Friday, December 28, 2007
I also want to insure that I instill this idea in my children, so that they will not be trapped in the pit of consumerism that my wife and I are struggling to break our addictions to.
On Christmas morning my three year old was the most sweet gracious thing on earth telling us that the gift she had just opened was, "just what I always wanted" after every single gift. My 6 year old had other ideas for the day, and we had words early on in the gift unwrapping ceremony.
After about her third turn opening a gift she opened a box of fake nails. It is important to note we refer to our oldest as a "Princess with an Edge" because she lacks interest in a lot of girly things. She would rather like to play Mary in Spiderman or Princess Leia in Star Wars than sit at a vanity and comb her hair. So we knew that the fake nails were not the highlight, but since her sister and her friend who is living with us were both getting them, we felt she should get a set to, so she could participate later in the day when the other girls were getting their nails done.
As she opened the nails she looked at them and stated, "this is not what I wanted at all!" To which I calmly dismissed her from the room, and told her we would speak after the rest of the family finished opening gifts. My wife did not go for my harsh sentence, so we went and talked to her about respect and gratitude.
The event was sharply painful to me, because I knew the internal struggle of her heart that our culture feeds. I needed an intervention to teach her a better world view than I have previously modeled.
So this brings us to her 2008 allowance. We have established an allowance sheet that details 15 tasks that must be completed each week. Each task bears a value of $1. She is also going to support the orphan work of Children's Hope Chest, the organization we are going to Swaziland with. This will be a $24 a month commitment for her which means $6 of her allowance will go to that commitment! The final step comes in mentoring her in HOW we spend the remaining amount she earns each week.
I hope to instill 2 lessons at a balance. One is that God desires to bless us, and secondly is that God desires us to bless others. I want her to find a balance between using her remaining earnings for toys and games she likes, and also using it for being a blessing to others.
I know this is kind of a rambling post (as so many are) but it is my dream and my prayer, that the cycle of consumerist addiction will not be passed on to my children.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
don't eat alone: advent journal: joseph: "Like Mary, Joseph had to be filled with something other than reason – and fear. They had to swap angel stories at some point. He was the one given the name, which meant he would name the child as any father would do in those days. He grew into a role he never imagined he would be called to play and they lived out their days with a heartfelt understanding of the paradox of blessing: a life of meaningful pain and joy."
Read the whole post. It is a wonderful tribute that inspired me to just BE in the place where God is doing great things!
Monday, December 10, 2007
Why the difference of opinion? Is it not that we as Christians hold forgiveness as our core tenet. The very message of Christianity is that while we were WRONG, Christ took the responsibility of that WRONG on himself and made restitution for that WRONG.
All of us as Christians share responsibility for the tragedies done in the name of Christ. I see the Muslim gentleman in this segments words being very true of an attitude that permeates a lot of Christian conversation.
However, in order for us to LOVE like Christ loved, we must practice the kind of forgiveness that takes the blame for those WRONGS we were not party to.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Should we be thankful for Campbell's hypocrisy? I for one am not. With a history of Child Labor suits here in the U.S. and their continued refusal to submit to public query about the Cocoa buying practices in their Godiva subsidiary; I for one am offended by an organization that would honor them as being pro-family.
Is the slave labor of 4 year old children in New Mexico they settled for $200,000 in 1997 an example of their Pro-Family agenda? Is their current ownership and silence about the purchasing of one the largest chocolate confectioneries pro-family?
Where was the pro-family organization to speak on behalf of the child slaves used to perpetuate the corporate greed of CEO Douglas Conant and Chairman Harvey Golub?
Yes, my conclusion is clear. I am absurdly offended.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
This is perfect for timed math tests. It can be used to generate about any standard math fact test.
I hope someone other than just myself can put it to work for them.
Math Test Generator
Monday, December 03, 2007
This number is most frightening when one thinks about the children left behind. Often both parents have the disease and when they die, there is no one available to care for the children. This virus is an orphan maker. The orphans already number in the ten thousands, and the problem is exponential.
We are accompanying Children's Hope Chest on this trip to learn what we can do personally. We also want to learn what you can do personally. It is our goal to connect our entire network of friends, family, and churches to the issues, and solutions to combat this perfect storm.
God calls himself the father to the fatherless. Our family has united to be God's hands to provide the father's love to these children made fatherless by the grip of this tragedy. If you would like to virtually join us as we prepare for, and go on this trip then please check out http://swaziland.kevinjbowman.com for our "Mission Trip 2008" Blog
My wife and I both liked the movie. Although I do not agree with the reverend on every level, his overall mission to "slow down American consumerism" is certainly a worthy goal. I certainly believe he proves his thesis that Jesus would not endorse the selfishness and greed that are associated around the celebration of his birth.
Overall, I would recommend the movie. Rev. Billy was at the viewing and we enjoyed being a part of the discussion with him after the show. He did admit to having had a few drinks by the 12:15 AM ending of the show.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
1 Bottle Irish Stout Ale
1 lb Ground Beef
1 Medium Onion chopped
1 Green Pepper chopped
1 29 Ounce Can Kidney Beans
1 29 Ounce Can Pinto Beans
2 16 Ounce Cans Tomato Sauce
1/2 Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Garlic Bulb peeled and Cloved
4 TBS Chili Powder
1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 Tsp Cinnamon
Boil Ale, Vinegar, Garlic, Onion, Green Onion in a large Covered Pot
Brown Beef to taste
After Garlic, Onion and Green Pepper are soft Puree full mix
Return Puree to Pot
Add Beef, Spices, and All Canned Food - Drain Nothing!
Bring To Boil & then Boil Uncovered 20 Minutes to thicken
Friday, November 30, 2007
This is not however a parable about that obligation. This is a story that must be told to the true citizenry of the free. Those citizen's of the Kingdom of God whose freedom has been muddled by their acceptance... Well, we'll get to that in a moment.
The Gold Standard:
The great king had a kingdom of wealth. The wealth of this kingdom was beyond the measure of other kingdoms. His store rooms were abounding with silver, gold, platinum, palladium, and numerous precious stones. The farthest corners in the vaults of His royal treasury had never been seen. The power, majesty and wealth of his kingdom were so inspiring that the love, joy, and peace of his people had become conjoined as the very specie of his kingdom. His kingdom's vast and endless resources, he had given to his citizenry to share as coheirs with him.
As the kingdom prospered, so did those who served as vassals to the great king. Their own dominions seemed to be filled with immeasurable wealth. The kings of the foreign nations marveled at the both the wealth and the joy of the citizenry of the king's feudal lords. The king's of the of nations inquired of their peers from the Great Kingdom into the successes of their provinces. Being honest votaries of their Lord, the vassal kings homaged their King for his power, wealth, and might.
Shortly however, after only a few generations the protégés became complacent in the pursuance of their duties and succumbed to entitlement of the power and their wealth. When the sons of the other kingdoms sought their insight to the majesty of their domain, they forsook the Great King and railed on about their own work and wisdom.
