executors of God’s will: apprenticeship 1.1- nuance 5.0

Bloged in apprenticeship, nuance by rod Wednesday March 31, 2004

“What would Jesus have done?” Just another morph that the phrase takes in my head as I see the way folks respond to it and the application that is made. At any rate, it seems to ask one to rely on what we have learned about Jesus (often from second or third hand information and faulty interpretation), rather on Him. What do I know about Jesus that would shed light on how He would like me to behave in this situation? This is a huge contrast to allowing Him to be my teacher, to lead me in decision making in my day-to-day and allowing the Spirit to grant understanding to what I study.

Sometimes I feel as if in trying to follow the will of God, what we are actually doing is just executing His will. What would God have wanted us to do? Maybe we should say things like, “I’m sure Dad would have been very proud of you”, or, “This is what Dad would have wanted.” Sometimes we even say it like that – “we need to find what God would want us to do”. But most of the time, its more subtle and that makes it hard to talk about because its mainly of feeling that deals in the difference between going through the motions and actually praying for guidance that one truly believes he can and will receive. Is there such a thing as certainty, confidence in your walk with God? Can we receive feedback day to day and feel God’s pleasure as we follow Him and grow closer to Him? Or are we relegated to study, and the attempt to carry out the wishes He has left with us, rather than obey Him as He continues to walk with us?
I know this whole subtle difference has to do with belief and confidence and hope. It is one of the big differences we see between ourselves and other religions that seem to focus on appeasing God and the only sure salvation is martyrdom. Are we a people who can only surmise what God is about, or are we a people to whom the living God has revealed Himself through scripture, and the Word made flesh, and continues to reveal Himself and be found by those who seek Him through the Spirit Who teaches, comforts, encourages and gives us peace?

Deliriou5? Monkeys

Bloged in random by rod Tuesday March 30, 2004

Please visit this 4 year old website, then visit this recently (this week) updated website.
Just when you think you have no influence.
I am Furiou5? that Martin Smith never bought a Habby!

UPDATE: The Deliriou5? page has been changed and no longer resembles the monkey page. So, how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?
The world may never know.

w wouldn’t jd (apprenticeship 4.0)

Bloged in apprenticeship by rod Tuesday March 30, 2004

“How many times is he going to say this”, you ask? Doesn’t your mind sit and wonder what harmless, well-intentioned little things perpetuate our stunted growth?
WWJD? Lately, this phrase has been sounding increasingly absurd to me. As I filter it through my recent thoughts on discipleship and community, I begin to understand better why it bothers me. Why would a culture who believes that every decision I need to make can be found in the scripture make an industry out of a question that has surely been answered there? Once again, I realize that this is based on the negative implication of the phrase. The question is not “what would Jesus do?” – He spent three years telling us that. He stood before a crowd on a hillside and told us exactly what He would do. What the question is really asking is, “what WOULDN’T Jesus do?” Your friend offers you drugs or alcohol – your bracelet reminds you, “Uh uh uh… wwjd?” A cold, hungry man asks you for spare change at the corner of Taylor and Main – your bracelet reminds you, “wwjd.” What’s the difference in these two scenarios? With which one is it easier to comply?
In what other context would this be a valid question? If given the benefit of the doubt, this phrase serves an accountability function, it still is interpreted as help with avoidance. We measure our spirituality and Christ-likeness by what we avoid rather than what we do. For sure, one of the functions of community should be accountability, and one responsibility of the disciple is avoiding things that dishonor God. But to make this the PURPOSE of community and being a disciple certainly renders both stunted, for if the community grows by modeling and teaching growth toward Christ-likeness, then the one doesn’t have to concern himself with what Jesus wouldn’t do. Jesus is surely known for what He did, not what He didn’t. He was constantly being accused of doing what He didn’t. It would seem that He wasn’t really interested in being known for not doing. That is what the Pharisees were known for. If we want to be more like Jesus, we too, are going to have to be about doing.

