Thursday, November 11, 2010

Work of The People

As my last post stated, we are moving to the St. Louis area. It feels even more official now. Last weekend we went down to the area to find a place to rent, and instead in a whirlwind decision bought an old 3 story 6 bedroom house, sight unseen. It was a wonderful deal, and a perfect match to our wishes. The house is located in an multi-ethnic under-resourced neighborhood, only about 10 minutes from my family. Boy, does it need A LOT of work!

The house has been closed up for the past three years and is most definitely not ready for occupancy. It needs new floors on the main floor. New bathroom fixtures will be necessary in many places. Our basement, which is currently two of the bedrooms and storage space will have to be gutted and redesigned as 3 bedrooms. At this point we have no plans to address the problems (other than broken pipes if necessary) on the top floor. We have mold to remove, walls to paint, and a kitchen to re-imagine. It is not an understatement to say our work is cut out for us.

Yet, we are inspired. This has been a dream of our for a long time. We believe in the CCDA's 3Rs (Relocation, Redistribution, Reconciliation). We believe our children should be raised in an ethnically heterogeneous environment. Our dream is to be a people of love, grace, and hospitality in the abandoned places of empire.

It did not take long before we heard the "warnings." "Do they know what neighborhood that's in?" "Franklin is a rough school." "That house is in downtown." "Those old houses are nothing but problems." Each comment designed to remind us of how "wrong" this decision is. On one hand, I repeat to myself the quote I recently heard, "If your Christianity doesn't look scandalous you are doing it wrong." On the other, I am such an ingrained part of this I do feel the discontent of walking in a path that is not "safe."

We are comforted, following in the lead of other friends who have walked this path before us. Our friends Will & Lisa Samson inspire us. Others too, have cut a trail that makes this seem much more imaginable, and we are thankful for them.

Two years ago, we started a journey toward Africa, that was not to be at this time. In many ways though that was the first step toward this dream that is swirling in our heads today. It reminded us that we are part of a story not of an empire people but of a wilderness people. We are not a people of ivory towers, but a people of meals, beds, people & dirty hands.

We have work, but we are excited to embrace it!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Moving To St. Louis

For some time now our family has been debating the idea of moving down to St. Louis. Family is very important to me, and a move there puts us much closer to both sets of grandparents while also staying in a major metropolitan area. In St. Louis, where my parents already live, the kids will be immersed in a much more holistic family environment than we are able to provide as a family island here in Chicago. Additionally, we will be able to see my wife's family with much greater regularity being only a few hours from Nashville. So although this is a blessing on many levels for our family, we have not taken the plunge until now. It has for us however become evident we as a family are standing at a crossroads of several events professionally and personally that make it clear, now is the time for action.

So on December 18th a mere 46 days away, we will make the move to the St. Louis area. To tell you the truth, we need your help. Simply speaking, we need friends here in Chicagoland to help us load the truck, and we need friends in St. Louis to help us unload the truck. I need IT consulting work. If you are connected to a small business or non-profit that currently outsources your IT I ask that you would talk to the decision makers about giving my services a chance. I have 9 years experience in small business IT. Working in a small business environment I am proficient both as a web-application developer and as a network / PC technician.

To those of you here in Chicagoland we will leave behind. We will miss you! Many of you are dearly loved and we hope you will make our home a stop on your journey when you are passing through St. Louis. To those in St. Louis I am looking forward to rekindling old friendships and making new ones as well, so I hope you will make time soon to come share our table and see what community we build together.

Blessings and Peace!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My 2010 Ballot

It's election time, so I thought I'd throw out what my 2010 ballot will look like. It's quite a mix of parties and candidates, but it is consistent with my wishes to choose the best candidate based on an overlook of their entire platform.

Governor - Rich Whitney - Green - (
Attorney General - Steve Kim - Republican- (
Senator - LeAlan Jones - Green - (
House - Ben Lowe - Democrat- (
State Senator - John Millner - Republican - (
State Rep - Michelle Mussman - Democrat -(

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Peter Rollins - We are Bound to Each Other

Christianity is where we are loosed from the need to believe in some God who guarantees that life is meaningful so you can sleep well at night. So that you can say, "I know it's all going to be OK when I die, and everything is going to be great; and it doesn't really change who you are it's a belief that just makes you just function, and you are blind to the other.

But actually, God is nigh in the depth of being self. That you find God in nothing more than giving water to those who are thirsty, giving food to those who are hungry, to giving clothes to those who are naked, visiting those who are in prison, standing up for justice. Giving yourself utterly to love. You know, living by that sword, and dying by that sword. Because we all know if you live by the sword of love, you die by the sword of love & so we are now bound to one another.

- Peter Rollins

From the Sermon at RevolutionNYC, "Why the New Atheist Don't Go Far Enough"

A Comment On The Cross

The Sacrifice of the Cross is not about mere animal pain that is meant to assuage the lust of a sadistic, blood-thirsty, parochial god. It is about the revelation of the nature and meaning and way and power of a Divine Love that saves from an Enemy and a menace that the darkest phenomena of history can only but hint at. To consistently dismiss and to structurally ignore major facts in the God-given revelatory memory is to assure that little of what God intended to be communicated by this costly revelation will be communicated by it.
- Emmanuel Charles McCarthy

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Return Email Unread To A Single User

This week I had a person very close to me start receiving abusive emails from a family member. This friend asked me if there was a way to block email from that particular user without changing the email address completely. Although I first told the person, "no, it's not possible." After a little work inside the powerful Gmail program by Google I was able to relieve this person with the information that blocking mail from a single user is possible. I wanted to detail the process below, to allow others to use this amazing feature without giving up their current email address, even if they are not currently Gmail users.

If your email address is already hosted by Gmail skip to step 4.

Step 1 - Signup for a Gmail account. If you have a smart phone and your current email is with your ISP (@comcast,, this process will add a second benefit to you by enabling IMAP which is better understood as email synching.

Step 2 - In Settings dashboard of your new Gmail account go to the accounts tab go to the row titled 'Check Mail Using Pop3' and click on "Add a mail account you own" button to enter the account information for your current email address.
Step 3 - While still remaining in the accounts tab of the Settings dashboard find the 'Send Mail As' row and click the 'Send Mail From Another Address' button to complete the steps contained there to enable you to continue sending mail using your existing email address.
Step 4 - Change the settings in your email client (Thunderbird, Outlook, etc) and on your phone to check Gmail rather than checking your ISP directly.

Now we are ready to setup the mail return inside Gmail.

Step 5 - Under the Labs tab in the Settings menu enable "Canned Responses." After hitting the radio button to 'enable' make sure you navigate to the bottom of the page and save changes.

Step 6 - Using the 'Compose Mail' button open a new mail pane. Do not worry about a To: or a Subject: since you are just using the type to create the text of your response to the offending email sender. I used "Your message has been returned unopened. This user is not accepting messages from you at this time." as the automated response, but you can type any text you would like here.
Step 7 - Use the 'Canned Responses' button that has now appeared under your subject box to 'Save New Canned Response.' Give this response a name in the dialog box that opens and choose save. Exit 'Compose' window by using the 'Discard' button.

Step 8 - Near the search box at the top of the page use the link to 'Create a Filter.' This opens the 'Filters' tab in the Settings dashboard. Select 'Create a Filter.' In the From: box add the offending email address. If the offending party has multiple email accounts enter each in the From: box separated by an OR in caps. Proceed to next step by clicking the 'Next Step' button.

Step 9 - In this final step you will tell the Gmail filter how to respond when an email arrives from the chosen From address(es). You should check the box to 'Delete It' and the box to 'Send Canned Response' selecting the response created in Step 8. Select Create Filter and you are finished.

I hope that this tutorial helps others in the way I was able to help protect my friend.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Red State / Blue State Divorce Email

I received the letter below as an email this morning.