Shortly thereafter, when only a few generations had passed the once mighty kingdoms of the Great King had begun to deteriorate. Their fame of power, majesty, and wealth still lingered. Reports of love, joy, and peace were merely from the memories of the elderly and the legends preserved for bedtime stories. It seemed as though the Great King had forgotten his kingdom left to decay and atrophy. No longer did the foreign sons seek these leaders, instead these leaders sought out alliances with their neighboring peers. Promises of unified kingdoms, shared resources, and mutual benefit enticed the senses of both sides. The servants of the Great King, parceled his territories to the realms of other powers.
Shortly in time, where only a few generations had passed the regions of the Great Kingdom sat mostly ignored, populated by a faint miserable few who had not moved on. The land bore no crops, the waters polluted, the limited resources being rationed out to maintain the infrastructure. The great kingdom seemed a wasteland of emigration, barren from any sort of immigration other than transients and nomads hoping to find even a remnant of the legendary love, joy, and peace. The kingdom had become devoid of wealth, citizenry, and power.
Shortly a new idea emerged, after only a few generations leaders saw need to develop a new fiat currency for the nearly abandoned territories. Armed with their own desires to use the old kingdoms to build their own fortunes the old men forged a new empire with the vestiges of the old kingdom. Being devoid of the source of wealth that personified the old regime it was replaced with a system that unified and celebrated the individual accomplishments of it's citizens. Rules for success were codified and ratified. The leaders attracted strong, powerful, youthful orators to preach the merits of this new currency. Filled with the appearances of the old wealth Immigration once again filled the farms, cities, nooks, and crannies of the Great Kingdom.
Shortly after the initial boom, when only a few generations had passed, the new kings had built rebuilt the old lands. Superstructures towering to the heavens in name of progress, universities bearing the names of the leaders aged and laid to rest, institutions to promote the personal pursuit of all the kingdoms promised, these accomplished defined the kingdom as the sprawled across the provinces. Progress was the pulse of the new kingdom. However, inside the citizen's were tired and weighted. The towers, school, and programs were impressive to these exhausted, over taxed, over worked serfs. To the outsider the appearance of the Great Kingdom had been restored. To those laden with the mirage inside, the stress and fatigue were depressing and deadly. Though deeply entrenched in the system, most citizens had only burden and poverty. The image of the promise entrapped them to live enslaved to a dream, they could never attain. The freedom their kingdom illuminated was a special effect created by the classic obfuscation of smoke and mirrors.
Shortly in the midst of the wars, after the feuding and fighting of only a few generations had passed, the rouse was up. The inflation of the promise of the kingdom had made attainment an impossible labyrinth of disappointment. Victories had become more about a celebration of conquest against each other, than attainment of the promises. The new kingdom, with her new laws, her estranged entanglements with the foreign kings, and her paper currencies held relationship to the Great Kingdom in name only. It was at that time, as it had been in each time before, that some lost, broken, exhausted, stressed, depressed, lonely members of these feudal lords, became dispossessed and nomadic.
As the pilgrims journeyed forward toward the promise of love, joy, and peace they discovered their new world. The journey forward became easier, their loads became lighter, their dreams seemed more real. As a few individuals in each generation wrestled off the shackles of the systems and promises of their captors they traveled at great cost with greater vigilance toward the wealth, the peace, love, and joy; the moved in as citizens of freedom in the Land of the Great King. He ruled on his throne with his resources always giving them as coheirs to those who sought only Him as their king.
Monday, November 19, 2007
The theme of the event was "More Than Meets the Eye" with Romans 12:2 as the theme verse.
I have included the outlines and audio of all three talks below.
|Transformers 1||From Exile to A Kingdom||Outline||Audio|
|Transformers 2||Do Not Conform||Outline||Audio|
|Transformers 3||Sanctifying Grace||Outline||Audio|
Additionally, I am so thankful for the organizations mentioned as making a difference in the poverty of this world. I would recommend the work of Mission Lazarus and also Children's Hope Chest.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Ah, I love this bit. NOG, you just brought up what believers everywhere love to bring up, the shady supreme being who might have started it all. Since it is impossible (as you point out) to completely reject this idea then of course the bible and everything therein must be completely true and Jesus died for our sins. Am I the only one who notices the rather big gap between the possibility of a supreme being who put the universe in motion and that same being speaking to one dude in one small tribe, on one tiny planet in one ittsy bittsy solarsystem in one insignificant galaxy about how the supreme being wanted this tribe to live their exceedingly short lives and said race would exist for the tiniest moment of the history of the universe (same with our planet and our solar system, compared to the grand scheme the possible supreme being has devised the existance of oru solarsystem is less than what a millisecond would be for us). Is this what believers mean with a leap of faith? Geez, that is one huge leap. - joacqin
The beauty of faith is that IT IS ONE BIG LEAP. The beauty of the faith lifestyle, is that leap changes everything. I do not get mediocrity in relationship with God. The skeptic answers the question of total commitment to the Christ follower. As I have stated many times before, I don't like apologetics. I instead think we should invest in radically living out the lifestyle of Jesus in the world. Only when our reality is radically altered by the "faith" we claim, will the validity of that claim make any sense to outsiders, and more to the point, even to ourselves.
This is well illustrated by the modern apologists C.S. Lewis own admission in Mere Christianity.
We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed. And as a matter of fact, if you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away? - C.S. Lewis
Our Lifestyle must be vitally altered by our primary allegiance to this chasmic vault otherwise the claim of faith is merely a passing fancy in intellectual puffery. The constant reminder of our faith story is our participation in self sacrifice and righteousness. These habits are the fruit of holiness, and only they will stand as reasonable proof to this faith.
Friday, November 09, 2007
If I get 8 - 10 people who want it, I am going to do a print run, so comment to me. The cost will be $12 each and proceeds will go to Sevens.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
As I think about holiness and the separate disciplines it demands I relate this call to a sort of spiritual convergence. Christ called his followers to a path that demanded bridging two disparate religious pursuits to form a convergence he referred to as holiness.
In my life I have been taught by those who claim righteousness as the sole duty of the Christian. I had teachers who proudly recited the adage, “I don't drink, smoke, or chew and don't associate with those who do,” as an actual badge of honor earned through the tireless work of their own righteousness. Righteousness when placed as the spiritual center point results in the burden of insecurity and judgment. It's penalty is a teeter totter effect between self righteousness and self condemnation. The toll of this form of religion is a self obsessive,consumerist spirituality looking for the next quick fix. The adherents of “righteous religion” become crack heads to their appetite for a spiritual high that makes their righteousness feel safe.
Charity is a deceptive idol of false religion also. The obsession with serving others absent of relationship with God is a hollow exercise as well. It overwhelms the participant and leads to depression and despair. The charitable life absent of Godly motivation becomes a spur of bitterness to the participant. Eventually the “Christian Philanthropist” gives up cold and bitter that their passion was not shared and participated in by their peers. Eventually, they wander far away from the cold reality of their failure.
