Nominis Iesu

Bloged in apprenticeship, metaphor by rod Wednesday December 31, 2003

Musings on The Return of the King, part II

Evil recognizes Good – Good does not have to announce itself.
In the movie, Aragorn and his companions are stopped by the oathbreakers in the paths of the dead. But in the book, he is never confronted or slowed until he stops and calls to the shadows that have been following him. He merely passes through, and the dead fall in behind. They know whom he is, for when he finally does call to them, he asks why they have come. They answer, to fulfill our oath and have peace. It is then that he confirms his identity and unveils that which was broken but had been remade.

When Aragorn looks into the Orthanc Stone, Sauron recognizes him. Aragorn, in fact, tells his friends later that Sauron saw him in different guise than they see him now. Sauron didn’t just see him and know who he was, he saw him as who he was. Though he stood before the stone as a ranger, Sauron saw him as the king.

So the power of who you are or who is in you is more important than your invoking the name of that power. In fact, there is no power at all in speaking name apart from the will of Him to whom it belongs. In the movie we sense arrogance, anger and resolve from Sauron. But in the book, his glimpse of Aragorn raises fear and questions.

God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out from them. Paul didn’t have to speak any names in order for people to be healed by coming into contact with his clothing. On the other hand, when folks tried to imitate it, they got clobbered. “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches”. The evil spirit answered, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” Paul’s clothing was recognized by the evil spirits, these men were not known even when using Jesus’ name.
The use of Jesus’ name is a concept much deeper than we have come to practice. I’ve already mentioned in these cyber pages that I think we often take the Lord’s name in vain even in prayer. We can pray in the knowledge that our prayer can only be heard because of Jesus. If we pray in this humble way, we need not close with, “…for its in Jesus’ name.” We have already prayed in His name. God knows our hearts. If we pray in arrogance or greed, and close with those word’s, no magic spell is performed over our sin. If we pray out of God’s will, “in Jesus name” doesn’t make our will His own. In fact, “in Jesus’ name” implies that one agrees with Him, seeks His will.
Once again we’re confronted with the superficial that allows us to feel secure in our righteousness. We think that we can say that we are associated with something that we don’t even understand; like the itinerant Jewish exorcists. But we won’t be recognized as His. On the other hand, if we allow ourselves to be taken into Him; if we let Him live in us, He will be recognized as He was in Paul. God will do unusual miracles and Jesus will be glorified.

genetically engineered excuses

Bloged in apprenticeship, metaphor by rod Tuesday December 30, 2003

The Fam and I went to see Return of the King again this evening. I’ve hesitated to say anything about it after I saw it the first time, but so many other bloggers are talking about it, I thought what could it hurt? So, this is not a Rod’s Review of the movie, just some thoughts that I had after my first viewing that were reiterated today. Now keep in mind that I love the movie, I just missed some things that I drew from the book. There are some concepts and truths that the movie never intended to state. I think I’ll toss them out over the next few days so that I can feel free to ramble on about them.
The first one:

The orcs in the movie are mostly portrayed as evil killing machines. As if they are robotic inventions for the sole purpose of propagating evil. In the books, they are thinking, fairly intelligent beings with free will just like the rest of us. They have decided what they will be an act accordingly. In the movie, I think this was intentional because of the amount of violence. If the audience were to sense that the orcs were anything more than machines, they’d have been offended at all of the killing. In the books, one side is willfully fighting for evil and the other is willfully fighting for good.
The ring has corrupted those who could have otherwise turned out to be like hobbits or men or elves. I think this is an important concept that is a sign of the times in our culture. No one is responsible for his choices anymore. We are all genetically or biologically wired to be or behave in a certain way and it is futile to try to be anything else. It is intolerant and judgmental to expect someone to behave in a way that is contrary to his biological make-up.
Evidently we’ve always been like this, even David after having Uriah killed to cover his own adultery, confesses and asks God’s forgiveness with a bit of an excuse thrown in. I am just a man you know. This is how men behave. It’s not entirely my fault. (I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin, my mother conceived me) But David realized that he was to overcome his predisposition as a son of Adam, to sin, and took responsibility and repented. Today, we use these excuses to avoid the need to repent, to shirk responsibility for our own greedy, gluttonous, prideful, attitudes.

