Scot McKnight’s post is important and prophetic!

There are many people I know who are smart, articulate, and deeply committed to the cause of Christ.  Below is a post from Dr. Scot McKnight about the election process…I’m saying here and now that I am proud to call Scot a friend…this needs to be heard by every person who follows Jesus – our hope and peace is NOT found in an election but in Christ.  Scot says it better than I ever can…read and reflect!

The Eschatology of Politics – Scot McKnight

Somewhere between 6pm and 8pm, Central Time, on November 4th, 2008,
the eschatology of American evangelicals will become clear. If John
McCain wins and the evangelical becomes delirious or confident that the
Golden Days are about to arrive, that evangelical has an eschatology of
politics. Or, alternatively, if Barack Obama wins and the evangelical
becomes delirious or confident that the Golden Days are about to
arrive, that evangelical too has an eschatology of politics. Or, we
could turn each around, if a more Democrat oriented evangelical becomes
depressed and hopeless because McCain wins, or if a Republican oriented
evangelical becomes depressed or hopeless because Obama wins, those
evangelicals are caught in an empire-shaped eschatology of politics.

Where is our hope? To be sure, I hope our country solves its
international conflicts and I hope we resolve poverty and dissolve our
educational problems and racism. But where does my hope turn when I
think of war or poverty or education or racism? Does it focus on
November 4? Does it gain its energy from thinking that if we get the
right candidate elected our problems will be dissolved? If so, I submit
that our eschatology has become empire-shaped, Constantinian, and
political. And it doesn’t matter to me if it is a right-wing
evangelical wringing her fingers in hope that a Republican wins, or a
left-wing evangelical wringing her fingers in hope that a Democrat
wins. Each has a misguided eschatology.

Now before I take another step, it must be emphasized that I
participate in the election; and I think it makes a difference which
candidate wins; and I think from my own limited perspective one
candidate is better than the other.

But,
participation in the federal election dare not be seen as the lever
that turns the eschatological designs God has for this world. Where is
our hope? November 4 may tell us. What I hope it reveals is that:

Our hope is in God. The great South African missiologist, David Bosch, in his book Transforming Mission impressed
upon many of us that the church’s mission is not in fact the “church’s”
mission but God’s mission. Our calling is to participate in the missio Dei,
the mission of God in this world. So, at election time we can use the
season to re-align our mission with the mission of God. Therein lies
our hope.

Our hope is in the gospel of God. God’s mission is
gospel-shaped. Some today want to reduce gospel to what we find in 1
Corinthians 15:1-8, while others want to expand it to bigger
proportions (and I’m one of the latter), we would do well at election
time to re-align ourselves once again with the gospel as God’s good
news for our world. Therein lies our hope.

Our hope is in the gospel of God that creates God’s people.
God’s gospel-shaped mission creates a new people of God. In fact, the
temptation of good Protestants to skip from Genesis 3 (the Fall) to
Romans 3 (salvation) must be resisted consciously. We need to soak up
how God’s gospel-shaped work always and forever creates a gospel
people. The first thing God does with Abraham is to form a covenant
people, Israel, and Jesus’ favorite word was “kingdom,” and Paul was a
church-obsessed theologian-missionary. Herein lies the challenge at
election time. We are tempted to divide the USA into the good and the
bad and to forget that the gospel has folks on both sides of political
lines. Even more: we are tempted to think that the winners of the
election are those who are blessed by God when the blessing of God is
on God’s people. God’s gospel-powered mission creates a new people, the
church, where we are to see God’s mission at work. Therein lies our
hope.

Our hope is in the gospel of God that creates a kind of people that extends God’s gospel to the world. Chris Wright’s big book, The Mission of God,
reminds us that election is missional: God creates the people of God
not so the people of God can compare themselves to those who are not
God’s people, but so that God’s people will become a priesthood in this
world to mediate the mission of God, so that all hear the good news
that God’s grace is the way forward.

Our hope is in God’s mission in this world, and that mission transcends what happens November 4th.

Advertisements

I usually don’t like to do this, but…

AllaboutmelargeUsually, I don’t like to take "shots" at pop culture…reason why?  It is too easy of a target!  Demonizing a culture that has been partially shaped by our own fascination with ourselves and our desires is not going to get us anywhere when it comes to the Christ-honoring journey.  Even so, you are going to have to forgive me for these comments – I’ll keep them brief.