Besides it's smug arrogance and ignorance of fact, which is par for the course in our 21st century political discourse, there was a more minacious thread running insidiously through the letter

We'll keep capitalism, greedy corporations, pharmaceutical companies, Wal-Mart and Wall Street. You can have your beloved lifelong welfare dwellers, food stamps, homeless, homeboys, hippies, druggies and illegal aliens.
You can make nice with Iran and Palestine and we'll retain the right to invade and hammer places that threaten us.
We'll keep the SUV's, pickup trucks and oversized luxury cars. You can take every Subaru station wagon you can find.
You can give everyone healthcare if you can find any practicing doctors. We'll continue to believe healthcare is a luxury and not a right.

The reader is also left to assume that all these previous quotes hang on the writers demand to also keep, "our Judeo-Christian values." I wonder if the writer and those who choose to forward this email have any idea their "Judeo-Christian values" and "Jesus" have nothing in common. Sadly while these people claim their value system is rooted in the person and teachings of Jesus it seems they have NO knowledge at all of his radical humanity centric message.

"Judeo-Christian values" wants no part in poverty, priding itself as a homecoming for the greedy and powerful. "Judeo-Christian values" wants nothing to do with peace, priding itself as the sword and hammer of the world. "Judeo-Christian values" create accomplish nothing more than to make Jesus emasculated eunuch for the empire by making his admonishments to "sell everything and give to the poor" or too "Love your enemies" metaphorical concerned only with a person's "heart condition." "Judeo-Christian values" teach one to aspire to acquire before you expire with no regard to how that exploitation impacts either the creation, the created, or the creator. These "Judeo-Christian values" are a FARCE.

The time is NOW! Christianity is under an imperative to give up these "Judeo-Christian values" with their tribalistic, empire endorsing, materialistic, consumerist personal "god" for the God made manifest by a community of people addressing the human needs present now in the abandoned places those people are vested into while remaining responsible for the consequences their decisions have in impacting the greater community of the world.

These "Judeo-Christian values" are a blight, a societal cannibalism which like any parasite will destroy the host it feeds off. Frankly, from where I sit, you can keep your "Judeo-Christian values"

Monday, April 26, 2010

Can "Damn You" be Good News?

On Friday night I spoke at a 30 hour famine event using the "beatitudes" from Luke 6. However for the sake of emphasis I used the scholars version rendering of the text, because of it's "shocking" words.
Congratulations, you poor!
God's Domain belongs to you.
Congratulations, you hungry!
You will have a feast.
Congratulations, you who weep now!
You will laugh.
Congratulations, to you when people hate you, and when they ostracize you and denounce and scorn your name because of the son of Adam.
Rejoice on that day, and jump for joy!
Just remember, your compensation is great in the place of God's dwelling.
Recall that their ancestors treated the prophets the same way.

Damn, you rich!
You already have your consolation.
Damn, you who are well fed now!
You will know hunger.
Damn, you who laugh now!
You will learn to weep and grieve.
Damn you when everyone speaks well of you!
Recall that thier ancestors treated the phony prpohets the same way.

But to you who listen I say, love your enemies...
On the way home my lovely wife asked me, "Where was the good news in that message?" She was concerned that the teens of our audience would have left feeling more judged and more hated by a God who has been constantly misrepresented already. Although I think that the transition to salvation as transactional between God and man clouds the ability to "hear" the good news, I will not go into that for the purpose of this post. Instead I want to focus on the text itself, and draw out the "Good News" that is very present in this text, even for the oppressor (the rich, the well fed, the laughing).

To begin, I want to ask the reader to take off any lens you have as you come to the text that inclines you to hear the text in an individualistic way. This is hard in the western culture of America, since we are a culture of rugged individualism. However I think it is necessary to understanding that this message, as well as the totality of scripture is directed to communities rather than individuals.

So the text compares two communities, the oppressed community and the oppressor community. To the oppressed community Jesus admonishes them, "your weakness is strength" to the oppressor community Jesus warns them, "your strength is your weakness." Jesus reminds those who have been scorned that they are loved by God. Jesus warns those who have perpetuated that scorn that they are loved by God.

"WAIT," you might be thinking, "he told the oppressors "Damn, you" are you missing that is not an encouragement but a scold?" I did not mistype. Jesus expresses love to this group by foretelling to this group where the institution of oppression leads. History is full of examples of as society's rise up, and then eventually collapse in revolt at the hands of the oppressed.

Let me have you read a story by Clay Shirky:
In 1988, Joseph Tainter wrote a chilling book called The Collapse of Complex Societies. Tainter looked at several societies that gradually arrived at a level of remarkable sophistication then suddenly collapsed: the Romans, the Lowlands Maya, the inhabitants of Chaco canyon. Every one of those groups had rich traditions, complex social structures, advanced technology, but despite their sophistication, they collapsed, impoverishing and scattering their citizens and leaving little but future archeological sites as evidence of previous greatness. Tainter asked himself whether there was some explanation common to these sudden dissolutions.

The answer he arrived at was that they hadn’t collapsed despite their cultural sophistication, they’d collapsed because of it. Subject to violent compression, Tainter’s story goes like this: a group of people, through a combination of social organization and environmental luck, finds itself with a surplus of resources. Managing this surplus makes society more complex—agriculture rewards mathematical skill, granaries require new forms of construction, and so on.

Early on, the marginal value of this complexity is positive—each additional bit of complexity more than pays for itself in improved output—but over time, the law of diminishing returns reduces the marginal value, until it disappears completely. At this point, any additional complexity is pure cost.

Tainter’s thesis is that when society’s elite members add one layer of bureaucracy or demand one tribute too many, they end up extracting all the value from their environment it is possible to extract and then some.

The ‘and them some’ is what causes the trouble. Complex societies collapse because, when some stress comes, those societies have become too inflexible to respond. In retrospect, this can seem mystifying. Why didn’t these societies just re-tool in less complex ways? The answer Tainter gives is the simplest one: When societies fail to respond to reduced circumstances through orderly downsizing, it isn’t because they don’t want to, it’s because they can’t.

In such systems, there is no way to make things a little bit simpler – the whole edifice becomes a huge, interlocking system not readily amenable to change. Tainter doesn’t regard the sudden decoherence of these societies as either a tragedy or a mistake—” Under a situation of declining marginal returns collapse may be the most appropriate response”, to use his pitiless phrase. Furthermore, even when moderate adjustments could be made, they tend to be resisted, because any simplification discomfits elites.

When the value of complexity turns negative, a society plagued by an inability to react remains as complex as ever, right up to the moment where it becomes suddenly and dramatically simpler, which is to say right up to the moment of collapse. Collapse is simply the last remaining method of simplification."
As Shirky foretells the fall of complex society, Jesus in this text also warns of the downfall of living atop the oppression food chain.

Jesus illuminates that both sides of the oppression equation, the oppressor and the oppressed, are caught in slavery to the violent system that oppression is. Jesus tells both groups that they are loved by God, by planting the very seed of hope needed by both groups. Jesus is not condemning the individual, instead he condemns the societal grouping, the institution, that enslaves each community.

To put this another way, in a way I know might offend many of you but captures the gist of Jesus' words with contemporary relevance, the text could read, "Damn you America your military corporate imperialist machine will crumble." Jesus can condemn the institution of American exploitation and oppression. This is not a condemnation of the individual but rather, as with all others on both sides of the oppression equation, a recognition that slavery to that machine is damaging to the humanity of it's persons.

The slavery to oppression is a cruel master no matter which side of it's violence you are seated in. So Jesus offers the only alternative to violence to everyone willing to hear the alternative, "Love your enemies." By embracing the shared humanity of all persons the cycle of violence is broken. The oppressed can see the humanity of the oppressor and therefore feel his oppression. The oppressor can see the humanity of the oppressed and therefore feel her oppression. Enemy love is the great radicalizer. It frees all to stand in freedom; freedom with God, and freedom with fellow humanity.