I have seen the righteous have no time and no place for servanthood. I have seen the charitable celebrate licentiousness in the name of freedom. The two ideas are not competing religious paths, instead they are disciplines that when mastered together are the lifestyle convergence that Christ called his followers to adhere to.
The convergence of righteousness and charity will both simplify and enhance the Christian's life. The abundant life promised by Christ to his followers is fully realized when this true holiness is lived out in our daily routine. The convergence that brings true joy to our life is this call to holiness.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
HOWEVER, we're talking NFL professional football. That QB is payed to SCORE points. The Patriots coach is payed to WIN games. This is so indicative of our pussyfoot sissy society.
The goal of a professional athlete should be to WIN and win big EVERY time he plays the game. I am not a sports fan, but still stand offended ESPN and NBCSports would waste our airwaves, or the Washington Times waste their paper and ink, with athletes who are offended by the gravity of their defeat.
Seriously, go home, work harder, and win bigger! That is the result a true professional would gain from that defeat. The Redskin's Godfrey need to grow up and act like a professional. He,s not playing Kindergarten ball anymore.
Monday, October 29, 2007
I am waiting for an invitation! As soon as I get one, I will let you know if it is a great as it seems in the "tour Video."
Check it out, and if you get an invite before me, comment back and make me more jealous! Seriously, if this is as cool as it looks in the video, Google should buy these bad boys up, and integrate it into Google Apps!
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
I do still thank those of you who read this blog, and lended me your support through comments and email. It was a very rough night for me, and your encouragement was invaluable.
The 12 disciples traveled with Jesus for 3 years, soaking in not only the teaching, but more importantly the lifestyle of their rabbi. Dwelling among Jesus in the flesh, these men had the ability to reach out and touch the flesh of God. This residency with the very body of Christ, transformed the direction and meaning of their lives. These men, once encountering the physical presence of Almighty were no longer fishermen, tax collectors, politicos, or whatever other profession they were formerly defined by. Instead these men's identities became a lifestyle of living grace and truth in a suffering world.
No portion of scripture is more important to our lifestyle choices, than the lifestyle Jesus modeled personally. Scripture such a Mark 10:45, 1 Peter 2:21-25, Luke 4:16-21, and Matthew 14:13-14 demonstrate to us the fabric of Jesus' bodily form. Servanthood, sacrifice, redemption, and compassion were the hallmarks of Jesus' substance. To share in the personal emancipation from our bondage is implicit on participation in these principles of grace and truth that were modeled by Christ, the apostles, and the early church. When James states that faith without works is dead, he teaches us that without adoption of a new priority system that focuses our hopes and energies outward rather than inward, we will remain trapped in our dead patterns. Being a Christ follower is transformational.
Looking back into the exodus story we come to understand why it is transformational. Although the death of Pharaoh's son had freed the Hebrew, their lives were now in mortal danger. The people of God were compelled to ACT according to their freedom. It was not possible to live in the land of Egypt as a freed Hebrew. Life could not go on as it had always been. Freedom from Egypt resulted in a situation where these people were forced to flee the place that had always been home, and instead live as pilgrims of God's kingdom. There is little in common between a slave and pilgrim. A slave has a home, a pilgrim has a journey. A slave has a duty, a pilgrim has a hope. A slave has a routine, a pilgrim has a challenge. The Hebrews went from a simple routine of home and duty, to an amazing journey of challenge and hope. Acceptance of the gift of God's freedom changed everything about their lives.
Our freedom likewise changes everything. Our deliverance from our own enslavement, transitions us from living routine lives of home and duty. It instead beckons we dive into the journey and challenge of living out hope in a fallen world. It instead summons we become living embodiments of servanthood, sacrifice, redemption, and compassion. Our amnesty is an adoption that bids us to become the very body of Christ. The church, the new found citizenship of God's people, is God with us, in the flesh. We are the bodily incarnation of Christ, and our freedom lifestyle must be a proclamation that redemption has come.
Emancipation has come to the prisoners, the far eastern sweatshop, the enslaved, the American teen , the businessman, the gambler, the pornography addict, the alcoholic and to the bondage present in the mirror. Redemption through Christ blood has liberated, and we must be the flesh of Christ present in the world participating in the trademark acts of that transformation. Our freedom indentures us to the abundant life that is lived out as self-sacrificial servants in the darkest depths of bondage present among fallen mankind. Our liberty is to be the real presence of Christ body, that is the challenge and hope of this journey we are all pilgrims in.
This is part 3 of a 4 part series I wrote for the staff of the Columbus Day retreat this past weekend at Rockford Christian Camp.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
"This is the blood of the covenant.” we have hardly no reaction to these words as they have become a rote incantation recited before we participate in a monotonous religious custom. Yet the blood spoken of by Jesus in the last supper, is the most most fundamental piece of our emancipation from bondage. The very life of almighty God was enclosed the blood of Jesus. When the savior poured out his blood as an offering of life the reality of redemption first became possible. Christ, the firstborn of creation, own spilled blood is inauguration of reconciliation out of our bondage and into the freedom of covenant relationship with God.
The nine plagues against Egypt were unable to crack Pharaoh's resolve. It was the fury of the 10th plague, the death of the firstborn son that not even he could emerge from. As the life of his son laid cold and breathless in his arms Pharaoh summoned Moses and told him, “Get out of here and be done with you—you and your Israelites!” The King's son had to die to break the toll of enslavement. The redemption of the Hebrew people was paid with the blood of the Pharaoh's son.
Other blood was shed that night also. On the door post of the Hebrew's homes was the blood of an unblemished yearling male lamb. The lamb slaughtered, like the one slaughtered in place of Issac on Mount Moriah, would be an substitutive offering to preserve life and bring victory to God's people.
The blood of the covenant was that blood. The blood of the king's son and the blood of the lamb, would unite together for the redemption of God's people. The blood of the king's son and the blood of the lamb, were powerful to liberate the shackles the people of God were prisoners to. The blood of the king's son and the blood of the lamb, were victorious in bringing union with God to this slave nation.
The blood of the king's son and the blood of the lamb, were united together in the gift of Christ. The King of King, the Infinite Almighty God, the Lord of Hosts' son became THE LAMB! United together in the unblemished savior the offering of Christ's blood became reconciliation, cleansing, sanctification, and victory to those who cover the door posts of their heart with that blood. Freedom from enslavement, bondage, oppression and death was irrevocably bestowed on those who were bathed in the redemptive power of that blood.
The blood of the king's son and the blood of the lamb, in Christ, were the blood of the covenant between man and God. No longer would man be enslaved to the bondage of his old self. No longer would life be a foreboding, lonely, march toward the grave to those who had tasted the sweet blood of the covenant. Life emancipated from the bondage of sin is realized in the blood of the covenant, that is abundant life, freedom given that we might be free, union as adopted sons and daughters of God, where our New self is seated in throne room of heaven.
