Bloged in friends, life by rod Thursday September 30, 2004

“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”

lux perpetua luceat eis.

I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord: he who believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.

Ad te omnis caro veniet.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

shine on

Bloged in luna see, seasons by rod Wednesday September 29, 2004

snow time ain’t no time
to sit outside and spoon
so shine on,
shine on harvest moon.

harvest moon 2004

Bloged in luna see, seasons by rod Tuesday September 28, 2004

After class, and wind down coversation with students, I had a few things to wrap up before riding home. I started the bike and headed down the boulevard at 11:30pm. Directly overhead was the sight captured in these pics. The air was cool, the bike felt good and all around was moonlit beauty.
My growling belly was the only thing that brought me home to a quiet house and sleeping family.
There was no one awake to greet me except you-know-who, so I went out on the deck and took these pictures. I pre-dated the post to get Tuesday’s date, but the pics were taken between 1:30 and 1:45am.

blog 301

Bloged in poems by rod Monday September 27, 2004

Sometimes a short blog
about nothing is needed
to rest weary minds.

living at the auction block

Bloged in apprenticeship, worship by rod Sunday September 26, 2004

Perhaps a missing blog day could mean that no blogging is taking place. That is not the case this time. I have been blogging a lot lately, but I’ve not been able to get it into a form that I feel would make sense without my own context at the moment. It’s been a couple of weeks of major assimilation, pulling together of different things that seem to make others make sense. I think I’ve been given some insight as to the source of some struggles and frustrations, and I’ve been newly frustrated, and also affirmed. I’ve learned a lot lately, at times, from unlikely teachers in unlikely places.
But I’m no closer to expressing this in a coherent way. But has that ever stopped me before?
I’ve decided that’s what blogs are for. So I’m going to ramble a bit, and think that maybe in so doing, someone out there might be able to help me organize, cement, discard, or whatever is needed, some of my current thoughts.
I’m teaching a Tuesday night class this semester. In this week’s reading for the course, D.A. Carson states that “this side of the fall, human worship of God properly responds to the redemptive provision that God has graciously made.” I believe this is a true statement in that worship is a proper response to God’s redemptive provision. But in the context there seems to be an implication that proper worship responds to God’s redemptive provision. This seems to disallow that anything else warrants a response of worship. It struck me that a majority of criticism leveled toward contemporary worship finds as its subject the shallow, relationship-oriented focus. Carson speaks of the command to Peter to “feed my sheep” and laments that the sheep are being fed light-fare cuisine, the same criticism that I hear almost daily concerning shallow worship.
One of our class members, rightly observed that maybe this comes from a faulty understanding of redemption. I certainly agree, and have blogged on this from time to time. Our class member stated that redemption meant having been “bought back”. I responded, of course, - so why are we so determined to continuously live at the auction?
Now I want to be very careful here, because I don’t want anyone to think that I am not grateful for God’s redemptive provision. But it seems to me that the provision was a means to an end, the means of bringing us back into relationship with God. If the cross was the end, we’d have been created fallen.
All week long I’ve tried to imagine why we wouldn’t be able to get past the auction and into relationship. I’ve talked with a few people about it and I’ve heard, more than once, “but I don’t think we can actually get back to a ‘pre-fall’ place. That statement shocks me, because frankly, I thought that was what the redemptive provision was for. If God’s provision is not enough, what’s the point? I feel like we have a guilt complex though we say we’ve been forgiven. Jesus has invited us to relationship, provided for that relationship and we still feel too guilty to follow Him. Isn’t that what He asked? Follow me, He said. If we are determined to stay at the auction, and claim we are following Him, doesn’t that say that we assume He is still there as well? Isn’t the good news that He didn’t stay dead? Didn’t He pay for us once and for all? Does he have to continue to pay? Do we worship Him because He died, or because He conquered death?
I constantly hear criticism leveled against shallow, relational, Jesus-is-my-boyfriend type songs. I’m told that the gospel is not present in these songs. But I am living post-provision. The gospel is that I’ve been bought back for a relationship, how can the gospel not be present in that relationship?
Why are we so afraid of getting past the auction and on to relationship? We’ve got to trust Jesus that his teaching is adequate for our living. He told us that He came so that we could have life more abundantly, and He taught for 3 years on precisely how to have it. But we do not study His teaching. We do not preach His teaching. We focus on the epistles and Pauline theology. We strain to think of effective ways to facilitate spiritual formation, but ignore the “how to live” teaching of Jesus.
I was lamenting to a friend about how little Jesus I hear from the pulpit at our chapels (talk about practical teaching), and he said it was because Jesus was too simple. We enjoy the epistles because they are deep and theological and challenging to grasp, and debatable. They are great fodder for study and publication, etc. Jesus is just not challenging enough to warrant our interest. Then it struck me. I remembered a statement by Dallas Willard in The Divine Conspiracy when he was expressing our unwillingness to be disciples in our day-to-day. We are unwilling to look to Jesus as our daily teacher. We do not trust Jesus as an intellectual. His teaching is so simple that we don’t consider Him an intelligent teacher. No wonder we are bothered by worship songs that focus on relationship – we have ignored the object of that relationship. We’ve forgotten the teaching of the One who taught relationship with Him and others.
Some encouragement came this past week from Stuart Briscoe who delivered 5 messages on the life of Peter. But really the messages used Peter to illustrate what Jesus desires from, for and in us. Briscoe stated that the only call that Jesus ever made to us was to relationship. That call is coupled with a summons to discipleship under His authority. In return, Jesus promises to transform us.
He bought me back, called me to relationship and now He is making me. How can I not properly respond to all these aspects by worshipping?