The invitation to embracing uncompromising love makes Jesus' "Damn You" an invitation to freedom. Enemy love ends the cycle of violence, though often it's participants feel the burning from both sides of the cycle. Enemy love joins all once divided by social fences back to oneness. Enemy love is the mystery through which creation reconciles back to God. Enemy love is not transactional, it is the relational cradle of new life. Enemy love is the extremist act whose seditious ripples topple the violence of oppression. Enemy love is Good News and all structures and institutions that prevent one from experiencing it be damned!

Friday, April 02, 2010

Jesus: The Pascal Mystery

As I was preparing to write my thoughts for this Good Friday I wanted to do a little reading to prepare myself. I had some unique observations last night as we ate a ritual meal with friends that I was wanting to share. I will not write those thoughts, well not exactly. As I was reading and preparing I came across a speech by Richard Rohr from 2005. In 1 paragraph during the speech he succinctly, and with far better words than my own put these thoughts together. So instead of my own thoughts, I feel much more compelled to just give you that paragraph.

The Pascal mystery might not be a phrase that is familiar to all of you; it is a phrase that was coined by Augustine as he was trying to describe the Christ mystery. The mystery is that life and death, loss and renewal are the two sides of everything and you dare not separate them. If you do, you have reality falsely defined. If you have reality unfairly defined, it will not lead to enlightment, it will not lead to truth. For Christians the Christ mystery of “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again” is a mythic acclamation that describes that transformative movement from death to resurrection. I hope I’m not being too cynical in saying this, but I don’t think we really want to walk that mystery ourselves, so we worship it in Jesus. Now let me explain that. This theory is exemplified in the recent movie the Passion that’s gained so much notoriety and fame. You know, Jesus never once said, “Worship me,” he said, “Follow me.” One of the cleverest ways to avoid following someone is to worship him, it really works, it's very clever. You just put him on a pedestal, you make God out of him and you pay all kind of homage to this God figure and then you don’t have to do what he did. All he was doing was walking the journey of a good and full- blooded Jewish man into love and he died a good full-blooded Jewish man on the path of love and when you love that is where it is going to lead you. You’re not going to fit into the system as it usually is structured which is not usually in the direction of love. It is usually structured in the direction of power (and not necessarily in any kind of descent, certainly the Roman empire would have been structured in the ways of ascent). There is no way he was going to fit inside of that world and inside of that culture. We use Jesus to answer a problem.
If you would like to read the enitre speech you do do so by following this link -

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dane Potts: A Personal Note

“Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one.” -John Lennon
When Dane first arrived to live with us, it was autumn and we'd sit outside on the patio for hours. We talked about music, pain, God, movies, camp, and Ashley. It was in one of those talks where I was schooled in the “appreciation” of AC\DC. One night we came upon the subject of The Beatles. Now let me out myself to you all, in the same way I outed myself to Dane that night. I am fairly Beatles ignorant. So I got educated, I learned why Sgt. Pepper is the greatest rock album ever, and why Yellow Submarine is still a more important album, or something like that. Although I am sure the Beatles fans can correct me as to the details of my “lesson” that night, for me the thing I remember most was transitioning into talking about John Lennon. For those of you who have never picked up on it, I am a bit of a hippie, so Lennon was a subject I could get into. Talking about Lennon, got us talking about 'Imagine.' Talking about 'Imagine' got us talking about God. That's how it was, our conversations were tapestries, and I am bundled up in the warmth of the memories tonight as I face this cold news.

Dane is not here anymore, as Christi put it so eloquently tonight, “the piece of God that lived in Dane is what I will miss” I agree. There is more to Dane that I will miss than I could possibly write in a letter like this.


I'm back, after 15 minutes of more crying, punching a wall, and still more tears, I am back. I won't pretend that life in the Bowman house is a field of roses, there were good times and bad times. That's what it means to be part of a family. Dane was family.

I am sure many of you have similar experiences. Dane was so talented at making people feel loved. I loved to watch him insert himself and love people. I know many of you were the recipients of that love. Dane talked, laughed, played, and dreamed with you. You love Dane, because you too have memories of that laughter, of those games, and of your shared dreams.

I have such wonderful memories to treasure up. The night we talked about The Beatles, Lennon, & Imagine, we dreamed together too. We dreamed of a retreat that would be shaped around these themes of God we both loved in the lyrics of the song. We dreamed of a retreat called Imagine. We even designed the T-Shirt. We realized eventually, this retreat was a futile, since some people would be pretty offended by a retreat based on lyrics by John Lennon. Still I treasure that we dreamed a lot together.

Treasure up your memories of Dane. Remember his mom, his aunt Cyndi, his girlfriend Ashley, and those others close to him as they mourn. Remember to thank God, for how you felt loved, and maybe learned to love better because of Dane. Remember Dane for what he meant to you, and to your sense of being in family with him.

I know my family seems one person smaller tonight.

In Memory Dane Potts:
May 20, 1990 – March 10,2010

Monday, March 08, 2010

Glen Beck & Social Justice

I have been recently on a series of posts looking at Jesus. The point of this has been to distill down how I am understanding the words, teachings, and ministry of Jesus at this point in my journey. I am continuing forward with that series. I am currently writing the "Prayers of Jesus" and will be posting that soon.

However, the stir created over Glen Beck's much reported comments on his radio program has caused me to desire to post some thoughts originally part of a conversation on Facebook on here.

Recapping the original Glen Beck quote:
I beg you, look for the words 'social justice' or 'economic justice' on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church?

After these comments by Beck I set my status to a quote by John Allan Bankson (@knowtea).

I'll continue to preach social justice because Jesus did. I pity anyone who gets his/her theology from Glenn Beck.

A friend of mine responded with his endorsement of Glen Beck's ideas.

So this was originally offered as my response to him. I am now posting it as my response to Mr. Beck and those others who would claim that Jesus' message is easily harmonized with the republican motto of "individual freedom and personal responsibility"
Being born into the most privileged class of the most powerful empire on earth, it is easy to be sold on the imperialst creed of 'freedom' and 'personal responsibility'. However great those ideas are, and I do believe they are great ideas, there are causes and complication beyond those ideas.  Loving people requires we (I am speaking to those like myself born of privilege) look to understand the systemic inequality and emotional complication those inequalities make manifest in the world.  

This does not mean we look to the state for answers to the systems of oppression. I am not supporter of using the empire as vendors of good & services.  Coercive power, even when being used for "good" is an enemy of love.

Instead we practice a new creation, a powerful transformative force rooted in economic justice.  We empty ourselves of privlege, entitlement, and power, to suffer in solidarity with, and to creatively empower new realities within oppressed peoples.

Look at the life and ministry of Jesus. Whether it's Healing the sick, giving the blind sight, setting the oppressed free, and proclaimg God's love among the poor that he promised in his ignaugral adress and traveled from village to village to practice, or  touching the unclean, eating with the outcasts, and speaking against an oppressive religious system which ultimately got him executed as an insurectionist; Jesus message was FIRMLY rooted in social justice.

The power of social justice is one of self identication as equals to the poor and disadvantage.  Social justice is the word of God, (love your neighbor) taking on flesh.  Incarnation is social justice, and I would tell anyone, if you're NOT hearing social justice in your church then leave, because they are preaching a different Jesus than the one recorded in the gospels.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Jesus: His Commands (Follow Up)

This is the follow up to a 14 part piece. Start here to read it through:

As I reread my entire piece today, I am struck by such a sense of inadequacy of these words. I am earnestly attempting to live out the commission to "follow me." I read these commands compiled so succiently, and I get a lump in my throat. I do not dine as equal with the poor, I have not sold everything and given to the poor. Both my hands and both eyes are still in place, though they most assuredly cause me to sin. I focus on the temporal, I serve non altruistically, I forget to remain a child, and I bear a yoke that does not come from my teacher.