a red word

Bloged in random by rod Monday March 29, 2004

oops

another community blog - apprenticeship 3.0

Bloged in apprenticeship, community by rod Sunday March 28, 2004

I’ve been thinking about our community discussions and began to worry about some of my past comments about community failures. I’m worried that in my reaction to community that somehow falls just short of the mark, I sound like I am emphasizing individualism. That is really not the case at all. I don’t wish for each of us to focus on himself more, I wish for the community to focus on individuals more, and in ways that promote growth.
So I’ve searched for a simple word or phrase that might summarize what I feel is a fault of community that bothers me. What could it be that causes a community to think it is mindful of individuals and yet neglect their pain and needs?
Maybe I’ve found one. I see too often community serving the purpose of policing the individual. Even some good words that I use often, become one-sided and perpetuate the problem. Accountability, for example, has begun to imply policing behavior. When our community function reaches this point, it implies an assumed hierarchy of spiritual maturity among those policing and those being policed. It also causes us to measure spiritual maturity based on behavior and often by the most absurd things. Submission to rules becomes the most important indicator of spiritual maturity rather than ownership of spiritual disciplines that may very well include the same rules. “Slip-ups” are interpreted as rebellion and treated as intentional wrong doing rather than a failure to do “right”. Many people will learn not to “mess up” but will be no more “right hearted” than someone who slips and breaks the rules.
Back when I responded to community talk with a strong burden for hurting individuals in our community who I felt were being neglected, it was not because I wanted us to focus on ourselves and take care of our own problems. I wanted us as a community to minister to rather than police individuals within our community.
This form of community makes impossible some of the problems that I outlined with community in that post. Namely, how can an immature member find his security in the community rather than Jesus when he is being ministered to and discipled by the community as an individual? The community will then see his individual needs and minister to him accordingly. He will not fall through the cracks. But when a community ministers to it’s self, becomes self-serving, individuals find identity in the community itself and security from being counted among them. Then the community doesn’t minister to individuals, but individuals minister to the community. It becomes an organization or corporation existing to perpetuate it’s self.
Ok, maybe I’ve just re-hashed my previous post here rather than shedding new light. But maybe if I keep re-hashing, I’ll get a little more each time and eventually come to something that is helpful.

a purple word

Bloged in random by rod Saturday March 27, 2004

wisteria
wysteria

thing 1 and thing 2

Bloged in apprenticeship, church, parenting by rod Friday March 26, 2004

Tonight when I went over to pick up the kids from church, I heard an interesting statistic on the radio as a lead-in to Family Life Today. The announcer asked if we are doing a good job passing on our convictions to our children. The answer – no. Less than 17% of children who grow up in evangelical homes end up in evangelical churches as adults.
Well then. So that means we’re not passing on our convictions? Of course, I cannot pretend that children are not their own people, and therefore cannot make decisions that are different than their parents. But I do think that the majority of these parents ARE passing on their convictions to their children. I think there are two things at work here that make this statistic possible. I’ve been down this road before on several blogs, but here they are anyway.

Thing number 1 (negative): Is there a statistic that tells how many people in today’s evangelical churches actually have convictions? I’ve stated that I think many many of us don’t have crises of faith because we have few real beliefs to be challenged and our Christianity is more a lifestyle than a faith.

Thing number 2 (positive): Could it be that many parents who grew up in evangelical churches and DO have strong convictions have continued in their churches but have not really noticed that the churches to which they belong no longer share their convictions? Could it be that the very fact that their children are not in evangelical churches is evidence that they have passed their convictions on? The statistic doesn’t show whether the children’s absence is because they are in some other church. I think that at least some of these children have gone off to find churches that better reflect their parents’ convictions than the churches their parents currently attend. Didn’t this happen to a degree with Fundamentalists several decades ago?
The frog’s offspring are less likely to remain calm while the water slowly heats to a boil. The children came along after the water had begun to steam and more likely to notice that what the parents are teaching and how the church is behaving are not exactly the same things.
Ok, sorry for the frog metaphor. You can take me out of the country, but not the country out of me.

It seems that I always feel that we don’t look back far enough to truly understand what these statistics are telling us. You will recognize that this is an old rant, I’ve said this countless times. So forgive the redundancy, it just gets brought back to the top.

goodnight moon

Bloged in advent, life, luna see by rod Thursday March 25, 2004

My bike is in the shop again. I had the forks rebuilt back in October, but the right seal is not sealing and the wind blows oil all over my pant leg and now the front end shimmies. So back it goes. And Honda is paying for it! Honda won’t even work on my bike because it is a 1985 model, but they’ll replace the seals for free when someone else works on it. Ramble ramble. I was really just trying to say that I had to drive my truck tonight for my night ride. That was ok, because the caged feeling was offset by the ability to listen to World Service all alone and very loud. At that volume, I can sing almost every note that Martin Smith offers on the record. Tonight I was drawn by Mountains High, a beautiful picture of trust when one might seem abandoned.