Bloged in apprenticeship, church by rod Friday September 24, 2004

This morning in a guitar lesson, my student expressed frustration that although she knows only a handful of chords, she can’t learn any new ones from learning new music. I told her that very simply, that was because the folks writing the new songs she’s been learning don’t really know any more than she does. Most have learned the chords they know in the same way that she has learned hers. They then go about creating new songs with the same tiny box of materials. We borrow what already is, and use those materials to create something that is nearly the same. Imagine the creativity if we imagined what isn’t yet, and acquired the materials to make that happen. We would keep imagining beyond where we are and what we have, and would strive to do what it takes to make it reality.
Imagine two guitarists whose styles are often compared. The comparison really only goes as far as instrumentation and some catchy techniques, but to those who don’t look beyond the “catchy”, this is all there is. To those compelled to hear more deeply, the catchy is the least common denominator. The one guitarist plays his instrument, finding in his ability lots of interesting melodies, turns and phrases and constructs them into a piece of music. He has a box of musical materials from which to construct. The same box from which he constructs all his music.
The other guitarist sits with his imagination, pen and paper and composes music that has nothing to do with his ability on the guitar. His imagination is not limited in any way by what he can already play. His music is not inhibited by the materials already in his box. Once finished, his composition will require him to invent new techniques, solve problems, stretch himself to realize what his imagination dreamed was possible. Years from now, he will have acquired abilities and ideas that he once never dreamed of, while the first guitarist will still be using his same old tried and true resources with his same old technical ability. The music of the second guitarist will probably appeal to new people all along his career, while the first guitarist will appeal only to those who enjoyed his music way back in the day. All the while, he’s worried that his own creativity will be squelched if he were to learn something new.

pride of life

Bloged in apprenticeship by rod Thursday September 23, 2004

Any success I’ve ever had at problem solving has to be attributed to the fact that I never call anything a problem. I’m the ultimate pessimist and can’t imagine that what I’m experiencing would be the worst of it. So I immediately assume that what I’m experiencing is evidence of a greater problem. A symptom if you will. The secret then is to call it a symptom and search for the problem. Once it is found, call it a symptom and search for the problem.
The thing about symptoms is that there are usually many for any given disease. The problem with being ignorant to the underlying problem and treating only the symptom is that even if the symptom is eradicated, the disease’s other symptoms still loom large and will eventually present themselves.
The church tends to have recurrent problems with only a handful of issues. There are the sex scandals and child abuse rampant in the RCC, public religious figures fall like flies to adulterous affairs and illegal financial practices. Just today I heard from the pulpit that the three biggest continuous problems faced by the church are sex, money and power. I don’t agree with this assessment. Rather, I think these three are symptoms and even symptoms of symptoms.
Pride is the disease that causes these symptoms. Power is the first symptom, or desire for power. Money is a means to power, and sex is evidence and exercise of it.
C. S. Lewis recognizes pride as the ultimate when he states that Satan himself will help us to overcome wrong behaviors because he can cause in us pride for having conquered such nasty behavior. Of course, the resulting pride is much more damaging than the original behavior.
A physical behavior is much more obvious and demeaning than an abstract concept and attitude. We overcome the physical, pat ourselves on the back for it and develop a pride that festers and grows undetected until it screws up every area of our lives.
Likewise, our preoccupation with the evils of money evidences our belief that money itself is of any good. Of course it is not, and only has value for what it can get for us. Power. Power feeds pride and money brings power. Power must be exercised. Sex is a way to exercise power and to cause others to submit to one’s own will, or else to create in one’s self a sense of power and acceptance. I am convinced that the only lust involved in the majority of Christian sex scandals is the lust for power and manipulation. One realizes that his position attracts adoring supporters and many of them can be wooed and seduced by that position.
Pride is the daddy of them all. It has no place in society, much less Christendom – a kingdom that follows a servant. Let each one think of the others as better than him self. In the kingdom, the first shall be last. You would think that in this kingdom, folks would be racing to the back of the line, striving to go unnoticed, in imitation of One who being very nature, God, did not find equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing and put on a servant’s nature. Instead, we write books and teach seminars that tack another word on to the position of servant. Servant-leader. We speak about how to be humble within the context of our top, venerated positions. We preach a gospel that overcomes symptoms, and we fall like flies to complications of an untreated disease.