When the Lion of Judah, the seed of David became the lamb slain man was brought to peace with God through the blood of the everlasting covenant. When the blood of the savior was poured out into death's caverns the veil that separated fallen man from almighty God was torn from top to bottom and mankind received a high priest whose blood would be ever poured out for their redemption.
The blood of the covenant, is the LIFE of the new creation.
This is part 3 of a 4 part series I wrote for the staff of the Columbus Day retreat this past weekend at Rockford Christian Camp.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
We had our campers go on a guided prayer journey with their counselors Saturday night. Here are the instructions for the seven stations we left the leaders.
THE CROSS - Christ Jesus paid for the debt of our sin. In this exercise each member of your group should write the sin patterns of their life onto a provided receipt. When the receipts are filled in, have your students fold over their receipt and pass it closed to their neighbor. Each member of your cabin should pray for the peer, thanking God for the gift that paid for the sins listed. Finally, have the student staple their friends sins to the cross as a reminder.
THE BLINDFOLD -Each of your students should cover their eyes with one of the provided blindfolds. After all eyes are covered, place the object in the teens hands. At this point encourage them to feel the object and decided whether to consume the object or not. If only some or none of your students will taste the object allow a few to see it and provide counsel about the object. After you have encouraged your campers to eat the object, work with them to understand how we TRUST God even when we can not “See” where he is taking us for His blessing.
THE PRAYER CIRCLE -Have each student reach into the bucket and draw out a name. Go around the circle and have each person pray for the person whose name they drew. Before praying talk about what things you should pray for. After the prayer, discuss together how they feel about some person offering up prayers for them.
THE CINDER -Have your students attempt to hold one of the provided Cinder blocks out away from the body for an entire minute. After all the students in your group have failed this task, this time start the process over however a friend or 2 or 3 share the weight of the burden. After discussing together the parallel between the shared weight of the Cinder block, and the shared weight of our sin patters. Also note our need for Christian community to share the burdens of our fallen nature. Conclude by having a member of your cabin pray for the sense of community of your group, both here and upon their return home.
AMERICA -This should be a celebration of both the positive acts of our nation and community on our lives, but also a frank discussion of the negative parts of our culture that distract us as God peoples. Together the group should discuss their connection to our culture, and give thanks to God for his choice in placing us here as a people. But also repent of the ways we have allowed our country and culture to be an idol in his place. Pray together for our leaders, our future, our relationship in the world, our soldiers, and ALL the moral decisions facing us as a people globally, nationally, and personally.
THE ART - Here is construction paper and art supplies. As you read the supplied verses have your campers illustrate the ideas God places into their minds. Work together to find the meaning of the message to your campers. Pray that God will lead them to experience the path he has planned out for them to take.
Isaiah 11:1-9 - A shoot will come up from the stump of jesse; from his roots a branch will bear fruit, The spirit of the lord will rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of power, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the lord.
He will no judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together and the lion will eat straw like the ox, the infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
Gen 12:2-3 - I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse, and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
Matt 5:3-12 - Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for the will be filled. Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for there is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Acts 5:41-42 - The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.
THE WALL - Have your students find a photograph in the magazines provided that represents a major idol in their lives. Encourage the students to share the reason for their photo choice. Glue the pictures on to the wall. Have a student our two BREAK THROUGH the wall creating a hole where your pictures were, with the provided hammer, to illustrate how we must remove those idols, to create a hole where our faith can begin to experience freedom. Pray over the students, that they would break the their wall of idolatry to move into a greater sense of freedom with God.
Emancipation, is defined as, “the act of setting free from the power of another, from slavery, subjection, dependence, or controlling influence.” As long as there has been bondage in this fallen world, people have longed to be set free. However, emancipation requires an authority with power over the oppressors, and those forces that exist to enslave do not yield their control peaceably.
On September 22, 1862 President Abraham Lincoln executed the Emancipation Proclamation officially set in motion the events that would free of all American held slaves. The event ultimately led to the bloodiest war on U.S. soil. As was demonstrated on the battlefields of our nations history, emancipation is a costly event. 700,000 deaths after the first battle at Bull Run the carnage ended at the Appomattox Courthouse as General Lee surrendered. 360,000 union soldiers spilled their blood so that emancipation could truly come to the fledgling nation state. On December 6th, 1865 the United States Congress ratified the 13th amendment, a promise that slavery and involuntary servitude would not exist in the American states. Property had been destroyed and life had been lost, but in the end the promise of emancipation had come to America. The promise of America that all men are created equal and all men should be free, had finally been fulfilled.
The exodus story is a journey of emancipation also. God heard the cries of his people's oppression. God intervened into the bondage of his son and daughters with an intent to set them free from their subjection, with a promise to bring them liberty. The process, was not without suffering. Egypt's hold on their subjection of the Hebrew people was iron clad, and the mere words of a desert nomad and his wilderness God were not about to waiver the great might of Pharaoh.
Emancipation is painful process. Their precious Nile turned to their blood. The Egyptians land swarmed with frogs, with gnats and with locusts. Pharaoh watched as the cattle died, hail fell from the sky, his citizens bodies were riddled with lice and boils, and darkness consumed the skies for days. Still the stature of Pharaoh's tyranny held strong.
The suffering was not exclusive to the oppressors. The Egyptians raised the workload, removed their supplies, and increased the beating of their slaves bodies. The suffering of God's people was so great they longed for the oppression they were familiar with. Freedom became a stench to those who did not want to bear it's toll. The Hebrew's journey to freedom, was not a marble promenade, it was a dangerous trail that while punishing the hold the oppressors retained, it also tested the limits of those desiring liberation.
Our own exodus, from the bondages to which we are enslaved, is also a pain filled journey. Our emancipation likewise requires an eradication of the comforts of our familiar places. Emancipation requires conflict, it's bottom line is always death. As we long to receive our promised liberation we must accept the adversity of the journey. As we claim our Freedom as God's people we must be remember Christ, whose body was broken and whose blood was spilled, so that the promise of freedom could irrevocably be fulfilled.
This is part 2 of a 4 part series I wrote for the staff of the Columbus Day retreat this past weekend at Rockford Christian Camp.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Bondage, the word draws up so many visual pictures to us. We see prisoners sitting in tiny cells, young girls in a far eastern sweatshop, slaves harvesting a cotton field in the 19th century American South, an American teen with a razor and another cut across her forearm, a businessman in a red light district. It's a gambling problem, a pornography addiction, or alcoholism. Not one of us has to look farther than a mirror to experience a person struggling personally with bondage. Bondage is as common the human condition as the need for water and air.
Bondage has been a part of the fallen nature from it's very inception. From the fear of God's arrival after the eating of the forbidden fruit: through the loneliness of the blame game in answering God's inquires: to the ultimate death that would occur once banished from the perfection of Eden. Once sin entered the reality of mankind, the bondage it wrought would ever plague the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve.
Bondage is as ever present in man's story as God's own presence. The Bible illustrates this as Able in bondage to pride kills his brother. This history God left to us continues with examples of bondage played out over and over in Noah, in Abraham, in Issac, and even in Joseph. Once man's Genesis story has ended the song of bondage replayed like broken record.