It would be easy to see the weight of these commands and walk away, content to live in a "Spiritualized" reading of the text. It would be easy to look here and say, "I am saved by grace, admission paid for entrance into heaven." and feel no obligation to be affected by these words. It would be easy to reduce "Love your enemies" to a statement on church politics, while supporting the military industrial machine that works to obliterate it's enemies. It would be easy to support "Love Your Neighbors" looking around my suburban neighborhood at homogeneity of neighbors like me, while oppressing those around the nation and world who do not worship, marry, eat and earn like me. It would be easy to "Be Born of The Spirit" if this is about a tingly feeling from the rhythmic pulsing music of the worship band while ignoring that the Spirit of God first led Jesus to a wilderness to suffer and ultimately to a death as an insurrectionist against the state. It would be easy to make these words moral platitudes rather than face the reality that this is the clear action required for being discipled relevant to the here, the now, this place of time, space, and matter.

I offer this follow up as a bridge-way. Tomorrow I intend to continue on, looking at the "Prayers" of Jesus. I believe that if we don't come to speak the words and heart of the Christ, back to the father, who's Spirit rested on Jesus, then we will never experience a sense of God's "doing" in the world. Our commission as the followers of Jesus is to Love God, Loving People, preserving and illuminating the world with the divine light that fills new creation and proclaims resurrection the the places and things destroyed as casualties to this empire.

Here What The Spirit is Speaking, Let Jubilee be sounded!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Jesus: His Commands (14 of 14)

This is part 14 of a 14 part piece. Start here to read it through:

Judge with Proper JudgmentJohn 7:24 – This command would seem opposite of Jesus' command to not judge. Two things that I note here, one is that the religious leaders who this is specifically directed are already judging, so Jesus commands them, in light of the reality that how we judge we will be judged, to judge rightly. The second thing I note here, is that this is not a judgment of a person's actions or moral standing, instead Jesus reminds all listening to see the fruit of those who speak and anct on behalf of God, and use wise discernment to see which are producing the kind of outcomes that are in line with the God of justice and mercy.

Come Thirsty John 7:37-38 – Jesus once again invites those who wish to follow him to come with their inadequacies. As he has stated elsewhere, this is not an invitation for those who are spiritually healthy, and well provided for. This is an invitation where we are commanded to come broken and receive the power of resurrection, to receive a new spirit!

Wash One Another's FeetJohn 13:14 – Jesus instructs his followers to take the position of servant to each other. The family of God must not be a place of politics and posturing, instead it must be a place of servanthood. Jesus illustrates his commands of intentional emptiness before commanding those who follow the way to practice the same. Each relationship of our life, should challenge us to deeper language and practice of service.

Love One AnotherJohn 13:34-25 - This command is repeated several times in this last conversation Jesus will have with his disciples. Love must define the follower of Jesus. The apostle John writes elsewhere that “God is Love' so if God's incarnation expression of his immanence on the earth is to be realized through the actions of those who follow in the way of Jesus, the our selfless sacrifice and intentional emptiness must lead is to the place of becoming love embodied. Jesus followers will be defined by their love.

Keep My CommandmentsJohn 14:15 — Jesus concludes his time of teaching much the same way he started it. The ministry and mission of Jesus was defined by these commands, and he asks his followers to be defined all the same. It is in following these commands that we as conduit's of God's Spirit, can join Christ in selflessness, emptiness, and divine light. It is in these commands, rooted in God's love, manifested in his mercy and justice, that we practice resurrection as an insurgent kingdom against the kingdom of this world. It is in these commands that we are filled with, and bring new creation to the broken, dark places. It is in following these commands that we preserve and illuminate the world. It is in these commands that God is incarnated, and continues to dwell in the neighborhood of humanity.

I also posted some Follow Up thoughts to the commands.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Jesus: His Commands (13 of 14)

This is part 13 of a 14 part piece. Start here to read it through:

Dine as Equals with the Poor Luke 14:12-14 – Following the way of Jesus is not possible if we are not able to see ourselves in solidarity with the poor. Intentional emptiness calls us to give up our rights, and in selflessness realize that the practice of resurrection is not a practice that makes us savior to the poor, instead it is entering the new creation economy and living equally with the poor so that together there is enough.

Obey UnselfishlyLuke 17:7-10 – One does not follow God for a reward. Like other warnings about receiving glory from men, and desiring prosperity, Jesus reminds that the Jesus follower participates in God's kingdom, because that is the kingdom he is a citizen of. Do not expect special reward for your participation in God's work.

Do Not Profit Off God's NameJohn 2:16 – Jesus is overwhelmed at the temple for what it has been turned into. In God's divine order, the temple had a place of worship for the entire world. However, the space for the message of God's love for the world had been replaced by those seeking to profit for themselves off others devotion to God. This is a strong warning to the Jesus follower to not find themselves using the things of God to their own financial advantage.

Be Born of the SpiritJohn 3:5-8 – Participation with God's work in the world does not begin with us. It is the spirit of God, poured out like the wind, that initiates the person into this life. It is not by superior wisdom, personal decision, or moral merit that a person is empowered to live by the Jesus way. Instead, it is God's work, being spread throughout the creation, that begins the work in us to follow Jesus into selfless sacrifice and intentional emptiness.

Don't Focus On Temporal -John 6:27 -There is a tendency by those who are not hearing God's voice calling them into practicing resurrection life to come looking to Jesus to meet the temporal. Jesus commands the followers of the Jesus way not to be fooled into using his name to meet there temporal needs. Jesus warns his followers not to think there are deeds or behaviors that will serve as incantations to receive God's favor. Instead, God's work in the world is new creation.

Continue Reading Part 14 of 14

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Jesus: His Commands (12 of 14)

This is part 12 of a 14 part piece. Start here to read it through:

Fear Not, He is Risen Mark 16:6 – As has been well illustrated in many of the previous commands followers of Jesus way participate with God in his resurrection work of bringing new creation from to the broken places of this kingdom. Jesus commends his followers here to remember that the first born of the resurrection is risen, and God's redemptive has been empowered. Despite the appearance of success by this world and it's kingdom of death, God's kingdom is advancing.

Be MercifulLuke 6:36, Luke 10:37 – Practicing compassion is not the default nature of a life following the conventional wisdom of this kingdom. When Jesus teaches Be merciful, as your father in heaven is merciful, he teaches that in contrast to the religious leaders of his day who used “Be Holy, as I (YHWH) am Holy” quoting God as a tool against those struggling with brokenness. Jesus teaches that mercy to the broken places of this kingdom, is living out the very heart of God.

Give Them Something To EatLuke 9:13 – Participation in what God is doing. The disciples saw a problem, in this case it was hunger. God too in our lives will open our eyes to the needs of those people whose lives have need. When God opens our eyes to hurt and needs of others it is our duty to respond to God and meet those needs.

Give to Those In NeedLuke 11:41 – Religion teaches that a system of rules, and adherence to policy is the mark of purity from God. Jesus however challenges the idea that personal piety and traditions are able to clean the heart. Heart cleanness, comes from the awareness to are forth following response to the suffering and brokenness of those who have need.

Guard Yourself From GreedLuke 12:15 – It is common thinking in the wisdom of this Kingdom to see wealth as a sign of favor from God. I recently heard Andy Stanley point out that wealth is all the “extra” we have in our lives. My extra clothes, my extra rooms, my extra car, my extra spending money, etc. We live in a culture of so much extra, and it is our inclination to see that extra for me. Jesus sternly warns that when our resources are expended on ourselves, then our richness is found in those things, rather than being found rich in God.

Continue Reading Part 13 of 14

Monday, March 01, 2010

Jesus: His Commands (11 of 14)

This is part 11 of a 14 part piece. Start here to read it through:

Stay With MeMatthew 26:35-45, Mark 14:32-41 — Three times as Jesus prepares for the cross he asks his disciples to stay present in his suffering. Christ asks all followers of the way to stay present in his suffering. There is no resurrection without death, and we therefore join Christ in the selfless emptiness of incarnation, death, and resurrection , filling all the brokenness of this kingdom with the immanent presence of the Kingdom of God.