point of know return

Bloged in community, friends, prayers by rod Monday December 29, 2003

I found out today that the world really is flat. Who can prove otherwise? I guess Aunt Hazel was right – all those space photos were just Hollywood images. I saw it with my own eyes. Flat as a pancake.
lighthouse.jpgToday the Fam and I drove over to the ocean. There was absolutely no wind. Tall grass on the dunes just stood there unmoving. The ocean was like glass. I’ve never seen it so calm before. It’s always choppy, rising, falling. When you look out at forever you can impose the curve of the earth on the mere 15 miles that are visible.
Today was very different though. Without the texture imposed, the horizon was straight as an arrow, as level as a… well, a level. It seemed smaller for some reason, I stood there believing I could look all the way across since it was all at eye level. I thought of Daniel over there, a mere five time zones away. I thought if I looked hard enough I might see him preparing for supper. Family gathered ‘round. Threw up a prayer. God, give Daniel a sense of joy I feel right now standing here with wife tucked under my arm and kids playing in the surf. A momentary calm as peaceful as the glassy sea. Even the wind and waves obey. Speak peace into our lives with the knowledge of You and the housing of the Holy Spirit. Implant this moment into the turbulence of the coming year. May Your peace in my life weight the burden for those who don’t know it, for those who grieve with no hope, for those in Iran whose lives have been shattered by literal turbulence.
Peace on the G and J and little squid, as they face the uncertainty of a baby ministry and depend each moment on Your guidance. Peace on Dave as he embraces change. Peace on Timbo as he rises to and is made equal to the task. Peace on Cisco as he learns to shed some salt …
May we know You in a new way.

Enlightenment

Bloged in apprenticeship, church, community by rod Sunday December 28, 2003

As I was writing yesterday’s post and quoting Neil Peart again, I started thinking about the rest of the lyric to that song, “Turn the Page”. The last verse says,
Truth is after all, a moving target – hairs to split and pieces that won’t fit – How can anybody be enlightened?- the Truth is after all, so poorly lit.
It used to sadden me that someone would think that the Truth is so poorly lit, then I realized who it is that is responsible for lighting the Truth. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world, a city on hill cannot be hidden”. We are to give light to all who are in the house. If our lives are based in the Truth, then our light will point to the Truth.
I’m sorry to stay on my soap box so much, but our Christian sub-culture, at least here in America, has long since hidden our light under a bucket. The bucket serves to protect us as we shine our lights on one another.
We’ve come to believe that shining light before men means condemning everything that they do; and standing up for our faith means lobbying lawmakers and signing petitions that seek to legislate morality. Our focus is on others’ behavior and it’s effect on us rather than their hearts and our effect on them. Are we known for our good deeds or for our speaking condemnation over the culture? Again, I’m reminded of what my 9 year-old said in his “Weekend” newspaper bit, “… if you do good other people will see you and start doing good too.”
“Let your lights so shine before men so that they might see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Plus ça change

Bloged in apprenticeship, life by rod Saturday December 27, 2003

Every day we’re standing in a time capsule
Racing down a river from the past
Every day we’re standing in a wind tunnel
Facing down the future, coming fast

Neil said that too.

