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