Make DisciplesMatthew 28:18-20 — The Jesus way is a self replicating organism. Jesus orders his followers as they are going in the goings of life, to replicate his selfless sacrifice and intentional emptiness, thereby being the incarnation of God's redemptive justice and mercy on earth, the preservation and illumination of the creation by God's divine light. In doing this, to train those others God has commissioned to this same task.

Have Faith In GodMark 11:22-24 – Dependence on the intangible is very difficult. Jesus uses a tangible example to those followers present with him to illustrate God's provision for the work of reconciliation. Those dependent on the conventional wisdom of the kingdom of world place their faith for provision in expertise and income. God's economy of enough is available to meet the needs of provision for the redemptive advancement of the Kingdom of God.

Beware of Religious ProfessionalsMark 12:38-40 – Religious experts are easy to find. Most every church employs one. Like the religious leaders of Jesus' day the quest for power and prestige gained by speaking on behalf of God is alluring to a person's selfish pride. While not condemning all professionals in religion, as a generalization Jesus however sternly questions integrity and motivations of this career path.

Stay FocusedMark 13:33-37 – As anyone charged with a task, so Jesus reminds his followers to be ready for the return of the master. Otherwise put, as the house servants would keep up the house ready to the masters preferences, so followers of the way should remain focused on the mission of God in the world.

Continue Reading Part 12 of 14

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Jesus: His Commands (10 of 14)

This is part 10 of a 14 part piece. Start here to read it through:

Love the LordMatthew 22:37–38, Mark 12:30 , Luke 10:27 — Religious piety demands there be a system of easy assessment to the nature of a person's standing before God. Instead Jesus leaves his listeners with a command that is essentially unattainable. Jesus sets the entire success of living the Jesus way to a wholly obsessed physical, mental, and spiritual embodiment of participation in the immanent presence of God's divine spirit which permeates the entirety of his creation.

Love Your NeighborMatthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27 — Practice of the “second commandment” is so contingent on participation in the first. It is when God's permeating presence and work is recognized in the entirety of creation that our selfish desires are eclipsed to be capable to wholly participate in God's reconciliation work. It is only in total obsession to the fullness of God, that we can be fully emptied to work as conduits of God's compassion and mercy, fully participants in the divine loving renewal of the creation.

Watch Against DeceitMatthew 24:4-7, Mark 13:5-8, Luke 17:20-21 – Many people, groups, organizations will claim to speak with the authority of Christ. Many will want to manipulate the desire of the genuine follower of Jesus' lifestyle to their own gain. Others will threaten to destroy and even destroy those who are genuine in their selfless loving participation in God's justice mission in the creation. Jesus warns his followers to trust the “law of love” that burns inside as the preservation and illumination of the themselves and of the world.

Be Alert To God's WorkMatthew 24:36–44, Mark 13:9-13, Luke 21:8 — The world is full of would-be messiahs and self proclaimed saviors. Jesus warns his followers to stay attuned and participating in the divine redemptive work of God's own in the creation.

Eat My Body, Drink My BloodMatthew 26:26–27, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:14-20 — These two commands are well beyond the scope of any satisfactory discussion in a post of this magnitude, and to be rightly handled would require at least an entire post dedicated to the combo and could be more fully worked out in at least a post for each. Suffice to say, these commands orient us to the position and posture of the Jesus follower in the world. Like Jesus we embrace the emptiness in order to be consumed as participants in Christ's brokenness which leads to new creation.

Continue Reading Part 11 of 14

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Jesus: His Commands (9 of 14)

This is part 9 of a 14 part piece. Start here to read it through:

Do Not DivorceMatthew 19:3-10, Mark 10:10-12, Luke 16:18 — Although the religious leaders posed a question to trap Jesus in an answer that would make Herod unhappy, he responds with a opportunity to remind his listeners not to give way to a stubborn selfish heart, that makes decision by convenience and emotional feelings, rather than by the selfless sacrifice his life was embodying..

If Possible, Do Not MarryMatthew 19:11-12 — Once again, Jesus offers a second command that reinforces the fact that the Kingdom of God should be placed before all institutions and traditions of culture and self satisfaction. Here Jesus commands that those to whom it is possible, should avoid marriage all together, thus surrendering their rights to it's pleasures and privileges in order to be fully consumed by participation in following Jesus.

Sell Everything, Give To PoorMatthew 19:16-22, Mark 10:21, Luke 12:33, Luke 18:21-22 – Scholars and preachers have tried everything to make this text say something other than what it says, or to make it a personal command to this one rich man, despite it being given as a general command in Luke. Applying to just the rich man therefore somehow dismisses it's application to the broader audience of all Jesus followers. I admittedly wrestle myself with the meaning and application of this command. Although, I have not been remotely conformed to fully embrace this command, I believe that the fullest ability to be the embodiment of our commission to preserve and illuminate the world is hindered by our resistance to practice this command.

Choose the Servant PositionMatthew 20:26–28, Mark 9:34-35, Mark 10:43-45, Luke 22:24-27 — Here Jesus changes everything the kingdom of this world says about power. His followers are ordered to pursue the way of Jesus in an ever increasing commitment to downward mobility. Jesus puts no lower limits on the position of service his followers should be moving toward. Instead, his path is to ransom others through willing emptiness to enter their place of slavery, and remain in solidarity to their brokenness. It is in selfless sacrifice of solidarity with the broken that the practice of resurrection is borne.

Give Caesar Caesar'sMatthew 22:19–21, Mark 12:15-17, Luke 20:25 — One can not pursue citizenship in the Kingdom of God while hoarding the property of the kingdom of this world. Like commands before it, the followers of the Jesus way must live with open hands. There is no room for allegiances and properties other than the allegiance to the joining in God's redemptive work of justice and mercy. Whether it be the literal money owed in taxes, or the surrender of all other property that belongs to the world. Once again Jesus confounds our conventional need to hoard and protect my own self interests.

Continue Reading Part 10 of 14

Friday, February 26, 2010

Jesus: His Commands (8 of 14)

This is part 8 of a 14 part piece. Start here to read it through:

Get Up, Do Not Be Afraid!Matthew 17:5-8 — As the apostle John points out, Jesus is the way and the word of God. As the way and word of God, Jesus will be revealed in his glory in the midst of our lives. Jesus instructs his followers not to fear, diminish, or dismiss the divine vision of God's work, but instead to embrace the mystery and revelation, and live on not in fear, but in realization of the revelation of God.

Become Like A ChildMatthew 18:1-4, Luke 9:48, Luke 18:16-17 – A friend recently told my 5 yr old that the reason why she was beautiful and he and I (also mid-thirties) were ugly was because she had come from more recently. I thought it was very cute, despite the implications of following it through to the end. However, challenging I find the idea being seriously considered in term of physical beauty, not that my friend intended it to be taken seriously, it must be very seriously considered in terms of the ugliness of our Spirit. Jesus commands us to not follow the pattern of the conventional wisdom of this kingdom, that darkens and ages the spirit through the constant ebb and flow of life's pain. Instead we are commanded to stay near the Spirit of God, our divine light constantly flowing out of spiritual proximity to his Spirit of justice and mercy.

Protect ChildrenMatthew 18:6-7, Mark 9:36-37,42 , Luke 17:1-2 — Continuing the thought from the previous segment, Jesus commands his followers to not only remain childlike themselves, but also to be diligent to protect the virtue and innocence of children. Jesus is not ignorant to the reality that devastation and pain will come into an individuals life, but he reminds that one's own spirit is destroyed by their participation in the damaging of the child's innocence.

Go to OffendersMatthew 18:15-17, Luke 17:3-4 — Bitterness destroys the spirit of the one who holds onto it. Slander and gossip do not work to dispel the bitterness but rather to strengthen the position of the who feels their rights were violated in an encounter as the offender is further demonized in the assurances support by the hearers of the gossip. Alternately, when one humbles themselves and seeks the path of selfless sacrifice that requires listening to the other's understanding, baggage, and perspective on a conflict, the encounter becomes a bulwark against bitterness and instead builds bridges of trust and justice between the parties involved.