I don’t think its change that we’re so afraid of, it’s that we can’t choose what things won’t change. A new year – new possibilities. Often, its more like: A new year - new inevitabilities. Its as if we let one thing change, even if its no big deal, everything else will follow suit. We lose complete control of the status quo. We don’t recognize anything any more. We can’t figure out how we fit in the new order of things.
The problem is the time capsule in the lyric above. At some point in our lives we take a snapshot of the way things are and become very afraid of anything that is not in our snapshot. But life is a moving picture, each frame only slightly different from the previous, but different. Scenes change. The movie is in fast forward. We feel like we can’t keep up, and we don’t even want to. But we are swept along.
So its hard to understand why an unchanging God changes things for us. It must be that we have got to change. We have felt You move and cannot stay the same (Robbie Seay). So as He molds us, breaks us, mends us, makes us. We’ve got to remember that He is unchanging. We are in the grasp of an unchanging God. Plus ça change, Plus c’est la même chose.
I’m with Dave on this one, I choose change.

Et incarnatus est

Bloged in advent, life by rod Thursday December 25, 2003

You’ve probably noticed a lot of holes in my blog lately. I’ve tried to pretend that I just haven’t had time or anything to say. But that’s not really true. I have had plenty to say, and I’ve said it – I just haven’t put it out there for you. But I think I might be ready to put some of it out there. I’ve felt kind of silly that I seem so consumed, especially here during advent and Christmas. I’ve tried so hard to have an uncommon advent experience, to be spoken to in a new, deeper way, to understand on a fresh level.
But I’m distracted by the encroaching departure of my dear friend. I’m feeling guilt from being distracted, torn for having prayed so hard for something and then being sad because the prayers are beginning to be answered. I’m embarrassed at feeling so deeply everything that is happening and feel guilt from being embarrassed by feeling so deeply.
Why would I try so hard to be open for a fresh advent experience and then be closed by the concurrent events?
I think I’ve found the answer. My dichotomous heart has found the connection of my conflicting foci. I know the meaning of Christmas! I feel like Charlie Brown must have felt when Linus began his monologue.
I’ve asked why we can’t be satisfied celebrating Christmas at Christmas. Has it lost its meaning? Its depth? Why do we have to pack it with Easter? Why can’t we learn from the waiting the way it has been revealed to us?
The meaning of Christmas is the birth of the God thing, the redemption process on earth. Easter is the fruition on earth and in Heaven (Revelation 5). Advent should prepare us for God’s doing through us. Christmas should always birth in us a special remembrance of God’s call on our lives, of our assignment, the coming of God’s ministry to humanity in our lives. We can’t give birth to this call without the knowledge of the completed Gospel. For that is the message that we are given to deliver as the call is birthed in our lives.
Today, a God thing is birthed. The nativity looks like a young couple with a baby headed home with the good news. All around are sheep that have been cared for, changed, and grown by this couple. Now they’re bleating prayers of boldness and protection. Other shepherds pray for them as they embark. Wise men pronounce blessings and advice and wisdom gained from their own years of experience answering the call.
On Christmas day, 2003, Jolie and Conner board a plane to Texas. Greg will follow close behind. Their journey to their native land to give birth to the ministry conceived by the Holy Spirit. A message packaged specially for a specific group of people.
God loves you Austin. And He wants you back. He’s made all the arrangements. The good news is once again given flesh, hands and feet. Incarnation. Embodiment.

light of the world

Bloged in advent, worship by rod Thursday December 25, 2003

The kids wake early. The throng around the tree is screaming you know. It’s a frenzy, but short lived. The aftermath is a room waist deep in wrapping paper and packaging. The sun has just made its direct hit, having topped the trees in the back. The living room is flooded with sunlight. Will’s suncatcher begins to rotate in the kitchen window. Tiny rainbows make their way across the walls, around the room. I am drawn to the deck. As I open the back door a titmouse flutters off the rail to a tree. There is singing everywhere, in every tree. Do they know it’s Christmas morning? Are these creation’s memories of that morning so long ago. Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth, peace and goodwill to men on whom His favor rests.
Was it a morning like this when first you opened your eyes to the light of day, full of glorious luminescence? The sun you spoke into existence, blinding with its first rays of morning. Did you remember the brilliance that you’d left and feel the overwhelming darkness into which you’d stepped? Did you desire to shed the flesh that masked your brilliance and overwhelm the light you’d created with the light that you are?
What was going through your little neo-natal cone head that day? What did your little swollen, puffy eyes see? What did your racing heart feel? Completely dependent upon the nourishment and care of those you’d come to care for. Vulnerable, humbled. This is a humbling morning.