I was doing my weekly spin class, sweating away, when the instructor played Hannah Montana’s song, "Best of Both Worlds".  Here are some of the lyrics:

You get the limo out front, Hottest styles, every shoe, every color
Yeah, when you’re famous it can be kinda fun, It’s really you but no one ever discovers, In some ways you’re just like all your friends, But on stage you’re a star, You get the best of both worlds, Chill it out, take it slow, Then you rock out the show, You get the best of both worlds, Mix it all together and you know that it’s the best of both worlds

You go to movie premiers (is that Orlando Bloom?), Hear your songs on the radio
Livin’ two lives is a little weird (yeah), But school’s cool cuz nobody knows
Yeah you get to be a small town girl, But big time when you play your guitar

Pictures and autographs, You get your face in all the magazines
The best parts that you get to be who ever you wanna be

Now, like I said, it is too easy of a target…but our culture is obsessed with narcissism…it is promoting it more than ever.  It used to be that there was a segment of society that was a bit more "protected" from this obsession on self…that being children.  There were "spoiled" kids to be sure…but at least children weren’t blatantly marketed to in regards to buying into the culture of self.  Now, the gloves are off and the game is on…children (Disney produces and heavily pushes this type of programming with kids) and the deepest part of their hearts are being drawn into narcissism.  Which leads me to make a quick suggestion that you pick up Jacob’s book called, Original Sin.  If ever we needed reminders of the shadow side of humanity and what happens when we FOCUS our entire world on that aspect of our nature, it is now. 

Anyway, I’ve got that off my chest…I’m feeling a bit better.  Now, how to give my grandkids and other kids that I have in my relational circle some God-honoring perspective and challenge on this growing issue.  More to come…

Ouch! Sarcastic or True? You decide!

Ouch
A guy that I met through the blogsphere posted this today.  It is a bit "cynical" (that’s an understatement) but also a bit "true" (if you think about it a bit).  He was posting his thoughts on "labels"…you know, labeling or branding people and then either marginalizing or inflating them due to their affiliation…you can read this on your own…see what you think. 

To my emergent, missional, incarnational friends:

Enough already. The labels have become redundant. once upon a time we tried to start something that was free from such labelling, only to succumb ourselves. No one outside the cultic bubble even understands what you are talking about anymore. They care even less.

Missional? What church believes it isn’t missional? …everyone on the religious bus believes they are touching their community. The term is meaningless and vague.

Incarnational? Know any english? I can just imagine you telling your neighbors your church is trying to be incarnational… imagine the blank stares. and again, what church is going to admit they are not trying to live Christ-like in their environs. Isn’t that kind of the point?

Emegent? Are you emergent or emerging? Does it really matter? I thought you didn’t like labels? I am floored the amount of time that is wasted defining and redefining the labels and dotting the i’s. Seriously, get a real job.

Now, this is a book! Original Sin – read it!

9780060783402I read about this book in the Books and Culture magazine…I was captivated by curiosity immediately.  I finished reading it last night (I will read it again this next week, it is that good).  First of all, this is not a theological treatise.  Jacobs is not making a biblical or "purely" theological case for Original Sin.  What he IS doing is tracing the issue of original sin throughout history…from ancient Greece to Richard Dawkins…through the middle ages to colonial America…from Augustine to Roussaeu.  Don’t get me wrong, there are many theological points to be scored in this excellent book.  Jacobs serves the reader well in sharing a perspective on how contemporary culture has gotten ‘stuck’ in an overly optimistic view of human nature.  He then let’s the reader draw their own conclusions without overtly moralizing or becoming too preachy.  Hey, if I were writing this book, I would have been really tempted to be as homiletical as possible…but that is the beauty of this book.  It will be widely read…it deserves to be…but it will demonstrate the importance of our adherence to the doctrine of original sin NOT by bemoaning a litany of wrongs in our world but by giving us a sweeping historical review of how people have wrestled with and attempted to explain (or explain away) the inate brokenness of humanity.  If I were you, I’d read this book.  I’m actually going to read it again and attempt to outline some of the main characters and ages that Jacobs covers.  This will be a "text book" of sorts for people who want a perspective on how significant historical figures have made sense of suffering and evil in the world.  I know for me…I’m going to outline it and use it!  Click on the book cover for a direct link to Amazon!

Two Thumbs Up for “Namesake”!

Namesakeposter1Vicky and I watched this film last night.  It is very good…it starts a bit "slow" but then gathers steam as it explores the issues of family, identity and enculturation.   I found this film broadly applicable to some very significant theological reflection.  In fact, I could see using it as a discussion piece to theorize on how easy it is for us to "walk away" from our identity as Christ-followers and what it takes for us to reclaim who we were created to be.  In addition, there is much fodder for talk about relationships and family and how those foundational pieces of our lives are undermined by current cultural practice and habit.  Good film!  Check it out!

Good article on “BIG” Worship – for your thoughts and consideration!

WorshipI came across this article on a new blog that I’m reading regularly.  I read it and IMMEDIATELY decided to post it for your consideration.  I probably would have written it a bit differently…adding in some issues regarding historical liturgy and some other realities like the sacrament.  But Rex’s point is well taken…we have been reductionistic in our ideas of worship in the church of today.  Every where that I go I hear the same words as someone picks up a guitar or stands behind a keyboard, "stand with me and let’s worship"…as if worship ONLY happens with song.  Don’t take me wrong, I’m a musician and if I had ONE WAY to worship, I would do it in song…but that’s not the only way that worship occurs.  For some that I know, singing is the last manner that draws them close to God (of course, I’ve heard them sing…but that’s another story :0)).  Seriously, these thoughts are good…meditate on them, won’t you? 