Forgive OffendersMatthew 18:21–22 — Forgiveness is nearly impossible without the intentional decision to empty ourselves of our rights and instead take personally take on the consequences of our offenders actions. Forgiveness is rooted in the justice and mercy of God. It grows up, as testimony to the power of practicing resurrection in the new creation of life that is built in the space where the brokenness of the original offense started.

Continue Reading Part 9 of 14

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Jesus: His Commands (7 of 14)

This is part 7 of a 14 part piece. Start here to read it through:

Take My YokeMatthew 11:29 — The 'Yoke' was the requirements placed by any rabbi on those who wanted to be proven as worthy to be his disciple. Jesus offers the command to bear his yoke as the antithesis of the yoke's of the religious experts and pharisees. The best, brightest, and most disciplined would take on an extra measure of purity and study to prove themselves worthy of their masters yoke. Jesus does no offer his yoke based on purity, study, or worth. Instead Jesus offer his yoke to the weary, the burdened, and the childlike. Jesus promises a new kind of yoke, one that is good and brings rest.

Stretch Out Your HandMatthew 12:13, Mark 3:1-6, Luke 6:10 — Although not considered a general command being it was given literally to a man with a crippled hand, who received a literal healing of his crippledness. The command stands to reinforce that Jesus' kingdom is built on the rejected things of this kingdom, and it is marked by new creation in those things.

Honor Your ParentsMatthew 15:1-6, Mark 7:8-12 — In some ways it would be easy to look at this command and leave it as self explanatory, but contextually there is much more going on here than just a reminder on parent child relations. This command orders us not to be blind to God's work of mercy and justice in the world because of our religious traditions. When religion precludes us from practicing love it is not rooted in the Spirit of God.

Don't Let Your Mouth Defile YouMatthew 15:10-18, Mark 7:14-23 — Here Jesus warns that it is not failure to comply with moral purity of the religious elite that lead a person in a spiritually unhealthy direction. Instead it is the thoughts which become words that show the fruit of heart that is not seeking selflessness or emptiness.

Beware of LeavenMatthew 16:6, Mark 8:15, Luke 12:1 — In ancient times leaven did not come in convenient easy open packages. Leaven was made by allowing bread from a previous batch to mold, and then adding the molded breaded in the fresh dough. Leaven was therefore associated with uncleaness. Metaphorically speaking, leaven had come to represent sin and evil. Jesus warns that those who seek his way must be intent to discern the evil that comes with spiritual elitism, because that evil separates one's heart far from God.

Continue Reading Part 8 of 14

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Jesus: His Commands (6 of 14)

This is part 6 of a 14 part piece. Start here to read it through:

Let Dead Bury Their DeadMatthew 8:20-22, Luke 9:57-61 — Leave all other allegiances behind. The Kingdom of God is not a kingdom of comfortable homes, lavish funerals, and the comforts of this kingdom. Jesus reminds his followers that everything given by the hand of the powerful of this kingdom, will be taken away in their effort to break the will of those pursuing the selflessness of participation in God's reconciliation love

Go and Learn MercyMatthew 9:13 – The religious leaders of Jesus' day had boiled the law and prophets down to a system of piety and ceremony. Jesus rejects any notion that there is a system of behavior or a liturgy of ceremony that brings one into favor with God. Instead Jesus urges us not to attempt to 'win God's favor' but instead to synch our hearts in line with God's heart, which is practiced through mercy.

Pray For LaborersMatthew 9:38, Luke 10:2— Like Jesus' instructions on prayer in Matthew 6, this command reminds us once again that our prayers are to make God's will a reality that permeates the entirety of the cosmos.

Fear God, Not ManMatthew 10:26, Luke 10:10-11, Luke 12:4-5 — The systems of powers of this kingdom are tangible, and therefore easily manipulated to instill fear in those that challenge the systems and institutions of oppression that are the engines of this kingdom. Jesus reminds his followers that they are free to work against that machine, since all it's exploitation will be revealed.

Take Up Your CrossMatthew 10:34-39, Matthew 16:24-26, Mark 8:34-36, Luke 9:23-24, Luke 14:27 — Continuing on the previous thought Jesus gives a command that seems most harsh to our conventional wisdom. It was customary for Roman soldiers to make the condemned carry their own cross. Allegiance to the Kingdom of God will get you charged with insurrection by the powerful of the kingdom of this world. There is no way to remain at peace with those who prosper by exploitation, whether physically, fiscally, or spiritually.

Continue Reading Part 7 of 14

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Jesus: His Commands (5 of 14)

This is part 5 of a 14 part piece. Start here to read it through:

Do Not Cast PearlsMatthew 7:6 — Jesus knew the world had a great many people who would be drunk on their own self righteousness. Knowing this, he warned those who followed his way not to attempt to collude with their power for their advancement. Linking this teaching with the preceding commandment against judgementalism, Jesus warned that those who seek power, by the means of the powerful's tools would find themselves destroyed by the very allies they attempted to use.

Ask, Seek, and KnockMatthew 7:7–8, Luke 11:9-10 — Rather than the alignment with the power brokers in the conventional powers of this world, Jesus here commands reliance on a new kind of giving. The powerful of this world can give only from the resources of this kingdom. Jesus however reminds that submission to his kingdom requires reliance on the resources of his Kingdom. Ask, Seek, Knock is a promise to meet the needs of those seeking to practice new creation in the broken places of the current kingdom.

Treat Others As You Want To Be TreatedMatthew 7:12, Luke 6:35 — This command is Jesus' own “Cliff Notes” on the law and the prophets. This command is rooted in God's identity as 'Love' and reminds us again that we are to practice preservation and illumination in the world. It calls us to trust in God's promise to provide every need for the perfect reconciliation of this 'Very Good' creation. It commands us to act that way, despite the motivations and goals of the other and despite personal costs it may appear to ourselves.

Enter the Narrow GateMatthew 7:13–14, Luke 13:34 — Jesus words are not easy. Alignment with least of these and those nearest to the heart of God is no way to success in this kingdom. Jesus commands his followers to be salt, to be light, to practice selfless sacrifice as the marks of Kingdom of God citizens.

Beware of False ProphetsMatthew 7:15 — Echoed by John in Revelation, Jesus reminds that there are those who will speak the language of Jesus, but intend it to solidify their power in the kingdom of this world. Jesus warns in this command to watch the actions and outcomes to see if it is power of love that is being sown by those who claim to speak on God's behalf.

Continue Reading Part 6 of 14

Monday, February 22, 2010

Jesus: His Commands (4 of 14)

This is part 4 of a 14 part piece. Start here to read it through:

Fast In Secret — Matthew 6:15–18 — It is impossible to separate this command from the command on giving a few verses earlier. God's purposes in intentional discipline is not to server as determination of which class of holy persons we belong in, but instead to orient us in the will and vision of God for the resurrection of all things filled with life and divine light.

Lay Up Treasures — Matthew 6:19–24 — Jesus deals here once again in the uncomfortable space of his desire for us to live open handed. Noting that the eye is the lamp of the body he convicts our selfish desire for acquisition that prevents us from fully embracing the practice of intentional emptiness. Our decisions are in the crossfire of two competing masters. To put it most relevantly to our place in time and space the selfish nature of consumerism can not coexist with Jesus invitation to emptiness.

Do Not Worry — Matthew 6:25-30, Luke 12:22 — Worry is the natural outcome of unsatisfied selfishness.

Seek God’s Kingdom — Matthew 6:33 — In the absence of seeking the Jesus way, one would hardly expect selfish satisfaction to just be poured out. God's Kingdom is no different. The Way of selflessness and emptiness will not just fall from heaven. The Spirit reveals God's divine light as calls us each down the path that sanctifies us to full participation in God's perfect Kingdom work.

