if you need more info.

Sunday, September 11, 2005
Mark's post and Caleb's comments made me think of this song by Vigilantes of Love:

I've been trying to negotiate peace
with my own existence.
She's gotta stockpile full of weaponry;
she breaking every cease-fire agreement.
Whole thing is full of decay
just as sure as I'm made of dust,
and into rust I know the beast is falling.

They are building a new gallows
for when You show up on the street.
Polishing the electric chair,
they're gonna give You a front row seat.
Heard a sneer outside the garden;
salutation so well-heeled:
"Final Stop! No points beyond Struggleville,
Welcome all you suckers to Struggleville"

In the hole from the beginning/wherever
Truth shows up, it'll go on the chopping block.

Friday, September 09, 2005
It is for Freedom Christ set us free!

Caleb's comment on another post set off a bunch of thoughts for me.

I spoke recently with a 27 year man who spoke of coming to Jesus as a teen and it made life worse. Way worse. The gospel he professed to believe was more of an belief in a few ideas a preacher had. This good news turned out to be bad news.

Now he lived with tremendous guilt for the overwhelming situations he found himself in.
Drinking. Guilt.
Drug use - guilt
girlfriend - guilt
family - guilt
school -guilt
language guilt
lack of spirituality - guilt
lack of devotion - guilt
confusion about God - guilt
feeling guilty - guilt

It is for freedom that Christ set us free. It's GOOD news. not BAD news.

In addition our approach has led to the idea that there are levels of spirituality. People who preach are more spiritual than those who don't. People who drink are less spiritual than those who gossip. Those who do drugs are less spiritual than those who eat to much.

Then with in our spiritual class system we twist the knife of unrealistic expectations. or put another way. We often lack grace.

If you have sex before you are married... do you deserve a "pure" person who does wait?

First. Since it's a personal question, I'll answer it personally. I waited until I was married. But it was sheer luck that I made it. Looking back, I was naive about some girlfriends I had. It was far more luck than decision. Though decision was a part of it. Also. Though I waited, I'm not sure "pure" would be the right word for me at marriage.

I need to go... but just some thoughts...

Katrina and the North American Church
I mentioned this in one of the comments, but I thought I should say it as a post: The way that churches have responded to the devastation and need is wonderful. As everyone who reguarly reads here knows, I have issues/frustrations/concerns about our churches...specifically in the area of what I call church™. But when it's clear that churches have done as much (or possibly more) than any other group to aid the victims of this tragedy, it's hard not to be awed at the life present in His Body (institutional or not).

Katrina: Politics, Media, and Reality
AKMA made a post on his blog the other day about his "smoldering" frustrations with the Bush administration's lack of response/readiness to Katrina's devastation and impact. Today he entered a new post that is mostly a response from David, who sees a different reality as someone in the midst of the devastation. I'm going to quote the entirety of David's response, but please go to AKMA and David's own blog to read more and possibly contact David to see what can be done to help.

As someone in the thick of it, I wonder if you should turn a critical eye to the media? The story in Mississippi is about UNREAL destruction. Beyond that I see people (about 500 today at our relief center) determined to rebuild AND to help one another. We are seeing groups from as far a way as Canada, many from the east coast, all helping SO much. We have thousands of National Guard here and they are ALL, EVERYONE, so polite and helpful and wonderful to us all. In our center there were white faces and black faces and old faces and young faces and crippled bodies and old bodies and just-born twins bodies. And all were together, bonded in this crazy time where we have all been reduced to just being humans without power or privilege or prestige.
And yet at a press conference in Biloxi, several media folks just wanted the EOC director to admit that the poor in Mississippi were treated differently than others.

It just ain't so. And if the reporters would DO THEIR JOB and REPORT ABOUT WHAT IS GOING ON and TALK TO THE PEOPLE - ALL THE PEOPLE they would see a very very different picture.

Maybe that does not sell papers or CNN ad spots. But it's the truth. I know it. And today I lived it, seeing Jesus over and over and over again. It was SO very hot and SO very hard and the people, ALL the people were SO very grateful and expressed it.

There is a different story out there. And it has nothing to do with feeble administrators and aid that is too slow (although we have been pained by both). I wish they would report that.
And guess what - tomorrow, we do it all over again.

Thursday, September 08, 2005
Someone help me to understand why it is that we're taking our students to go see a conference called Song of Solomon when we want them to ABSTAIN from sexual activity?

Oh, wait... it's because the biblical Solomon teaches us that sexual relationships are "wonderful" and "amazing" and everything else when it's done in the proper context, right? Between a man and his wife?

I just have one question... about which of his hundreds of wives do you think Solomon wrote that nice piece of prose for?

Just askin'!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

"'How can you worship a homeless Man on Sunday and ignore one on Monday?'
said the sign outside St. Edward's Cathedral in Philadelphia. Inside, a group of 40 homeless families were joined by students from Eastern University to protest the eviction of women and their children from the abandoned Kensington neighborhood church."

"Today, the Simple Way, with its two houses on Potter Street, is one of the oldest of a new crop of Christian intentional communities. Formed often independently by mostly young, single Christians, these communities are the latest wave of evangelicals who see in community life an answer to society's materialism and the church's complacency toward it. Rather than enjoy the benefits of middle-class life, these suburban evangelicals choose to move in with the poor. Though many of the same forces drive them as did earlier generations—a desire to experience intense community and to challenge contented evangelicalism—they are turning to an ancient tradition to provide the spiritual sustenance for their ministries."