Ten Worship Mistakes #5 – Mistake # 5 – BIG WORSHIP and little worship
Posted on rexmiller.net

Worship is God’s vehicle to transport our hearts to Him AND a means to recognize God as sovereign, holy, omnipotent, merciful…

We try – and I mean try – to align our thoughts, emotions, attitudes and everything within us to see God more clearly and love Him more dearly (borrowed lyrics).

Worship is like walking through a narrow place with effort on one side and grace on the other while looking for a passage that opens into God’s presence.

This describes the journey to BIG WORSHIP.

That journey has many expressions; meditation, contemplation, prayer, giving, serving, communion, dance, chant, etc.

Music can be a vital element to worship – its not BIG WORSHIP.  When music becomes our dominant reference point for worship – we journey through little worship.

The business world discovered that worship music sells. The business effect has provided a potent tool for spreading worship but at the same time shortened our reach for BIG WORSHIP. 

The business effect has focused on little worship and elevated it into a genre with celebrities, contracts, concerts and merchandise with its own subculture.  Musicians who sing worship lyrics and worshippers who sing are both called artists – so the lines blur.  Still withing this world of big business you can still find many worshippers, and professionals, who have overcome the traps of commerce protecting their hearts, gifts and musical offerings.   

I think we are all challenged to move beyond little worship and gain a better foothold into BIG WORSHIP.

History can shed light into the nature of BIG WORSHIP by exploring how the earlier church approached it.

Here is a neat bit of history.  Did you know that monks designed the music scale common in Western culture (diatonic or 8 note scale)? The monks saw geometric symmetry built into God’s universe and translated that symmetry into the music of chant.

If you have listened to chant you may have had a similar reaction as mine.  Nice, soothing – but after a while it all begins to sound the same.  Then I did a little homework and what I found out changed my paradigm for worship. 

Chant was far more than a simple melody and mystical words.  Chant was actually a cosmic tuning fork – aligning ones total being to the harmonies of heaven.  Let me give you an example.  You are probably familiar with the grade school song:

Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti, Do

You may not know there is a hidden significance the ancients designed into these simple words.  That significance holds a secret to BIG WORSHIP.

If you hum those notes you’ll discover something intriguing.  Each note resonates in a different part of the body.  Try it and you’ll feel it.  Chant was a complex algorithm with words and notes purposely placed to bring body, soul and spirit into the presence of God.  Incredible!

The BIG WORSHIP idea is understanding worship as a holistic encounter – a cosmic tuning fork. 

It is hard to describe and put chant in its proper context.  Today it simply sounds like background music.  It is beyond the comprehension of a modern mind. The unified world view of our ancestors gave birth to these kinds of integrated mysteries. They saw music, not as a style-driven medium, but as a way to tune in to the harmony of God’s creation.

Wow!

How can we think outside of our music box when we think of worship?  What metaphors or analogies might help us capture what the ancients saw in their cosmic tuning fork? 

What would, could worship look like – to reclaim that sense, understanding, appreciation that there is a whole lot more to worship than we typically touch from week to week.  How intriguing to consider and exciting to pursue?

Why I blog…yep, time to admit it!

Somethingwitty_2 Last night, I returned from a quick trip to Portland, OR.  While there, I had the honor of getting to know some new "peeps" who are new to the blogsphere.  I was excited and humbled to meet them…but that’s another story. 

While in conversation with them, it became clear to me that every time I write an email or respond to someone who has contacted me, that my blog url is part of my "personal greeting".  For many of the bloggers that I know, it is very weird, at times, to actually realize that there are more people than you can imagine who actually read and pay attention to the things that cross your mind when you blog.  Sometimes, bloggers that I know have gotten in trouble.  Years ago, a buddy of mine was torn apart for blogging after some of the people that he was working with in a local church took offense at his attempts to "think out loud" through his blog.  So, I try to be careful and not overtly controversial (just to gather an audience).  When I started blogging, a few people I knew suggested that I use this forum to state some things that I believe or am thinking about that might be a bit "edgy".  They remarked that it was going to be the only way that people would visit the site.  Well…that’s not the reason I blog.  Let me explain…I blog for a few reasons:

1.  Many of my friends around the globe keep in touch with me through my blog.  I get a chance to show them what sort of things I am thinking about, books I’m reading, music I’m listening to and people that I am "wrestling" with in terms of thought and action as a follower of Jesus.

2.  Many of the people I have known in ministry and through the University in which I am an Adjunct Professor consult my blog to "get to know" me better.  I know for me, I am only friends with certain people because of how I have gotten to know them through their blogs.  There are people that I regularly read, email and chat with whom I have NEVER met face to face.

3.  The blog gives me an opportunity to verbalize some of the things I am thinking about, wrestling with and observing in this crazy world we live in.  It is an online "journal" in many respects.  There are times I hope I am being taken seriously…there are times where I would pray that I wouldn’t be taken seriously…that’s why there are opportunities for people to comment on posts.  If there is any confusion, we can clear it up quickly in that manner.

So, if you are in on my journey, I’m honored.  If you drop in occassionally, that’s cool too!  Now that I am finished with my doctoral dissertation, I would hope to be regular in posting and with getting back to some bit of normalcy.  Believe me, there’s more to come…