Judge Not — Matthew 7:1 , Luke 6:37— The Way belongs to God. Do not judge causes us to trust God in his divine work. Although we join with God in working to practice resurrection and new life, though we believe that our calling is to breathe divine light into the darkness of this kingdom, we must remember that reconciliation is God's work. This command reminds us not to fall victim ourselves to Satan's third lie, believing that we can be like God.

Continue Reading Part 5 of 14

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Jesus: His Commands (3 of 14)

This is part 3 of a 14 part piece. Start here to read it through:

Give To Whoever AsksMatthew 5:42, Luke 6:30, Luke 6:38 — At least for me, Jesus' commands to live with open hands are the most challenging. Jesus' followers must look critically into the world and live transparently in selfless sacrifice to participate in resurrection to every need without judgment to it's productiveness and validity.
Love Your Enemies Matthew 5:44-45, Luke 6:27-28 — Perfect love is never contingent on it's recipient. As we come to the reality that God's redemptive life giving work is present in his entire creation, and comes from heaven distributed equally as is the sun and rain, we realize that we have no space but to creatively finds mean to bring new life into every person we encounter, and to trust God's greater work in their lives motivated by the selfless love of divine reconciliation of the entire creation.

Be PerfectMatthew 5:48 — In the time and space between the completion of God's redemptive work and the final consummation of that work it is hard to believe we could practice this command with any sincerity. This command stands to ground us in the perspective of God. It is connected to this section on non-violent resistance, open giving, and enemy love in a way to challenge us to understand the very look of what God deems as “being perfect.” We press on to embodiment of selfless sacrifice to remember the God light that it creates is the very thing we were perfectly created for.

Do Not Use God for Self PromotionMatthew 6:1–4 — Self promotion is the opposite direction of the Jesus follower. Jesus rejects the idea of upward mobility in any community by means of “righteous” living. Paul reminds us that Jesus, “though being in very nature as God, emptied himself.” We are commanded that walking in humility before God should be the street lamps that illuminate our path; for when it is the praise of men that is a temporal reward.

Pray God's VisionMatthew 6:5–14 , Luke 11:10-4— The command of how to pray deserves an entire post to itself and I will not attempt to treat it in this small form format. Suffice to say, that the purpose of prayer is to make God's will a reality that permeates the entirety of the cosmos.

Continue Reading Part 4 of 14

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Jesus: His Commands (2 of 14)

This is part 2 of a 14 part piece. Start here to read it through:

Honor God’s LawMatthew 5:17–20 — This command is certainly a good starting point for those who wish to condemn the sick of the world. All of the “evils” of society are certainly called out in the law. However, we must remember that Jesus when asked to distill God's law to the one most important part, chose “Love God Wholly.” Then of his own addition linked that with 'Love your neighbor.' We are reminded here that God's way is a law of love that is illustrated in how we practice preservation and illumination.
Be ReconciledMatthew 5:21–25 — Jesus has a tricky way of raising the bar on spiritual wisdom high above the level of conventional wisdom. Jesus reminds his listeners that where the world stops the cycle of violence at murder, even the hate itself will burn us up from the inside. Jesus commands his followers to practice reconciliation. This is not a command merely to 'fess up and take responsibility' but instead to go beyond responsibility to the selfless sacrifice, the intentional emptiness, the counter cultural denial of self interest and personal fulfillment. Practicing reconciliation, like practicing resurrection takes on the whole responsibility for the brokenness and labors until new life and God's light fill them.
Control Your ThoughtsMatthew 5:29–30, Matthew 18:8-9, Mark 9:43-47 — Here once again Jesus raises the bar above conventional wisdom of his day. “Do not commit adultery” is bounded set thinking. Jesus commands us to be anchored in a “centered set” thought life. As Paul reminds “for freedom you were set free” and “all things are permissible” Kingdom thinking is not dictated by a checklist of in/out radio-buttons, but instead it centers us away from the selfish lust for fulfillment and redeems us from the consuming destruction that conventional self oriented thinking leads to..
Keep Your WordMatthew 5:33-37 — Truthfulness is a commission to live transparently. There are actually two commands contained here in these verses. The first is to not take oaths, and the second is to live as you speak. Transparent living does not allow for personal agendas and scheming. The only means by which to accomplish this command is to live so openly in front of others that your motives are not questioned, and your answers are not suspected. Selflessness and humble service have nothing to hide.
Practice Non-Violent ResistanceMatthew 5:38–41, Luke 6:29 — Here are three distinct commands that I have at great debt to Walter Wink, John Howard Yoder, and Mark Moore combined into one summarized version of the three. Jesus teaches here that the human tendency to “Fight or Flight” is not the only option. Jesus instead using relevant examples to his immediate audience teaches creative resistance rooted in love and redemptive practice. In other words, when faced with opposition practice resurrection by finding means to expose injustice to create space for new life and God's light.

Continue Reading Part 3 of 14

Friday, February 19, 2010

Jesus: His Commands (1 of 14)

"Jesus is Lord," places him in the position of authority. As with any leader or authority there are commands and teachings that Jesus left for those of his kingdom to follow and obey. I will do my best over these posts to be fair to highlight every command, as I have counted 69 distinct commands this will be divided over a long series of posts. It is my honest hope that this contains everything commanded by Jesus as recorded in the canonical gospels, and is my best attempt to explain how I feel in this stage of life, about the meaning and relevancy of these to my decision to live as a follower of 'The Way.'

RepentMatthew 4:17 — Followers of Christ will are to have the humility to admit that the way of life they have been living is broken and come to Jesus, as traitors to that old life. Although this is the central tenet of Jesus preaching, it is not a singular event instead God will convict over and over throughout our life to where we as individuals are living traitorous to the spirit of the divine kingdom. It is God's spirit that leads us to repentance. (2 Cor 7:10)

Follow Me — Matthew 4:18-20, John 1:43, John12:26 — On the very heels of repentance is a command that calls us to embrace submission. Each time we are convicted by brokenness present in our lives, we must follow Jesus ways in his means to live differently. Our teacher is ever asking us to more and more follow his path which is a path of selfless sacrifice and intentional emptiness.

RejoiceMatthew 5:1-12 — Living counter to the pervading culture of self interests and personal fulfillment will result in being ostracized and branded a fool. It is into this reality that Jesus commands those who are called to the join in the emptiness of poverty, mourning, meekness, hungering, mercy, simplicity, and peacemaking to find joy that their efforts have value in the realm of God.

Let Your Light ShineMatthew 5:13-16 — Salt and Light, or preserve and illuminate, is the very core of the Jesus lifestyle. The ministry of Jesus lives out this message and we are commanded to be modeled by it. Like Jesus we preserve the world by loving mercy, practicing justice, and living out humility before God. Like Jesus we work as the illuminating incarnation of God present in the world by participation in resurrection. We take the broken abandoned places of the world's kingdom and fill them with new life and God's light.

Continue Reading Part 2 of 14

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Jesus: Creeds and The Jesus Way

I grew up in a tradition that had very hard and fast rules to who was in and who was out when it came to matters of being right with God. Those who went to churches with our common name, and interpreted the Bible the same way we interpreted the Bible, were in. Everyone else was out. I once heard a well known personality in our tribe ask the question, "If God can forgive a multitude of bad behavior, why can't he forgive any thread of bad theology?" His question resonated with my young mind.

As I have grown, my circle of influence has also grown. I certainly do not read the Bible through those lenses I was given as a child. I have been blessed by the thinking of many in the conservative tradition that I grew up a part of. I have been blessed by conservative voices outside of the tradition of my roots. I have been blessed by more progressive voices in the "mainline denominations" who have challenged many of the assumptions I was taught by the lenses our tradition read through. Much to the chagrin of some, I have been blessed even by the liberal theologians. In totality I have seen that something of the nature, purpose, and mission of Jesus comes through all these voices. I have learned that since as Friedrich Beuchner says, "All theology is autobiographical" a piece of God is revealed through how each person and heritage interprets God through their story.