More on the New Monasticism in Christianity Today

Being Poor
Blog post from John Scalzi. (via Kyle)

"Being poor is having to keep buying $800 cars because they're what you can afford, and then having the cars break down on you, because there's not an $800 car in America that's worth a damn.

Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.

Being poor is knowing your kid goes to friends' houses but never has friends over to yours.

Being poor is going to the restroom before you get in the school lunch line so your friends will be ahead of you and won't hear you say "I get free lunch" when you get to the cashier."


Being the Body
I was thinking that if several of us joined together, we could probably provide housing for a family displaced by the hurricane for a year or six months. Anyone game?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

In case anyone is wondering exactly HOW out of touch with reality the Rev. Jesse Jackson is:

"It is racist to call American citizens refugees," the Rev. Jesse Jackson said, visiting the Houston Astrodome on Monday.

Quoted in this article.

From the American Heritage Dictionary:

ref·u·gee - n. One who flees in search of refuge, as in times of war, political oppression, or religious persecution.

Ummm... Okay, Jesse. Sure. Now... what were we just doing?

Andrew Jones Inspires Me
I don't really know Andrew. I met him briefly in San Antonio back in '99. I think we've exchanged emails a couple of times, and I read his blog fairly regularly. But one thing that has seemed true about him is that he is serious about pursuing the Kingdom of God.

This latest post of his is just another example.

Monday, September 05, 2005
Warnings Ignored
National Geographic ran an article last year about the dangers of the levees failing in New Orleans (via Rudy). But also ran a stunningly accurate series of articles as long ago as 2002 that warned of the dangers a massive hurricane would pose for New Orleans. (via Doug Pagitt's blog)

A quote:

" Once it’s certain a major storm is about to hit, evacuation offers the best chance for survival. But for those who wait, getting out will become nearly impossible as the few routes out of town grow hopelessly clogged. And 100,000 people without transportation will be especially threatened."

Some articles to note:
  • Graphics depicting what would happen if a Level 5 Hurricane hit New Orleans
  • Levee weaknesses
  • The "Big One" could kill thousands the articles predicted
  • The article "Left Behind" predicted that 100,000 residents would be stuck in New Orleans

    Tulsa Area Red Cross In Need of Help
    I talked with the Red Cross yesterday to see what kind of assistance they might need in this area for the Katrina victims. They called back tonight to say they really need people to help at Camp Gruber where 1500 evacuees are being housed. The shifts are 12 hours long (counting travel time it is a 14 hour commitment) and there are two each day. They are offering transportation from Tulsa daily. To volunteer for the first shift, you would leave Tulsa at 6:00 AM and get back around 8:00 PM. The second shift is departs at 6:00 PM and gets back at around 8:00 AM.

    If you would like to volunteer, please contact the Tulsa Red Cross at 918-831-1100. I'm going to talk with my supervisors this week to see if I can take off to volunteer.

    I hope everyone figured this out in time... I'm sure that everyone eventually figured it out anyhow... but we're not having meetings tonight. We'll be meeting next week at the same time... we'll let you know of the venue. Jimmy's going to start going over the canonization process.

    A splendid time is guaranteed for all. And, of course, Henry the Horse dances the waltz

    Sunday, September 04, 2005
    Ways to Offer Aid for Katrina Victims

    A list from the ONEblog:
    The Salvation Army donation servers are here (if they are busy, try again later):

    donations server 1
    donations server 2
    donations server 3
    donations server 4
    donations server 5

    Also, Stephen received the following email:

    Attention all volunteers. Citizen Corps, CERT, Medical Reserve Corps
    and Volunteers in Police Service volunteers are needed to help staff a
    Red Cross shelter that is opening today, Thursday September 1st to house
    hurricane victims who are seeking refuge in Tulsa.
    Volunteers who have completed background checks and have badges are
    eligible to work in the shelter. Mental health workers trained in
    Critical Incident Stress Management and RN/LPN nurses are needed, as
    well as general volunteers.

    If you would like to help with this, we have a contact phone number. Drop me an email and I'll send it to you.

    Saturday, September 03, 2005
    I Need to Move Away From Tulsa
    I can't believe what I saw on the local news yesterday. There were rumors all day long that anywhere from 2,000-10,000 victims of Katrina might be coming to Tulsa. One of the rumors was that they would be housed in the Civic Center here. Well...not to worry. The leaders of our fair town are trying hard to make sure that we are not going to have to deal with the mess. According to the Mayor, he got on the phone to talk about the situation with State officials. The bottom line (no kidding--these are from the mouths of our city officials): 1. We don't want to happen to the Civic Center what we've seen happen to the Superdome and the Astrodome, 2. We have events scheduled at the Civic Center for Pete's sake, and (the best one) number 3. "We have to keep a business mind" about all this. How it will impact business and monetary situation for us.

    The latest report is that our leaders know that victims will be coming...there's just too many for it not to happen. The city officials are trying to figure out where to house them when the government tells us that they are coming.

    The issue for me is that our city can't be proactive and caring about this thing. Why are we not actively offering our city as a place of refuge? For the same reason that "F*** the Homeless" shirts were popular with some in our city, the bright shining buckle of the Bible Belt. If it's going to affect our bottom line, we simply would rather they not be here.

    "'Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.'" -- Ezekiel 16:49

    I've got to get out of here before the fire and brimstone start falling.

    (Note: I do want to say that I am fully aware that many private individuals, congregations, and organizations of Tulsa are acting out of kindness and love by making themselves available. This post is out of frustration with our leadership and a general mentality about people in need that is often expressed in our community.)

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