Act one in the book of Exodus is the story of God's people crying out from the weight of their bondage. Enslaved by the Egyptians for generations, their sons brutally murdered at birth, their people living as aliens, these Hebrews, Abraham's sons, called out to their God for freedom from this bondage.
God heard their cries, and he raised up a messenger to convey only one message, “God's people will be FREE!” That promise is as real today as it was in that African desert nearly 4000 years ago. God's story parallels our own, for in each and every tragedy of each and every man God has been faithful to his one message, “God's people will be FREE!”
The question is will you accept that freedom, and will you convey that message to those suffering the oppression of bondage around you?
This is part 1 of a 4 part series I wrote for the staff of the Columbus Day retreat this past weekend at Rockford Christian Camp.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
The high places, however, were not removed, and the people still had not set their hearts on the God of their fathers. - 2 Chronicles 20:33
My heart keeps bringing me back to this repeated warning in the narrative of the people of Judah. Jehosphat did so much good, and made so many right decisions, yet his heart and the heart of the people was not sold out to God. He loved God, and he believed in God, but he did not belong to God in the sold out way that would have turned the people from their high places and aligned their hearts with God's heart.
My first reaction is, "so what then am I to understand is the problem with the high places?" The answer is found in a better understanding of what the high places were. The high places served two functions in Israel. The most common was a place of pagan worship. There would be among other things prostitutes there to meet the physical needs of the worshipers, along with an additional variety of self centered worship icons. The other times, though more noble was still as rebellious, they were used as local centers for the worship of God. An altar, levities and other instruments of honor to God could be found present at these times. The problem, even in the periods of time when the people's hearts seemed aligned to God, was that God had ordered the destruction of the high places (Ex. 34:13 & Deut. 12:11-14), and allowed for the use of but one altar (Lev. 17:3) which was an allegorical reference to the body of Christ and his singular ability to bring salvation to the dead soul of mankind.
So then the High Places represented 4 things that were displeasing to God and contrary to relationship with him. Idolatry, Impurity, Selfishness, and Rebellion. At their worst times it was Idolatry in the worship of god's with impurity represented in the defiling of the body with the pagan prostitutes. Even at best the high places were centers of selfishness in the worship of God on the people own terms while being rebellious in the ignoring of God's terms.
I have the same high places in my heart. The same struggles are represented identically. From times of idolatry and impurity when my lusts are set on things I can see with my eyes to my better times when even still I approach God by my standard, my will, and my desires. I shy from the discomfort of the spirit's leading, and ignore the call to be more righteous and more filled with the Spirit. I have the same result. These high places keep my heart from being totally committed to the Lord. I open myself up be a victim of the kingdom of the evil one because my places exist, and my heart is not fully committed. We return again to the words of the greatest command, Jesus answered,
This is part of a series of 3 posts, I wrote about 2 years ago collectively called "No Ashera Poles". They were three personal posts and I never had any intentions really of publishing them. However I decided today to go ahead and throw them out there.
Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, "A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar" (that is, Engedi). Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. -2 Chr 20:2-3
Adversity is always terrifying. Whether you are the King of Judah and it is large armies of Edomites; or you are an average 21st century American dealing with your own struggles and addictions, the terror of adversity is the same. Adversity causes fear, fear causes desperation, and desperation causes dependence. This dependence is the reason for our adversity. The question of why do bad things happen to good people is not answered in a simple, "adversity leads to dependence" since all great issues are more complicated than a one sentence answer. Yet it is simple and true that God uses the myriad of reasons for "bad things" to allow us to surrender to him and experience the blessing of this dependence.
And he said, "Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the LORD to you, 'Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God's. Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.' Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you." - 2 Chr 20:15-17
The experience of God's deliverance outlined here is the same promise of deliverance God offers us. God offer us the opportunity to face adversity with the promise, "Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf," Paul put it this was in the well known writing about the armor of God, "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then..."(Eph 6:13-14) Three times in his introduction to his explanation on the armor of God he encourages us that our role is to STAND. God's promise is a message of deliverance. God does not call us to call him for assistance, leadership, or direction. God's call is greater, it is a call of complete surrender, it is the call to humble ourselves, and wait for his deliverance.
Our call to stand is a challenge to our pride. I am much more comfortable with Super Strong Kevin and his trusty side kick, GOD!!!! But this attitude of pride is not the path to victory. My own continued spiritual failures come from relying on God's assistance, rather than crying out for his deliverance. When we place our strength and trust in the God of salvation, the God of deliverance we will arrive at the battles of our own adversity, only to see the Lord's victory has already preceded us.
This is part of a series of 3 posts, I wrote about 2 years ago collectively called "No Ashera Poles". They were three personal posts and I never had any intentions really of publishing them. However I decided today to go ahead and throw them out there.
Now Jehoshaphat had great wealth and honor, and he allied himself with Ahab by marriage. -2 Chr 18:1
The problem here in this chapter started LONG before the battle, the lying prophets, and the search for Michaia. The problem started in Jehosphat's aliance with Ahab. I am challenged by the decision of Jehosphat to make such an alliance. Godliness, the law, and holiness are his trademarks; Idolatry, wealth, and selfishness are Ahab's.
Some years later he went down to visit Ahab in Samaria. Ahab slaughtered many sheep and cattle for him and the people with him and urged him to attack Ramoth Gilead. Ahab king of Israel asked Jehoshaphat king of Judah, "Will you go with me against Ramoth Gilead?"
Jehoshaphat replied, "I am as you are, and my people as your people; we will join you in the war." - 2 Chr 18:2-3
UnGodly alliances are easy for me to make. I align myself with people, ideas, entertainment that I know do not challenge my pursuit of God the way I claim to desire. I go to war in the name of these, not to forsake God, but in spite of my relationship with God.
But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, "First seek the counsel of the LORD." - 2 Chr 18:4
I relate with Jehosphat so much. I want Godliness, but I want these alliances. I want to justify my participation in these by seeking the Lord's guidance, but unfortunately and all to often after my decision to participate not before. I do not seek God's will for my decision, I seek God's blessing of my decision.
Micaiah declared, "If you ever return safely, the LORD has not spoken through me." Then he added, "Mark my words, all you people!"
So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah went up to Ramoth Gilead. The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "I will enter the battle in disguise, but you wear your royal robes." So the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle. - 2 Chronicles 18:27-29
Even worse is when I do not get the blessing and I keep my alliances. Jehoshaphat heard God's condemnation of this enterprise clearly and still he allowed Ahab to disguise himself and off he went into the battle. I know there are things God does not want me participating in. I have sought the Lord and he has been faithful time and again to show me His better paths, to reveal that His will falls outside of my man made alliances, and still I return to my old sin patterns, return to my old habits and ignore the leading and direction he gives. Like Jehoshaphat I choose the alliance, I have always known I should have never made.