A common thread that I seem to hear over and over is the thread of Nicea. The common groundwork in so many ecumenical discussions is affirmation of the Nicene creed. For those of you unfamiliar with creeds let me give you the breif overview.
First Creed: Jesus Is Lord

Apostles Creed: I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended into hell. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Nicene Creed: I believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible: And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, Begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God, Begotten, not made, Being of one substance with the Father, By whom all things were made; Who for us men, and for our salvation came down from heaven, And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, And was made man, And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, And ascended into heaven,And sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead: Whose kingdom shall have no end. And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord and giver of life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, Who spake by the Prophets. And I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church. I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins. And I look for the Resurrection of the dead, And the life of the world to come. Amen.

The "First Creed" is the common creed of the earliest church. The point here was not associated with divinity, but instead with authority. The creed stood in the face of the more common imperial credo, "Caeser is Lord." This creed put the followers of Jesus into a treasonous position. To follow Jesus was to commit high treason against the state. So the first creed of the church was merely ascent to participation in this insurgency. It was an identification for those who were living in the way of Jesus, with him as their new King.

Although it's origins seem largely unknown the Apostles Creed was commonly accepted and can be found in many early church writings dating from around 180 CE. By this time, this new creed had given up it's simplicity as an insurgency against the kingdoms of this world, now to outline a more rigorous religious structure. This creed had moved from participation in a revolt for an upside down kingdom, to a set of intellectual ascents. Broadly speaking, this creed however was still non trinitarian, and more aligned to seeing Jesus as the messiah prophesied about in the Jewish prophets who would rule on the throne of David.

Nicea however takes the language of the apostles creed and expands it further. Written under the request of Constantine, this was to intended to be a tool of the state. A great deal of language was added at this point from the previous creeds. Since I am not a scholar I will not begin to question whether we should or should not trust the motivations and outcomes of the Council of Nicea. I would refer anyone interested to spend more time studying the process and motivations behind Nicea.

Like those who reared me in my faith community, I am left considering which creed we hold to most firmly. I affirm the ideas of the creed from Nicea myself, but I question if ascent to a set of theological statements is remotely what the Jesus of the gospels would have envisioned when he talked about "Believe in Me." I personally can not use ascent to the ideas of Nicea as the measure of "following Jesus." I am too affected by the message he preached, by the actions he modeled, and by the consequences of his behavior, to let him be reduced to religous system. The Catholic theologian Hans Kung said, "Jesus came to initiate a kingdom, and all we have given him is a church" My affirmation of Nicea seems irrelevant if I am not following the Jesus Way.

This brings us to a particular soap box that I enjoy. This topic of his statement to "believe in me." There are two distinct ideas at work here. Let's look at these two ideas in the context of myself for a moment. The first idea is considers my existence. Since many of you have met me, and those who have not can see the outcome of my existence by the fruit of this post when I ask the question "Do You Believe In Me" you would probably answer yes that you believe I am real. Now let's consider the distinctly other way this question is asked. If I ask my wife, "Do You Believe In Me?" She is answering a completely different question. She is answering a question of trust that will greatly affect her life. I am asking her to trust me in the direction I am going that no matter the outcomes we see this direction will be a blessing for us together.

As example I dream of working in tutoring with homeless and high risk children. I also dream of moving to Southern Africa to live among AIDS orphans. These passions are in my radar because they among what it means for me to follow Jesus. So when I ask, "Do you believe in me?" I am asking her to invest and trust in one of these dreams, and follow me, despite the cost as I make it a reality.

The Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed answer the question of, "Do you believe in my existence?" The "First Creed" answers the question of "Do you believe in me enough to follow my dream?" I make decisions and move toward the future knowing Jesus is Lord, the king of a new kingdom, a kingdom that is inaugurated by resurrection and practices new creation. A kingdom where the last is first, and the banquet table is open to the unclean. A Kingdom where I am left to ask myself, "Am I following the Jesus Way?"

Luke 4:18-19 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and the regaining of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Jesus is Lord! Let Jubilee be sounded

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jesus: The Reason We Suffer

As the Christian liturgical calendar enters lent today, I am very blessed to be at a point that my heart is much in need of the sabbath this tradition invites it's devotees into. I do not come from a tradition that practices lent, yet I am personally committed to it, since I have felt blessed in my Spirit every time I have taken on this practice.

Lent is a divine invitation. Lent celebrates a God who is in all the creation, but is greater than the sum of the creation. Lent reminds us of both the transcendence and immanence of God. Most importantly, Lent reminds us of the reason we suffer. As my friend Nanette Sawyer wrote on Twitter this morning, "Coming from dust and returning to dust means I am related to all things, interconnected with all creation." As we are connected to God's spirit, we are connected to the entire creation, so we suffer with the brokenness of creation.

Lent focuses on Jesus. Jesus, or perhaps in this case Immanuel would be better, is the reason we suffer. In Jesus, God pitched his tent in the neighborhood of humanity. Jesus, the light from Light, a man filled by the very spirit God. Jesus suffered, because God's creation suffered. In Jesus, the incarnation, God suffered. Lent focuses on Jesus, lent focuses on suffering.

Suffering is not easy for those of caught in the strangle grip of affluence. The earth groans because of suffering. The womb of God feels every tear that falls from the eye of the sex worker, the creator shivers with every chill felt by the homeless, the earth longs for redemption, while the affluent sit by our fireplaces and ponder philosophy. Jesus following will reorient us.

My goal this Lenten season is to look at Jesus, to be reoriented to suffering. I will look at the commands of Jesus, the parables of Jesus, the blessing and curses of Jesus. I will not look at Jesus as an expert, a scholar, or a preacher, since I am none of those things. I will look at Jesus as a follower, as a friend, to be reoriented to the suffering that broke his heart, shaped his practice, and ultimately led to his demise. I will look to Jesus to be resurrected in practice to a new creation that proclaims hope, life, and release.

The Kingdom of God is Risen! Let Jubilee be sounded!

Friday, February 12, 2010

God Is Love: Thoughts On Gay Marriage

“God is Love!” I join with the apostle John in remembering this truth. “Everything you do should be done in love.” I join with the apostle Paul in striving to live this truth. “Every minute build in more generous love to others.” I join with the apostle Peter in developing this truth. “As you are loved, Love!” I join with our Lord Jesus the Christ in being shaped by this truth.

Love is not a means to an end. Love is the means and the end. Love is the practice that will identify those who are the Kingdom of God. Love is a citizenship, that must pervade every element of praxis in a reborn life.

It is because of this I have stood at odds for a very long time with many people I love dearly in conservative Christianity over the issue of 'Gay Marriage.' I do not take anyone to task on their reading of and understanding of the Bible. However, I can not understand how reading a book, that calls it's followers to be a people defined by love one could ever use it as a source to demonize any class of people.

If YHWH God is love, and his are people who are known by their love; then Christianity's politicized campaign against gay marriage has cost her very identity. It is as impossible to tell a person they are “Love by God” and campaign to deny them of any civil rights, as it would be to tell a hungry man, “be warm and well fed” and leave him to starve.

I am reminded of the words of Jesus who said, “Be compassionate, as the Lord your God is compassionate.” This call to compassion must be as enveloping as the very compassion of God.

I am aware that many people who have heard countless Christian leaders press how 'Gay Marriage' is the most pressing issue to the church today may be very offended by this post. I accept that a post like this is not a perfect forum for such discussion. I ask two things if this offends you; first check out this website ( and read the words of the actual people affected by this. Secondly, feel free to think you need to correct me, that's right if you would like to discuss this in an actual human context please let me know, and I will listen to your reasons why love is not the issue and I will dialouge back with why the issue is love.

I close by going back to the beginning.
Love is not a means to an end. Love is the means and the end. Love is the practice that will identify those who are the Kingdom of God. Love is a citizenship, that must pervade every element of praxis in a reborn life.
“God is Love”