community loyalty and discipleship

Bloged in apprenticeship, community by rod Wednesday December 24, 2003

Over at Paradoxology, there is a great discussion going on about community and loyalty and the new face of church committment. I commented, then had more thoughts that took up where my comments left off, so I decided to bring my comment to my blog and follow up.
I think that many up and coming believers were brought to or back to Christ outside a church. There is a slow, but growing revival going on out there, or at least “off-campus”. As college students find themselves drawn closer to Christ by para-church stuff, off-campus church stuff, they don’t feel as connected to a particular church. I have been involved in several on-going ministries to college students that were joint efforts of several churches (actually several denominations)and in these ministries “the church” is modeled as something much bigger than a group of people that worship at a particular location. The time is coming -it has, in fact, come - when what you are called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.
In my church, it is evident that a lot of folks coming out of the student ministry don’t consider themselves a part of the church as a whole. I think they are plugging themselves into what delivers what they need.
Many of my students at work, actually come to our church for Bible study and go to another church for worship.
I could be completely wrong here, but I think some of these things will disappear as these students mature and begin to minister rather than having to seek the scratch for their own itches.
Here is where the discipleship problem comes in. They won’t grow and begin to minister unless they are discipled. The scary thing is that here is something that HAS been experienced by previous generations and the boomer, “product oriented” flavor, has not succeeded in growing people out of the consumer mentality and into a ministry mentality. That’s why they are so defensive of their product. With that track record, discipling split personality emerging Christians is of huge importance.
However, I think there is still an encouraging difference in the way things are happening in the younger generation.
Part of my snapshot church experience involves a paradigm that uses Sunday School as the evangelism and discipleship tool. Certainly the “seeker sensitive church uses “the seeker service” as the tool that attracts people, so there has to be something else in place to disciple. As people come to church, they will be reached through Sunday School and discipled. What happens though, is that nominal Christians in need of discipling often attend worship service at 11:00 and that’s the only time they’re in church all week. They never make the step to plug into anything smaller and deeper to encourage them to grow. The “big” service is where they step into the church and get no further.
On the other hand, it is often the discipling tool that is actually out there, off campus that is reaching people under the new paradigm. These people then enter the church at a deeper level and sometimes don’t make it to “the service”. But they are being discipled. I already mentioned knowing people who go to church one place and bible study someplace else. But I also know people who come to Bible study but don’t come to worship service. When I was in college, I remember singing at hundreds of churches and looking at the attendance plaque on the side wall and seeing a Sunday school attendance that was half that of the worship service. This is obviously a confusing shift as emerging Christians don’t sense enough nutrition at church worship services and opt for the smaller, deeper, more nourishing teaching and studies. Hopefully, this discipleship will lead them to commit for fully to the body and participate in the larger service, but its seems to me that they are in fact already being discipled, experiencing community, and are “in church”.
This seems to me more efficient than plugging into only the larger service where discipleship is slow in happening – especially when the stated purpose of that service is to attract “seeker”, not to disciple believers.
Anyway, this has all started as a response to another’s blog so I haven’t thought it all out too deeply yet. What are your thoughts?