This is part of a series of 3 posts, I wrote about 2 years ago collectively called "No Ashera Poles". They were three personal posts and I never had any intentions really of publishing them. However I decided today to go ahead and throw them out there.
Monday, October 01, 2007
So basically since Life is in the blood and Christ giving us his blood was the ultimate step of self sacrifice this means that participation in self-sacrifice is where we most experience our "life" in Christ. Our participation in the service of restoring justice to others is the ultimate form of participation in Christ's redemptive work.
The hidden value of His blood is the spirit of self-sacrifice, and where the blood really touches the heart, it works out in that heart, a like spirit of self-sacrifice. We learn to give up ourselves and our lives, so as to press into the full power of that new life, which the blood. has provided.
We give our time in order that we may become acquainted with these things by God's Word. We separate ourselves from sin and worldly-mindedness, and self-will, that the power of the blood may not be hindered, for it is just these things that the blood seeks to remove.
We surrender ourselves wholly to God in prayer and faith, so as not to think our own thoughts, and not to hold our own lives as a prize, but as possessing nothing save what He bestows. Then He reveals to us the glorious and blessed life which has been prepared for us by the blood.
The book is free online in an old english translation. A modern translation is available in paperback for only $9 on Amazon.
Power In The Blood
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
It was because of these 2 features I have begun to roll out Gmail to our company. So far I have moved our first 9 people over to Google Apps and still have about 50 to 60 more to migrate over. I am quite thankful I decided to do this is increments, since I am out SIGNIFICANTLY less money as I now have to decide whether I will be moving any other employees over to this platform.
Google Mail, once the envy of mail servers everywhere has cut the forward feature. Now whenever I attempt to add a new filter I get some message about that not being possible, making the once glorious GMail, now just another mail server.
Google has no support, and my business sales person will not return my calls, so I am left to search for a new company with all the glory that Google once featured.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
I was to meet my wife for lunch today, but sadly she stood me up :( It was the second day in a row. :( I'm starting to get hurt.
Well, so I made her lunch anyway. When she does arrive home she should find a plate of Steak Tenderloin Quesadillas and Rome Tomatoes with a Parmesan and Basil topping.
Actually in reality she has lunch plans every Tuesday that she must have forgotten when she told me to I could cook for her today. I still left out the wonderful plate of food. Just to make her fe
Where there is pain
Let there be grace
Where there is suffering
For those afraid
Help them be brave
Where there is misery
But surely we can change
surely we can change
Surely We Can Change
I do not endorse President Ahmadinejad or his policies as a national leader. I merely say that President Ahmadinejad illustrates two fronts where he is correct and it would be in the best interest of "homeland security" to take a lesson.
FEAR - SEPARATION - DEATH - These 3 consequences of the Fall are the fundamental essence of earthly power. When the U.S. government (or any earthly power) desires to grow it's influence in the world, it's only tools are fear, separation, and death. All kings and nation states have wielded these three powers from the beginning of time. War is a game of manipulation and brute force to compel the people of an "enemy" nation to embrace the idea that your people are a greater threat to their peace, their community, and their life than their current situation. President Ahmadinejad is correct when he preaches a message that says U.S. military interference in any external region leads to destabilizing of that region. Power that comes from an earthly source is ALWAYS met by power that comes from an earthly source.
PEACE - COMMUNITY - LIFE - President Ahmadinejad popularity is in his nation is off the chart, while President Bush's popularity is at a historic low. President Ahmadinejad visits the provinces, promises new services, get economic policy from his butcher, etc, etc, etc... Now please do not mistake me for a fool. I am sure he is disingenuous, and merely a manipulator who is playing the "good guy card" BUT, his popularity is at the VERY LEAST a symbol of good policy in the middle east. If we as God's people responded by providing new services, improving the social economic situation of the area, and demonstrated the love of Jesus we would be embracing a new power, a power that would surely eradicate radical Islam's recruiting power. The power Jesus encourages his followers to embrace is based on a new model. It is not the world's power, instead it the power of the cross. It is the power that lead almighty God to wash the feet of disciple and to share the message, "Whatever you did to the least of these, you did to me!" Power that encourages peace, that strengthens community, and redeems life from the clutches of death is the much greater power. Power that comes from a Godly source ALWAYS reclaims the dignity and humanity of each person as equal in the sight of our creator.
God's power, not the world's is THE source of freedom and peace!
Monday, September 17, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
4 lbs DARK brown Sugar
1/3 lb Minced Garlic
3 Cups Kosher Salt
6 Ounces Cayenne Pepper
You'll want to put most of it away until next time. I rub my meat 1 hour before I cook.
Friday, September 07, 2007
I am overwhelmed with excitement as our church prepares to begin working alongside our Hispanic brothers in reaching out this community in our area. As one of our elders sent an email announcing the beginning of Spanish classes at our building this is the response back to the entire email list from one member:
I am MOST certainly thankful that Christ did not require me to learn Aramaic, or worse to make myself righteous before he was willing to offer me salvation. I can only imagine how this might have worked out on Spiritual Scale:It seems to me we should better teach an English class to all those who want to learn. Seems like it would prove to be more useful since they have come to the United States to live.
Love you all,
Step 1: Live Sinless
Step 2: Since you failed step 1 you're already screwed, report to the lake of fire upon death.
CHRIST HUMBLED HIMSELF! CHRIST TOOK ON FLESH! CHRIST BECAME LIKE US! Why? So that we might be SAVED!!! This idea that we will only provide outreach to those willing to conform themselves to our Social, Civil, Political ideals is an affront to God and detestable to His gospel! THE KING and CREATOR did not demand his disciples take up the towel to wash his feet. HE carried the basin to THEIR feet and cleaned them by his efforts. Finally he instructed them to GO AND DO LIKEWISE!!!!
WHAT IS THE GOSPEL!!!! It is not an invitation to CONFORM to Conservative 1950 WASP ideals of Americana!!! It is not a path to better US residency policy. It is not a call to outsiders to sacrifice their identity for our convenience. THE GOSPEL is a call to SELF SACRIFICE. The gospel's goal is that we will KILL OUR ENTIRE SENSE OF SELF for the sake and name of God's Kingdom!
I sit here with tears flowing from my eyes as I type this! We must confess this arrogance and rid it from our churches by true repentance, the kind that is TREASONOUS to our former selves. WE too are only pilgrims and guest of the nation, WE ARE CITIZENS OF GOD'S KINGDOM!!! We should plant our faces to the ground, and cry out for God's mercy in the face of our arrogance!
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
In light of the email from CHC announcing Tom's new book, I visited Tom's blog and from there add him as a friend on Facebook. After adding him as a friend I saw he had received a comment from Mike Todd of Waving or Drowning which I am an occasional reader of already. Once one Mike's site I saw a reference to Pernell Goodyear, who spoke at Up/Rooted a few months back. So I surfed over and read down his blog. On his blog he had a reference to some research on community conducted by M. Scott Peck that I found very relevant to the issues of apathy and disengagement that I think plagues the church I attend.