When I was a kid I used to watch the sun go down behind the mountain and fantasize that I could go over there and see it at rest. I remember wondering which hill it went behind. Between my house and Huntington, there were many hills. Some were only minutes away, but I doubted that those were the ones where the sun rested. Actually, I don’t remember not knowing that the sun really didn’t set behind a hill, so I don’t know if I was just playing with my imagination or what. But I remember these thoughts. You know how kids are. I remember gathering info at school that directly contradicted my information from the bible. But somehow in my kid brain, it all just seemed like two packets of info, and didn’t pose a problem for me. That’s probably how I felt about the sun. Sure, it’s not really over there behind that hill, but I’d still like to go find out for sure.

So tonight I looked up at Venus then the moon with Mars dangling from its chin like some Southtown jewelry, and watched it grow and turn yellow as it made its way toward the trees on the other side of the lake. It was disappearing too quickly, so I decided to chase it. I drove west, past the trees on the other side of the lake. To my delight, it didn’t sit down, just stayed up above the tree line. I drove, it floated. Yellow and large with a ruby stud in its chin. I followed it until it finally gave up and sat down somewhere across the Savanna river.

Your ways are high, too high for us; Your ways are high, too high for us.

Only God can understand the mind of God. He doesn’t have to justify anything to us. He doesn’t even have share anything about Himself with us. We can look around and look up and know that there is something greater, something bigger than us, something incomprehensible. It is only by His grace that he came down here to show Himself to us in a way that we could begin to understand.

I never really made it to the moon tonight. I guess it never really sat down so that I could find it. Once though, a star was created to lead some folks to a place where they could find its creator. They followed and found. It’s amazing the peace one can find when he keeps following and keeps looking up.

8:00 pm March 24, 2004

Bloged in luna see, worship by rod Wednesday March 24, 2004

When I gaze into the night sky
And see the work of Your fingers
The moon and stars suspended in space.
oregon
What are we that You are mindful of us?
What am I that You care for me?

apprenticeship 2.0

Bloged in apprenticeship by rod Tuesday March 23, 2004

A quick scan of church websites and newsletters shows myriad classes and programs dubbed, “discipleship”, or “discipleship training” or some other disciple type terminology. Why then have we become so entirely consumeristic? How can the church today have more “discipleship” programs than ever in history, and yet be so consumeristic. Tonight’s Dallas Willard installment has helped me to understand a bit more clearly where we have gone wrong. I suspected as much, but Willard seems to confirm my suspicions. We have simply arrived at the wrong definition of Christian discipleship. I’ve noticed our faulty definitions of other terminology on these pages before – integrity, purity, etc. This one also seems to be huge, with astounding implications. The contented nomad and I recently had a conversation in which he shared with me quickly from his developing theology of faith and works which is as astounding and eye opening as anything I’ve read in recent history. How could the basic gospel of salvation become so misconstrued by the modern church that a simple biblically based explanation sounds like a new religion? It seems to me that discipleship begins to emphasis that little portion of theology that has been so completely overlooked. How can we be disciples of Christ and not behave in the way He’s asked us to behave, not do what He told us to do?
So scan those discipleship offerings a little deeper and find blurbs that relate their content - Christianity 101, New Members classes, Doctrine, Church History, recovery programs. All these are important programs. They should, however, never replace discipleship, or worse, be called discipleship. If some program replaces discipleship, eventually discipleship may be missed and added back as a church program. But when we simply do things that aren’t discipleship, but call it that, we will never notice that we’re not doing it.
Once we’ve graduated from Christianity 101 and the like, we find that the offerings tend to be more self-help, application to our existing life, etc. Programs that offering what we know we need and unfortunately feed our consumerism bent.
It is ironic that in my denomination, conscious effort has been made to make Sunday School the primary outreach arm of the church. This intention puts an evangelistic purpose on a program that is often called discipleship.
The closest we seem to come is in teaching how Jesus wants us to feel about Him, believe about Him, etc. But seldom what He wants us to do about Him, and this is the heart of discipleship. We say, “we must make Him Lord of our lives.” But discipleship is training to learn what that means and set about making it reality.
Disciples of Christ must eventually begin acting like Christ, ministering, teaching disciples. But most of what we call discipleship perpetuates our consumerism, is geared toward our perceived needs and interests. It seems we never consume enough to produce because our consumption contains nothing that makes us aware that that is what Jesus expects commands us to do.

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