community

Bloged in community by rod Tuesday December 23, 2003

Back in the Spring, one of my heroes was the speaker for an annual lecture series that we have a school. Each year we have a distinguished speaker for the week. Evidently, in the past, it has been rather dry and academic and sleepy even for the seminary professors. rlandmc.jpgBut for the past several years, it has been one of the highlights of the semester for me. This particular week had me leading worship on the second day of the series. I submitted my worship set and when the speaker saw that I was doing “Be Thou My Vision”, he called to ask if he could play penny whistle. Are you kidding? To make music with this guy!. I was thrilled.
This speaker is a champion of discipleship and community. At work, we speak a lot of community, of our community. We pat ourselves on the back for the love and encouragement that is found in it.
My teaching assignment has me spending weakly scheduled one on one time with at least 12 students. Add to this advisees and drop-ins and I spend a lot of time with individuals. The intimacy that develops over time in one on one student-teacher relationship exposes hurt, frustrations, struggles, sin. It began to concern me that in celebrating our community, we often overlook the hurting individual. When we talk about the importance of community, we often overlook the importance of ministering to the individual. Most Profs don’t have regularly scheduled time with individuals. We discuss the spiritual growth and development that can take place in our classes.
Knowing that we would be considering community in these services, I felt a intense burden to worship corporately as we sought God individually -to prompt for personal worship, confession and thanksgiving.
I have benefited greatly from being actively involved in Christian communities. I feel strongly the need for community in the life of the believer. But I also see how communities can lose their effectiveness and impact on their members. This is something that has taken place as long as Christian communities have existed. In Acts, chapter 6 we read that as the number of disciples grew, there arose a murmuring… Certain groups within the community were being neglected.

So I’ve been dealing with some specific areas in which I see us as communities losing sight of what we are set up to do.
We pray corporately, share needs, encourage one another and put on a good face. We so often rejoice together, but suffer alone. Misery loves company? Not in the Christian community. Joy and contentment are often misdefined in my opinion, and it is implied that suffering is unspiritual. Everyone pretends that everything is fine and the community is intentionally unaware that anyone is suffering. Even when we have prayer together, we ask our fellows to pray for superficial things that don’t even come close to the depth of the needs we have. Some of us wear each other out with scores of unceasing lightweight prayer requests. My cat is not eating well, my cousin Bob’s next door neighbor’s wife’s sister’s husband has just been diagnosed with dust allergies. Is it possible that these are just masks for deeper needs of our own that we dare not share with the community?

Communities develop reputations. A community may exist to disciple and grow individuals and success is observable. Over time the community is known for its corporate spiritual maturity and individuals who threaten that reputation are ostracized to protect the community, rather than discipled and grown. Community can cease to exist as a fellowship of like-minded people who encourage, hold accountable, sharpen, and empower one another and just perpetuate itself as community.

Communities may serve to equip one another to impact the world with their faith. But rather than faith being strengthened and exercised, it grows weak and soft from lack of confrontation and questions. We become more comfortable with the look of our community and thus offended by those who don’t look like us. We are shielded from the need to put on the FULL armor of God because we think the fiery darts come from the culture rather than the real enemy. We begin to sense that we are behind the lines and let our guard down so that we’re struck by the darts that don’t cause immediate discomfort but which stick and slowly release the poison of apathy, comfort and separation.
The community begins to serve to protect rather than to empower?

Righteousness by association. Being a member of a community doesn’t mean that the community assumes all responsibility for you. Having just stood in the midst of a congregation of worshipers does not mean that you’ve just worshiped. Being in a room of corporate prayer does not mean one has prayed, nor does it alleviate the individual’s need for personal closet prayer and communion with God. Individuals too often find identity in the community rather than in Jesus. We can begin to feel or even imply that association with the community means association with Jesus, and personal relationships with Christ are weakened. We develop a corporate or social aspect that implies that our issues are those of the community and that it is the community’s responsibility to address them.

I believe that Christian fellowship and community is more than a good idea, it is a God idea. We are besought to participate, to develop it, to maintain it. My question is then, how do we keep it as it is meant to be? How do ensure that it remains pure, profitable and God-honoring? What are your thoughts?

freeze this moment

Bloged in random by rod Saturday December 20, 2003

Ok, everyone. I didn’t mean to cast some sort of spell on the blog world with my little quote from Rush. I ask that time stand still and then no one updated their blogs. So… will I use this weird ability for good… or for awesome?

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