First, read the 4 stages of community:
- Pseudo-community - An initial state of "being nice". Pseudo-community is characterized by politeness, conflict avoidance, and denial of individual differences. Let's be honest - most of us can't keep this up for long. Eventually someone is going to speak up, speak out, and the dam breaks.
- Chaos - In the stage of chaos, individual differences are aired, and the group tries to overcome them through misguided attempts to heal or to convert. Listening suffers, and emotions and frustration tend to run high. There are only two ways out of chaos: retreat into pseudo-community [often through organization], or forward, through emptiness.
- Emptiness - Emptiness refers to the process of recognizing and releasing the barriers [expectations, prejudices, the need to control] that hold us back from authentic communication with others, from being emotionally available to hear the voices of those around us. This is a period of going within, of searching ourselves and sharing our truths with the group. This process of "dying to the self" can make way for something remarkable to emerge.
- Community - "In my defenselessness, my safety lies." In this stage, individuals accept others as they are, and are themselves accepted. Differences are no longer feared or ignored, but rather are celebrated. A deep sense of peace and joy characterizes the group.
Since this stalemate between pseudo-community and emptiness settles in a longterm lodging within chaos a new category emerges that sits outside, yet alongside the progress which is the disengagement. The members divorce themselves from any sort of dependence on the community, and instead of being forced to fledge for the growth of the community, their belonging a apparition, since they are present only in body.
This ties into our lack of focus on the authentic mission of the Kingdom of God, since one can not be deeply involved in the sacrifice it takes to follows Jesus' lifestyle as an island. The dependence that is necessary to force forward the nurture of the community is the weakness one realizes when they have over expended their personal physical, emotional, and spiritual resources in serving the least of these.
The challenge to leadership is to find ways to compel membership to "fish or cut bait" by enlightening them to the destitution their independence has led them to.
"Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the Constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery-the great sin and shame of America! "I will not equivocate, I will not excuse"; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, shall not confess to be right and just...." Fredrick Douglas Independence Day 1841As I read Proverbs 28 today I continued to reflect on the same issue that has troubled me for a week now. I continued to wonder what power God's people at Cardinal Drive and everywhere would bear if our focus shifted away from the "influence" of our church in our community, to the impact of our ministry to the Kingdom. As members of our church continue to support slavery, and the exploitation of the poor through their consumerism, the blood of those poor, the sweat of the impoverished and the tears of the exploited testifies against us to God.
He who gives to the poor will lack nothing,One of our elders asked my opinion of the lack of involvement present in our church body. Our church at Cardinal Drive, and the other churches I have observed around me, suffer from apathy and disengagement because there is no joy in the pursuit of carnal kingdoms under the auspice of spirituality. The curses that fill our churches, and fill the lives of our church members, can be seen as a consequence to our lifestyle pursuits. The fact that the "Bible [is] disregarded and trampled upon." is as much true now as when Fredrick Douglas spoke on domestic slavery, though better disguised through buzz words like "globalization".
but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.
However, our callous blindness to those suffering in poverty is not just a global ignorance but an unwillingness to deal with our domestic neighbors that suffer from the darkness of poverty, both fiscal and emotional. This issue is a deep spiritual sickness in our culture. Philosopher John Berger famously noted that as a people we have realigned our priorities to further marginalize those suffering in poverty.
"The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied, but written off as trash."Even the "enemy of God" Charles Darwin, in his journal "The voyage of the Beagle," understood the defiance to our creator that is present when we ignore poverty as he wrote, " If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin."
As God's people we have become so entrenched in lifestyle choices that compel us to blindness toward the poor. Christ's compassion was deeply attuned to the suffering of the impoverished, both fiscally and emotionally, he encountered. Until we deal with the root self obsession that is an infection present in our churches, we can not correctly address the symptomatic apathy and disengagement that troubles our leadership and plagues our membership. Our spiritual impoverishment, to be cursed for this blindness, is a far more grave gallows for our future.
I personally must continue to be more transformed by the example of my contemporary heroes and friends, the Fitzjerrells, the Nowells and the Browns, to choose the wealth that comes from being a blessing to the poor.
Meant To Live
Monday, August 27, 2007
This week I rejoiced with my friends Benny and Niki as God provided an amazing miracle in healing their son. These friends son, have dealt with a crippling milk allergy that has caused him to live in fear of the consequences of food. I wept as I shared in their joy. My heart swelled as I considered the possibility of a life without Celiac.
Still the old wounds creep to the surface, and the old scars hurt deep as the barometer of my heart leans toward hope in the news of my friend's child. Academically, I absolutely believe in the power of miracles. Practically, I challenge God why he chooses to heal a milk allergy, and leave another child to be born still.
As I was struggling with these conflicting feelings toward God, I ran across this verse in my daily study.
If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor,
he too will cry out and not be answered.
I must admit, I "heard" nothing else that chapter contained. My eyes continued reading, but my heart, my mind, and my spirit stopped right there at verse 13. I found myself unable to think about anything else. I have found myself unable to move on in my thoughts for the six days since I first read that passage.
The question that keeps recurring over and over in my head is, "Have we made God deaf?" The miracles of the first years of the church are AMAZING. They stand as AWESOME praise to God. Yet, that power, that presence of God's power seems to be unfound in our world. I am left to wonder, "Where did God's power go?"
Then I hear the amazing miracle of my friends who have surrender the comfort and convenience of many career paths available to them, and instead chosen to serve as missionaries among the homeless teenagers in Boulder. The have given up the hope of the American dream, for the hope of rescuing teens struggling with physical, emotional, and spiritual addictions through the redemption of Christ blood. They have not been building the Nowell kingdom in the suburbs, instead they have been building Christ kingdoms in the dark places of American's urban refuse.
Perhaps God's power isn't present in his people like it was in the early church, because his people are present in the places where his power has always dwelt; with the helpless, the hopeless, the rejects.
I want to be where God's power is.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
"When he finishes atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall offer the live goat. Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness. "In the epistle of Barnabas the writer provides through quoting passages and interpreting symbols not recorded in the scripture adds flesh to actual way in which the people of Israel practiced the ritual of the scapegoat. The author writes of "crowning the goat with scarlet wool" and how the one leading out the goat to freedom would entangle the wool crown in the thorns of a shrub. He shows how the two goats represent Christ crucified and Christ resurrected. He then interprets the meaning of the wool in the brambles portion of the ceremony for his readers:
Epistle of Barnabas 6:14-15
But what then signifies this, that the wool was to be put into the midst of the thorns?The author's quote by Christ here is not found in any gospel account, and yet it is also used by Paul after his stoning in Lystra in Acts 14:22. I am forced to consider the quote as I reflect on my current thoughts about myself and the church I am a part of.
This also is a figure of Jesus, sent out to the church. For as he who would take away the scarlet wool must undergo many difficulties, because that thorn was very sharp, and only with difficulty could he get it, Christ says, "They that will see me and come to my kingdom, must attain to me through many afflictions and troubles."