deep cover

Bloged in apprenticeship, church by rod Wednesday September 22, 2004

Tonight as I rode off into the moonset on my windhorse, I began thinking about people whose jobs are on mission. Remember all the old undercover cop shows a la Miami Vice and 21 Jumpstreet? I know, I’m showing my age. There is always a story line or premise that their assignments are so dangerous and classified that the undercover officer has to infiltrate the target and cut off all relationships and contact with the outside. No communications even with their bosses and families. They call it “deep cover”. Of course, the most suspenseful story lines always dealt with the officers’ new personas beginning to confuse their real identity even to themselves. They began to loose sight of whom they really were, and as a result, why they were there. Sometimes their mission was so strong, that they began to operate under a no rules mentality so as to get the job done regardless of the cost. Sometimes they began to operate with no rules because they actually became the bad guys they had originally set out to catch. These officers would always get so entrenched in their assignments that there was no way to maintain a relationship or even get support from the ones who had sent them.
I worry greatly about those of us who face this danger. Folks that define our assignment in such a way that consumes us and doing the job becomes more important than the outcome or reason we are doing the job. It is common to get so deep in the assignment as to cut off all contact with even the one who sent us. The assignment becomes procedural. We continue to do the work of the company but really no longer work for the company and therefore receive no feedback, support or encouragement even though it is there for us. We become stagnant and eventually ineffective and weak without even realizing it.


Bloged in life, love and marriage by rod Monday September 20, 2004

Last week I went card shopping. Anticipating Al’s and my wedding anniversary, I thought if I start looking early, I could temporally afford to reject cards that weren’t worthy of such an important event. I found nothing worthy. All week, anytime I was near cards, I would look through and find nothing. I’ve been buying anniversary cards for 18 years. One year, I actually began on September 1, and bought Allison a card for every day leading up to the 20th.
Ah, those were the days – when a wonderful, growing relationship is still young and underdeveloped enough that feelings can be expressed in a generic greeting card. “Dear wife, I feel the same way about you as 175,000 other men feel about their wives. Which is precisely the way Helen Steiner Rice knew we’d feel when she penned this wonderful greeting card that is weighted and balanced to turn over automatically in your hand so that you can see we care enough to send the very best.”
But in 18 years, our relationship has moved way beyond the ability to express it so simply. The presentation of the card surely becomes the expression rather than what the card actually says. Of course the card speaks truly, but says but a fraction of what there is to say. The hundreds of cards I’ve browsed just seemed to demean the real thing. Things need to be said for which words have not yet been invented in any language, save the language of life, friendship, intimacy, worry and sharing. Our relationship has developed nuances about which Helen knows nothing. We have no choice but to just keep at it, keep growing until words are invented to express our love.
This year is of special significance for an aging husband. This anniversary marks a marriage that is as old as I was when we met. Remember that fine August morning? Do you remember me then? Newly dubbed adult. All that learning, formation, growing behind me – ready to begin.
Do you remember those following 4 years? Friendship, evolution, commitment. A pleasing hub to these two temporally equal halves of my life. From now on, your half grows ever longer and we define me more deeply than I define me. When were you not there? It’s as if you were never not a part of me.
Oh, I’ll keep looking for a card so that on Friday when we actually get some time together, maybe you’ll get some words that somehow say what I want to say. But maybe we can just reflect together. Stand beside me. Remember. Look back. 18 Septembers. Now put one foot forward. Look ahead. Take a step. Preminisce.
We’re 18. Newly dubbed adults. Lots of learning, formation, growing behind us – ready to begin.


Bloged in music, random by rod Monday September 20, 2004

I’m so sorry that the server was down all night and all day, so my processional snippet was unavailable. The server is back up and now, if you wish, you can listen.
Don’t forget to imagine the grandmotherly ladies!!

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