The Kingdom of God (scarlet crown) is placed inside the the church (the thorn bush) and there is great suffering if we are to hold onto the Kingdom. By the end of the first century the author (who likely based on language and writing style also wrote Hebrews) sees the fact that the church and Kingdom are not the same and that this reality must be pointed out to people.
This thorn bush is in the wilderness. The wilderness (the world) which is also your enemy since it will dehydrate and starve you, is not the greatest danger the true seeker of the Kingdom finds in the illustration. It is the sharp thorns of the church that pose the promise of affliction and troubles. Kingdom building in the church will always be met with violence since most members are more concerned with church building, or worse the church building than with expanding the redemption of Christ on the earth.
It is my prayer and my commitment that I will continue to place my hand into the bramble bush to hold onto the scarlet crown, which is the kingdom of God, despite the pain that brings me from the church.
She Must and Shall Go Free [Live Album Version]L
Since my posts have been "HEAVY" I thought I'd share photos of late night fun at the Bowman household. NO, not those kind of photos!!! This is a respectable blog.
The depth of immaturity shared by my wife and I in using our kids fridge letters to do this has no boundaries.
I must admit it was incredibly fun.
The explicit was for my mom because it uses the "p" word for relieving one's urinary tract.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Saturday, August 18, 2007
So it's VBS day at our church and I am FRUSTRATED!!! I have a holy, err I mean Wholly, no I guess Hole-ey thumb that has caused me to question claims made by our church and to settle into a feeling of frustration. Keep reading for the explanation.
I am a bit of Maverick, and do not allow myself to be helped as much as I could. At the same time I KNOW my limitations, and will rarely take on a task I am unqualified for. However! today I was forced into a task that I am GROSSLY deficient at and now I have a giant gash on my thumb. You see I need ONE and only one male, (the more masculine type not a sissy artsy fartsy type like me) to ask if there was anything he could do to help prepare for VBS. How many of these males did I find. ZERO!!! Not one out of the 60 men who worship at our church asked if I needed any assistance preparing for VBS. This left me to build the "brick maker" for our hands-on room. So after buying the wood, cutting the wood, and screwing a screw into my thumb, rather than the wood (yes I am REALLY that uncoordinated) I finshed the construction of the UGLIEST BRICK MAKE EVER!!!!
This leads me to the lies. We sent out a mailer to our community that claimed, "We are a church that values children." This is a lie. If we valued children, our men would desire to assist with VBS. If we were a church that valued children, we would not have needed to BEG for VBS volunteers. If we were a church that valued children I would not have needed to bring in a friend from another church to supplement our staff. I could go on about other frustrations, but that is just "digging up bones".
I will never understand my gender. I will never understand what makes dads desperately rework their schedules to be involved in their children's athletic lives, yet be too busy to serve in the children's ministry at church. I will never understand what makes a men able to find time to watch sports center and go golfing with their friends, yet have no time to spend time as key developers of the children's spiritual future. THIS IS A SPIRITUAL SICKNESS!!! It in an infection in the minds of my gender. I just don't get it!
I LONG for the men of our church, and for the men of churches everywhere to stop lying and TRULY begin to have a passion for valuing the spiritual development of children. I believe we can and SHOULD do better!
Jesus Loves The Little Children (Rebecca St James Album Version)
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
I think suffering is an advantage, because it aligns your hope. I was reading 1 Corinthians 13. I was reading it because I LONG to LOVE the way Jesus loved. I got to verse 13 and God revealed a beautiful "rhema" to my heart.
1 Corinthians 13:13
But now we still have faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.My experience in life has been insular with "Christian" people. As I have known them, most all of them have had their faith in Christ. Their forward looking truth has been in the promise of salvation. The faith leads them to a righteousness that is modeled in Christ, the apostles, and the heroes of faith. However their faith, is as far as their walk with Christ ever goes. I have struggled to love like Christ, because I have placed only my faith in him.
My hope, and the hopes of those I have known, are not placed in Christ. My hope is placed in my wife, my family, and my job. I hope to have a happy marriage. I hope to have children who are obedient responsible members of society. I hope to be making $150K a year. My hope, or "my treasures" as Christ also calls them, are stored up here on earth.
God spoke to me in that verse and opened my eyes to the fact that I could not achieve the "greatest of these" so long as my hope was still placed in carnal accomplishments. I could not embrace the power of agape love so long as I was the center of my treasure. As I have been busy building my kingdom, I have been unable to become like the King of the eternal kingdom.
As I begin this process of moving my HOPE to Christ. I begin to understand 3 very important truths.
1. Faith is the substance of things hoped for (Heb 11:1)- My faith takes on new dimensions with each day that I move more hope to His Kingdom rather than my kingdom.
2. There is Nowhere to Go, since only Christ has the words of life (John 6:68)- The comings and goings of this life make more sense when I hold on to the only direction that bears life.
3. Abundant Life is a good thing (John 10:10) - The saints of the persecution and the heroes of awesome faith like George Muller and Mother Theresa are marked by their embrace of abundant life. Their hope being placed in Christ's kingdom allowed them to understand that physical peace and economic comfort were mere shadows of the Abundance that was promised.
My grandfather was right. No matter what mankind takes, when our HOPE is in the KINGDOM OF GOD, when we understand that he is making all things NEW! That is the kind of HOPE I want to have!
There Is A Reason
Monday, August 13, 2007
Anglican Church of Canada:
For food in a world where many walk in hunger
For friends in a world where many walk alone
For faith in a world where many walk in fear
We give you thanks, O Lord. Amen.
Philo of Alexandria:
Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.Phillip Yancey:
The people of God are not merely to mark time waiting for God to set all that is wrong right. Rather they are to model the new heaven and the new earth, and by doing so awaken longings for what God will someday bring to passF. Scott Fitzgerald:
The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to holdSaint Augustine:
two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.
The church is a whore, but she's my mother.
Epistle to Diognetus 10
And if you love Him, you will be an imitator of His kindness. And do not wonder that a man may become an imitator of God. He can, if he is willing. For it is not by ruling over his neighbours, or by seeking to hold the supremacy over those that are weaker, or by being rich, and showing violence towards those that are inferior, that happiness is found; nor can any one by these things become an imitator of God. But these things do not at all constitute His majesty. On the contrary he who takes upon himself the burden of his neighbour; he who, in whatsoever respect he may be superior, is ready to benefit another who is deficient; he who, whatsoever things he has received from God, by distributing these to the needy, becomes a god to those who receive [his benefits]: he is an imitator of God. Then thou shalt see, while still on earth, that God in the heavens rules over [the universe]; then thou shall begin to speak the mysteries of God; then shalt thou both love and admire those that suffer punishment because they will not deny God; then shall thou condemn the deceit and error of the world when thou shall know what it is to live truly in heaven,
I do believe this is a formula to "awaken longings for what God will someday bring to pass" as Philip Yancey speaks of in his writings about the Kingdom of God.
Come, Lord Jesus